open thread – November 19-20, 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.

{ 1,410 comments… read them below }

  1. my kingdom for a desk*

    2019 – my office had assigned seats, everyone had their own desk, it was great.

    Early 2020 – we moved to a new office, started hot desking.
    I hated it, but as an early bird I got a desk almost every day, so it was mostly meh.

    Now – we’re reopening the office, without any more hot desking. But there’s still not enough desks for everyone, so a handful of people (myself included) do not have assigned desks. We’re encouraged to use the collaboration seats instead (this is made up of couches, long tables, etc – spots that don’t have office chairs or external monitors)

    If the only option in office is sitting on a couch with my laptop, I can do that at home.
    Is it unreasonable to say I don’t want to come back until I have an actual desk?

    Is there a way to phase that doesn’t sound like an ultimatum?

    1. Don't Touch My Snacks*

      I would go about it as they should of course give you the items you need to complete your job without injuring yourself (I cannot imagine that having to work all day without a decent office chair and desk set up is good ergonomics) but until that comes through you will need to work from home so you can have a proper work set up.

      1. I'm Stef*

        I think more than talking about ergonomics in relation to injuries (which is a fair point and bound to happen, but would open a whole conversation about health which I personally would not want to go into if I am fairly healthy person compared to my colleagues and that would start a “you better than them” kind of convo), I would personally lean toward relating it to how your productivity is affected.
        If I were to work on a couch without a second monitor, my productivity would decline by at least 50% because a) I’d need to take a walk more often as I would have the worst posture and b) I couldn’t open multiple windows at once and all my Excel files with multiple references and copy and pasting and formulas would take at least double the time.

        1. Lauren*

          this. not being able to have a stable work area to complete complex tasks with a larger monitor will make my position untenable.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. And honestly ergonomics aside, sometimes you’re just not as productive in one seating area as another, so if you don’t get the table space, will you be as effective on the sofa? There’s a certain level of mindset that comes with a good workspace or just knowing where you will be working that day. It is one thing to sometimes work from a small screen but if you really need dual monitors and/or just a bigger external monitor, I’d ask for those things. I’d say, “Boss, I understand the thought behind allowing people to chose shared spaces, but I’m finding that it’s not productive for me because….Can I either be provided x and y specific things or continue to work from home where I have x and y things until a desk can be assigned?”

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

          good point. Plus if someone sees you working on the couch will they come up to you and start chatting more than they would at your desk? I could see someone (especially someone who is chatty and not good with social cues or boundaries) seeing you at the couch and think you were not working and would keep interrupting you.

    2. OtterB*

      Can you talk about the ergonomics? That working without an external monitor or office chair is fine for a little while if you’re meeting with people about something, but not for full time?

    3. Beth*

      I just . . . do NOT understand the brain function of any workplace that won’t provide its employees with a place to work. Whyyyyyyy.

      I have no suggestions to offer for phrasing, but you are absolutely NOT being unreasonable.

      1. hamsterpants*

        This happened to my husband. The answer was lack of planning and prioritizing an aesthetic over utility. In my husband’s case they picked out the desks and didn’t realize they couldn’t fit enough desks for everyone until everything was already purchased and set up. Luckily for him he prefers work from home and his bosses were fine with that as a solution.

    4. Jovana*

      If your workplace has anything like a “health & safety” office or even just a webpage purporting to care about that kind of thing, you can point to it and describe *specific* ergonomic requirements (e.g. screen at eye level to avoid neck strain, meaning laptop stand or monitor required; seat armrests at height so that elbows are parallel to desk surface, etc.) I have had multiple pains/injuries over the years due to improper work area setup and you should warn that it’s a real thing!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        (Diverging from the topic, but OldJob only gave armrests to people above a certain position level. I hope they don’t do that anymore.)

    5. Generic Name*

      Are they demanding you come into the office? If not, I’d just work from home and if anyone questions you why, you can say that you have no place to actually physically work at the office.

        1. Applesauced*

          Yep, we’ve been “strongly encouraged” to come in, and I’ve been casually pressured to come in…. the phrase “out of sight out of mind” came up.
          It will be mandatory in January.

    6. anonymous73*

      Ditto on ergonomics and also space. Not sure what kind of work you do, but if I only had a laptop screen to work from I would be so much less productive. I need additional monitors to view multiple screens at once to accomplish most of my tasks and it would take me so much longer without them. Not to mention being uncomfortable on a couch all day. Plus if you don’t have a desk, what are you suppose to do with your equipment when you have to use the bathroom, go to the kitchen, etc.? Carry it around with you? Do they expect you to carry around a backpack full of essentials in the office (pens, notebooks, stapler, paper clips, etc.)? If they want you back in the office, it’s not unreasonable to expect appropriate accommodations and that doesn’t include a couch. I would be fuming.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        I agree totally with other commentators re: ergonomics and health issues – your workplace Health and Safety officer should be able to advise (or HR).
        When in the office are you mostly in meetings and not so often involved in desk work? Do they expect you to be talking to people F2F? I’m just wondering who thought this was a viable idea!
        If you’re on a hybrid office/ WfH schedule would one interim solution be to have a few hot desks for staff to share and have a schedule of who is in when.
        Otherwise if you don’t have a space to be in the office then continue to WfH?
        Surely one solution is to convert the flex collab spaces into desks for those without ones?

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          Hot desking in a pandemic. Not just no, but HELL, no. Sitting on a “Mama Bear” couch, while trying to type. No. Using a table as a desk, in a business building?!?
          (Although a friend of mine came in to find their older cloth-covered chairs all gone, and plexiglass carrels (sp?) at a conference table, with new holes drilled for cordage. This went on for 2 weeks while people chose and ordered their new office chairs.)
          But hot-desking? Not enough desks, chairs, etc.? NopeNopeNope.
          Stand your ground, sweetie. There is NO reason they can’t figure this out.
          Heck, we even have our own AREAS because-Pandemic is still upon us. Some areas are like a funhouse with plexi dividers and disinfectant spray bottles on Command hooks. It’s no longer funny walking into an invisible wall, so most of us have put bandaids on the plexiglass to see where it is through our face shields.

      2. alienor*

        Way back in the 80s, I briefly attended an elementary school where we didn’t have desks. Everyone had a Rubbermaid-type container with a lid that doubled as a writing surface and contained all their workbooks, pencils, pens, scissors etc. In the morning you’d come in, grab your container out of a cubby, and take it to the spot on the rug where your first subject of the day was being taught. Then, when it was over, you’d put all your things back in your container, pick it up again, and move to another part of the room for your second subject and so on. (Each classroom was a “pod” of several rooms that had had the internal walls knocked down and a hub area installed at the center for the teaching team, so it was a very large space.) It was kind of weird-but-cool for me as a fourth grader, but I definitely don’t want to work that way as an adult!

        1. MissDisplaced*

          In the 70’s when I was in 1st and 2nd grade (about 6 or 7 years old) I also went to a similar “Open Space” elementary school. I remember a lot of sitting and writing and even eating lunch on the floor with our lunch trays!
          I don’t get why these companies think their employees would want to work on their computer on a sofa all day? It wasn’t even fun as a 7 year old.

    7. lex talionis*

      Maybe show up and just find yourself a spot in the office of whoever is in charge of physical plant and who’s poor planning caused this issue?

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I like that. It would also be amusing if you could steal their chair and desk, and leave them with a butt-ball to sit on, and a foldy card table. With a plant.

    8. Observer*

      I’m with the people who say just keep working at home. When they ask why you are not back in the office, point out that you are not being given a space where you can actually get work done consistently.

    9. Dee Dee*

      Welp, after 20(?) months, they’re talking about returning to the office. I’m in Canada where they’ve taken things a lot slower than other places in terms of opening up, which I am grateful for. But when it comes to going back to the office, I’m still not sold on the necessity. The justification they gave was literally that “Good things happen when people get together,” which, sure, but at the same time, we’ve probably been more productive since WFH started and I’m not exactly eager to go back in the office and elevators and all that so I can sit on Zoom calls with people in the other office allay.

      We’ve been super cautious—we have a child for whom vaccines were approved only today–and selfishly I’ve really enjoyed not having to ride the bus in to work each day. At the same time, I think my wife, who was working from home pre-COVID, will probably be glad to have the house to herself a day or two a week at least.

    10. LCH*

      if you need a laptop for your job and can’t just perform it using a tablet, then you need a desk. or a lap that is up near your chest.

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

      I would mention that you cannot do your job productively or in a safe way. Working sitting on a couch and hunched over your laptop is a great way to have back problems. When I had to work from home my back issues started up again, because I didn’t have the greatest chair. I was able to fix my situation and so should your company.
      Also, if your work would be better with a bigger monitor/ second monitor then that is another plus.
      They should really take a look and find some space for everyone, or maybe there is a way for some to work from home?

    12. TM*

      If your options regularly include not having a desk, you can bring up ergonomics. Even if you don’t have an issue with it now, not having a supportive chair or a desk can lead to problems in a hurry. If they push back, you can always contact your doctor for a note regarding poor ergonomics and how they would impact your health.

      I have a standing desk at work and home but if my office just gave me some rinky dink couch to sit on, I would be headed to HR with a note from my doc/PT asking for accommodations. I have spent a lot of time and money to figure out how to minimize pain and maximize efficiency while doing my job and I’m not letting my employer re-injure me because they don’t have a desk for me.

    13. Echo*

      If you have a fairly good relationship with your direct manager, “I’ve been finding it really difficult to do XYZ in the collaboration space and that I’ve been much more productive at home where I have a dedicated, quiet workspace. Would it be possible to work from home on a more permanent basis?” If they respond by saying they want you to be in because of some specific meeting or in-person brainstorm, you could then offer to come in just for those.

      If you don’t expect your manager to be reasonable about this, or if your manager has clearly communicated they’re powerless here, then I think this becomes a “find like-minded coworkers and push back as a group” situation.

    14. Purple Cat*

      WHAT? You can’t leave only a handful of people hotdesking – without even real desks.
      I wouldn’t go back to the office, just kindly but firmly state that you need reasonable working accommodations – aka an actual desk/monitor/chair/etc.

    15. SentientAmoeba*

      You know where I have a dedicated work space? At my house. I’ll be working there for most of the foreseeable future.

    16. Dragon*

      A friend who works for the government, initially turned down a transfer offer because he discovered during the pandemic he hates telecommuting.

      The new job reduced and reconfigured their office space for a hybrid work schedule for everyone. They never anticipated that someone wouldn’t want to WFH. So while my friend is allowed to come into the office every day, he’s gotta hot-desk it.

      On a different note, I don’t know where management anywhere ever got the idea about collaboration in the office. Admin assistants can’t even get bosses to come into the office on days when a big project is due. We need answers to questions to get the project done, and we’re competing for their attention with everyone else who is bombarding them with emails.

    17. someone*

      Tell them you learned from the enforced WFH that you need a real office chair and desk to be productive for work. I tried working my my couch for a week and my back started complaining (mid 30s). I have no problems lounging on a couch every evening but working off a laptop on the couch every day was too much.

  2. Emily*

    My coworker is always so unclear and confusing in her emails. She will say something like, “the market share of account X dropped 15% last week”. She’ll give a vague statement, with no context or no direction how to respond.

    When someone sends an unclear email, what is the best way to respond instead of replying “what are you asking? Are you saying a statement? Are you asking a question? What do you want me to do?”

    1. RitaRelates*

      I’ve had that happen before and just said “thank you for the information.” They followed up with additional instruction after that, so maybe you can try that.

      1. Up and Away*

        You could even build on this by saying, “thank you for the information, do you require anything from me?”

    2. Elle*

      I would say something like – “thank you for this information, let me know if there’s any action you need from me!”

      1. High Score!*

        I wouldn’t thank someone for random information that I didn’t request and won’t help me. That will only encourage then to send more random stuff that I have to take time to read and will thus distract me from getting actual work done

        1. Usagi*

          Can I ask what you would say instead? I realize this might come across as kind of snarky, I promise I don’t mean it that way and am honestly asking.

          1. Mimi*

            In a less formal workplace you could probably get away with something like, “Okay! Is there anything you need from us?” but that wouldn’t fly everywhere.

            1. Usagi*

              Ah I see, that makes sense! As you said, it might not apply to all workplaces, but I think I could use that at my office, if need be. Thank you!

          2. Vanilla Bean*

            “I’m not sure I understand why you’re telling me this. Do you need me to do something with this information?

            1. Usagi*

              I don’t think I could pull that off without sounding sarcastic! But then again I’m kind of a sarcastic person to begin with. I appreciate the response though. Maybe I need to work on my “genuinely confused” face/tone haha

    3. Siege (The other one)*

      I deal a lot with this in my job via chat. One of my job functions is to be available for questions from my coworkers, but sometimes they’ll post the most inane or random stuff, with no specific request. I usually start with “Hi ______! What can I assist you with?” Or “Is there a way I can be of assistance with this?”

      It’s a little different cause it’s chat, but I find the important part is the open/closer because they soften the message of “what do you want” with the subtext of “why tf are you tagging me.”

    4. Cat Tree*

      If she’s junior to you or even lateral, it might help to have a big-picture conversation. I’ve done it before and frame it as, “I can help you better/faster if you provide me with XYZ details”. And it usually helps to a certain extent. As long as you frame it as how it can benefit them and give specific advice for what to do (rather than telling them they’re doing it wrong) people are often receptive.

      1. socks*

        I use this all the time. If that feels a little too curt: “Hi so-and-so! Is this just an FYI or is there action needed on my end?”

    5. anonymous73*

      I wouldn’t respond. In the example you’ve given, there is no reason to respond. It may seem passive aggressive, but unless someone specifically asks for something (feedback, answer to a question, clarification, etc.) I see an email as informative only. If they do pose some sort of question or request, and it’s unclear what they need, send back specific questions for clarification on what you need to provide in response.

    6. Ina Lummick*

      I have to ask external clients want they want. Often they say “I’d like the Teapot please and that is all they know that they need.”

      I’ll reply something back like: “Can you provide further details on your query or clarify what you’re looking to achieve?”

    7. blood orange*

      Saying “Thanks for the information. Let me know if you want to discuss any details” would probably do fine. However, she’ll likely keep doing this if you respond like that. If you don’t mind that, I’d go that route. If the emails feel like kind of a nuisance, you could bring it up with her coming from a place of needing clarity. “Hey, when you send emails with an update for me, are you just sharing information that you think I’d benefit from, or are you looking to discuss something?”

    8. Buni*

      ugh, one of my bosses does this and it drives me nuts. My response these days is to read it, make sure I know the info if asked, and then ignore it and get on with my day. Usually there won’t be any context – it won’t even be mentioned again – for a couple of days

    9. Reply to Emily*

      Doesn’t anybody pick up the phone and say, “Hi, I got your email, and I don’t see any action you’re asking me to take?”

      I’ve found that replying to a confusing email usually produces more confusion. Some people just aren’t good at email.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        Yup, old millennial here and asking in person or over the phone is my first go-to if I don’t understand something. The phone-averse office makes me crazy because solving things takes so much longer over email! A conversation usually clears it up and it’s so. much. faster. than four emails back and forth or even on a DM chain.

        “Hey, I see that email you sent but I’m not sure what you’re trying to tell me” — 90% of the time that solves it all.

    10. Asenath*

      I had one co-worker who not only sent vague emails, but sent two or three follow-ups. I just waited to respond until I was sure I had all of her follow-ups and then sent a brief (and I hope clear) question about anything that remained unclear.

      1. AnonymousADD*

        I used to be that person! Thankfully, I’ve since been diagnosed with adult ADD and can focus better with treatment. Not speculating that your coworker is, just cringing a bit at past-me and feeling relieved.

    11. SpaceySteph*

      One of my coworkers pioneered “Help me understand…” and then repeating back their insane statement to them.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      It’s highly possible they don’t actually want anything and are just sharing something they found interesting to the business. They’re just not prefacing that in their email, which can seem odd if you don’t get that this is unsaid. My team often does this kind of thing about customers or technology—often they just drop a link.

      Generally, read and absorb, or respond with some variation of “Thanks for the information. Let me know if you want to take action on anything.”

    13. Just Another Admin*

      I’ve used “I’m confused, do you need a specific task completed in relation to this information” before with some success. And the “I’m confused” part was me being polite when I wanted to say “WTF are you talking about?”. When the same people got more than one “I’m confused” reply, some of them started sending better emails.

      These days an email like that would get deleted with no response. If they followed up later I’d be pretty blunt that their email contained no actionable information, so I removed it from my queue. But I’m at the point where I’m literally expected to complete a task every 20 minutes or so, from contracts to background checks, and I literally do not have the time to decode someone else’s vaguemail.

  3. Unlimited Questioner*

    What are your experiences with unlimited PTO?

    My company just announced it as a response to our collective burnout….but we’re so understaffed, I’m afraid it’s a mistake. Most of us already don’t use the PTO we have, and I feel like this will just mean we don’t get to roll anything over into the next year, without actually fixing anything.

    They’re giving us a goal of 10 weeks PTO per year, including sick, personal, vacation, and holiday time. Does that sound right to you for a nonprofit office? (As with most nonprofits, we have lower salaries than others in our field, and our benefits are middling, but not terribly generous.)

    1. Not a Name Today*

      It hasn’t worked out for me. I take less time than when I had formally allocated PTO. In the last year I managed 7 days off and no days off the year before.
      And there is an expectation that you will be available on vacation, holidays, and weekends because you have unlimited PTO and can take off anytime!
      There was a push to require a minimum amount of PTO per year, to more of less give permission to staff to take a vacation, but it was ignored.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        If they want you to be available on vacation, holidays and weekends, it’s not PTO . The O stands for Off!

        Being available means you are ON.

        So your company in reality doesn’t offer any time off.

    2. Dasein9*

      I find that having people in the office who talk about the benefits of using PTO and who encourage each other to use PTO while never asking judgemental questions about how the PTO is used tends to result in people using their time and being less burnt out.

      10 weeks seems high to me, but if you’re underpaid in dollars (or euros or yen), giving back time may be a compromise that works for many.

      1. Fran Fine*

        YES to your first paragraph. We have normalized taking time off and talking about it on my team, and we’re all better off for it. My company was also very flexible to begin with, so I never felt awkward for taking my well-deserved PTO.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      10 weeks of PTO would be incredible…if you’re able to use it. From a consultant perspective, I lean towards not loving unlimited PTO because I’ve only run into a few companies where it’s used effectively. That being said, those places run like well-oiled machines but are sadly, the exception and not the norm. The vast majority of the companies I’ve seen do it are because they are trying to cheap out on not having to pay PTO out when employees leave the company. I hope your company is one of the outliers…

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        The not-for-profit where I worked (retired about 10 years now) had 4 weeks vacation, 12 sick days (later changed to 8), 2 personal days (later changed to 4) and I think 8 holidays. So a lot of them have generous time off to somewhat mitigate the usually-low pay.

    4. Zephy*

      My company just announced it as a response to our collective burnout….but we’re so understaffed, I’m afraid it’s a mistake. Most of us already don’t use the PTO we have, and I feel like this will just mean we don’t get to roll anything over into the next year, without actually fixing anything.

      I think you’re probably right about this, unfortunately.

      By “goal” do you mean they expect everyone to take 10 weeks PTO for the year? Or “we’re calling it ‘unlimited’ but that’s the official-unofficial limit”? Because 10 weeks is extremely generous but again, I think you’re right to be wary of this “unlimited” policy, if you’re already functionally unable to use the PTO you do have and the only real change will be that you don’t accrue it anymore and therefore it can’t be paid out (since it’s “unlimited”).

      1. Unlimited Questioner*

        I’m not sure what they mean, though it was said that they don’t expect anyone to take more than 3 consecutive weeks off. The exact words were that that they want everyone to “get as close to that as possible” and I think they expect us not to go over.

        It’s not that different from what we have now (15 holidays when the office is closed, 13 combined sick & personal days, and 10-20 vacation days, based on tenure). I think I’d be fine with the change if the issue was with people hitting their PTO limit all the time and not getting time off even when their work was getting done. But with people unable to take that time off because of coverage issues/too many responsibilities per person, I’m not so sure.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Ah. So it sounds like they see that there’s burnout but are not really addressing the root cause which is things like workload. I would not be thrilled to have a carrot I couldn’t eat.

        2. someone*

          It doesn’t sound like anything will change unfortunately. If you’re already getting good enough PTO but nobody’s actually taking it, renaming it to unlimited PTO won’t magically change your office culture to one where it’s expected and encouraged to take the time.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I think they mean 10 weeks, especially when you factor in holidays (often there are 10 days or so just of those). It’s not unusual for nonprofits to give huge amounts of time off in exchange for low pay, though that’s still on the high end I’d say.

        1. Loulou*

          Yeah, I have ~15 paid holidays plus about the same in vacation days, but thats only 6 weeks. So it would take another month to get up to 10! I’m not counting sick leave since hopefully I wouldn’t need to use my maximum allowance, though of course it’s important to have it.

      2. Unlimited Questioner*

        No, I mean 10 weeks, or 50 days.

        It’s not that different from what we have now (15 holidays when the office is closed, 13 combined sick & personal days, and 10-20 vacation days, based on tenure). But most of us already aren’t taking all of that because we don’t have anyone to cover us when we’re out, so it doesn’t seem realistic.

        1. Loulou*

          Well also, hopefully most people aren’t out sick for two weeks a year! It doesn’t seem like a problem that people aren’t using their full sick leave, but it would be a serious issue if people were working instead of taking sick days because of coverage issues.

          Maybe I’m not understanding this, though, because I’ve never worked somewhere with sick/personal days — just paid holidays, sick days, and annual leave.

          1. Strict Extension*

            I used to work somewhere where the vast majority of the staff was providing necessary coverage and unexpected absences could cause a painful domino effect. There the distinction was that vacation time was planned in advance and requested so that the work schedule could be made without that person in mind. Personal/sick days were any absence that couldn’t be planned for far enough in advance to do that. So if I found out on Monday that I needed to attend a funeral on Friday or had to take a day off for emergency car repairs, those PTO days came out of the sick/personal stock (of which there were noticeably less, since you’d only want to use them when unavoidable) whereas my vacation days were intended for planned (and hopefully more relaxing and enjoyable) activities.

            Now I’m somewhere that most folks being gone most days wouldn’t effect much beyond their own workflow, so everything is just in one big PTO bucket.

            1. Loulou*

              Interesting! I see the logic in the system you described. I’m in a job that sounds similar (and is very coverage based) and we’d use annual leave for your personal days. It’s sort of a bummer to have to use days that could have been for a true vacation to let in the plumber, but I also do feel better not using up my sick time for it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sounds like it’s all smoke and mirrors to me.

          I like to do the math on these things.
          We had a set number of days for each category so nothing was unlimited at all.
          This is just the calculation for vacation time: There were 7 of us. Most of us had 4 weeks of vacation time but some had a few days more, so let’s just say 4 weeks times 7. This was 28 weeks every year that we were down one person.
          As you say here, we were barely getting by if everyone showed up. With those 28 weeks (we had to go one at a time, which was more problems) IF someone called in sick it was pure misery to be down two people.

          Yet every time this happened (often) management was totally shocked and bewildered, “How did we get two people off at the same time?” They never bothered doing the math and realizing that over half the year we would be down a person. It was time to hire another person because of all the PTO. This never, ever occurred to them.

          Because management had no plan on how to handle the staff shortages, we knew that taking any PTO was frowned upon. And, indeed, it was.
          Companies that give benefits that are not useable have given the employee nothing. But the company has encouraged employees to become more and more disgruntled.

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        Seriously. I had unlimited PTO at my last company and was explicitly told by my boss to aim for 15 days a year. 3 weeks. Deeeefinitely not 10.

    5. Beth*

      My current company has “unlimited” PTO. It just barely works, sort of, because we’re an incredibly small company, we have sufficient staff, and everyone has about the same work ethic. If any of that changes, it will go down in flames. It’s already gotten wobbly this year, from pandemic stresses.

      It is absolutely not a solution for burnout, especially when you’re understaffed. You’ll end up taking even less time, in an atmosphere of “Well, you could have taken all the time off that you wanted, it must be your fault if you haven’t made this work.”

      They need to bring your staffing up to strength. If they don’t, they aren’t addressing the problem, they’re avoiding it.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve loved it, but that’s just because my manager is good. It really depends on your manager and company culture. If your manager won’t approve time off and/or your company culture shames people for taking too much time off (or overburdens you with work to the point where you feel you can’t take time off), then “unlimited PTO” isn’t going to work.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Where I had unlimited PTO I was also hourly so YMMV. I could take the time off, but didn’t get paid, so that was an incentive to work and use the days off wisely. Do you often roll over? Do you save PTO for trips or surgery or other specific things? A goal of 10 weeks of combined leave doesn’t sound bad, actually. I get less than that + government holidays, but no sick leave. It will probably also matter if they treat you like you are completely offline or if you’ll be expected to check in. What would be the method for requesting/using it?

      1. KRM*

        Yes, if this is going to work, it has to be ‘unlimited PTO and company requires you to take a minimum of X days (15-20, I would hope)’. So you have the flexibility of unlimited days, especially in emergencies, but you also HAVE to take vacation.

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      My boyfriends office seems to have struck the right balance- they truly encourage everyone to take a minimum of 3-4 weeks off and don’t ask any questions when you do take off. He’s been able to take time off with no issues, no guilt, etc

    9. Hiring Mgr*

      Some places that have unlimited PTO also have minimums that everyone has to take to ensure that it gets taken. But it sounds like being understaffed is the bigger concern.

      (Also, not sure what you mean about not rolling over – if it’s unlimited you don’t need to?)

    10. CanadianUniversityGrad*

      I have unlimited PTO. This is my first job out of school so I’m not familiar with other set-ups. I really love having it and I think my company handles it really well. By the end of the year, I’ll have taken a little over 7 weeks of PTO. My company doesn’t have a goal so some people take more and others take less. They do mandate that you take 2 weeks of PTO if you have under 5 years of experience.

    11. vma*

      My last company changed to unlimited PTO and it worked out well. I didn’t see a huge change in how people used it, meaning people who didn’t take time off still didn’t and I wasn’t aware of anyone abusing it. The biggest benefit for me was that I took a lot more random Mondays or Fridays off because I didn’t need to “save” my PTO for the holidays or a summer trip. However, the culture certainly was that PTO requests were never denied, people’s actual lives took priority, and we could always find another way to get the work done. And this was in silicon valley tech. If your culture isn’t like that, that’s the problem, not PTO amounts.

      1. cat socks*

        Agreed. This has been my experience as well. My company does unlimited PTO and it works well because of the company culture around vacations and time off. A few weeks ago, I had a free afternoon without any meetings. I stopped working a few hours early and ran some errands. I like having the flexibility to do things like that without having to use vacation time.

    12. Librar**

      My spouse’s company has unlimited PTO that does not include holidays (10 days throughout the year) . He makes a point to use 40 days/year, which ends up being equivalent to your 10 weeks when you add the holidays back in.
      His job currently slightly underpays for his field, and this is the amount of PTO that he feels is necessary for him to have the work/life balance that he’d lose if he took a higher paying position.
      All of that to say, it works for him, but it requires a level of intentionality that I don’t have to worry about with my 24 days/year “use it or lose it” PTO. He has to make sure all projects are on track and that there is someone to cover if he takes a truly no-contact PTO day. If his team is in a pinch, a PTO day becomes a “check email from the couch and maybe hop on a call” day. Since PTO is no longer a limited resource, some of the sacredness of using PTO is lost and boundaries can easily get pretty blurry. When I use one of my 24 days, my office recognizes that I’m cashing in a limited resource and tends to be more respectful of me using a benefit.
      I’d ask about how your company plans to handle support while you’re each using PTO, especially since you’re already understaffed. Will they maintain a true no contact on PTO policy? What is the plan for emergencies? Also, check if there are limits on how much PTO can be used at once. You want to be wary of a situation where taking a day or 2 here frequently is ok, but there’s pushback if you ever try to be out for a week.

    13. anonymous73*

      Well if you have unlimited PTO there would be nothing to roll over. And what do you mean by “goal” of 10 weeks? They want everyone to shoot to take that much time off per year, or that’s actually the max?

      If you’re understaffed, you need to have a realistic conversation with your manager about expectations.

    14. New Mom*

      The thing with unlimited PTO is that the company doesn’t need to pay you out when you leave. So if you had three week’s of unused vacation when you leave a company, my understanding is that they owe you $ for those three weeks. With unlimited PTO the company doesn’t have to pay you for time not taken. It also isn’t looked at time that they owe you, if you get 15 PTO days a year, the company owes you that time off, but with unlimited it seems like companies and managers view that time differently.

      If the company can guarantee that you get ten weeks, you should try to use that all. At my nonprofit, we get three weeks of paid office closure throughout the year and usually four day weekends for federal holidays, most people take a week for Thanksgiving and then I get about 25 days a year that stops accruing at 37 days. I’ve found it hard to take 25 days off a year on top of everything we already get off and my busy schedule but whenever I get close to 37 I make sure to take a few days off because then I’d be losing money.

      1. Fran Fine*

        It’s not legally required in every state for a company to pay out unused vacation time to employees when they leave.

    15. Quinalla*

      I don’t have experience with it, but it is NOT a solution to burnout when you are understaffed. They need get more staff and/or lower expectations of work that can be done and encourage you to use your PTO and make sure you have the support you need to actually feel like you can take it. 10 weeks total including vacation, sick, etc. sounds great, but if everyone is feeling they can’t take time off now, switching to unlimited is neutral at best, likely will make it worse.

    16. GarlicMicrowaver*

      It’s a dangling carrot. Sorry to say. I have been at my POE for 6 years and the only time I used up all my accrued PTO was for maternity, and returned starting at 0. This was over two years ago. I have about 7 weeks in my bank now, and we can accrue up to 10. I never take any time off because, when I do, all hell breaks looks. Sorry.

    17. Kiki*

      I had unlimited PTO and really loved it, but it was because our managers were genuinely very flexible with it and our office culture was one where folks didn’t have a “butts in seats” mentality. What made it work, though, was that managers were active in making sure they knew how time off would affect deliverable and workflows and coverage. Most employees were good about managing that on their own, but it was something managers had to keep an eye on.
      But if people are already not using all their allotted PTO, I feel like just giving people an unlimited amount, even if they say folks should target 10 weeks, won’t really address the issues of folks who don’t feel like they can take time off

    18. Cakeroll*

      My company has unlimited PTO, and this year I’ve taken (checks) 11 days. That includes a couple sick days (but not a few “I don’t feel well so I’m logging off early” days). Our company also does a lot of all-company bonus days off, which I think is a better way of “enforcing” anti-burnout time off. We close the week between Christmas and New Years, we closed for a “Spring Break” and a “Summer Break”, etc.

      Including all of those and US federal holidays (which I don’t file PTO for) it’s a grand total of 32 days I have, or will have, off this year: six and a half weeks. At previous “limited PTO” employers, a role at a similar level to mine would have come with 6 weeks of PTO on top of the federal holidays – and I would have been able to either use that, or cash it out.

      So “unlimited PTO” is rarely, if ever, an effective mechanism to give employees more time off. It’s incredibly effective, as Allison has noted before, at reducing the obligation on the employers account to pay out to leaving employees, and it’s effective for HR and management teams to make burnout and coverage “your problem” to solve rather than theirs. Even with the little bit of personal time off I’ve taken this year, the attitude among my coworkers has always been “oh my goodness you’re going to be unavailable? How will we possibly manage?! Will you log on to check on things a little bit while you’re away?”

    19. Koala dreams*

      No matter how reasonable the policy sounds on paper, it doesn’t matter if the company doesn’t actually approve the paid time off.

      I’m not too happy with the idea that time off is a solution to burnout. Burnout can be a serious illness. (Hopefully it won’t be in your case!) The company can help with reasonable workloads, better accomodations, better sick insurance, work from home for people who want it, reasonable breaks… Three weeks off is not enough if the work environment itself is making you ill.

    20. Shameless vacation-taker*

      I’m navigating this transition, too: I was at a university for much of my career, and I’ve now moved to a company with unlimited PTO. For all the reasons people have already mentioned, I think it’s a terrible system in general, and I was a bit nervous about how it would culturally work – but I’m also at the point in my life/career where I’m bold enough to take the time I think is fair and that the policy allows, and I’m not going to worry too much about how it’s perceived. The university gave 4 weeks of vacation, plus another week’s worth of personal time (effectively vacation), plus a paid week during winter break, plus the usual federal holidays. So that’s 6-7 weeks of time off a year, and I’m operating as if that’s still what I’m allowed. I try not to take vacation at hideously busy times, of course, but I choose to take the company at their word, and I wouldn’t stay very long at a place that promised a key benefit but never let me use it. Sounds like your organization needs to deal with staffing issues… maybe if people actually take the time that the leadership is encouraging, they’ll be forced to face the bigger problem?

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

      I haven’t had Unlimited PTO but if your understaffed and burnt out it’s not going to help solve the issues your company has. Hopefully they see this, especially if people don’t start taking the PTO because of how busy it is.

    22. Been There Done That*

      Yeah….nonprofit fundraiser here. I get essentially 5 weeks of PTO a year, which includes sick and vacay. I am not sick often. Between special events and fundraising campaigns, I can barely get in the 5 weeks. 10 weeks is almost one week per month. With committee meetings, etc, that vacay would never happen. And usually I end up working on vacay anyway…..because you know….fundraising!

    23. Not really*

      I am in a large startup with unlimited PTO. No one has much time to take off, and I see it as being cheap- they don’t want to have to pay out vacation or carry accrued vacation on the books as a loss. At my former job, people felt that they had earned their PTO and took it. Now, you feel like you’re asking for a favor when you want a day off.

  4. Jenn*

    How do you approach moving to another office location to your boss?

    I work at a global company with several locations in the United States, everyone is still remote right now. I’m based in the Dallas, TX office and want to move to Phoenix, AZ in May 2022. Our Dallas office is mostly marketing people (which is what I do). We actually have an office in Tempe, AZ, but this office is mostly filled with customer service representatives. My team specifically has two other people who work remotely not near an office (in WA and NV)  and I know a handful of others working remotely so it seems like it is possible to move locations and work remotely. I’m just not sure when or how to approach this with my boss.

    1. MisterMeeble*

      Does you company have an official policy on remote work, or moving from office to remote in another location? Or is it up to individual managers to work it out? Do they have the authority to override a policy that might prevent this?

      If you don’t know the policies, maybe do some research to see what you may or may not be up against.

      If your relationship with your manager is good, I would simply discuss it, fairly informally at first to take their temperature, so to speak. Once that’s established, get a more formal plan depending on the answers. You might need to offer to go to a company office on a regular basis (once or twice a week) and should probably offer to go in “when needed” fo in-person gatherings with others in that office.

      And if you have a contentious relationship with your manager, perhaps HR is the way to go.

    2. Irish girl*

      Does your company have a policy that spells out who can work remotely and in what situations? I think you need to start asking those questions. Can you frame why working in the office in Tempe, AZ might not actually benefit the company if you did move? If that office has no one you interact with, what do they get other than the cost of your but in a seat that could go to someone that would give them a benefit for coming in.

      My manger is now a remote employee enough though there is an office in her area that she could work out of. She was a manager in that office prior to her internal transfer to my department and the space she took up in her prior job is going to the replacement and they dont have a desk space for her as a Home Office employee in that location. But we have policies around remote work and things people need to sign to do that.

    3. Cranky lady*

      Are you looking to work in that office or remotely? Almost 20 years ago I went to my boss and said “I’m moving to XYZ city and we have an office nearby. I would like to stay in my current job so is there a way we can make this work?” The office in the new city found me a desk and I worked from there. I was very young and scared of making the request but it ended up not being a big deal. I would hope that it’s even less of an issue now with remote work as common as it is.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        This sounds like the best approach. If your role doesn’t require you to be in a specific geography (like sales, for example) and your team is national instead of “everyone in the same building”, working at a desk (or maybe remotely!) in Tempe shouldn’t be a huge issue for the company. Good luck!!

    4. anonymous73*

      Just set up a meeting with them and ask. I would do it ASAP – May is not that far away and if they say no, you need to consider your options (including a new job if you’re set on moving). Let them know you’re interested in moving and ask what your options are with the company, then go from there. Make sure everything is spelled out and there are no assumptions being made. And if you both agree on the change, get it in writing.

    5. PABJ*

      I would just ask about the possibility. The plus side is that the issue of having an employee work in another state is significantly lessened in your case as the company is already operating in Arizona, so won’t have to jump through as many legal hoops as would be the case if you were the first person to work remotely in a new state.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am not familiar enough with taxes. But one problem I have hit here with remote work is that companies do not want to have yet another state where they have to file taxes- for state tax. When companies hit this wall the answer is usually a big no.
      As part of prepping for this conversation, try to have some idea how this goes in the two states you are looking at.

    1. Applesauced*

      so far :
      – test computer and program in advance (maybe do a test call with a friend before hand?)
      – have files on my desktop and/or already open
      – check lighting
      – put googly eyes on my camera so I look at it
      – raise the computer on books
      – turn off all notification and alerts

      1. Hello, I’d like to report my boss*

        I love the googly eyes idea! And definitely do a test call, and if you need to screenshare, check that works too.

        Also if you are late and have tech problems, don’t worry- everyone has had it and the interviewers have been really relaxed and understanding. If they aren’t willing to be reasonable, that’s a red flag. I had one interviewer who kept complaining about my connection being poor (it was almost certainly her – the rest of the panel could hear me fine) and she later turned out to be unreasonable in other ways.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Test your audio! I found out the hard way (thankfully not via work) that my Bluetooth headset mic does not play well with my computer. Go for wired if you need to use a headset. Practice sharing your screen with your friend so you know how to launch the docs within whatever program they are using. Different platforms do different things.

        I’d keep the background simple. A blank wall or minimally decorated. Make sure there are no distractions like pets or children or friends.

        Wear solid colors. Patterns can be distracting.

      3. Quinalla*

        Definitely do a practice run with a friend to check audio, what is visible on camera, lighting, etc.

        And I agree something to keep you looking at your camera, but also try to position your camera and the video window of the interviewer(s) directly below the camera. Then you can still see their reactions and if you do start looing right at them, it will still likely read as eye contact pretty well. Practice this with your friend as well so you know how you will need to adjust things and be able to do it quickly when you join the interview.

        I haven’t done interviews, but lots and lots of video calls :)

    2. Hello, I’d like to report my boss*

      I’ve done about 10 virtual interviews this summer as a candidate.

      Remember to look at the camera, not the screen! It will make you give better “eye contact”. I got some post its and drew arrows on them pointing at the camera and stuck them next to the camera to keep my eyes in the right place.

      Another useful thing is that you can have notes. I had a one page of brief examples of projects, situations etc to jog my memory if I needed it. Each example was just 1-2 words to help me out. (I once totally blanked on a video interview, for an easy question, so it’s a good “just in case” thing for me).

      I also got a post it note and wrote down a happy calming thing on it (for me – hot tubs) and stuck it on the edge of my monitor. I don’t know if it helped me relax a bit but it made me smile!

      1. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

        I would add, find a silent fidget if you need something for your hands to do to be able to focus. If you’re worried about getting nervous, you can put something that smells nice and calming to you (like a lavender eye pillow) on your desk so that you can have an invisible reminder of the headspace you want to be in.

    3. irene adler*

      How will you be presenting those drawings?

      Via a share-screen feature on the video platform you are using? Know how to find this feature on the platform you are using. Nothing worse than hunting around for the button.

      Or -don’t laugh- holding them up to the camera for folks to view? We had to do this for a class and several drawings were not viewable as the camera resolution was too poor. Check this beforehand.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        Yes – get on some video platform using the computer you will use for the interview and practice holding things up!

    4. desdemona*

      Are the drawings on your computer or physical sketches?
      If the former; practice screen sharing in the program the interviewers will use a few times before the interview. (just start your own meeting, or ask a friend to zoom with you and have them talk to you about what they see)

      If they’re physical drawings, do the same thing with a friend but practice holding them up. OR – and this would depend on the employer – I’ve had to show paper drawings recently and joined the call from my phone, and positioned it on a stand pointing downwards, with the drawings below it. Basically adding a camera feed, but you have to be cautious about muting so you don’t get feedback from having 2 devices.

    5. anonymous73*

      Test out the camera beforehand – make sure you’re visible from the shoulders up. Make sure there’s nothing crazy in the background. I don’t think a fake background is always necessary, just make sure you’re not in front of a pile of dirty laundry or a messy unmade bed.

      Sign in at least 5 minutes early so you can avoid any technical difficulties and make sure the camera and microphone are working.

      Treat this as if it were in person – don’t forget you’re on camera don’t have a reaction because you think they can’t see you (we had someone roll their eyes at us in an interview recently).

      Good luck!

    6. Em*

      Check the angle — someone else mentioned putting the computer up on books or something, and the idea for that is so that it’s not a view up your nose and at your ceiling. Ideally, your camera should be at your eye level or just above, there should be a little gap between the top of your head and the top of the view, and the bottom of the screen should include a bit of your torso (but not down to, like, your waist). You should be straight on to camera vertically as well as horizontally.

    7. Strict Extension*

      It sounds like maybe the drawings are via screenshare, but if there is anything physical that you are going to hold up to the camera, keep in mind that virtual and blurred backgrounds don’t play nice with showing items that aren’t you (and also sometimes parts of you).

      If you have an environment where you can just stay unmuted the whole time, it’s better to do that than going back and forth, since presumably you’ll be talking for a good percentage of the time. If you can’t do that, get practice being quick with that mute button, since you don’t want radio silence for five seconds before each answer.

      Make sure to check the clothes you’re going to wear. Some fabrics give off a distracting moiré pattern on screen, and I’ve even heard tell of those that go translucent (was that on this site?).

    8. Nela*

      I really hope those drawings are digital or scanned copies you can screenshare, because holding papers up to a webcam is not going to look good. Webcams are crappy, especially those built-in ones.

    9. Cleo*

      Test what you’re going to wear as well when you do the test call. For me, finding something that read as professional interview wear on screen was harder than I expected.

    10. something*

      Make sure there aren’t any devices that might interrupt your wi-fi signal if you’ll be using a wi-fi network. I’ve had to put a note on the microwave during my recent online interviews and my partner has to put a note on it when they have important matches in online games.
      If you’re not using a built-in laptop camera, make sure your webcam is aligned as well as possible with the area you’ll be looking at the interviewers in. This way, you’re not appearing to shift away from them when they’re talking.

  5. PD*

    How much involvement is too much? We have a new manager, who used to be our peer… and he is very hands on.
    E.g. he asks for medical info, wants us to share it with the rest of the team so everyone can support each other etc.
    I mean, I’m not the only one who feels that this is an overstep of boundaries. And that’s just 1 example.
    Any advice for scripts to use? I feel like what I’m saying is just not being understood or listened to.
    Failing that what next?

    1. Excel Jedi*

      That is not hands on….that is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

      You should only give him medical information as it relates to your ability to do your job, and he should be keeping that information confidential. There is absolutely no reason for your peers to know unless you want them to.

      1. PD*

        Right? That is my take as well!
        He is very pushy so although I have said ‘no’, his attitude is very much ‘you’re in the wrong for thinking like that’, which is uncomfortable and which makes me think he is clocking what else I object to that is different to his idea of what should be shared or not.
        He gave us all a document about him, his personality, and how he likes to communicate, but he made us do the same – like ok, I get that knowing each other’s communication style is helpful, but not filling in the bit about me. To say I barely completed it with the minimal info is an understatement.

        1. Maybesocks*

          It could actually be valuable to put on the form: medical information for emergencies is in my purse…or whatever.

    2. Dust Bunny*


      That’s not “very hands on”, that’s nosy AF and way, way, out of line.

      If he won’t take, “The department doesn’t need to know my medical situation,” for an answer, can you escalate this to someone above him?

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      The phrases “medical appointment” and “medical issue” are perfect because they are specific but vague. That’s all he or anyone else needs to know.

    4. Up and Away*

      In what context is he asking for medical info? Like you’re in a meeting and it’s an icebreaker? Or he’s announcing to everyone why Lucinda is going to be out this afternoon? I guess I’d try something like, “that’s not relevant information that we need here.” Or, “that’s private information that no one needs to share with their co-workers.”

      1. PD*

        We were in a work meeting about returning face to face and we had to complete in-case-of-emergency contacts (standard for the type of business I work in and activity we were doing, and it includes things like allergies and meds you’re taking so info can be given to medical services if needed) for all the attendees which include 2 staff at all times.
        I said if you didn’t want to hold your ICE details with the details of clients, then keep them separately in your pocket or something and let someone know where to find them if you’re incapacitated and if an ambulance needs to be called.
        HE then said we should share them with all the members of staff whether they go to the event or not, so that we could support each other.
        Um, no? There was tumbleweed in the meeting.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          That’s good! The tumbleweed I mean. I’m glad people aren’t humoring him even if they aren’t actively pushing back.

    5. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My kingdom for standard management training to be normalized.

      I actually think you should bring it to HR, not to him. He’s not listening to you and some of these things are a big deal.

      In terms of what to say in the moment “I prefer to keep that private” “That’s more than I’m comfortable disclosing at work” “I appreciate the intention but you’re overstepping my boundaries” (the last one I only suggest because he used to be a peer – while it’s not, some managers might find it overly direct so I wouldn’t necessarily jump there with an unknown quantity).

      But yeah someone above him needs to reign him in.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        Standard management training would be ideal! When I promoted there was no training, so I had to learn the hard way. And a lot of it was gut instinct, and when you’re a new manager, many of your instincts are dead wrong. I look at things I did my first two years and I cringe.

        PD, I can’t tell here if your new manager is just nosey AF or since your new manager is doing their own on boarding they are just doing a terrible job at it.

        But I agree that looping in HR is the best option.

    6. Whynot*

      “While I appreciate you want to create a supportive team culture, some people may be feeling pressure to share private information in ways they don’t feel comfortable. I’m also concerned this may open our company to legal liability related to medical privacy. Can we brainstorm other ways to improve our team culture?”

      1. PD*

        Oh I really like this, thank you. I am going to use an adapted version of it :-) I am meeting with him and HR next week, because one of the things that came out of this meeting was that he wanted to ‘update’ my disability adaptations!

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          It sounds like he’s wanting to be seen to be ‘actively’ managing but without the understanding of key basics such as confidentiality / regulations.
          Glad HR is involved. Could you also bring up the sharing of private info on this call? Maybe ask HR ‘Of course we cannot share everyone’s private medical information and emergency contacts with each other in the team because of confidentiality but would you clarify the standard process for collecting these now post-Covid? Has it changed?’
          From a working together point of view I do think there is value in taking him up on his request for your personality and communication style.
          For example: I am a private person and like to have this respected by my colleagues.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      This is where I would start with the, “Well, I have really bad menstrual cramps – OTC drugs don’t work – and a super heavy period so I need to have a vaginal ultrasound and a biopsy. The last time I had a biopsy – you know – where they pinch off a piece of my uterus – I passed out from the pain, so even though my appointment is at 10 a.m. and I hope I can work the rest of the day, I might not be able to.”

    8. Oh Behave!*

      “I’m not comfortable sharing that information. It’s nothing life-threatening (if it isn’t, otherwise don’t use this part). Bill, did you get that report I sent?”

    9. Not So NewReader*

      He’s not hands on, he’s an invasive weed.

      I had a boss who liked to know everything. This boss would worm their way into situations and make decisions such as my doc was incompetent and so on. The conversations were friendly at the beginning but that all turned the corner. Yeah, the boss wanted to talk finances and anything else, also.

      I see that potential here because you are telling the boss “No, I do not want to discuss this” and you are feeling unheard. I can’t see where this would get better by discussing it.

      If you can give some examples of what he says, I bet we can help you prep strong answers.

    10. PD*

      Thanks for all your responses. Sorry I can’t give more details, I don’t know if my coworkers read this site (I think some of them do) so wouldn’t want to be identified.
      Good to know I’m not wrong with my instincts. I’ll be considering going to HR privately after the meeting next week.

  6. Marion*

    I have a teammate who always has to say something on every call. She literally cannot not talk or interject. It’s annoying but I’m trying to find humor in it to stay sane lol

    This is an example. My team has a weekly call to go over weekly reporting with several stakeholders, in total, the meetings have about 10 people. With the meeting format, 6 of us each have some set time to walk the stakeholders through the weekly report going over different things. My teammate, Brittany, will do something right before she has to speak, then when she unmutes, she’ll talk about what she just did. So what do I mean?

    3 weeks ago, she had a plumber working at her house. At her time to talk, she goes: “OMG, hope you all didn’t hear me talking to the plumber! hahaha I didn’t check if I was muted! How embarrassing!”. Then 2 weeks ago it was “oh my goodness, my cat was walking on my desk! hahaha”. Last week it was “sorry I was just rubbing my eye! hahaha I just ate jalapenos at lunch! I’m so embarrassed! haha”

    This woman is in her mid to late 30s, it’s just so odd. I think it’s a mix of insecurity and needing attention. She does this on every other call she’s on. Has anyone experienced anything similar?

    1. Apples to apples comparison*

      Ugh that’s annoying. Yes I did, but the coworker continued to be attention-seeking.

      1. CBB*

        I agree. You can’t make her change, but you can change how her behavior makes you feel. I would try to stop thinking that she’s doing it for attention.

        I know several people who talk too much when nervous. Extra attention is the opposite of what they want.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Maybe she’s nervous (and doesn’t want the attention) or maybe she’s begging for attention (and rewarding her would encourage the behavior). Either way, seems best to just try to ignore it.

    2. WellRed*

      I have a similar coworker who tends to go off on lengthy tangents, often about something not work related. I feel your pain.

    3. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

      Yeah, i would also like advice on how to handle this successfully, no luck so far.

    4. Generic Name*

      For a minute I was afraid you were talking about me. I was recently told by my departing manager that I come across as “strident” and I contribute “too much” in meetings. I’m in a senior role and I thought my contributions were helpful to the team, but I guess I was wrong. So I’ve stopped attending team meetings and I’m looking for another job. I’m sorry she is so annoying to you.

      1. hamsterpants*

        I’m glad you’re looking for another job. I’ve only ever heard “strident” used to try to get women to sit down and shut up because she said something that made a man feel bad about himself.

      2. SC in NC*

        Not to hijack the conversation but you quit going to meetings entirely and are looking to change jobs because of that comment? Something I learned as I became more senior at my company is that I needed to be more selective with my input. At times I needed to lead the discussion but recognized that development for less senior employees should include allowing them to contribute and work out problems with their peers. I may know more about something or be the boss in the room but that doesn’t mean I should dominate the discussion. I also learned that when I did comment, it was best if I was a bit more subtle as opposed be being too direct or outright solving the problem. Perhaps that’s all your former boss was trying to tell you.

        1. Generic Name*

          Possibly. I’m also unhappy because I made an official sexual harassment complaint that was not dealt with for more than a year and then I was told that I “should have come forward sooner”…….

          1. Generic Name*

            Oh, and six months prior that same manager told me I needed to work on my confidence and speak up in meetings more. So it was a shock to be told I talked too much and she didn’t see what my contributions were.

            1. Quinalla*

              Yikes, sounds like getting out of this company is the right move. I have run into something eerily similar where I was told to work on my confidence – what they meant was I needed to SHOW my confidence, I was already plenty confident. When I started doing that, I then got told I was too aggressive by the same person. Being a woman in a male dominated field or a woman in any leadership role really can suck a lot as threading the needle between too nice and ice queen and confident but not aggressive and so on is basically impossible.

            2. SC in NC*

              You have plenty of other reasons to leave. Find a better opportunity and put this place in your rear view mirror. There are better places out there. Good luck.

    5. Joyce To the World*

      I find myself doing this and I just cringe each time. This is why I think I am doing it:
      1. I am trying to fit in while also trying to get past my social awkwardness. I am fairly new and we are all remote workers, so there is really no other way to interject a little bit of your personality.
      2. We are still in a pandemic and dang it if it doesn’t get lonely sometimes. I work at home and my husband leaves for the day and it is just me and the dogs. I think what stunted social skills I have took a hit with all the isolation. Kind of like verbal diarrhea.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, to me, this just sounds like comments someone makes when they want to be personable and build a rapport with coworkers. If you are someone who doesn’t want that and wants to be out of a meeting as soon as possible, I can see why it would be annoying, but otherwise I don’t think it would bother me unless I already didn’t like the person.

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

      I think this would be something her supervisor or the meeting lead would need to handle and even then carefully — she sounds very easily distracted and might not be able to help it. It doesn’t sound like she derails the meeting though if she just makes a random comment when it’s her turn to start. I understand your irritation though, my grand boss is constantly asking our team if we’re excited over the most mundane or even bad things, “We’re going to start tracking our time spent on projects on this shared spreadsheet, are you excited?”

    7. anonymous73*

      Yes it sounds annoying, but unless she’s taking up an unnecessary amount of time with her rambling, I’d just let it go. If it goes on and on (and on and on) the person in charge of the meeting needs to cut her off, reign her in and keep on topic.

    8. New Mom*

      I would say that a lot of people on my team are like your coworker. We joke around and add non-work related comments in our team meetings. I wonder if your coworker came from an environment where that was the norm, and she may not have fully grasped how that’s not how things are at your org?

    9. Emi*

      This sounds to me like she’s undersocialized due to the pandemic, honestly, and reaching out for small talk to connect over.

    10. JB (not in Houston)*

      That doesn’t sound like she’s doing it for attention, unless you have seen her try to get attention in other ways. But even if that is why she’s doing it, as you acknowledge, it doesn’t help you to think that way. Instead of just finding humor in it, can you use it to have sympathy for her? That’s the same kind of thing someone nervous about presenting would say, or someone who thinks it’s too curt to start speaking without a greeting of some kind but isn’t sure what to say, or someone who is trying to seem personable and doesn’t realize she’s irritating people. If her statements are really just a sentence or two, that’s not wasting too much of your time, so can you try to reframe it to see it as someone who wants to relate to the team but doesn’t know how? For me, sometimes seeing the humor doesn’t help me be less annoyed, but seeing the humanity in someone does.

    11. Malarkey01*

      I’m a little confused. You say she can’t help herself from talking or interjecting but then in the examples it sounds like she’s just saying an extra line or two before she starts her part of the briefing. If she was interrupting other people or going off topic during a briefing when she didn’t have a role I’d agree that it’s too much, but if she’s just making the transition between another speaker and herself with a little non-work comment I don’t think that’s interjecting or inappropriate. Sometimes the transition may fall flat but on most meetings like this I’m on when people are switching off speakers a new speaker might say hope everyone’s enjoying this weather or excited to share some exciting project updates after that horrible (local sporting team) game last night (and mine are really high level briefings).

    12. Mimi*

      I don’t know if this is precisely the same, since your example is just extra chit-chat at the beginning of speaking, but I had a in-some-ways similar experience with a coworker I’ll call Bob — new hire, probably in his early twenties. He reminded me of a puppy, all enthusiasm and metaphorical flailing limbs. Someone would mention the London llama stable renovation and he’d jump in and provide an update on the new Denver Alpaca stable, sometimes talking over people who had more things to say about the actual topic, or with on-topic comments, like, “Oh, yeah, I looked for the curry combs last week but couldn’t find them,” but talking over Danielle who was trying to say that the curry combs got moved two weeks ago.

      It was mildly annoying to me, but Bob was in my department but not on my team, so we weren’t in that many meetings together. Then one day Bob was talking over his own boss, Charles, while Charles was trying to give directions or clarification or something, and I could tell that Charles was getting annoyed. After that meeting, I sent Bob a chat saying, “FYI, Charles seemed annoyed when you kept talking over him in the meeting earlier, and I’ve noticed that you have a tendency to talk over people a lot.”

      Bob apologized, which, whatever, he hadn’t talked over me, and I wasn’t entirely sure that he was really getting the point that this was bad for his reputation on the team, so I added something like, “I know you want to contribute, but if I were you, I would be working to make sure that enthusiasm doesn’t lead to talking over people.”

      He thanked me for the feedback, but TBH I didn’t have super-high hopes, and it could be argued that it wasn’t really my business, but I figured I didn’t have much to lose, since I’m senior to Bob and it wouldn’t really inconvenience me if he took a dislike to me. But the effect has been striking. I don’t think I’ve heard Bob interrupt someone since, and I heard through the grapevine that he’s been better in his smaller team meetings, too. I don’t know for sure that Charles didn’t talk to him, too, but I don’t have any reason to believe that he did, since the over-enthusiastic contributions had been going on for a bit.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s up to her supervisor to tell her to strictly limit the chatter about “at home” or personal stuff and restrict her conversation to the business at hand.

    14. allathian*

      Yeah, leading with a bit of small talk would be normal for us, but more like “nice weather we’re having” rather than redirecting people’s attention to something mildly embarrassing you just did, like Brittany does. Regardless of whether this behavior is prompted by insecurity or a need for attention, I suspect that simply ignoring it would be the best way to deal with it.

    15. A Wall*

      Sounds like someone who is nervous and/or just trying to be friendly with everyone. I guess I can see how it would be a pet peeve but I’m not sure why, nor how it would get construed as attention-seeking.

  7. Silver*

    I keep getting rejections. So many rejections. I’ve successfully used AAM’s advice before but no one is biting lately. I’m in a weird place of being overqualified in terms of experience (I lead a large team) but under qualified in number of years of work experience (I have barely three but am aiming for jobs that want 5+). Any words fit wisdom?

    1. Excel Jedi*

      SAME! I’ve gotten a few interviews, but I’ve never gotten this many rejections at the first round before.

      I think there are a lot of people competing for the same jobs. Just keep applying, and maybe expand your search to jobs that are advertised a little lower if you’re not hearing back?

    2. SlimeKnight*

      Just keep trying. I work in a field where it is normal to get 10+ years in a position before you are considered “experienced.” I’ve been in this role 4 years, am bored out of my mind, and couldn’t imagine doing it another 6. I had been looking for a new job for the better part of the year and got a job offer just the other day!

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I have a friend who is in a similar situation and has gotten dozens of rejections since June. I know it’s extra frustrating when you hear how good the job market is and all that, but don’t take it personally and keep plugging away. The actual job market varies a lot by area and sector and it’s a weird time.

    4. demoralized_libra*

      Just wanted to say that I’m on the same boat as you, Silver! I have about 5 years of work experience but am trying to shift to a different industry, and it is SO rough. I even posted about my being demoralized below you. I am sending nothing but good vibes to you; we’ll be okay. (Or so I keep telling myself.)

    5. NervousNellie*

      Not exactly wisdom, but what I’m hearing about the job market doesn’t match what I’m actually seeing. I’m hearing “we’d hire anyone with a pulse and half your experience.” I’m hearing “please apply, I could use someone like you.” I’m hearing “You’re a great fit for this role” from the recruiter. What I’m seeing is I apply into a black hole. I’m being told to reach out to people who never get back to me. I’m seeing “desperate” companies take a lot of time to think about it. I’m seeing people get to the final round of interviews, and suddenly be disqualified for something that, according to the company, should have disqualified them when they first spoke to the recruiter. (Seriously, a friend went to a final interview after getting extremely good feedback from his internal recruiter on every prior step in what I think was a four-part interview, only be told that the company was looking for entirely different skills for the role. Think interviewing in French and then being told the job requires Japanese. You’d think they’d have figured that out much sooner in the process.)

      1. Jax*

        Same, and glad to hear someone else voice it! I’m not witnessing a desperate job market in my industry (HR). Maybe talk of the Great Resignation has led to more people who otherwise wouldn’t be job seeking to throw their application in the ring, resulting in employers slowing down and becoming less “desperate.”

        I’m also not seeing crazy salary listings to entice applicants–if anything, the salaries seem low in light of increasing costs.

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          This. For all the talk of The Great Resignation, it hasn’t actually changed anything about the absurdly high bar companies hold candidates to. They haven’t even resorted to hiring entry level folks just yet (true entry level, not “Must have 3-5 years experience + Masters ” entry level).

          1. A Wall*

            My personal theory is that companies were forced to raise some wages and/or offer some more flexibility during the pandemic, and as a result they got mad and decided they needed to raise the requirements for the jobs to make it “fair” to them. Because I’ve noticed that over the last year or so, the same companies posting the same openings over and over seem to keep adding more and more stuff to their list of minimum requirements until it has ballooned entirely out of control.

      2. A Wall*

        I’m in the same boat, and I work in an industry about which there are half a dozen articles a week talking about how employees are leaving left and right and no positions can be backfilled because no one is applying.

        What I am seeing is that the same companies keep listing the same kinds of jobs for months and months but gradually keep increasing the minimum requirements in the listing until it’s absolutely bonkers. Say a Senior Staffer role usually requires 5-7 years of experience, but they want 7-10 for a Junior Staffer which is normally damn near entry level. At the beginning of the year some companies I was interested in would have Midlevel Staffer openings asking for 3 years exp in broadly that kind of work, whereas now after being reposted several times the listings ask for 7 years exp in only the one type of project they think is the most important plus years of experience in every piece of software you may or may not ever come across in the role and maybe also fluency in a relevant second language.

    6. Purple Penguin*

      Joining the chorus to say that this is me too: I’m both over and under qualified for positions and I’ve been feeling the weight of so many rejections.

      On the advice of a mentor, last week I decided to let myself wallow for the entire week in the mire of it all. Now that I’ve processed the angst, this week has felt like the weight has lifted somewhat. All to say, mind your emotional health. Allow yourself to feel your feels while also reminding yourself that you’ve got what it takes to be a great employee. Job searching is tough in the best of times. You’ve got this. You’re doing all of the right stuff. A good job fit will happen because you’re doing the hard work of putting yourself out there.

    7. Maggie*

      SAME. I got recruited even by one of my current company’s biggest competitors, lateral move but they pay much better and know it. I went through the entire process, and got an automatic rejection email yesterday. I emailed my recruiter politely asking for feedback and was told that ‘we’re not giving feedback at this time’ dude you recruited me!

  8. I want a boring office job*

    I’ve been working in public libraries for 20 years and the bulk of my experience is in customer service. But I’m so utterly burnt out and I don’t want to have anything to do with customer service anymore. I’d love a stereotypical “boring office job” where you go in from 8-5, do a set of mostly independent tasks, and go home, no customers, no weekends. I’m good at excel, attentive to details, and I love doing rote, repetitive work. Does anybody have any ideas for what kinds of jobs I should start looking for?

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      Have you looked at data entry or contractual editing positions? Usually, the work is pretty rote and you can set your own hours.

    2. Loopy*

      Technical writer might sort of fit, thought definitely not rote or repetitive. There’s wide spectrum of different varieties under that umbrella, you’d have to be discerning I which jobs. Lower level (tech writer I or II) might be closer to what you’re looking for.

    3. CCC*

      I’d look for jobs with “clerk” in the title. Payroll clerk. Data clerk. Purchasing clerk. Scheduling clerk. Etc. Even bookkeeper. At least in my area, those positions are usually “you do paperwork and rarely talk to humans” jobs

    4. anonycat*

      I don’t know your role, but there’s a demand in law firm libraries or law firms for someone to do rote case pulls, docket pulls, court filing pulls, judge background information, attorney background information and company research. High demand right now!

      1. RagingADHD*

        When I worked in law firms I always loved my brief visits to the library to pick up or return things my boss requested. Very peaceful.

      2. Diana*

        It will depend on your location, but (for example) larger architecture, interior design, or engineering firms will often have some type of in-house library that needs to be managed.

      3. Sammy Keyes*

        Honestly, even law firm reception can be pretty quiet and chill if you’re at the right place! I worked for a firm where I never had to screen calls, just transferred them to lawyers/their assistants, and most of my job was data entry, expense reports, ordering food, and a bit of *light* event coordination.

      4. Chauncy Gardener*

        This. Also, have you looked into fact checking things like textbooks for publishing houses?
        Good luck!!

    5. cubone*

      Could you do something with records or archival work? I worked at a college registrars office and we had “records management” people who made sure all our student records were appropriately filed. Seems like a good fit if you’re knowledgeable about library sciences and even though it’s not customer facing, having that experience is good too for student support.

      1. imaginaryoranges*

        I was also going to recommend some sort of university operations role. That’s what I do and while there is the occasional annoying person who finds their way to you, it’s generally very autonomous, I have a great work/life balance (no over time! no expected weekend/eveningwork!) and get the satisfaction of just making things run largely without having to deal with students OR faculty.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          I had a chance at a very similar job several years ago, Mon-Fri, 9-5 at a university but I decided to take another one. As I’m getting older, the quiet work with just records and archives sounds better and better.

      2. Overeducated*

        Yes there is lots of this work in government as well as in companies that have to maintain records for legal compliance purposes.

        Another potential option could be a funding agency that serves libraries, like your state humanities organization or IMLS, but depending on the role you might still have a customer service element (e.g. advising libraries on how to get grants).

    6. Loulou*

      Look at the big library database vendors like Jstor or ExLibris. Lots of former front facing library staff there!

      1. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

        You might like working in archives! There is a lot less customer interaction and you should be able to use your experience in libraries.

      2. Slow Loris*

        I would also recommend exploring jobs in resource sharing/interlibrary loan. There’s minimal to no patron interaction and a fair amount of repetitive tasks.

    7. Actuary*

      It’s kind of niche, but many actuarial departments will have roles for non-actuaries (ie not credentialed and not working on credentials) to do data entry, manipulation, fill out & file forms with states, etc. In my company we call those roles “actuarial technician”. Good luck!

    8. Wine Not Whine*

      Sales compensation, payroll, and/or finance departments need people who are super detail-oriented and good with Excel; everything else can be learned on the job.
      Customer contact does happen, but it’s generally answering questions about or chasing down discrepancies in what you’re already working on (and at my company, at least, email is preferred for this, so it’s not like having to deal with upset people on the phone).

    9. Why did I go to library school?*

      “good at excel, attentive to details, and I love doing rote, repetitive work”

      It sounds like you’re a born cataloger! Welcome, comrade!

      Okay, that’s partially a joke, but if you don’t mind staying in libraries, a move to technical services or cataloging could absolutely give you the kind of role you’re looking for. However, it really depends on the library, and as I’m sure you know, the library job market is… not so great.

      1. jiggle mouse*

        Can confirm the library job market, and everyone wants non-frontline work. I’m on a lot of hiring committees and we get overwhelmed with very/over qualified applicants for any kind of back end role.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          This is fascinating because it’s the exact opposite of my experience. We get dozens of applicants for public positions, but only a handful for tech services and back end positions!

          1. AnotherLibrarian*

            This has been my experience too. We’ve had a really tough time hiring qualified catalogers lately.

    10. Fresh Cut Grass*

      I did basically just this at the corporate office for a clothing retail company! The job was listed as “Retail Operations”– I spent my days filling out reports in excel, fielding emails from the stores, packing up supplies to send to the stores, etc. The closest I got to customer service was having to reply to the reviews left for our stores, which was never pleasant, but I also never had to make phone calls or interact with anyone in real life. And I got to sit down all day. That was the big one for me.

      1. Fresh Cut Grass*

        Oh, and depending on how in-depth you like to get with excel, maybe take a look into database work? It’s fairly different from how excel works, but if you enjoy moving bits of data around and figuring out how to get it arranged in a helpful manner, it’s worth taking a gander at– not least because it’s pretty lucrative! (I say as I spend yet another day fighting SQL for all I’m worth…)

    11. BlueberryFields*

      Higher education might be a good option! Look at fundraising/development offices. If the office is big enough, there is usually a data-focused department that updates the fundraising databases. And you might find that you enjoy the work and have opportunities to move about the department.

      1. BlueberryFields*

        Oh and if you want to take classes, sometimes it’s included as a benefit when you work at a university (at least in the US).

    12. OyHiOh*

      Office administration (office manager and the like) might fit the bill. You’ll get fires to put out but most of those fires will still fit within routine, and attention to detail. You’ll have “customers” in the sense of being responsive to the needs of staff, but as a fellow customer service/hospitality person who transitioned to boring office work, staff needs are generally light years easier to deal with.

    13. Mr. Peabody*

      Have you looked into a move to academic librarianship? It’s so siloed that you might be able to find a role (cataloging, shelving, etc.) that would remove the customer service element entirely. Not easy to break into but tons of relevant experience should help.

    14. bee*

      If you want to stay in libraries, I do interlibrary loan at an academic library and it pretty much fits the bill. I’m a department of one, and I pull and package books for shipping, process incoming loans, and do a TON of scanning, all from my office wellllllll behind the circulation desk (and when I was an ILL student assistant in college we were in a sub-basement!) I do have to deal with patrons, and they can be frustrating, but it’s almost entirely over email.

    15. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Local government jobs might suit you. I briefly had one (between other gigs) in the assessor’s office. It was basically checking details of property transfers, about 80% routine move stuff from inbox to outbox work, and about 20% researching missing information using plat books and other material.

    16. Jane, just Jane*

      Media billing/trafficking might be a good option! At a large agency you would have a lot of work that is relatively independent. Attentive to detail and excel skills are major pluses too!

    17. Maybe*

      Our firm (biotech) had a lot of jobs in “document control.” Maintaining the files and documents of standard operating procedures.

    18. Bonnie in Denver*

      Records management. Some customers within the company – just a few a day in pre pabndemic circumstances. Classify, analyze, put it in the best place, and move on to the next. Detail ability very important. Law firms or corporate.

  9. Kath*

    Hi everyone. Some of you may remember me from my previous post. I’ve been dealing with a horrible admin for the last few months.

    To summarize, the admin was playing favorites and leaving me out on things. I mentioned this to another coworker and apparently he spoke to her about this without my knowledge. She stopped talking to me since saying she doesn’t trust me.

    I spoke with my manager and he said that she doesn’t like me and he can’t get her to like me. Following the advice here, I talked to him again and said that I don’t need her to like me but treat me with respect. He cut me off and suggested that I raised a formal complaint… We don’t have HR and this would also go through him so no idea why he wants that.

    She used to tell me how she messes with people she doesn’t like. She does petty things. For instance if she heard me saying to someone that I went to a restaurant with my husband to celebrate Valentine’s Day, she then loudly goes on about how ‘stupid people go to restaurants and get overcharged on Valentine’s Day’ to others while completely ignoring me. I also overheard her referring to me as ‘Chucky’ due to my acne scars.

    She is super friendly with everyone else, especially our manager but picks holes in my projects where she really shouldn’t as out of her scope. She goes around me as if I don’t exist. Say I was liaising with a client and she needs information regarding this, she asks another coworker. If they don’t know the answer (and they normally don’t as expected) she asks the client directly instead of coming to me!

    I cannot deal with this anymore. I’m constantly on edge knowing someone’s explicitly gunning for me. I wanted to stay here for another 2 years. It would be good for my career but my confidence both professionally and personally has completely eroded due to her behavior. I have decided to look for a new job but I feel so defeated… I’m here for the last time, please can you offer me some perspective? I feel like I’m doing the right thing for my mental health but not for my career. Is it the right choice or were there any strategies to get her to stop this behavior or make me not care this much?

    Apologies for the long post, thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond.

    1. Southern Girl*

      My sympathy. Sounds like a toxic workplace and you are right to leave ASAP! Bees, angry bees! Best of luck.

    2. Not a Name Today*

      Does your manager want a formal complaint so he can have your documentation for a PIP? I’d take him at his word, make the complaint, and see where it goes.
      If it doesn’t go anywhere, then I’d ask how your administrative work should be accomplished. Will they hire a second Admin to support the people the current Admin doesn’t like?

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Yes – I would do this AND look for a new job. Is your manager also her manager? If not, loop that manager in too. Your script above was good (i.e. I know we aren’t friends and she doesn’t want to be but she still needs to do her job so I can successfully do my job. Here is the impact of her silent treatment on my projects…).
        Make her their problem and you focus on your work and your job hunt.
        I would use the “poor fit” or something similar as reason for leaving.

      2. SnappinTerrapin*

        I agree.

        Put it in writing, so he won’t have the excuse that he doesn’t “officially” know what isn’t written down.

        The current situation is untenable. Do what you can to help fix it, by making the complaint, but be prepared to move on if your manager doesn’t act promptly and effectively.

    3. Dasein9*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. In a just world, this person’s shenanigans would be seen as what they are. This world may need your help seeing that.

      Document, document, document. Then be able to cite date and time when each incident occurred and point out exactly how your work is impacted.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Since you don’t seem to have any people who have your back, then leave ASAP.

      For some career help/reassurance/guidance you might want to look at the career resources at your local community college. I found them helpful. They even had a networking group for older job seekers. (and the value was far more than the price (free))

    5. WellRed*

      Who’s managing your manager? Any complaint should focus on work impacts and harassment but don’t get into examples like the Valentines one. Do you have witnesses? Are you friends with anyone there who could offer you support?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The Chucky comment is worth documenting because it is mocking a physical characteristic beyond your control.

    6. Up and Away*

      Honestly, with everyone you have laid out here, I don’t think you have much choice but to leave. There is NO way I would be able to deal with this on a daily basis. I think whatever professional benefits you might be reaping by sticking around for another 2 years, would be quickly wiped out by the blows your mental health is bound to take. I’m just so sorry you are having to deal with this – it’s just wrong, and isn’t be handled the way it should be by your manager. I just don’t see it getting any better for you.

      1. curiousLemur*

        “I think whatever professional benefits you might be reaping by sticking around for another 2 years, would be quickly wiped out by the blows your mental health is bound to take.” This!

    7. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

      Someone once said it is possible to do nothing wrong and still lose. Thats not a character flaw, thats life.
      You lost the lottery and got stuck with this troublemaker. You cannot change someone else, those that enjoy hurting others will not reform on anyone else’s say so.
      What you can do is document and cover your behind. You have been told that you will be thrown under the bus for being ethical so you have to decide that this is the deal breaker and move on.
      If there is anything that ventures into illegal activity against you then you need to speak to a lawyer but that does not sound like the case from what you have said so far. So there is not much clout for you to exploit.
      The best advice is keep your head down, document and look elsewhere for employment and get out as soon as practical. But vet your next job carefully, you again can’t prevent bad luck but you can put the odds on your side by interviewing them back and not jumping at the first offers if there are red flags.

    8. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Your admin sucks and isn’t going to change. Your boss ain’t great either.

      Staying in a place where your mental health is suffering is generally bad for your career. Moreover, now is the perfect time to be looking for a new job–the labor market is super hot. It sounds to me as if you have absolutely made the right call to leave, and you should push forward with that.

    9. Generic Name*

      I am so sorry you are dealing with this crap. This is flat-out bullying, and your company is doing nothing, which is toxic. Employers are really hurting for workers right now. I agree with the others that your best option is to find a job at a functional workplace. They do exist.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, re: finding a new job — I wanted to address the part where Kath you feel that you would harm your career by choosing mental health “over” career advancement. Right now you feel defeated and you worry that any new choice would be a wrong one. But it doesn’t have to be a tradeoff, suffering for career growth! And the prestige or whatever of this place won’t mean much if you eventually flame out completely due to the stress.

        You don’t know what the next job (or the next one after that and so on) will be. Workplaces with good opportunities and reasonable coworkers, workplaces that don’t tolerate bullying, they are out there! And, I’m skeptical of how good this current place will be for your career since they undermine you and cut you out, and apparently think that is normal!! Gather your courage together, and apply to some openings. Best of luck.

    10. Beth*

      I hope this isn’t the last time you’re here — I’ll cross my fingers that you’re able to pop in for a Good News post sometime in the future.

      You don’t just have a toxic admin problem. You have a terrible manager problem. Since he can’t be bothered to do his job, you may be better off elsewhere — some other job where your manager won’t enable abuse and bullying.

    11. Hazel*

      Unfortunately, I would agree with the other commenters and just leave!

      I’m sorry that this is happening to you and that your manager sucks. But life is much too short to work in that toxic environment. Leave when you get a job that you’re happy to take.

      In the meantime, just try and focus on your life outside of work. Enjoy your time off each week as best you can and view the job as a means to an end that you will be leaving soon!

    12. Camellia*

      It doesn’t sound like the rest of your co-irkers are that great either. You mentioned it to someone and they told the admin, behind your back, which got you into further trouble. Not a great thing to do.

      Some situations simply can’t be salvaged. Unfortunately you have to weigh damage to yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically, against any possible setback to your career. I hope you can find another job quickly and get out of this mess.

    13. CatCat*

      The situation is untenable. The admin sucks and your boss sucks for refusing to deal with it. You could ask your boss what the function of a formal complaint is, but given his attitude so far, you could decide that’s not worth your time. He knows what’s up, he just doesn’t want to deal with it.

      You can’t work somewhere where you are constantly undermined by another employee and where your boss does not have your back. It sounds like leaving is not only the right thing for your mental health but ALSO for your career. A job that shatters your professional confidence is terrible for your career and can make you start second guessing yourself professionally on everything. That will not help you advance yourself.

      You deserve to work for an employer where you are treated with dignity and respect. Your current employer does not deserve you at all.

    14. Mockingjay*

      You need to assert authority and boundaries with Admin. Address each thing in the moment.

      Admin: *makes Chucky joke
      Kath: Please don’t comment on my appearance. *walk away
      Admin: *repeats Chucky joke at later time
      Kath: I’ve asked you not to comment on my appearance. I need you to stop. * walk away.

      Admin: *nitpicks aspect of project
      Kath: Admin, your input is unnecessary. I follow all processes per Boss and they are fully informed/satisfied of its progress.

      Admin: *asks client for information you should give her
      Kath: Admin, I emailed you the meeting details. Please check with me if you have questions, not client.

      And so on. Tone is calm and matter-of-fact. “Just business.” By walking away each time, she has no opportunity to engage. Don’t JADE: justify, argue, defend, explain. (Kinda did that with the Boss example above, but Admin needs to know that work-wise, your boss is happy with your performance and you’re not changing due to Her.)

      The goal is to address work and process, not her personality. You can’t fix that. You can get the respect you deserve through work actions. If she still acts like an ass, then you have specific examples and patterns to go to Boss with.

      Honestly, I think the real problem is your boss. They aren’t willing to manage a problem employee, even against the cost of retaining a good employee. Try these things, but if they don’t work, I’d start looking.

      1. Jax*

        This is great advice if you need to stay.

        I had to deal with my own office Mean Girl, but she was more senior and in charge of training me. When I successfully covered for her vacation (when she thought there was no way anyone could replace her) she flipped on me and became incredibly nasty and demeaning.

        ICY PROFESSIONALISM. I ignored her at all times, did not engage with her, and if I had to work with her I kept it very chilly and to-the-point. This was really hard for me because *we shared an office* and had many tense, silent days. I would get up and walk to other offices to chat with friendlier coworkers, and I’m not going to lie, it was really hard. After a year, she asked to moved to another position and eventually resigned. I won? I guess?

        Management knew she was a troublemaker and had already run off a couple of employees before me. Management claimed she was “protected” by the owners and they couldn’t fire her. Really, I think she was just a high performer and they didn’t care that she was mean–she got the results they wanted, they didn’t respect their female employees, and brushed it all off as “cat fighting.”

        I should have found another job, because the whole situation revealed early on that management was inept and would continue to be terrible. But, I needed the job and couldn’t snap my fingers and instantly find another one! Sometimes you just have to make the garbage job work, you know?

    15. RagingADHD*

      Look, the real problem here isn’t the admin. That’s just the symptom.

      The problem here is that your manager is allowing someone to behave so unprofessionally, interfere in client relationships, reduce productivity by refusing to communicate normally, and openly insult her coworkers. And he’s pretending this is some kind of “you problem” where it’s about whether or not someone “likes you.” It isn’t.

      Your manager isn’t doing his job. You can’t make him do his job. You could go ahead and make the formal complaint, as someone else pointed out. Perhaps for some reason he thinks he needs documentation in order to address this. It’s worth a try.

      If that doesn’t alter anything, go ahead and leave with a clear conscience. You can’t fix bad management.

      1. Cold Fish*

        Truthfully, it sounds like you need to file two formal complaints… one about admin and another about manager. Raging ADHD defines the problems perfectly in their second paragraph above in ways that focus on the business and not personal aspects.

        As for the personal aspects, you have done and are doing nothing wrong. Do not feel bad for leaving to save your mental health. You may just find that a change is just what you need to boost your career in ways you’ve never imagined.

      2. Twisted Lion*

        +1000 to this.

        This situation is not at all your fault. The admin sounds awful and your boss is horrible. I hope you can get out quickly to a better place to work.

      3. Astor*

        Yup, this. And it’s actually why I think that getting out will be good for your mental health *and* your career. You cannot build a good career when working for a manager who is this terrible *and* getting in the way of you doing your job. You’ll be in a better place the earlier you move on.

        Good luck, Kath! It really sucks when you have to job search before you’re ready because of people like this.

    16. Pippin*

      Ugh. Get out. Do not let it go as far as I did-breakdown, out for a week. More importantly, the self-esteem and confidence in my work that I had worked on so hard on for years was completely eroded. I got another job at the same institution (higher ed) and found out the person in question had completely trashed my reputation. Still recovering emotionally and professionally from that.

    17. Choggy*

      OP, your previous posting included some additional information which I feel really cements that this is “not the place for you”. Anything you share with your coworkers about her, gets back to her but in not the way you intended and so it gets blown out of proportion. Confronting your coworker who conveyed the message gets you no where because they won’t admit they inflamed your words. Your manager is of no help whatsoever. Not sure what any of us could say that would change this situation for you, sorry to say.

      Cut your losses and get out of Dodge.

    18. blood orange*

      Do you feel there’s any hope with your manager? Do you have a good rapport yet, and/or do you have a sense that there’s favoritism going on with the admin. You mentioned the admin is very friendly with him, but do you have a sense of his relationship with her?

      If you have a decent rapport with him, it might be worth giving it one more go with him and being really clear. He’s making it about her not liking you, but that’s not the point at all. She’s refusing to do her job, and harassing a coworker. Those are very serious performance issues.

      If he suggested that you make a formal complaint but you didn’t get the details on what that would look like, you could address that with him. Perhaps he was referring to a formal system that they have even though there’s no HR. If you wanted to stay there for your own career, and are understandably ready to leave over this, it might be worth giving your manager one last RED ALERT and see if he gets a better understanding that this is on him.

      To be clear, I wouldn’t say, “This is something I’m going to leave over” or tell him you’re job searching. However, if you haven’t yet framed it like this – “The situation with Jane is making it impossible to do my job effectively because I can’t get X and Y from her. In addition, my work environment is becoming untenable as I am dealing with daily personal attacks from her.” – it might be worth doing that. If he tells you he can’t do anything, or puts it back on you to deal with, then you definitely have your answer that he’s a terrible manager and won’t do anything about Jane. You’d have the choice to go above him, of course, but you’d have to weigh if you are comfortable doing that, and whether that could potentially make things tense between you and your manager while also potentially not improving the situation with Jane.

      Best of luck!!

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Don’t say this part out loud, but this is manager’s final opportunity to redeem himself by doing his job. You’ll know pretty quickly whether it’s worth staying.

        Best wishes!

        1. blood orange*

          Yep, totally. Saying that out loud could make you vulnerable to being pushed out, but it should be your internal agreement with yourself that this is his last opportunity. And again, this is only if you either want to give him that opportunity, or think there’s room to be more clear and he’d be receptive to the discussion.

    19. WoodswomanWrites*

      You brought the issue to your manager and he passed it back to you to deal with instead of elevating it further and advocating for you. It sounds like finding another position is the best option. Sorry to hear you have to deal with such an awful situation.

    20. Purple Cat*

      Choosing to prioritize your mental health is ALWAYS the right choice!
      Your career is going to get derailed if your confidence is completely eroded, so there really is nothing to gain by staying in this job.
      If your manager wants written documentation, then absolutely provide it. But it doesn’t sound like he’s offering much support, so PLEASE ratchet up the job search.

      We’re rooting for you!

    21. JustaTech*

      Here’s my advice on top of what everyone else has said: you’re not a “quitter” for choosing to find a better job. You’re stuck in a situation where you can’t succeed, there is nothing wrong, and everything right, with finding a better place.

      If a ceiling tile fell down every day and your boss just shrugged, you’d leave for your own safety, right? This is the same thing. This is a bad place, and you have every right to go find a good place. It is the right and smart thing to do.

    22. AdequateAdmin*

      I had someone at my last job like this. It got to the point where I literally could not get information from him in order to be able to do my own job without snarky comments or general butt-hole-ery. Finally I got so fed up with it because apparently management loved him for some unknown reason that I just left. It kind of screwed them over because they were having people leave or not wanting to do stuff correctly because he was so horrible to work with. And you know what? That’s their problem, not yours! Don’t feel bad about leaving; do what’s right for you. If they really wanted to fix the situation they could, but apparently they don’t want to.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      Mental health and physical health come first and foremost ALWAYS.

      You can’t fix this. And that fact will do even more to erode your overall health. Nothing like feeling powerless to pull us down lower and lower.

      Take back your power, your autonomy. Get out of there. The lack of professionalism is jawdropping. These place is not worth your time. You deserve a better workplace and you CAN find that place.

  10. ThatGirl*

    Does anyone work somewhere – past or present – where they’re super big on Discovery Insights?

    I find it kind of hilarious — I described it the other day as “horoscopes for work”. I did the whole thing, got my report and silly foam bricks and bracelets, and it was mildly interesting. I liked seeing in print that I’m “often uncannily correct” :) but it also feels reductive? people talk very seriously about what color they are/their reports are/etc. and I think it can be a helpful communication tool but … like I said, also kind of reductive.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      Do you work at my job? :-) (a BigLaw firm, so let me say…this surprised me for sure). I did enjoy my horoscope lol but yes otherwise mostly ignore it.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Haha, no, I work for a big manufacturing company. I didn’t really mind doing it in the first place, I’m just amused at how often people **actually talk about it** during the course of an average workweek.

    2. BossBen*

      Yes! We did that at my workplace last year and they had apparently done it in previous years before. We haven’t used it a ton since though, which I think is good. For me, it’s more informational and something to loosely think about when working with people, especially if you’re struggling with that relationship. I have tried to consider it in how I manage my direct reports and potentially how they’d like communication to happen – do they need time to process decisions, how direct should I be, etc. However, I think the bigger impact has been that my boss almost “weaponizes it” as I say. For example, “you’re going to see a lot of red energy in this message” or “I tried to dial up my blue energy.” I fee like it’s a little insulting when used that way but I suppose it’s generally harmless and I guess it provided a little team building.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Like, I can see some of it being helpful to managers — it noted that I tend to come back with questions later, which is very accurate, for instance. So I don’t like to be pushed in the moment, but will process, proceed, and come back to check in. But that also seems like something a decent manager should notice about their reports?

        1. BossBen*

          Totally agree. I definitely new most of the info about my team, but I did have a fairly quiet employee who is more “red” than I anticipated. I do think that it was on me as a manager, with or without Insights, to learn about how my employees want to be managed and how they work.

    3. Spillz*

      I used to work for a L&D department that frequently pushed out these sorts of evaluations across the firm. I think they are mostly what you described – horoscopes for work, but I did find it *incredibly amusing* that one evaluation that I received said I don’t suffer fools. It’s not wrong!

    4. Storm in a teacup*

      Ugh yes!
      Although mine was quite accurate so I was surprised by that.
      It’s been useful with my boss – who loves to flag how Red he is – to get him to give me time to reflect on stuff – because I’m part blue
      Apart from that

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, kinda – but more in-depth. You answer a bunch of questions and it analyzes everything and a few weeks later I got a whole like, 10-page report on my work/communication style. It scores you in four areas that correspond to colors and you’re supposed to stack little foam bricks in the order of your colors so people can identify your communication style at a glance.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        My work was big into MBTI for awhile, we all had to take the test and people would totally start sentences with “Because I’m an XXXX, I prefer…” Its junk science and we’re a technical field so that always made me laugh too.

    5. Ina Lummick*

      We’ve done Management Drives which seems similar – luckily a new CEO came in and hasn’t done anything further with it. I personally think it’s a waste of time in terms of “I’m green which is X and your purple which is Y” (and I had to sit through a 90 minute meeting with a group of people I don’t work with normally and wait while HR reads off our analysis.

      I think it was interesting to consider different communication styles…but that’s it.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thankfully my quiz etc were all self-directed; I was given instructions and that was it. HR didn’t want to go over the results with me or anything :P My manager might have gotten a copy, but we didn’t spend any time discussing it.

    6. A Girl Named Fred*

      Argh, I’ve never used that specific tool but your description of it reminded me of how my last organization used Predictive Index. I understood what they were going for on principle – help understanding best ways to work with your colleagues – but I HATED the way they actually implemented it. Suddenly I wasn’t ‘Fred’ anymore, I was a ‘MyTypeName’. If I raised a concern or asked a question, it was, “Such a MyTypeName question to ask, I understand why you need more info!” or “Well we just aren’t seeing eye to eye on this because I’m a TheirTypeName so I do things like this and you’re a MyTypeName so you do things like that.”

      It’s like. Please interact with the human being standing in front of you and not the idea you’ve created of them based on the test result they got.

      Phew! Sorry, apparently I still had some annoyance about that situation built up. I’m glad you’re able to find humor in it! The PI stuff combined with being required to discuss Love Languages with my senior management team was a major factor in why I left my last position.

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I’ve done Insights a few times over the years, and used to display my bricks on my desk. I actually thought about it since probably pre-COVID pandemic, and my manager just mentioned it the other day. I liked it at a high-level, but it’s also just one facet of a person.

      I’ve also done the StrengthFinders assessment a few times…has anyone done that?

    8. MellowYellow*

      And now that I am a few years out from having done it, it is a pain because no one takes it into account or it is used against us.
      I interviewed for an internal position at my company and it was used against me. The hiring manager did NOT have my results and made assumptions as to what “colors” I was on that test. He was completely wrong and when we met post interview he basically said that I needed to be blue (which is my top color) for the role. So because I was able to turn on “yellow” during my interview (which as you know the training talks about how you can turn certain colors on to communicate better with people) that hurt me. I was livid. And then he tried to backtrack in my interview feedback once he found that out.

      The person who got the job is a great fit, but it really bothered me that those things are being assumed about people and then being used against them. I work in a very data-driven role. My whole department came out as blue and they still force us into Yellow teambuilding nonsense.

  11. PSA for Whomever Needs It*

    No, your co-workers don’t admire you for skipping lunch and holding more and more and more meetings.
    In fact, they’re quite annoyed with your inability to communicate effectively as a result of fatigue, hunger, and over-caffeination.
    Babysitting you makes their jobs more difficult and they resent you for it.

    Take your vacation.
    Take your breaks.

    1. The Rafters*

      Your coworkers also think you don’t manage your time effectively and are irritated b/c you are probably dumping more work on them.

    2. Cats rule*

      Also, your coworkers don’t admire you for working late hours. They just think you are infective at your job. Stop pretending that you are so important.

    3. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      I’m not impressed with your dedication to your job that causes you to schedule a 4:45 pm Friday meeting; glad you’re working from home but I need to get my kid.

      I’m not impressed with the dedication that has you sending out “urgent” emails on our days off (e.g., Fourth of July or 9/80 off days), before 8 am, or after 5-ish pm. Please get your work done during normal office hours and if you can’t, get your personal projects done on your own time and spend your working hours on things that require the input of your coworkers.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a boss who wanted to hold an optional meeting (journal club) at 5:30 on Fridays. “I’ll bring beer!”

          He had never noticed that everyone got in between 7 and 8, so was well gone by 4:30 on Fridays. He’d also never listened to anyone long enough to know most of us didn’t drink beer.

          (The meetings were never held.)

          1. Midwestern Scientist*

            There’s a lab on our floor that hold 4-5pm lab meeting every Friday. Everytime I pass by their conference I wonder how long I would last.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      And they have no interest in listening to you bragging about your “virtuous” lunch skipping and calendar overload.

    5. Urban teacher*

      Special Ed teachers are so bad about this. “ I worked a 60 hour week and aren’t I virtuous. You clearly don’t care about the kids as much”

  12. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    My husband got a new job out of state and we are moving around the 1st of the year. I’ve started applying for jobs online, but am kind of worried about a couple of things:

    How likely is it to have something lined up and ready to go in the new location by that time, especially with the holidays?

    And how can best communicate to potential employers that, although my address/phone # are out-of-state, I am, in fact, going to be local? I’m putting a short explanation in my cover letters, but wonder if there’s anything else to do?

    1. The Original K.*

      If you have your location on your resume, maybe change it to your new one in addition to mentioning it in your cover letter. The phone number matters less since so many of us have cell phones – my phone number isn’t local to the city I live in and that’s true for many people I know.

      I wouldn’t expect to have a new job signed on the dotted line in that time frame, though you may be in the midst of interview processes.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Hiring in my experience is a mixed bag over the holidays, I think you can make a concerted push over the next couple weeks but I get the sense that with Christmas/New Years falling on Saturdays plus everything Covid related that lots of people are going to collectively ‘shut things down’ around December 20th. Then again, all it takes is one company to say ‘yes’ and you’re good to go.

      I think what you’re doing re: the cover letter is a good plan of attack. I would reiterate the point when you’re doing your initial phone screens just to make sure.

      Good luck with the move!

    3. Annony*

      Is address a required field on the applications? You can leave it off of your resume. I wouldn’t worry about the phone number. With the increased use of cell phones and not even having a land line, it is becoming more and more common to have a non-local phone number even if you have lived there for years.

    4. Fiction Reader*

      Apply for jobs now! I was involved in hiring for an open position last December, and not a single person applied until January. For various reasons, the new employee did not start until March 1st. I would have been thrilled to get a candidate interviewed in December and ready to start in January!
      It may not work out this way for you, but don’t talk yourself out of applying now due to the holidays.
      Put your new city and state on your resume, no street address required, and mention your move on your cover letter. Not sure about online systems that won’t let you skip a field – is there a friend or relative in the new location who would let you use their address, just to avoid being kicked out by some computer program?

      1. Alternative Person*

        Yeah, depends on your field of course, but in mine there’s always a mini glut of positions going up around this time with an aim to hire for January starts.

    5. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      Some options:
      1. Depending on how much space you have on your resume, put your current and future city and state:
      Scranton, PA (through Dec 2021)
      Phoenix, AZ (Dec 2021 onward)

      That helps them to understand why you have Scranton companies on your resume.

      2. Put a local address; if you need a street address for an online application, acquire a PO Box.
      PO Box 12345
      Phoenix AZ

      3. Just put the new city/state on your resume; street addresses are a bit outdated anyway (IMHO).

    6. anonymous73*

      Prepare yourself to not have a job locked down by the time you move. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the hiring process takes a lot more time than anyone realizes (if you haven’t been on the other end of it) and many people take time off to travel and spend more time at home this time of year. That’s not to say you should stop trying, and make it clear when you apply that you’re moving, but I think being realistic about it will help you in the long term.

    7. Purple Cat*

      I would leave your address off the resume entirely. Cell phone’s are fluid, so I wouldn’t worry about that piece.
      I put it at “highly unlikely” that you’ll have a new job before you move. I don’t know what type of role you’re looking for – something at a lower level where they’re “constantly recruiting” it’s more likely, but at a higher level where you need to meet with multiple people, Holidays and end of year focus make hiring a long process. It’ll definitely pick up after the 1st of the year though.

    8. Sandman*

      It depends on the type of organization and role – at lower levels I’ve had jobs with shorter interview processes that were only a few weeks from start to finish, but 6+ weeks seems more normal to me. If you get some balls rolling now, though, you might be able to get halfway through some processes and be ready a few weeks or a month after the move – it could actually work out really nicely if you’re able to focus on settling in for a little while before starting a new job in a new place.

    9. PT*

      I’ve moved several times, and unfortunately, no combination of address/phone number in-state/out of state/no address at all will get people to overlook that MostRecentJob (City, ST) on your resume is in a different city and state.

      I moved cross country four years ago and I am still getting recruiters who did not bother to read my LinkedIn or resume carefully contacting me for jobs where I used to live, because all that’s popping out to them is my second-most-recent-job. (Or they’re doing a keyword search using my old employer’s name and not bothering to check my current location, that is also possible.)

      Some people are just determined to not pay attention. Some of them are hiring managers.

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      It’s super unlikely to have something lined up by the time you move, but that doesn’t mean you should wait. I’d start ASAP. Generally, hiring takes a long time even when you’re not in higher ed (where it takes an even longer time.) I think a sentence in your cover letter letting people know you are moving is enough- that’s what I look for when I see an out of state candidate. I work in a very rural place, so when people who aren’t local to the state apply, I always wonder- do they know where the job is? Have they thought this through? Because we regularly get offers declined by people who decide they don’t really want to move to super rural location. A lot of people have suggested leaving your address off your resume, but I would find that an odd move and would wonder what the candidate was trying to hide, especially if they already addressed it in the cover letter.

  13. wen*

    So upset! Got offered a job from my backup, less preferred choice, Job A, yesterday and have to respond by Monday. Still waiting to hear from my preferred job, Job B. I’ve contacted them, but they’re unavailable so I just left a message for them to get back to me.

    Really pray that Job B will offer me a job but I don’t think it’s likely they’ll have it ready today or Monday. :(

    Job A is exactly the same role and industry as I’m doing so they’re confident with me and they need someone to start soon in December so they rushed and offered me the job even though I just interviewed with them this week. Job B I interviewed with exactly 2 weeks ago and when I sent my thank you/follow up email, they responded saying they’ll be finishing conducting interviews and will be reviewing our test results. So it’s reasonable it’s been 2 weeks and no word from them yet.

    1. Lirael*

      You could message Job B and say are you still in the running because their job sounds best but you’ve been offered another job.

      1. JB*

        Yes, do this. Tell them explicitly that yoh need to know now.

        Maybe you’ll find out they’re not interested in you, which would suck, but at least you’ll have the information you need to respond to the other offer.

    2. Coenobita*

      If Job B calls you back, it’s worth mentioning the other offer! Companies/hiring managers deal with competing offers for candidates all the time and they might be able to move up their timeline for you (or at least tell you that’s it’s not possible, so you are not left wondering what might have been).

    3. Mockingjay*

      Will Job A give you the things you are looking for? It sounds like it’s the Same Stuff, Different Job as you are doing currently.

      Unless you are horribly miserable and need to GET OUT NOW, consider declining Job A. If Job B offer doesn’t materialize, you can keep looking.

      If you’re still thinking about taking Job A, I’d ask some hard questions about Job A and the rush to hire. Classic red flag of understaffing.

      1. wen*

        It is exactly the same stuff, different job so that’s why it’s my backup! I want something different but I NEED A JOB because my contract is ending in December and my company just had a round of layoffs so I know the situation is not good. :(

        As for Job A’s rush to hire, they just want the new person to start for some handover training before the current person leaves before the holidays, so hence the rush to hire and start.

        1. Fran Fine*

          You may need to accept Job A for now, but then withdraw should you get an offer from
          Job B within the next couple weeks. But you can only do this if you don’t care about burning a bridge with Job A.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I would reach out to Job B and ask about your status with them. They’ll tell you that you’re hired, you’re not hired, or they haven’t made a decision yet — but 2 of those 3 possible responses will be information you can act upon.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      Here’s another thing to consider- If Job B is still interviewing, they may not be able to make an offer. We function under rules at my work place (and I know other types of jobs with Union or Gov stuff have these rules too) that we can’t make an offer until all interviews are completed. Did you tell Job B that you have another offer? Because if I got a message from a candidate on a Friday and didn’t know why, I might not rush to get back to them.

      If you are in the running for Job B, but won’t know for another week, are you willing to take the risk? That’s the calculation I would be making right now.

  14. Green Snickers*

    If you’ve ever negotiated for a more senior sounding title with an internal promotion, what was your reasoning and how did it go over?

    I think I will be getting promoted into a title that is newly created in my department’s career framework (at my company, 95% of promotions do not require moving into an open position). The position was not created for me per se but to be frank, the title sounds very similar to current title (ex: my position is senior teapot associate and the new position is senior teapot lead). I should also mention prior to this title existing, the next step up for me was manger and included a larger salary increase.

    This mostly concerns me for my resume as I feel there isn’t a ton of differention between the 2 titles. Additionally, internally there are a much larger amount of steps between our positions than in other departments here and I don’t sound as senior as my colleagues who are more junior with less experience yet have higher sounding titles.

    I feel really strongly about a different title don’t want to purely negotiate it from the resume front since it only really affects me once I leave the job- but perhaps I’m overthinking this aspect.

    1. ThisIsTheHill*

      Do you work for a company that makes its salary bands & job descriptions public? I worked for a Fortune 10 company that did. I approached my boss & told her that my responsibilities were far above my existing role. She told me to research the various job descriptions on our Intranet to determine if another title/band was closer to what I was doing & to write a business case supporting a request for the change. It worked. I went from a specialist to administrator role (non-management).

      Good luck!

    2. BlueBelle*

      Do both positions have a role charter or job description. If so, break down that way to show that you are already doing or have the skills to do the new position. If a job description doesn’t exist create one for your current role and look online for standard job descriptions of the new title. Good luck!

      1. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

        Title changes can be cheaper (free) than raises, so if you want to be strategic about it, you can go in making the case for a raise and then pitch the title change as another option to “reflect the progress you’ve made at X”.

    3. BRR*

      I’ve used the rationale that I wanted my title to accurately reflect the work that I’m doing. It can be helpful to find similar job descriptions at competitors to try and establish that something is an industry standard.

    4. New Mom*

      I work in a finance adjacent department but it was called the Finance Department while our actual Finance Department was called Finance and Accounting. This caused a lot of confusion with clients, vendors, even internally. When I was going to take over as Director I negotiated to have the name of the department and my role title changed to match what we actually do and I focused it mostly on the confusion aspect. There was no pushback. I’m much happier with the change because when I talk with external people, it’s now a lot clearer what I do.

  15. Exhausted in Events*

    Feeling totally defeated after the events of the past week and could use some advice on how to move forward. 

    To set the scene, events recently have started back up in-person, beginning with a major event for the top leadership in our company. The planning was a mess, with a power struggle between Marketing and HR leading to a thrown-together event. The events team got removed from planning the daytime program but put on the team-building and evening reception, and then it was decided a week and a half beforehand not to use an outside facilitator, so our full team ended up in fire drill mode to come up with our own team-building program. In the end, our session ended up getting scrapped 30 minutes *after* it was supposed to begin, because the daytime speakers had run so far over time. People were frustrated and tensions have been super high. 

    Now, last week, I had an issue with one of the groups asking to throw an additional dinner into the mix for the same night as the big event. I pushed back to see if we could do another date or location but also looped my boss in so she was aware of the request. My boss then messaged me something meant for someone else (I assume) saying that she was going to have the other team copy her on all requests going forward because I just say yes to things without thinking. I didn’t know what to say – it was a punch to the gut, since I had realized it was a problem and that’s why I flagged it to her. She played her message off as a joke, but it stung a lot. 

    Then on the day of the event, I had a managing director from another office email me because she was unhappy about details for an upcoming event of hers. Again, my boss had asked me to loop her in on any conversations with this person, so I did to let her know this situation was brewing, but I was handling it. I also wanted her to know I understood her frustration from last week and wasn’t just saying yes to changes without thinking. Immediately she said to let her respond, don’t worry about this today, just focus on the other event, and to send her any other emails that I received about the issue. I was fine with that since there was a lot going on elsewhere, but throughout the morning emails were exchanged between the two of them, escalating further until my boss said she was taking me off all future projects with this person. 

    It all happened so quickly that I don’t even really understand how it happened. Then, in the thick of it all, HR pulled me aside to ask how I was. I said I was fine and hanging in there, though it was a busy day, which was not the answer they were expecting. Apparently, my boss had told them I was near tears when I came to her earlier in the day and she needed to intervene. This led to her getting a “talking to” from HR (her own words) about needing to listen to her people, and when she found out that I had told HR I was fine, her mood completely changed. 

    First, she abruptly tried to pull me off the cocktail reception and send me home, saying that she would just do it herself, but I was worried because I had vendors coming to meet me, set up to do, things to check in on, etc. Then she said fine, just go, but as I was setting up at the venue, I was getting rapid-fire emails about the things I had done wrong in the last week. After the stress of the day, I completely broke down. I was sobbing in the bathroom at the reception not 10 minutes before the guests were supposed to arrive. The way she spoke to me felt 1,000x worse than anything the director had said earlier in the day. 

    Before this, I felt that we were in a really good place in our working relationship. The day after the event, I asked her to talk with me to try to clear the air and let her know what I was thinking, and she’s pushed off the meeting for 3 days, while still sending very cold, short emails to me. 

    I’ll add in that one of the well-known things about my boss is that if she is on your “side”, it’s great, but if you “cross” her, it’s really not good for you. I mean well-known like, I went to a recent industry conference and many people said they know that about her. She has even said that herself, proudly.

    I’m at a loss of what to do here. It feels like she’s upset and retaliating, but for what, I still don’t really understand. And I don’t feel that I can go to HR for help, because that’s what seemed to really set her off when they spoke to her previously. I don’t know if I can repair this when we finally speak, but I’m extremely demoralized at the moment, especially after pulling many late nights and early mornings to try to make this event a success and feeling like it’s all been overshadowed by this drama.  

    1. Sunflower*

      Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. I understand in some jobs, your bosses feelings on you may not matter too much but honestly, your boss controls your promotions and overall success at the company. If your boss doesn’t believe in you, I can’t see anyway you could enjoy being there or be successful in the long run. I would really start looking for a new job for your own sanity.

      What type of company do you work at? Aside from your boss, I work in events and my last 2 jobs for the last 8 years were in BigLaw and consulting and honestly, all of this sounds too familiar. I’m getting out because I’ve just found that it’s so hard to get respect working in the events department when you’re working in professional services. Late nights are expected and the reward no longer feels worth it to me after all these years.

      1. Exhausted in Events*

        Thank you for reading that novel of a story, and you nailed it. Law at the moment, and it’s so dysfunctional – and I’ve worked in a lot of dysfunctional places like non-profit and consulting before. One of the worst with gossip and disorganization.

        It’s sad because honestly up until a few weeks ago, I was fairly happy and even hoping to ask for a raise after stepping up a ton in the last year and feeling like I’ve gotten into a good groove. But I cannot let myself get into a situation again where I am killing myself for a job, crying in the office late at night, and feeling demoralized. I knew she could turn on people fairly quickly, but I didn’t think it would happen to me, because I’ve really tried to work on building a good relationship.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I am currently in the running for a BigLaw events job and wow, your posts have made me seriously pause and consider what I might be getting into. I’m super familiar with the general disrespect corporate event planners get but what you’re describing goes beyond what I’ve experienced and ever want to! Sending internet hugs…

          1. Sunflower*

            It definitely varies from firm to firm. My old boss works at a different firm now and absolutely loves it but agreed our old firm was awful. I’m happy to answer any questions you have- but for me the biggest issue was honestly the universal professional services model esp in high stress industries.

            I think so much of it is based on your personality and what pushes your buttons. We had a new person come in from doing restaurant and hotel sales and she could not wrap her head around the professional services model where while we are there because we are experts in our area, part of our job is also doing tedious work because the principals are too busy to do it. Additionally, its a huge shock if you come from somewhere that you are the expert in your area and the primary decision maker. At the end of the day, I have to do what the partner wants (barring ethical/legal situations) and yes, a lot of the time it does blow up as expected and as I warned but I have to put my head down and do it anyway. For me, it’s translated over to spending a lot of my time not doing events work and spending too much time worried about office politics and how to push back without bruising egos. Add in that the partners have a financial stake in the company so they tend to work crazy hours and expect others to do the same (I will say they don’t expect same hours as lawyers but they can expect crazy turnaround/response times), it becomes very painfully obvious that your late nights are probably putting 5-6 figures in the partners pockets while you’re lucky to get a 5% raise and bonus that is pennies compared to theirs.

            Reading the insights question above, I think people who identify as green/blue tend to do best in professional services support roles.

            1. Exhausted in Events*

              Whewwww did you nail it. I’m by no means new to events, but this is my first law firm and that truly sums it up. Honestly, even though it is a crazy environment, up until this week when this went down with my boss, I was even fine with just gritting my teeth and doing whatever thing the partners, HR, etc. asked and then laughing it off within our team because I felt like it was us vs. the crazy together, but this has totally changed my feelings on it.

            2. Not a Real Giraffe*

              I totally forgot to check this later in the day, so you probably won’t see this! I’ve been doing events in professional services firms for many, many years, so I totally get and agree with most of what you’re saying (I currently work in a legal-adjacent firm so I 10000% hear you on the lawyers thing). Getting non-events people to understand the stupidity of how they’re suggesting we develop/run an event is a constant struggle and you definitely have to have the right personality to thrive in that environment.

              My interview is later today so if you happen to check back and see this, let me know! I’d love to pick your brain :)

          2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            I did events at a not-for-profit for 8 months and had to bail to save my sanity and temper. It’s pretty much getting paid to be everyone’s punching bag, and I was too close to punching back after less than a year. I took a much lower-paying no-stress job in that organization for a while, then got into a completely different field when another position opened up.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “I knew she could turn on people fairly quickly, but I didn’t think it would happen to me, because I’ve really tried to work on building a good relationship.”

          Take this to heart: Watch how people treat others and realize in time you, too, will be treated in the same manner. This is one of those rules of thumb that hold true in life and in workplaces.

          It’s an easy pit to fall into. “Hey, I can work with difficult people. I know how. I have done it before. I won’t have the problems other people have with her.”
          NOT TRUE.

          The reality is that people like you (and me for that matter) who really work at things and try to keep a good relationship going on offer a new and higher challenge for people like your boss. It takes them longer to find something to blow up about. But eventually they find something because that is THEIR goal. See, this isn’t about you at all. It’s about the blow up and the drama, it’s so exciting. (not) And they just enjoy all this noise and chaos.
          Your boss is having a great time. And once the drama with you fizzles out, she will find someone else. You’re nothing more than her current target.

          It sounds like a lot of people around you are telling you she is toxic. This is what help looks like, all these people are helping you. Please listen to them.

          1. Fran Fine*

            I believe you gave very similar advice to me years ago when I was going by a totally different username, but your advice here still holds true. Please get out, OP. It’s only going to get worse from here – trust me. I had this boss and she eventually turned on me, her golden child employee, when I refused to fall in line and become a mini-her.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        As a fellow events person, I am sending you a ton of sympathy. I’ve never had to deal with working a major event at the same time as being bullied, so I just can’t imagine how awful that would be.
        It seems like you’re just not going to get any respect in your current environment and sector, so I’d suggest looking at events roles in a different area. I planned a mid-size annual medical conference in my last job, and it was (mostly) pretty enjoyable. Look around at similar events in your area to see who plans those and could be hiring. If you are looking to move out of managing events totally (and I don’t blame you if you are), good luck and go for it!

    2. Allornone*

      I sadly have no advice to offer, but I wanted to say I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You sound like you have tried to behave professionally and she is rebuffing any attempts for you two to get on the same page.

      *Internet Stranger Hug*

      1. Exhausted in Events*

        Thank you <3 even though I don't think I handled the situation perfectly (the director did have some valid questions about her event) I had no idea it would get so blown out of proportion, and it hurts that any attempts to fix it on my end have been shrugged off. I get it's probably not the most urgent thing on her plate right now, but it still hurts, especially after the other blows of the last week.

    3. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Now is the best time in years to be job-hunting.

      Just sayin’.

      Seriously, though, your boss is a horrorshow and your company sounds like a dysfunctional mess. The way to fix this is to find a new job and I would start hunting *right now*. In the meantime, keep in mind that your boss’s reactions are irrational and abusive, and they are driven not by an honest assessment of your performance but by a desire to manipulate you. (That thing where she openly says she’s great to have on your side and horrible if you cross her, that’s a giant red flag right there.)

      Best guess, your boss lied to HR about you being overwhelmed (I won’t speculate as to why). HR then talked to you, and you gave an honest answer which inadvertently exposed the boss’s lie. That, in your boss’s mind, is “crossing her,” so now you get punished. There is no way you could have avoided this and it is in no way your fault.

      As Alison is fond of saying, get out get out get out.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I understand why you’d be wary of going to HR since your last talk with them seems to have set your boss against you, but I think it’s important to remember that she was acting strangely about you and your work *before* HR approached you. And the fact that HR already knows that there’s something weird going on there might work in your favor. If it were me, I think I’d contact the same HR person who approached you last time and tell them everything that’s happened since. Something like “my boss was really upset after I talked to you last time and I feel like she’s retaliating against me for something I can’t quite pinpoint. I need you to make this behavior stop and make sure the retaliation doesn’t increase.”

      Using the word retaliation is important. It’s illegal, and any HR officer worth their salt will want to put a stop to it.

      I’m so, so sorry this situation has landed on you and I hope you and HR can get it resolved.

      1. Exhausted in Events*

        This is a valid point. I’m afraid of making it worse, but I did have some concerns beforehand, and I’m not the only team member she has behaved somewhat cruelly towards. There’s been a few incidents, but as recently as last week, a junior member of the team was cut out of a team lunch – the team member has been having some major job-related issues (definitely valid and concerning), but it still felt overly cruel to me to leave her behind in the office while we all went out, performance issues or not. It feels like a vindictive environment, unless you are in the “in” group, and I’ve found out that week that even that is tenuous at best.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I can’t remember where I heard it, but there’s a quote about how if a manager abuses everyone but you it’s not because you’re different, it’s because you’re next.

          You’ve noticed some really disturbing things about the way your boss treats people, and I feel like HR wouldn’t have reached out to you if they hadn’t noticed something similar. It’s possible that they’re looking for some confirmation of things they already suspect are happening, so if you can find a way to feel comfortable doing it and you get the impression that they’ll take the retaliation portion of this seriously, I would really encourage you to ask for a meeting.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agree. And when you said you were fine, she went in for the kill. HR was starting to protect you there, but when you said “fine” there was nothing further they could do.
            If outsiders know how she is then I would bet HR knows also.

            You can go back and say you have additional information now.

        2. Ina Lummick*

          Ooof we did management drives which sounds similar but you don’t get any blocks. (Just a book that’s not fully translated to English.)

          However!! I’m moving desks soon and the boxes the books came in will be extremely useful to move my desk contents about! :)

    5. New Job So Much Better*

      I’m sorry you are going through this, but if I were you I’d be job hunting. Make sure you document all your successful projects and keep it on your personal computer.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Yes! If there are any documents you need to have access to after you leave this job, now is the time to make sure you have access to them at home.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      Job search. Right now. It very much sounds to me like she wants you to leave and will make you leave before long if you don’t make moves first.

      She’s not setting you up for success. She may or may not be actively sabotaging you, but it’s clear she doesn’t want or trust you to do the job (sounds like she does not have good reason for this, but so it stands). I see HR coming to you as a giant red flag- that means she was talking to HR about you without you knowing. Be on the lookout for other things she’s shifting away from you or requests to do things that aren’t entirely your job purview, or that she has reason to believe you won’t do well at- she may be looking for things to document in order to build a case to fire you. It happened to me.

      What to do? Take a moment to feel the hurt, let it set in that it’s not your fault, and tell yourself you won’t get to a place of understanding what went wrong because it simply isn’t a reasonable situation. Then open a new browser window and start looking for your next job. Reach out to some of the people you met at the industry conference, even- they already know not to trust her assessment of your work.

    7. Malarkey01*

      I’m so sorry and as someone who did work in major corporate event planning way back I’ll also say this sounds pretty typical of real time event execution. Everyone is super stressed, tensions are really high, even though you weren’t on the verge of tears earlier there were eventually tears, and senior leadership requests the impossible and every is annoyed with everyone. That doesn’t make your boss’ actions okay just that it does happen in the immediate run up and during events a lot. And, there can be misunderstandings like you were fine but harried and your manager interpreted that as really upset and near tears because she was also stressed and projecting, and then maybe HR relays that you’re “totally fine not stressed at all and having a great time” and manager is like WTH why did she seem upset with me but is carefree now (AGAIN none of that is your fault but fog of event battle and high stress can quickly escalate misunderstandings).

      What I used to do in those situations is schedule a specific debrief with my boss a week after, acknowledge that things seemed off or chaotic during the event, and then ask for honest feedback, and be ready with suggestions for how things could have been handled better. I liked event planning but did not have the temperament to deal with the leadership never having their act together and constantly changing minds or providing stuff late.

      1. Exhausted in Events*

        Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been in events for quite some time, so I know this all to be true, but sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to remember that this is by nature a stressful industry. I think that what feels hard about this is it really felt like it was our team vs. the crazy, and my boss seemingly turning on me has been hard, but then the fact that she keeps pushing off our debrief is tough too!

        I’m hoping that she is just really busy catching up from other stuff this week and that our conversation next week goes ok, but this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way from our interactions – for the first two to three months of my job, she barely spoke to me even though I came in as a fully remote employee and was completely lost. I just thought we were past that point in our relationship.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Putting off the debrief is part of turning on you. It’s not separate from everything else, it’s all the same storyline. She has now made herself into an angry AND inaccessible person.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            Agreed that putting off the debrief is not a good sign.
            Events are stressful. People expect the world and the executives are often unrealistic and try to throw crap in last minute with no thought as to how it can be achieved with little planning.

            A debrief/planning session can help go over what worked and what didn’t— and how you can plan this out in advance next time and stick to the schedule. But it sounds like your boss isn’t giving you that opportunity. And it’s not a good sign.

    8. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      My advice is to start job searching now. It sounds like your boss has decided they don’t like you anymore for I’ m sure some made up reason that is out of your control, and it’s better to take time you need to recover from the long work days, and then pivot to job searching. Or take time off if you have any saved without worrying about what your boss thinks, because you already know and you can’t change it. Pushing out the meeting with still sending cold emails are the signs for me.

      Hope you can land somewhere that appreciates you better!

      1. Exhausted in Events*

        Thank you! Funny enough, I started putting out applications after the first incident (the not thinking one) left me crying in the office, and I’ve got tons of interviews lined up. I was feeling guilty about it, but not after the events of this week!

  16. Poppy*

    I had an interview yesterday for a job I’m really excited about.

    I usually get bad nerves for interviews, especially when I’m particularly interested in the position (of course), and for some reason this manifests mostly when I’m asked to introduce myself, which of course is always the first question that comes up. I usually get very out of breath a few sentences in and then it lasts through my whole speech.

    Well, of course this happened again yesterday. I tried to reset by saying “OK, let me take a big breath and start again”, but it didn’t help at all and as soon as I resumed so did the breathlessness. The interviewers, who were quite nice overall, seemed understanding and even offered to let me remove my mask while finishing my introduction (little did they now the mask had nothing to do with it and it would have been just as bad – but I was kind of relieved that they thought this was the origin of the problem, not me).

    After a while I think one of them took pity on me, and while I was talking about my qualifications, cut in to say that there would be quite extensive training anyway and launched into an explanation about that, I guess to put me out of my misery by ending the “introduction” part. I was actually a little upset about it since I didn’t get to say some things I felt were important, though I did manage to insert most of it into the rest of the interview.

    In fact it got better after that initial awkwardness and I believe I managed to make some good points and didn’t come off too badly. The problem is that the position I was interviewing for is a very public-facing one, in which I would be interacting with people most of the time, even making presentations in front of (relatively small) groups of people. I think now that I should have adressed it and said that while I get very nervous when I have to talk about myself in job interviews, I am perfectly capable of engaging in public speaking in other settings.

    So, after this rather long introduction, my question is : do you think this is something I should adress in a post-interview e-mail?

    I’m wondering especially because I’m not in the US, and while thank-you notes wouldn’t be completely unheard of or wildly inappropriate here, they are also not the norm, especially for this kind of position (at a small local nonprofit organization), which also means that I don’t really have practice writing this kind of thing. Plus, they told me they were doing other interviews yesterday and today, and that I would hear back from them on Monday – so they might have already made their decision anyway. I’d appreciate any input you might have!

    1. Reba*

      I don’t think it makes sense to call attention to something that you feel didn’t go well! But, if you really want to do it, is there a way to work in the mention of public speaking, *without* criticizing your own interview performance?

      Something like, “Thank you so much for the interview. I enjoyed learning more about _____. I realized that we didn’t have the chance to talk much about the public speaking part of the role, and I wanted to underscore my ____ experience with public presentations. In fact, the public-facing parts of Current Role are some of the most satisfying parts of the job.”

    2. BRR*

      I wouldn’t address it. Putting something in a thank you note isn’t really going to change someone’s mind about something (and you don’t know what their thinking is anyways). In future interviews I might say something how you get nervous only during this and how it’s not an issue when you’re doing X & Y.

    3. curiousLemur*

      You might want to check out Toastmasters. They have a table-topic section that helps with off-the-cuff speaking. I was in Toastmasters for a while, and I think it helped my skills when being interviewed. A lot of the improvement was about taking a breath and giving myself time to think, but being able to practice it regularly helped.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      Also, you might want to reconsider what you are doing in response to the “introduce yourself” or “tell me about yourself” question. That isn’t a request for an exhaustive rundown of your qualifications, instead it is simply a request for a quick introduction. “I’ve been a llama groomer for seven years and I’m interested in this position because I’ve been training for llama wrangling for the past two years and am ready to take that step.” Two or three sentences, tops. Practice with a friend.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is what I was thinking. Perhaps it’s a cultural difference, but to me it seems unusual to have a prepared speech with multiple talking points for the start of an interview. Working things into the conversation is the way I’ve always done it, and all the advice I’ve seen. But again, this may be something that’s more commonly done where LW is.

        Either way, I wouldn’t try to go back and re-frame the situation. If you have experience with public speaking and presenting, and it’s on your resume or came up in discussing your qualifications, then they already know. You never know what other people are really thinking, and trying to “correct” an impression might just nudge their thinking in the wrong direction if they’d already forgotten the bad and only remembered the good.

    5. poppy*

      Thank you for your advice to all who took the time to read and respond!
      I ended up not sending a post-interview note. I received a rejection e-mail yesterday, in which they said they chose a candidate with more experience in the main job duties (can’t argue with that!)
      I will also look into shortening my interview self-introduction, you have a point that it will probably make it easier for me next time…

  17. Dino*

    My company didn’t pay us today, our normal payday. I contacted HR (since I’d recently changed my direct deposit and thought that was the issue before talking to coworkers) who punted me to payroll.

    Morale is already bad but this is new for the company. Has anyone had this happen to them, and how did it turn out?

    1. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

      This happened once to one of my coworkers when they started at a company. Your company needs to fix this immediately, or it’s a huge legal liability for them. I would make sure to put the request into writing to payroll and HR. If you’ve recently changed your bank, or they’ve changed theirs, it could process on a different day than usual, but they aren’t allowed to start the payment late.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This happened at oldjob, & it was a bank issue. However, because one of our offices was in a state with very strict laws about paychecks, they sent an email to everyone stating that they’d cut a check that day for anyone who needed their pay immediately. (I was able to wait the 24-48 hours to get it resolved, but not everyone could.)

        Payroll needs to fix it, but HR needs to communicate to staff & handle any issues.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve had pay issues twice, but only one where I wasn’t paid. It was my bank’s fault as they bounced the payment back for some unknown reason. My company got it fixed quickly :)

    3. The Original K.*

      This happened to half the company at a previous employer – they implemented a new system and it messed up. There was a line down the hallway to HR of pissed-off employees. They resolved it in a few days and issues emergency funds to anyone who found themselves in the red as a result of the error. I assume it cost them a lot (this affected maybe two thousand people).

      Definitely document it – put it all in writing.

      1. Dino*

        Everything is in writing since we don’t have on-site HR. Yay for documentation, but boo for being unable to march down to their office and get it fixed ASAP.

    4. MisterMeeble*

      This happened to me 3 or 4 jobs ago. They were decent enough to announce it a couple of days ahead of time, so everyone knew to expect it. We actually missed 3 paychecks while some funding was tied up. I was a well-paid salaried computer programmer, so I had the means to coast. Others (like the married couple who worked in the call center and made around $10/hr each) weren’t so lucky. It really hurt them.

      Morale wasn’t terrible, but people started leaving in droves. After the third missed payday (6 weeks now) a VP called me into his office, handed me a check for all of my back pay and said sneak out and get it hammered NOW because there were limited funds and not everyone was getting this. Also to keep quiet. So I went to the bank it was drawn on and got some cash. I was made whole

      But I realized other were not and decided I can’t work for this place any more. When I got back to the office, I put in my resignation (it was to nobody’s surprise) and got another job within a couple of days. Paid a bit more, too. I figured out the company was pretty slimy, and that just sealed it. So I got my money out of it, a lot of people didn’t.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          Ask about why this is happening. If you are not satisfied with the response, call you state department of labor. They enforce the rules about paying employees on time.

      1. KQRX, the Voice of Reason*

        Happened to all of us at a radio station I worked at, years ago. I was surprised that they were able to stay on the air for another week before the whole thing shut down without warning. Never did get paid. But I did keep coming to work for a week after the event, because I couldn’t believe the management wouldn’t tell everybody that the operation was kaput. I don’t think it happens like that very often any more.

    5. ThisIsTheHill*

      Someone once forgot to send the payroll files to the bank at a large non-profit that I worked for. We received an e-mail around 10 am letting us know. By noon, the company announced that anyone needing a paper check could request & receive one that day; otherwise, direct deposits would be processed overnight. They also covered any bank fees caused by overdrafts due to automatic payments.

    6. Panicked*

      I was a leased employee to a company that missed payroll once. It was foreshadowing of what was to come. Missing payroll can be just a one off, absolutely. However, it could also be a signifier of a major problem.

    7. Lady_Lessa*

      Start looking around at other jobs, and seeing if you could get a hard check. That might not work now, since direct deposit is the standard now.

      In the days before direct deposit, I had trouble with a similar type company, except the checks started out as rubber. I ended up going to the bank the check was written on, cashing it, and walking over to my bank and depositing the cash.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      When this happened to me it was the beginning of the end of a failed start-up. We never got our last few paychecks. The CEO did it to at least one other start-up on his way to being a tech millionaire with the one start-up of his that hit gold.

    9. Beth*

      If this is the first time it’s happened, wait and see how they deal with it: how fast it’s resolved, whether they own their screw-ups, whether they apologize. Stuff does happen. If they handle the aftermath well, green flag.

      If they handle the aftermath badly, yellow flag.

      If this is not the first time it’s happened, RED FLAG.

    10. Jaid*

      Anyone remember the “Too-Big-For-Britches” boss from what, last month? Guy was pissed that his employee told payroll not to mess with her pay again AND they gave her “extra” money (no doubt to cover overdraft fees, etc.)

      Tell your boss and ask them to get payroll to cut you a check until they get your money issues straight.

    11. Water Everywhere*

      From the perspective of a payroll person: your company should be doing everything it can to get your pay to you ASAP. Processing errors happen and when a payroll deposit goes astray, our immediate response is to use whatever means are at our disposal to get employees the money owed to them FIRST. Then we sort out what went wrong and figure out how to fix it and/or prevent it happening again.

      1. Dino*

        It’s been 3 hours, no word from payroll. Others are also affected but no company wide email or other announcement. Eeeeeep.

    12. JustaTech*

      Not to me, but to a friend: Her company had just had some very major expenses (I think a building renovation?) and straight up could not make payroll on time one week. They were a day late (so some folks didn’t notice) because of a disconnect between when they had to pay the contractors and when they were getting paid by their clients.

      My friend had more insight than the rest of the employees about what was going on, so she out it in the “things to watch out for” category. But this was also a very small organization and they were only a day late. A bigger organization that can’t make payroll (as opposed to messed up sending the money but they’re good for it) is a *giant* red flag.

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

      Yes it happened to me and it sucked. It was even worse because it was paper checks, over the memorial day holiday. Supposed to be paid on Friday but the boss didn’t feel like going to the main branch of the store (about an hour round trip) to get the checks. I had plans to go to my best friends graduation but had to cancel at the last minute because I had no money.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Years ago, my pay was delayed, because it was all paper checks (early 90s) from a large company where payroll was in the Northeast & we were in the Midwest. A huge snowstorm delayed shipment. Luckily, it was only a few days, & most of us weren’t relying on the job for our livelihood. (Mainly PT staff. I was a college student. I needed my pay, but I could wait a couple days.)

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

      I would also check your state labor laws. Some states have regulations that if you aren’t paid when you are supposed to that there are penalties and such

      1. Dino*

        It looks like they have until next week to pay before penalties start. Too bad I don’t live in California!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Someone at my former company decided I no longer worked there and deleted me. I guess they ignored the hours sheet my boss submitted? Anyway, they offered to pay any charges I incurred because of bounced checks or auto-withdrawals.

          Keep your boss looped in. Good bosses are highly motivated to make sure their people get paid.

    15. The Ginger Ginger*

      If this isn’t a bank error, or a new system error, or whatever (and if it WERE, I’d have expected that announcement to happen as fast as possible so people don’t panic), this is a VERY bad sign. You need to be job hunting yesterday, and I’d start locking down your finances and making plans under the assumption that things are going sideways – as in the downward spiral is ALREADY IN PROGRESS, not that it’s just now starting. Once companies can’t cut pay checks, they can’t retain workers; work cannot be completed, and new and current business can’t be supported. A company-wide missed paycheck that is funds related and not error-related is 100% the writing on the wall (it should be the LAST writing on the wall, because I bet there have already been signs). You need to bail as quickly as you feasibly can.

      And don’t KEEP working for them for nothing on the promise of a future paycheck. That almost never works out.

      1. PollyQ*

        1000000% all of this. The fact that this isn’t being addressed by management is just as bad as the fact that you haven’t got paid. Start job-hunting NOW.

    16. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yes, this happened at OldJob. I remember a December we got paid so late a couple coworkers had to take loans to pay the bills. The owners loved blaming someone else – the bank, the accountant, the weather, Jupiter in retrograde. I’m glad I no longer work there.

    17. Dragon*

      Many years ago FormerJob was transitioning the company one office at a time, from a 24-pay-period system to a 26-pay-period system.

      The New York office was the last to move over. Because of that state’s tax system, to accommodate the transition the company was going to do a one-time exception in which two paychecks would be three weeks apart.

      I was able to handle that financially, but of course a lot of colleagues couldn’t. They howled, the company handled it differently and everyone got over the hump. The dumbest part was actually the payroll manager who actually thought, three weeks between paychecks, what’s the big deal?

    18. mreasy*

      This happened once due to a combination of severe personal circumstances in the payroll dept. Everyine mobilized to make sure we were paid within 24 hours and the company offered to pay any overdraft or late fees any employee incurred. If they aren’t taking this seriously it’s a red flag.

  18. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

    We got a puppy a few months ago and I’m taking care of her most of the time while working from home full time and also job searching. Does anyone have tips for how to better meet my pup’s needs during the work day?

    She barks and bites a lot and is very clever so the food puzzles are over quickly. I just got put on a PIP at my current (and unreasonable) workplace and the feedback they gave me was that my dog was too distracting, and that I wasn’t attending enough work social events (during the pandemic). Work asks me to be on >20 hours a week of Zoom meetings plus spur of the moment long phone calls. This already wasn’t working for me on its own but also makes it much harder to have time for quick breaks to play, train, and walk with her.

    1. ThatGirl*

      You might want to consider doggy daycare a few days a week, if that’s affordable – it would give her socialization time and give you distraction-free days. While your current workplace may well suck, it’s not unreasonable for a job to want you to not be constantly distracted, whether that’s by a baby, puppy, spouse or something else altogether.

    2. CCC*

      Why not hire someone to play with and walk the puppy for 1-2 hours during or right before the busiest parts of your day, or bring her to daycare on busy days?

      Getting her on a schedule might also help. No impromptu breaks, only scheduled ones that get further apart as she ages. Crate train her (train her, don’t just throw her in there) so during important meetings she’s content to be in her crate.

      1. Justin*

        Yep. We crate trained from day one, and eventually he grew out of it but it helped a lot.

        Hire a walker, sign up for a training class, find a daycare if you can. Etc. We did all of this stuff and it all helped.

        Not cheap though.

      2. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

        Thanks! Yes to clarify, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to not be distracted during the work day! I meant that my company is very unreasonable in general: we don’t have HR, my workload tripled after a lot of turnover, and I get reprimanded for any sound in my home, including the HVAC system.

    3. CBB*

      It sounds like you either need to fully throw yourself into achieving the PIP, or accept it as an invitation to resign.

      If you choose the former, I would put her in daycare. It sounds like you have a job that needs your full attention while you’re on duty. I’ve had similar jobs, and I couldn’t imagine trying to care for a puppy at the same time.

    4. Mrs.KAE*

      Are you crating your puppy during the work day? How much and how often are you training with her?

      I moonlight as a dog trainer so this is right up my alley.

      If you got a puppy a few months ago I’m assuming at least 5 months old–potty break schedule here may need to be adjusted if the puppy is any younger. Puppies and dogs sleep A LOT. But puppies often won’t unless they are confined/getting enforced naps. A crate or play pen will be your friend. Crate the dog away from you–not in your work area.

      A basic pet person puppy schedule for someone who works from home (assuming 8-5, adjust as needed) that I would recommend would be:
      6:30: Human wake up/morning routine
      6:45: puppy potty break
      7:00-7:10: hand feed puppy breakfast–use as training time. No more than 5-8 minutes. Practice basic behaviors sit/down/stay/handling for grooming/tricks, really whatever you want to work on.
      7:10-7:30: walk puppy if you want, or play fetch/with toys–interactive play
      7:30: Puppy goes in crate with a chew (bully stick, frozen kong, etc)
      12:00 – potty break and lunch time. Feed puppy lunch, again, hand feed these meals! It is a great way to make sure you are practicing obedience & tires out your puppy far more than a bunch of physical exercise. 3-8 minutes, max. Keep it fast and fun. Again another opportunity for interactive play, fetch, walks, whatever.
      1:00: puppy back in crate.
      5:00: Potty break, back in crate
      5:00-6:30 – do your job searching stuff
      6:30 – feed puppy dinner, hand feeding again. Seriously. Hand feed meals.

      After that– more play, walks, whatever. Another 30-45 min of active interaction with puppy in the evening & then do (supervised) free time while you are cooking dinner, watching TV, etc. Will likely need to do another potty break around 8pm, and then again right before bed.

      MANY puppies get barky and bitey because they are overtired and CRANKY – much like toddlers. They tend to have a really hard time relaxing on their own when they aren’t confined–so you end up with a huge distraction when you are trying to work. Add in crating or a play pen and once your puppy gets used to the confinement (which is a good skill to have, in general) I promise that puppy will be sound asleep while crated.

      If you aren’t already, highly recommend taking a puppy class. Dog training is one of those things you don’t know how much you don’t know until someone shows you a better way to do it.

      1. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

        Thank you so much for this! Seeing an example of the schedule is really helpful! I crate her overnight for sleep, but have been using a playpen for when I need to leave the house for an errand, or when I’m cleaning, or she’s getting overwhelmed.

        Thank you for saying the part about being overtired! I am concerned that that is what happening, because she doesn’t sleep as much as I expected for her age, and I’ll definitely try a crate nap set up with a routine.

        We did two sets of training classes, so I have some basic commands and tricks down, but I am always down to learn more!

        1. Cle*

          Set it up so she has access to the crate while in the playpen, and keep the play area pretty small. If the crate is the sleeping place, she may prefer to go in there to nap. She might even think that “not in crate = time to play/get attention.”
          The sample schedule is great! Practicing training every day gives them something to focus on; that’s especially important for any dog that has “working dog” in its history. Some dogs will just never be content unless you give them a little job every day, even if that little job is just sitting/staying/etc.

          One last tip– your dog will take her cues from you. If you are constantly thinking about her, looking at her, checking on her, making a fuss over her, etc., then she will do the same. Watching for your own bad habits is the easiest way to start. If you fuss over her when you put her in her crate, she will fuss when you put her in there. If you look to her for attention through the workday, she will look to you for attention all day. If you make a big deal out of leaving the house, she will make a big deal over you leaving the house. There’s obviously a lot more to dog training than that, but demonstrating the behavior and norms you want to see from her goes a longggg way.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree.

            Puppies have a huge amount of energy and they really need to blow it out.
            You can feed the pup something with turkey in it – as turkey can be a downer. I use this on my dog even in his adult years.
            You can investigate chewies, something to occupy her time and tire her out.

            I use a spritzer with water. I issue a command once. If it’s not complied with I pick up the spritzer and say it again. On the third go around I squirt the pup/dog. (NEVER in the face/ears- always toward the back, butt, or legs. A friend says I am a very good shot with this thing. Yeah, lots of practice.)

            Do this when you are not online, too. It might take a short bit, but it should work into all you do is pick up the spritzer and she stops doing whatever.

            Play a radio softly for her, if you keep her in another room. Sometimes this helps them to settle.

            If you are nervous, worried, jumpy, whatever, your pup will tend toward that direction also. Try to show the pup that you are confident you can take good care of her and she is safe with you. Don’t skip this step. Dogs pick up on stuff scary fast. My dog was about a year old when I hurt my back. I was limping and dragging myself through this house. My dog went to the window and stared up the street for a bit, then stared down the street. He was intense. It dawned on me. He thought we needed help and he was looking for someone to come help us. When a friend stopped by later, he went back to his dog bed. Make sure you dog sees that you are confident and will take care of her and you.

    5. Forkeater*

      +1 to getting on a schedule. I take my dog for a long walk before the day starts, and then she’s usually worn out and will sleep mostly till noon, when we can go on another long walk. That gets us to about 3:30 when she thinks it might be dinner time (it isn’t). But it helps a lot.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Can you take her out in the morning before you start work and at lunch and REALLY tire her out? Our old dog trainer once said “a tired dog is a good dog, an EXHAUSTED dog is a great dog!”
      Obviously not exhausted to the point of being sick or whatever, but you get the point!

      1. Sandman*

        Yes, and our trainer has mentioned to us that mental exercise can be just as important as physical exercise, and just as effective in tiring the pup out. Fifteen to thirty minutes of training time along with the morning walk/run/ball throw could make a big difference.

    7. Sandman*

      We do doggie daycare with our dog and it makes a huge difference in sanity even though he’s not a puppy anymore. If you’re on a PIP and one of the reasons was your dog, I’d give it some serious consideration.

  19. A Very Hungry Moose*

    Hi everyone,
    At my therapist’s advice, I’m looking into resources on ADHD in women–any specifically work- or school-related resources you’ve found helpful? I’m hyper-organized, but can’t seem to get the headspace to tackle larger, long-range projects. The planning and breaking things down is fine–it’s my super-power. The execution is meh. Anything helpful out there?

    1. DogMomOnStruggleBus*

      Hey, I’d love to hear about these too! I like the blog “Black Girl, Lost Keys” as one resource. One of the things she talks about is ADHD coaching. I’m not sure how much that costs though.

      This isn’t necessarily helpful for long projects, but once I break something down into smaller steps, I like to use a stopwatch or productivity cube (just a very tactile timer) to give myself only 10-20 minutes to try to tackle that one task.

    2. Justin*

      In a way, before my diagnosis (I’m a man, but I still think I can be useful), I had learned to always have something interesting as an option, so that if my focus waned I could jump to something else. However, I had to choose the other options well.

      So if I was doing a long, dull project at work (which is my job, and it is why I want to leave, especially with my diagnosis now), I would, just as an example, I’m gonna work on this from 9:30-10, then I’m going to do this fun thing from 10-10:30, etc etc. I basically always have a lot of fun side projects and it helps me hyperfocus in between.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is hard without more information, because ADHD presents differently in different people. What part of the execution is tripping you up?

      If it’s just powering through the work, try the Pomodoro method. You can google it, but it’s basically 15 minutes of work followed by 15 minutes of rest. I find I don’t actually *do* that, I tend to find a rhythm and keep going, but when you’re getting started the idea of a 15 minute sprint is a lot less daunting than the idea of a long marathon.

      I am also someone who works best under deadlines so giving myself hard deadlines for things helps. “I have 15 chunks to this project all due by June 1” is different than “this chunk is due January 15”, mentally.

      Also – are you medicated? If you’re taking an ADHD med figuring out when it kicks in and timing your intake so it kicks in when you start working can help.

      1. Rosie*

        agreed I’ll pomodoro to start a task and if I find myself in a groove I’ll stop setting the timer but it def helps power through when i’m struggling

      2. Your local password resetter*

        Not a woman, but I had a similar experience.
        Focusing on small starting steps makes it a lot easier to start, because I’m not intimidated/confused by the Big Thing, and my brain doesn’t have time to wander off to something else.

        Pomodoro didnt work too well, because I also have to keep going, and the start-stop rythm undermined that.

    4. Tex-ish*

      It might sound silly, but color coding helps me with this stuff. I work in Excel sheets for a lot of my job, so I have overhauled them and done a bunch of conditional formatting with check boxes and such so that when I complete a stage or mark something as needing to be done, things are immediately put in different color blocks. It gives my brain a snapshot of how much of each kind of task needs to get done or where things are in the process, how much has been accomplished, how much is left, etc. It’s a bit like frontloading the emotional/mental labor, and instead of having to keep up that level of investment in the organization of the work to ensure it gets done long-term, I can just click, color code, and give my brain that quick hit of satisfaction. Keeps the train moving.

      In my personal life, I do the same with a white board and color-coded dry erase markers. I don’t quite know why colors help my brain feel less anxious versus other coping mechanisms, but I’m glad it works!

      1. Brrrrr*

        So if I have a validation box (i.e. drop-down that I click yes or no) – can I set it up so the cells in that row or column change color automatically? If that is the case, I am so excited! And can you share how you do it? Thank you!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          In Excel, you can change the color of a cell based on the text/number in that cell. It’s called “conditional formatting” and the button for it is in the Home ribbon (in the Styles section). I’m sure there are lots of tutorials you can look up online to walk you through the process.

        2. Tex-ish*

          Yup, yup! Just like Hlao-roo says below, you can accomplish it through conditional formatting. You can do it for a whole sheet, a row, a column, or a specified range. Just highlight the area you want it to affect, go to format > conditional formatting > new rule > and make the condition that “Text is Exactly” and input one of the choices from your dropdown list and choose an associated fill color. Add a new rule for each different choice/color you need. Boom! Should work.

          1. Brrrrr*

            Sweet! This will make some of my more mundane projects more exciting and easier to keep track of where I’ve left off….

    5. Coder von Frankenstein*

      For me (male, but primarily inattentive ADHD, which I gather is more common for women), the thing that helped was being accountable to someone else. If I promise someone else that I’m going to have X ready by tomorrow at 10 AM, that does wonders for my ability to actually make it happen. If I don’t have that promise to keep me honest, I can delay and delay and delay.

      (This was a strategy developed while I was unmedicated. I finally started medication for the first time last week and it has so far been amazing–it’s like I have three times as many hours in the day. Man, if I had known this 20 years ago…)

      1. A Very Hungry Moose*

        Yes, inattentive! This is a good idea for me, I think. I’m so organized but I have no sort of reporting structure. I’m also not on meds but considering it.

        1. Coder von Frankenstein*

          The main effect I have found from the meds (with the caveat that I’ve only been on them a week) is that I can now say to myself, “I am going to do this thing,” and then I just–do the thing. No procrastinating, no bouncing away after 10 minutes to goof off for half an hour, no veering down irrelevant off-ramps. If I get a list of tasks lined up, I can just power through them, one two three.

          It sounds like that’s exactly what you’re struggling with, so I would definitely give it a try and see if it helps.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Yes, that’s the thing that’s so hard to express, and that non-ADHD people don’t get. They can just *decide* to do something, and then do it. When the connection between your decider and your do-er is broken or kludged up, getting it reconnected is a revelation.

          2. Your local password resetter*

            Wait. Hold up.
            There are people who can actually do that? Like real-life people? You dont have to trick and wrestle your brain into cooperating all day long?

            …I think I need to go talk to my doctor about meds.

    6. Fresh Cut Grass*

      The most helpful tip I’ve had for breaking things down is that if you’re having a hard time approaching a task, you need to break it down further. Break it down until it’s a task that’s so small that you cannot possibly fail or get confused.

      On good days, my list of tasks might look like those of my neurotypical colleagues– get coffee, reply to that email, check the llama server status, etc. On a bad day, that same list might look like: stand up, wash mug, make coffee, drink coffee, open outlook, reply to email, connect to llama server remote desktop, check server status log, etc. And I always try to actually write these things down and cross them off as I go! (Yes, I will put coffee on my to-do list, because sometimes executive dysfunction means I struggle to even do that, so it’s worth my time to get it on the list. And it gives me something to check off right at the start!)

    7. RagingADHD*

      I always recommend, for anyone, the book “Smart but Scattered,” because it gives a helpful strengths-based framework for using your executive skill strengths to help compensate for your weaknesses.

      I describe the mental block or overwhelm of being unable to tackle something as the “can’t evens,” and the opposite of that as the “might as wells.” Might as well sit down with my notebook and jot down an outline for that project. Might as well open up all the files on the computer and look over the material. Might as well pick up all these papers and put them in a folder.

      The thing about breaking down tasks is that you have to break them down into specific physical actions (sit down with notebook, open files, apply eyeballs to words, put papers in folder) that are a) so stupid easy that you could basically trip and fall on top of them and they’re done, and b) put you in a situation where you might as well keep going.

      Meds don’t work for everyone, but when they work they are very helpful. Trying them is also extremely low risk. My doctor was very clear when I was worried about the meds, that the amount of caffeine I was consuming to get through the day was far more concerning long term than the meds were. Like, doctor made the shock face and recoiled, type concerning.

    8. PeanutButter*

      LOL You sound like me. I’m actually very, very good at planning things, long or short range. I’m very, very good at taking other peoples’ plans/schedules and executing them. I am AWFUL at being both the planner and executor. XD I’m now learning those skills at 37 after being diagnosed with ADHD last year and getting on meds.

      The big thing my therapist told me that has really helped – don’t assume that the fault is IN YOU if a particular method doesn’t work. For example, I know many ADHD people who find the Pomodoro method helpful. It’s a f’in disaster for me. I cannot switch tracks that fast. I keep looking forward and thinking about what I’m going to do with my break time instead of actually working. When I realized I was allowed to just STOP trying to do methods that weren’t working, it was a huge relief and I was able to try more things until I found methods that worked for me. (All of my methods are different for different tasks.)

      Things that have helped me:

      * Outlook shortcuts and Quick Tasks. I set up a few so it’s literally 1-2 clicks on an email to create reminders and appointments. I forward the alerts to my phone. I do this for everything, even “Bring that book Chelsea wants to borrow” for non-private stuff I keep the titles public and my team will sometimes teasingly remind me if they spot it on my calendar. My team knows they can add reminders to my calendar and I will not get upset.

      * Work-only Bullet Journal. I’m not talking about the beautiful, organized spreads you see on insta. My work Bullet Journal is a hot mess BUT it has helped me keep things on track, and it came it super handy when my evaluations rolled around because I could read back through everything and see what I actually accomplished (I’m an informatician in an academic research lab, and none of the experiments really produced publishable results so instead of citing papers I worked on I was able to show all the analysis and tools I developed.)

      * Habitica

    9. bardicartist*

      I recommend “The ADHD Friendly Lifestyle” podcast (written for women) and “Hacking Your ADHD” podcast (written for everyone)

    10. Nela*

      The only thing that worked for me for long-term projects is to have deadlines and outside accountability. I’m also hyper organized and neat, but I lose steam very quickly.

      With my first self-published book I hired an editor and had to send her my chapters by a certain deadline, and I set and publicized the book launch date 6 months in advance. I put my back against the wall and had to do it!
      I haven’t committed to any schedule or date with my second book, and it’s dragging on for so long despite being a much shorter book.

      Podcast recommendation: ADHD for Smart-ass Women. There are episodes about tactics for getting things done.

  20. H*

    Hi friends!
    I am a non-exempt salaried comms professional gaining graphic design training on my own dime outside of work. I’m wondering if anyone know what the regulations/norms are about contracting graphic design projects with my employer outside of my existing role (assuming I work on them off the clock)?

    I’ve been looking for a question that I think I remember Alison answering about an employee who’s employer commissioned art (separate from her job for them). Would it make a difference that graphic design isn’t totally outside the scope of my job? I do basic design stuff, but we’ve traditionally contracted large projects with a freelance designer, and I would not be able to complete those projects within my 40-hour work week on top of my other responsibilities.


    1. 867-5309*

      I cannot speak to the legalities but can speak to the norms, since I’m in a executive in this field… I would not likely pay my comms employee(s) to freelance separately for graphic design – I would continue to use outside resources to keep things clean. If the role needed it, then I would add that to their existing responsibilities and structure or restructure accordingly. Because you are already doing SOME design, it’s too closely related to say firmly here is where regular work ends and “freelance” would begin.

    2. ArtK*

      I doubt very much that they would be open to this. The laws about employees and the laws about contractors are different (and differ state-to-state.) This would put you in both categories and I can’t imagine how they would be able to handle that.

      Freelancing for someone else is a different topic; the only barriers that I can see is if your conditions of employment forbid that kind of thing (say, the work is too close to what they already do, or you want to freelance for a competitor) and your time.

  21. not gonna use my regular name for this*

    Tis the season of gifting up, but my story today isn’t even holiday related.

    There’s a bit of tension between the executives/administration of my organization, and the regular staff who don’t make 6 figures and actually have to work with the policies put in place without their input.
    Policies that included not allowing the all-staff email to be used to rally support for staff in crisis (catastrophic injuries, house fires, etc). Which like, ok, fine.
    Well, last week we all get an email from the organization president (!) informing us that one of the VPs (head of HR) of had been in a car accident and was laid up at home–and asking for volunteers from the staff to perform such services as bringing her home-baked meals, walking her puppy, running errands, and taking her to appointments. Now, in a charitable moment, I can say yes, these things I’m sure would be appreciated by anyone laid up with a serious injury. But this is one of the highest paid employees of the organization. She doesn’t live alone.
    To top it off, the president made a google sheet for people to sign up for cooking/dog-walking/etc. So it’s not at all anonymous to the president who’s helping. Not to mention that the HEAD OF HR should not be using the unpaid labor of under-paid staff whose employment she has a significant impact on.

      1. pancakes*

        Good question!

        It is really something that neither the VP or the president is uncomfortable with this sign-up sheet. Yikes. I hope no one signs up for anything.

    1. The Spiegs*

      Wow, that’s pretty heavy handed and insensitive. No advice but that totally sounds like something that would have happened at a previous job, where top directors were treated vastly differently from the peons- I mean regular staff. I feel for you!

    2. urguncle*

      I can see it as a very very temporary measure (literally like 24 hours of help so she/family can get stuff planned. How are people not uncomfortable about this?

    3. Fiona*

      Wow. That’s totally inappropriate and an abuse of power, especially since the “lower” level staff have been admonished for using a mass email for similar requests. If colleagues or friends want to mobilize on their own to help this person, fine. But a Google sheet from the president? Not okay.

    4. Kathenus*

      Not sure whether this is a snarky or serious reply, but you can email the leadership and say that it’s great that the organization now supports all staff emails and setting up assistance for employees with hardships, and how much it will help other employees in need in the future.

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

      I wonder if the VP that’s hurt even wants this. If I was her I would be super annoyed and awkward that my employees are bringing me food, running errands, and walking my dog! Way crossing the line. Especialy if they don’t allow this for lower level workers.

    6. Cheezmouser*

      Wow, this seems way out of line and I wonder if the president is aware how this might be perceived. Asking for well wishes or signing a staff get-well-soon card is fine, but not dog walking, running errands, or driving to appointments. That is for the VP’s family to arrange. Someone might want to pull the president aside (or email the president anonymously) to let them know that the optics appear in inappropriate or tone-deaf at best, or an abuse of power at worst. It seems the president–who probably works very closely with the VP of HR and perhaps considers her a personal friend–maybe just assumed that everyone would jump at the chance to help out the VP just like the president would. Perhaps someone could politely suggest that it would be better if the company itself offered to pay for a dogwalker or a meal delivery service or whatnot, instead of asking employees to volunteer unpaid labor.

      (Hundred bucks says the president is one of those “we are all family” leaders who is taking that a little too literally.)

  22. Hazel*

    I have an issue with my new boss that I don’t know how to deal with.

    I work in my company’s HR department – it’s just me and the HR Manager, who started 4 months ago after my previous boss left. Over the past number of weeks, she has started berating colleagues and complaining about them to me in an unprofessional manner. Her issues seem to be personal opinions and there seems to be no evidence for them at all. When talking about them, she always says, “this is confidential – but I’ll tell you because you’re in HR” and then start on a rant about an employee she doesn’t like. The overall tone is bitchy, gossipy and mean.

    I’ve worked with these colleagues for longer than her (18 months) and haven’t seen any proof or evidence of her issues. I feel very uncomfortable when she starts these conversations and hate having to listen to them. Also, I am fearful that due to her role she might try to fire or demote them; purely because she doesn’t like them.

    Does anything have any suggestions or advice on what to do?

    1. MisterMeeble*

      This is going to take a lot of courage and finesse at first, but shoudl get easier. I would start by asking if the rants and gossip were related to an actionable item on your part when they start. As in, “Oh we’re talking about Sally now. Is this something I need to make notes on for an action, or is this just chit chat? If it’s chit chat, I’m in the middle of something and can’t do it.”

      And if that doesn’t work, I’d even be a bit more direct, as in “You keep bringing up various issues like the time you didn’t like Sally’s blouse, and seem to pick on the same people. Is this idle gossip or do we need to take actions? If it’s gossip, that makes me very uncomfortable, is borderline unprofessional, and needs to stop, please.”

      If that more direct (and admittedly scary thing to say) approach isn’t working, does this person have a supervisor with whom you can express your concerns?

    2. Beth*

      Your boss, who runs HR, and has only been there a few months, regularly rants to you about her personal dislike of individual colleagues? This sounds like a MAJOR problem to me. Is there anyone you should report her to? I would be worried that her terrible opinions would affect her professional performance. She’s already demonstrating unprofessional behaviour on a daily basis.

      1. anonymous73*

        I would 100% report her. This is unacceptable behavior for any manager but even more so for an HR manager. If I were OP, I would tell her that the ranting is inappropriate, ask her to stop and not engage.

    3. blood orange*

      Since this is your manager, you’re going to need to be delicate in how you approach this. However, it’s in everyone’s best interest that you do as she is compromising the integrity of your department and the work that you do.

      Regarding the petty gossip she’s bringing to you, I’d start by showing her that you’re a professional who can’t engage in this kind of chatter particularly in light of your role in HR. You can address it next time she starts on a gossip rant, or have a broader conversation with her. For example, “I know you’re comfortable chatting with me about our colleagues because we deal with confidential information, but if I’m honest it makes it difficult to be impartial about those employees, which is really important to me. If you feel anything is related to someone’s job performance, could we have those conversations with that person’s manager so we can help them problem-solve?”

      From what you’ve said, I’d be really concerned about her ability to be impartial in her work, which is a key aspect of HR. If you have that conversation with her, and she either doesn’t stop gossiping or you see other concerning behavior that compromises your department, you may want to consider speaking with your grand-boss (or however that would look depending on your org structure).

        1. blood orange*

          My pleasure! For what it’s worth, I’ve been in HR for several years, and what you’ve described would make me really uncomfortable.

    4. Acme HR*

      I don’t know if I have much advice for you, but your situation is a little more extreme version of what I came to ask about! So you have all the commiseration from me.

      My boss is the head of HR and tends to go on rants in our one on ones when she’s frustrated with others in the team. You’d think she would know better! Can you imagine if I were the one doing that? I’m currently on her good side but it makes me think she’d be awful if I disagreed with her on anything strongly. She’s also effusive with praise for me publicly but not for others and it makes me feel awkward.
      It also just is a waste of time, in my opinion. I should’ve spotted this as a red flag in the interview, when she went off on a spiel that didn’t answer a question I asked, to the point that I forgot my original question so I couldn’t follow up.

      It sucks, and it makes me feel that she’s just not the role model I was hoping to have in this field (I’m new to this company, which is otherwise actually pretty good.)

      1. Acme HR*

        I should note that the major difference is that my boss’s complaints are work and performance related, so while it is sometimes relevant to a particular subject, it still feels very inappropriate. I want to be like, woman, rant to your therapist or take this to your boss for guidance (though I swear she even speaks about the CEO as if they were a colleague she finds unusual.)

  23. Annie*

    So I work in academic administration, and I recently took a lateral move within the same division, which means my old manager is still technically my manager on paper. I was fine with a lateral move because it was a better fit for my skillset, but because of University HR rules, I couldn’t get any kind of pay raise because my old and new positions were on the same salary grade. And I was annoyed but fine with that until my old job got posted last week…with a title bump and at a higher salary grade, and yet requiring no more experience or education than when I got hired 6 years ago.

    Thankfully with this new job I have an office with a door that I can shut, because I cried for 45 minutes straight when my boss sent an email blast about the job posting. I know I wasn’t a star performer all the time, but it feels like a total gut punch for it to be reclassified immediately after I left, as if I didn’t deserve the bump in title/pay at any point in the last 6 years.

    I’m meeting (via zoom) with my boss in a couple of hours and I could really use some help with a script, because I don’t want to cry (I might anyway; I’m a crier when I’m frustrated or upset). So far I’ve got “Can you walk me through your thought process in reclassifying my old job in both title and salary grade, while not requiring any additional education or experience?” but I would welcome any and all other suggestions.

    1. Forkeater*

      Oh, that really sucks! I hope they make it right for you. I think the language you’re considering sounds perfect. For me, when I know I’m going to be emotional, I write down exactly what I want to say, and keep it handy so I can refer to it. Good luck!

    2. Joyce To the World*

      I am a crier. Recently had some conflict at work and I found that it really helped to write down the key points I wanted to make. I tried to stick to those key points in a calm and non emotional manner. Also, smile stupidly the whole time. Apparently it is hard to cry when you are smiling.

    3. JelloStapler*

      I’m so sorry, I work in higher ed and this thing happens all the time and it definitely hits you hard.
      If it helps us just as likely that the newly graded position doesn’t allow for any more pay either.

    4. The New Normal*

      When something similar happened to me, I ended up having to bring my bargaining unit representative into meetings with me. I ended up with back pay (retroactive to when I took on the task that the boss said moved my position up a level) and was moved to that salary level at my current position. It also triggered my bargaining unit to create a taskforce to review salary disparities. After a year of working with the University, nearly every support staff received a salary increase.

      I think your suggestion is a good place to start. But really – I would reach out to your union/bargaining rep for help as well.

    5. not a doctor*

      FWIW, it probably wasn’t a comment on you and your performance! You SHOULD be aggrieved, but be aggrieved about the *fact* that you were underpaid, not the idea that you did anything to deserve being underpaid (or that they felt that way about you).

      The reality is that they probably paid you what they did because they could, and now they’ve realized that a new hire in that role will be looking for more money. This happens a lot, and it’s generally the result of companies suddenly facing a strong employment market and a lack of applicants who want to be underpaid.

      1. Purple Cat*

        Yes, this is excellent advice. A lateral move is a lateral move, so *of course* the company will change your current role to match.

      2. Leslie_NopeNopeNope*

        I recently left the banking industry, and this was sadly very common for people who had been there awhile. I saw salary increase requests come in all the time and was shocked by how little some people in vital roles were making. Their managers would request raises for them because they knew they could easily go elsewhere and get a huge increase. So don’t blame yourself for this. I’ve seen people who were considered absolute rockstars making well below what they’re worth, even after leadership was made aware and gave them a raise.

    6. Kathenus*

      Maybe a different angle to try? You were told that you were given a lateral move to your old position. Your old position, with the same education requirements and job duties is now reclassified to a higher salary grade. That means that your lateral position should be reclassified as well and you should get a commensurate salary increase.

  24. Rayray*

    Anyone else not looking forward to Holiday celebrations in the office?

    I just don’t really care for it at my current company. Last year for those of us who were on site, we did a secret Santa and ornament decorating where you made one and then picked one to take home. It was organized by coworkers not in management and while it was well intentioned, not very fun. I know the recipient of my secret Santa gift didn’t like their gift but we had never really spoken. Then of course the few that went way over the agreed budget.

    This year I am on a different team in the same dept. fortunately we have all agreed we don’t want to do a secret Santa. A homemade rehire elephant gift exchange was brought up, and someone else suggested hanging stockings we could all fill with stuff. I’m rubbish at homemade stuff and the stocking idea could add up cause we invited a couple other teams. I’d have to get candy or dollar store junk to not spend too much (approximately 15-20 ppl across all teams included) We don’t HAVE to participate so I probably won’t but I know I’ll look like a Scrooge.

    Can we just do with coworker gifts? Let’s just do the office lunch and call it good.

      1. Ashley*

        A homemade white elephant sounds terrible!
        The best white elephant I did was where someone who was a collector of stuff (slightly hoarder) supplied all the presents. It made it no stress and fun for everyone including the collector who got to get rid of stuff.

    1. CBB*

      No one has ever called me a Scrooge for quietly sitting out activities. The original Scrooge didn’t just disregard Christmas — he activity interfered with his coworker’s enjoyment of it. As long as you don’t do that, I think you’ll be fine.

    2. WellRed*

      I’m not sure what a homemade white elephant is but in general loathe the idea of requiring homemade gifts especially in an office because yes, a lot of people don’t have those skills (or materials just waiting around to be crafted into something).

      1. Beth*

        The only place I ever worked where it made sense to do homemade gifts was in a costume shop, where the entire workforce was hired to, y’know, make stuff. We had free rein to use any supplies in the storeroom, and a limit of $5 to spend outside of that. It was one of the few gift exchanges I’ve ever done that did not suck.

        I don’t work in theatre any more, and my current company does NOT do office Xmas, and I love it.

      2. NervousNellie*

        For one of our White Elephants, a lady who pressed her own wine brought a bottle. I asked if homemade gifts were allowed. They said “they need to be worth something” which I thought was a bit insulting at the time, and now find very insulting, but for the next round, I made something in my workshop that was A Very Popular Item on Etsy. The person who got it loved it, but it otherwise got a lot of shade from people who thought it was a cheap and easy project (it’s not.) Homemade seems very fraught.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      The “fill a huge assembly line of stockings but don’t spend too much money” situation is nuts.

      Don’t participate. I mean, what would you get from this exercise? a sock full of plastic crap and sugar?

      The join in on a project thing is adorable if it’s an activity you can do during a holiday gathering, but anything requiring substantial crafting (and I say this as a chronic crafter) or otherwise coming up with presents for coworkers that you may or may not know or like should be 100% judgement-free skippable.

      Lunch is awesome. Put some tiny candies on the tables as decoration and people who feel like they need a takeaway can grab a handful.

    4. anonymous73*

      Let them call you a Scrooge. If you don’t want to participate, then don’t. I refuse to be bullied into forced fun at work. If people don’t like me because I refuse to participate in non-work activities so be it – I don’t really care.

    5. Cold Fish*

      I haven’t really been in the mood for that kind of thing in the last two years but before that I’ve been roped into organizing most of the holiday fun in my office for the last decade. We did the stocking thing one year, it was mostly candy but not too bad. My suggestions for cheap fillers if you don’t want to do candy, look for the kids party section in the seasonal dept. They are usually filled with packs for seasonal pencils or cheap plastic games that can average out to less than $0.50 per person depending on what you choose. But don’t feel pressure to participate if you really don’t like it. I think it spoils the fun for everyone else when it’s obvious you are only participating out of obligation. If questioned, not in the budget this year is always a good excuse.

      Suggestion for “fun” without cost. Look into winter/seasonal trivia questions and post them. I’ve found a lot of people tend to have fun trying to guess the correct answer even if there is no prize.

    6. curiousLemur*

      A lot of people already have too much stuff to do this time of year. Why are some people so insistent that everyone take on more stuff? I don’t think most people will think of you as a Scrooge. I think a lot of them will think “I wish I had opted out too.”

      1. Chaordic One*

        You’re so right. Some poor misguided fools think it is a way to teambuild and don’t realize that for many people it’s just another burden for someone who already overworked and stressed out.

    7. JustaTech*

      This is why the White Elephant at my work is 1) completely optional and 2) has very clearly stated rules that are clearly communicated ahead of time (by me, because the one year I didn’t one person had a different understanding of what kind of White Elephant it was and people’s feelings got hurt).

      If I’m going to have to be on the social committee then by gum am I going to do my best that the people who love this stuff have a great time, and the people who hate this stuff don’t have to have anything to do with it. I will never let lunch be held hostage to “mandatory fun”. (Management speeches I can’t do anything about.)

    8. CyclingCommuter2412*

      Can you do $1 lotto scratch tickets tied with a ribbon to an orange?

      Gift fail story for your enjoyment (or to cringe to)

      My first year in public service, there was a secret Santa thing with a limit of $20. I bought a few interesting things, wrapped them beautifully and thought I’d found a great gift that someone would find useful and fun.

      Come to the event and as they’re doing the number drawing with the ritual “stealing” of gifts. Every gift opened is a bottle of wine. Every. Single. One. Mine was the only one that wasn’t and the look of disappointment on the guy’s face who chose it was really sad. Naturally, no one wanted to steal his gift. It was sad all around.

      No one told me that “a bottle of wine” was the only acceptable thing to bring…. it also reflected a bit sadly on the branch of public service for me.

    9. Leela*

      The owner of the company, who has been making really bad cuts over the last few years because he’s trying to sell the company and wants it to look more profitable than it is, forces us to listen to him recite a poem EVERY CHRISTMAS PARTY and it’s usually part of a thirty minute or longer speech we all have to sit there for and I just want to scream. It’s an arts institution so i don’t know if he’s trying to like…connect with the artsy types who work here, or if he fancies himself an artsy type and thinks this is the best way to engage us, but if you’re reading this: stop the poems and re-hire the people you laid off to save money, chopping up their jobs and distributing the duties all over the company without even telling people that they have new tasks (so you just get yelled at randomly some day because apparently months ago, work from a department you have no experience with – like you’re admin for a specific arts department who has suddenly obtained accounting or HR tasks because people were let go and there’s too much work for those departments – became yours and no one told you. Or you’ll get told that you have the new task, but receive no training, context, or a heads up that it’s actually a work item that fits together with other work items, that other people in the company now have, and you should probably coordinate with them)

    10. SpaceySteph*

      White elephants *can* be fun but can also be terrible. I usually don’t participate because I dont want to spend $X on something nobody wants to end up with different $X crap I also don’t want.

      They just did a survey on what activities we’d like at our holiday party and I left the whole thing blank (food and drink was a different question) because… no thanks. I like free food though.

    11. allathian*

      I’m not, but I’m also lucky enough to be able to sit all of them out without any repercussions. So that’s what I’m doing. Oh, I might go get some glögg after work with my teammates before Christmas, but that’s it.

    12. MacGillicuddy*

      Best gift exchange at a past job was a yankee swap with the rule “must be a regift”. Most stuff was ok, some items were ridiculous, but many were useful. Board games, desk toys, cookbooks, etc. Nobody spent anything!

  25. MisterMeeble*

    I’m in a technical management role and recently got a new job at “Small Company” as a “Teapot Inspector / Training Coach”. I was in that role for right at a month when “Behemoth Industries” bought Small Company. I’m now a “Sr. Teapot Inspector” at Behemoth Industries. The business unit is more or less independent (same teams, same products, etc.) and is known as “Small Company by Behemoth Industries”. It’s the same job, just a different employer.

    My question is how do I handle this on my resume? Can I list one job as “Small Company / Small Company by Behemoth Industries” giving my “Sr. Teapot Inspector” title, or should it be two different jobs? SHould I list both titles or one?

    I realize it’s probably not a big deal, but I also don’t want the appearance of being on a job for a month. My other jobs have typically lasted for anywhere from 3 to 6 years. I have no plans to change jobs, but do like to keep my resume current.

    1. LGC*

      Yeah, I think that’s appropriate and the best course. You might even be able to leave out the independent part since that was so short.

      1. MisterMeeble*

        Thank you! I will probably keep the independent name in there. They have a much better name in a relatively small space and getting hired by Small Company is a bigger deal than Behemoth Industries, although they’re both well regarded.

    2. ArtK*

      I think Alison’s advice in the past has been to list both for the same section of your resume:

      Teapot Inspector/Training Coach Small Company 1/2020-10/2021
      Sr. Teapot Inspector Small Company by Behemoth 10/2022-present
      * accomplishments & duties for the *role*

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’d do that if the original role lasted close to a year, or longer. For one month? I’d just roll it up into the current title.

    3. Your local password resetter*

      One month is so short I’d just consider it part of your current position/company.
      And if the smaller company has a better reputation, then definitely use the combined name to lean into that.

  26. Elle*

    Wednesday I interviewed for an internal promotion. The interview was three interviewers and myself, on all video over Teams. During the meeting, one of the interviewers got a call on his cell phone. Without saying anything, he muted himself, answered the call, talked for awhile on the phone, then hung up and was paying attention to the interview again. He was noticeably less engaged and asked fewer questions than the other two interviewers. This was like, wildly out of line, right? I wouldn’t do this in ANY video call, let alone an interview! And to say nothing and act like it was no big deal?? I doubt saying anything would be a good idea but dang…..

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I think you may be taking this too personally. This was an important interview for your; to him it was just one more thing on his to-do list for the day. The phone call may legitimately have been much more important to him than this item on his list. Let it go.

      1. Elle*

        I am letting it go, I’m not doing anything about it. So you don’t think that’s out of line at all? I would be disciplined for doing that in any video call, let alone something like an interview. In fact, I *was* disciplined once for answering a single text message in a large group training once a few years ago (previous job).

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          No, I don’t think it was wildly out of line. I think something must have come up for him, and if it weren’t important he would have let it go to voicemail. I think a group training is not the same scenario.

          1. Elle*

            Absolutely! A group training is far less important that a small video interview, and a text is far less disruptive than a call. Which is why I’m struggling to understand how it would be a corporate norm to put marks on people’s permanent record for answering one text in a large group but totally acceptable to take a call in the middle of an interview.

            1. Hlao-roo*

              To me, getting disciplined for answering a text during a training seems very strict (at my company, someone might say “hey, put your phone away” but no one would get a mark on their record). And again to me, an interviewer “ducking out” of an interview to take a phone call for a few minutes seems a little rude but not wildly out of line.

              It does seem strange to me that a text during a training would be treated much more harshly than a phone call during and interview (especially at the same company). Are you interviewing with a different department that is less strict? Did you run afoul of someone on a no-phones-for-personal-reasons mission during your training session? Does your company hold managers to different standards than individual contributors? Those are the only explanations I can think of.

        2. curiousLemur*

          It sounds out of line to me, but then again, I don’t know what issue he was dealing with. At a place I worked, the manager’s wife had a health crisis, and for a while after she was out of the hospital, he always had his phone with him in meetings and would sometimes glance at it. If he had taken a call during a meeting, I’d have assumed that either she might be having a recurrence of the problem or maybe that someone high in the company hierarchy called about something urgent. Then again, he’s a good guy, and he normally wouldn’t take a call during a meeting unless it was an important call.

      2. Elle*

        And to be clear, I have myself done many hiring interviews. I’m not someone new to the corporate work world.

    2. GRA*

      How did the other interviewers react to him taking the call? Yes, it’s super rude, and I’d question if no one else thought it was.

      1. Elle*

        No one said anything in the moment or after. I didn’t get a good look at anyone’s face or anything unfortunately. I was pretty focused on the answer I was giving to the question. It was a tough interview and while it didn’t go poorly, it was not a 10/10 for me so I was pretty stressed finding good answers to give.

    3. vma*

      It’s not ideal, but there may have been no other options. Maybe the call was from their doctor or about their kids. That’s what I would probably have done. It’s annoying, but I’m not sure what you gain by still being offended by it.

    4. anonymous73*

      Being that he was one of three in the interview, I wouldn’t say it’s as big of a deal if he was the only one besides you on the call. But it’s still rude. Things do come up, and it’s quite possible that this call was urgent. It’s also quite possible that he’s an ass.

      I had an interview once with one person, who took me into his office (not a conference room) and proceeded to check email, take phone calls and do other things while he was interviewing. I honestly regret not stopping mid-interview and walking out since he clearly had better things to do.

    5. Xenia*

      I’d say it comes off as rude, but not wildly inappropriate. There’s a good possibility that it was an emergency, either familial or work. In his shoes I’d probably have apologized (Didn’t mean to disrupt the interview, sorry, important call) because it did disrupt the interview, but that’s about it.

    6. Kathenus*

      I think it’s unfortunate timing but not necessarily rude. As others have mentioned he likely wouldn’t have taken a call if it wasn’t important or time sensitive. To me it might have been nice if he had turned off video and maybe typed – sorry have to take this important call – in the chat. But things happen, I had to do this in a meeting yesterday due to an important call. If he was less engaged after I might interpret that as something significant or bad happened that was weighing on him. I’d presume positive intent unless you have evidence to the contrary. Unfortunate, but not rude, to me.

    7. RagingADHD*

      It’s rude, but to me it falls into the “he should have handled this better” sense, not in the “wildly inappropriate” sense. To me, wildly inappropriate would be if he didn’t mute himself, or if he interrupted the interview to start talking about this phone call, etc.

      If he’d said, “excuse me,” when taking the call and “I’m sorry, please go on, I’ll just be a minute,” it wouldn’t even be rude, just unfortunate.

      Is there a double standard between what’s acceptable for a hiring manager in an interview and what’s acceptable for the candidate? Yes. Is there a double standard between what’s acceptable for an interviewer and what’s acceptable for a trainee? Yes.

      Is that double standard a personal slight against you? No.
      Is it worth getting bothered about? Also no.

      Would saying something tank your chances at the promotion? Quite possibly yes.

    8. Clarabow*

      To me, very rude and massively out of line. None of the interviewers where I work (including me) would ever do this. There are plenty of times in life when you can’t answer a phone and an interview is one of them. If someone has a personal reason why they might need to take emergency calls, then we wouldn’t have them on an interview panel, unless absolutely necessary. And even then I’d expect them to warn candidates at the beginning that they might need to step away and not to worry about it, but just keep going as other panel members are there etc.
      I think it was probably best that he didn’t say anything when he picked up the phone, as that might’ve been more disruptive. But he could’ve apologised when he was finished and there was an appropriate point to do so.
      Yes, agree no point in saying anything. But well done in keeping going in the interview. Hope it didn’t put you off too much and fingers crossed you get the promotion!

  27. Probably too sensitive*

    Whoo boy.

    So my boss accidentally replied all on an email yesterday…venting about me. For obvious reasons I was extremely hurt (thanks to my friends and family for listening to me), and I didn’t know how to respond.

    This morning I replied saying that I didn’t think I was supposed to see that, but I was open to talking about any concerns next week (when my boss was going to be on site next). She ended up coming over this morning and profusely apologized to me.

    Here’s the question: so how do I move on from this? I was upset enough yesterday that I was considering handing in my resignation without another job lined up, and even now I’m still pretty rattled. We had fairly open communication before but now I’m unsure, to say the least. Apologies for being broad, but I have no idea what to do (other than fix my resume up and read AAM’s cover letters archive).

    1. Rayray*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. First off, I do commend you for waiting to reply until after you had time to take a breath and process the situation. Sometimes we react in the heat of the moment and things can go even worse.

      If it has you rattled enough, do work on the resume and cover letters and start your job hunt. In the mean time, really try to work with your boss to resolve things. She owes you to be open with you now so hopefully she will be reasonable. Just make sure to ask questions and try to pinpoint what’s going wrong. I wish you the best in this and hopefully things work out!

      1. Rayray*

        Another thing too, do you think it’s worth looping in HR? Not necessarily to get even, but this honestly is an unacceptable mistake.

    2. Coenobita*

      I don’t have any great advice, but I think what you did so far (politely pointing out the error and offering to talk about her concerns) was PERFECT. Well done! I definitely wouldn’t take any other action yet.

      1. Coenobita*

        Sorry, to clarify – obviously you should work on polishing your resume etc. if you want to, but I wouldn’t take any additional actions with your boss at this point. It’s really on her to work to resolve this.

    3. Sunflower*

      Woof. I would be feeling the same way. Do you feel the conversation was productive and did she address any of the concerns she was ranting about? Was the context of the rant a surprise to you? (ie was she complaining about work related issues that she had never raised with you). And did the rant seem like serious stuff (X isn’t hitting milestones) or minor items (like X is getting on my nerves, X talks too much)

      I think simply apologizing isn’t going to be enough. If there was real work related issues in there then I probably wouldn’t feel good until we had a conversation addressing these things, the level of importance and an actionable improvement plan. I think this is personally up to you and your feelings but I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t feel you can come back from this and think looking for a new job might be best for your mental health regardless of what your boss says or does.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yes, this. The topic of the rant matters a lot to me. If it was personal stuff like she says you’re annoying, I’d be looking to leave ASAP no matter what she says. If it’s that you’re late on something, which you knew but didn’t realize is such a big deal, that’s salvageable to me.

      2. "Sensitive" OP*

        In the interest of answering questions (since I’d been reading all day) since they’re pretty similar: I…honestly don’t know how to feel! Like, if I were to be honest, right now I feel like the conversation was a bunch of noise meant to appease me, but I’m pretty sure I’d be mad at them regardless of what they said.

        It wasn’t really a rant! It was a couple of throwaway sentences joking (“joking”) about how I’d probably tell one of my direct reports that management wouldn’t help them, and that I misunderstood management’s intentions a lot. For further context…I do have to admit, I was guilty of that in the past, but it’s something I’ve studiously avoided for years now. (And yeah, once you get a reputation, it never goes away.) So part of why I was so devastated at first was because…like, I was already trying to come back from bad behavior on my end, and it felt like I hadn’t made any progress.

        But anyway, the conversation with my boss and our site manager touched on three things:
        – that they were sorry that I saw their venting about me, and that what happened was unprofessional
        – explaining their perspective and why they’re so stern with employees (I tend to get cast as “the nice guy” for good reason – I start off much less stern with a lot of employees)
        – reiterating that they really do appreciate my work and that I am doing good work (to be fair, I got a good performance review this year – 4.0/5 on average, where 5 is the highest score)

        And to be fair to everyone involved, everyone (myself and my boss included) is under a fair amount of stress at work right now to begin with. So people might act a bit ugly. But it’s like…again, I don’t know if I can come back from this. I don’t know if I’d want to, even if it’s possible.

    4. Camellia*

      Well, you are not too sensitive, when you’ve learned that your boss and however many people were on the reply-all email are talking bad about you, behind your back. I’m not sure I could recover from this. I would probably stick with being civil while I updated my resume and got on with a job search. I’m sorry this happened to you; it’s hard when you have one idea of people’s perception of you only to find out that you were totally wrong.

    5. irene adler*

      This sentence: “I replied saying that I didn’t think I was supposed to see that, but I was open to talking about any concerns next week” was very professional of you. You handled this well. Nice work!

      I understand being hurt by this. And wanting to leave because of it. But if you like your job (independent of the email) maybe turn this into a “lemons into lemonade” situation. Some situations call for developing a strategy that does not include leaving. But that’s something you need to determine for yourself.

      I’m not clear on the nature of the venting by your boss. I assume it is solely regarding things on the job. If so, maybe take things in hand and show your boss a thing or two. By that I mean, when you sit down with your boss, explain that, from now on, she should endeavor to promptly bring up any issues she has with you. And she needs to give you the opportunity to remedy said issue(s). Point out that, doing this promptly, will prevent small issues from becoming major problems (i.e. major problems that might drive her to venting about them).

      (this last paragraph assumes boss is a completely reasonable person. If not, cut bait.)

    6. Not a Name Today*

      It’s possible that your manager is so mortified and so worried that you’ll go to HR, that they will bend over backwards to make things right. I’d see how things progress over the next month. This could be a massive learning experience for your manager.
      And as everyone else has mentioned, you handled this wonderfully. Stay classy!

    7. Alex*

      Oh wow, that is SUCH a blow to your confidence and self worth! I’m sorry that happened to you.

      I think my advice depends on whether or not you think her complaints were valid and things you can actually improve. It really sucks to have to find out your boss’s issues with you this way, and make sure you recognize that it is HER job to communicate any problems she has with your work to you, and this was not only a mistake of reply-all venting (which is a big mistake!), but a failure of her management of you. That said, it is an opportunity to be able to make improvements based on (excessively) candid feedback. If you are able to make changes based on what you read, that might make YOU feel better, in addition to possibly addressing concerns your boss has.

      If it isn’t something you can control or improve, or was something that was a personal attack or just plain mean…yeah, I think it might be best to try to move on from the job, because your boss has shown you who she is.

    8. CatCat*

      You handled this really well and are not “too sensitive.”

      If it were me, I don’t think my boss could recover from this and I would be looking to leave. You’ve got nothing to lose by job searching. You could even set a deadline for yourself in the future: “On X Date, I will resign.” I’ve done that before and it somehow takes a huge mental load off (even if I don’t end up resigning when X Date comes). In the interim, maybe your boss will be able to redeem herself. Who knows. See how it goes, but be looking for something else.

    9. Former Usher*

      I’m really impressed with the way you handled this so far. As awful as it feels, this could work to your advantage if your manager feels compelled to be extra nice to you.

      I faced a related situation where my manager printed an email to give me some information about a project. The email chain included some less-than-complementary content about me. My first response was to punch a cabinet by my desk. That hurt. Don’t do that.

    10. The New Wanderer*

      That’s really unfortunate and whether or how to recover might depend on the content of the vent and who she might have meant to see it. There’s no excuse for her to be communicating like that to anyone, but how much it indicates about her lack of judgment might be tempered with what she intended.

      Content: was it personal or professional? If personal, your boss just plain sucks (regardless of who she was communicating with other than she clearly meant to respond to at least one person on the distro list!) because that’s never, ever okay. Continuing to report to someone who does that, knowing it was almost certainly not the first time, and knowing she vents to at least one person that you also interact with, would be hard unless the manager makes an ongoing effort to rebuild trust with you (and the team!). That may not be recoverable.

      If professional, your boss sucks more if she meant to vent to another of her direct reports, because that’s not even remotely helpful and it’s probably at least as corrosive as a personal attack. She *maybe* sucks less if venting to a peer and looking for advice from the peer on what to do, though it’s obviously a terrible way to handle things. This would be the most recoverable scenario, though it would still involve a lot of work on your manager’s part to change how she manages people.

      Ultimately, she apologized to YOU, which is something, but did she apologize to the whole group for her shockingly unprofessional behavior? What else is she going to do about repairing what she said about you to a wide audience?

    11. Probably too sensitive? (okay maybe not)*

      Thanks everyone. I will admit that my group chats would disagree that my initial reaction was professional. (It included clown emoji and profanity.)

      So to go into detail: I’m a floor supervisor, we have a de facto site manager (who I don’t report to but is senior to me), and then my boss. I was talking with the site manager by themselves about something I’d noticed with an employee (where they seemed overly defensive), we disagreed about our perspective…and then I saw a reply from my boss on that email chain. It was a throwaway comment, but basically said I kept misunderstanding them and that I was going to tell this employee the rest of management wouldn’t help them.

      Long story short: this is not an unfounded observation. I have a reputation for being the “nice guy,” and sometimes overly nice. But I’ve stopped openly disagreeing with management and haven’t for years.

      Will provide more detail later-need to get back to work.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I would deal with this on two fronts simultaneously until you can see how it’s going to shake out.

      1) Immediately start job hunting and sending out resumes. You may not wind up pursuing anything for real, but it’s a very empowering thing to do, because it reminds you that you have options.

      2) Follow up on the idea of having a meeting with your boss to talk about her concerns. Be open and listen to whatever she has to say and take it on board, but also re-iterate that if there’s a problem with your performance she needs to speak with you about it directly. And if the past problem hasn’t occurred in years, ask if she’s perceiving your recent performance differently than you are, or if she’s hearing concerning things from other people. Ask about how the other people on the email chain perceived it, and that you are now concerned about their confidence in you and your ability to work constructively with them (if that’s a concern for you – it sure would be for me.)

      If your boss was bagging on you for problems you had years ago that have been resolved, that’s really crappy, and she needs to own it beyond a quick “Sorry.” She was undermining your reputation with your coworkers, and she needs to do something to help build it back up.

  28. ShipwreckedSarah*

    I got some great help from this thread for my first ever video interviews a couple weeks ago! Sadly I was turned down for the job, had a couple more rejections in the meantime, and a close relative passed away so I’m all kinds of down in the dumps. Still: I need to keep on trucking and have sent out 15 tailored applications in the past week and a half. Any advice for not drowning in the uncertainty and sadness? This job search sucks!

    1. emkaaaay*

      First, I am so sorry about your loss.

      Job searches really do suck. For me, the most helpful thing was to tie my emotions as much as possible to the part of the process I could control: the process of creating and sending out strong materials. I created an elaborate tracker where I got to mark boxes green when I 1) found a job I was excited to apply to, 2) tailored my resume for that job, 3) drafted a cover letter, 4) revised the cover letter, and 5, sent it in. At #5, the whole row went green and I sent a self-congratulatory text to my friend. And every time I applied to ten jobs, I did something to celebrate. (Nothing was EVER red in the tracker. Rejected? I noted it, but the row was still green because I had successfully sent it in. Missed a deadline to submit? Just deleted the row lol. Good vibes only.) When I got to the interview stage, there were additional columns of boxes for each stage of my prep. This would not be the best system for everyone, but since my biggest hurdle was anxiety and avoidance of the process, it helped me a lot.

      Within this view, you have had an INCREDIBLY successful week and a half. Fifteen green rows! Fifteen green boxes! Omg congratulations to you.

      Hang in there, and good luck.

    2. NervousNellie*

      How people respond to you isn’t always a reflection of you so much as it is reflection on them. I find it helpful to remember this when I feel like the world is full of “no!”

    3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Wow…15 tailored applications…I’m impressed! I’m sure it’s hard to see when you’re in the middle of rejections and sad news with your family, but from over here, it looks like you are doing an amazing job search, and I hope something pops soon. Good luck!

  29. drowning!!!*

    I forgot to ask the recruiter and my now manager why the turnover rate at our company is so high, specifically for my entry-level position. Is there a way I can reasonably ask this now as I am currently in the role and have a ridiculous workload? How can I raise this as an issue or show my concern for the expectations I am given? I don’t feel like my voice will be heard and I am nervous to discuss, as I am in an industry that is extremely fast-paced and am obviously still just an entry-level employee. I do love the industry I’m in and the work I do, but find the expectations unreasonable.

    1. Elle*

      It sounds like you already know whyt he turnover was so high, now that you’re here. If you can sit down with your manager and have a chat about the workload feeling unreasonable you can certainly loop in the high turnover in the conversation (delicately). Not in your opening statement, but at some point, “It seems probably that this level of workload contributed to burnout in past employees as well.”

    2. Echo*

      Would knowing why the turnover is so high change your feelings here?

      What about asking your manager a specific question or making a suggestion? Like:
      “I’m finding it’s taking me 40 hours a week just to complete the llama reports, and I don’t have any time for the alpaca charts. Is this typical or are there shortcuts to make the llama reports go quicker?”
      or “I won’t be able to get both the llama reports and alpaca charts done this week. Can we adjust the deadline for the alpaca charts, or would you prefer I deprioritized some of the llama report requests so that I can get to them?”
      or “I’m finding that it’s taking a long time to get approvals from Jane, Brian, and Loren on the alpaca charts, especially because I often receive conflicting edits from the three of them. Is there a way to streamline that process?”
      or “I’m realizing that I spend about 20 hours/week just scheduling appointments with each alpaca groomer, and it’s not leaving me a lot of time to actually format and send out the charts. Is there any way I can get central support for scheduling?”

      And if your manager says no, this is all typical and you should be expecting to work 60 hours a week to get it all done, then it’s time to seriously consider whether this is an industry you want to be in long-term.

      That said, do you ever talk to peers about this? Because your peers may also have better advice.

    3. anonymous73*

      You seem to have answered your own question. Document what you do on a daily basis and how long it takes you to complete each item. Since you’re new and entry-level there’s probably a learning curve, but sometimes seeing something on paper puts things into perspective for management. I’m sure they’re well aware of why the turnover is high and this may not help the situation, but you never know unless you try. If it does nothing, you may need to chalk it up as a learning experience and look elsewhere.

    4. Cheezmouser*

      Are there other entry-level employees who have been successful in the job and who you can build a relationship with? They might be able to clue you in to shortcuts, tips and tricks, timesavers, etc. If nothing else, building relationships with more experienced entry-level colleagues can help you feel less isolated and more supported.

      (Caveat: this applies only if they are positive role models. Snarky/gossipy/complaining cliques will spread discontent. Good managers will notice this, and you do not want to be associated with that group.)

  30. Justin*

    It continues to be Not That Bad in the office, with my increased awareness of how my ADHD affects me (particularly background noise and being snuck up on).

    As we possibly go back more often later in the winter, going to talk to my dr and HR to get an accommodation to work from home for part of the afternoon each day, because with more people around there will be more crosstalk and I can just only focus for so long with more of that going on. I should be able to get something, I don’t think my boss cares as much about how long we’re at our desks, and I don’t actually mind going on (I’ve gotten used to the masks and it’s mandated vax, etc).

    As for other stuff, there’s a reason, despite being about to graduate, that I’m not fully on the academic market. What tokenizing trash (remember, I’m both Black and officially have a disability, and I write about these things) these search processes are!

  31. Anonymous Koala*

    In the spirit of Wednesday’s post about the overreacting grand boss and the holiday party, what are your favorite anecdotes about faux pas/ missteps perpetuated by those who are new to the working world?

    Mine is how I, as a new grad, showed up an hour late to the big boss’s house for a holiday party because I thought that, like in college, only overeager uncool people showed up on time. By the time I got there the rest of the party was half way through dinner. Big boss was Not Impressed.

    1. RagingADHD*

      As a relatively new executive assistant, I wasn’t familiar with corporate disaster recovery plans and how they worked. I actually don’t know if they were a common thing at the time, before smartphones and even before texting was ubiquitous. We were presented with this plan as a brand-new thing from some consultant, an initiative the CEO was championing. Basically it consisted of a calling tree. Each employee would get a call to notify them if something happened at the building, or see if they were okay, and then that employee was supposed to call the next person, or if they couldn’t reach them, call the next person after that and then report back up the line that someone was unreachable. This was pre-9/11, so I couldn’t imagine why it was necessary.

      The CEO decided to initiate a surprise test of this plan at some point well after business hours on a weeknight. I got a call around 10pm and was annoyed. I then had to call my assigned person, who was a widow near retirement age and lived alone. She had a panic attack because she thought a call at that hour must be about a family member being ill or dying.

      The next morning I sent a sharply worded email about what a terrible thing this was to do, TO THE CEO. Then I got a call from his EA that I was wanted in the C-Suite. The whole way there, during the calling-on-the-carpet, and all the way back to my desk I felt like Mr Banks doing the walk of shame in Mary Poppins (but without the epiphany at the end). I really don’t know why I wasn’t fired, I can only assume my boss stuck up for me and my groveling was satisfactory.

    2. Urban teacher*

      I got a job as a researcher/ jr private investigator and had to go out of town to get court documents. I don’t know a flashing light on an hotel phone meant messages. So I missed a call from an investigator to get another case. Now I would tell my boss but then I just froze and got

    3. Green Goose*

      My first real job required me to work every other Saturday and it only took a few months before I felt bitter about it. I was living in a new, fun, international city and working six days a week and I just wanted to have fun with my friends. My work usually started at 7am but it started at 10am on Saturdays so one Friday I decided to go out even though I had work the next day to “show ’em”. Stayed out way too late and drank way too much.
      I was so hungover that I literally went to work in the same clothes I had worn the night before and I’m sure I reeked of booze and looked horrible. I remember literally fighting to keep my eyes open at one point with a client. My little “rebellion” only harmed myself and I never did it again.

  32. Brownie*

    When applying for an IT job which states that work experience can make up for a non-IT degree, is it usual for the ratio to be 8 years of experience in that exact job (not 8yrs general IT) to a 4 year generalized IT or CS degree?

    This seems very off to me, especially for job ads for vendor-specific hardware and software products. I asked a few of my older friends/coworkers and they’re saying it’s normal that someone with a 4 year degree would have to work an extra 8 years on the job to match the skill level of someone just out of college with no work experience. Which, massive side-eye from me as that doesn’t seem to make sense to me as most college IT/CS degrees don’t seem to touch vendor specific training for more than a few weeks total over the 4 years, nowhere near enough to be worth that much on the job experience. Am I off base in thinking 8:4 is an absurd ratio in this situation (and possibly a giant red flag regarding promotion/raise prospects long-term)?

    1. Coenobita*

      I’m not in IT, but I’ve always seen a 1:1 ratio! So four years of experience is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s degree plus two (or maybe three) years of experience equals a master’s degree, etc. A 2:1 ratio seems way over the top to me.

    2. Not a Name Today*

      That is an absurd ratio, especially in IT where you may learn faster in the field than in a classroom. I’d take 4 years solid experience over a 4 year degree any day of the week!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t usually seen a ratio specified in the job description itself. But that seems definitely off. If you have 8 years of practical IT experience (unless you’re terrible at learning things), your experience is worth way more than just a 4-year theoretical degree alone.

      Honestly, I kind of hate the “degree or equivalent experience” thing, and I have degrees!

    4. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I can’t speak to what the norms are among IT managers, not being one.

      But speaking as a working developer without a CS degree (though I did take some CS classes), that is total garbage. For most jobs, if you gave me a choice between a CS grad fresh out of college and somebody who’d been doing the actual work and performing well for 4 years, I’d take the second one in a heartbeat.

      It isn’t that CS classes are worthless to a working dev–the concepts I learned in those CS classes do come in handy now and then. But they are far less important than the skills you learn on the job.

      1. talos*

        Hard agree, as someone with a BS and an MS in CS–those degrees aren’t useless, precisely, but I’d be a better hire if I had 5 years of experience instead of those 2 degrees (particularly as I don’t do particularly theory-heavy work in e.g. algorithms or distributed systems).

    5. anonymous73*

      This seems backwards to me. There’s only so much you can learn in a classroom when it comes to IT – real world experience would tach you so much more.

    6. who me?*

      Have a friend who did a 3 year degree* (typical length for a bachelor’s degree in their country) and had to add 2 years of industry experience to submit for a work visa’s bachelor degree requirement since a bachelor’s is typically a 4 year program in the US. So according to the US government/immigration, the experience to school ratio is 2:1.

      *A 4 year version exists but was considered “extra” and not required for jobs that wanted only a bachelor’s degree in their country.

    7. Your local password resetter*

      The inverse seems more accurate to me, where 1 year on the job is ~2 years in class (although they’re by no means interchangable).

  33. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Thanks everyone for advice on my posts in last weeks thread. I did email the manager of the dept back and he said he had no idea why I was getting $80/ but the set rate is $50/ and there’s no wiggle room. I tried to talk to my own manager (the one who brought me back) and that didn’t go too great. I signed the contract but I’m casting my net. In fact I already spoke to one person who was highly recommended. I will send my resume over to him soon but I wanted to ask a few things here –

    How do I list these things on Resume? may be easier if I just list the timeline.
    February 2020-currently—side work
    March 2020-laid off from long term W2 job
    April 2021-currently—my primary work, also as a contractor
    Also how would I word that these were all freelance/1099 work?

    Second, the person I spoke to said we can hop on a zoom call if I have more questions. I have a million questions lol.

    Some of them –
    Explain your process
    Training on software?
    Professional development?
    I only want to do easy work, and not be forced to do more complicated ones with no guidance or knowledge (or pay for hours I spend). (Ok I need wording help on this one lol).

    Suggestions on wording these appropriately? Anything else to ask?

    Appreciate any and all advice!

    1. The Original K.*

      I spent a number of years doing contract work (some w-2 through staffing agencies, some 1099) and it’s all on my resume under “consulting experience.” If it was w-2 work, I have the staffing agency name in parentheses after the title.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      “Can you tell me more about the scope of the role? Is it consistently focused on X? Or does there tend to be more variability?”
      “Would I report to one person or would there be other people who direct/supervise my work?”
      “How would you describe the organizational culture?”
      “What is your approach to training and development for this role?”

    3. RagingADHD*

      I’d list
      Freelance [Job Description] February 2020-Current. Clients include:
      Company Name: April 2021-Current
      Other Client Name (or if there are multiple short-term clients, a few of the most recognizeable or the
      largest companies).

      [W-2 Job Title], Company Name, Start Date – March 2020.
      Duties included:

      And then if there were other prior jobs, doing them newest to oldest in the same format as the W-2 job.

  34. Non profit pro*

    I left my job earlier this year after basically being pushed out. All of my ideas were shot down, I would work for months on a big project only to have it cancelled or postponed at the last minute and my boss literally met one on one with me 5 times from March 2020 until my resignation in Spring 2021.
    I was talking to a friend recently abiut things that happened during my last year and they thought that I had a case for a hostile work environment. I have a chronic illness and am immunocompromised. When the pandemic happened, I was the first to go remote and at various points during our WFH my coworkers would say things about how they wanted to do in person things as a team, but couldn’t because of me. This included the suggestion that our holiday party be in person and I could just sit out on the porch and watch things through a glass door. My boss saw these things and just laughed along with it. This sort of thing happened multiple times.

    Is my friend right, is this something worth looking into?

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Not a lawyer, but am chronically ill and have had to do a fair bit of research on this for similar reasons. I think your friend is right.

    2. irene adler*

      “the suggestion that our holiday party be in person and I could just sit out on the porch and watch things through a glass door.”
      Ah, the very essence of holiday spirit.

      It is worth gathering evidence/documentation on each incident. And each time the boss failed to end the comments regarding how you were preventing the group from doing what they wished to do.

      Thing is: are you, vis-a-vis your health situation, a protected class?
      You might test the waters by finding an employment lawyer and bringing this situation to them. Often you can get a free 30 minute consultation from an attorney to discuss whether you have grounds to pursue legal action. Might get in touch with the local American Bar Association group in your area. Often they offer this free 30 minutes consultation.

      1. Non profit Pro*

        I have screenshots, mostly because I was so shocked at what was happening and had to send them to a friend to exclaim over.

        What determines whether or not I would be a protected class? I don’t qualify for SSI because I can work when appropriately medicated and with some flexibility.

        Also my entire org was forced back to in person work in April, despite no vaccine mandates and only a suggestion that masks be worn.

        1. irene adler*

          RE: protected class
          I would think the ADA would cover that.
          I found this on the gov’t ADA site:
          “To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.”

          Link to follow.

          1. pancakes*

            Hostile work environment is EEOC territory, not ADA. The ADA is one of the laws the EEOC enforces, but not the only one.

        2. Minimal Pear*

          If your chronic illness affects your life in a noticeable way (which you’ve just said it does, due to being immunocompromised) you’re disabled and protected.

    3. Scott*

      All this is assuming you are in the USA.
      If you believe you were subject to discrimination by your employer based on a disability, you can file a complaint with EEOC (see, click the tab for employees/applicants and click on disability under the list of discrimination by type).
      You should know that the typical timeline requirement is that you must file the complaint within 180 days of when the discrimination occurred (also at There are exceptions though so I suggest looking there.

  35. Box of Kittens*

    Is it normal for an employee’s pay to be reduced to minimum wage if they do not give two weeks’ notice when they quit? (Is it even legal?) I got a new job, and found out that when one of our essential staff quits, if they quit without notice, any of their remaining pay from the previous pay period will be reduced from their current rate to minimum wage. I have never heard of anything like this before and am looking for a reality check. I’m still early in my career so unsure if this is normal or odd.

    1. Presea*

      IANAL etc, but at least in the US, I’m fairly certain reducing the pay rate of hours already worked is illegal. If you want to ask an expert and bring a legal eye onto your employer, go to your state department of labor

    2. Non profit Pro*

      How would that be legal? If they were hired at a certain rate, they can’t be suddenly have that rate changed for work they already did.

      1. Clisby*

        That’s my understanding (in the US). They can reduce your pay going forward, but not make it retroactive.

    3. Domino*

      I’ve never heard of that. It sounds like a terrible policy — if I worked there, I would just quit without notice to avoid the penalty.

      1. Domino*

        Oh wait, I misread. This is *if* they quit without notice. Well, I’ve still never heard of this. It sounds sketchy and unfair as hell.

    4. BlueWolf*

      I am not a lawyer, but I don’t think they can retroactively change someone’s pay for hours they already worked.

    5. pandq*

      I am pretty sure you can NOT retroactively reduce someone’s pay without their consent. Moving forward, sure, but not retroactively. Alison has answered questions about this in the past.

    6. *daha**

      I’ve seen something like this given in the terms of temp labor jobs. My understanding is that if this is a stated term of employment up front that you signed off on they can do it, because they are telling you that wages are X under these circumstances and Y under those circumstances.
      Other than that, my understanding is that employers can change pay rate going forward, but never retroactively. They can’t reduce your pay on hours already worked, even if they haven’t processed the payroll yet on those hours.

    7. Coder von Frankenstein*

      To be clear: You’re saying, if you walk off the job Tuesday, and the company still owes you for work you did on Monday, they retroactively cut your pay rate for the Monday work?

      If so, that’s highly abnormal and quite possibly illegal. Did you sign a document of some kind saying you agreed to this? If not, then it’s *definitely* illegal–you can’t retroactively cut someone’s pay without their consent.

    8. irene adler*

      Workers must be told – ahead of time- that the hours they work will be at a lower wage.
      Might check any employee manual to see if there’s something to this effect in there. In which case, workers have been told and it’s legal.
      It’s also sleezy. Shame on that employer!

    9. HBJ*

      I’ve heard of this, but it was in a contract signed ahead of time. I don’t see any problem with it unless you aren’t told before. Then it’s illegal.

      1. pancakes*

        This isn’t how legality works in the US, where most employees aren’t under a contract. Telling someone in advance that you plan to do something illegal (retroactively reduce their pay, for example) doesn’t magically make it legal.

    10. Magc*

      My current employer had a similar policy in the employee handbook when I started (2015): if you quit without two weeks’ notice, your last paycheck would be at minimum wage. Since at the time we were only paid once a month, it would mean you could get up to a month’s salary docked, depending on what day of the month you left.

      After all the pandemic-related salary reduction questions and stories, I know now that even if it was in the handbook, it was most likely illegal. However, when the current HR director started, that was one of the very first things she changed. IIRC, it was because she knew it wasn’t legal and she wasn’t going to have that policy while she was running HR.

  36. Scoffrio*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to ask if a job can be permanently remote? The job posting said city X or city Y. City X is where headquarters are and where I live. City Y is where the hiring manager is located – in non-COVID my understanding is he’s remote and comes into the office in X as needed. I’d like to set up the same situation for myself if I get offered the job. The only other person on the team is part time and based in City X. I’d like to be able to work from home (in the cities where my partner and family live) full weeks out of the month, but would be happy to return to city X to go in as needed.

    My thoughts were to wait for offer and then say something like this: The position was listed as in X or Y — would the organization consider keeping the position remote post COVID?

    Otherwise I’d say something to this effect: Post COVID what are your feelings on work from home? I have realized that I work well from home and would be interested in keeping it as a regular option and/or being able to work from home per my discretion.

    1. Reba*

      I would not wait till the offer stage! Use your last graph but early in the process. You could wrap it into questions about how WFH is going for them, what are the future plans, how it is working with manager in another city and so on. But be clear about your requirement! It won’t surprise them to hear this.

    2. anonymous73*

      Ask ASAP. It’s better to present your potential deal breakers up front so as not to waste anyone’s time. If you won’t accept the job without “XYZ” and company is unwilling to allow you to do “XYZ” then there’s no point in moving forward.

  37. RemotelyPossible*

    I am planning on visiting family on the other side of the US for Christmas. I only have the week before Christmas off and need to work the week between Christmas and New Year’s. However, plane tickets are ridiculously expensive for returning Sunday the 26th (Sundays are always expensive to fly on and it being the day after Christmas doesn’t help).

    I do work from home and so I have been thinking about just taking my work computer with me and working from my Mom’s house the week after Christmas and then fly home a week later when it is somewhat cheaper.

    Is there any problem with working from a different state for such a short time? I live and work in Utah and my mother lives in Virginia. My company has offices in a number of states but not in Virginia.

    1. CTT*

      It should not be a problem since the other state is not your residence/somewhere you are staying for the foreseeable future.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes — in my org, our remote work policy specifies that unless you are management, taking your work equipment out of state without prior approval from both your manager and IT is an “up to and including termination” issue.

        1. Coenobita*

          Wow, that’s so interesting! We only need permission if we’re going out of the country – my coworkers and I travel all over the U.S. for meetings (during non-pandemic times) and it’s also super normal for staff to work from some non-home/non-office location for a day or two in situations like the OP’s. Then again, our major offices are in NYC and DC so many of us cross state lines just as a part of our daily lives.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I have no idea how strictly they actually view it in practice – we don’t travel for work, and I am a manager so if I take mine on vacation to check in on stuff nobody bats an eyelash, and before I was a manager I didn’t have anything going on that was important enough that I cared to check on it while I was on vacation :) so it may be one of those “it’s in the policy as a CYA but nobody actually cares” things, but CYA comes on multiple levels.

    2. Beth*

      Working remotely for a few days from a location in a different state, that isn’t your primary residence or work location, doesn’t usually count as formally doing work in that state.

      “In order to be a statutory resident — and to be taxed as a resident of a given state — you must have spent at least 183 days there during the year and you must maintain a permanent place of abode there.

      “The other test is one of domicile. Domicile is based on five factors, according to Mark Klein, tax attorney and partner at Hodgson Russ in New York. The factors are your true home base, the location of your business, the amount of time you spend in that state, the location of your cherished possessions and where your family resides.”

      I’ll put the source link in another comment.

      1. taxprof*

        You can be subject to taxation for working in a state even if you’re not a resident, and even if it’s not your primary work location. It’s highly unlikely to happen unless you voluntarily report the income, but technically it’s possible.

        However, if you’re not a state resident, you would only be subject to tax for the income you actually earn in the state.

    3. Purple Cat*

      IANAL but I really don’t think your company has to worry about nexus and tax implications for 4 days. In my org people work on vacation all the time (different issue) and the distance isn’t a problem. A coworker recently did a similar thing for a trip to Florida. FLights were too expensive, so they ended up working remotely for a week.

      Just mention it to your manager before you book any tickets, but it really shouldn’t be an issue.

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      I’d be worried about my family respecting my work time after a week of being totally available. If you don’t have video meetings perhaps you could go to the public library or somewhere else outside the house.

  38. Temporary Temp*

    I’m currently a temp for a large healthcare organization/hospital network, and for most of the last year I’ve been doing clerical work for their covid response. During this time I spent 6 months primarily deployed in a hospital about 1.5 hours away from me, and there I developed good rapport with two clinic managers and a director of operations. My organization allows temps that reach a certain threshold of hours worked (which I will hit in around a month) to apply for permanent jobs as an internal candidate, and the three higher-ups I mentioned earlier really want me to get one of those permanent jobs and have offered to act as references and write me letters of recommendation.

    I’ve never been in this position before and I am extremely grateful that these three higher-ups believe in me, but I have no idea how to best leverage their support! Does anyone have any Do’s and Dont’s for this situation I should abide by? So far my thoughts are to reach out to them via email when I start applying asking if they’re aware of any openings I might be a good fit for/can connect me with anyone that could help me with that (especially because I’m not really looking for permanent positions at their specific hospital due to the commute), and keeping them abreast if anyone’s letting me know they’re contacting my references so they’ll be prepared.

  39. Miss Bookworm*

    Has anyone ever run into a situation where their references weren’t accepted because they were too old? And I’m not talking a reference from 10+ years ago.

    I had a conversation with a friend this week that somehow got onto the topic of job references. She told me that as a hiring manager she doesn’t accept references from more than 3 years ago because “people can change a lot in three years and someone who was a bad employee four years ago could be a great one now”. I mean, sure, I can agree with that, but I can also think of multiple reasons why that would be bad for a candidate, especially for someone that has very limited references already.

    My job has a “no reference” policy. They’ll confirm prior employment, but that’s it. That is the same with many companies these days. I’ve also been with my company for nine years (hired straight out of college, with no prior work experience) and there has been little changeover. My manager—who trained me and who I worked closely with—left the company nearly two years ago; she is the only reference I would likely have and I don’t think one reference would ever be enough. I could never ask my boss because he’ll only stick with the company line. Sure, I could ask coworkers but they’re all the type to reveal to upper management that I’m job hunting (they’ve done it with others before). I really don’t want that to happen because my grandboss is definitely the type to attack me over it and mock me if I didn’t get the job.

    I do have other references from temp work I did at my company before officially getting hired—but my temp work was basically scanning, shredding, filing, and mailing—and an my department’s ex-admin who retired five years ago. There is no one else I could use as a reference without it getting around the office that I’m job searching.

    Do a lot of hiring managers have rules for how far back they’ll allow a reference? How do I navigate getting more current references when I can’t trust my coworkers not to spread it all around the office?

    1. WellRed*

      I’m curious if you asked your friend what she’d do in your case. Also does she require multiple references? How does that work? Does she only hire job hoppers?

    2. Ashley*

      Do you work with people outside your office in your role? If so a customer or a trusted vendor might be able to be a reference. At some point someone that is that hard core on know more then 3 years old is going to be tough for most people.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I have not run into that before and it’s a pretty ridiculous rule. I was at my previous job for well over three years when I started looking (a situation I expect many job seekers would be in). So, what would your friend do for me? Expect me to give references from my current job? Skip reference checks?

      It sounds like a poorly thought out rule.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Agreed, three years is a pretty arbitrary number with a weak justification by your friend the hiring manager. I guess HMs are allowed to come up with whatever rules they want (as long as they abide by HR/laws), but she’s likely missing out on great candidates if she doesn’t recognize the limitations of her rule.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Is it a “rule” or a general philosophy?

      Because if she’s saying she doesn’t put much stock in a bad reference from three or more years ago, that strikes me as a good thing. She’s right that people can improve and while it makes sense to take bad references under advisement it also make sense to acknowledge that people can improve drastically.

      Does she apply it in both directions? If she doesn’t take glowing references from more than 3 years ago either, that seems more problematic, because it’s pretty unusual for a stellar employee to drastically get worse in a short time frame.

      I haven’t heard about managers having specific rules or “cutoffs” about this, but generally speaking, the older a reference is, or the more job changes in between, the less weight it carries. That’s just common sense, for exactly the reason she stated – people change over time.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      For many people, that means their only possible reference is from their current job, which strikes me as a bad idea. The applicant has to choose between having no references, and potentially letting their employer know they are interviewing. Maybe they’ve got a former manager who has left for a new job within the past three years and could be contacted, but that’s not going to work for a lot of people.

  40. StormyNight*

    My work gave us “appreciation” gifts yesterday. I received a small bag of Doritos, a fun size pack of M&Ms, and a tiny notebook.

    I’m honestly really insulted. Am I right to feel this way? Is there someone I should complain to? Kind of feels like a smack in the face.

    They also ran out of the gifts 10 minutes into the giveaway so a lot of people got nothing.

    1. Generic Name*

      That’s a pretty cheap gift. Even inexpensive company swag would have read better, honestly. I don’t see that there’s any point to complaining to anyone. Maybe ask your coworkers how the gift landed with them so you know you aren’t alone in feeling under appreciated.

      1. Reba*

        I mean, not doing any gift at all would have been better than this! What a joke.

        I agree that briefly comparing notes with coworkers would help, but I doubt there is anything to be gained by complaining higher. Maybe you could mention it if you ever are asked for feedback on company events or perks or something. Ugh.

        1. StormyNight*

          Yeah I honestly would have preferred to get nothing! They gave out gifts at 12pm so I thought we were gonna get pizza or sandwiches for lunch, this was a huge let down.

    2. CatCat*

      Not worth complaining about, in my view. I would certainly not feel appreciated by this. I don’t know that I’d feel insulted, but I’d find it incredibly stupid. Sounds like a weird stunt by labeling it “here’s a gift because we appreciate you” instead of “there are free snacks in the breakroom.”

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      How much do they actually appreciate you if they don’t even know how many goody bags to make?

    4. WellRed*

      If I were to say anything I think I’d express concern that the RAN oUT so others hit less than the nothing you got. Second choice. Leave my gift on the organizers desk. A rejection if you will.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This makes me feel better about my last job where the only gift staff ever got was permission to wear jeans on certain days.

      This sucks, StormyNight, I’m sorry your leadership was so thoughtless.

    6. Zona the Great*

      I’d probably leave them on the break room table or on a table in the very room where you were given the gifts. Leave them there forever if you must.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Or, I have dropped them in a garbage can at a convenience store on the way home. My thought was the sooner I was rid of it the sooner I’d forget about it.

    7. my $.02*

      You wouldn’t happen to be a nurse or work in a hospital, would you? This is every year with Nurse Appreciation day. I’m with you I would rather not have to say thank you and be appreciative for a crappy gift.

      1. Squidhead*

        This is why I take vacation the 2nd week in May every year!

        My org usually goes with some type of branded swag which is way better than OP just got, but I still don’t need more plastic junk.

    8. RagingADHD*

      If y’all are particularly stressed and overworked right now, or chronically underpaid, this is a bit of a smack in the face. If you’re well-paid and they do stuff like this frequently (or it’s a new thing they are planning to do with some frequency), it’s cheesy but strikes me as fine.

      Honestly, it sounds like a fresh-faced new hire in HR came in with Opinions about Morale, read a blog post somewhere, and got the greenlight to try stuff.

      1. StormyNight*

        I’m really underpaid. I do biomedical research in Colorado and make about $18/hour. I can make the same amount starting at In N Out.

    9. Dwight Schrute*

      Now you have me wondering if my boyfriend did enough for his employees for their appreciation gifts. He ordered each of them a custom “star bucks” style coffee cup with their name and company name on it, gift cards, and then candy. Was this too little a gift?

  41. Beth14*

    Hi all – I may or may not be facing a specific predicament, so I dug around in to see if this particular issue has been addressed and didn’t see anything, so figured I’d ask you all on the open thread.

    I work in university administration (low-level exempt at state minimum wage) and have been in the same role for 7 years. I’ve been trying to find something new for a while, and suspect I may receive an offer shortly. Due to the timing of the academic calendar and the needs of the potential new job, they would want/need me to start as soon as possible… and I would personally like to start as soon as possible. However, my current job closes down for about 2 weeks around the holidays, and in thinking about timing my resignation, I could likely be in a weird spot with notice falling at least partially over those two weeks. What should be a 2 week notice could end up being over a month if I needed to work my 2 final weeks in the office. For what it is worth, my current job is objectively awful about employee treatment and I feel no need to do them any kindnesses, but I don’t want to actively burn any bridges. All of this is hypothetical, of course, but if I happen to receive/finalize an offer a few days before we close down for break, is there any chance there is an appropriate way to avoid pushing my new start date out over a month in order to work out 2 full weeks notice?

    1. Ashley*

      Are you willing / able to work due some of the shut down (and be paid for it)? If notice is about leaving training manuals and wrapping up loose ends you might be able to do some of that for a week and then have a week after the holidays as a compromise.

    2. Cle*

      If you want them to start you soon, and you want to start soon, and the university has been paying you minimum wage for 7 years, I don’t know why you’d want to do that. To avoid burning bridges, I’d say to your current supervisor “I regret that I can’t stay here longer to wrap up X and Y, but I need to start at New Company soon. My financial situation is too tight making $X.” or something.
      I’m also in higher ed, and people leaving over break isn’t unheard of. I wouldn’t sweat it too much. In another semester or two, most people won’t remember, and anyone reasonable will understand that you can’t expect other organizations to adhere to the college’s calendar.

    3. Double A*

      My feeling is that if they have been paying you minimum wage for 7 years, you owe them minimum notice. Two weeks, whenever it fits with your job offer, is fine even if some of that time is the holiday. Just have whatever projects or documentation you need wrapped up before you go.

      I would not even mention the break, just give them your last day. The only thing that’s awkward is if you needed to give your notice during the closure… Then I’m not quite sure what I’d do.

  42. Minimal Pear*

    I’m dealing with some ongoing miscommunications/assumptions at my current job, because I’m the only hourly part-time person in a salaried and mostly full-time office. (This ALWAYS happens to me.) Right now, I’ve got one particularly annoying one. One woman (who I like a lot!) is going to be out next week because of the holiday and needs someone to cover for her for a duty that will run a few hours past the end of when I usually leave work. She emailed me a couple days ago asking if someone else had talked to me about covering for her, and I had no idea what she was talking about, and said so (politely). She then went on ahead to tell me that okay, I needed to train this week to be able to cover for her, etc. etc. and oh by the way it would be during these times. There was no real “spot” in the conversation to say “hey, wait, what?” The thing I would be covering for ends at 5 PM, so that totally makes sense with a full-time person’s schedule, but I leave work much earlier most days. And it’s in my calendar! She could look at my calendar to see when I was planning to leave work! And since I would normally be leaving work so much earlier than that, there’s no reason that I would, say, block off some of that time as OOO if I did have something going on. (On this specific day, I don’t, otherwise I would have immediately told her I was not available.)
    I’ve resigned myself to covering for her next week–it will actually sort of solve a different scheduling problem I was having, anyway–but I need to be able to tell her that it’s very unlikely I’ll be able to do so again. Both because I just don’t want to stay until 5 PM and because I am dealing with serious medical issues and need to save all of my extra time and energy for appointments, testing, etc. In fact, if one of the specialists I’m seeing called today and told me I had to come in during that time slot that I’m supposed to be covering for next week, I would do it, because my health problems are that serious and urgent.
    Mostly I just want to complain here–I feel fine about telling her when we meet today that there’s a good chance I can’t cover this in the future. However, if anyone has ideas for how to address this more generally when it keeps coming up, I would appreciate that. (I’ve found in multiple workplaces that there’s a big disconnect between hourly and salaried workers’ perceptions of things like scheduling, holidays, time off, “extra” activities, etc.)

    1. Mockingjay*

      When you meet with her, be very clear that as an hourly employee, your availability for coverage is strictly limited and this is a one-time deal.

      I am curious; did she not ask your boss first? It’s normal protocol to ask managers before “borrowing” staff. What happens if your hours go over 40? (You have to be paid regardless, but that affects budget.) Does your boss need to approve overtime in advance (should there be any)? Will the handover training disrupt your tasks? Do you need a different charge code for coverage hours? And so on.

      If you haven’t looped in your boss, suggest doing so to answer the above questions.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        1. I don’t have a boss/everyone is my boss; I’m the office admin. When she asked me if this other person had talked to me about doing this coverage, that person is someone who functions partially as my boss and tends to assign a lot of my work. Because of the way she phrased it, I’m almost positive she already told that person.
        2. They won’t go over 40, since I’m very part-time.
        3. Handover training made my schedule a little more busy than usual, but I currently have some downtime/am not working on any major projects. I absolutely have the time in my schedule for this, I’m just cranky about it.
        4. Already got the code from the woman who assigned me the work.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          I’d suggest putting this down in an email to confirm the details. Send it to the woman who asked and the person who “functions partially as my boss.” Also CC anyone who might object to you putting in more than part-time hours next week.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            No one’s gonna object as far as I know because it’s going to just about even out with some time I’m gonna take off to see a doctor. This is actually going to work in my favor because we’re allowed to flex our schedules a fair bit and this means I won’t need to cover my appointment with my sick time, which is really low because of the serious health issues I mentioned. I’m definitely going to make a note when I do my timesheet though.
            I found out after posting this that the woman who gave me this work didn’t stop to ask because she was told by the sort-of-boss person that I could do this. Said person has made this mistake of forgetting I leave in the afternoon more than once, so I’m contemplating shooting her a very polite and friendly message about it on Monday

        2. Rosie*

          Maybe worth seeing about getting someone you can report to directly for the future? Our office admin is the only non-manager who reports directly to our director for exactly this reason.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      And since I would normally be leaving work so much earlier than that, there’s no reason that I would, say, block off some of that time as OOO if I did have something going on.

      If others use your calendar to plan these things, maybe it would be a good idea to go ahead and block of the times you aren’t in the office.

      Like Mockingjay said, does this affect your total hours? That would be a good way to bring it up. “By the way, I always leave at 2:00 on Mondays. Did you talk to Jane and get her approval for the extra hours, or do I need to do that?”

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Because I’m so part-time, I feel like it would look weird to have this tiny chunk in the middle of the day marked off as my working hours, surrounded by an oceean of time marked out as “out of office”. And I do want to preserve some flexibility; for example, if someone needed to meet with me a little earlier or later than I would normally be in because their schedule is packed.
        The scheduling thing I mentioned this solving is that I’m going to be out for a while next week for a medical appointment (not related to the ongoing issues) and I’m low on sick time (BECAUSE of the ongoing issues). Our schedules here are really flexible so adding in that giant chunk of time where I’ll be staying late makes up for the giant chunk of time where I’m at the doctor and will keep me from needing to use sick time. I feel a little iffy about doing it like that because I am terminally honest but the executive director has made it pretty clear that that level of flexbility is a-ok.
        (my reply to Mockingjay explains the boss situation)

    3. WellRed*

      So what did your manager say? Did they approve this? Did they approve the extra hours? How will it impact your regular duties and your health? Is there an upside to this for you? In other words, why have you resigned yourself to this?

      1. Minimal Pear*

        See above for more details (sorry I’m rushing to type this with one eye on my email so I don’t want to re-type everything) but I don’t exactly have a boss and the person she (I assume) talked to about having me do this is my boss in some regards. I will be more “engaged to wait” than anything else so if I have anything I need to work on for my regular duties during that time, I can do so. Upside mentioned above–this will balance out my work schedule for next week and keep me from needing to use sick time for an appointment. In terms of affecting my health, I will probably be cranky and tired in the evening of that day I have to stay late, but as long as I plan ahead and have dinner ready to go I’ll be fine.

    4. I need cheesecake*

      So she can’t actually look in your calendar for your schedule as it’s not clearly in there?

      You may not be being entirely reasonable here

      1. WellRed*

        It says she can look at the calendar and see when she leaves. It doesn’t sound like this woman is her boss and people can’t just assign hours to their part time coworkers.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          Yes, I have my schedule blocked out and my calendar event saying that I am at work (that everyone can see–we can all see each other’s calendars) ends quite a while before 5 PM. I really like this woman but I don’t think she was really thinking things through when she decided I would cover for her. If she’d asked I would happily say yes–like I said above, this fixes some schedule issues for me next week–but what’s bothering me is that she just told me I was doing it.
          Like I said above, everyone at this job is my boss and can assign me work. Additionally, it seems like she did talk to someone high up who often assigns me work, and that person said yes. That person was supposed to talk to me and didn’t, and my guess is that if she’d talked to me that would’ve been when I was asked instead of told.

      2. Minimal Pear*

        My calendar has the hours I am planning to work blocked out about a week in advance. Those chunks of time explicitly say that that’s when I’m working; I started doing this on the advice of one of the people who serves as my boss for some areas of my job specifically for situations like this. I do not have every single piece of time where I am NOT working blocked out as being OOO, because I assume people can read between the lines. (Obviously this coworker–who again, I really like and am not SUPER mad at, just a bit annoyed with–didn’t.) Everyone at the company knows that I am very very part-time and paid hourly (this company is very open about these things) but I think the problem is that people just don’t consider how that actually plays into the practicalities of my work.

    5. Minimal Pear*

      Also, if people were wondering, I wasn’t able to bring it up in the meeting but I just shot her a message letting her know for the future that I can’t be her automatic go-to for coverage if she needs it. (I did say that if she gives me a lot of advance warning I can probably make it work, because hey–it’s just sitting around doing whatever and keeping one eye on the computer while I get paid!) I’m mostly still just trying to figure out how to bring the “hey I’m part-time and hourly” thing up immediately when these sorts of things happen without seeming rude, lazy, or money-grubbing. (Although people have been pretty good so far–I had to talk to one higher-up about one thing where my concern was “hey am I gonna get paid for this thing?” and he immediately figured out that that was the problem. And the answer was yes, I am!)

    6. I'm Done*

      Maybe I’m not understanding this correctly but shouldn’t your boss be looped into this? Just because a colleague tells you that you need to cover for them doesn’t mean you need to go along with that. If you’re being paid hourly, you have to be paid for the extra time. Your boss more than likely will need to authorize that. If I were you, I would definitely clarify that first.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, the boss situation is a little complicated–I’m the office admin so essentially, everyone is my boss. But also no one is my Official One And Only Boss. Everyone can assign me tasks, although other than this time, they’ve always asked if I have free time rather than just giving it to me. When I mentioned her saying “oh, did this person talk to you about covering for me?” in my original message, said person is someone who often assigns me work and functions like my boss for some of my tasks.
        Additionally, after I messaged her and she replied, it turns out that it was that person’s idea in the first place to have me do this. I’m not surprised, as that person has scheduled meetings with me in the past that have been way later than I usually work.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      Okay, so everyone can assign you *work* but that doesn’t mean everyone can assign you a *schedule*. So what, exactly, do you want to happen? I think having people *ask* if you can work beyond your normal hours is very reasonable, so that’s what I’d go for. “Jane, I’m happy to cover for you, but I’ve noticed you sometimes forget I only work until 2:00. In the future, if you need me here after 2:00, could you please check with me first? Sometimes I can stay but sometimes I can’t. Thanks!”

      (And, at least once, tell her you can’t even if you theoretically could, just to plant that in her brain.)

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yep, I told the woman who gave me the work, and it turns out she assumed it was fine because one of the people who more commonly assigns me work told her it was. I’m totally going to build off of your script to message that person on Monday with a reminder because that’s not the first time they’ve done this–thank you!

    8. Koala dreams*

      Next time, you can say something like this: Oh, I’m not scheduled for work that time. You’ll need to ask someone else.
      Aim for a confused and friendly tone, as if it’s a simple misunderstanding. (Perhaps it is.) If you can’t say anything in the moment, you can get back later in the day or early next day and say I’m sorry, but I can’t do the thing after all, I’m not scheduled for work that time.

      If it’s a time that might work for you, you can say: I usually get off work at X, I’ll check if I can shift my hours for that day/week and get back to you. OR I’ll usually get off work at X, who should I talk to to get the extra hours approved?

      Then you get back when you know and say either that it’s possible or not possible.

      I’m sure you can improve my scripts, but hopefully they can be a starting point. In my experience, it’s often more important to say something, than to say it in the exact right way.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Thank you, this is very helpful! It’s a little awkward because I’m the one setting my schedule, but keeping my hours consistent-ish so people know when they can get ahold of me is important. Managing my schedule is pretty much all on me, so I don’t really need to get extra hours approved unless I’m going wildly over my usual. (With the time off next week for medical stuff I think I’ll only end up working something like an hour or two more than I normally do, which I’ve done before when stuff has come up and it’s been fine.)

        1. Koala dreams*

          Since you already communicate your schedule with your calendar it should be fine to refer back to that. Sometimes it’s difficult to be the only person in a role. I hope it works out for you. Good luck!

  43. CW*

    Does anyone have a problem where you are always hurrying at work? Because I have that problem. Whenever I need to complete a task, I need to complete it NOW. And now means NOW. The word “later” becomes a curse word to me whenever I am working. Also, I hate doing things one by one and would always try to find shortcuts. In fact, doing things one by one is the bane of my existence at work because it would take longer than it has to.

    I know, it is a bad attitude to have, but I feel robbed of my time and doomed whenever I can’t finish anything ASAP. The things is, any slight delay at work will agitate me. To be clear, I am a big time Type A personality, which contributes to the problem. But it is not an excuse to constantly be hurrying at work. For those of you who have the same or a similar problem, what do you suggest?

    1. Ashley*

      A job where finishing now works really well. As a fellow Type A I totally understand.
      I have tried the at home method of practicing slowing down and not finishing everything now and trying to relax more.

      1. CW*

        I have started to do that as well.

        One major difference is that at work, it becomes a totally different monster because, well, it’s work. At home, there are no deadlines or bosses hovering over you. At home, you are free to do as you please.

        But I do agree that home is a good place to start.

    2. WellRed*

      Robbed of time and doomed seem a little much. You’re being paid to do these tasks, not rush through them so you are not robbed. Have you always been this anxious?

      1. CW*

        In my case, not robbed of money. It specifically relates to time. But I am afraid that if I don’t finish a task I will be seen as unreliable. And yes, I have always been this anxious. I am officially diagnosed with anxiety, which is a big part of the problem. But I have been seeking help for it, and am taking medication.

    3. Double A*

      My husband is this way, although he is very much not Type A; it’s a function of his ADHD. He’s either hyper focused or scattered without much in between.

      He works by himself in a family manufacturing firm so he just works like crazy for 4-6 hours a day then comes home. Obviously this is an idiosyncratic set up, but we’ve arranged our lives so they work with his brain.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yep, I was gonna say–this is an ADHD thing for me 100%. I have to do stuff right away if I want to be sure I’ll get it done.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Tap that drive?
      Look for ingenious ways to streamline your work.

      It sounds like the job does not challenge you enough- to me this sounds like a bored mind. This is a brain that will latch on to anything to pump through the day.
      There’s a difference between having a lot of work and having a challenging and interesting job. My guess is that overall you find your job boring… reeeally boring. You are not challenged by it at all.
      If this is the case, find/create new challenges.

  44. desk platypus*

    This is ultimately a very silly issue to have that’s more like a very boring C plot in a sitcom but that’s office dynamics for you.
    My very chatty social coworker made a little name sign for her cubicle. Clip art, simple text, printed on regular paper. I’ve never personally commented on it because the style was too cutesy for my own tastes but it suits hers. Then one day I find a name sign on my cubicle in very curly font with pictures of my favorite animal. My knee jerk reaction was, “Oh. Platypuses!” because I wasn’t about to say “it looks like a five year old slapped together this sign”, especially not when coworker immediately goes, “Oh I knew you’d love it, it’s so cute, isn’t it?”
    Anyway, now all of my department has been gifted with what I think are fairly juvenile looking cubicle signs with second rate clip art or just grainy pictures pulled from Google. Everyone else loves them. Because of my immediate awkward reaction it won’t be easy to walk back from. This coworker would definitely notice if I took it off and take offense.
    Would it be too much to order a fancier name plate for myself that isn’t just printer paper and then claim it was a Christmas gift I should honor by putting up instead? I’m definitely making this too complicated.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Actually I think that’s a great solution. It’s clearly bothering you! The only thing is it might cost some capital to do something like this that removes you from the “team” vibe if everyone else loves them so just realize you might come off a little grinch-ish.

      1. Beth*

        Maybe Desk Platypus could “accidentally” mess up the cheapo sign while swapping it out for the lovely sign that her very kind friend gives her for Christmas. What a shame that it means she can’t put it up somewhere else now that it’s badly ripped and splattered with hand sanitizer.

        1. Ashley*

          Yeah accidental damage to the existing sign would be helpful. Then you can follow-up with you mentioned it to a friend who got you the new studier one so you didn’t do it again.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep that sign can have an accident. Interestingly, I have this happen in my own home with certain Christmas presents. Eh, what are you gonna do? Stuff happens.

    2. Someone*

      “Because of my immediate awkward reaction it won’t be easy to walk back from.”

      I guarantee she did not notice that you hate it.

    3. vma*

      If it’s just paper, can you remove it and claim it got damaged? Or just remove it and see if she even says anything.

      1. desk platypus*

        It accidentally fell behind a nearby box one day but my coworker actually noticed it the exact moment I did (we’re cube neighbors) and rushed to put it back only with stronger double sided tape this time.

    4. Koala dreams*

      Tell your co-worker that it was fun at first but now you are going to take it down. If you want to, put another decoration in its place. It could be a sign, a comic strip, a photo or a seasonal decoration. Or just put nothing. Perhaps you want a minimalist cubicle for the New Year’s?

    5. RagingADHD*

      Do you have to look at it? If not, I’d just pretend it isn’t there.

      If it were in my eye line and annoying me, I’d move it to another spot where people approaching can see it but I can’t.

      1. Nerdy*

        I’d do the opposite, and endeavor to whisk it from view. OP, could you treat it like a holiday decoration that needs to be taken down? Platypus season is over.

        I’m thinking that if you lose or damage it, Coworker will just replace it. Leave it on your desk for a day or two, then shove it in a drawer.

  45. Another Allison*

    Any advice for vetting a new city? My husband is currently interviewing with a company out of our state and the job would require us to move. It’s a big desicion for us to move, so I would love some advice.

    1. Nicki Name*

      What do you like/dislike about where you currently live?

      What are your absolute must-haves or dealbreakers in a living situation?

      What’s the COL in the new city compared to yours, and if it’s higher, would the increase in salary make it worthwhile?

    2. irene adler*

      If you have school-aged children, might check out the school districts. Find out which ones will meet your kids needs/interests.

    3. Ashley*

      I think the pandemic has all taught us how polarizing lots of America is so I would definitely be considering if I could live with the local politics.

      1. Purple Cat*

        +1 to this, but make sure you’re vetting the politics of your specific preferred city and not just the general area. I live in a very liberal state, but somehow my town has a very vocal conservative group.
        Check if there’s a facebook community page you can join.

    4. urguncle*

      Do you both have the ability to go there and spend a week or two in an Airbnb in a neighborhood around the job that is in your price range? It might help to spend some time not downtown, not eating out for every meal and seeing people not in tourism. How walkable is it? What’s traffic like? Can we imagine living our lives here?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        If you don’t have a week or two, you might still be able to get a lot out of a short trip with some good searching beforehand. Think about and list out your dealbreakers and some nice-to-haves. Could be sidewalks, schools, grocery stores, coffee shops, anything that’s important to you and your family. Then poke around on real estate sites (for housing prices) and on Google Maps (to get a feel for the neighborhoods and to look up parks/stores/churches/etc). Then on your trip, visit those places so you can ask the “can we imagine living our lives here?” question.

    5. WellRed*

      Ask: What’s important to you and does the new location have it ( museum, great schools, outdoor living)?

    6. Brownie*

      Weather is a huge thing. Is it someplace where you’ll potentially be dealing with hurricanes? Major snowstorms that shut down the city? Is it always going to be super humid or very dry and what would that do to your quality of life or health? Is it going to swing between -30 F and 110 F throughout the year and is that something you’d like or would you hate it?

      What about commute times, housing locations/cost/availability? Access to any specialized medical care you or your family might need regularly? If you’ve got family elsewhere in the country is there an easily accessible airport so you can travel without driving 4+ hours to get to the plane?

      A thing I don’t see talked about a lot is phobias/fear. If someone has a major fear of earthquakes then the west coast isn’t a good place for them to be, for example. Phobia of ticks/chiggers/insects? Stay away from places where those are a facet of daily life. Same with snakes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and so on, if it’s something which freaks you out then evaluate the area for the potential to encounter those.

    7. Paris Geller*

      When I’ve done this before, I try to visit and structure at least one day as if I’m actually living there. I find a local grocery store, look at the parks/museums/other cultural interests that I would actually go to as a resident and not just a tourist, and try to drive the same route I would take at the time I’d go to work. I don’t have children, but if you do, at least drive by the local schools and see if you can creep on local FB pages. Find out what the most common complaint about the city is by residents and if you can live with it. Look at the weather over a period of time.

    8. Rosie*

      Think about the things you like to do and see what the equivalent looks like there. I agree with browsing the reddit page too, can get a lot of info about what complaints people have and if those are dealbreaker stuff or just normal existing in a society stuff. Definitely check out how expensive it is to go visit the people you want to see from there too.

    9. beach read*

      Maybe you can find a Facebook neighborhood page for the area you are looking at. I’d also be looking up crime stats too.

  46. Beka Cooper*

    Negotiation question. I work in a clerical position at a university making around 39k a year. Over the last two years, I have been studying web development off and on in my free time through a paid course, and I have a decent portfolio. I have also had my own website for years, and worked in a previous job at the same university maintaining my department’s WordPress site, but no programming, just updating info on pages, adding pages and blog posts and stuff. So I have some experience in jobs, and some experience from doing these courses.

    I recently applied to a web developer position at my same university in our library, and it looks like it’s kind of also a catch-all IT support position, which I could handle. The posting says the base salary is 58K, which is a big jump for me. I feel like I have a decent chance at getting an interview based on what I know from being on hiring committees (I think HR prefers to interview all internal candidates unless there’s a really good reason not to), and I know my other skills in my job will make me a strong candidate besides the fact that my web development skills are relatively new. On our internal job posting, it just lists the starting salary, but on an external job posting site, the range for this specific job was listed as 58K up to 90K.

    I know I should negotiate for more than just the base pay, but since I don’t have a lot of on-the-job experience with the main tech skills of the job, how much higher should I go? I already know I’d be happy with the base pay; it’s better than what I could get staying in my department, but I don’t want to leave money on the table if I could get more. My husband and I have high child care costs and he is a freelancer, so this would just be such a great chance to keep my health insurance but move to learning and developing my skills in web development and be getting paid to do it. Any thoughts?

    Also…I’m just hoping the current job market works in my favor. I’ve heard of more than a few job searches at our school lately that have failed because the top salary offered was too low for the candidates they interviewed.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Maybe it makes sense to ask about how the range will be calculated … be prepared to lay out your skills in a rubric so they can decide which skills/experience they’re willing to pay for and which are just “nice to have”.

      And maybe consider asking to have a chance to recalculate after a year, as you demonstrate the skills you haven’t used at work yet.

    2. BRR*

      I know a lot of universities have huge ranges but tend to hire towards the bottom (bottom 25% of range). I think if you get an offer you can just ask if they can come up a little.

  47. Manders*

    I’ve got a question about quitting etiquette! I’m planning to quit my job at the beginning of next year, but the only other person in the marketing department will be out on maternity leave. I can give a longer notice than 2 weeks since I’m going into business for myself, but there will never be a good time to leave because so many people are going on maternity leave and this company is, frankly, pretty dysfunctional and my project deadlines are always moving around for reasons that are out of my control. Should I offer a longer notice, or stick with 2 weeks? Should I be clear about the reasons why I’m quitting and potentially burn a reference, or keep it vague and say I have some family-related reason I need to quit?

    1. cubone*

      I basically posted a similar (though longer winded, hah) question. I too am in an awkward quitting spot at a very dysfunctional org. I have not decided what to say (that’s my question!) but I have decided to give 5 weeks notice and hopefully frame it, as a way of hopefully coming across generous and helping them set up the next person for success (since they will definitely be stressed, it’s a bad time etc – though it’s always a bad time at bad workplaces).

      I will say that I know I don’t owe them that and neither do you, so it’s really how much you’re willing to tolerate. Also they could decide regardless they want you to leave earlier/immediately.

      1. Manders*

        Yeah, I don’t want to give them too much notice and risk it dragging out for months! I am serious about starting my own business off on the right foot in the new year, and I do have some family stuff that I need to attend to in early 2022 that it would be hard to take time off for if I were in a notice period.

        To be honest, I’m afraid of giving notice too early and losing the chance to use my accrued PTO. This business does that thing where you accrue PTO over the year and can’t roll it over, so everyone takes time off during the busiest season. This place has a lot of very silly problems like that! In an ideal world I could be up front about my plans, but I don’t think that would go over well with leadership. And I don’t think extra time would help set the next person up for success, because the pay is so bad they will not be able to hire someone else with my skillset (I was unemployed during the worst of the pandemic, the market was VERY different when I was hired).

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          Would you work for them as a contractor or through your new business? If you are willing, give two weeks and then offer them some consulting services if they need more of your time. Price your consulting services at 2x to 3x your current hourly rate. Will you be doing similar work in your new business?

          1. Manders*

            To be honest, they’re so cheap with pay rates that I don’t think they’d take me up on that offer and might be insulted by the idea of me asking for what I’m actually worth. I’ve seen their job postings for contract workers and frankly they are offering less than fast food in our area.

            1. Can Can Cannot*

              Then give them two weeks, and then move on to making more money with your new business. Good luck!

            2. Cheezmouser*

              You know your employer best, but I will say that one of my colleagues (also in marketing) left earlier this year to start her own business because she was undervalued and overworked. She offered to do contract work at more than 2x the hourly rate she was getting as an employee. Our manager balked, but our department is super short staffed and we had trouble filling her position, so a few months later they took her up on her offer. We are now one of her clients. She gets the rate she wants, and we get a contractor that already knows all our products, processes, clients, etc and needs no onboarding/training.

              Moral of the story: you never know how desperate your company will be, so it might not hurt to leave that option open. It’s up to them if they want to take it. It might work out for both of you.

      2. Goose*

        I will (hopefully) be in a similar position as the both of you soon. I have been taking up slack from another position they haven’t been able to replace, and another coworker just announced their pregnancy. It’s going to (hopefully) suck. I am planning on only two weeks because otherwise it just feels like dragging out the inevitable.

    2. CatCat*

      I’d give two weeks and if they ask for a reason, provide whatever reason wouldn’t burn the reference. Staffing is their problem, not your problem.

  48. Parker*

    I was wondering how other people were dealing with staff who were unvaccinated feeling as if they are being “punished” or “singled out”?

    We have a staff of 32, 7 of which are unvaccinated and don’t want to be (religious reasons/straight up don’t believe in it). We’ve (management) done everything we can not exclude them, haven’t done anything but require masks and distancing… etc. Nothing to push them, call them out, or otherwise draw attention. They do it themselves, all of them talk about being unvaccinated… etc.

    But right now they are all making a big stink out of something. We usually have a holiday party during a work day with catered food & etc. This year we have some concerns about everyone eating together especially without masks on. To combat this, we’re still having food but we are opening up all our board rooms and encouraging people to sit in smaller groups in these rooms. We NEVER said unvaccinated have to sit in a room together or whatnot, we just expressed to staff to do what they find comfortable. Apparently, despite this event not happening for another month, most of the unvaccinated people seem to think they will be “sectioned off” and two, in particular, sent in HR complaints about being treated unfairly.

    I… don’t know what I can do about this because they’re right. Chances are vaccinated staff will not want to sit with them and I’m fine with that. Heck, I don’t want to sit with them either. None of them take this seriously, most of them have been exposed and had to quartine in the last few months. Most of them talk about not wearing masks in public! I feel like we are doing whatever we can to protect staff and the unvaccinated are just facing the consequences of their actions. HR seems to agree, but I feel like this will end up being a bigger deal. I also don’t… feel bad about it? I guess I’m pretty annoyed with their choices putting everyone in this building at risk on a daily basis, which is probably a bad thing for a manager to feel (four of the unvaccinated are on my team, fyi, but I’ve never excluded them or brought in my personal feelings about it.)

    1. rocklobsterbot*

      Their feelings aren’t more important than everyone else’s health. They made a choice, that choice has consequences. Oh well.

    2. Beka Cooper*

      I don’t have advice, but one thing that annoys me about them complaining about being excluded was that, during lockdowns and stay-home orders, lots of those same people were saying things like “If you’re worried about covid, then you can stay home, but I shouldn’t have to!” Seems we could apply that attitude to them now that it’s kind of reversed.

      Basically, I agree, I don’t feel bad if they feel excluded, and they need to deal with the consequences of their choices.

    3. Red*

      I think the real issue is that they don’t take it seriously and don’t want to mask/distance. Masking and distancing is what prevents the spread; vaccinating prevents symptoms/extreme symptoms should you catch it, though you can still shed the virus (not from the vaccine, from catching the virus). I am unvaccinated and I am honestly nervous around vaccinated and unvaccinated people if they show signs of refusing to mask and distance in public places. Both are equally a threat to me.
      They are technically bringing their personal (and possibly political) feelings into the workplace. To a certain degree it’s not their fault because of the way the entire pandemic has been politicized, but at the end of the day they are disrupting work and should theoretically know better then to be so dramatic.
      However, this doesn’t sound like it’s your issue to address. It’s already been escalated to HR whom have presumably explained what you did about there not being specific seating, but everyone has the right to sit with whomever they want.
      If they continue to make a stink around you or directly look to you for sympathy etc. just address it matter of factly. “No one said [whatever they’re claiming]. There will be no assigned seating, however people can sit with whomever they want and people will likely not want to sit near someone who is unvaccinated and doesn’t take masking/distancing seriously. That’s a risk assessment they’re allowed to take.”

      1. WellRed*

        Oh, I’d stop after “there will be no assigned seating, people can sit where they like.” They already feel judged (I have no sympathy for them) but piling on won’t help.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Sorry you feel that way, we’re simply allowing people to make choices that represent their seriously held beliefs and their own personal freedoms, and if they choose not to sit with you that’s their God-given choice.”

      I mean, I’d probably word it a little more diplomatically…

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Made me LOL. “Are you trying to infringe upon your coworkers’ MEDICAL FREEDOM with some kind of seating mandate?”

      2. curiousLemur*

        “we’re simply allowing people to make choices that represent their seriously held beliefs and their own personal freedoms,” I love this!

    5. Why did I go to library school?*

      “Imagine if someone rolled around in a pigpen every morning and then complained it was unfair that no one wanted to sit next to them at lunch. You made a choice, and now you’re facing the consequences. If you don’t like those consequences, you can choose to stop being shitty any time you want.”

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m sure you know this is… a thing. Some people want to believe the natural consequences of their own choices are “oppression.”

      You don’t feel bad because you’re not the one who should! It sounds like everything your company is doing is completely reasonable and these employees just want to feel aggrieved because the alternative is admitting they’re the problem. Keep reiterating that everyone is welcome and you are only doing what’s necessary to make the gathering as safe and healthy as possible (I would not be able to resist something like “I know, I really wish it could be different too” with the unspoken implication that CERTAIN CHOICES make that impossible)

    7. Irish girl*

      ugh, they are complaining because people are effectively pushing them out not the company. You cant force people to like who they work with, only respect that they need to work with them in a professional manner. Their own actions are alienating people. You are right that no one will want to sit with them but that’s not the company saying they have to sit somewhere. Too bac your not more than 100 people an have to enforce the new OHSA rules that came out about unvaccinated people and masks in the office. Those are going to be very restrictive.

    8. Dr B Crusher*

      Personally I think unvaccinated-by-choice (for any reason other than medical, religion is no excuse in my country) *should* be excluded from physical spaces. Not to make them feel bad, but because they are dangerous. If I had unvaccinated coworkers I would rather resent management entertaining their complaints about feeling excluded, especially when I was feeling in danger from having to work with multiple unvaccinated people.

    9. pancakes*

      Why exactly would that be a bad thing for a manager to feel? If they were putting the same time and energy into putting their coworkers at risk in other ways – setting off fireworks in the parking lot, for example – I doubt you’d be chiding yourself for thinking less of their judgment as a result. It’s not somehow unfair or illegitimate to not be sympathetic to these silly complaints, or to have noticed how silly they are. The idea that a policy that applies equally to everyone is “singling out” people who refuse to comply is very silly.

    10. allathian*

      I honestly have no patience with people like this. I will openly shun unvaccinated people, and I don’t really care if they complain I’m being horrible to them. Actions have consequences, and if you’re unvaccinated for anything other than a legitimate medical reason, I don’t want to have anything to do with you because I think you’re a selfish jerk who cares nothing about the welfare of others, so why should I care about your feelings? If you choose to follow a religion that bans vaccines, well, then you’re no less a selfish jerk. Luckily here religious protections only apply to recognized religions, and none of them are against the covid vaccine. Unlike in the US, you can’t just state that your opinions are religious convictions.

      If you do have a legitimate medical reason not to get vaxxed, I’ll avoid you to make sure I at least won’t be the vacccinated person who might be an asymptomatic carrier and potentially make you sick.

      1. CatMintCat*

        Legitimate medical reasons to avoid ALL possible vaccines are vanishingly rare. If one isn’t suitable for you, the chances are very high that one of the others will be (in my country it’s Astra Zeneca, Pfizer and Moderna). Medical outs are very difficult to get because of this.
        We have mandated vaccination in the workplace, and lost a staff member this month who felt her anti vaccination beliefs were more important than her career and supporting her family.

    11. SnappinTerrapin*

      Being “singled out” or subject to “discrimination” isn’t necessarily equal to being mistreated. The question is whether the criteria for treating some differently from others is something rationally related to the decision being made, as opposed to being based on a biased stereotype.

      Even granting the point that there is still a lot we don’t know about this particular virus, it is still reasonable to treat vaccinated people differently than unvaccinated. Even if the employer chooses not to treat employees differently based on this characteristic, it remains reasonable for the coworkers to be selective about who they will sit with while eating.

  49. cubone*

    Anyone feel like helping me with an “I quit” script? I’ve never been this nervous before, mostly because a) I’m ending my contract earlier (at 8 months instead of a year) and b) I think my boss is going to be very surprised and I don’t know that she handles herself well when she’s caught off guard.

    The reasons I am willing to say: it’s not the right fit and/or I’m going back to school (which is true, it’s just motivated in part by it not being the right fit). I sort of want to use “back to school” as the out that’ll lessen the blow and make the whole thing less awkward, but I also don’t know how honest and up front I should be about the fit (like “it’s not me it’s you”). Is there a way to say both? I’ve only previously left jobs after much longer tenures and wanted to give really honest feedback, but I don’t know that I’m that emotionally invested.

    I haven’t been there long enough that I think they’ll care about my opinions, but the real reason is the management is very poor, exclusively absentee and then hyper critical after projects are done, and it’s just a very negative culture and atmosphere overall.

    Adding to the “yikes” of it all: they are hugely counting on my role to execute several massive (unachievable, frankly) projects in the spring so replacing the role will add a lot of stress (but I don’t think that’s my fault, and also that’s part of why I want to go now while they have time to replace). Also 2 staff members quit in the last month and there’s a palpable air of tension and arguments clearly happening about how under resourced they are. All of this is why I want out, but I just feel like it’s going to be received Very Dramatically.

    I plan to give 5 weeks notice, our contract asks for 3 but I’m hoping this adds a bit to “I’d like to do as much as I can to help set the next person up for success” (I know they could ask me to leave sooner and am prepared for that).

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I’d bet there is at least a kernel of truth in the slip, but you’re trying to be diplomatic.

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      Honestly, this sounds a bit like my workplace. We’re very under-resourced and under-staffed, and resignations from staff are met with food, tears and hugging. Don’t get me wrong, I love hugs, but not coworkers that I barely know. Anyway, I think a good script could probably go something like, “I’ve turned in my 2 weeks notice, and I’m happy to help anyway I can in that time. Although I’ve learned many things at Llama Training Inc., I’ve been thinking that I need to further my education. Please let me know if you have any questions now or going forward.”

      1. cubone*

        yeah, I was at first nervous that my boss would be livid with me, but more and more I think the most likely risk is that she’ll burst into tears. Which sucks, but again, I just feel like the fact that they are so unstable 1 more departure can do that IS the problem. She also might now, I have no idea! She’s a bit of a wild card, reaction wise.

        I think this is a great script, thank you! I think I am ultimately just really nervous about opening the conversation but is there that much else to say besides “I’ve decided it’s time to move on”, etc.

        1. The Smiling Pug*

          I would suspicious that this is some kind of guilt-trip tactic by your boss. “She cried when all these other people resigned: do you want to resign and make her cry?” kinda thing. Anyway, from what you’ve described, it’s going to be rough regardless, but you got this! I believe in you! :)

          And you’re welcome! I’ve figure that it’s always easier to be honest with management when resigning. It makes it clearer for both of you.

    2. Reba*

      So you are starting school in January? It’s true that starting school is a pretty ironclad reason, but I did have one previous boss be a little miffed because if I had been accepted clearly I had already known for months etc etc. I guess I don’t see the downside to having an awkward boss convo, since you are leaving! but I also get that it is work, and unnecessarily emotional work at that.

      Maybe a gently placed, “as you know, the stress here is high and I realized that’s just not sustainable for me, so when I had the chance to enroll in this program that’s more in-line with my career goals, I was excited to go for it for that and many other reasons” ?

      1. cubone*

        so I am starting school in January, but it is a certificate type program, as in most learners are part time and you can “start” at any semester (not like a “I’m beginning a full time Masters program” kind of thing. Like I don’t even really have to be accepted, just register as long as I have the prereqs). I had been considering doing one course at a time while working, but it’s just become abundantly clear the workload and stress levels at this job would not be conducive for that. So my plan is to take 3 courses (technically full time) for the first semester while job hunting and see where I’m at by the second semester to either continue FT or PT.

        I love your phrasing, thank you! I think as the Smiling Pug noted above, I realize that some of my nerves/consideration of the emotional impact is probably part and parcel of the toxic workplace stuff. I don’t think it’s an intentional manipulation, but I do think this “it’s so hard when people leave :( :(” is probably a subconscious guilt trip, at minimum. I think I need to just get over the emotional side of it – people leave jobs, it’s not my fault they’re precious about it.

        1. The Smiling Pug*

          Regardless of how the class is structured, “I’m going back to school” is a pretty accepted response.

    3. PollyQ*

      Don’t say anything about about “fit”, just say it’s because of school. And I’d rethink the 5 weeks notice, too. Why subject yourself to more crappiness if you don’t have to? 3 weeks is already 50% more than the standard.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agree, going back to school and 3 weeks notice. That’s it. Quitting time is not the time to try to mend things- that ship has sailed.

  50. Red*

    Less a request for advice and more a request for commiseration in my bemusement. I was talking with a coworker and I mentioned I hate shaving my legs (in context it was a reasonable flow of the convo), she looked down and commentated that I did anyway (I was wearing 3/4 leggings and indeed the bottom of my legs are shaved). I told her only the exposed portion; I don’t like the feel of clothing on shaved skin. Gives me the heebie jeebies.
    And then she said, “Oh, that’s like lying by omission.”
    I just kinda awkward laughed and went back to work after that, but lol. I’m still making a pikachu face at that one.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      How weird. I mean, that’s the best thing about longer skirts – I don’t have to shave above the knee.

    2. cubone*

      this isn’t super specifically helpful but I haven’t shaved my legs in 10+ years and man, the work comments are WEIRD. It’s not like I bring it up, but occasionally (especially with other women), someone mentions it or complains about it and I don’t mind saying “yeah I don’t shave my legs anymore” and…… just wow. It gets so odd, every time. I SWEAR I am saying it in a very neutral, non-judgmental tone (because I don’t care what others do, this is just for me! I’m not sanctimonious about) and I have gotten so many breathless rants about “Well, Actually I LIKE shaving my legs” or “I’m a feminist too you know” or “I’m sure you do sometimes though” or “you can only do that because you’re already in a relationship”. It consistently brings out some very, very weird, very PERSONAL deep-seated feelings and reactions in people, from my opinion.

      1. Former Sasquatch*

        I’ve observed that too. People have…feelings about it. A lot of feelings.

        On the plus side, my husband is one of those people, and I used it as leverage – I consented to laser hair removal (and rather a lot of it) in exchange for getting to choose where we’d live when I finished school.

      2. Workerbee*

        Those reactions make me wonder if, deep down, people really are aware of how indoctrinated shaving has been and that their alleged “preference” for it stems from that.

      3. allathian*

        It’s weird! But then, I have body image issues about my varicose-veined and cellulite-ridden legs anyway to the point that I never go in public in anything other than long pants or ankle-length skirts. I don’t shave my legs, but I also don’t show my hairy legs to anyone other than my husband and my son (knee-length nightdress). It’s not a subject I’m willing to discuss at work, however.

    3. Apt Nickname*

      We all do things we don’t like. I’m not a fan of pants, yet here we are. It doesn’t make me a liar when I wear them. What a weird way to view the world.

    4. Jessica Ganschen*

      Oh I’m basically the opposite, I only shave when the texture starts to bother me, and I also dislike shaving enough that I put it off for another couple of weeks anyway lol. But yeah, what a strange comment!

    5. Dr B Crusher*

      Obviously I wasn’t there so didn’t hear the delivery, but that just sounds like a fairly normal joke to me? I mean, if you were already talking about leg shaving? I don’t think it’s that weird in the context.

    6. Eden*

      That just sounds like a joke to me. Maybe not one that landed. I put this out of your mind unless it’s part of some kind of pattern.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I would have said, “I don’t get it.” Because I don’t.
      You said you don’t like shaving your legs. We all do things we don’t like. I am not seeing a lie there.

  51. bookwyrm*

    My work, a very small nonprofit, has informed us we will be back full-time in January (“serendipitous hallway conversations” was one of the reasons listed) and said that we will not be able to have have a hybrid office/remote schedule (although special requests may be granted for specific reasons). My direct manager is fully remote and in a different state. My grand-boss is local, has been in the office daily throughout the pandemic, and is probably the person I would need to talk to about it since I work with him the most closely.

    However, I have not been included on weekly staff calls throughout the pandemic, as my position is not programmatic although I work on the back-end of them. I started during the pandemic and work with all other staff, but despite asking several times I was only included when there was a specific reason. My position has not traditionally been included on staff meetings. So it’s a bit frustrating that it hasn’t been considered an important part of my role to stay in the loop, and yet I should be in the office full-time when I’ve done my job remotely the entire time I’ve worked there. We have another office in a different state, and at least one other fully remote staff member in yet another state so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that we have to be butts-in-seats.

    I am not sure whether it’s worth trying to push back about this since it sounds pretty set. When I was hired, they said they really want someone who will stay for at least a couple of years as this position has a lot of turnover (it’s not the most exciting work, although I like it) and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from staff about how much smoother I’ve made things, so I might have some capital. I would really like to stay, as I do enjoy it and it’s generally not stressful, but my quality of life has been so much better with working remote. I’m a night owl and not having to get up early for a commute has been great – I had to move further from the office (hour+ commute) as my partner works even further out from the city, and will likely need to move even further/more distant from a metro when we look to buy a place in the next year or so. I’m dreading the hour+ commute and $150/month in commuting costs. I’m not too keen on looking for a new position as my sibling and I are both getting married next year so I’ll be taking a lot of time off for our weddings and it wouldn’t really be ideal to look for a new role, plus I’m looking to start a family after that.

    I should have a call about my performance with my grandboss in the next month or two and could bring it up then, or maybe I should try being in the office for a bit before bringing it up… Any thoughts on how it might be best for me to frame this, or if I should, would be helpful.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think you might have better luck with your direct manager since they’re fully remote and could empathize. I would bring it up gently at first, not as a hard ultimatum. Just raise “I saw this memo and I understand the reasoning, but yknow I don’t really have meetings to attend, it’ll be a big commuting cost, and I have found I am super productive remotely. Could we discuss keeping my position remote in the new year?”

      Start there. Even if you think it’s ultimately a conversation with grandboss, this might help you frame how to approach that conversation and how likely it is you’ll have any success. It’s a toe in the water, if you will. Then you might have more information to move forward with.

      1. bookwyrm*

        That’s true, thank you. I rarely talk on the phone with them (only when they’re walking me through how to do something new) but I’ll see about reaching out.

    2. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I would definitely start the discussion now. It may help to call out that you had to move further away, and since you’ve clearly been so successful working 100% remote, you’d like to continue doing that. Maybe also with the understanding that you’ll go to the office X number of times a month if needed. Although if your boss is 100% remote, doesn’t seem like it’s actually needed.

  52. Brrrrr*

    I work in customer service for a manufacturing company and I’m looking for advice on how to document those little bits of information, you could call them institutional knowledge, that we need to draw on only occasionally and so can’t necessarily remember off the top of our heads. These are mostly answers to customers technical questions, that can be dug up by asking our Engineers or sometimes by sifting through technical literature, but when I’ve asked and had a question answered once – I want to document the response so I don’t have to ask or search for it again. I want to have an easily searchable system where we can document our standard responses as well as direct people to the applicable technical document, drawing, or other back-up information.

    I am wondering if something like Onenote would be the answer, but I have not worked with that program before so am not sure what the learning curve would be like. What do others here think of using Onenote for this purpose? How quickly can it be learned? Or are there other systems you would suggest?

    1. cubone*

      I managed a general customer inbox and I tended to keep a running Word doc for myself of all these answers, just coping and pasting the little bits of disparate info, sometimes labelling them for easier searching.

      Over time it just naturally blossomed into a collection of standard responses for common inquiries and I then developed a very short 101 guide for other staff (eg. use this kind of greeting, you can copy and paste sections of different answers together, if this question is asked always CC X staff, go to Y person if you’re unsure). I had hoped to then put those templates into either Outlook templates (you can search “Outlook templates” for more info), or even a more formal system like Zendesk, Front, etc.

      I would start with just collecting those bits and occasionally cleaning it up to be more useful to you, and then see if you have the organizational buy-in and capacity to actually create a proper system. Mine happened naturally over time, but to be honest, no one but me was interested in standardizing responses at all and it wasn’t until I started showing how much time and effort it saved that people got on board (maybe people are on board, I just couldn’t tell from your post if this was a “side of desk” project or actually something you are encouraged to lead and implement in your role).

      1. Pippin*

        I do this too. I work in higher ed, which is very cyclical, so it may be a year until I get a similar question and then having to go search-usually using Office 365’s horrible search function. About 6 months ago I started cutting and pasting emails/FAQs into a Word doc. When I mentioned I was doing that, my boss was extremely pleased and asked me to figure out a way to make it accessible (and useful) to the rest of our team. It’s my Winter Break project (Winter break for students, not employees!)

      2. Brrrrr*

        Today it would be a side of desk project, mostly because I/we don’t have the people-power to prioritize it as an official project yet. I am supervisor for the area so would have authority to implement something, but with all the other projects on my and my team’s plate this would not take priority for quite some time. Collecting the bits in one location is a good start, as long as it can be easily searchable down the road.

    2. ThatGirl*

      During my brief stint in customer service, we used Ditto, which is a free program that lets you create short notes and then search for them for easy copying & pasting. It just requires that everyone point to the same path on a shared drive and the whole team can use it. It’s not a formal database, but can be good for frequently (or occasionally) asked questions.

    3. TechWriter*

      Sounds like you need a wiki or team workspace. Do you have a company intranet where it could be hosted?

      My company uses Confluence *extensively*. Possibly something like that would work for you (there’s a free version.)

    4. PX*

      Depends on how big your company is and how tech savvy people are, but honestly, something as simple as a Word document that gets updated constantly and (this is important) people know how to find will do the job.

      Otherwise I’ve seen Confluence or internal wikipedia type environments used for this. But personally, I like a good old, well signposted Word file.

      1. Brrrrr*

        Interesting, a few people have recommended a basic Word document, which honestly had not occurred to me as I’ve never thought of Word as being particularly searchable. Maybe I’m underthinking Word’s capability. It would fall more into line with the tech savvy-ness of those who would have to use it. Our team’s tech savvy-ness ranges quite a bit but definitely no one here is familiar with Confluence or setting up wikipedia type databases.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      OneNote is a great tool for this! The team I’m on in my job has a OneNote for institutional knowledge, and it is very helpful. Anyone with access can update the OneNote and it syncs automatically. The search function in OneNote is also very good, and it’s pretty easy to learn.

      1. Brrrrr*

        Thank you, the search function is what I was hoping would make learning OneNote worthwhile. Also having the ability to save information in different formats – such as an email chain, or even photos – rather than having to re-type or copy/paste little notes for everything.

    6. EN*

      OneNote should be very straightforward to learn! It’s pretty intuitive and I liked that a lot for a similar project. I will warn you that without my continued maintenance (I left the department) it grew pretty unwieldy and new hires now have trouble navigating it. That said, you can use key words to search the whole document, so if someone needed to know about teapot painting they could theoretically just search “painting” and find what they’re looking for.

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Any chance you can get a bare-bones Wiki set up? If your engineers are doing things in Github, you can probably get wiki capabilities for free, especially if it’s just a few people using it.

      One of the nice things about it is you can have complete revision history, so you know who made a change to the wiki, and when.

  53. Alexis Rosay*

    Nonprofit workers, do you attend fundraisers for your former employers?

    I recently left a nonprofit job where I worked for several years, and cared deeply about the mission. I left on good terms and genuinely like the people there. I was just invited to their fall fundraiser, and I realized that I don’t want to go, but I’m feeling quite bad about saying no…like I will be completely cutting ties with that community. (It’s not even about the money, I can make a small donation–attending just feels like an emotional burden.)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Nah, it’s not cutting ties and we are still in a pandemic after all. You’re definitely overthinking it. If you’d like to you can make a small donation and send a card (Sorry I couldn’t make the fundraiser, best of luck!) But it’s really not a big deal.

    2. The Spiegs*

      No and you shouldn’t feel weird about it at all. It was a job and you left. I don’t think many organizations would really expect you to show up and invest your personal time but they may include old employees in their mailing lists to see if they can be turned into donors. We did that at one of my organizations with employees who donated to certain campaigns while they were still employees and some of them continued to support those campaigns afterwards.

  54. It's a Soap Opera*

    Soap Opera time!

    Admittedly I this is more personal than business. I would like advice for both! I can’t explain the situation without going into a personal story. I also know how to phrase my situation without sounding greedy. Please know this is not about the gift or money. I am trying to raise my children to be a lady and a gentleman; I expect them to be polite; include children who have no one to play with, be respectful, help those in need etc.

    My son, age 8, has a friend Jimmy. Jimmy very sweet little boy. Now I do not know of Jimmy’s family’s financial situation. We noticed once or twice at mutual friend’s’ birthday parties them giving a like-new but used gift. At the same time the family takes exotic/ international vacations 2-3 times a year. It is what it is.

    Coincidentally my husband and Jimmy’s father are coworkers, same lateral position, different departments. For reference we all live in a middle class neighborhood. All adults in this story have always had steady jobs, even during the pandemic. The adults in the story are more personal acquaintances than friends.

    My son and Jimmy are good friends. Jimmy has been able to share special times with us. Jimmy also has a 9 1/2 year old brother. Jimmy’s mom is one of those if you invite 1 child, you’re inviting both. It can be a bit annoying as the boys are each developing their own interests but they have strong brotherly bond and we are thrilled that my son is sometimes included in the inside jokes. Apparently Jimmy loves coming to our house…. ie it is rarely reciprocated that we are invited to theirs. Whenever Jimmy comes to our house he always asks if I can make my famous brownies.

    Side story – My son had a bday party over the summer and invited Jimmy and brother. Jimmy and brother got son a gift card for 1 ice cream cone at a local ice cream store. I am saying this in my story so you can see that gifts in our area/ this friend group are not overboard, usually a $20+/- range.

    Recently son and Jimmy were talking about a movie coming out in a few weeks time. The movie was PG rated, something the parent’s would have been ok with Jimmy seeing. Jimmy’s birthday was a few weeks ago. We try to give fun and sentimental gifts. We talked about. Son asked me for help to make Jimmy some brownies; we invited Jimmy (most likely brother would just show up when dropped off, again it’s fine, we expect it now) to come see said movie with us; and my son made a homemade superhero picture frame with Jimmy’s name on it where we would take a picture by the movie’s poster at the movie theater. My son worked hard making the brownies and the picture frame. The cost of the IMAX movie ticket would be about what we spend as gifts at other birthday parties. We included a note that we would talk to Jimmy’s mom and make arrangements for the movie or another movie (incase Jimmy’s family had plans to see the Movie). Jimmy LOVED it; he was so excited.

    Fast forward a few days (this week) and the mom called me screaming that we didn’t include brother in the gift and (I quote) what kind of gift is that – a movie ticket to something he would see at some point, some paint & stickers slapped on a cheap picture frame, brownies that he gets everytime he comes over. I am so flabbergasted I had no idea what to say.

    Apparently Jimmy’s Father is mortified by conversation between me and Jimmy’s mom, but father is siding with his wife. My husband told me that while their jobs don’t interact much, but it seems to have made an awkward elephant in the room situation at work.

    My need for advice is two fold from both sides –

    Personally: I realize our family has different views from Jimmy’s family. How do I fix this? Was this a bad gift? I feel like maybe I was out of touch with what a “cool” gift is. Not knowing their financial situation, did I overdue it or cheap out? I’m ok with the mom being distant to me. I just don’t want to do anything to hurt son and Jimmy’s friendship.

    Professionally: How should my husband handle this at work. I mean let it blow over and assume Jimmy’s mom had a bad day? I assume the Dads will be fine in a few days and look back and laugh but my husband said there’s this weirdness between them as coworkers. Apparently others in the office noticed that the once friendly coffee buddies haven’t been hanging out. While this is trivial at work, is there something you (AAM readers) think my husband should do

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      On the personal front: I think you’re ok. Your gift is on the same level that they gave your son for his birthday so I wouldn’t think any more of it (you could say the same thing about the gift card they got your son for his birthday that Jimmy’s mom said about your movie ticket so…). You may not have anything to worry about regarding your son and Jimmy’s friendship but if you are concerned, just ask your son about it. “Hey, have you and Jimmy talked about when you’d like to see that movie yet?” or “You haven’t talked about Jimmy lately. Is everything ok?” If it’s important to you to get on good footing with his mother, then maybe ask her if she could give you some ideas on what to get Jimmy next time (or as a replacement gift) so you can avoid this mistake again and hopefully her answers (if she responds) are reasonable.

      On the professional front: Just let it blow over. If one of the coworkers says something, then your husband could say something about how it’s to do with their sons’ friendships and nothing to do with work. Maybe something like “There was a misunderstanding between our families last weekend and it isn’t work-related. Hey, do you have that TPS report yet?”

      1. WellRed*

        I would say the gift is above what they gave her son which makes the mother’s reaction all the more egregious.

    2. fueled by coffee*

      Personal: Jimmy’s mother is behaving rudely. You gave a birthday gift to Jimmy (whose birthday it was), it’s not your responsibility to also provide a gift to Jimmy’s brother for his “unbirthday” (cue Alice in Wonderland music). Even if you *hadn’t* given Jimmy a gift, it’s NEVER acceptable to criticize a gift you received from someone else; the parents’ finances are irrelevant. From now on, give Jimmy a gift card for his birthday every year and don’t put any more effort into the gifts.

      Professional: I would just let your husband ignore this. If Jimmy’s father is a reasonable person, he’s probably just embarrassed that the mom called you to berate you. If the father does bring it up at work for some reason (or I should say, for any reason other than to apologize), I would just have your husband redirect “Let’s just focus on work at work.”

    3. Alex*

      The gift was lovely. Jimmy’s mom is being extremely rude. But I think the best thing to do is just file it in your mind that Jimmy’s mom is rude, and to continue treating Jimmy and brother with kindness (which they may see little of at home, apparently).

      Jimmy’s father wasn’t the rude one, and so I think your husband should make an effort to be friendly to show that there are no hard feelings. Jimmy’s father is probably uncomfortable and embarrassed and your husband can show that he isn’t going to let Jimmy’s father’s wife rude behavior sour a work relationship.

      I’ll say that my perspective comes from a place of being the kid with the Poorly Behaved Mom who was often relying on my friends’ parents to be kind to me and give me a break from my own dysfunctional home…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Hubby can just let it be known to the other dad that it does not impact their relationship at all.

        Maybe the wife is pressuring Other Dad to ignore your husband or whatever. This will wear off in time as wife will probably move on to another crisis with another person.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      Personally: there’s nothing that is your responsibility to fix and you did nothing wrong. That was a great gift for a kid! I’d personally keep the mom at arms’ length and keep an eye on the situation though, out of concern for Jimmy.

      Professionally: yes, he should let it blow over.

    5. RagingADHD*

      This was a lovely, personal gift that made Jimmy happy, and Jimmy’s mom is acting like an entitled piece of trash.

      Ignore Jimmy’s mom. Have your son tell Jimmy you’re happy to take him if he has permission to go. Encourage your son not to say anything bad about mom to Jimmy, ever. And try not to badmouth the mom to your son, either, just express that you are confused and disappointed because you thought it was a lovely gift.

      The dads should pretend this never happened. Your husband may need to re-initiate friendly overtures to make Jimmy’s dad feel at ease, because the mortification is the most likely problem. If Jimmy’s dad wants to talk about it, that’s fine but your husband should forget it as soon as possible.

    6. pancakes*

      It wasn’t a bad gift just because this woman had a weird meltdown about it. Her reaction was strangely outsized and very rude. Their financial situation and your financial situation are beside the point. There is no particular tax bracket her family could be in where screaming at someone over a child’s gift would be sensible or polite.

      I am wondering where you are picking up the gossip that her husband and your husband are having a hard time getting along now. You mention that your husband said there’s some weirdness between them, which makes sense in context (as does your feeling that it should blow over soon!), but you also say “others in the office noticed,” which makes me think this is an unusually stifling environment.

        1. pancakes*

          Hopefully it will blow over soon, and any busybodies monitoring their work relationship will find something else to be busybodies about.

    7. Owler*

      I think the gift was lovely, but now you know to just mimic the gift they give. Sounds like a coupon for one ice cream cone in the future should be the Official Gift for this family. Your son can personalize a gift as he so kindly did for a non-official gift giving.

  55. LogoNogo*

    Did I go too far during a meeting? My new coworker “Kate” pushed very hard to get promoted to be our department manager just because she was a manager at her old job (that had nothing to do it’s our field or company) and feels “out of place” taking orders. Our company is small and we have a team dynamic of SMEs collaborating to the end goal. It’s worked great, we don’t really give orders. The owner promoted her to a management role after four months of her throwing everyone under the bus for nonexistent errors. As a team we’re not fond of Kate, and our younger staff are kind of afraid of her. We had a meeting yesterday, during an incredibly busy day that Kate called where Kate spent 30 of the 45 minutes we could squeeze in telling us she didn’t like the logo the businesses owner let her son design five years ago before we even worked there and if we didn’t notice the logo was ugly how could she trust us to do our jobs. When she finally stopped to breathe I said “well, none of us designed the logo and Owner thought their son did a great job five years ago, so I’m glad it took 1/2 an hour to clear that up. I suggest we give everybody the remaining 15 minutes to get back to (big issue).”

    I got a few high fives for that but a few people told me I went too far and now Kate’s put a target on my back to get rid of me. Was that out of line? Kate wasting our time over nothing for a power move during a high stress issue that needed immediate attention is terrible management.