open thread – January 21-22, 2022

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.

{ 1,126 comments… read them below }

  1. Looking to Fly*

    Hi all, I am in a somewhat transitionary period. I have worked in a niche position that I find really interesting in the broader education field. I’ve been at my current job seven years, and while I love the subject matter, our department is not growing along with the number of those we support. This means that I am spending more and more of my time doing uninteresting but urgent tasks and less time doing the visionary and strategic work that I enjoy and am paid for. I’ve brought this issue up to managers over the years and I think I finally realized this just won’t change. So now, I would like to become an independent consultant in my field. From the bit of research I’ve done, there are not many of these types of consultants and there is a demand.

    I was hoping to get some experience in the next year before I venture out but I’m hitting a bit of a snag with my current job. I had all these articles that I was planning on submitting to publications about my niche topic (because it’s a hot topic at the moment and people are interested) and my employer is saying that anything I publish needs to go through a long internal approval process with edits made by my org. This was disappointing but I decided to start writing about another education topic that does not relate to my job, and then my manager said that I was not allowed to publish anything that related to education, even if it had nothing to do with our work, without going through this approval process. I’m kind of crestfallen.

    What other things can I do to build my brand or get experience without jeopardizing my job? I really don’t want to rush into consulting, I want my ducks in a row so I want my current job for at least the next year, and would even want them as a client so I don’t want to burn bridges.

    1. 'nother prof*

      Are you sure that you *have* to go through this process? Just because your boss wants you to doesn’t mean that there is an objective requirement, and what s/he is asking for sounds a bit much, especially in academia.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Agreed. Check with your department head or associate dean or dean…Up one level from your boss.

        Or see if there’s a staff ombuds. They will know who can tell you if this is legit.

        It’s academia, kind of bonkers that you’re getting road blocks to publication. Do you need to do an IRB? that makes more sense than putting it through a deparmental sausage machine. Or is it proprietary and/or confidential subject matter? Really, your boss’s reluctance is mystifying. Especially since he changed up the hoops you have to go through, yes?

    2. Looking to Fly*

      To clarify, I don’t work in academia or a school. I work at an organization that is in the education field though so it’s not super common for my colleagues to write articles, publications.

      1. 'nother prof*

        If it’s uncommon for people to write/publish, then it’s odd that they have some big involved process for the small number of people who do. I don’t know, this whole thing just sounds like over-stepping on their part. Organizations with that sort of requirement make it clear to employees (well in advance) that taking the job will involve limitations on their use of their own free time and expertise. (Certain U.S. government employees – like in the CIA – have this kind of requirement due to national security concerns. The restrictions are part and parcel of the job and get explained as such during the hiring process.)

        1. Looking to Fly*

          It definitely feels like overstepping to me. I was really looking forward to doing more work in my expertise outside of my immediate job and now I feel really limited.

      2. Fly little birdy*

        what this probably means is, they are worried about whether anything you say will come back on them in a negative way.

        Since most other people at your level don’t do this, they are just worried about reputational risk.
        What avenue are you writing for? Are we talking an academic, peer reviewed journal article? Trade magazine?
        Or just a high profile blog within that industry?

        If you can find a way to do so that doesn’t directly leverage your relationship with the company, you could probably do this without permission without a lot of pushback.

    3. AVP*

      That seems like they’re overstepping, but maybe a workaround would be to make it a twitter and tweet-thread your thoughts instead of publishing them as essays? It’s less satisfying but if your niche is on social media there’s an opportunity to get involved there and build connections without technically “publishing” in a way that trip up the approval process.

    4. Artemesia*

      I know literally dozens of people who have published as academics and others who have published though staffing education institutions and none of the has to go through such a process. If you are writing based on projects you are doing in the workplace — maybe but it is not reasonable on things that don’t specifically use proprietary data or information. I’d be exploring this further. If anyone else in your organization has published talk to them about it.

      And this is a great reason to look for a job elsewhere.

    5. V. Anon*

      I would start the process with the articles that you have written. If you don’t want to burn a bridge/need to work here another year/might want them as a client, this looks like the only way forward that doesn’t step on any toes. I would also do some internal networking with the people who will be approving/editing your work. If you can get people (not necessarily your boss) to partner with you, maybe you can speed up the process and even benefit from it.

      As for other brand-building, does your industry/niche do any conferences? Are there opportunities to speak on panels? Again, this is going to have to go through your current employer for approval (sounds like they have a pretty ironclad PR policy), but the best thing to do now is start.

      1. MsM*

        See, I can’t tell if they actually *do* have an ironclad PR policy, or if manager is completely pulling this out of his rear and communications doesn’t care at all. Or maybe manager (intentionally or not) explained things in such a way that comms thinks they need to get involved when that’s actually not the case.

        Basically, what I’m saying is, might be a good idea to try and talk to them directly rather than just take manager’s word for it. Worst they can do is affirm that everything has to go through them and/or approved channels, and OP can decide whether that’s worth it or not.

        1. Looking to Fly*

          I have the same feelings, not sure if it’s a manager being controlling thing or an actual policy. But I guess if it’s something my manager feels strongly about it could have the same consequences.

        2. No name this time*

          Check the employee handbook to see if there is anything related to publishing. Stamdard handbook practice usually will include wordig dealing with ownership of your work product and may even have info on outside publication. When you were hired, you likely signed something that said your read and understand the handbook and will abide by its rules. If you wrote any of yur artcle on company time or on their computer, they probably have a case to control what you do with it.

      2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Yeah, I think this is what I would do. Reach out in a friendly way to the people who would have to approve it, and find out (a) what the steps are, and (b) (if/when tactful to ask & if they know,) what the rationale is for the various steps or limitations.

        The tone would be like hi, I’ve been told we’d be partnering on this, is that right? how can it work best? (Optional follow-up for casually eliciting reasoning) Oh, is that because X?

        If they’re reasonable people & not too ludicrously overworked, that kind of approach has a good chance of getting you off to a good start with them, in case you do pursue it. And what you get back might give you a sense of the degree of “oh actually I see why they want this” vs bullshit :-)

        It’s also conceivable to me that when you speak to the approval people & get into details, they’ll be like “oh no, we only have to approve things of type Y. Yours counts as type Z, go right ahead”. I mean I wouldn’t go in expecting that, but it could be.

        Basically I would want to, as far as possible, understand the rules & reasons the same as the approval people do. Then I could look for the best way to work with them – or decide (with more certainty) that it wasn’t worth the bother.

      1. Looking to Fly*

        It seems to depend on how busy they are. It’s the department that does all of our PR so my stuff is not really high priority for them.

    6. WellRed*

      I think your company is overstepping so that’s your first step. Also, present yourself as a SME to those same pubs and any other Avenue you can to get your name out there. I’m a reporter for a niche publication and I have a go to list of experts to call on.

      1. Looking to Fly*

        That’s what I was trying to do, but they are sort of making me feel like I don’t have their blessing to do this. Should I just reach out the publications and ask to be put on the source list, and then act like they found me on their own?

        1. Circe*

          Yes! Speaking as a PR person, they likely want to make sure whatever you write reflects well on the organization as a whole.

          I would recommend reaching out to pubs to get on their source list, then flag for your PR firm nonchalantly if a reporter asks to interview you. “Oh btw, X at X magazine wants me to share a few thoughts on X topic. It’ll probably be published in the next few weeks so I wanted to make sure it was on your radar.”

          This way you’re not asking for permission AND you’re establishing yourself as a high-level SME they either need to get behind or get out of the way.

          This tactic may ruffle some feathers, but ultimately you need to do what’s best for your reputation longterm.

          1. V. Anon*

            This would be a firing offense where I work. I wouldn’t casually do this without being very certain of the real, official policy first. Yes, this might be one manager over-reacting, but if it’s set in stone, this will come back to bite the OP.

    7. Lina*

      We have to do this at my organization. (any feds out there have a terrible shiver go down their backs when I say “clearance”?). It can take months or even years sometimes, depending on the complexity of the article and topic, the urgency of the publication, and how many people have to agree to it. Three federal agencies as co-authors? a year apiece. A tweet sharing a headline about something published in a journal? planned ahead by a month or two.

      A way I have seen work with this – not where I am, but at other organizations – is to publish without your organizational affiliation. So instead of “Jane Doe, degree X, affiliated with Y educational organization, contact at work email address” you list yourself as “Jane A. Doe, degree X, contact at personal email”. You lose some credibility and audience that way, but it doesn’t tie what you publish back to your organization.

      1. Looking to Fly*

        This is actually what I had suggested to my boss and he still said no. It seems like I’m not approved to do any writing that doesn’t directly benefit the company.

        1. pancakes*

          Are you sure the issue here is direct vs. indirect benefit to the company rather than the company wanting to have full control over and ownership of its own messaging? It seems more like the latter to me. It also seems like you haven’t consulted the company’s written policies, which seem like a key part of understanding why it operates this way.

        2. JSPA*

          I strongly doubt they have a legal leg to stand on, if you’re doing it on your own time, and in a way that can’t be connected to them. Chattel Slavery = no longer legal.

      2. No name this time*

        I read that the creator/writer for “The Americans” series had to get the scripts cleared because he was actively engaged in counterintelligence activities when he worked for the CIA. He had signed the standard exit agreement when he left the agency that said any writing he produced which dealt with his former work and related subjects had to undergo prior review. The series’ timeline, set thirty years in the past and based on numerous situations and events that were already made public eased the review process but there were some details that still had to be changed.

    8. JSPA*

      If the issue is not wanting the opinions connected to the department / institution, how about publishing under a pseudonym?

      You can even state that it’s a pseudonym for reasons of free speech due to institutional editing requirements. When you job search, you can add as a bullet point, multiple articles published under the byline, “seeking to soar.”

      You have plausible deniability until you are ready to move on.

    9. Jim*

      When your employer says something needs to be the case it may be helpful to ask the reason, so then you know whether their reasoning is based on procedures, law, best practice, flat earth theory etc and you can then counter it based on that reasoning. If someone says something can’t happen and you ask other people for advice based just on that, then it’s similar to what HR would ask in the first instance ‘what did you do to try and resolve the situation’

  2. mcl*

    Greetings, AAM Community! This question is both for people who have transitioned from working at a large academic or non-profit institution to a smaller corporate environment; as well as for people whose companies recently underwent an acquisition process.

    I am going to apply for a position in the corporate world, and I have worked at a large state university for most of my career (2009-present). I have a contact at the company where I am applying, and they let me know that the company, which is less than 200 employees but a locally well-known and admired place, has been acquired within the last 6 months by a large corporation based in another state.

    I figure that an application isn’t a commitment so it’s not going to hurt me to apply, but I don’t really have a good grasp of corporate dynamics (academia is a peculiar and particular place, I gather from my corporate-job-having partner!). I’d like to ask a lot of questions if I get to the interview stage. Particularly, I’m trying to suss out whether the acquisition is creating any big changes (welcome or unwelcome) in the corporate strategic plan and culture, and any other questions that might be helpful when moving from a large academic institution to a much smaller (but hopefully not too small) corporate environment. Any research you think I should do, beyond the LinkedIn/Glassdoor route? This would be a big change for me (and I actually do like my current job, I’m just ready for a change, so I’m in the fortunate position to be choosy).

    The other question is maybe getting ahead of myself. Assuming if this moves fast (my contact indicated it would likely be a pretty fast process), if I accepted an offer, my preference would be to give about 4 weeks’ notice at my current job. A big project would be wrapping up in early March and I would very much prefer to get it to the finish line. Is that an unreasonable ask? Ideally I’d want like, 5 weeks, so I could have a week off in between, but I feel like that’s pushing it even more.

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

    1. TechGirlSupervisor*

      This really comes down to corporate policies and how the new larger company is planning to treat the smaller company. I’ve been through several acquisitions/mergers/replacement of the entire executive board over the last 15 years and I would say that for an individual contributor the day-day is unlikely to change. What can change is how the support (say IT support or HR support) is done. Are they going to keep local support or move it all to a remote location? Are they going to consolidate all the benefit plans into a single company one, or will each site/business unit have it’s own?

      Another potential impact is that they will probably do a much more thorough review of the work the smaller company is currently doing and determine where that fits within the larger one. Functional areas of the smaller company could be further sold or shutdown completely.

      With the acquisition not being complete, you might not be able to get the answers to those questions until it is (and everything is always subject to change).

      1. mcl*

        The acquisition has concluded, but it is really recent (last quarter of 2021). Thank you so much for bringing up questions about benefits and support, I will add those to my list.

        1. Mimi*

          You can ask about this. Depending on how their process goes, there may not be answers, but a question like, “I see that LittleCo was acquired by BigCo last year? How is that changing the day-to-day work of this team? Have there been explicit statements that BigCo will be retaining this business unit [or whatever is relevant]?” would be perfectly reasonable.

          If you have a chance to talk with would-be peers, you can ask things like, “How do you feel about the BigCo acquisition?” “Are you confident that your job is stable?”

          And ask your contact! They told you about the acquisition, so it should be fine to ask for more details about their perspective on it. They may not know about your specific team, but they’re likely to know about the sorts of things TechGirl mentioned.

      2. Dino*

        Our merger caused a headquarters move to a different state, which meant we lost a ton of institutional knowledge when people didn’t want to relocate. They moved to contract roles for HR which has been a shitshow for onboarding, getting accommodations, etc. They also lost their payroll people and we had issues for months with that. Definitely follow TechGirlSupervisor’s advice to ask about those aspects.

    2. hamsterpants*

      Good luck on the switch. My partner and I each made a similar switch over the past five years.

      High-level, I’ve found that corporate culture is generally much more variable and also changes much more rapidly than academic culture. You can do lots of research and ask lots of questions but at the end of the day, you need to expect more uncertainty when it comes to the future and even the present. Corporate vision is suuuuuuuper distinct from company actuality. People stay in academic jobs for decades and the culture can be very slow to change, for better or for worse. That’s simply not typical for a corporate environment.

      You didn’t ask this, but I find that the corporate job search process to be much more sparse — or at least fast — than the academic one. No 10-page CVs. No multi-page “objective” statements. They want employees who will help them make money, not your whole life story.

      1. mcl*

        Thanks! I am definitely taking a weedwhacker to my CV this weekend and making it into a resume. I am more of a program manager, but after working in academia for almost 13 years I need to really focus it lest my life story be listed!

        It is interesting about culture. My spouse works at a pretty big corporation that has a very “yay, we’re giving you lots of amenities and cool decor to disguise that you’re going to working your ass off but at least you’re going to get a good paycheck” culture, and my job is a “you have a steady 9-5 that’s not terribly demanding but you’re also not going to get any amenities, also pay raises are not really more than COLA.” I do notice that there are a lot of comments on glass door about the corporate CEO, who seems to either be well-liked or really not-well-liked, not much middle ground there. It may come down to his management style.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Unfortunately it’s pretty much impossible to give feedback on “how will an acquisition impact the company”. I work for a large US company that’s been acquired twice. The first time the dramatic changes didn’t come into play until several years down the road. The second time a lot of things changed quickly, but they were “good” in the sense of the department growing instead of shrinking. You can try to do research or at least ask questions about how the larger company has handled acquisitions in the past. You can also try to suss out how much duplicate departments there are between the local org and acquiring org.

      For timeline, you’re probably overestimating how quickly things will move. It’s 1/21 and you haven’t applied yet. Figure at least a week until a phone screen, another week or so for next rounds (if they move quickly), so very optimistically extending an offer by mid-Feb. Additional time to clear background checks and you’re in March anyway.

      1. mcl*

        Thanks for the reassurance on the timeline. I was looking at some Glassdoor feedback about interviews, and it looks like they move fast – like from application to offer in two weeks. Even when we’re moving fast, my university’s hiring process is comparatively glacial. :)

    4. Snow Globe*

      A company I worked for for many years was acquired in 2019; I left in 2021, largely due the changes in corporate culture and how that impacted my job satisfaction. I can guarantee you that there will be changes, but it is likely that the people in the acquired company don’t fully know what changes to expect. The question I’d want to know is whether the department that you are applying to has an equivalent department in the other company—will they be merging the two departments? That could mean changes to a lot of processes and management. If there is no equivalent department in the acquiring company, how secure is this department going forward?

    5. Hlao-roo*

      One thing to look into is potential overlap of teams/roles between the local place and the new parent company. If you’re interested in joining the green widget-making team at the local company and the parent company also has a green widget-making team in another state, then you’ll want to ask whether the company plans on keeping both teams or consolidating into one.

      It’s also OK to ask during an interview about (1) current company culture and (2) if they foresee any changes to the culture because of the acquisition. But, as others have mentioned, corporate culture can change relatively quickly and they may not be able to forecast HOW it will change.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        And to answer the second part of your question, I just accepted a job offer this week and my start date is in early March. They are OK waiting so long because (1) I need to relocate and that takes time and (2) the job market is good for employees in my industry right now, so it’s better for them to wait for me than to start the search process all over again. Things might be different in your industry, but you can always ask once you have an offer and see how they respond.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      See if you can find out what Big Co has done when it acquired previous companies. This could look like following a sequence of news articles. For ex. June 2015 Big Co acquired Little Co X. Fast forward, Nov 2018 you find an article in a local paper saying that Little X is having massive lay offs. If the comments are turned on, read the comment section under the article. See what you can glean and how comfortable you are after digesting this new information.

      My husband worked for a Little Fish that got swallowed up by a Big Fish. Things seemed reasonably friendly given the circumstances. My husband’s boss was able to cue my husband that since their branch was small- it did not generate huge revenue, it would be awhile before Big Fish started making changes. Big Fish would be interested in the branches that were making serious money.
      So life went on for a couple years. In that time, Employees at Little Fish noticed that Big Fish required 24/7 availability and a host of other huge changes. My husband left the company in the middle of all this because of illness. From the little I have heard things got dicey after a few years. Managers were fired, etc.

      BECAUSE Little Fish was not a big, big money maker eventually Big Fish cut it lose and sold it to another company. I think things calmed down a bit after that. My point is that this story spanned out over YEARS. All total in this few paragraphs – it was about 5-10 years. Lotsa drama and upheaval.

      I saw a similar thing in the retail chain I worked for. My store was tiny. So the Big Co was not that interested right away. My place coasted along doing as it had done. After a few years Big Co started going after the smaller stores like mine. Life got miserable and I got out.

      Managers seem to take a big hit in the acquisitions. Not always and not every manager. If you really like your boss this can be unsettling to lose that good boss.
      The gossip and grapevine stuff can create a bunch of drama. So while the day-to-day remains the same, the worry levels can go through the roof. This one here stands as good reason to take a pass. It will not give you an idea of normal workplaces because everyone is on edge all the time.

      The people at the smaller company really don’t know what the future holds and they are just making their best guesses. My hubby was fortunate that his own boss had good insight and guessed correctly that it would be a while before the fit hit the shan. Note, my husband and boss really knew each other and were comfy talking candidly with each other.

      So some big picture questions:
      Do you want to work at this company to get your new direction in life launched and plan to move on after a while? Then this might be okay for you.
      Do you see other options? Sometimes we make bad decisions because we can’t find other options. Avoid this trap as best you can. If you see options then you will gain some confidence about the choice you do make.

      What does your partner think? They are with you so they see a bunch of factors that we are not aware of here.
      If your partner is saying “noooooo!” in the same tone of voice someone would say, “FIRE! RUN!” then pay attention to that.

      Why did the last person leave the job? How many others have left? Are Big Wigs leaving? Some of this stuff is information people let slip out and they do not even realize the implications of what they just said.

      As a counterpoint- one could say that I am too cautious, I could take more risk than I do. But my knee-jerk here is that as a new-to-you arena picking places that are stable would probably give you a better launch in your new direction than picking a place that is in flux. Again, I tend to be too cautious.

      1. MCL*

        Hi, thanks for your thoughts, I really appreciate your time. Luckily for me, I am relatively satisfied in my current job and while I’m looking for a change I feel like I’m in a really strong position to say no! I am a very conservative risk-taker (see my nearly 13 year tenure at a stable academic job), but I have been feeling like I’m ready for a change. I totally understand what you’re saying, though!

  3. Freelance Blues*

    I am a freelancer in an industry that prefers contracts to be based on an hourly system. So an organization will hire me for, say, 40 hours, to provide certain services or deliverables. Some of them even expect a time sheet with my invoice. My main issue is that I find that the *management* of certain tasks needs to go out the window if I’m limited to 40 hours – I can deliver a product in that time, but something like “scheduling a series of calls” is a huge time suck that I can’t adequately track to be reimbursed for. Does anyone have a system for this? I mainly try to get these things cut from the scope of work if the hours are tight. Otherwise, I’m always working for free on these “nice to haves” that aren’t really appreciated.

    1. Massive Dynamic*

      Never work for free!! You absolutely can bill your time for scheduling meeting and sitting in meetings to your clients. And any other admin tasks you do for your specific clients. I do it all the time, and it usually gets the clients focused on using my time wisely if they want me to complete deliverables on time.

      I recommend billing in 15-min increments and giving all of your clients itemized invoices.

      1. Freelance Blues**

        Yeah, I think that’s my problem, is it’s probably not even 15 minutes to send an email, or to later read that email and respond with a different time, and then a third day follow up when I didn’t get a response, etc etc – but the mental load of tasks of this type add up and make this project more than the 40 hours they had in mind, when they’re seeing one hour of the meeting itself. I do try to push my rates higher to account for this, but if it’s a significant chunk of the project overall I’m struggling to capture it on my proposals/invoices.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You say the industry “prefers” hourly billing. But can you add a flat administration fee to your invoices going forward on new contracts?

      Or maybe raise your rates to compensate for this time that you’re spending on the client but can’t otherwise bill.

    3. RagingADHD*

      The time a project takes means the time all the work on the project takes. It all counts. So if it’s 40 hours of creative/product work, and 10 hours of management work, then that’s a 50 hour project.

      I’m not entirely clear from your question whether the client is unwilling to pay for all the time involved, or whether they have unrealistic expectations of how much time the work takes, or if you are just having trouble tracking your management time.

      For logging, I literally jot down my start and finish times on a work session on paper, and then enter it into the time/project management system at the end of the day, with a brief description of what I did. “Correspondence with project manager, correspondence with stakeholders, conference with subject matter expert, conference with management team” or whatever.

      If the client wants you to do a 50 hour project in 40 hours, I don’t know. Are others in your field able to do the project work quicker? Can someone else on the team handle the management work? Or just keep leaving it off. If the series of calls, for example, isn’t appreciated there’s certainly no reason to do them at all, much less do them for free.

      It sounds like you might need to have more discussions with the client about their scope of work and what they expect to be included.

    4. I edit everything*

      Either raise your rates to account for that time (all freelancing has stuff we have to do that can’t be billed, and this is how that’s “paid for”), or tell your clients that you cannot complete the work in the number of hours they’re proposing, and add in the hours you’ll spend on phone calls and other admin, anything you wouldn’t be doing if you didn’t have that contract with them.

      You can also suggest a per-project rate, if your clients are willing, and make sure it calculates out to an acceptable hourly rate for *all the hours*.

    5. anonforanevening*

      I use an online calendar that I can request other people schedule their calls with me on – saves a TON of time and scheduling angst. It does mean your schedule gets a bit random, but you can use these apps to schedule when you are and aren’t available, and sync them to your regular work calendar to make sure meetings that you add are reflected in the online app. It really cuts down on the back and forth of scheduling.

      The other thing you can do is to put the admin time you’ll need for your contract into the project scope. If you know 10 hours of meetings takes 1 hour of scheduling, tell your client that you need 11 hours to get that work done in. I do this with some of my work – eg. several phone calls and then a report based on the calls. I bill for the time it takes to do the report, the calls and the scheduling. So a report that takes an hour to write might take 4 hours of work time, in total.

      1. Freelance Blues*

        I do suspect that, as you say, ten hours of meetings takes one hour of scheduling – maybe even more! When I first started I never would have figured it was that much, and my clients likely don’t either. If you got an invoice that included an hour for ‘scheduling meetings’ would you think that was weird?

        1. Another JD*

          Yes, a separate line item would look weird. Can you bill it as admin overhead or lump it in with the meeting, i.e. bill 1.1 hours for schedule and meet with X?

    6. Triumphant Fox*

      You can use a time tracking software/app. When I worked at an agency I literally logged every 10 minutes to bill to clients by the end of the day. I would keep track throughout the day manually, but now you can just click a timer to start and it’ll add up all that time you spend managing as well as creating. It’s very helpful if you need to invoice too. And if your clients expect timesheets, add the time accounting for your time and creating the timesheets to your timesheet as administrative time. If they want that level of detail, they can pay for it.

      1. Dana Whittaker*

        FunctionFox is one I have used. My current org started with On the Clock yesterday – will see how customizable it is.

        When I worked at the college, there was a loose admin asst working group. A previous speaker had given a time breakdown of all those administrative tasks that don’t necessarily get counted in workflows. I believe telephone calls (not conference calls or meeting, just run of the mill general calls) and emails were counted as 3 or 5 minutes a piece, with the feeling that shorter ones would be balanced by longer ones in the end.

        Might be worth trying for a week – maybe just with a quick hash mark system on a PostIt? – just to give yourself a baseline to start calculating from.

    7. Nesprin*

      Figure out your actual overhead. If project A will take 40 hrs + 10 hours of project management, you charge for 40 hours of work time+ 25-50% overhead to cover the non-billable time and time to find your next job.

  4. New Mom*

    I have a coworker Jordan who worked in our IT department, they had overlap work with pretty much everyone at the organization. Due to my role, Jordan worked with me on a lot of my projects and while super smart, they were pretty difficult and unpleasant to work with. I have one direct report, Molly, who is quite shy and soft-spoken and Jordan seemed to really dislike Molly. Jordan would talk over Molly, rush through complicated technical explanations and when Molly would try to stop them for a clarifying question Jordan would raise their voice and say, “Do not interrupt me”. Jordan would also raise their voice with Molly in 1:1 so we had to create a buffer so Molly did not have to meet alone with Jordan.

    I had to have a talk with Jordan about this, and it got slightly better. I was kind of shocked how rude Jordan was to Molly and I at our zoom meetings so I quietly asked a few work confidants if Jordan acted this way with them and it turns out it was really just myself and Molly. Well, Jordan quit suddenly so we have a few projects that are now in limbo. In Jordan’s last meeting with Molly they were the rudest they had ever been and said they had no answers for our questions and it was not their problem. While this is true when you leave some place, a guess, professional courtesy to be polite? Most people on our team just know Jordan as an IT-genius and that slightly irks me. Now that Jordan is gone, can I share among our larger team how Jordan treated Molly? Of course my boss knows, but I think it might be relevant for my other team members to know, but I also am not sure that it would just be gossip.

    If someone you worked with was mistreating others at work, would you want to know?

    1. ecnaseener*

      My first thought is ask Molly what she wants. I can see her going either way — maybe she’d like people to know the context in case Jordan was making her look bad, but maybe she doesn’t want to be seen as The Victim.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      but I think it might be relevant for my other team members to know

      Why would it be relevant? If there are genuine reasons beyond ‘it’s annoying to hear them praised’, then it wouldn’t be gossip.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      If you didn’t raise it while he worked there, why would you raise it now? I wouldn’t hide it if someone asks, or comments about how wonderful Jordan was, but I don’t see what would be gained by making some announcement or otherwise telling team members now that he is gone. I would, however, make sure HR knows about it in case he applies to return.

      1. Cold Fish*

        Seconding. Don’t bring it up but don’t hide the fact that he was abusive** to Molly and shouldn’t be rehired. Make sure anyone who might be in a position to rehire him know that it would not be in companies interest to rehire him, even if he is an IT whiz.

        **Yes, the behavior you described sounds more harassingly abusive than rude.

        1. JSPA*

          Ideally, by the time there’s a need for a buffer due to behavior that’s not distressing only to the recipient, but shockingly rude to others who witness the behavior, HR will have been given a head’s-up that a problem behavior is being addressed, so that any later outbreak comes in that context. It’s a bit awkward to start on that, after the fact.

          Why?

          On general principles, of allowing both people to have their say. Bad interaction can have two injured parties, neither of whom are on their best behavior, but only one of whom is obviously rude.

          In this case, more specifically: if Jordan indeed is NB, nonconforming, and/or identifies as “they” (as opposed to OP stylingh them “Jordan/they” to avoid stating a gender)…

          I hope OP got Jordan’s side of how the negative interaction developed.

          A Molly-type can be quiet; retiring; kind-to-most; polite-to-almost-all; and still misgender people. Or make clear their distaste for non-standard or non-binary gender identity and presentation. Or expose some other “ism” quietly, in ways that are shocking to the recipient, but not evident to anyone else.

          Which isn’t to say that the right response from someone in the Jordan seat is, “be loudly belittling and mocking of Molly’s basic intelligence.” But it can be darn hard to call out the sweet, inoffensive, would-not-say-boo-to-a-fly Molly’s of the world, and be believed. (Or to believe that one will be believed. Or to figure out how to bring it up without concurrently mentioning religion, ethno-cultural background, etc.) At that point, “I’ll live with it by reminding myself that Molly is an idiot about gender” could easily morph into a broader attitude of, “Molly is an idiot, full stop, and I don’t owe her the time of day.”

          In some places, this would actually (still, unfortunately) be a reasonable default supposition, I’m afraid! In other places, it would be so unlikely as to be complete and utter fan fiction.

          New Mom, if a reaction to gender essentialism might have been in play…it’s worth giving the situation some thought. “Right pronouns” are important, but if the default attitude is (or seems) gender-essentialist and gender binary, that’s still going to be grating, for someone who doesn’t buy into those things.

      2. New Mom*

        I guess I was afraid of it getting back to Jordan if I said anything to others on the team. Jordan seemed to show up quite differently with others so I worried that Jordan would get a “head’s up” and then get really confrontational with me. I really don’t do well with aggressive confrontation or being yelled at and that was what my worst-case scenario self played out in my head.

      3. Heffalump*

        There’s something to be said for saying, “Jordan was an asshole, and in hindsight, we should have held them accountable.” That would signal to everyone else that you’ll have their backs if there’s another Jordan in the future.

    4. Just Browsing*

      Ultimately, it’s not worth talking about Jordan with your colleagues. They left, so there’s not really anything constructive to come from that conversation; I think your suspicion of gossip is correct.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I would want to know while I was working with them, to watch out for them. I would probably want to know if I were leaving to go work with them somewhere else.

      I could care less if I still work there and they are gone. What’s the point?

    6. Generic Name*

      Jordan is an asshole, and gave you the gift of leaving. I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell people, “Jordan is a raging asshole!!!” but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to say nice things about him. If folks ask you directly if you liked working with Jordan, you don’t have to lie. If someone gushes about Jordan, feel free to say, “Actually, Molly and I both had significant problems working with him, but I’m glad you worked well with him.” Enjoy a Jordan-free workplace. :)

    7. anonforanevening*

      I’d make sure that Jordan’s manager and your manager knows, that’s for sure. Last thing you want is Jordan being rehired. And frankly, this SHOULD be reflected in his reference checks. Behaviour like that needs to have consequences.

      I wonder if both you and Molly are female, and the rest of your team is male. If so, I would call out that there was a pattern of rudeness and abusive treatment from Jordan to female employees.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. It might be worth it to try to get Jordan on a ‘do not rehire list’ at the workplace, but why would you gossip about him to co-workers now that he is gone, when you didn’t step up and fix that when he was there. I realize you may have done what you could, but I don’t see the usefulness of talking about it now except with management.

      2. New Mom*

        I went to my manager and Jordan’s manager when it was at it’s worst, but Jordan’s manager was this really chill, super hand’s off person who I suspect did nothing with the information.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Tell the people who can do something about it. HR, bosses and other relevant folks whose words have weight.

        As far as Molly is concerned, you really don’t need to say too much about her because this is HIS behavior not hers.
        As a good boss you can quietly tell Molly that you found his behavior unacceptable and you reported it. You do not need to expand on what was said about him. Also as a good boss, you can tell her that you will jump in sooner if you ever see that crap again.
        Remember, if you see a behavior three times then you have a pattern. You don’t need to doubt yourself, you can move to developing an action plan for that behavior. That action plan can be a single step, such as saying
        “no you cannot talk to Molly in that manner and from now on all requests for Molly’s work must come to me and I will assign it to her.” Or it can be a more complex action such as dragging in your boss and HR.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      If Jordan were still working there, I think it would be important to let not your coworkers, but Jordan’s manager, know what was going on. If one of my direct reports were being this rude and, frankly, abusive and unprofessional to a colleague lower in the hierarchy, I would have WORDS with them. It sounds like you spoke with Jordan yourself, but never brought it up with anyone who had the authority to actually deal with it when it only got “slightly” better–I think that was a mistake.

      Now that Jordan has moved on, I don’t think there’s any benefit to telling people about their behavior. At this point it’s just gossip. If someone is singing their praises and asks you if you miss them, well you can answer honestly: “They may have been good at IT, but they really mistreated Molly when they were here, so I’m actually glad that Molly now has a better work environment.”

        1. starsaphire*

          Is there someone in HR that you have a good working relationship with, or have dealt with in the past? Can you meet with them and just very calmly and matter-of-factly state that, on reflection, you feel that Jordan’s behavior toward you and Molly was inappropriate / verbally abusive / bordering on bullying, and that you’d appreciate that be noted in Jordan’s file just in case they apply for rehire?

          I have been in a similar position – a co-worker was being absolutely horrible to a same-level contractor. When he left, I met with my manager and said, “I think it important to point out that ‘Bob’ was bullying ‘Chris’ and I’d like to note that if Bob ever looks into coming back.”

          My manager was very kind and pointed out that Bob was ineligible for rehire, so I didn’t have to worry.

          Someone in HR might be able to put a quiet “Do Not Rehire” in Jordan’s personnel file, which may help you and Molly in the long run.

    9. Zennish*

      Nope. After they’re gone, there isn’t any reason to go into it except for the sake of commiseration and/or gossip. Ideally, the manager for Jordan should have been looped in at the time, and done some coaching about mutual respect and professional behavior among coworkers, which it sounds like you tried to do.

      Having said that, you’re under no obligation to be dishonest about your interactions with them, so if a conversation arose about how awesome Jordan was, I don’t think it would be out of bounds to just say something like “They were very good at X, but I did sometimes find it difficult to work with them on a personal level.”

      1. New Mom*

        Seeing all the comments, and my first inkling it definitely feels gossipy. I think I’m just caught up in the frustration that Jordan was so unprofessional and mean to Molly but is being praised publicly, a bit hard to swallow. But I will definitely speak up if there is a chance of rehire, but I truly doubt it. Jordan made it pretty clear at the end that they did not want to be at our employer anymore.

    10. Observer*

      Now that Jordan is gone, can I share among our larger team how Jordan treated Molly? Of course my boss knows, but I think it might be relevant for my other team members to know, but I also am not sure that it would just be gossip.

      Jordan sounds like a first class jerk. And if there was some talk of hiring him back, I would definitely speak up.

      But now? Why? What exactly do you expect to accomplish? Why is this information relevant? And why is it more relevant now that he’s gone than when he was actually on the job?

    11. anonymous73*

      The only way I would bring it up is if they were praising him as if he could do no wrong. Otherwise it’s just gossip. You didn’t mention it while he was working there, so there’s really no reason to mention it now.

    12. Down to the minute*

      One thing that it is really interesting here: Jordan can be either a man’s or a woman’s name, and the OP was careful to give Jordan they/them pronouns.

      Yet, seven commenters gave Jordan a gender on their own, and ALL SEVEN decided Jordan was a male. This is especially interesting because all we really know about Jordan is that they are an IT genius and were rude to Molly — descriptions that don’t in any way identify someone as male or female.

      1. FDS*

        It’s a fair assumption. Usually the rude and problematic people that are talked about on this site are male. I think this is why they defaulted to male.

        1. Down to the minute*

          That’s odd. I’ve definitely read about rude and awful behavior from women and men on here. I never thought it swung one way or the other.

          Regardless, it seems….odd….to assign someone a gender, instead of their preferred pronoun, based on, “Well, I just feel this sounds more like a man.”

          1. FDS*

            Not really, it’s not like we are going to know what they automatically identify as. I suppose we could go with singular they but that really hasn’t become ubiquitous enough yet. Looking at crime data and harassment statistics males are objectively worse so it’s fair for people especially women to default to male in these cases.

            1. Down to the minute*

              Studies have shown that women are more likely to fall for internet scams. So if someone wrote in about a co-worker getting snookered and it affecting their work, you’re saying it would be fair to assume they are female, no?

  5. ecnaseener*

    People who’ve worked a salaried NON-exempt office job, can you tell me what that’s like? I’m talking to a recruiter about a job in my current line of work, but non-exempt where my current job is exempt. The posting has a salary listed so I believe it’s salaried not hourly. FWIW, the nature of the work makes sense for exemption, so I assume they classified it as non-exempt voluntarily.

    I feel like I’ve mostly heard of salaried-non-exempt in jobs where lots of overtime is needed/expected. Does it ever correspond to something more like, you’ll work no more than 40 hours most weeks but there are occasional evening meetings that you get paid overtime for?

    In my current job I’m pretty much never working more than like 41 hours a week, and I like it that way.

    (I will of course ask the hiring manager about it if I get an interview, just wondering what the possibilities are.)

    1. Loulou*

      I’m in a salaried non-exempt job and I never work overtime. My job (librarian) definitely meets the requirements for exemption, but I’m certainly happy to be non-exempt. YMMV, but for my own work there really aren’t drawbacks.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I worked as a salaried/non-exempt employee for eight years and during that whole time did approximately three hours of overtime, total. At that employer, it was because the pay periods were 1st-15th and 16th-EOM, so that second pay period could be anywhere from 7 to 12 workdays, and they paid non-exempt staff as salaried so that our paychecks were (more or less) consistent in each pay period. If I had worked overtime or had unpaid time off, it would’ve been added or subtracted as appropriate to the pay period in which it was worked, but otherwise, I got a paycheck twice a month that was equivalent to 1/24th of my hourly wage times 40 hours time 52 weeks.

      When I left, the actual hours I had worked was settled against the hours I had been paid for, and in my case I had worked more than they had paid me for, so I got paid the difference along with my vacation payout on my last check. I assume if I had worked less, they’d have subtracted it from the vacation payout, and I dunno how it would’ve worked if I had worked less AND not had a vacation payout.

    3. Picard*

      We have a few position like that in my mostly professional services company. Those folks ONLY work 40 hours – OT is not permitted. If they DO work OT one day, they are supposed to leave early or com in late the next day to keep their hours to 40 for the week.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        For the positions I supervise that are Salaried Non-Exempt this is the policy. They are expected to work 40 hours and not work more than 40. We do not want any OT, because the job has been budgeted at 40 hours. I’m flexible with some time shifting (like working through lunch to leave early to pick up a dog from the groomers or whatever), but people have to stick to the 40 hours.

    4. Just Browsing*

      I expect it completely varies by industry. I work at a nonprofit and during our “busy season” I absolutely work more than 40 hours and do not receive overtime pay. During quieter months there may be a week or two where I actually work less than 40 hours.

      Mostly as a salaried employee, I’m trusted to manage my time and no one monitors it; I don’t clock in or out on a timesheet and simply go about my day.

      During an interview I think it’s reasonable to ask what the work schedule is and to ask about overtime.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you don’t receive overtime pay, then either you’re exempt or your employer is violating the law — this commenter is asking about salaried NON-exempt positions, salaried folks who are still overtime-eligible.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I worked a salaried non-exempt job, and I hated it.

      Does it ever correspond to something more like, you’ll work no more than 40 hours most weeks but there are occasional evening meetings that you get paid overtime for?

      Yes, it did for me. But that was part of what I hated about it. It meant I had an extra “job,” which was keeping track of my hours and making sure I didn’t work more than 40 (or less), and then asking for overtime and getting that approved if I had to work longer. Made me feel like I was not an adult (like having to ask in school as a child if you may go to the restroom during class).

      Some people may prefer it, but I lobbied hard with my boss to switch to exempt, and I was eventually able to get my position converted to exempt.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Thanks, that’s sort of what I worry about! Feels silly to see extra money as burdensome, but I do like the feeling of it not mattering whether I’m actually working at a given point in time as long as I’m available.

    6. This Old House*

      I’ve always been salaried non-exempt, and always at institutions that essentially never paid overtime, as far as I am aware. They typically expect that if you have to work late certain nights, you’re expected to work fewer hours another day that week.

      But all of these have been non-profit/public institutions, so it may be that for-profit companies have different expectations around overtime.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I should clarify – my work is not patient-facing or anything, I know medical staff hours are a whole other ballgame.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            For what it’s worth, the example I gave up above was also on the administrative side of things in a hospital :)

    7. Sunflower*

      I’m not sure if you’re asking specifically because the role is formally salaried, non-exempt vs a role that isn’t formally classified that way but you always work a FT schedule and you’re non-exempt.

      I only mentioned this because I wasn’t technically considered salaried, non-exempt at my last job (in BigLaw) but during all talks during hiring, comp was only discussed as an annual salary. Although we only talked in annual comp, my offer letter was worded like ‘your hourly rate is X hours with a 35 hour work week schedule, totaling X salary annually’. I would have needed very special exceptions to take unpaid time off(not use PTO) so it was essentially like my job was salaried. Some companies will do exempt vs non-exempt based on your title across the org- ex. all coordinators are non-exempt and Sr coordinators get bumped to exempt vs evaluating each role case by case.

      Long explanation over- I work in events so in BigLaw, I worked tons of OT. I was def expected to work OT and no one ever batted an eye at my timesheets at least. At my current company, even working in events still, our non-exempt employees are barely ever required to work OT except a few times a year and they will work to adjust your schedule for the week vs ask you working OT hours.

      I think it really depends on the kind of place you’re working and the role. An easy way to sus this out is how they discus comp with you and if OT is part of that. At BigLaw, OT was pushed a plus and part of my comp (like yes your salary is X but you have lots of opportunity for OT). If your salary is the main driving force discussion during comp then OT probably won’t be a huge thing.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I haven’t worked full time hourly before, so I don’t really have a point of comparison there — I didn’t enjoy part-time hourly and I do enjoy full-time exempt.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I had a couple of executive assistant positions that were described as salaried non-exempt. Basically what that worked out to was that we were paid an hourly rate that was our salary divided by 2080 hours. We could flex our hours during a pay period, but not between one pay period and another. If we didn’t work 40 hours in a week, it counted as holiday pay (10 paid holidays) or was taken out of our PTO bank. Really it was an hourly job with a guaranteed minimum number of hours.

      There was occasional overtime, but not on a regular basis. Only for special projects. It generally needed to be approved or under specific direction by a senior manager or department head. Working 41 hours every week for a prolonged period of time would not have been kosher. They would try to redistribute the workload to someone else who was less busy.

    9. Gracely*

      I got switched from salaried exempt to salaried non-exempt a few years ago (back when the salary levels were going to change per the govt, then ultimately didn’t change; our work switched us proactively, and just never switched us back).

      The only thing I hate about it is I can’t flex my hours over a month the way I used to; just over a single week. This sucks because we have months where ideally I’d work a few 10 hour days in the first week or two, then take whole or half days off at the end of the month. Also, we have to report our hours for each week, whereas when we were exempt, we only had to report how many hours of sick/PTO leave we used–and only if we used any.

      Other than that, there hasn’t really been any change to my job. I’m not asked to work overtime.

    10. Zennish*

      It’s harder than it used to be to justify an exempt position, and some organizations pulled back on those a few years ago so that only those with real supervisory duties that may require them to work outside of the 40 hour work week remained exempt. In my last job I was salaried non-exempt, and while on occasion it meant I was expected to fit 50 hours of work into a 40 hour week without going over, 90% of the time it just worked like a regular 9-5 position. It will depend a great deal on the culture of the employer and the field in general.

    11. I'm just here for the cats*

      Not in non exempt salaried position but its my understanding that you would still be paid for overtime. This is what I’ve found:

      “Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees can be paid hourly, salary, piece rate, commission, etc., as long as their weekly compensation equals at least minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime is paid for hours in excess of 40 in a workweek.

      Although the employer pays the salaried, non-exempt employee on a salary basis, it must still track and record actual time worked by this employee, and, if overtime is worked, it must calculate the regular hourly rate on which the overtime rate is based and pay for all overtime worked. ” https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/whatisthemeaningofsalaried,nonexemptemployee.aspx

      Keep in mind that the posting might list a salary but you would still be considered hourly, so just post what the yearly salary (or total earnings) is. Talk to the requiter and ask.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      Salary Exempt is somewhat rarer. My former company only did this for a select customer service positions because they had a “busy season” that lasted about 2-3 months where they often had to come in on weekends to keep up. During that time they were eligible for overtime pay after 40 hours in a workweek. The rest of the year they rarely worked any overtime.

    13. All Het Up About It*

      My one job like this, I actually ended up being more like an hourly employee. I still had to clock-in and out, and my paycheck was based on the actual hours worked. So my salary was just used to calculate my hourly rate. I was not expected to work overtime other than some rare special events, so the week to week expectations as far as hours worked was fine. But I HATED clocking-in and out. LOATHED it. It seems stupid to be bothered by it, but it really did feel like this extra task I had to stay on top of to make sure I was at the minimum of hours worked for the week, but wasn’t too far above either. I imagine each org handles this differently, so it’s really important to inquire about this during the interview process.

    14. AdequateArchaeologist*

      My husband has a position like the one you’re describing. During our busy season he usually works a minimum of 10hr of overtime per week (he is also an archaeologist, so this includes things like drive time to and from project area, day end data management, etc. So not totally unmanageable). But slow season he is struggling for 40 hrs. This is just how it is in our field though It’s kind of nice for us because he has a baseline he’s guaranteed to make, with a floating amount of extra OT money that we don’t count into our yearly budget (basically fun money/extra savings).

      But I would definitely ask the hiring manager and potentially others in a similar position what the expectation is. Especially if it doesn’t tend to be uniform across your field.

    15. DinosaurWrangler*

      I worked at a company that was bought by a larger company based in California. People with our job titles (information developer/technical writer) were previously salaried exempt became salaried non-exempt. This meant that we had to be paid time-and-a-half for overtime.
      Overtime was calculated differently for people in CA – it was per day. So if a CA employee worked 9 hours on a Monday and 7 hours on a Tuesday, the extra hour on Monday was paid at tine and a half. I don’t think missing hour on Tues wasn’t docked, because we were salaried (but I’m not in CA so don’t quote me).

      For people in other states, we got overtime pay(1.5X) only for time worked over 40 hours in a week. But this was worked time, not PTO or holiday. So if for example your M-F hours looked like this: Mon 8 hrs, Tues 8, Wed 12, Thurs 12, Fri holiday, it counted as 40 work hours for the week, no overtime. This was annoying for those times we had a deadline right before a holiday.

      My dept was fine with people taking an hour or two for Dr appointments & other personal stuff.

      We also had to get approval for overtime. So the advantage of the example above was you could put in extra hours (such as deadlines) and then leave early on another day in that week to total 40 hrs.

      However, in practice I think people unofficially “evened out” their weekday numbers and just wrote 8 hrs in every day on the time sheet, to avoid drawing attention to things like “I took my dog to the vet Tuesday morning so I worked extra Wed & Thurs to make up the time”. Probably not legal but the company acquisition was unwelcome and handled poorly, so the worker bees used stuff like that as their (mostly) ineffective means of protest.

      1. DinosaurWrangler*

        BTW we didn’t have to punch a time clock, and we weren’t electronically clocked in. We just manually filled in an online timesheet, which got forwarded to our department manager, who signed it electronically.

      2. Lanlan*

        > So if for example your M-F hours looked like this: Mon 8 hrs, Tues 8, Wed 12, Thurs 12, Fri holiday, it counted as 40 work hours for the week, no overtime. This was annoying for those times we had a deadline right before a holiday.

        Salaried or hourly, if they’re not paying you for your holiday because you worked overtime, Something Is Awry.

        1. DinosaurWrangler*

          They paid for the holiday, and they also paid for the extra 8 hours, but as straight time 1X). So you ended up with more $ than usual for the pay period, but not as much as you would have if those 8 hours were paid at 1.5X.
          A person’s rate was calculated based on their yearly salary, although before acquisition we were quoted $xyz a year (in aperson’s original offer letter) and after the acquisition the new offer letters from the acquiring company quoted an hourly rate computed from whatever the person’s pay was at the time of the acquisition.

    16. Mimi*

      It really varies. I was salaried-non-exempt for two years, and worked, like, three late nights and a few weekend days that whole time, plus a number of times where I stayed an hour or two to finish something. A friend at the same job (different team with more event work) worked so much overtime that she had a pay cut when she went to exempt, even though it was a ~10% raise in her base pay.

    17. CDM*

      We were salaried non-exempt at my last job at 37.5 hours/week, which meant that management expected us to be available at all times to work that extra 2.5 hours for no additional compensation, but we were never permitted to flex our time to be under 37.5 hours when we were slow or for appointments. We were absolutely never permitted to work over 40 hours and collect OT.

      Egregious example was the week I was scheduled to do training at our main office on two non-consecutive days in the week, a four-ish hour round trip drive on top of the regular work day. By the time I got home Thurs, I had clocked 36.75 hours for the week. I was not permitted to take Friday off, or even to work from home for the last 45 minutes, I was required to drive the hour round trip to my office and work 3.25 hours to reach 40 hours.

      I spent that 3.25 hours loading most of my personal belongings into my car, though it was another several months before I secured my current job and gave notice.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Oof, that’s fun! This at least is permanently remote so if they made me clock in for 45 minutes it wouldn’t be so hellish.

    18. Twenty Points for the Copier*

      I had a salaried non-exempt job many years ago and normally I worked 40 hours/week. I might hit 41 or 42 occasionally but I don’t think I ever got more than a couple hours of overtime in a week. We only had to fill out the timecard if we worked overtime – otherwise they would pay us for 40 hours.

      Typically, I think we are used to companies stretching the definition of what qualifies as exempt so they aren’t on the hook for overtime but there are companies that are very careful that anything where you’re not managerial or autonomous is classified as non-exempt but still paid a salary. I’ve particularly seen this status used for general skilled support staff in large financial services companies.

    19. Pointy's in the North Tower*

      I’m salaried non-exempt in a state agency. If I work over 8 hours in a day, I have to leave early/come in late another day as work week adjustment. My agency hates to pay overtime and will be really, really displeased if it has to, to the point where if you log 8.5 hours one day and 7.5 the next and don’t go over 40 hours in a week, payroll calls your supervisor to gripe about you working over 8 hours.

      I have a timesheet where I track my time worked and my leave. The exempt employees only have to post their leave. Exempt employees are also expected to work only 40 hours.

    20. Bobby Slay*

      I work at a small nonprofit in a salaried, non-exempt role. We do not have a budget for overtime pay (we are very transparent about our funding and budget with all staff) so we are super strict about making sure no one goes over 40 hours per week. If I have an early morning or late evening commitment (my role involves a dedicated amount of time with external partners at the whims of their schedules), then I just end early or start later to make sure I don’t go over 8 hours that day because CA counts overtime by day, not week. But we don’t have a time clock system either because our directors are trusting enough that we will get our work done when we need to (medical appointments or other important errands in the middle of the day are totally common among us).

    21. Sally O'Malley*

      Years ago I worked at an aerospace engineering firm as an admin assistant, and I was non-exempt salaried. It didn’t involve excessive overtime, but there were times when we were preparing a proposal or something with a strict deadline and would need to stay late to get it done. It was nice to get overtime pay for those extra hours. I didn’t clock in or out, but we did keep a time sheet.

    22. Parakeet*

      I have a salaried non-exempt job now, and I have never worked overtime in two years (and would have to get overtime pre-approved). There are a few circumstances for which overtime could theoretically be approved.

  6. Anonymous reader*

    Hello to the AAM community!
    I’ve worked in book publishing as a production editor for 10 years and I’m thinking about leaving. Has anyone left book publishing/production editorial and what kind of job did you go to?

    Did your skills transfer to other jobs?

    For those who don’t know, production editors don’t acquire manuscripts. They turn completed manuscripts into books. They hire copy editors and proofreaders and review their work. Then they review galley pages through the final version. They proofread the covers at all stages and make sure everything matches the house style. In short, they follow the book through multiple stages until it’s ready to go to the printer.

    Is there another field where this kind of experience would be useful?

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      You could look into content design, or just go into production design in a different industry. I think your experience will definitely translate over into a new industry.

        1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

          Lots of industries need content designers. Tech is a big hirer in that area. I’m a content writer in advertising, so marketing in general could be another place to look.

    2. Anna Badger*

      if you’re interested in sticking with production then course production for either an online learning platform or an academic institution might be a shout – a bunch of the production managers at my old workplace (a platform) came from publishing.

      1. Anonymous reader*

        AB, could you tell me a little more about what they did at your old workplace? And what kind of platform?

        1. Anna Badger*

          not dissimilar to what you were doing – an academic or expert wants to make a course, and the production team work with our insights team and learning managers to really focus the premise of the course, coordinate contractors and/or in-house staff to optimise (or sometimes create) course materials, shoot any video or audio, manage the actual creation of the course on the platform, do quality assurance, work with marketing on the promo plan, etc.

          the platform was a generic online learning platform, with courses mostly from universities, but also other organisations with particular expertise.

    3. I edit everything*

      I left to go freelance. I had both hands-on editorial experience and production/managing editor experience and decided to focus on the words, rather than the project management elements. I sometimes miss those parts of my old jobs and think about looking for similar work.

      If you have the technical skills needed for formatting ebooks, creating the necessary files out of all the disparate parts, there’s some call for freelancers in that field, especially for all the indie authors out there right now. You might also hop into the Editors’ Association of Earth or Editors’ Backroom groups on Facebook and pose your question there, especially if freelancing or staying with something book/word/publishing related is of interest to you.

      Being a production editor has so many transferable skills around juggling many, many balls, that a project management, traffic-direction (metaphorically) job would be a good fit, in most not-too-niche industries. I’ve considered pursuing some kind of project management certification and seeing what I could find.

    4. anonymous answerer*

      I used to have a job in book publishing similar to yours and moved into website content strategy. If you have some knowledge of web standards and some technical expertise, it’s a pretty good fit for the project management, structural editing and editorial consistency experience from book publishing.

      1. Anonymous reader*

        That sounds interesting but I don’t have the technical expertise. Can you tell me the name of a reputable place that offers courses in it? I mean the kind of place that you’d hire their students.

        1. ginkgo*

          Hi! I’m not the person you’re responding to, but I also left publishing after ~5 years as a managing/production editor to do web content strategy. The book “Content Strategy for the Web” by Kristina Halvorson is the bible of the field and a good place to start to figure out what web content strategy is and whether you’re even interested in it. I personally didn’t find that I needed any specific technical expertise to get started, but I did need to learn how to translate my editorial knowledge into something a tech team would understand. Nielsen Norman Group has lots of good articles and courses. UX writing/content design is a particular flavor of content strategy that involves writing the words that go in product interfaces – if that sounds interesting to you, UX Content Collective has courses. I’ll drop some links in a response :)

          1. ginkgo*

            https://alistapart.com/article/thedisciplineofcontentstrategy/ – This is an article by the author of the book I mentioned that covers a lot of the same ground. It’s old, but it’s a good place to start.

            https://www.nngroup.com/topic/content-strategy/#articles – Nielsen Norman Group articles on content strategy. I’ve also taken their Web Page UX Design course and thought it was great – I’m obviously not a designer, but it’s just as helpful for someone who works with the content on web pages (and often needs to talk stakeholders out of making terrible decisions)

            https://uxcontent.com/ – UX Content Collective – offers courses on UX writing and content design

    5. mreasy*

      I could see this transferring easily into digital content production which might be more future-proof. I hire content producers and would love to see this skill set & background!

      1. Anonymous reader*

        Really? Great! Could you tell me what kind of job experience or course work you’d look for? And what kind of company you hire for?

    6. Astranaut*

      Translation/localization project manager – depending upon the job/company, you don’t always need to be fluent in another language, though it can be beneficial. Also, digital implementation of remote solutions/technologies for clinical trials requires similar coordination/management skills to turn specs into products like apps or websites.

    7. MissGirl*

      I had this job too! I actually went back and got my MBA and now work as a data analyst. I know that’s not helpful to you but after coming out the other side I saw other options I could’ve done.

      I would look into UX. It utilizes project management and design skills without needing extensive coding skills. There are boot camps that offer training.

      1. Anonymous reader*

        Thanks! Would you mind sharing what other options that you see now? I’m open to any ideas!

    8. Lore*

      I am also a production editor and when I was looking around a few years back, the non publishing interviews I was getting were mostly for website content management. If you don’t have any CMS or WordPress experience, that might be worth learning. Also a lot of ad agencies and consulting firms have in house editing or publications teams to work on their reports, internal publications, etc.

  7. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    Nothing on Indeed really, truly interests me, but it doesn’t matter because no one is getting back to me anyway. Can anyone help me think of more “outside the box” places to find job openings, please? I really do not like not working, but I also don’t want to just take something to take it. Any help/guidance would be appreciated!

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Not me, but my mother left a similar job (she was an editor at a small, nonprofit publisher – a very jack-of-all-trades kind of job) to work as a production editor at a benefits analysis company. She loved it & picked it up really fast.

      I work in communications at a government agency, & we would definitely hire someone with your skill set: editing, following house style, project management.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      What type of work are you looking to do? Remote or in person? Sites that are more focused to your goals could be better than a general site like Indeed.

    3. irene adler*

      -trade associations (either on-line or at in-person events)
      -industry specific job listing sites
      -web sites for job incubators that support start-ups or help increase business. These are usually connected to the local governments.

      1. irene adler*

        Bit of a long shot: some local colleges will post jobs under the specific department (Like computer jobs under the computer dept). This would be different than the college employment dept.

    4. Dave*

      I think Idealist is good for non-profits if you are interested in that. You could also check area companies you respect and check their websites.
      Good luck with the hunt!

    5. Rayray*

      Look up “Best Places to work in [your city/state/province/county etc]” and check their job boards. Something might come up.

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’d recommend USAJobs for government work, HigherEdJobs for university and education jobs, and FlexJobs for remote work. All three have tons of positions available and you can translate different skill sets to different types of positions.

    7. AlanDracula*

      Hey, I’m unemployed and looking too, and I definitely feel that pull of “I want a job I like” vs. “I would like to be paid asap.” Here’s what I’ve been doing:

      –I’ve found that different industries can have different, popular internet job boards. I recently moved to a new city and am trying to get into a different industry, and for some reason LinkedIn/Glassdoor is much more popular here, whereas my previous location/field really liked Indeed. If you’re not finding what you like on Indeed, maybe another site will have other options?

      –I use Indeed/Glassdoor/Linkedin’s alert systems to get weekly emails of jobs match my search terms. I’ve found this to be helpful because, while I use broad terms and 9 out of 10 jobs aren’t for me, there are sometimes 1 or 2 that fit and I know I’m getting my application in early.

      –Beyond these giant job aggregators, I also search message boards for the industry I’m in to see where others mention finding jobs. There are a lot of hyper specific job boards out there.

      –Finally, whenever I see a job that looks interesting, I try to find it on the official company website, both so that 1) I can check that the posting is still active, and 2) because there may be other positions at the company that are equally interesting or even a better fit.

      1. Mimi*

        I used LinkedIn a lot in my most recent job search (my current job was posted there) when I’d never really used it before. The overall volume was much lower than Indeed, but this time around the jobs posted there were much more interesting overall (and way fewer reposts).

    8. RosyGlasses*

      Have you tried a place like flexjobs or WeWorkRemotely? I know I posted a job there and it looks like they have quite a few niche areas. There is also ziprecruiter, LinkedIN, and social media.

    9. Anna Badger*

      if your industry uses LinkedIn, it might be worth having a look at open roles at the organisations where your favourite managers/senior leaders/excellent colleagues have ended up. you might find some diagonal moves that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred to you.

    10. I'm just here for the cats*

      Are you a college graduate? Often univerisities career centers have other job boards that may have things that indeed doesn’t. Even if its been years since you graduated they may still offer you help.

      I think the big thing here would be trying to network, which I know right now is difficult with covid precatiouns. But there may be some networking opportunities in your area.

      Also, are there any industry groups that you could become a part of that may have job postings?

    11. RetailIsDetail*

      YMMV* but have you checked out the job boards for your local Chamber of Commerce and state Department of Labor yet? Best of luck in your search!

      *We hire in a rural area (in a rural state), so we still rely on word-of-mouth and print advertising and have only recently started listing positions on Indeed and online job boards, so I don’t expect that this advice will be equally helpful for all locations/situations

    12. I'd Prefer Not To*

      Angel List (angel.co) is great for start-up and tech jobs! Many of the companies on there accept or reject your application fairly quickly, so you know where you stand. Lots of remote opportunities, as well. Also, I prefer LinkedIn over Indeed. Fewer spam postings

  8. Curious*

    Hi AAM- I have a two prong question

    1. Are there ever circumstances where it is permissible to yell at someone who works for you? Office setting, home repairman, anything.
    1. Are there ever circumstances where it is permissible to yell at someone who works for you in anger?

    To head off wank: I think the only time to yell at someone (never in anger) who works for you is when someone’s safety is threatened.

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      No, not even in the example you use. You’d just fire that person without yelling. Yelling is never ok at work.

      1. Curious*

        Sorry, I should have been more precise: speaking at someone in a raised voice if that person is doing something that’s about to threaten their/someone else’s safety, and you need to alert them to that fact.

    2. londonedit*

      By ‘when someone’s safety is threatened’ I assumed Curious meant when someone is actively in danger – so yes, you could yell at someone who’s painting your ceiling if you notice they’re about to fall off their ladder, or you could yell at someone at work if they were about to switch a machine on when someone’s hand was in the way, or whatever. Apart from that, no, I don’t think yelling has any place at work.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, it would have to be literally someone is going to have immediate serious bodily harm if you don’t yell.

    3. Curious*

      Sorry, I should have been more precise: speaking at someone in a raised voice if that person is doing something that’s about to threaten their/someone else’s safety, and you need to alert them to that fact.

      1. Michelle*

        I think most people would think of that as a totally different category than yelling at someone. It’s more like yelling *to* someone. Like, if you were working in a situation where you needed to raise your voice to be heard over machinery or across a distance, that’s not really yelling at them either, is it? It’s a whole different thing.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        For 1 and 2, No.

        For the addendum, what I used to tell my sailing students was, “I won’t yell. But if I do, do exactly what I tell you to do immediately and we’ll talk about it after.” I think the only time I yelled was essentially, “Dump the vang and mainsheet!” to avoid a collision when a highwind jybe went wrong.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I think it’s very workplace-dependent. An ER? A police precinct? A construction site? A ship at sea? Probably more injury-adjacent situations and probably more loud voices generally (I mean, you’d have to shout over machine noise much of the day on some of those jobs anyway). When I was a lifeguard I always had to yell just to be heard, and then I was trying to be authoritative because some kid was running on the wet poolside. But a white collar office job where nobody’s life is ever at stake, I don’t think there should be raised voices ever, ideally.

    4. Gail*

      No, to both questions. And I don’t think of yelling WATCH OUT FOR THAT FLYING LLAMA! to be yelling AT someone. That’s more calling out a danger.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          You can (and should) yell at them if they are doing something that is about to cause serious bodily harm to themselves and/or others.

          Not everything is a falling ladder or a flying llama.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            Actually I think this is the crux of it. Some people feel “yelled at” if the tone is mean, cold, louder than normal, etc – a raised voice is the same as a yell, really. Others don’t think it’s yelling unless you’re literally shouting insults at the top of your lungs. Ideally, we’d all be calm enough that there wouldn’t be any emotionally charged tones but I can’t say I’ve never been snippy (but I never SHOULD have been snippy). Of course, I’m always on the lower end of the hierarchy, not the top snipping down.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I know I have fallen into the habit of using the term “yell” to indicated “scolded harshly AND unjustly”. It does not necessary mean the person was loud.
              So if I say “my boss yelled at me for being 30 seconds late” I am indicating harsh words and lack of fairness.

              However, this to me is just as unacceptable as a raised, loud voice.

      1. Yorick*

        But some people will not see that distinction. I worked at a daycare years ago, one day I yelled across the playground to a child to move away from the swings because a kid was just about to swing right into her. It turns out her mother was picking her up at that exact moment and went on a campaign to have me fired for yelling at her child.

    5. CatCat*

      I mean, if someone does something really shocking in front of you, I think you can yell at them to stop in that moment. Like they touch you inappropriately, touch themselves inappropriately in front of you, or show you sexual or extremely violent images.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Definitely this. Not only do you want to shock them into stopping by raising your voice, but it’s to alert any nearby coworkers of the situation.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s ok to yell at an immanent situation from across the room – “Fergus, the ladder is about to collapse!”

      It’s not ok to yell at the person up close when a normal tone of voice will suffice – “Fergus, don’t ever use an arc welder without a helmet again.”

    7. Saraquill*

      I’ve been on the receiving end of “yelling at in anger.” Former Manager had made it very clear when she was stressed, ill, in pain, etc. She’s also the sort to take her unhappiness out on others. Cue her yelling at me for things I didn’t do, yelling at me when I made it clear I didn’t do the thing she suspected me of, yelling at me for following instructions, for following HER instructions, etc. My esteem for her has fallen quite a bit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my former coworkers feel/felt the same way.

    8. Anonymous Hippo*

      IMO, yes, but it doesn’t have anything to do with working for you. Basically if someone, say, grabbed your ass, you can yell at them, if they are about to step off a ledge, etc. Same as you’d yell at any random stranger. You don’t get a license for yelling for being a boss/employer.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Imminent danger. Crime in progress (committed by the employee, I mean).

      Other than that, I can think of far fetched melodramatic situations where it would be understandable but not strictly okay. But that’s all.

    10. marvin the paranoid android*

      It depends what you mean by “permissible,” but yelling feels aggressive and intimidating to the person being yelled at, and is also evidence of poor communication abilities. If you’re yelling, it’s probably because you don’t feel in control of the situation and feel like you have to resort to force to make people listen. (I mean “you” in a general sense here.) I would also guess that most people who yell like this probably have other issues relating to other people.

    11. I'm just here for the cats*

      The only time you should yell at someone is if you’re trying to get their attention because of danger, like fire or yelling because something could fall on their head.

      You should never yell at someone in anger.

      I would also add to watch your tone too. Its not just about yelling as in being loud but also the tone you use. Try not to snap or be demanding.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I’d also add that I think it would be ok to yell after someone if say they forgot something. Like your employee just left is pulling out of their parking spot and you run after them because they forgot the very important papers for the client they are meeting or the plumper just left your house and forgot his phone. Then it would be ok to say yell to get their attention.

    12. Observer*

      Are there ever circumstances where it is permissible to yell at someone who works for you in anger?

      I can’t imagine that a good manager would even need to ask the question, to be honest.

      Are there ever circumstances where it is permissible to yell at someone who works for you?

      If you mean actually yelling, no. I’m not going to say that a boss who has done this once is a terrible boss. But that doesn’t make it ok. And if it’s more than once? Yeah, that’s a BAD boss.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        If you see a worker grabbing another worker, a loud STOP THAT RIGHT NOW is definitely permitted.

    13. anonymous73*

      No it’s never okay to yell at someone at work, regardless of where either person falls in the hierarchy of the company. It doesn’t matter what happened, or how egregious someone’s behavior has been, yelling is not appropriate. Discipline yes, raised voices no.

      Unless a piano is about to fall on their head as you mentioned.

    14. justabot*

      Yes – maybe if you are a football coach. Yelling at the referee in anger also happens, to an extent. Whether you agree with it or not, I don’t think you are going to be able to regulate coaches not yelling during pro or college football games. But hitting a player’s helmet like one pro coach did last week is not okay and I believe he was fined $25,000 for it.

    15. Morning reader*

      Mr. Grant, is that you? We miss you, beloved curmudgeon, but no, your style won’t fly in this century. (Or in the last one, outside a sitcom.)

    16. justabot*

      Watching the Buc/Rams playoff game. I guess not always haha. I thought the referee’s did work for Brady. ;)
      “Tom Brady gets 15-yard penalty for yelling at referee after hit from Von Miller”

    17. bryeny*

      So I get that the consensus is that one does not raise one’s voice at work except when volume is required to ensure safety, and that one does not ever raise one’s voice in anger. In theory, I understand; yelling is not always an effective way to communicate, it can lead to a rather chaotic workplace, and most important, it’s deeply upsetting to some people, which I didn’t understand until a colleague and I unintentionally brought a coworker called Ilene to tears over an argument she wasn’t even involved in. (It was a GREAT argument and we both enjoyed the hell out of it — aside from Ilene’s attempts to arbitrate, which didn’t go anywhere bec she didn’t really understand the issues. It turned out she thought we were furious and would never speak again after this blowout. We did. We’re still friends. Sometimes we still argue loudly. :) )

      So, theory. In practice, the most restrained, nonyelly place I ever worked was toxic and dysfunctional (some people prefer to say awful things in a tone that can’t be overheard), and some of the best places have been … much louder, at times. It’s possible to have a vehement disagreement at high volume without being mean, and to express exasperation, annoyance, even anger without straying from your basic sense of mutual respect and good humor. Truly, humans are amazing creatures to be able to achieve such wonders, but I’ve seen it done and done it myself. A raised voice is not by definition hostile. Yelling is clearly not to everyone’s taste, but it can work very nicely.

      I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the workplaces where folks occasionally hollered at each other were also the most fun. Speaking for myself of course, but even the people who didn’t participate in the yelling seemed to derive some amusement from the arguments, and I never got the sense that anyone was upset by them the way Ilene was. If I had, we would have dialed it way back.

  9. Foreign Octopus*

    Do you still apply to jobs even if the advert has been up for a month?

    I don’t know if it’s worth applying at this point as I’d assume that the company has the applicants it needs and I don’t know if they’d even bother looking at CVs after a month. Given the nature of the job, it’d take a while to revamp my CV and write a cover letter appropriate for the position and I’m reluctant to spend the time doing so since it’s been a month since the advert’s gone up.

    So is that a long time in job searching?

    Any advice?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Might depend on your field, but in my line of work a month is nothing, especially around the holidays. You might contact the hiring manager to see if they’re still accepting applications, but I would apply.

    2. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      A reason the listing might still be up is that they haven’t gotten any good candidates. This has been the case everywhere I’ve worked. Apply!

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yup, this. I know my company has job listings still up from the tail end of 2021, and that’s because they’re not really enthused about any of the applicants they did receive.

        That said, I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to how long a job post has been up during my own searches. If I see something I like, I just apply and hope for the best. I get that applications are time consuming and you want to try to reserve your energy for sure things, but that’s just it – nothing in the hiring process is a sure thing (unless you’re a nepotism hire that’s already been told the job is yours of course). Apply and see what happens.

    3. Anonymous Luddite*

      At a gut level, I’m with you. If it’s been up that long, I figure they’ve filled it and didn’t take it down or they’re looking for a unicorn.

      But just last week, there was someone in a non-government/non-academic company posting here about how they will put up a posting, collect resumes for a month and then start contacting people. Blew my mind.

      So sadly, I guess it just boils down to what you do and where you are.
      Good luck!

    4. Leilah*

      Absolutely. I know of legit job openings at my company that have been open for 3-6 months, that are truly still open.

    5. Rayray*

      I always say, just apply! The worst that will happen? You don’t get the job. But if the ad is still up, then go for it! It’s actually super common for job ads to be up this long.

    6. Anonymous Hippo*

      I would say a month is nothing, as it usually takes us 3-6 to fill a position, and has taken up to 12.

    7. Esmeralda*

      Depends on the industry I’d think. If it’s academia, postings can be up for-ever, even when they’re almost done hiring. But a month is nothing in academia.

    8. RagingADHD*

      If it’s up, apply.

      Finding reasons to talk yourself out of applying to jobs is a bad pattern to fall into. “Why bother, it’s not worth the trouble, it won’t make any difference” is what brainweasels say. Don’t listen to them.

    9. Purple Cat*

      I would confirm that the job is still posted at the actual company as opposed to just still floating around the internet on random job boards or recruiters trying to farm resumes.
      But after that, definitely still apply. One month is really not long at all. It takes us months sometimes to fill positions (corporate environment) or for the hourly positions there are many people at that level, so constant openings.

    10. RosyGlasses*

      I know coming from the job offer side of things; I am an HR department of 1.5 but I am still training my department team leads and assistant on how to effectively recruit. I have a ton on my plate and I definitely want to hire folk, but I also have limited time to do it all myself. So I have positions that have been up since October that we are still looking to fill. It’s also complicated by the fact that we are only able to hire in specific states that we are open for business in, so it’s a matter of wading through applicants that we can’t consider due to location and also making sure we have the right qualifications in place. So I would say it really depends on the company; but just know that recruiters and HR pros are super stretched thin and things are taking longer in alot of areas.

    11. Pool Lounger*

      My partner works for a huge company and they keep positions up until filled. They almost never hire for office-type jobs out of desperation and they interview on a rolling basis. A job could be up for months if the right person hasn’t applied or if they didn’t love anyone they interviewed.

    12. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think it really depends. It could be a job that is always looking for people ( call centers and retail are pretty common ones that I can think of). But also they may have a specific set of skills and they just haven’t found someone yet so they kept the posting up.

      Also some places may be required to be posted for a minimum time before they can start interviewing. I think a month is a bit high but I know of some places (higher ed comes to mind but I think government jobs too) they have a strict time line and hiring process.

      When we last hired (university admin) I think it was we were required to have the job posted for 2 weeks before we could even review applications.

      1. Margali*

        >A reason the listing might still be up is that they haven’t gotten any good candidates.
        Right — we have an ongoing opening for a position for which is is very hard to find the right people, so we are continuously recruiting for it.

    13. MissGirl*

      I once didn’t apply for a job because it had been up four months and applied for a different position at the same company. They actually interviewed me for the older listing because I was a better match for that. They were filling a team and had a rolling hiring process. Some teams are always hiring for certain positions and leave up the posting.

    14. Zephy*

      Some places never take their job postings down. I’ve been in my role for almost 4 years and my workplace is still advertising for it – they just collect resumes to hold onto until such time as they want to contact people for interviews. There was an interval of 7 months between my applying to work here and my initial phone screen. All that is to say, if you’re interested, apply.

    15. anonymous73*

      If you’re interested, it always makes sense to apply. It’s not going to hurt, and you can’t assume anything about a company’s timeline. And if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have your resume updated and a new cover letter to use with small modifications moving forward.

    16. LZ*

      I am currently hiring for a role that has been posted since December 22nd. The recruiter pulls resumes every 3 days or so, and sends me promising ones once per week. I then pick the ones I want to interview and the recruiter sets up the calls. So far I have interviewed 4 people who were not a good fit for whatever reason, so anyone who applied today (January 21) and was qualified would have a good chance of getting to me. That said, I’m hiring for a moderately niche role in IT and we have not been flooded with applicants, so I see less than 8 promising resumes each week. If I were interviewing 5 or more qualified people each week I might have filled the role by now; but on the other hand, for any organization that has more than, say, two steps in the hiring process a month is not a long time at all and incoming resumes may very well be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the role is filled.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      Eh, it could be worth a try. I did that once and got an interview. I didn’t get the job—the candidate they picked had more experience in their actual field. But they were interested enough to talk to me. Who knows? I might have been the unicorn!

      If the job has been posted for a couple of weeks or more, I start my cover letter with, “If you’re still accepting applications for the capybara cuddler* position, I’d like to submit my resume.”

      *not a real job but I wish it was

    18. Nerfmobile*

      I posted two positions at my company back at the end of October. Practically speaking, I rarely begin reviewing the candidate pool seriously until the job has been posted for a month. And for these, I am still reviewing resumes that come in and talking to candidates. [Partly because we have to work with our in-house recruiters and mine is slow as molasses.]

    19. Foreign Octopus*

      Thanks everyone for your advice and thoughts, I really appreciate it. Part of me does seem to be talking myself out of applying but you’ve all convinced me to give it a go with some great wording as well (thanks, Elizabeth West) and I’ll be doing my best not to listen to the brain weasels in the meantime.

  10. Tired*

    How to quit a project but not your job?

    Short version:
    I am working on a project out of another location with my current company.
    I hate hate HATE working on this project, but it’s complex and my supervisor says it would be too hard for someone else to take over now.
    I like my company, and would like to stay, but I just cannot keep working on this project.

    Long version:
    I work for a large company with multiple locations, and in early last year I was “loaned” to another office until the end of 2021 for a project.

    The project has been extended, and I am now scheduled to work on in through May/June, with talk of even more extensions.

    The thing is, I HATE this project. It’s a high profile client so everything is A BIG DEAL, the workload is barely manageable (regularly working 50+ hours a week and still not eveything is done), there are multiple phases with overlapping deadlines.

    The stress is affecting me both in and out of work; not that I loved every minute of my job before this project, but now I dread starting work every day, I’m not proud of what I’m producing, I can’t focus, and I’m doing the bare minimum to finish this work.

    I’ve spoken to my project supervisor (Alice) about burning out and things got a little better.
    I asked her about honoring the initial commitment (ending in Dec 2021) and transitioning off the project, and Alice said the project is too complicated to pass on to anyone else at this point, that they need my history on the project to finish it.

    (I also feel a little bad about leaving this project because it would mean someone else – maybe my coworkers who are already overwhelmed – would have to work on this awful project.)

    My thought is… what if I was abducted by aliens? Or quit? Surely to project wouldn’t completely fall apart, so just do what you would do then.

    I’ve spoken to my local supervisor (Ben), and our local office is busy and he wants me back based on the previous agreement.

    How can I more forcefully advocate for myself to leave this project? Should I lean on Ben to lay down the law?

    1. TechGirlSupervisor*

      I’ve been in this situation. I ended up taking a new job at a new company because there wasn’t any significant movement. My line manager (Ben-equivalent) was totally on my side and even had new work lined up. But it took long and I got contacted by a recruiter with an interesting position. When I put in my notice, my line manager was not surprised and send I was on his worry about leaving list for awhile. Honestly, if the new role hadn’t come along I would have been fine on the new work my line manager had planned.

      If you feel comfortable, lay it out to your line manager. You can’t take this anymore and you need an exit plan with firm details. I find having an exit plan helps, but it must be adhered to by Alice and Ben. It won’t help if Alice is able to get away with holding on to you for “just one more month”.

    2. Anon for this*

      Yes, go back to Ben and restate that you do not want to be part of the extension. You have to be ready to quit over this (sounds like you are), although no need to make that threat. He needs to speak with Alice about transitioning off, and it might help if you had an outline of what the transition looks like (Days 1-3: train new staff in llama grooming protocols… etc) but that’s not necessary. And then if you don’t see follow through on a transition plan in ?? weeks, you should leave. Honestly, your health is more important that this project.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I was able to do this effectively years ago, when I was loaned out to a project where I didn’t feel that my skills were being used (no skills at all, frankly, the project was overstaffed and I had very little to do). So, that was the argument I brought to my manager. I was ready to leave and actually had an outside offer, but I didn’t bring that up directly since I wasn’t going to accept the offer for other reasons. It was my incentive for making this happen though. Fortunately it didn’t take any real effort – I was just moved from the previous project and brought back to my core team to work a new assignment that was a far better fit. So it is possible, especially if they want to retain you. My manager definitely did not want to lose me over this! I think he hadn’t realized I wasn’t happy until I brought it up directly.

        It sounds like your project manager doesn’t want to train up anyone new and while that’s a reasonable stance for her, it’s not reason enough to keep you working a project you hate. Make the case that you’re unhappy and would be much better off working with your original group, where your real interest and skills lie. Add that the project needs a new perspective since you don’t feel you’re able to continue effectively contributing at this point. Hopefully they’ll read between the lines and move you ASAP. Good luck!

    3. Jo*

      If Ben is still officially your manager, absolutely use him. Make it clear to him that you want off, and let him and Alice work out a transition plan with a firm end date.

      Basically be super clear about what you want, communicate that to Ben and get him to enforce it. But be aware politics may come into play if senior people are likely to take Alice’s side re:how important this project is.

      Once you’re off, I suggest also being firm about not getting sucked back in to help on “just this one thing”.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Your company tells you what to do within reason. I don’t think YOU can quit the project without quitting the company. You can have your boss and your boss’s boss, etc. reassign you. You may need to tell them you can’t take it anymore and will quit the company (or start job hunting) if you are not reassigned by a certain date to encourage them to use their managerial clout to get you reassigned.

      But if you are the company’s best option for this (the project is too complicated to pass on to anyone else at this point and especially that they need YOUR history on the project to finish it), then they are not going to reassign you without a threat of you leaving, I think.

      At this point they know you are unhappy and not reassigning you. Your happiness is not of greater value to them than your work on the project.

      1. Fran Fine*

        All of this. If Ben truly wanted to bring you back on your original team and was in a hurry to do so, he would have made that happen already. It appears like he’s not pushing very hard to have them stick to the original end date, so you’ll have to be honest that you may need to start looking elsewhere altogether if you can’t go back to your original team. Otherwise, he won’t know just how serious you are and how being stuck on this project is negatively impacting you.

    5. MsM*

      Yeah, I would push back (or recruit Ben to help you push back) with Alice that nobody *but* you knowing how to keep this thing running when it’s clearly going to need ongoing work and maintenance for the foreseeable future is not a good idea, and it’s time to get someone else (or multiple someones) involved so you can start documenting all that history and hand it off to someone who can see it through for the long term while you go back to what your actual team needs you focused on. Or who knows: maybe having the burden shared will buy at least a little more extended engagement from you.

    6. Mockingjay*

      I had a somewhat similar issue years ago. I transferred from a horrible department to a new project and team that I loved. Horrible department couldn’t hire anyone or find anyone willing to fill in (it had a really bad rep), so they kept “borrowing” me back for months and months. They justified it via the internal corporate policy which stated that a transfer could be blocked for six months if the employee leaving would have a detrimental effect.

      After six or seven months of this, I went to my supervisor and said, I can’t take this anymore. She went to a very savvy senior manager on New Project, who looked at our federal contract and informed Horrible Dept. that I was key personnel on the contract and required to be working on it and only it, and they couldn’t borrow me any more.

      Get with Ben and map out a strategy to push back. Your “borrowing” was for a finite period, Ben needs you back immediately to do X, Y, and Z because of [describe impact/consequence]. If there’s a friendly Grandboss, can they help? If the other project is being extended indefinitely and needs staffing that badly, they can hire someone or borrow someone else.

    7. NoMoreLoans*

      I was in a similar situation. I made it clear that I was not happy, but boss didn’t care. Until I finally told them I needed a firm timeline on going back to my previous responsibilities, so I could better plan for my future with company. The shocked expression told me they understood my meaning, and I was off the project within a week. I absolutely would have followed through with a resignation within a few weeks, so they would have had to find a replacement on the project either way.

      1. Cold Fish*

        I haven’t been in this situation but would bringing up the fact that it is starting to effect OP’s health** be a positive thing to point out? Or would it just be better to focus on the fact that OP is at a breaking point and is planning on leaving project one way or another?

        **Basing health assessment on OP’s mention of stress effecting them outside of work, problems with focus, and mention of burn-out.

    8. Nesprin*

      Depends on how good your boss is.

      I’ve been able to go to bosses and say: “I need to be taken off this project by X date, and unless we can do that I’ll be quitting. Can we figure out a plan to do that?”

    9. Hillary*

      Talk to Ben very directly. “I’m asking to be removed from this project. I’m burned out, it’s affecting my health, and I need your help getting it done.” If you’re in Europe, the phrase to use is “stress leave.”

      That said, you need to be ready to walk if you go this route. They may get you reassigned, but they may also tell you tough s**t. Alice isn’t going to change and if she’s leading a major project with a high-profile customer she has organizational capital.

  11. Rayray*

    I’ve been at my job for about a year and a half. I did move once, but it was a sideways move within the department that they offered to me, not one I sought out.

    I don’t like my job. It’s boring, tedious, and basically a dead end. I wouldn’t mind moving within the company to a different department. There’s a couple open positions I’m kinda interested in, I was thinking I could email the internal recruiter to ask about it, but I don’t want her to blab to my management. I will talk to my manager before making a move but right now just want to feel things out. Any help on what to say to the recruiter? I want confidentiality because I am just feeling out what’s available to me or what I could pursue.

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      You definitely cannot count on confidentiality when making an internal move, no matter what you say to the recruiter. If you do reach out, you should apply to a bunch of other jobs at the same time, just in case.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      18 months is not that long to explore everything a job might have to offer, or to master it (obviously depends on the role). Have you scheduled time with your manager to discuss your professional development opportunities in your current role, do you have a current evaluation indicating mastery of all your current tasks, is your manager available to support your growth in their department? These are all avenues to explore at least simultaneously (ideally prior) to reaching out to the internal recruiter.

      1. Rayray*

        I do see your point, the thing is this position really truly is dead end unless I make another sideways move and to be honest, it just isn’t something I like or feel like I’m good at. I applied for my first job with the company out of desperation after my lay off in 2020. My first job here was a big step down but I needed income. I got the sideways move offer after a few months and it’s a little better but I just don’t like it. I also need more money and I’m kinda near the top of the pay scale. It really isn’t something where there’s more to learn, it is a kinda low skill job and I think I have more capabilities.

      2. Your Local Password Resetter*

        After 18 months you have a pretty strong grasp on the position though. OP is fully worked in, and if everything is tedious, boring, and generally goes nowhere then that’s not going to change much even with the best of intentions.

        1. Fran Fine*

          This. I left my last company at 17 months because after the first six, I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, I was bored and becoming depressed, and I needed to be doing something – anything – else. And I was fully up and running at six months, so the notion that you’re only just getting trained up and ready to go at the 18 mark is not universally true at all.

    3. What’s in a name, anyway?*

      I do think it’s worth talking to your manager about room for growth. That way you can apply and if the recruiter mentions your application to them, there’s context and maybe your manager would even support you in it. It can be a scary conversation at first, but it’s valuable to learn to advocate for yourself like that.

  12. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How is everyone with brain fog holding up? All my projects are ruined of course since I also have no ability to plan.

    1. Generic Name*

      My brain is mush today, so I feel you. I’ve been working like crazy to get something top priority out last minute this week, and now I have to respond to technical comments. And I’m really struggling to focus. I’m dealing with a bunch of stuff in my personal life too that isn’t helping. Ugh.

    2. Spooncake*

      I’m… managing. Though to be fair, I’m managing by writing down literally everything in/on my diary, calendar, AND whiteboard. My brain fog predates COVID though so I’ve had a while to figure out what works when I feel like I’m mentally wading through treacle.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Well, I just get up and beat my head against the wall every day until some work comes out of it. It’s all I know how to do, because the root causes of my brain fog are not ever going to be fixed.

      Had a couple of really good nights’ sleep this week. That helped a lot.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I took today off, and have a list of things I need to do and am slowly and systematically going through the list. And then I’m taking a nap!

  13. Excited Law Student*

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been reading this blog for a couple years now and I always love the advice and the insightful comments. I am in my first year of law school, and I notice that a lot of the advice for situations such as cover letters, resumes, interviews, workplace formalities, and just in general, always have a caveat for law.

    I’m really interested in corporate law/Big Law, and I’m really wondering if any attorneys with that experience can let me know what their experience was, and if you have any workplace advice for law students?

    Note: I’m a 23 year old woman of color, first-generation law student.

    Thank you for your help!

      1. d.j.c.*

        Yes, lots of lawyers and discussions about BigLaw on Corporette. The daily posts are pretty much all open threads so you can post any day of the week.

    1. Jo*

      Places like Reddit and some folk on Instagram are good for some very raw/unfiltered advice sometimes. For personal experiences, I follow lawyherbaeloading (instagram) who is also a law student in a similar position to you and talks a lot about her tips for networking, navigating spaces etc.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Excited Law Student*

        Thank you! I don’t have any social media (I didn’t join because I knew it would be way too distracting for me), but I’ll check out lawyherbaeloading!

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The number of readers here who would have direct experiential advice for you is probably pretty low. In addition to any answers you might get, I’d suggest you get involved with your school’s student bar association, especially if there’s a separate bar association specifically for students from your own background. If your city or state has a law student division of its bar association, get involved there, too, as well as any division or section or committee for lawyers from your own background. Networking with these groups will help you find a mentor for navigating law school and your first years in practice.

      Law school career placement offices can be hit-or-miss, but you may also consider making an appointment there.

      1. Excited Law Student*

        Thank you for your advice! I have a joined a few student organizations, but I just wanted to clarify what I was learning from them with direct experience, because a lot of the people I have met are students or law school career counseling officers, not law hiring managers.

    3. CTT*

      BigLaw associate here – SO much of hiring occurs through the summer associate process (I don’t think my firm ever hires first years that didn’t come through that process), which is very different from the lateral hiring process, where a lot more of those caveats apply as to resumes and cover letters. The big difference is that there’s an understanding that a lot of the applicants won’t have much office work experience because a majority don’t take time off between undergrad and law school. In my experience, there’s an awareness that we’re working with students and grading on a different curve than we would for someone who has been practicing for ten years. It’s the same with workplace formalities when we’re working with summer associates – there’s an expectation that 75% of the summers won’t have worked in an office before and will need training on those sort of formalities (who to cc in emails, accepting calendar invites, what tasks get delegated to a paralegal vs. an assistant, etc.). When we’re thinking about who to make offers to out of our summer associate class, the determination is based on 1. the quality of the work you produced and 2. if you were a jerk. If you’re nice and smart, something like “ugh, I wish she had known not to wear jeans to a client meeting” is small potatoes.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Agree 100% with this. The summer associate route is the way into long-term career growth and there is a lot of mentoring of summer associates. Most firms large enough to have a summer associate program will also have programs specifically designed to help POC and women (a big change from years ago when I entered the work force). Also, I cannot emphasize enough the “don’t be a jerk” part of this — the people who didn’t get offers were those who were rude to waiters or support staff. Be interested, be engaged, be curious, and don’t be a jerk.

      2. Excited Law Student*

        Thank you so much, this is exactly what I was looking for! My career services counselor gave me a sample cover letter, and it seemed like the opposite of what AMA suggests, with “I am looking for a position with you…here is my experience, which also stated on my resume.” I applied to a summer job using the cover letter advice from here, and I had been wondering if that was the wrong thing to do. Thank you!

    4. LegallySuspect*

      Congrats on being a 1st gen law student and best of luck to you!

      For “Big Law” jobs, the two typical entryways are: though summer internships, preferably both your 1L and 2L summers, or getting a job as a judicial clerk after law school and then moving to a firm (the latter can come with some substantial bonus money too!). For either situation, grades matter a lot – and the law school you attend can matter too. Definitely network with alumni from your law school who are at firms/clerkships that interest you – if there are few success stories, it may be worth considering a transfer to another law school after your 1L year if that is your goal.

      Also, look at your local/state bar association (usually the voluntary networking/CLE bar…not the mandatory regulatory/disciplinary bar if your jurisdiction has both) for a “minorities in the profession” program for summer jobs your 1L and/or 2L year. I have participated as a corporate employer and in our jurisdiction each law school selects 3-5 candidates and there is a day of interviews where everyone meets with a dozen or so employers from corporate jobs and big law firm jobs, and then they are matched with a job afterwards. Not everyone gets a job, but your odds are closer to 30%-50% of landing a job…plus you get a LOT of interviewing experience!

      There are a lot of opportunities in the legal community, and some are not readily apparent. My last piece of advice would be to follow your dreams, but do not dismiss other paths out of hand – you never know where a road might lead! My path was very wobbly and not at all what I planned, but it has been quite fulfilling.

      Oh, and “Above the Law” is another resource you should keep an eye on in addition to AAM and Corporette.

      1. Excited Law Student*

        Thank you so much! I haven’t yet heard of judicial law clerks, so I will check that out as well! The minorities in the profession program is a really great idea, I just started looking and found quite a few opportunities.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          FWIW, as I have no idea of your location. I am in NY. There are a bunch of tiny towns and villages that have small courts. My friend became a clerk in one of these tiny courts. It’s a very part time job but she meets a variety of attorneys and other small town justices. I have never heard my friend say someone offered her a job because of her clerk work. I assume, that careerwise this would be a DIY thing if you took a position like this. However, perhaps you can use the experience in some manner to get the next gig.
          My friend had NO experience in law, no background. She works hard and was willing to teach herself through the learning curve. I think her boss helped her a lot.
          I am pointing this out as a “low hanging fruit” type of idea.

          1. LegallySuspect*

            Clarification: A “judicial clerk” is typically a recent law grad (sometimes can be a law student) who works for a judge, does research and writing in helping the judge decide a case and write the formal opinion. Typically this is not at the state trial court level (although some states have this at that level), but usually is at the appellate levels and all federal court levels.

            A “court clerk” or “clerk of court” is typically not an attorney (but can be, I know many who are) and who is responsible for court filings and sometimes overseeing certain special proceedings and estates files where there is little or no controversy.

            My comments were directed at the former, which is usually a 1-3 year role and opens many doors once that period is over since you gain a lot of experience in research, writing, and the workings of the courts. The latter is usually a lower paid role and can be a permanent career but often does not lead to other roles. But it is easy to get the two confused, so thank you for spurring me to clarify!

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      My first job out of law school was in MegaBigLaw and my career has been in banking law — I would say that all of Alison’s cover letter, resume and interview advice applies. The caveats she often has about law are dress code related, but since you are interviewing, you should dress up in any event. I recommend going for a well-respected medium-sized (100-200) firm rather than MegaBigLaw. I found that the work that young associates got at a medium sized firm was more substantive and interesting than the kind of scutwork I got at MegaBigLaw. Here’s the difference — at MegaBigLaw you might be working on the biggest and most complex deals/cases, but you’re going to be stuck in a conference room reading due diligence documents every day (and night). At a medium sized firm you might not have the very biggest deals, but as an associate you get into the more substantive work more quickly. Both have equal potential for in-house movement, so don’t worry that you have to start at MegaBigLaw to make that move.

      1. Excited Law Student*

        Thank you so so much! This is so helpful for me – I mentioned above that I applied to a few summer jobs with cover letter advice from AMA before I spoke with my law school career office, and I was so worried that I had messed up and wasn’t formal enough. I really appreciate your advice, especially about the interviewing clothes. Like you said, I’m going to lean formal anyway, but it’s really useful to know what will be expected of me.

    6. No longer practicing law*

      Hi, ELS! I’m excited for you, as a first generation law student woman of color! The industry needs you desperately.

      For getting a job in BigLaw in law school, your grades will more or less be the only thing that matters. You should submit a cover letter and resume, and Alison’s tips are appropriate for BigLaw and may move the needle for you if a hiring committee is deciding between you and someone else to interview, but your grades will be the most important thing. Some people will tell you to do networking, but honestly, unless you’re going to school in a place where you already have a network thanks to your family, it’s really hard, in my experience, to network as a student. Your time is better spent studying.

      In terms of interviewing, as a first or second year student, the interview will be more a personality assessment. They understand you don’t know anything substantively; your good grades are a proxy for that, so they’re just making sure your personality fits with whatever they’re looking for. They will expect you to follow the same business and interview norms Alison writes about, though they’ll know you may not have a ton of office experience. Summer jobs are great mentoring experiences. Work hard, ask questions, learn some things, be nice to the staff.

      Now, I need to caveat that I am 20 years out of law school, so things may have changed. However, based on my experiences at 3 BigLaw firms over that 20 years, recruiting happens more or less the same as it did. Your school’s career center may not have good advice for resumes, cover letters, etc.-Alison’s advice still applies in those areas- but it definitely can walk you through the typical hiring process for BigLaw from law school.

      After law school, I would say the cover letter and resume tips Alison writes about apply more strongly. Interviewing becomes less about grades the longer you’re out of school, but they’ll then look to assess your subject matter expertise. Personality fit will always be part of the process as well.

      I’m going to go a little outside the scope of your question and say that BigLaw hours are no joke, so be prepared. You won’t have a life if you take a BigLaw job. And there’s never a time when it gets better- the joke about BigLaw partnership is that it’s a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie. But BigLaw can open doors, can give you great experience and expertise, and strengthen your network. And of course the pay is good. Though there are smart people everywhere, I’ve never worked in any other place where EVERYONE with is super smart.

      My career trajectory, in case you’re interested: I did NOT land a BigLaw job out of law school (it was the grades). I litigated (poorly) for about 3 years in a variety of small-firm environments, and was able to land an entry level job at a BigLaw firm doing real estate transactions through connections. This was pre-crash, they needed bodies, I wanted a chance, loved doing deals. I learned a lot, transitioned to another BigLaw firm just before the crash and rode out the recession, gaining experience and connections. I joined a bank client on the business side, learning more about affordable housing and tax credit transactions. That specialization has served me very well. In the bank, I wasn’t able to advance like I wanted, so I went back to BigLaw (again via connections made through my bank work), spent 5 miserable years there NOT making partner (because I have children and a life and enjoy sleeping occasionally), did a whole bunch of therapy to let go of that long-held dream of making partner, and now am in a business role at a non-profit, making mostly real estate loans. Which I ADORE. I work normal hours, I’m compensated fairly, and my work is fulfilling in a way law practice never was. I will never go back to practicing law. (I got this job in part because my now-boss had been a client of mine at my law firm.)

      But I don’t say all that to warn you away from BigLaw! I wanted to illustrate first that there are many paths (though for real, get good grades in law school and that will make your path MUCH easier), and second to keep an open mind. BigLaw can totally open doors, broaden your network, and give you great experience and an opportunity to specialize. Just be clear-eyed about what you want, what you’re willing to do to get what you want, and what that life might look like.

      GOOD LUCK!

      1. No longer practicing law*

        Should have mentioned- take advantage of all the programs out there for women and people of color through your law school or local or state bar associations! I think they are far more prevalent than they used to be and can be so helpful! The industry knows it has a problem with women and people of color and it’s trying- however clumsily- to address it.

      2. Excited Law Student*

        Thank you SO much!! I definitely agree with you on studying and grades. I did well my first semester, and I’m determined to do even better during my second. I’m really glad you mentioned that networking isn’t as important as grades, because I struggled a lot my first semester. A lot of my classmates would go to networking events and out with each other while I stayed home and studied, and it felt like I was losing out on a lot of opportunities.

        I really appreciate your advice about BigLaw as well. I know I won’t know exactly what it’s like until I go through it, but I’ve received a lot of advice that is similar to yours, so I feel a little more prepared about what I’m hoping to get into. Like you said though, if my grades are good enough, I won’t have to tie myself into one career path. I’m open to exploring everything, but I have my sights set on BigLaw for now.

        Thank you as well for talking about your experience. I’m honestly still surprised at how many types of law I didn’t even know existed, and I still have so much to learn. Thank you so much!

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          I agree with “No longer practicing” that at the student (particularly 1L) stage, good grades will get you farther than networking. But as soon as you are out, start networking. I strongly suggest local bar groups in your practice area — they tend to be very welcoming to new people. I also am active in the American Bar Association Business Law Section committee that covers my area of expertise, and that has opened so many doors that I’ve lost track. So, as No longer practicing, at the student stage, it is good grades, but after that it is connections, connections, connections. I was a first generation law student — my father was a blue collar worker and my mother a homemaker — I didn’t have the first clue about how to network. But really, it’s just being a nice person who is interested in what other people are doing, and then volunteering to speak/write articles. Getting to know people as friends and not just colleagues. You can do it!

          1. No longer practicing law*

            Agree completely! I was targeting my advice more toward the law school experience, but I agree that once you’re out, networking is so critical, especially if you want to move on.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          My friend went through law school years ago. She said the thing that saved her was her study group. A handful of students got together and STAYED together. The group was of mixed demographics which sounded like that mix of backgrounds and life experiences was super helpful for each other. It’s been a looong time, but my friend is still in-touch with her study group friends. They still cheer each other, console each other and sometimes chide each other. But it’s become a “safe place” to be for her and others in the group.

    7. Teapot Wrangler*

      I’m in the UK so some of this might not be completely pertinent but I would say:
      1. Make friends with the secretaries
      2. Make friends with the librarians
      3. Ask clarifying questions – nothing is more annoying than handing something off to a trainee or work experience person and then them doing the whole thing wrong when they could have asked for extra guidance and not had to do it twice.

      Good luck!

      1. Excited Law Student*

        Thank you so much! After reading AMA, I feel a little bit more prepared to ask clarifying questions, and of course, be friendly with everyone. I love my law librarian, he is the best!

        Thank you from the U.S!

    8. Teapot Librarian*

      I don’t have comparable experience, but I would strongly recommend looking into any mentorship programs your school might have, ESPECIALLY if they are coordinated by or in consultation with the relevant affinity group (BLSA, SALSA, etc). (Your school’s career services office will be helpful, but unless you’re at an HBCU, I would assume that they just don’t have the specific insight into Big Law-for-the-attorney-of-color that an affinity group’s mentors will have.
      Good luck!

    9. TPS reporter*

      I’m a non-practicing attorney who manages a large team in a corporate contracting department. Most of my team members are attorneys. Most have worked in big and small law firms and disliked them for various reasons. You probably want to get that experience to know if you do like it but know there is a whole world out there for non-practicing attorneys, particularly with contract review/drafting/negotiation. We may have slightly smaller salaries but work/life balance is real and the benefits are good. When I hire I do look for what AAM advises- are you really interested in the job, what can you tell me about your specific experience that would fit with the job and are you generally a pleasant person who can work well with a team and be honest when you don’t know or need help (not to mention good writing and critical reading skills).

    10. Lady Danbury*

      I’m a WOC attorney, though the majority of my career has been in house. I worked at a BigLaw firm for my 2L summer but was fortunate enough to land an in house position directly out of law school and haven’t looked back since. It’s been over a decade since I’ve graduated from law school, so I’m not sure how much the process has changed. Back then the key factors for BigLaw were grades and (to some extent) schools and clerkships. It was very difficult to get a BigLaw job after 1L unless you go through a program like SEO (highly recommended, google SEO Law). I’d advise applying to a wide variety of legal jobs for your 1L summer, not just focusing on BigLaw. Also, find out what your school’s OCI process is like. This usually happens at right before 2L starts to hire for the next summer. You’ll want to know what firms will be on campus, if anyone can apply for any firm or if there’s some sort of GPA/ranking cutoff, how many students a firm typically makes offers to, etc. Also find out what type of job listings might be available through your school’s career services. Otherwise, cold emailing combined with networking is your best option.

      As for navigating life in BigLaw, my best advice to you would be to figure out what you want in the medium to long term plans are and act with those goals in mind. BigLaw is brutal in general, and even more so for women/POCs. Having an idea of your ideal career trajectory (partner track, in house, government, non-profit, etc) can help impact everything from the type of law you choose as a specialty to how you interact with clients. Many of my classmates who started in BigLaw are now in house or in government, including almost all of the WOCs. I have one friend who was determined to make partner and went above and beyond for many years until she hit a glass ceiling. She is now also working in house. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but to highlight the realities of life in BigLaw. In terms of next steps, it’s also important to know why is BigLaw so attractive to you. Is it the money, prestige, more interesting deals, etc?

  14. Red Sunglasses*

    Any suggestions on message boards/communities for someone not yet in the psych field to get info?

    I’m hoping to become a therapist (right now am still researching programs). The psychotherapy sub on Reddit was a godsend to me- it was full of so much useful info (I never commented, just read). They’ve gone private now and only licensed folks are allowable, and many licensed folks actually ended up dropping out totally because they didn’t feel comfortable sending their information to mods for approval. I don’t know if those folks have gone elsewhere or if there’s another site or community that others have found helpful but I’m hoping to find something!

    1. Lady Ann*

      Reach out to professional organizations in your area, maybe? Every state does licensing differently at the master’s level (and it’s mostly master’s level professionals who do therapy these days) so in terms of researching programs or getting info a message board might not really give you relevant information. I’m not sure what information you are looking for exactly but your local professional organization (state chapter of AMHCA for example) might be able to hook you up with something relevant to wherever you live.

    2. Lady Ann*

      Also, just as a tip, be very careful about online programs, a lot of online programs in counseling/clinical psych do not meet state requirements for licensure, we sometimes get people applying for jobs who have degrees from these programs and they are just nowhere near being license eligible which means they are essentially not employable.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Yes, make sure that the online program is from an accredited institution. Check reviews, google search the college. Check with credidation boards for your state. I think they probably have a list of approved schools and such.

      2. Red Sunglasses*

        Thank you!! I wasn’t planning on doing an online program – it might be good to do a few classes online if I could- but definitely was looking for something with a brick and mortar component.

    3. Almost Academic*

      What kind of program are you looking for? Since you mention therapy, I’m assuming that you’re aiming for an MSW or Masters in Counseling type of path. I think that Student Doctor Network (SDN) has some helpful information, but more geared at people who are pursuing PhD or PsyD level of licensure. As far as other options, I would advise you to email or get connected with professors from the clinical, counseling, and social work field from your college or from local institutions. Since you’ll need a recommendation letter for applications anyways, it can be helpful to get some insider advice and reestablish the connection with any profs you’ve worked with in the past. If you’re doing any forms of clinical volunteering, you may be able to ask around for your supervisors thoughts and opinions as well. Other resources that are helpful are Mitch’s guide to applying for graduate school and The Insider’s Guide to programs in clinical and counseling psychology (big book of information about programs). If you have specific questions I’m also happy to talk about some general pointers here in this thread.

    4. lil falafel wrap*

      Oh interesting, I’ve actually been enjoying r/psychotherapy much more since it went private! It doesn’t required just licensed people though—I’m a student and I was able to join with full privileges. Though I can see why people would drop off for the privacy aspect.

      As for where else to look, r/socialwork has a lot of similar discussions, and r/talktherapy is more on the patient side of things, but as a therapist-in-training I find it interesting to read, and therapists do comment on there pretty regularly.

  15. Qwertyuiop*

    My boss asked me to send her information on 3 different databases. I sent her 3 pdf’s- one on each database. We went over the databases in a meeting, where my boss then said that she needed “3 separate files.” I replied, “I sent 3 separate pdf’s this afternoon.” My boss then became upset, “Well, just make them all look alike.” She was getting all upset over it/flipping out, and raised her voice, “JUST SEND ME 3 FILES.” 

    She wasn’t specifying what she wanted- she never does. She’ll call me when I’m in the middle of something and say, “Did you complete the report on the things?” Um, what? What things? If you ask her to clarify what she is talking about, she just gets mad. “THE THINGS! I NEED THE THINGS!” 

    It would be amusing if it wasn’t happening to me and/or I didn’t work here, but instead it’s just confusing and upsetting. She only does this to me and the admin assistant. The other 4 people in our department don’t endure her wrath to this extent. She gets snippy with them, but doesn’t raise her voice like she does to me and the admin assistant.

    Besides a new boss, how do you deal with this without losing your mind? 

    1. CW*

      “The things” – like what things? Ugh, this is one of my biggest pet peeves when people use this word, along with the word “stuff”, without specification. I can’t read minds, can you please be more specific?

      Maybe bring it up as a concern and that you need the details of what needs to be done. But in all honesty, it seems like your boss is anal retentive and not the best bosses around. But I won’t try to guess here.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      This is not okay. Sorry you’re dealing with it. I don’t know that you can deal with that. I mean, you can try to “manage up” on this, but if your boss digs her heels in on this, you may just have to look for another job or hope she leaves.

    3. Dave*

      If you have a good rapport with your co-workers you might ask them how they cope and maybe to help clarify what the boss means. You could also start supplying, I finished the report on X or list off all the reports you have finished / working on when she asks and she if that helps trigger her to clarify by the things.
      I am also guessing from her reaction she meant 3 separate emails with different subjects. Just a total guess based on my experience with people that can’t communicate and understand email attachments. (I seriously don’t understand it but some people struggle with multiple attachments. Almost like the people who only answer one question in an email when you ask four.)

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Oof, agree with the others that your boss’ behavior is Not Okay.

      Some strategies:
      *Grey rock: You are a calm, emotionless mountain, lake, android, etc. Allow your boss’ ridiculousness pass around you, without touching you. Remain (outwardly) calm in action and voice, regardless of what your boss does. Slow down your speech and level your tone.
      *Emphasize and use the phrase, “I want to help you and I can’t help you unless you provide me with further details. Can you work with me to provide those details?”
      *Recognize that your boss is actually a toddler throwing a perpetual temper tantrum, regardless of how large their physical body may look.

      I’m sorry. If there is a grandboss you have rapport with, this may be worth escalating.

      1. RagingADHD*

        These are the strategies I have used in the past. Detach, disengage, de-escalate. The noise happens. The noise is not about you, it is about her own inner problems.

        Every time she yells, take a pause to reset and then clearly name the problem. “I don’t know what you mean when you say “the things”. If you tell me what you’re looking for I will do my best to find them.”

        “Okay, we seem to be talking at cross-purposes. I sent three files and obviously that’s not what you’re looking for. So what do you mean when you say “three files?”

    5. Saraquill*

      I spent a fair amount of time breaking down Former Manager’s behavior in my head. Why is she a shoutyface? Why does she play blatant unfavorites? Puzzling over the matter and understanding that it’s about Former Manager rather than me helped a lot.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      Remember, you can always walk away if someone is being rude or abusive. I wish I would have understood that back when I worked for a raging boss.
      If she yells at some people and not others, then it is a bullying thing. She gets satisfaction from belittling people. The people who stand up for themselves don’t provide satisfaction so they aren’t yelled at anymore. Your boss focuses it on easy targets.
      Don’t be an easy target! The next times she raises her voice, stand up and politely say, “You seem upset. I’ll come back when we can discuss this calmly.” Then leave. Repeat until your boss learns that she will only get her way if she communicates respectfully.
      Good luck!

    7. EmKay*

      me? I’d get frustrated and yell back “WHAT THINGS” and match her level of intensity each time she wracks it up, but I probably wouldn’t be in that job for very long…

    8. Girasol*

      Can you model specific communication by saying, “The things? Do you mean a spreadsheet of database X data filtered for current customers, showing their addresses?” And then if she says, “No, no, no! Not addresses, sales figures!” you could say, “A spreadsheet of current customers and their sales for, what, the past year?” She can say, “No, no, no!” and act like you’re being obtuse, but gradually the experience of the guessing game might teach her how hard it is to understand what she wants and how to state her requirements more specifically.

    9. anonymous73*

      When she does this, are you asking her specific questions to try and determine what she wants exactly? Or are you asking more general questions that lead to a “who’s on first” scenario?

      If you’re asking specific questions and she still reacts this way, say something to her outside of one of her rants. It’s not okay for her to treat you this way, even if she is your supervisor. You can’t fix something if she gives you no direction. Explain to her what YOU need to give her what SHE needs. If things don’t improve, and you can trust her boss, go over her head.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Without sounding condescending, try to say something to the effect of, “I am very happy to get you this information but I absolutely must have more idea of what it is you mean.” Keep a tone of pure logic, do not show any emotion. “Yep. I can do that. As soon as I know what it is you would like.”

      Try to talk to one of the four people who don’t have this problem and ask their advice.

    11. Quinalla*

      I had a boss like this – not so bad, but he acted like I was a complete idiot whenever I asked any questions. My strategy as to ignore it and just keep insisting on answers so I could complete my job. It was an internship, so I didn’t have to deal with it long. He told me at the end of the summer that he really respected me for “standing up to him”. So yeah, for me letting his attitude/words fall right off of me and treating him like he was being reasonable, that worked for me. It wasn’t enjoyable, but it was livable.

  16. The Revenge of Tinky Winky*

    Hi AAM – anyone here ever work as a bank teller? How does that differ from “retail” in terms of both job expectations and interactions with the public? (My gut instinct is that the workload is not markedly different from what you’d do at the cashier at a Target, but that you’re expected to cosplay a certain level of professionalism you wouldn’t need to elsewhere. But I’m not sure.)

    1. Anonymous Luddite*

      Yes, as a teller, there is a non-zero amount of kabuki dealing with customers. But the bigger differences I saw were
      – regular cashier, you’re less likely to get robbed at gunpoint (counterpoint, you get less training as a cashier.)
      – regular cashier, depending on the job, your company may be a little more laid back as far as if your till is off a few cents.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Er, how many bank robberies are going on where you live? Where I live, you’re a lot more likely to get held up as a cashier (not at a big-box retailer, but at a small convenience store or gas station) than at a bank.

        1. Anonymous Luddite*

          To answer your question:
          Large, western US metropolitan cities.
          – Years I worked retail: 6. Times I was robbed: 0. Hours of training received: 0.
          – Years I worked at a credit union: 2. Times I was robbed: 1. Hours of training I received: 2.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Ah. Overall statistical probability isn’t the point. Once is one time too many, for sure. Sorry you went through that.

        2. blue pink*

          A lot of robberies/robbery attempts don’t make it to the news. When I was training as a teller I was shocked when the trainer told us how many times our credit union had been robbed in the last few years. The year before I started was the first year in quite a while that there hadn’t been any robberies.

          We were trained to never do anything to escalate a robbery situation. That means if someone comes up and hands you a note saying “give me $1000, I have a gun” (or whatever) you give them $1000. You do not freak out, you do not alert anyone around you (customers, coworkers) that something’s wrong. Once the robber has left the building you go to your boss’s office and tell them what happened in private, and then 911 etc.

          My branch was never robbed while I worked there, but another branch was. There was a company-wide email to inform everyone and all it said was “X branch was robbed at 11am today. Everyone is safe. Police have apprehended the suspect. The branch is remaining open.” That was it; there was never a follow-up or a local news story.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I haven’t, but friends in college did. You are expected to have a bit more polish, & confidentiality is extremely important. But the main skills of customer service & money handling are very similar.

      Dress code is generally more important, but the benefits are often better than retail. And if you’re fluent in a second language, that can make you a more desirable candidate.

    3. Sir Bluebird*

      Hi! I’m currently a teller at a credit union and have worked retail in the past, so hopefully I can help! As far as I can tell, bank teller is a weird hybrid of professional office job and normal retail. In my position, we dress business casual every day, are expected to speak professionally (no swearing, not a ton of slang, etc.), follow policies very carefully, and generally present ourselves as people that a concerned elderly person would trust to safeguard their money, as well as act according to professional norms in the workplace. (For example – sending professional emails, being able to work around office politics, etc.) There’s also a LOT of documentation that has to be done, sometimes to the point of redundancy.

      Luckily, along with the office job expectations, we get office job perks! I’ve been here 9 months, have been promoted once, and have 19 days of PTO a year, plus 10 paid bank holidays and a floating holiday. I also have pretty decent health/vision/dental insurance, and my premiums are about $25 a month. I work nearly the same hours every day, with an hour lunch, except that some days I might come in (and leave!) an hour earlier to cover a coworker’s shift, or I’ll get a half-day off and work a Saturday. I also got a $500 holiday bonus this year, plus a gift card, and coworkers with more tenure got $1000.

      Also, you get to sit down. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate getting to sit down.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “There’s also a LOT of documentation that has to be done, sometimes to the point of redundancy.”

        Oh boy, do I hear that! I’ve been in banking for 25 years and started as a teller (I’m now back office). I thought it was rough back then, but that’s nothing compared to how it is now. Tellers are expected to remember A LOT in terms of policies, procedures, and regulations. All while serving the customers, referring sales, watching for anything suspicious in terms of the transactions they process, watching for potential danger within the lobby, etc.

        As much as I appreciated making it to the back office after six years, I enjoyed being a teller. And starting as a teller can be a good way to move into other parts of the bank or credit union. So many back office jobs benefit from knowing how the branch and teller line work. I have someone on my team now who has never been a teller and she often struggles to understand certain things.

    4. All the words*

      I work for the mortgage company of a very large bank. It wasn’t unusual for former tellers to move to the mortgage company. The company is pretty good to work for in general. Something commonly heard from former tellers: They were under constant pressure to sell additional banking products & services to the customers. Someone wants to deposit a paycheck? Ask them if they’d care to sign up for our totally unrelated ___ service. Just be aware it’s also a sales job.

      And yes, professionalism is an expectation. People’s finances are serious business. Behavioral expectations may be slightly more formal than in other settings. It’s a very conservative industry in that regard.

      No, I don’t work for the company who made the news by signing lots of people up for services they neither asked for or authorized.

    5. beach read*

      Former banker here. Depending on the Bank itself, other than the typical teller stuff, you are likely to have a very high expectation/goal of product referral and sales. If you are cashing a check for a non-customer, you will be expected to refer them to a new account. If you are depositing a large check, you will be expected to refer to your in-house investment department. The teller system at my former employer even had a ”sales prompt” or ”new product pop-up” system that had to be dispensed before completing the transaction. That said, most banks will offer sales incentives and will promote quickly if you are successful with it. If you like that sort of thing, being a bank teller is a great job with much opportunity. I can’t say that you will never have an annoyed customer at the bank, (I could tell some stories!) but I believe most people do rein it in based on the setting. Hope this is helpful.

    6. blue pink*

      I have done both jobs. A big thing is that you have to become really good at taking in info and making crucial decisions quickly. Teller responsibilities will vary from institution to institution (and probably country to country), but usually you are considered the first line of defence against fraud. You need to be able to easily recognize and flag anything suspicious.

      You also really need to be able to keep your cool in scary/dangerous situations. The branch I worked at never got robbed but there were several violent incidents and a lot of uncomfortable situations (people can act wildly inappropriate about money). You need to be able to stay calm and do what’s needed, which is sometimes helping customers while you pretend no one is shouting at your boss (the stories I could tell).

      I’m sure this isn’t universal, but one thing I really liked about being a teller was that my bosses had my back. You have to take a lot of garbage, but if a client is truly offensive/abusive we would document it and give them a warning, and if they stepped out of line after that we would close their account.

      In terms of customers you have to deal with, it’s about the same as retail. But you get better pay, better benefits, better hours, and a chair.

  17. Jo*

    No real question just general commiseration/support to anyone who is looking to change the direction of their career a bit and is stuck in the “I can see the transferable skills here, but every job ad wants direct experience and its really frustrating” camp.

    Had an interview this week and dont think it went great, but good learning for how to pitch myself better in this new field. Onwards and upwards!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I’ve definitely been there. Unfortunately, the one time I made a major shift, I was given a chance only because the job paid so little that no one really qualified-on-paper would ever take it.

      1. Jo*

        Ooof, sounds tough! I like to think this is more like…a slightly medium shift? Still enough transferable skills that it makes sense and someone would consider me, but different enough that I definitely need to emphasize different skills I’ve picked up on over the years and would have a bit of a learning curve in some areas.

        Really hoping not to have to take a pay cut to get in the door though!

    2. Rayray*

      Yes! I feel like I’ll never find a job I like and am well suited for. I’m in an industry I don’t love but it’s not going to help me get a job I want because people won’t see the transferable skills so I’m hoping to make a shift within my company because there are some openings that I think are better suited for me.

    3. Spearmint*

      Ugh I’m in the same boat. I’m ok with my job for now but I definitely don’t want to still be working in my current field 2-3 years from now. I’m currently a jack of all trades, master of none, and the only specialized knowledge I have is of this niche field I don’t want to stay in. I feel like I would do a great job in other fields, but so far I’m getting no bites and it seems like no one is interested (I even got rejected in less than 24 hours with no interview from the job I was most interested in). I just started applying after the New Year though so we’ll see what happens.

        1. Rayray*

          Spearmint, I am in the exact same boat! I’m kinda looking at a grad program at Western Governor’s or maybe a boot camp or certificate program of some sort. Unfortunately my need to pay the bills and need to accept any job kinda pigeonholed me into a field I don’t actually like.

          1. Spearmint*

            Yep, it sounds like it. I want to move more into a data analytics type job, but it seems like if you don’t have a STEM degree it’s hard to get even to the interview stage, even though I actually have done some kinds of data analytics already in my current job (not as much/as complicated as someone doing data analysis full time, but more than most people).

            1. Fran Fine*

              A certificate may help to bridge that gap between the experience you already have and what the job ads say they’re looking for.

    4. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      Yup. I’m just going at my job search guns blazing, applying to anything that looks remotely like a possibility and see where it gets me (I’m at 6 interviews out of 130+ applications). It feels like the trouble is that no one is willing to train someone with potential– and as you said, the transferable skills are there but with the volume of applicants we don’t get past the first glance.

      1. Rayray*

        Yep. They spend 6 seconds glancing at your resume and move on and I wish o could scream “Nooo wait! Please just talk to me, let me show you!! I know I worked in x industry but I really can apply my skills here too if you’ll just let me prove it!”

      2. Max Floof*

        I’m in the same boat. Out of a year searching I’ve gotten multiple interviews but nothing final yet. I know I can do the jobs and want something to grow in, but having a lot of trouble getting past the screening stage.

    5. Education-ish*

      Yes I can totally relate as can many in my field. I am in a niche, Masters level, pink collar eduction/ healthcare field that has a lot of issues: too much work and responsibility, no chance for advancement, no one supporting us. And people don’t really understand what we do. I got out of the field for a little while, then went back after a COVID layoff. I am going to try again to transition out of this career soon, and am working with a career counselor. I also have a book called “Switchers” by Dawn Graham that’s helpful, and she has a LinkedIn Learning video called “Switching Your Career”. Good luck to you!

    6. Anon for Emo Feels*

      I hear you. I oscillate between feelings of go-get-em-tiger and utter despondence. It’s particularly depressing when career influencers are all about how to make a case for transferable skills but then many hiring managers (or ATS systems) don’t seem to be on the same page. But as you say: onwards and upwards! There is a workplace for us where we’ll thrive!

      1. Spearmint*

        That’s a huge frustration of mine. Everyone says “skills are what matter, not credentials or years in the field”, but then hiring practices don’t match that. My manager at one of my internships was big on the idea that skills mattered more than credentials, but I couldn’t help but notice that most of the people in that organization working the interesting/high status jobs almost all had graduate degrees.

    7. Butters*

      Ugh, same. I just had an interview today that I’d characterize as “good” and just learned that they have another candidate with the exact experience they are looking for so I’m probably not getting an offer. My total amount of work experience actually makes me overqualified even though I’d be willing to take a pay cut to shift to a different area in my field.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Not doable for everyone nor every arena. I made a jump by taking a PT job at very entry level. All you really need is that first person who is will to take a chance on you. I really connected with my boss-to-be on the interview. I could see right where things were at for her. For her part, she could see that I was understanding her predicament and what she would need me to do. (General things, such as she was complaining about the computer. Well, I can help with computer questions.) I did not sell myself as knowing a bunch of things, I talked along the lines of “well I know I will figure it out because…..”. I was able to begin to show how I would approach something foreign to me.

  18. Saraquill*

    I got laid off this week. I’d worked there for almost 8 years, and had once hoped to keep working there for some time. The past year was poisonous enough that my lay off comes as a relief.

    Among other things, Boss ran out of work to assign me. When I returned to the office post lock down and remote work, Boss had plans for me to learn new skills past my two specialties. Of these skills, training for one amounted to “copy, paste, schedule, post.” The other, llama photography, amounted to a few weeks of sporadic training on a camera with limited focus and a few tips on photo editing. Boss and other staff were not happy with the quality of my work on either of these two fields and I got phased out with no one straight out telling me of this fact.

    As for the two specialties I already had, Boss wanted me to do the minimum on one, and I got phased out of the other. Hence me running out of projects due to avoidable circumstances. Argh.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      While I don’t recommend doing this purposely, one thing that worked for me to get my head in a better position, is to do near manual labor. I am a chemist, and was laid off from a place that got rid of me. After my unemployment ran out, I found temp work at a warehouse (distribution center for a number of different clients) the work was easy, and I actually got complimented on two qualities that my previous employer said I lacked.

      I’m now back working as a chemist and having a ball (and would have a bigger one without the supply chain problems)

      1. Dana Whittaker*

        I agree!

        On a much smaller scale, at my previous job (ofc mgr of A/E firm), when I am completely drowning in my own head on a project, I would get up and do something “menial”, like restocking toilet paper and hand towels in the bathrooms, and refill soap containers, and restock copy paper and post-its and paper clips, or water the plants. Not more than 10-15 minutes, but it got me moving around, accomplished something that needed to be done, and let my brain rest/refocus.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. So very sorry. I hope you have enough of a relief to energize you for your job search and I hope you find something So Very Much Better.

  19. Feel Go Dream*

    Can any women in marketing suggest a good online networking group? I tried to join the big one on Facebook, but they haven’t approved my request to join, and anyway, there are 40,000+ people in that one and I’ve found groups that big to not be helpful.

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      Would love any advice about networking in marketing generally – especially during a pandemic!

    2. Greetings fellow marketers*

      It might help to get more specific about the kind of marketing you want to focus on—there are a lot of vibrant, niche communities that are a little easier to connect with people in. For example I work in content marketing and I’ve found the Binders groups (“binders full of women” reference) helpful. There is a Facebook one called Binders Full of Byline & Content Writers. I also really like All In (Slack group for people working in-house in content) and Superpath (larger and a lot more active, includes a lot of freelancers). Girlsday is a wonderful Facebook group that’s technically for advertising, but you can find a lot of value there as a marketer.

      I don’t know as much about groups for other fields in marketing, but narrowing it down will help!

  20. Neon Dreams*

    2 months away from full on customer service. My new lead said I’m catching on to the work pretty well, so that makes me feel good. Being able to work at my own pace after YEARS of micromanagement has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about my status there since I was fired at the 2 month mark in January 2014. It was like my body was reliving the trauma all over again. I was worried I was making a huge mistake. Now I don’t think so.

    Still working on healing from the burn out from the previous job, though. That is a work in progress.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Why can’t trauma just Go Away?!
      Congratulations on pulling yourself through this far. It sounds like things are going well and with being less worried, you probably will start to really grow into the job. Inch by inch and eventually it all comes together, right?

  21. Overeducated*

    Remote internships! How do you make them good? I’m concerned about my new intern getting to know our team and organization well when we tend to work mostly independently with a lot of short audio-only check-ins (due to huge workloads combined with a culture of strong work-life boundaries that tends to result in a lack of personal chit-chat). Please give me your tips and best practices for making new interns feel part of the team and learning about work beyond their immediate team in a remote setting!

    1. awesome3*

      Would they normally shadow people? If so it would be nice for them to be able to have chats with the people they would have shadowed, and maybe do a task for each of them, and then report back to you on how it went, and talking about how each role fits into the larger picture.

      1. Overeducated*

        They wouldn’t normally shadow people, but they’d usually get the chance to go out on site visits and/or do fieldwork (which is not part of their specific job duties, just to get to know different people and types of work we do). I’m not sure how to replicate that. I am thinking about trying to set up chats with people working at some of the sites, but it’s actually a bigger ask than when we’re going out there to do work FOR them and the intern just happens to be part of the crew.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          Set up meet and greets. We had people start when covid hit and this last summer (not interns) and we set up virtual meet and greets where they talked with individuals about their roll, how they interact, etc.

    2. MagnusArchivist*

      Hi! I’m about to start working with remote interns again & am planning to:
      – have a 1:1 check-in every week via Zoom. It can be 5 minutes (“everything going well?” “yep!” “ok great! we’ll talk over email later.”) or it can take up the full scheduled hour, but it has to happen.
      – including them on on forwarding emails that touch on their work and mentioning in the email why I’m doing so (“Eleanor, just cc’ing you here so you can see how researchers might use the collection you’re working with. Let’s talk about this during our check-in on Monday.”)
      – invite them to all department & all staff meetings and introduce them
      – also invite them to some side project meetings that are in areas they’re curious about or areas that overlap with their work, just to let them a) see how their work fits into the bigger picture; b) expose them to workplace zoom meetings & norms; and c) expose them to areas they’re interested in.
      – offer to schedule informational meetings with individual colleagues or departments so the intern has a chance to ask questions about the work they’re (they intern) doing (“how does my data get used when you do X or Y?”) or just ask questions about the field (“I’m taking a class in teapot design — are the spouts as tricky as them seem?”). This one is very dependent on everyone’s schedules and interest though. I wouldn’t foist this on either intern or colleague without asking.
      – I might give them access to the relevant slack channels, but I’m going to wait until after day 1, when I have a better sense of if this would be helpful for them and if I can more or less trust them to have good etiquette in there

      1. Overeducated*

        Thank you! I am already doing most of this list, so that’s comforting. The informational meetings idea is a good one, I should start working on a list of people/roles. Good point about not foisting it on either interns or colleagues without asking, though. I can’t give the intern access to our chat system for a while due to security processing stuff, but we don’t tend to do very much chatting outside of asking specific work questions that can be dealt with over email as well (like “do you have this document” or “can we schedule a call, I have a complicated question about X”), so they won’t be missing much there.

        1. MagnusArchivist*

          I think your plan sounds great! You (general you) just have to check in with the interns about what they need & acknowledge that the remote situation is new/not idea. The interns I had last year were really understanding about the weirdness and just happy to have found a remote internship, so we figured it out together.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I’m only a few years into my career and I work for a large company (for context). The past two summers, I have been a “mentor” to interns working remotely at my company. What this looked like from my end is:
      – 30 min video call with my interns every week or every other week (depending on what they wanted)
      – I asked them how their role was going, if they were learning what they wanted to be learning, if their manager was communicating with them, how they got along with their coworkers, etc. All of my interns had good experiences, but I was prepared to help them figure out the correct person to raise issues with if they had run into them (because they might feel more comfortable bringing problems to me than their manager).
      – I asked them why they were interested in the field I work in, shared why I am interested in the field, connected them to other people in the company if they wanted to learn more about a specific role.

      At the end of the summer, I asked if the interns had found the virtual mentor meetings helpful and they all said yes (but take that with a grain of salt because they might not have felt comfortable telling me “no” to my face). If someone in your company is willing to take on a mentor role, I highly recommend that. Also, none of them interned on the team I work for so they got to learn a bit about the work I do and I got to learn more about what work their teams do.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’ve made sure to have regular check-ins with my interns, not only to check on their work and train them, but to also hopefully make them feel like they’re not just sitting alone in a room doing work. I also try and keep an ear out for projects that might fit their interests/skill sets that they might not normally be involved in, sometimes just a “oh hey that sounds like something our intern Lorindo could help with, do you mind adding them to the meeting?” is all it takes to get them working with other teams or expanding their purviews. I make sure to ask them about their interests so I know what to listen for, and encourage them to let me know if they hear something they’d like to be involved with or if they have an idea for a project they’d like to do. So far it’s seems like it’s been working!

    5. Xena*

      As someone who did a remote internship, one thing that really helped that I haven’t seen mentioned was having an assigned ‘buddy’. It was another staff who’d specifically been there for at least a year who volunteered to be a go-to person for all the little workplace questions—the sort of thing you could normally just ask the colleagues around you. Having a specific person to ask, who was proactive in reaching out and saying hi, was super helpful in building coworker relationships.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, I was an assigned ‘buddy’ (I volunteered for this) for a few remote interns and it was a positive experience for both me and the interns!

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, we always assign a point person to interns in normal times, even more important now and do daily check-ins at the beginning and stretch it out to weekly towards the end. We have daily stand-ups meetings with our team too and do everything we can to make ourselves available for questions, etc.

  22. BackOnTheMarket*

    Have you been given a “take home test” following a first round interview? I interviewed with a tech start-up this week and after the interview, the hiring manager emailed me what he referred to as a “take home test” – it was not a test of technical knowledge, but it was a full-on project to draft a proposal for a new management system, including graphical workflows, for an aspect of the role for which I was interviewing. I was rather taken aback. I would have been happy to discuss how I might approach this in the interview, but to draft a proposal that the company could theoretically use despite not hiring me felt like it was overstepping. I’m in the legal field so maybe this is more common in tech start-ups?

    1. Anon for this*

      If it’s the tech startup I interviewed with about a month ago that wants you to do the homework then attend a four hour interview a couple days later, my entire department is in agreement that this sounds quite crazy.

      1. BackOnTheMarket*

        Lol. That does sound like where this was going. It all sounded very odd to me, but my experience is limited to law firms and Fortune 100 companies, so what do I know!

    2. Overeducated*

      Yes. I dropped out of the process. I was like “sorry, I have another job and an infant, I don’t have free time or childcare for this.”

      1. BackOnTheMarket*

        Well I feel validated by the comments here because I thought about it overnight and withdrew myself. *IF* I had decided to proceed, there was NO WAY I would have done so without first confirming we were in the same salary range, which I *also* thought was nuts that I could do this work and then find out they were only able to pay half of what I would be looking for. I don’t know who *would* proceed under the circumstances, honestly.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’ve done take-home exercises before, happy to share my experience!

      As a candidate, in the vast majority of cases, I’ve been given tasks that were not connected to the potential employer’s core business. Some were presentations about work I’ve actually done, and some were completely made-up scenarios. Some were even along the lines of “have a think on this scenario and we’ll have a chat about your approach”. I could always see the sort of skills they were looking to assess, and could appreciate that they were careful about avoiding the impression they were looking for free consulting. I’m not in a technical role, but know that there are companies out there that apply the same reasoning to things like coding exercises, etc.

      I’ve only had one experience of being asked for a presentation on something company-related, and even then, it was a very simplified scenario they clearly would have had no use for outside the interview. In a situation like yours, I’d be suspicious too.

      My advice is to be very conscious of the time it would take you to prepare this. Whether they could / would use your proposal or not, it may still be an orange (sometimes red) flag if they ask you to prepare a very time-consuming task, given many candidates have to do these in the little spare time they can find from jobs and family commitments, and you’d be putting a lot of work into something that may not even take half an hour to discuss in the interview. If you get the feeling you’d be giving up a lot of your time and effort before you’ve had a chance to get invested in this role, or you’ve spotted other things about them you’re doubtful about, it’s totally fine to protect your time and energy and withdraw from the process (I’ve had one experience like that last year, and even though I’m still job hunting, don’t regret it at all).

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I manage a team of medical coders — we do a test between first and second interviews, consisting of a set of redacted operative notes for which the applicant needs to identify the appropriate medical codes. Basically, as long as they actually have the coding experience and qualifications that would have to be listed on their resume to make it to the first interview, it’s about 30 minutes of fairly basic work. If it’s taking much longer than that, then they are not going to be successful on my team whether their answers are correct or not.

      1. BackOnTheMarket*

        This kind of test seems very reasonable to me. I have done “tests” along those lines as part of an in-person interview and an online pre-intereview test in the past so that wouuld not terribly surprise me. I think they can useful in the right circumstances.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      I have, but it was nothing like yours.
      It was a technical task that was not something that the company could use. It took me a couple of hours.
      I would be very leery of a task the size of what you’re describing.

      Also, whether or not something is common in tech startups is not an indication of whether or not it’s a good practice.

    6. Admin of Sys*

      I’ve been in an interview process for other folks that involved such a thing? We basically handed the folks who would be hired as data wonks some datasets (that were inaccurate sample data) and had them give a presentation on what the data might mean, including graphs they came up with, etc. But a) it was a high level job, b) we wanted to see what they’d come up with unprompted, and c) we explicitly stated the amount of time we wanted them to work on it (less than 2 hours) and that it was definitely not real world data that we could use. Also, it was the final round of interviews.
      But in general, I think a good push back for such things is to request the folks handing you the project specify how much time they expect to be put into the project. And they /shouldn’t/ be asking you to do anything that can be used by them – I’d almost suggest that you say something like “since it’s not legal to use work done for an interview as unpaid work, why don’t I give you an example proposal of chocolate teapot making so that you can see my work?” Tho’ maybe with something tangentially related to the field, but still not useful to them.
      They may just be thinking this is a great way to get you started on something they want you to do, if they end up hiring you. Which is still not okay, because it still involves unpaid work, but is less sketchy than straight up stealing it from folks they don’t hire.

      1. BackOnTheMarket*

        I like your suggestions of push back but since I am in the legal field, it definitely would have been awkward to push back and point out the potential legal ramifications of using my work – which frankly, should be obvious to anyone in the field.

      2. Forkeater*

        As I data wonk, I’ve done a couple of these. I’ve decided I won’t do anymore unless there’s something in it for me – for example, will I be able to post it on my tableau public profile as a nice work sample. However, now I have a few of these kinds of things on my profile, and I think I’d be hesitant to do anymore. Why can’t the companies just review my portfolio (and decades of experience with rave reviews at highly regarded companies?). Maybe for an entry level job it makes sense. At a director level, surely my experience and portfolio speaks for itself.

    7. Mockingjay*

      I’ve had take home tests before. I withdrew from one company’s consideration when, like you, I was asked to write an entire proposal (using an expired government RFP) in one weekend. It was a proposal writing position, but snippets for certain sections would have sufficed to demonstrate my skills. (There were other flags too.)

      Tests and writing samples should take no more than an hour or two. I think you dodged a bullet.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yup. And that’s insane what they tried to pull with your proposal interview. When I interviewed for my first role here at my current company (I would be writing reusable proposal content), they just had me rewrite an Executive Summary and a short Solution Overview section for a submission that had already gone out. The original was beyond rough, and they wanted to see how I would have improved it. It took me about two hours and I even just threw some notes in the file about how I’d graphically show some of the info in the Overview section (because I didn’t feel like doing it myself – it would have been time consuming). That was good enough for them, and I was offered the job a couple days later.

        I’m with you – anything that takes longer than a couple hours, I’m passing on it.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve done a few assignments between first and second/final interviews, but none that have taken me more than roughly an hour. One was a writing assignment (set of very short essays answering specific questions) and others have been putting together presentations. Both types of assignments specifically drew on my previous experiences and were not of any practical use to the company as deliverables, just as a reflection of my writing/presentation skills.

      It’s not always take home assignments, though. I’ve also done a few representative tasks during interviews, and one was to solve a real, current problem. In that case, I was asked to draft up a test protocol for a specific thing they were having trouble with. I tried to stay high level which should have been enough to demonstrate that I knew how to approach that problem, but I kept getting pressed for details that felt like me doing their work for them. It wasn’t a conversation either; the interviewer was asking very specific questions and taking detailed notes. I didn’t end up getting the offer and maybe my reluctance to provide details was seen as lack of knowledge, but I came away thinking that was super sketchy. And that was for one of the FAANG, so it’s not just startups.

      Agree with the comment that even if this is common with tech startups, it’s not good. Any assignment that smacks of real, usable work and would take significantly more than an hour to complete is either bad hiring practice or an attempt to cadge work product for free (if they pay you that’s a different story!).

    9. CW*

      I have, except that it wasn’t take home. My career is in accounting and once I was asked to do an “exercise” on Microsoft Excel, trying to arrange and gather all the accounts payable information, and do all the accounting work for a hypothetical month while being interviewed at the office. The whole nine yards. The interviewer stood right behind me and watched within a foot from my shoulder the entire time. Let’s just say it was a total disaster. And yes, this happened pre-COVID (summer 2019), so there was no social distancing to stop this from happening.

      I don’t think it’s okay to ask an interviewee to do these “tests”. Plus, sometimes the employer may be asking for free work from you; I have heard of one person that was asked to write a marketing document for a potential job, and turns out it was actual work the employer needed done. It is just ridiculous.

    10. All Het Up About It*

      That sounds sketchy. Alison has talked about some companies doing this, but they should offer to pay you for this time, especially as you are doing “work” that they could use.

      I have taken and given actual tests, that were short one page tests that evaluated a candidates critical thinking skills and others that would have been part of their daily work, but were not real world/work items. Think, how would you prioritize these tasks based on what we told you in the interview and create a graph of these five fruit stand sales in excel.

      1. BackOnTheMarket*

        Agree! I was trying to remember what Alison has written about this because I think someone wrote in about a similar example and it made me feel like, nope, this is too weird. I am used to a more formal interview process though, so I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt and thought on it overnight and ultimately withdrew myself.

    11. anonymous73*

      If it’s something that’s going to take more than an hour, I’d ask if I was getting paid for doing the work. You shouldn’t have to spend several hours on a project for an interview. Honestly it just sounds like a way for them to steal other people’s work without actually hiring them. But I’m a very skeptical person.

    12. NancyDrew*

      Funnily, I just turned in a take-home test for a job I’ve been interviewing for. The difference is they were very clear in the initial HR screening that there would eventually be a test if I were to proceed in the process, and they also gave an estimated time it would take to complete. (I will say it was a long test, but it was also clear that they couldn’t use my writing in the future — it was a past news event.)

      Overall I’m fine with tests that are meaningful and brief. The one they tried to give you definitely sounds like a red flag.

    13. Wordybird*

      Yes, I have done this 5 or 6 times, including for the job that I currently have, and they were all for start-ups but for non-technical positions. I was paid for my work for most of them, and they varied in length from one hour to 3 or 4 hours. They all came with instructions that specified they would not be used commercially.

  23. Uncertain*

    I’m having one of those good-problems-to-have problems. I really like my current job and I’m comfortable there, but I’ve been asked to apply to a job that could be really great as well. It’s way too early in the process for it, but I’ve been having so much anxiety about any potential change. I haven’t changed jobs in nearly a decade now because I’ve been happy where I am. Anyone have any advice for navigating that uncertainty?

    1. Feel Go Dream*

      Apply, and then decide, and just know that if you decide to leave your current job there will be a period of uncomfortable adjustment. Knowing that now will help you deal with it when it comes. But you can also know that it will pass and you’ll get settled in your new role, because you’ve done it before and you can do it again. Good luck!

    2. awesome3*

      If it’s at all possible, taking it step by step could be really helpful. Not worrying about leaving your job, just thinking, wow, this organization sounds interesting, I’m looking forward to talking with them and learning more about them and asking questions. Since it’s so early, you don’t know if it will be a good fit yet on either end, so you can view this part of the application process as more of a learning and information gathering adventure without worrying about big changes just yet

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just yesterday asked someone to apply for a job opening that I’m about to have on my team, and I think they’re about in your same boat. :) I told them that I wanted them to be comfortable in their decision and that I would be happy to answer any questions, or suggest other people for them to talk to, or pretty much anything that they thought would help them with considering their options. So that’s my advice — talk to people about it, if you can. Is there someone in that job currently that you can talk to about it? Are there other people who are or have been in that role (or similar) who can give you feedback? Can you have some discussions with people who work for the hiring manager, so you can get a feel for how they are to work for? Would it make you feel a little better to have a discussion with whoever asked you to apply about what, specifically, made them think of you for this position?

    4. ecnaseener*

      Same hat!

      Remind yourself that the change isn’t going to happen unless you decide you want it to happen. If you don’t reach a point where the change is exciting (and probably still scary, but largely exciting) then you don’t take the job.

      The possible timelines here are A) you stay at your current job or B) you fall in love with this new opportunity and feel good about taking it.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      A phrase I use for situations like this is “don’t borrow trouble from the future.” Apply for the other job, and then put it out of your mind as best as you can. You don’t have to make a decision right now between your current job and a theoretical offer. Wait until you have an offer in hand (then the trouble will be in the present!) to be anxious.

    6. anonymous73*

      There’s nothing wrong in applying. You may be happy with your current role, but a change could make you even happier. Or maybe it won’t. You’ll never know unless you try.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It’s too soon to tell. Collect up more facts. You should have a stronger idea of what you are going TOWARD. Right now the thought you are stuck with is that you are LEAVING something. It just makes sense. Why would I LEAVE my nice warm house and venture out into the cold? If I know that I am going to work to pay for the warm house or to get groceries to eat in the warm house, then it’s easier to leave the house. But if a friend calls up and says, “Let’s go for a ride!” I am gonna say “NO. It’s minus 2 outside. We don’t have a definite plan or destination. I am staying here!”. Learn about what you would be going toward.

  24. Going to be the last one out of my department*

    So my boss just resigned, and I’m about to be in a position where when I leave, we’ll have had 100% turnover in my department in the last year. All for the exact same reason. What do I even say for my exit interview, when the time comes? Do I cover the fact that every other department treats us like garbage? The fact that our salaries are literally half the median salary? The fact that we’re at shoestring staffing levels, forcing us to work such long hours to get the work done some of our lower paid employees are near minimum wage when you factor in salary per hour worked? The fact that leaderahip has promised to fix all of this for years, and hasn’t? Or do I just say you’ve had tons of other people say this to you in the last year and done nothing?

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Skip your exit interview, if you can. There’s no upside to being honest in those interviews. Your management already knows what the problems are, nothing you say will make them change. If you have to do the interview, just keep it surface level and give them some white lies about why you’re leaving. They’re not your family, you have no obligation to fix them.

      1. Skip the exit interview*

        This. I prepped a lot before an exit interview to make suggestions for improvement and not bash the personnel or company. All the prep was for naught. The interviewer got defensive and argumentative. In exasperation I finally said, “This isn’t a debate. You asked for my input and I’m providing it. If you don’t want to hear it, we’ll end this now.” Should have skipped the exit interview. All that prepping, anxiety, and effort for nothing but the same amount of bad will as skipping it would have created. I skipped the next one – actually dodged it. Much better.

      2. All the words*

        It’s almost tempting to go to the exit interview, but to use it as an opportunity to reverse the narrative. To ask the company rep; “What does management think about their 100% staff turnover in a single year?”

        Of course they’d most likely give a b.s. answer, so it’d probably just be one final exercise in frustration.

        1. Your Local Password Resetter*

          They’ll probably blame the staff/competition/kids these days/other departments and fervently deny any responsibility for having to solve the problem.
          If it’s not other people, they’d be bad at their jobs after all.

          Or you get someone who agrees with you but has no power to change anything, or they would have already done so.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Do you know for sure what your coworkers have said in their exit interviews? Maybe they’ve all demurred, or the right questions never came up. If you have a good rapport with your boss, ask them what they intend to say or find out afterwards how it went.

      Then I think you need to decide how much bridge-burning you’re willing to do.

      1. Going to be the last one out of my department*

        Boss is definitely going out in a blaze of glory, verbally flipping off the board on the way out.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Well then I’d definitely meet up with Boss afterwards and get a full download on how it went.

    3. LaDonna*

      Do you know what was said in the other people’s exit interviews? A lot of people shy away from giving feedback.

      I would absolutely say all of those things and give examples.

      1. Not Rehired*

        Exit interviews can affect future references. I gave candid feedback once and got listed as “not rehireable.” The feedback wasn’t even that bad; I just pointed out that onsite team members (on the government facility) felt overlooked sometimes by corporate management and we weren’t informed of training or promotional opportunities. (I left for a higher role and more $, not because I didn’t like the job.)

        If a company is serious about fixing things, it’ll talk to employees BEFORE they run out the door. Keep exit interviews bland: “everything’s fine, just a new opportunity for me. So long and thanks for all the fish…”

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Based on what you wrote, it sounds like senior leadership is aware of the problems. Given that, I disagree with the others who say that it matters what others said in their exit interviews. Skip the exit interview or just repeat, “Our department has shared what the issues are over the years, so I don’t have anything further to add.”

    5. Not A Manager*

      It’s strange to me that when people are behaving in a way that is objectively objectionable – underpaying, overworking, breaking promises – the response is “well maybe they didn’t KNOW that this stuff is bad and will drive people away. Maybe no one TOLD them.” Honestly, if you’re doing all this and people are leaving in droves and you still need someone to connect the dots for you, then you’re too stupid to be an employer anyway.

      I think LW should say something like, I’m sure my reasons are similar to others that you’ve spoken to, thanks for all the fish.

    6. anonymous73*

      If you want to address the problems, be honest. Only speak of things you know first hand, but know that it most likely won’t do any good. Based on your comment, the same issues have been around for years and they don’t seem to have any urgency to fix them.

  25. Future Cat Lady*

    If I have applied to a job twice with no response at all, would it be a good idea to contact them and ask what kind of person exactly are they looking for to fill this role? It’s been at least a couple months in between; I don’t think I’m necessarily submitting duplicate applications. The job I keep seeing is one I think I really would be good at, and I think I have a strong cover letter for it, but there’s been no response. I know this kind of sounds like me asking “Hey, do you remember that completely unremarkable application you glanced over?” but I really want to know so I could tailor my resume for similar jobs, or this one again if I see the same ad another couple months from now. Would it be better to see if I could get an informational interview instead?

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      No, just move on. You’ve given them 2 opportunities to reach out to you, and they chose not to. Find other opportunities to get excited about.

    2. MsM*

      Informational interview might not be a bad idea if this is somewhere you really want to work regardless of what capacity it’s in, but I think you need to let the idea of angling for this particular job go. Why they keep listing it the same way if they’re not getting the candidate pool they want, I don’t know (maybe they’ve just got a lot of internal applicants but need to follow procedure), but it seems unlikely you’re going to get a different result, either.

  26. awesome3*

    If you’ve gone from 8 hour days to 12 hour days, what was the transition like? Is there anything you wish you’d known before hand?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I have gone from 8 hours to 9 hours (really 9.5 with a lunch break, or 10.5 with a commute) and it is very hard to adapt to. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust, like weeks before you expect to stabilize, and for goodness sake, make sure it is still light out when you get out of work when you start the new schedule. (ie., start in spring, not late fall/winter).

    2. Random HCW*

      Note: I’m from a healthcare context working three 12 hour shifts a week doing work that can involve lots of standing/walking/other physical demands, YMMV if this doesn’t describe your job.

      -You will probably be wiped out after you come home from a 12 hour shift and the day after you work multiple in a row. Do not expect to get a lot done during these times, especially when you’re first getting used to it.

      -Comfortable shoes, clothing, compression socks, and stretching are a must.

      -Keep snacks and drinks around to keep you going throughout the shift.

      -Enjoy the freedom of having more days off per week! I really think that makes the long shifts totally worth it!

      1. awesome3*

        Thank you, this actually perfectly describes what I’m asking about so I appreciate your feedback. I’d be doing less than 3 days a week in this case (just picking up extra shifts) but the full timers have your schedule. Do you get two lunches or how do you manage being able to snack? Also, if you don’t mind my asking, do you do the same shift every time? Or would you do different shifts within the same week (like 7am-7pm and then 11am-11pm the next day)?

        1. Random HCW*

          At least at my employer, we get a single one-hour lunch break per day, but the managers I’ve worked with have been universally supportive of letting us take 5-15 minutes breaks when we needed them to get a snack or a drink as long as we communicate to our manager/coworkers what we’re doing and don’t take off when it’s super busy. You will have to communicate with your managers to find out what their rules are, hopefully they will be as reasonable as mine!

          I don’t have any experience with changing between different shift start times. My employer only does 7am-7pm and 7pm-7am and I only work days.

          Also! Get plenty of high-quality sleep before your long shifts! Being already exhausted going in makes the long shifts difficult.

      2. Anonymous Luddite*

        Seconding everything Random HCW said.
        My old job was 4x 12hr shifts followed by 4 days off (bonus, the first two were day shifts, second two were night shifts). To the list, I will add:
        – Yes, you will be wiped at the end of a string. If you can, take that first day off as a recovery day.
        – That said, try to find stuff you can do -every- day to keep your body and brain happy. (I wish I’d had access to online yoga, etc when I was working shifts like that.)
        – Snacks are good but keep an eye on it. Long stressful shifts play holy hell with your body as is.
        – If it’s a variable shift (days, times, etc), make peace with the fact that no one else will remember your schedule. I remember getting pulled into a “very serious” meeting because someone had seen me at 8am with a beer in my hand. I had to explain to them that I had just finished my second night shift.

    3. OneTwoThree*

      I worked a core shift ( 7 am to 3 pm for example). I could pick up extra hours before or after (3 am to 7 am or 3 pm to 7 pm). If I could, I tried to keep my extra hours the same (going in early all week) vs flip-flopping (early, late, early, late). For me, it was easy to start the week off by going in early and then switching to staying late.

      I don’t exactly remember our schedule, but it was something like this. Work 2 hours, 15 min break, work 2 hours, 1 hour break, work 2 hours, 15 min break, work two hours. That was a normal workday. If you stayed late, you’d get extra breaks. Work 2 hours, 15 min break, work 2 hours, 1 hour break, work 2 hours, 15 min break, work two hours, 15 min break, work 2 hours, 15 min break, work 2 hours.

    4. Max Floof*

      12 hour shifts on a Panama schedule right now. 2 on, 2 off, 3 on, 2 off, 2 on, 3 off.. repeat… I’ve done both days and midnights and transitioned to this schedule 7 years ago after an 8 hr 5 day a week job.

      – 12 hours is exhausting. Even with planning some workout time during my shifts I’ve always been ready to crash at the end of the day and never feel like I have enough sleep.
      – Days off require planning and/or rest. I get nothing done personally on my days working so planning meals, errands, cleaning, other chores, etc.. all have to get done on my days off. I’m single, so it’s all on me; others I work with have more help so they likely have a better work balance. That said, the times I did have time and energy to pre-plan and have meals ready made work meals a lot easier, healthy, and cost effective. Getting on the ordering food wagon is easy to get on and can be hard to get off (I can’t leave work other than my 1 hour break, and thats not guaranteed) I also echo the snacks and drinks suggestion.. if you have a locker or personal storage.. keep things at work for emergency days.
      – plan to get up and stand, walk, move around.. whatever works for you.. during your shift… it’ll help keep you awake as well as help your general health
      – Caffeine is wonderful! I set rules for myself on my caffeine intake to make sure I could still sleep.
      – Swing shifts are kinda nice! having working 7 pm – 7 am and 7 am – 7pm and swing from 11 am – 11pm; I like working a swing shift a whole lot more. Live in the DC area.. so the shift does help miss most of the hellish commute in the area.
      – biggest bonus….. I can use 24 hours of vacation and have an entire week off. It’s amazing.
      – 12 hour shifts are a lot. Depending on what you are doing, you could cycle through really really boring times to very very busy times. The ups and downs have a large impact on your body.

  27. Sabine the Very Mean*

    How can I stop getting scared or anxious when my boss gets upset for outrageous things? I walk on egg shells and the way she treats people depends entirely on her mood. Yesterday she got mad at me for reaching out to our assigned Lean Coach to learn the process for disposing of unused items (this is encouraged and part of our work culture to interact often and independently with our Lean Coaches). I have no idea why that would bother her as that’s what we are taught to do through the continuous improvement process. She gets mad when we accidentally talk when she’s talking on Zoom meetings. She gets angry immediately if you misinterpret her hard-to-interpret guidance. Gets angry about stuff most would find laughable. How do I just shrug my shoulders and let her? I work in state government so she really doesn’t have the power to run me out of here.

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Find a new job. I know, you work in government so you probably won’t or can’t, but I wouldn’t want to spend the little time I have on this planet feeling scared of the person who’s in charge of me. You could bring this up with a therapist and ask for coping mechanisms, but ask yourself: Do you really want to be in a job that requires therapy to deal with it?

    2. cubone*

      I had a boss who was similarly… inconsistent, let’s say. I would feel so on edge and upset and complained a lot to my partner, who was so patient and kind, but at one point said something like: “she’s like a puppy who keeps peeing on the floor, and you keep being surprised and confused that she keeps peeing on the floor. She’s just going to keep peeing on the floor no matter what you do, so just… stop being surprised?”

      Weird analogy but it did click something for me. Your boss clearly has some kind of issue with something. Maybe it’s when she perceives her authority is threatened (even though it’s not), maybe she hates all the Lean Coaches, maybe she honestly is just the kind of person who is run entirely by mood and emotion and all the work policies/culture/standard procedures are more or less meaningless metrics to anticipate her reactions.

      Being able to shrug it off starts with accepting that she has weird behaviours you will never change or understand. Frankly, I also started grey-rocking my boss a little (you can look this technique up if you haven’t heard of it, but basically just act like an emotionless neutral grey rock and don’t justify, argue, defend or explain [JADE] yourself, ever, because it doesn’t help). It helped a lot!

      For how to use this in actual practical actions, for stuff like her getting mad about you doing what you’ve been told, remember: don’t JADE, just: “okay, thanks for letting me know. What should I do in the future?”
      -angry if you misinterpret her vagueness: “okay, thanks for letting me know, I’ll make those changes”
      -made about talking on Zoom: I mean, this I would just ignore entirely TBH
      -angry about laughable stuff: “okay, thanks for letting me know”

      It can feel sometimes like you’re letting things go or acting “dumber” than you are, but there is nothing dumb about preserving your emotional energy. There’s rarely any meaningful way to gain any acknowledgement, consistency, or respect from these people, so just don’t give them energy.

    3. Zweisatz*

      Well first I would acknowledge that it is normal and natural to get anxious when somebody acts like this. It’s not that your reaction is weird but her behavior.

      Second can you calmly and unemotionally (on the surface) set boundaries? Basically ignore the how it is said and react neutrally to what is said. “Oh I didn’t mean to interrupt you please do go on.” “Can we talk about X details so I can move forward?”

      But it definitely sounds like a situation where you might want to consider how much longer you’re willing to deal with this (instead of making the jump).

    4. Fikly*

      Your feelings are your feelings, and no one can change them, not even you.

      At most, you can control how you react to your feelings.

      But you’ve got an abusive boss from the sounds of it, and you are probably having trauma responses, which is a thing the brain does to try and protect you. Therapy, therapy, therapy if you can’t change jobs.

    5. Generic Name*

      As an abuse survivor, I’m sorry but I don’t have any advice other than to leave the abusive environment. OF COURSE you are walking on eggshells and anxious and scared because your boss unpredictably gets angry. I guess you could totally wall yourself off emotionally and dissociate and compartmentalize to the point where nothing gets to you anymore, but I wouldn’t recommend that. See if you can get a transfer to another department or agency.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        Why am I 35 and ashamed to be scared of scary people? Or think being scared of scary people is a childish response? Thank you all so much for this advice. I lived in fear of being in trouble well into my 20s and it has clearly stayed with me.

        1. Girasol*

          I’m a good bit older than you and still scared of scary people. When someone takes that adult-to-child tone of barely-contained disciplinary anger there’s always a kid inside me ducking an imaginary blow and screaming, “Sorry, sorry!” and “It’s not my fault!!” Thanks to AAM and Captain Awkward I’m better at knowing when to accept criticism gracefully and when to stand up for myself because someone in authority is behaving inappropriately. I can fake a calm, mature response in front of a screamer. But I’ve had to make peace with the idea that at best I will be speaking calmly over the sound of my inner child panicking. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow that.

        2. Generic Name*

          Finding a trauma-informed therapist has been instrumental in my healing. Other therapists I’ve seen were all like, “you’ll be fiiine” “just listen to your gut”. Well, it’s really common for trauma survivors to become so dissociated from their emotions/”gut feelings” that they can’t even identify what emotion they are feeling in any given moment other than “good” or “bad”.

          I’m glad my comment helped. I’ve become pretty outspoken about this stuff, and my statements don’t always land well.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Uh, can I just say people that go-off at the slightest provocation ARE scary? It seems to me you are having a normal reaction to an unpredictable personality.

          This is a person who has decided that she will NOT allow you to please her EVER. So nothing you do will ever please her. She has already decided this. You can keep trying to please her, but she will never be pleased.

          I think a better question to ask yourself is why do you force yourself to stay in a volatile situation? Why not just start looking at other jobs?

          You deserve to be respected and you deserve to have your work valued. Period. It’s the same basic thing the rest of us deserve also.

          Fear is the sense of having NO power. What steps are you willing to take to take back your own power?
          The number one idea would be to look for another job.
          A distant second idea would be to look around for a way to report your boss’ outbursts.

          In the end, I came to believe that I put up with too much crap because of life stuff. Now I could spend a long time analyzing that OR I could cut to the point and figure out what I was going to do differently.
          Drawing boundaries became a very interesting topic for me. How to draw boundaries with people personally and professionally.
          Learning that there are things I can fix and things I cannot fix was another huge topic for me. Your boss is an a$$. You can’t fix that. And this is not a mortal failing on your part. You are normal, she is not.

          We can’t help it if we were not taught something growing up. But as adults we can begin to teach ourselves things that our elders should have taught us. I made a commitment to start to fill in my knowledge gaps. I later realized that I am probably going to spend my entire life filling in my knowledge gaps. And that is okay because I know that I am taking good care of me. See, taking back our own power starts when we decide to take good care of our own selves.

    6. anonymous73*

      Easier said then done, but I would stop walking on eggshells. When she gets mad, be matter of fact about it. And start documenting it when it happens. Since it’s government, I’m not sure what good it will do to talk to someone above her, but maybe try that? Nobody should have to tiptoe around their manager because she can’t control her mood swings.

  28. Anonymous today*

    A colleague keeps getting really creepy “love letters” mailed to the office from male prisoners located in another state. She was interviewed for a magazine article about successful women of color, which is where they got her name and our company name. The firm address is on our website. Our HR and legal departments say there is nothing we can do, as no laws are being broken, but these letters are understandably very upsetting. (They contain explicit and highly inappropriate comments to and about her.)
    I’m not her manager, but I am in a supervisory role, and I’m out of both ideas and political capital. Anyone ever deal with similar unwanted correspondence at the office, and was there a solution?
    On the bright side, these are not violent offenders and they are practically on the other side of the country. They also don’t have her home address, just the office. She said she doesn’t feel physically threatened but is still uncomfortable.

    1. CatCat*

      Has anyone said to her, “These letters are understandably very upsetting. Are there any steps we can take to support you? Feel free to take some time to think about it and get back to me.”

      1. Anonymous today*

        Yes. She would very much like the letters to stop, but can’t think of anything concrete that any of us can do.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Ew! Is there any way to just dispose of any letters that come from the prison without her (or anyone) having to read them?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes. It’s unwanted mail. Your company has HR and Legal so someone in the company must get all the mail and distribute it. That person should censor those letters to keep it from getting to your colleague. Maybe they should give it to legal and HR to read in order to check that the threats aren’t getting more specific, but your colleague doesn’t need to see them.

        It’s sent to the company even if her name on it so the company can deal with it.

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        I agree that there is probably not much anyone can do to stop the letters from coming, but as others have commented, her mail should 100% be screened by someone else and the offending letters not forwarded to her.

      3. Anonymous today*

        She’s not the person who opens the mail, and has asked that we tell her when one comes in but she doesn’t want to see them. The admin who opens our mail has been scanning them to legal, HR, and her manager. We’re required to open and log all correspondence due to industry regulations, so tossing them unopened is unfortunately not an option.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Well, then, I think you’ve and everyone has done everything you can.

          Legally you can’t stop them from being sent. The prisoners can send that level of content to anyone they want. The letters are being screened. She’s not seeing them. She has said that she wants to know when one has been received. Your company is doing everything they can.

      1. Anonymous today*

        Legal tried that. The prison told them that unless a specific threat is made, inmates have a right to send letters to whomever they choose. They’re not threatening her, it’s more like they think she will find them attractive somehow if they send what amounts to soft porn.

          1. RagingADHD*

            It’s not a policy. The prison has no legal grounds to restrict the prisoners’ mail.

            It isn’t just one person. It’s a bunch of different people.

    3. Jo*

      Other than the obvious “ask her” – things I can think of might be someone reaching out to the prison (if its a specific one) and asking them to stop posting things to your address or getting someone to screen her mail (if she doesnt usually get a lot of correspondence at work).

    4. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      HR is BS. Her appearing in the article was successful marketing of the firm. Now they need to protect her from harassment as a direct result of that marketing campaign, which the firm benefitted from. 1000% HR needs to assign someone to both screen her mail, and talk to the prison officials.

      1. cubone*

        agreed 100+. OP I know you said you’re out of political capital, but please try to put down a really firm:
        “this is unacceptable and actions need to be taken to support our our employee who is being harassed as a result of her role at this company”. I worked somewhere where this was unfortunately common (not prison specifically, but people contacting our employees in inappropriate ways) and there are a myriad of ways to deal with it. Many are mentioned in the comments here, or seek the advice of professionals (legal, community services) with experience in harassment.

        and if they REALLY won’t budge, be incredibly up front with your employee: “I have told HR and legal this is unacceptable and they need to be responsible for it. They refuse to be and I am so sorry and disappointed in the company’s lack of support for you.” Ask how you can help, but don’t cover for their inadequacies – she needs to know how they are failing her.

        Also, please know that “physically threatened” isn’t the only type of threat. Psychological harassment is very, very real and can be incredibly damaging.

    5. Michelle*

      Does she have any ideas for how she would like this handled? Would it be possible / desirable for the mail room to screen these letters out so she never sees them? (I wouldn’t throw them away, but file them somewhere in case anyone ever needs to review one of them, like if the harassment moves to in-person.)

    6. Esmeralda*

      HR and legal said nothing can be done? They’ve been informed that their employee is being sexually harassed and they think nothing can be done? And she’s being harassed because she’s a woman and a person of color?

      I think HR and legal are incompetent here.

      At a minimum they need to figure out a way to intercept these letters. Better would be to figure out a way to stop them. I hate to suggest this, because prisoners are treated terribly, but — the prison these men are in should be informed. (Balancing treatment of prisoners against ongoing sexual harassment of this employee.)

    7. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

      Two thoughts: 1. Is there a way for her to report it to the prison? I am fairly certain there are ways they can restrict the mail that goes out(I know in some states there are rules about sending mail to victims of a crime one is in prison for, so that seems to me that the mail is likely monitored, even for nonviolent offenders). This would also create a paper trail in the very slim chance that one decides to pursue her when they get out of prison and she needs to get a restraining order.

      2. Is there something unmistakable that marks this mail? A return address, a prison postmark, a distinctive type of envelope? Could you tell whoever distributes the mail to not give these particular letters to her, if there is a way to tell which ones they are? I would still recommend someone (maybe HR or legal? Security? I don’t know who) keeping them for reference in case it needs to be used as a paper trail, again.

      1. Anonymous today*

        Legal did contact the prison. They were told that outgoing mail is monitored, but unless there is a specific threat being made or if she had been a victim of one of their inmates, they’re allowed to write what they like.
        The envelopes are fortunately very easy to spot. The name of the prison, the inmate, and his prison ID# are required to be on the return envelopes. We were told by the prison to just not open them, but we are subject to regulatory requirements that all mail needs to be opened and logged, regardless of what it is. (And honestly, I think it’s better to have a record of this whole mess.)

        1. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

          Could some one else log them? Basically, you can’t stop the mail from coming, but you can keep this away from your coworker.

    8. marvin the paranoid android*

      Does she want to receive the letters personally, or can someone else be in charge of removing them from her mail and either destroying them or locking them up somewhere?

    9. Burnt Eggs*

      I used to get letters from prisoners as a legitimate part of a past job. Letters from prisoners have their inmate # on the envelope, so it should not be too hard to identify them.

      Legal needs to contact the prison warden and CC: that and your state Attorney General and your local States Attorney- threats and harassment won’t bode well for any possible parole. Include copies of all the letters. Also make police report with copies of the letters. If legal won’t do it, let them know that you will be – the words to use are ‘hostile work environment’ as they are not protecting you from threats.

      1. Burnt Eggs*

        Following up as there were comments posted before my response. The purpose of the attorney general, states attorney, police report is she them CAN be considered a victim- of stalking harassment?? And have them stopped. Also, the governors office may be able to put some extra pressure on the prison. No one likes bad PR.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This. This. This.

        In some instances the inmate might even be given additional charges.

        The problem I see here is that only one entity –the prison– has been contacted. This needs to go big. Getting the state’s AG involved is a great idea. If you can figure out the prosecuting attorney for the individual that would be a good person to contact.
        If you have no idea where to start, call your county DA and see if there is a victims advocate specialist who can help you.
        If your company will not protect you then go on your own.
        If you have their DIN you can look them up online and find out a little more about the person(s).

        You can tell the company lawyer that you are going to go to your own county DA with the letters and ask the DA to prosecute. Or maybe not tell the lawyer as they do not seem to be that on the ball.

        Don’t put up with this crap. Keep going until someone listens because once you find that person things will definitely change.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I think a lot of people are knee-jerk responding here without reading your follow up comments. Considering the additional detail you’ve added that:

      1) Your organization is legally required to open and log all incoming correspondence, so they can’t just be tossed out.
      2) The employee is not actually reading the letters herself, because you already have someone else opening and screening them.
      3) The employee has specifically asked to be notified when such letters arrive, but does not want to read them (and you follow her wishes).
      4) The letters do not contain threats.
      5) You have already contacted the prison, who has stated that they cannot legally prevent inmates from sending non-threatening letters.
      6) All the letters are being scanned and forwarded to HR and Legal.

      I honestly don’t think there is anything else to be done as regards the employee herself. You are protecting her from this material as far as you can, and the only reason she even knows such letters arrive is because she asked to be told. I would encourage you to to 2 periodic checks:

      1) Check with the employee from time to time to see if there is anything else she needs, or if she has changed her mind about being notified.
      2) Check on the admin who has to open and scan these letters, to make sure they have support. They may need to switch off or take a break from seeing this stuff on a regular basis.

      1. Anonymous today*

        Great point on the following up. For now she wants to know when a letter comes in so that she can monitor whether they are increasing or decreasing in frequency. They’re not all from the same individual, but they are from the same prison.
        As far as the admin who opens the mail, he says he’s OK for now, but we’ve told him that if a letter comes and he would prefer not to open it to give it to a manager to be logged and scanned. (yes, in this case our exec is a Black woman and the admin is a man. Not entirely relevant to this matter, but we’ve got a more diverse team than most I have worked with in the past.)

        1. Nerfmobile*

          If she wants to monitor the frequency, perhaps that can be done in a less disruptive way than getting random “hey you got another of those letters” notifications. Perhaps the open-er could keep a tally of the letters (by day or by week depending on the scale of this issue), and just send her a monthly summary of the letter counts? That way the information is predictable, and could even be filed without looking at it if she doesn’t want to.

    11. All the words*

      You said “She’s not the person who opens the mail, and has asked that we tell her when one comes in but she doesn’t want to see them. The admin who opens our mail has been scanning them to legal, HR, and her manager. ”

      It sounds like the company has found a solution. Perhaps your friend should ask to stop being informed when these letters are received, since she doesn’t need or want to see them.

    12. AdequateArchaeologist*

      If no one se is going to do anything concrete about it (and reading your responses, I’m shocked how much the prison is just shrugging their shoulders over this. I view it as some pretty concerning behavior) can you have someone write RTS/return to sender/no longer at this address and send them back? And take her picture/contact info off the company website for a bit? I feel so sorry for her. This would be terribly upsetting for any reasonable person!

    13. I'm just here for the cats*

      Is there anyone who could view the letters without giving them to her? Like sort the mail and then give it to her.

    14. Bagpuss*

      I am not in the USA so I don’t know if there is a similar process, but where I am, something which isn’t inherently illegal (such as sending unsolicited letters) can become so, and classed as harassment allowing for a restraining order and/or criminal proceedings, if the person responsible is explicitly told to stop, and doesn’t
      I guess an internal legal dept may not be familiar with areas of law outside their normal work, but I think it’s worth the company paying for a consultation with a lawyer who has the appropriate expertise and maybe getting them to send a formal cease and desist type letter.
      It might stop the letters and if not, might then enable her to apply for a restraining order- I would imagine that if one weee made, the prison would then be expected to ensure that it wasn’t broken.
      Obviously depends on what she wants, but I would push for the company to at least pay for an initial interview so she can get some advice from someone who has experience with this kind of case. I wouldn’t except internal company lawyers to have that, in most cases.

  29. Looking for advice/scripts when a raise is too low*

    I recently asked for a raise/promotion and my manager agreed I deserved them. I’m a union employee at a public university so the process is I have to submit an updated job description that shows how my responsibilities have changed significantly from my old job description. Then HR evaluates it and determines the appropriate title and salary. They don’t look at the market rate for my field, just other employees at the university. Skewing things is that people’s salaries and titles are really all over the place, with a lot of higher earners being people who have just been here a long time.

    I’m pretty sure it’s going to be approved, I have my manager’s and vp’s support, but I have a feeling it’s not going to come anywhere close to bringing me up to market rate (I earn $67K and my responsibilities typically earn high $70s-low $80s). My manager as has said they don’t know anything about what my salary could be and does not get a say in it.

    If the new number is really low, how can I say thank you but push for more? Or, is it even wise to try and push for more? I figured I would say something along the lines of “I appreciate that my contributions are being recognized. This still leaves my salary at below market rate so is there anything we could do to get me up to that level?”

    And I am job hunting but there are few openings in my field. My job is otherwise pretty good and I would love to be able to stay here and just be paid a somewhat fair amount.

    1. After 33 years ...*

      This depends on your school. When I tried to get a raise and reclassification for one of my staff, the response basically was “we appreciate your strong endorsement of X, but regardless of what you / they say, they won’t be getting more money”. The detailed job description review and reclassification process was directly tied to the union contract, with no flexibility and no consideration of outside salaries.
      The best chance would be for your manager to advocate on your behalf – not just support, but strong statements.

    2. JelloStapler*

      Sympathy. Universities aren’t always great at benchmarking then doing something about it, and it sounds like the one you work in isn’t interested in looking outside their own house. :( Can you send them other jobs that sound similar with posted salaries? Lots of Universities at least publish their pay bands, and public ones have to post salaries online.

    3. Dana Whittaker*

      Unless they have recently undergone a compensation study to determine where their salaries come in at compared to other colleges/universities in the same state/region/of the same size and enrollment, you may be stuck within the union pay bands.

      You might try checking other higher ed institutions in the same state/region/of the same size and enrollment; if they have commissioned a compensation study, it should be an attachment in the board meeting packet, which should be publicly available on their website. It would at least give you some hard data as a jumping off point. Good luck!

  30. user5324328*

    I’m currently doing job of several people. I’m on a demanding project. My role was first defined as around 15% of what I’m doing. Since other 2 roles were underperforming, my boss told me what boiled down to: “We are 1 team, you’re responsible for everything on the project anyway”.

    So I do significant unpaid overtime. I’m extremely busy and tired.

    I’ve been bringing this up to my bosses for around 7-8 months now. He’s been looking for somebody to take some of my job from me. The person joined 2 months ago and for now hasn’t delivered. I’m still doing his job.

    I then said something like: “If I work so much, I would like to be rewarded for that”, but this has brought nothing. No raise, no limitation of responsibilities.

    Should I just start searching for a new job (after a year on the current one) or can I still do something?

    1. Dr B Crusher*

      That situation truly sucks, I’m sorry. There may be other things you can do and I’ll let others who have been in your position speak to that, but I think you should start searching for a new job either way.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Return the problem to your boss by stopping doing the overtime especially significant overtime. “That’s all I could get to today/this week. Would you like me to reprioritize differently?”

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Yes, especially if the new hire is supposed to be doing some of this work. Do you have enough capital to just say directly, “We brought Fergus on to handle Teapot Painting, but I’m still picking up a lot of the work on it. How can we transition more teapots over to Fergus to paint?”

    3. Jenna Webster*

      As long as you keep solving their problems for them, they will not be motivated to change anything. I don’t know if that means you should look for another job or, since they don’t seem to fire under-performers, maybe just start being able to accomplish less and see what they do with that.

    4. Sherm*

      Start job hunting. Management is unwilling or unable do anything substantive about this crushing workload. I know that feeling of “Well, I haven’t tried everything yet,” but you stay until you’ve tried everything, you’d be there forever.

    5. marvin the paranoid android*

      I would probably start job searching and also see what kind of boundaries you can put in place to improve your quality of life in the meantime. I’ve also worked in places that will just shrug and let you work yourself into the ground because it’s convenient to them. But once I got firm about setting reasonable limits on how much unpaid overtime I was willing to work, things improved. In your shoes, I’d try to be firm about handing off the new person’s work to him and not taking any excuses about how he can’t do it as well as you or whatever. That’s for him and his boss to solve, not you.

    6. anonymous73*

      I would start looking for a new job, but you can also just stop doing all of the work and force your boss to solve the problem by not making you do it all. You are NOT responsible for everything on the project when that includes the work of 3 people.

    7. Quinalla*

      Start looking for a new job and pull way back on the extra work. Tell him it is unsustainable and you are going to stop doing X & Y or stop working overtime.

  31. Not The Manager*

    I work in a “Llama Care Clinic”. We are staffed with primarily with per diem and short-term temps based on how many appointments we have. The exception to that is me, who is here daily on a long term assignment. The Llama Care Clinic’s manager also manages the Dolphin, Owl, and Sloth clinics in our hospital, so she can’t be here all day to watch over us. Because of that, I have been given extra duties like communicating things she tells me over phone/text to the rest of the team, and training the new per diem/temp workers and helping distributing assignments.

    The problem is, once many of these new temps/per diem workers figure out I am actually not the manager and the real manager isn’t here…they stop listening to me. It usually takes the form of trying to do the least amount of work possible, but I do regularly see more brazen examples like openly refusing tasks I am trying to assign them, or ignoring Llama patients to goof around on their phones.

    What in the world do I do about this? Is there a way for me to project more authority to these people without trotting out any lies like claiming to be an assistant manager? I do communicate major issues to my manager, but she is usually way, way too busy to deal with them in the moment so the “solution” is to email the staffing agency and tell them not to send the worst offenders back.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      The Llama Care manager or whoever has put you in this position needs to handle this. Without their backup it’s your word against your coworkers’ attitudes.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        (I think this should include giving you the title “supervisor” or something to underscore it, but you would have a better feel for your workplace about that than I do.)

    2. Free Meerkats*

      This is on your manager. She needs to either make you assistant manager/lead/whatever and make it clear to new people that you are the boss in her absence.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. We get our power, our credibility, from those above us. Your boss needs to point blank say, “When I am not here, OP is in charge. You fail to follow through on what OP says, then it is the same as if you were insubordinate to me.”
        She can even go as far as turning to you and saying, “Please report any insubordination to me, immediately.”

    3. Purple Cat*

      I would reach out to your manager for specific feedback on how she wants you to communicate it.
      Personally, I would lobby for a “Lead, Senior, or Supervisor” in your title to more clearly call it out.
      But otherwise, whoever does onboarding on their first day needs to communicate that YOU are the day-to-day onsite lead and they need to do what you say.

      1. Not The Manager*

        I think I really need to lobby for what you and everyone else is saying, about getting some Official Thing that says I’m in charge when the manager isn’t here. A big aspect of the problem is that until recently the Llama Care Clinic was both low-patient volume and staffed by a small rotating stable of per diem people who all had equal institutional knowledge and worked together well. An increase in patient volume and some of our regular staff leaving has thrown everything into chaos, and I don’t think the manager realizes the full extent of it because the per diem/temp staff will be on good behavior when she’s around and I don’t think my comments about the issue have really gotten through to her. She’s too used to the clinic governing itself.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Document the pushback you’re getting from the other employees.

          This isn’t going to fix itself: Either you figure out how to get through to her or it turns out that she’s too distracted and/or complacent to do anything about it and you either live with it or find another job. But she isn’t going to magically figure out that the place is no longer self-governing unless someone provides her with evidence, and at this point that person is you.

  32. Cookies for Breakfast*

    What’s everyone’s experience of moving from a medium sized company (500 or so employees) to a much smaller one (less than 100)?

    I’ve always seen myself moving to a similar sized or larger company, to maintain around the same level of benefits (note, I’m not in the US) and perhaps, years down the line, have more opportunities to change roles internally.

    The small team I interviewed with yesterday talked a lot of sense, and wants to make an offer. They seem to have figured out processes my current employer has always buried their head under the sand about, and talk about setting outcomes at company level while giving teams the autonomy to decide how to reach them (which was never possible for me and my team: we are always under a lot of pressure from above, and my past couple of years were absolute hell). In short, they painted the picture of a department that is in a fairly stable position, after going through strategy changes that it would be fairly impressive for a company that size to have navigated. It’s a bit scary, because I’ve been entangled in office politics in my current role and lost a lot of confidence that I can do good work…but ultimately, I need to try working with that autonomy to understand whether this type of career really is for me.

    I wonder if trying to get that experience at a small company is a smart move. Part of me thinks yes, let’s give it a go, working on a product that seems way less complex than what I do now may give me more breathing room. Another part of me wonders whether I’d be limiting myself (maybe smaller company also means fewer peers to learn from, fewer chances to move internally if it doesn’t work out, fewer interest in my experience when I job hunt next?).

    What have others found about similar moves?

    1. MsM*

      How small is “small” here? I think there’s a huge difference if you’re moving to a well-staffed department in a 50+ person organization where there’s still some support and flexibility to move around, and one where it really is basically just you, your boss, and maybe an admin if you’re lucky.

      1. Cookies for Breakfast*

        That makes total sense! It is a 50+ person organisation. The overall team would be smaller than where I am now (fewer peers, and fewer technical people too, though it also sounds like maintaining the product isn’t quite as demanding as my current workplace). I also understood from the hiring manager that, while they believe the department they lead is set up for success, there are other teams in the organisation that are still going through their own growing pains. This last part I can completely see, as when I was hired at my current workplace years ago, that’s exactly what they were going through. I guess I’m more surprised that the department I’d be hired for has achieved this much clarity of scope, because I know of companies with way more resources that struggle with that, and so I wonder what I may be overlooking!

    2. No Tribble At All*

      If the company is < 50 people (and you're in the USA), make sure you ask about sick leave, because they're not required to follow FMLA at that size.

    3. Badger*

      My company has grown from 70 to 170 people in my time here and I’d say go for it. At this size you can still make changes and, at least in my field, companies are often open to let you develop into the role you like best. So while there might not be as many official internal job postings, by volunteering for tasks that you like and generally purposefully leaning into you favorite tasks, it can work quite well to figure out your niche. So if the team and company sound great, but your only worry is the size, my recommendation is go for it.

      1. Cookies for Breakfast*

        Thank you! That’s where the optimistic part of me is leaning (the part of me that usually gets silenced by the ghost of bad experiences past!). If I join them, it will be exactly for the opportunity to expand into certain specific tasks I don’t have the support to focus on right now. “Figuring out my niche” is spot-on: that was the very reason I took on my current role, and it’s been incredibly frustrating to find out I’ve been bait-and-switched into a very repetitive job instead.

        1. Badger*

          Happy to help! I would really lean into the impression you get from the team and the company. You can also point blank ask what they think about taking on work outside a very specific job description. So far I’ve experienced good things with this company and also got similar impressions from companies I was interviewing with at that size.

    4. irene adler*

      I’m in a really small manufacturing company (<20). Over the years I've learned a lot of things: QA, QC, product development and scale-up. Most recently, I'm doing the regulatory work for the company. And- I'm the IT person too now. Just today I was handed a $10K annual raise. There is no salary policy the company must adhere to- the president decided to give me that (course, that can be good, and that can be bad).

      Now, down side: When I interview at big companies, they don't believe me that I know all these things
      (Although, many interviewers tell me that they wish they had exposure to all of the various departments as they are very siloed.). So consider where your entire career is headed before signing up with a small company.

      1. Cookies for Breakfast*

        Thank you so much. That’s very good food for thought, and you’ve expressed something that was nagging at me but I couldn’t articulate. I was processing it as “this small company has no name recognition and a very small client base, so future employers may look down on it”. But then again, my current workplace doesn’t have much name recognition, even though the product it offers has millions of end users (it’s true that it takes the shape of a website with heavy client branding). Barely any recruiter or hiring manager I’ve spoken to had ever heard of it, and some of them use the product.

        There’s a part of me that may turn out to be content with smaller environments for the rest of my career, as long as they’re reasonably functional and I get paid what I perceive to be fair. So maybe that’s something to listen to, as well. But the fear of missing out on other opportunities is real. I have other first stage interviews lined up, including a larger company with a very cool product, and I’d love to find a way to follow those through before making any decisions on anything…though I know that’s not how job offers work!

    5. All Het Up About It*

      Your ability to learn is going to be capped a bit no matter what so, yes you might only work with five people instead of twenty, but would you really have learned from all twenty anyway? And if you learn really amazing skills from a small number of people that’s going to be more amazing than learning just some average skills from a lot of people because you never had the time to build the deeper relationships on a bigger team.

      I will say that in my experience smaller places do often come with fewer options to move within the organization. So yes, this might be your only role at this place, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take this role and move somewhere else with all you’ve learned. But that also does depend on how “small” is small. I’ve seen someone move up from a PM role to an AVP role in six years at a place that was around 150 people so YMMV.

    6. anon for this*

      I did this. I think it really depends on the industry and the particular smaller company. I went from being a manager at a respected large org (1500+ employees) to a director a very prestigious smaller one (~120 people) and it actually created MORE interest in my experience. I’m not sure how much of that was related to the director role vs the company. Personally, I think it’s more about the work itself, but the name/reputation of the company does help.

      I will say, I have struggled with the smaller org being very cliquey, and having very casual HR policies. I was used to a lot of rules/regulations/policies and those just… weren’t there at the smaller org. With that said, it was MUCH easier to hire people, and to let them go.

    7. Wordybird*

      My experience has been that pay & benefits + structure (how are complaints handled? how does one earn a promotion? etc.) can be better at a larger organization. It’s also often more secure/established.

      Smaller organizations, on the other hand, have often been more people-focused vs. structure-focused for me with less regulation. I have never been paid as well or had a solid benefits package at a smaller organization vs. a larger one. Smaller organizations sometimes don’t have room for growth or promotion opportunities in the same way that larger ones do e.g. “Everyone wears many hats around here.” = “You’ll have the same title for awhile but take on many different tasks and projects outside that title because we don’t have the money to pay for that many people.”

      I find there can be a bigger difference between the two depending on whether they are for-profit or non-profit.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      I adore smaller companies because there is so much more opportunity than at larger ones. You can actually impact processes and procedures. I’m exec level and I get a much broader span of control and influence than I would at a huge company. I like to hire people who have had some larger company experience who are able to translate that into what might be valuable to a smaller company. Not in the “Well, when I was at IBM we did it this way and that’s the only way to do it” mantra, but what piece might make sense in this particular company to allow it to do things more efficiently.
      The main thing is to understand yourself and what you need out of your role and your manager. If you fear change and it makes you super anxious, smaller growth companies may not be for you. But if you find the ability to actually have influence within a company interesting and fun, it could be for you.

  33. cubone*

    What’s the longest timeline for a start date you can have when you apply to jobs? Or, in other words, how soon is too soon to start looking when you can’t start “immediately”?

    I am taking a semester of full-time courses and hoping to look for new roles after (May-ish). I sort of assumed I should wait until maybe a month or two towards the end of my semester to start looking, like in March (I am really, really enjoying the dedicated school time and don’t want to end up doing both at the same time). A former colleague just sent me a posting recently, which definitely interested me but I mentioned to her my current situation and that I won’t be looking to start a new job until May. She said this job would have a start date in April! There’s nothing in the posting that alludes to that, and while I at first thought that seemed really odd, it actually sounds like they’re just really organized and good at projecting their staff needs without having to rush urgent hiring timelines.

    Now I’m wondering – should I actually be applying to more jobs now and just be upfront that I can’t start for at least a few months? That seems a bit presumptuous and I expect most of the postings I’m seeing are more looking for immediate start dates (or say so). I have a unique background that usually makes me pretty competitive and have had a good success rate with jobs, but I’m far from like, executive roles where I think people have more sway for longer starting timelines.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yes, lots of jobs are posted with that year’s grads in mind. (Can’t tell from your comment whether you’re an undergrad or grad student or what, but I know in my undergrad class a few years ago, people were job-hunting throughout senior year.)

      Not all postings will say the start date, and a lot of them will want someone to start sooner than May, but if you can’t tell then go ahead and apply — make it clear in your cover letter when you can start.

      1. cubone*

        Neither actually! I’m doing more like a college certificate program (not American so I’m not sure what the equivalent terminology would be). Basically a short term program designed for working professionals for specialized skill development (I just decided to do it on a tighter timeline to give me something to do after leaving a toxic workplace). I think I’m more like, a normal job candidate (vs a “new grad”) who just happens to have had a brief student stint.

    2. Teapot Wrangler*

      I’d definitely see what is normal in the jobs you’re going to apply for. For instance, in the type of work I do, it is really common to have a 3 month notice period so I’m currently taking in CVs for a role and if we get someone available immediately who fits the bill, that’s great but I think it is equally likely that by the time we’ve gotten CVs, organised first and second interviews, HR has sorted out the paperwork etc. that they won’t be starting until early May. (Couple of weeks for CVs to come in, couple of weeks for first interviews, couple of weeks for seconds, a few weeks of HR sorting before they can hand in their resignation, 3 months notice – I reckon we’re not going to be making offers until mid Feb soonest and so mid to late May will be their first day.)

      This could be massively different in different industries – some graduate schemes, you apply in December to start in September, sometimes everything is done in just a month or so – you just need to ask around.

      1. cubone*

        this is a great example, thank you! Same info as I said to the other commenter, but I’ve been working in non-profit for more than a decade and this is more like an adult/continuing ed program, designed for working professionals (I just gave up on the work part temporarily because of a very unpleasant job). So I’m in an interesting spot – I’m not entirely switching careers, because I have experience in the area I’m studying, but not formal education or job titles. Think like, working in a general Communications role, and now studying Public Relations specifically (rough example, not actually my case).

        There’s so many possible industries where the skills I’m studying are used and the working students in my classes have jobs in non-profit, private sector, government, higher ed, etc etc. so I’m really torn about where to go next. But I do think this makes me realize not everywhere hires “non profit style” (aka after the role is already vacant and as urgently as possible, 99% of the time), which I’d totally assumed was just … how people hire (my former colleague hiring for May works in higher ed, as an example)

    3. anonymous73*

      I’d start looking casually now, and maybe ramp up as it gets closer to May. Most applications I’ve filled out will ask when you’re available to start. If not, it’s always something you could include in a cover letter. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a good fit and they’d be willing to wait, or work out something part time until you’re done with your classes.

  34. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    Hi all! Another new manager quandary here.

    I was a subject matter expert in A, and I’ve recently joined a new org to oversee a small department doing A, B, C, D, and E (all of which I have experience with, just by far the most with A). I have one staff member doing E, and the other was doing A-D (with A not being a big focus). My understanding is that part of the reason I was brought on board was to increase our activity with A, lead the strategy for A-E, and just be a manager for the team.

    Things are not going as planned. It’s clear my staff don’t trust or respect me (which is understandable, I just started) and they don’t seem to think I need to be here at all. They literally push me out of any kind of involvement, stonewall me when I ask questions, and lash out when I try to participate in the work (in a way that’s appropriate for my role, I’m definitely not stepping on their toes!). One basically asked me not to come to their (shared) office “because I don’t want to get sick” (note, this isn’t about having to come back to the office during COVID. She has the ability to work from home but chooses to come into the office, and everyone is welcome there except me). In short, I’m finding myself in a situation where I can’t get the information I need to do any work or even oversee their work.

    Recently we had a situation come up where there was a clear opportunity for us to do A, and they told me why they’d chosen not to pursue this when it came up before. I listened, asked questions, and said I understand where they were coming from but it’s my professional opinion that this was a good opportunity so I was going to move forward with it. They had a freaking meltdown. My A-D staff member raised her voice to me and said I was making her feel like they don’t know anything about this work and she’s “at her wit’s end”. I absolutely recognize that I could/should/must may more attention to the details of my word choice, but the reality is this IS my area of expertise and it IS my prerogative to move forward on projects I deem appropriate. Obviously I don’t want to come in as a tyrant, but I’m kind of at a loss how to move forward when they have emotional outbursts at any change from how their old boss used to do things. I can’t even ask a simple question without them freaking out that I must be asking because I’m going to change it and that’s going to ruin everything.

    Some additional context: my role was vacant for 6+ months and the team honestly did a great job without a manager. My difficult staff member applied and was not selected for the role (likely because of her frequent emotional outbursts). My boss is aware of the situation, but his solutions are for me to learn to communicate less directly and for me to perhaps focus on new projects instead of trying to do any of the work they’re already doing…not exactly a long term solution.

    I’m comfortable addressing this, especially the outbursts, but I honestly don’t know how to do it in such a meek, consensus based culture. I DO want to fit into this culture and don’t want to butt heads with my staff right from the get-go, but I honestly don’t know how else to approach this. I am not going to allow myself to be yelled at and scolded over email, that is just a nonstarter.

    Any advice?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh goodness gracious escalate this more forcefully. You inherited people who are actively trying to be unmanageable, and you need to tell your boss that you are being set up to fail.

      I also disagree with his advice about communicating less directly. That’s the exact opposite of the right thing to do. A consensus organization that also uses indirect communications is just a recipe for disaster: weasel words, passive aggression, and perpetual indecision.

      “We’re going to do this A opportunity: it’s the right thing for the organization, we’ve got additional bandwidth now, and Boss X has approved it.” Forthright, matter of fact, non-emotional.

    2. Jo*

      Honestly, think strongly about whether this is a good culture fit. Because based on what you’re saying, and in particular your managers response – it doesnt sound like you are going to get the support you need to change things (and you will likely need to change things at some point).

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        That’s definitely been on my mind this week. Unfortunately I moved my whole family to a different state for this job and it would take me a while to find something else at this level.

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      A lot of your situation resonated with me. It is very hard to move from a SME in one topic to managing a team of SMEs on a range of topics. Some thoughts that might help move the needle:
      * Sit down with your manager and assess how much support you have from him to move on disciplinary actions for employees who are insubordinate (that’s our term for what you are seeing).
      * Have 1:1s with each team member to “reset”, starting with the more mellow ones, then moving to regular 1:1s on a schedule that works for you (perhaps biweekly, perhaps monthly)
      * Convene monthly sub-group meetings on each of the topic areas your group covers. Everyone working on A gets together once a month, etc., and you go to all of them for a while to learn more about the activities being administered out of the group
      * Create one or two manager positions underneath you to reduce your direct span, create buffers, and give more leadership to those who merit it

      Good luck, this is a sucky situation! Mine was eased by COVID, honestly, it refocused my problematic employees onto all those issues and away from the perceived injustice of me managing them.

    4. Overeducated*

      Wow. I have had a manager say “this is my management decision” to mean “I have heard your opinions, team, but now the discussion is closed and I’m not changing my mind,” but honestly I can’t imagine what would have happened if one of us had raised our voices and said we were “at our wit’s end” in response. I suspect she would have said something like “It’s my responsibility as manager to make these decisions and I have; please take any time you need to leave the room to compose yourself.” It’s not tyrannical at all to be calm and firm, and sometimes drawing stronger boundaries can be a relief because it communicates that there isn’t a power struggle, you HAVE the power. (On the other hand, you need your boss to back you up.)

    5. MissBliss*

      If I recall correctly, you work in fundraising. Can I ask what A is?

      The situation you describe kind of reminds me of the situation my first Development Director described inheriting before I joined the team. When she was hired, she had two (maybe three) folks on her team, and they didn’t like her. They had outbreaks. They’d liked the person there before. But she had been hired to do a job, which included raising money and managing people, and she was going to do both. That involved letting one of the people go. Obviously nobody wants to do that if it’s avoidable… but your employees’ behavior sounds pretty egregious to me. (It worked out for my boss. The person who stayed and I also worked with told me that while she was upset her friend was let go for a while, she came to understand that it was necessary, and she and the DoD worked very well together for almost a decade until the DoD left. Then she was promoted to the DoD position.)

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        You’re right! I was doing major gifts and now I’m a DoD overseeing a small shop (just 2 staff) doing annual fund, events, donor relations, etc.

        1. MissBliss*

          I think if I were a manager (which I am not, so keep that in mind) a few things that I would do to address this situation would be to do things like this:

          When your A-D staff member said that you were making her feel like they don’t know anything about this work, responding compassionately but firmly with something like “That is not my intention. I have a lot of background in A, and part of the reason I was brought on was to bring more capacity to the team so that we can pursue more opportunities in A that we wouldn’t have previously had time for. That doesn’t mean that your work in A hasn’t been good, or when I do things differently it’s a judgment on you. It’s because I think it’s a good opportunity to achieve more of our shared A goals.” Part of that is to reassure her, part of it is to reframe it for her, and part is to stand your ground.

          I would also call the employee who doesn’t want you in their office out. Not impolitely, but again firmly. “I respected it when you asked me not to come into your office because you were afraid of getting sick, but I’ve noticed that it seems like I am the only person who is not allowed in the office. Is there something else going on? I want you to feel safe, and I also want us to be able to work together. If there’s a different reason you don’t want me coming into your office, I want to work through it.”

          There’s also always the good old fashioned “convince the board/ED to hire a consultant and have the consultant assess and redistribute workload” if your boss just won’t listen to you. But really, that sounds like a boss problem. He’s either gotta back you up or he has to let you do your thing. Ideally both.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            I LOVE your phrasing! I’m going to shamelessly borrow it to include in the big picture conversation I’m going to have with her next week. I was starting to feel like Harrison Bergeron where no one is “allowed” to have specialties.

            Thank you!!

            1. MissBliss*

              Best of luck! One of the things I learned from my first DoD was that it is always better to tackle these things head on. You don’t have to be uncompassionate, but you don’t have to sugar coat things, either.

    6. TPS reporter*

      Do you have any room in your schedule for reverse training sessions, where they show you how they do their job as if you were a new hire in their role? And you took on a few of their tasks? To walk in their shoes could show them some good faith that you really care and understand their role.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Interestingly, I’ve been trying to “shadow” them since I started. Even the most simple question – “Where can I find X info in the system” or “do we know XYZ fact” causes them to melt down! They’ve also outright refused to let me take on any of their tasks, so short of ordering them to, I’m not sure what else I can do on that front.

        1. Attractive Nuisance*

          So weird. I’m not a manager so I don’t have a lot of advice to give, but I am curious, have you been able to evaluate whether they are good at their jobs? It sounds to me like they are either overwhelmed with the work (and therefore don’t have the bandwidth to deal with change), or they’re super lazy/bad at their jobs and are trying to maintain a status quo where they can get away with that.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            By all measures they’re great at their jobs! One of them is in a crunch period for a time-sensitive project so I’m basically just handling her with kid gloves until that is over and I can get a better sense for her “normal” way of being. The other has been hitting all her goals and really doing everything that needs to be done, but also blowing up at people (including my boss)

            1. Attractive Nuisance*

              Oh, that’s good! At least they are producing good work. Do they know that you think their work is great? It’s not the impression I got from your initial comment (but I know it’s not what you were writing about!) A little flattery might help them calm down.

              For the one who keeps blowing up at people, especially, you might need to get really clear about the fact that her while her performance is excellent, her behavior is unacceptable. Could you offer her coaching on professional behavior? Again, it might help to flatter her and say you think her work is great and you’d like to help her develop her ability to communicate her concerns in a constructive and professional manner.

        2. TPS reporter*

          yeek that is rough. I agree with the comments about trying flattery and really explaining- I want to know how to do your job, it’s not about you it’s about me. I’m not taking work away from you, I’m trying to understand and be able to empathize. My management will improve (such as deciding on what new projects to take on) only after I have some experience in your shoes. I have managed SME with lots of experience way outside of my own zone and, while I admit they were not this caustic so it wasn’t that difficult, but I basically told them this is what I’m doing. You have to show me and I’m going to do some of these tasks, in a relaxed way. Like I’m very excited to do this and yay isn’t isn’t it fun?

  35. NotYourManagerJustYourMentor*

    My boss is stepping down at the end of this fiscal year, and my entire department has started lobbying me to take his place. Because of reading this site, I’m comfortable in my decision *not* to do so — it might be the best decision for the workplace, but it’s not the best decision for me! I like my job and where I work, and I don’t need to take a promotion into a job I don’t want to do just because it is offered to me.

    1. Sherm*

      That’s some Friday good news. I might be in the same position in a couple years, and I’m already dreading the “But we neeeeed you!” conversations that I may get. Congrats on standing strong!

    2. JelloStapler*

      Bravo/brava! Kudos to you for deciding what is best for you. I have turned down opportunities because they weren’t the best for me, or I would have to sacrifice too much for any benefit. It’s freeing!

    3. anonymous73*

      2 jobs ago, my team lead was leaving. My team tried to get me to apply as well, but I have never had any desire to manage people (only projects). Good for you for knowing yourself.

  36. marvin the paranoid android*

    I’m really bad at “office politics”–it feels like trying to play four-dimensional chess to me. I’m bad at picking up subtext, I try to be helpful (sometimes to a fault) and I’m not good at gauging whether someone is trying to take advantage of me. I’m also bad at figuring out which actions might be seen as using up capital vs. being normal requests–the whole “capital” system goes fully over my head.

    Does anyone have tips for navigating a system where you sometimes feel like everyone else is speaking in a secret language you don’t know? For what it’s worth, I don’t think my current work environment is excessively “political” and backstabby, but I’m new to the industry and I have a tendency to take people at face value so I’m not really in a position to judge.

    1. Imaginary Number*

      Sounds like you need a good mentor/coach, preferably someone who is external to most of your day-to-day office interactions but who works in a similar part of the business with similar types of interactions.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        My thought too, although it could also just be a trusted workplace friend (of any age, but roughly a peer in the hierarchy) with whom you can bounce stuff off.

    2. Generic Name*

      I agree, a mentor is a great idea. Is there anyone in your company who gets things done but is also generally well-liked? You could ask them to have lunch or coffee with you because you admire how they work and would like to “pick their brain” or something like that. I wouldn’t directly ask, “Will you be my mentor?” unless your company has a formal mentorship program.

      You could also look at your broader community for career advice/mentoring aimed at neurodivergent individuals. You don’t have to have a diagnosis of anything, but the things you mention are often things neurodivergent folks have difficulty with. At the very least, you are in good company! Office politics are difficult to navigate when you are new, brain differences or not.

      You could also see if there are therapists who specialize in working with folks with ADHD/are Autistic/etc. I’ve run work scenarios through my therapist on more than one occasion because I was unsure if my reaction was “reasonable” or “normal” and it really helped to hear her perspective and get a reality check.

    3. retired3*

      Games Mother Never Taught You. woman here who was usually the first woman in a job. Invaluable.

  37. The Non-Manager Manager*

    My supervisor keeps deferring review of my job description. We’ve been discussing for many months now that my title should indicate “manager” or something equivalent. My current title is “ Administrator”. I supervise one full-time employee and seasonal temporary employees when we have them, and I make decisions for processes and team/system operations. But she’s made no progress and every time it comes up she says something about making a cadence to check in every six months. My performance has been exemplary which has been noticed by the CEO. Meanwhile, at least one colleague has received two promotions during this approximately two-year time.

    What can I do to be more firm about this? Or do you think I’m missing something?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I’d recommend you prepare a draft for your supervisor to work from. Particularly if your supervisor doesn’t prepare job descriptions regularly and isn’t all that comfortable with the process, they may keep putting it off. See if you can get some sample PDs from your HR, or from someone with a similar job, then put it together yourself.

      Good luck!

      1. JelloStapler*

        This, I have helped with two re-classifications by reviewing my description and highlighting and adding things, then working with my supervisor for wording. This is also beneficial because you can make sure certain things are included that they may overlook.

      2. The Non-Manager Manager*

        I left it out of my original post, but I did try that last Summer. I wrote up my job description using the earlier version but making tweaks and leaving it editable by her. We met, she skimmed, said “let’s circle back to this” and the cycle continues.

        I turned down a job offer with a 23% raise thinking optimistically there’d be some progress by now. Sigh.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Dang. Well, it sounds like you need to resume the job search and next time, don’t pass up the higher paying opportunity.

    2. All Het Up About It*

      As an “Administrator” managing/supervising “managers” – I feel your pain. I hope you are successful with your discussion. At my company, this is just how our title structure is and I can’t change mine unless everyone were to change – which isn’t going to happen. Sorry for the lack of advise and just commiseration.

    3. BRR*

      I’m not sure how much you’ve pushed for a set time but that’s where I would start. Essentially, be kind of annoying about it. Don’t accept vague answers. If you get the six month comment again say you’ve set the timeline on X date. You could add “what needs to happen for this to move forward?”

    4. not necessarily a mgr*

      At my company, your role wouldn’t be considered a manager. Maybe they’re hesitating because “Manager” in your case wouldn’t fit FLSA guidelines (“manages two or more exempt employees”)?

      1. Fran Fine*

        Nah, I don’t think that’s it – there are many people with the word “manager” in their titles because they manage processes and OP said that, in addition to managing the one employee and the seasonal temps, she manages that too. I’m a comms manager, and I have zero direct reports (but I manage two major programs at my company). OP’s title absolutely should change.

        1. The Non-Manager Manager*

          +1 That part. We have several people who have a title of Manager without direct reports or with only one direct report.

          What’s more, my predecessor had a title of Manager, which I only just remembered.

          Next check-in with my supervisor I will be asking point-blank what I can do to help this process or what the blocks are such that I cannot be a Manager – and that I’d like an answer by X date (thanks, BRR).

  38. Dragonfruit*

    I could use some support from people who have ever been on PIPs! What did you do, how long did it take you to decide next steps, how do you handle the anxiety?

    I got out of a meeting with my supervisor and our grandboss yesterday that really laid it all out there about how my performance hasn’t been meeting standard and how we’re now moving on to a PIP. Going in to it, the meeting was framed as a more “last-ditch” conversation about support, but it seemed like my bosses had basically made up their mind about starting the PIP after filing it next week. I have no details on what this entails, except it could be only 30 day or 60 days, and will be very direct feedback on what needs to change (my grandboss basically said it was an attention to detail issue, so I’m at least expecting that).

    I’ve never been on a PIP but I thought things really started breaking down a few months ago (I’m in fundraising, and started my first quarter as a PT graduate student while still doing FT work, which was completely overwhelming). According to my boss, this has been going on for over a year(!). My supervisor joined about 8 month ago, and both decided to fire another coworker of mine a few weeks ago (not sure why that happened).

    I’m still feeling very fresh about it all, I’m in my late 20’s and have never been near this level of low output before. I’ve been stressed about the COVID wave (I’m disabled) and distracted by grad school and I don’t know how to move forward or be confident in my next steps. Please help!

    1. Anon Mouse*

      PIPs are successful when you proactively meet your supervisor halfway. I once discussed putting an employee on a PIP about two years ago but HR told me something like: you can’t make someone care, they need to put in work to demonstrate their commitment to improve.

      I would hope by now that your supervisor has given you more performance feedback than “work on details”. Go into it open-minded to feedback and suggestions, and possibly with ideas of your own on what would help you most to succeed.

      (I also work in fundraising – it’s a lot! Wish you all the best with it.)

      1. Dragonfruit*

        Thanks for this! Looking back, between my supervisor and big boss, there’s just been a lot of transition and unclear expectations in previous roles, so I think I was given grace here. But at the same time, it seems like knowing what you want to fix for a year and not acting on that until now is odd.
        I’ll say that I’ve been noticing my lesser quality work, and it doesn’t make me feel good to be giving bad product to my bosses. But at this point it seems like it might be more of a burnout thing on my end, even before I started grad school. My new supervisor has been more direct with feedback, but I think my mindspace is now at “I don’t know why there’s so little action between having a bad meeting with supervisors where you eat crow and getting on a PIP”. I feel like there should have been more warning? Or maybe middle steps?

        I’m also not sure how to describe what I need as far as support, because if we’re being honest, I think I need a solid two week break to get myself together a little. I have the PTO for it, but I feel like taking it wouldn’t make management take me seriously.

    2. londonedit*

      If you’re not sure why you’re being put on the PIP, and your bosses have already fired someone, I think I’d definitely be looking for another job. Of course we only have your side of things here, but it doesn’t sound as if your bosses have been particularly clear about why they’re moving forward with a PIP and what the parameters of it will be, so it sounds to me like you might be on a hiding to nothing trying to meet their standards.

      1. Dragonfruit*

        I am a little nervous about the specifics of the PIP, and thought I’d be able to get more of a direct answer on that before they start filing paperwork, but it seems to be an overall issue with data accuracy. Which makes it feel like a losing game, because if my data entry is falling behind, they told me they see no reason to move me to other opportunities or tasks, so I’m finding it hard to come back with better ideas for asking for support and taking time I need to “seek support”.

        1. JelloStapler*

          Are there ways to get help with being more efficient and correct in your data entry? It sounds like you see it as a trade-off with accuracy versus efficiency- in reality, it sounds like you need to be able to do both. Is this not possible due to workload (be honest) or other factors (you mention a disability, so I am not sure if that has an impact and do not want to assume either way)?

          1. Dragonfruit*

            I don’t see it as a trade-off, but I do find it harder to be as accurate with my data when I’m in a position to be doing some very data-heavy tasks (PowerQuery, Excel, and Salesforce all are big in my rotation) that need to be accurate, while also attending to a donor portfolio that is very large and setting up plans for the next year’s worth of asks and tasks.
            The problem is, I feel like it’s a little bit of both. When I got the title upgrade in the last year, I was told to expect data work but that a lot of it would be going to our new department assistant. Last minute that changed, and I’m still in charge of my big data projects while also having to do a lot more donor work than I’ve ever been asked to do. My new supervisor made the direction of the role very clear, but I’m not sure the rest of my department knows just how many more letters/emails I have to send, or how much time coordinating charity fair logistics with outside orgs takes (also a big part of my end of year work).
            I do think at this point I overscheduled myself into a hole, and need to face up to making my next big choice (job or school, probably not both). But in the mean time, I’ve been told to ask for support if I need it before, but it seems me asking for support signalled my bosses to realize my errors and put me on a PIP anyway. Similarly, my bosses are both busy people, so asking directly for support on some tasks or deadline extensions hasn’t worked out consistently well.

          2. Dragonfruit*

            *forgot to add – my disability is a chronic condition. So I’m more at risk going in to the office, but otherwise don’t have any diagnosis that would in theory make concentration, data entry, etc. harder. I think at this point it may be burnout and maybe depression from the constant changes in the last two years.

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I have been a new employee who had my probation extended, which felt awful and unjust, so I am sympathetic. I agree with the commenters who suggest starting a job search. In the meantime, remember you as an employee always have the ability to decide that a job isn’t working for YOU, and it might be that juggling school and an unsupportive manager just doesn’t make sense, and spare yourself the anxiety of 30-60 days on a PIP. (However, if the PIP process results in a termination that would then qualify you for unemployment benefits, stay the course if that’s important to you.) However, if you still like and want to stay in this job, I would commit to weekly or biweekly 1:1s with your boss to show them how you are meeting expectations (and show a positive attitude). If they don’t have the time for a meeting, prepare weekly or biweekly reports with it all laid out in writing, and email it to boss and grandboss.
      Only you know if this is the right job for you at this moment. Good luck!

      1. Dragonfruit*

        This is extremely helpful, thank you! I’ve been at this job for most of my professional life so knowing that I’ve started to fail the people who have helped me get to where I am is really taking me for a spin. I think that not leaving of my own volition is also making me feel pretty bad, like I’ve just disappointed everyone on the way out the door. It’s one thing for a new job to not fit, but if my product was good up until a year ago and I got a title promotion in that year, then that leaves me with a lot of confusion about why this is only coming up now.

        RE: not taking the PIP – it seems like there are no good answers. I’d certainly appreciate the chance to prove myself and if not, receive benefits. But otherwise, what happens if I get off the PIP and screw up again? That hasn’t been made clear and I’m very worried about it.

        1. JelloStapler*

          Don’t focus on being a failure and letting people down. We are human, we make mistakes, its been a really hard year for many reasons. Are there are mentors or trusted colleagues that could help you through this process?

          1. Dragonfruit*

            One of my colleagues mentioned during a different conversation that if I was having a hard time, I could call her. I’m not sure what the etiquette is around talking to colleagues while you yourself are on a PIP, though (would this violate some sort of managerial practice? I wouldn’t think so but for legal reasons I’m sure HR doesn’t want a lot of people talking about their PIP before being let go).

            I was considering looking in to mentorship, especially as it’s encouraged with my graduate degree. Now might be a good time!

            1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

              Sounds like a helpful colleague and you should take her up on the offer to talk during this process. You can talk about your PIP to whoever you want! Obviously you wouldn’t want the whole world to know about it but it is not a breach of law or anything.

              1. Only here because coffee*

                +1 If you’re comfortable with it, letting specific colleague(s) know and asking for their support during your PIP process can be good! A colleague of mine did that and she checked in with me and a couple other people now and again to get feedback and assistance.

    4. Diatryma*

      I looked forward to a PIP because I thought I would then have data-driven, quantifiable metrics to judge myself against; this turned out not to be the case, and that was the last chance I was giving that supervisor. I’m all about numbers and measurements, so for me, a PIP was a potentially useful tool describing both what I’m doing and what I should be doing. Would that framing help you with the frustration?

      1. Dragonfruit*

        So you’re saying your supervisor was unclear on the metrics they wanted you to achieve, so the PIP ended up not working out anyway? I’m sorry, that’s awful.
        I will say that framing it as “not just a chance my manager is giving me, but one I’m giving my manager” is helpful. I feel like things are still fresh so it feels like I’m the one being judged only, but I know the option is always open for me to leave as well. I’ll say too that gathering metrics about my job used to be easy, and I thought I knew which ones to report back on to management, but clearly that is not the case, so the framing of “knowing how I am being measured and what I should be doing” also helps a lot. Thank you!

        1. Diatryma*

          Yeah, I’d been in a bad situation for a while, and the PIP was basically their last chance to prove to me that they could explain what I was doing wrong and what ‘right’ looked like besides ‘no errors ever, and also be the clerk who defined this job and dislikes you.’ I gave my notice a week or so after the PIP meeting with nothing lined up, and my supervisor seemed honestly blindsided. I ended up transfering to a different department and receiving lots of praise and good reviews.

    5. PIPiLongstocking*

      I was on one – it wrecked me emotionally even if I see where they were coming from (burnout and resentment fueled apathy). I did what I needed to do so I was able to “graduate” out of it. I was looking for jobs while it happened and thankfully had an awesome one come through about 6 weeks after it ended. I learned a lot from it, and also I am more than a decade older now so some of it comes with being more “seasoned”.

      Make sure you ask how you know you are succeeding and how you will have the resources to do so. if they intentionally stay vague without any metrics on how to show improvement they are just lying groundwork to fire you. Take accountability for all you can control, but know also that there could be bigger issues that stem from them, not you. Start looking elsewhere and applying to jobs as well.

      1. Dragonfruit*

        Thank you, this helps a lot! I’m having the most trouble separating the emotional bits from the work-related bits. Logically I know why I’m here, emotionally it still hurts and I don’t want to get so overwhelmed by that, that I mess up my chances.

    6. Purple Cat*

      It definitely feels like you are wrapping up a lot of your worth as a person to your performance in this job. Despite the fact that your performance has been lagging, you come across as a lovely person, so please work to keep those things separate. I know, much harder said than done.
      In terms of the PIP, it feels like you have a big worry of the unknown. Your HR should be able to provide you a blank PIP form if you asked for one. Here are the outlines of my company’s:
      1. What are the aspects of job performance that you need to improve?
      2. Did you have previous discussions about it?
      3. What is the level of performance expected?
      4. What are the steps to work toward improvement?
      5. What is the timeline for improvement? What goals will be measured along the way?
      6. What is the next step should improvements not be made?
      7. What is the timeline for measuring improvement and how will it be communicated?

      As a manager, we have to be VERY specific as to what the issues are, and specifically how they should be addressed. We also commit to weekly check-ins specifically around the PIP to monitor progress and provide feedback. The goal is always for employees to get better. Be upfront about the areas where you acknowledge you’ve struggled. Consider if grad school at this time, in this role, was the right decision or not and make decisions around that accordingly.

      Good luck!

    7. BRR*

      I work in fundraising and was on a PIP at a previous job that ended unsuccessfully for me. First, I’m sorry. It sucks and is so stressful. Try as best you can to leave the thought of the PIP at work, and don’t bring it home with you.

      My biggest piece of advice is to job hunt while trying to meet the goals in your PIP. If it’s gotten to the point of a PIP, there’s a fair chance you would have fixed the issue already. Also, there could be lingering thoughts about your performance after the PIP if you’re successful.

    8. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Honestly it sounds like the new supervisor is cleaning house. Maybe to bring in their own people, or who knows. I would document whatever you can to show how you’re delivering against the requirements of the PIP, but know they may still push you out for their own reasons. Good luck with your schooling!

    9. Tabby Baltimore*

      I am so sorry this is happening to you. No one else has brought this up, but can you try to find out from HR whether your boss or your grandboss has the option of cutting your PIP short (before the 30 or 60 days are up) and letting you go? Letting a PIP run for the full agreed-on amount of time differs from company to company, and you want to be sure you know *ahead of time* whether your supervisors have this option, so that if you are let go after just 2 or 3 weeks, you’re not in shock. Best of luck.

  39. anon for this*

    I’m having a rough time right now, with work- I’m always swamped and have trouble focusing that I didn’t used to have. I think it might be an ADHD thing since the focus issues have come along with the workload increasing in volume and becoming more frustrating (poorly filled in submissions, so more time correcting errors and less time actually accomplishing things I can feel good about).
    On top of that, I’m having the issue that can happen where the new hire that’s supposed to free up more of my time needs more practice and training, so I actually have the same/more work than before they were hired. I’m also not sure if they’re going to be good enough at the job for me to be able to stop checking their work, and if they’re not, I’ll be forced to stop reviewing anyway, but any issues that come up deriving from that will be my problems to solve later (and they’ll be bigger problems at that point, and any misunderstandings of procedures will be harder to correct). New person is very nice and fairly capable overall, but unfortunately, they’ve turned what was (when I started the job) a moderately complex admin gig into a nightmare, because they’re relying on my freaky recall, problem solving, and work ethic, so it’s become a job that’s nearly impossible to teach (so many procedural exceptions that I just know at this point). We also should be a team of at least 3, and at least 2 of us should be able to handle high level stuff but I’m told that 1) we’re not (ever) going to hire a 3rd person and 2) when the top person asks about the status of a submission, I should not reference the high volume of submissions or any other circumstance that’s impacted workflow (no matter how briefly) and just say that it will be done immediately and bump their thing to the top of the list.
    If the procedure is (as I was specifically told) is to camouflage any sign of an issue and turn stuff around at a constant, faster rate, irregardless of how much work there is an whether it is all coming in at once, then as far as I can see, things will look ‘fine’ to those outside our little team until cutting corners and overtime can’t make it work anymore and then everything crashes and burns because it’s now too late to fix with another hire. I’m already feeling trapped and would jump at any reasonable way to get out of this. I know the advice, when you can’t handle a thing is to let it be a visible issue, so that it can be out in the open and be addressed, but I’m being told that this is the single thing I can’t ever do.
    While there are good things about my workplace, I’m having trouble seeing them right now and everything feels a bit Kafka-esque at the moment. I’m not sure what advice I’m seeking, but I know I need to get some of this out.
    On the plus side, since the ability to actually properly focus again on my work, even when it’s frustrating, would be helpful, and I’ve never actually been diagnosed w/ADHD despite the strong likelihood I have it, I just made an appt with my primary care doc to discuss. Maybe meds/treatment will help with this piece of the puzzle.

    1. AlsoAnonForThis*

      ADHD and anxiety/stress can be nearly indistinguishable. If you’ve never really had these sort of problems before, and you’re an adult, don’t rule rule the effect of “I’m always swamped, the workload increasing in volume and becoming more frustrating, they’ve turned what was (when I started the job) a moderately complex admin gig into a nightmare, I’m already feeling trapped and would jump at any reasonable way to get out of this.” Also note that some ADHD medications are like pouring gasoline onto anxiety, particularly when there is no ADHD. Be wary of a physician who nods along with your symptoms and self-diagnosis, quickly makes the ADHD diagnosis, gives you medication, and scoots you on your way. I am not your doctor, and this is not medical advice. This is friendly experience sharing.

      1. anon for this*

        Thanks, this is useful to know. I appreciate the experiential advice :)
        I *don’t* think it’s just the current stress though. Some things I didn’t go into are that there’s a family history of ADHD both diagnosed (sister) and likely (father). I also (for example) recently read through a bunch of report cards my dad gave me after cleaning up the garage and it’s kind of text book. I’ve read up on signs & symptoms and various tips and tricks and I hit on a lot of the symptoms and had independently implemented a bunch of tricks already.
        I’ve always had an incredibly hard time working on stuff I don’t find interesting. I’ve just been able to manage thus far by using shame/guilt to force myself to get thru the worst of it and cultivating a mindset where I find something to interest me in most tasks (gamifying boring stuff, going on little side tangents to learn new stuff, that sort of thing).
        My self-analysis is just that at this point I’ve been doing this job long enough and conditions are getting bad enough that I can’t trick myself into being interested and I’m starting to not care which makes the guilt as motivator stop working, so both of my main motivators are failing me and I can’t pump out product like I used to, which just makes everything worse.
        However, it is definitely worth being cautious with any diagnosis/meds. I’ve also read about the effect you’re talking about where the brain chemistry thing means the ADHD meds don’t work right unless the issue is really there to fix. Knowing it can specifically affect anxiety (if there’s no ADHD issue underlying things) is something I didn’t know, so that’s really good advice.

  40. Aerin*

    I work in tech support. We’ve found that the agents who do best in the role are the ones who are willing to experiment with solutions and go looking for the answers. Like, if a caller says “I need help with this weird and kind of niche function, do you know how to do that?” we want the kind of people who would say “Not offhand, but I bet I can poke through some menus and figure it out.” I’m going to be helping to conduct the next round of interviews, and while our process is pretty regimented, I think I can probably convince them to let me add a question to help screen for this. Unfortunately people seem to know what we want to hear when we ask things like “What kind of resources would you employ to find a solution to a difficult problem?” What I really need is something that will help identify the kind of people who have the willingness to try something out and see what happens, but also the judgment to recognize when they can easily walk back a change that doesn’t work and when something might cause serious issues that would require proceeding with more caution.

    Any suggestions for how to phrase such a question? Sadly I don’t think I can convince them to let me do any kind of exercise (although maybe I might be able to work my way towards it).

    1. Jo*

      Tell me about a time you had to help a customer when you didnt understand their problem?
      Tell me about a time you had to research something on your own to help a customer?
      Tell me about a time you had to take initiative to resolve something?
      Tell me about a time you tried to help a customer but it didnt work?
      Have you ever given a customer the wrong solution to something?

      Maybe?

    2. Decidedly Me*

      What about a “tell me about a time…” question? We do something like this for a similar role and purpose.

      We tend to get a lot of applicants that have come from a very scripted environment (which isn’t a good fit for our style), so we ask questions surrounding that, too.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      If you can’t do an exercise, can you do a short role-play where you play the role of a customer and see how they react to your questions?

      …Overall though, I would push HARD for an actual exercise if you have any ability to influence the process at all, especially because this seems like it would be a fairly simply and obvious one to incorporate without burdening the candidate. I’ve done a lot of hiring and always tried to incorporated some kind of live skills demo or exercise where possible (with some positions it’s easier than others), and they are invaluable. They have helped me make much better hiring decisions, with people who have weak resumes or mediocre interviewing skills often shining through as having wonderful skills to offer. In situations where the skills exercise closely resembles the person’s main job tasks, I make my decision based about 90% on their skills exercise and 10% on their interview performance.

    4. Esmeralda*

      Describe for me a time when a customer had a problem that didn’t have an obvious solution. What was the problem and how did you approach it? Were you able to help the customer? [then follow up questions that get did you try several different approaches, did you need to escalate it, etc]

    5. Teapot Wrangler*

      I’d ask some situational questions e.g.
      1. If I said “insert niche query” – what would you try?
      2. Tell me about a time where you’ve had to investigate a solution to an unusual problem.

      If you ask both and get decent answers you can probably assume they might be a good fit.

    6. A Wall*

      I think “tell me about a time you had to help a customer when you didn’t know the answer” or “didn’t understand their problem” are both good questions and worth asking, but I think they also might not get the insight you’re looking for because it’s not immediately clear what kind of trait it is that you’re looking to see. For example, I think if I were being interviewed my first thought would be that these questions were trying to look into how I handle escalations.

      Generally I think a good rule of thumb for things like this is to be a little more direct about what information you’re trying to get.
      -If a customer comes to you with a problem you didn’t already know how to solve, can you walk me through what steps you would take to try and resolve their issue?
      -Tell me about a time where you resolved a new or unusual issue for a customer
      -Tell me about a time you solved a problem for someone that was outside your job description
      -Tell me about a time you had to research something unfamiliar in order to make a plan of action
      For any of these I would make sure to also add a clarification about what part of the process you’re looking to see there. “What specific steps did you take to solve the problem?” I like very broad with things like this because, if you’re looking for a personality trait, their best examples might not be from work.

      I don’t think you’re apt to have a lot of issues with people just saying what they think you want to hear by asking them to describe the actions they would take, because in my experience people who aren’t the curious type to poke around for a solution just don’t think of it. They won’t have a very cohesive answer to describe those steps, hypothetical or anecdotal, because it’s just not the way they think about problem solving. And I mean if they’re going to flat out lie, they’re going to do that no matter what you ask, so I don’t think you’re at risk by being specific.

    7. Siege*

      We did this as a scenario question. “Person X has turned over a file that needs to be proofed and printed for a meeting that occurs before your workday starts tomorrow. One word is ambiguous and could change the meaning drastically. Person X has left the office and isn’t answering their phone, Person Y who staffs the committee is out today, and Person Z, the president, is in a meeting. Your day ends in 15 minutes and Person Q is not available to approve overtime. What do you do?” It’s a Kobayashi Maru scenario that tells us how they think through the problem. Good answers are things like “I mark the document as draft”; bad answers are “I approve the document as is” or “I work unpaid overtime to get an answer from someone”. Part of it is that in our industry, nothing is an emergency, so we want people who can recognize that. You could potentially craft a scenario like this. I find it more useful than “tell me about a time” because that’s easy to prep, and this one you have to think through specifically the components of the problem. I like “tell me about a time,” but I don’t usually find it demonstrates how someone thinks.

  41. The Curious Gaucho*

    On job applications, under the Voluntary self-identification of disability questions that usually come after the military/veteran question, is it beneficial or counter beneficial to identify yourself as someone with a “disability” (mine being depression/anxiety)?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I’m going to say no, unless it is an organization serving people with disabilities looking for employees with lived experience.

    2. Triumphant Fox*

      I would say no, but it’s based on a lot of disabled people saying they have seen a change in rates of interviews when they mark disabled and when they don’t (and getting more interviews when they don’t). But I don’t have personal experience with it and don’t work at a company that even asks, so I don’t know who sees that or how it actually factors in.

      1. A Wall*

        I have actually done experiments where I submitted the same application at the same time for the same job and marked “yes” on one and “no” on the other and can confidently say I get quickly rejected way more often when I mark yes. Not only do the “yes” applications always get rejected, they often get rejected extremely quickly compared to a rejected “no” application. That’s including companies that have federal contracts and are subject to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which legally requires them to recruit, hire, and retain disabled people, and requires them to report their statistics to the ODEP/OFCCP (what Hlao-roo is talking about in their comment). I haven’t done a side by side for “prefer not to answer” but at a glance I think that rate is similar to answering “yes.”

        I actually talked to someone at the OFCCP about it once and the person I spoke with expressed to me that they are theoretically supposed to interview any disabled person who meets the minimum qualifications in the job posting, but that she knows that realistically companies tend to not be compliant with that even though they have to report their figures. I told her what my experience was and it didn’t surprise her in the least. She indicated that there’s isn’t exactly as much enforcement on their end as you’d hope, which is how it ends up that nowhere actually seems to follow the regulations as they are on paper.

        I have considered writing into AAM about this, because I have taken to always marking “no” even though that’s essentially a lie. I don’t feel like it’s wrong to do (what’s wrong here is that some companies definitely do seem to illegally use those responses to reject disabled applicants) but I do wonder if it could ever bite me in the butt later. Typically I do not have to request accommodations at any job from the start, but if I did, I wonder what would happen if I marked “no” and then came in immediately asking for accommodation.

        Would love it if everyone everywhere started honestly answering this as “yes” and companies had to start taking disabled applicants more seriously because filtering them all out meant losing a huge amount of their candidate pool. Realistically, a huge percentage of the population has some kind of chronic condition that falls into this criteria, it’s just that most of them don’t realize it.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That question is (supposed to be) simply for information/data gathering, but I look at it as asking about whether you require accommodations. For example, I have anxiety but it’s well managed and I don’t need any accommodations for it, so I answer that with a “no”. However, if I suffered in a way that required documentation and accommodations (like working from home more than is typical, a specific type of desk, a specific type of location), I would answer “yes”.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I used to answer “no” to the disability question because I don’t think of myself as having a disability. During my most recent job search, I saw celiac disease (which I have) on the “example disabilities” list. The first time I saw it, I wasn’t sure the best way to respond so I put “prefer not to answer” because “yes” and “no” each felt a little bit like lying. The second time I saw it, the company also included that because they accept federal funds, they are required to collect the information to prove that at least 7% of the people they hire have disabilities. So on that application I put “yes.” So far, I’ve only answered “yes” on the one application, so that’s not a big enough sample size to notice a difference in call back rates between when I answer “yes” and when I answer “no.”

      1. Dragonfly7*

        I also have celiac and just started my first job search since diagnosis. I went ahead and put yes on the three applications that have asked so far. I wasn’t interviewed for the first, and the other two were posted too recently to be able to judge the outcome. I’d love to know how this turns out for you!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I haven’t been keeping track of which companies asked about disabilities and how I answered for each company. I can tell you that in my most recent job search, I applied to ten places, had phones screens with two companies (one of which for sure did not ask about disabilities, the other I can’t remember but if they did ask, I said “no”), interviewed with the second company, received and accepted an offer from them.

          This thread has me thinking that when I job search in the future, I’ll answer differently on various applications keep track of how I answered and the company’s response to see if any pattern emerges. I agree with A Wall above that if everyone honestly answered “yes,” companies would have to take it more seriously because a significant portion of the application pool would be answering “yes.” To be clear, the people who mark “no” instead of “yes” are not responsible for this situation; that blame falls squarely on the companies.

    5. Silverose*

      I always put “prefer not to answer”. Hiring manager isn’t supposed to see that part of the application (it’s meant for federal reporting by agencies that get federal funding), but I’m a distrustful sort of person and have seen too much disability discrimination in the workplace (and I work in the social service nonprofit sector these days) to trust that. I would suggest the same answer on the race/ethnicity question in that same section.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        The most recent time I served on a hiring committee, we did see all of the preferred veteran status responses on the applications but no disability or demographic responses. Of course, it’s possible everyone declined to answer them.

    6. Max Floof*

      I have the same disability, which I had never realized was one until recently, despite having had them both for likely decades. I’ve been clicking yes on them for the most part. I haven’t noticed a difference in reception; I’m trying to stretch my skills in my job search anyway. I honestly think I’ve clicked it more for myself to acknowledge that all my struggles count for something. I keep hoping it’ll help. *shrugs*

    7. Scotlibrarian*

      I (UK) work for local government and we do the Guaranteed Interview Scheme, which means that if someone says yes to the disability question, and meet all the essential characteristics for the job (but not necessarily the desirable characteristics), then we will interview them. Also, if they don’t have the essential characteristics, then our rejection email will specically say something about why we didn’t invite them to interview (your application did not demonstrate your experience of working in a team). We don’t ask anything more about the disability, although people can contact us to ask for a reasonable adjustment related to interview. So, I have interviewed people who would not have otherwise have been interviewed because they ticked the disability box.

    8. PollyQ*

      I believe that companies are supposed to split off those answers so that the people that actually do the hiring don’t even see them, although I’m sure that’s not 100% what happens everywhere.

  42. Zooming for the interview*

    Hi AAM community, I could really use your advice on virtual interviews! I’m interviewing through zoom for the first time and I’ve had a few odd scenarios. I’m interviewing with a company for a position I feel I’m very well qualified for, but I got a vibe from the interviewer that she was just not interested at all in meeting with me. She spent the entire interview looking at two screens that were not the same one as her camera, so she didn’t actually look at me once throughout the zoom interview. I could also see, because of the camera angle, that she was typing and navigating between windows with a mouse during the interview, and her facial expressions when looking at the other screens made me think she was answering her emails or in a chat conversation during our interview. It’s not like the interview started normally and she checked out, it was like this from the beginning. Should I take this to mean that they weren’t serious about hiring me and to expect they won’t contact me for a follow up? If they do, is this a red flag about the company culture? When I’m on the interview side, I always give the candidates my full attention out of respect for their time. However I was recently in a virtual interview with another company where the interviewer didn’t even turn on her camera, so maybe this is the norm and my expectations are off?

    This kind of stuff really throws me off when I’m interviewing so any tips on how to get past it and not read into it, if it really is normal, would be helpful. Thank you!!!

    1. Jo*

      Not the norm. I’ve had quite a few zoom interviews, people generally give you their full attention (even if the camera is off you can usually tell).

      Sounds like bad interviewers, proceed with caution if you go ahead at these companies.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      With any interview, your safest bet is to proceed as though you didn’t get the job. Continue looking at other postings, working on your cover letter, tapping into your network where appropriate.

      For this instance, I think it’s one of those things that should be one data point among many. It’s not necessarily a red flag on it’s own. Your interviewer might have been taking notes or troubleshooting a tech issue or dealing with The One Fire a Year that doesn’t reflect her normal working style. If you do get called for another interview, pay close attention to how well they engage with you and how much that matters for you and this position.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Are you sure she wasn’t reading interview questions off the screen and typing in your answers? Or trying to serve as a go-between via email or a chat app with somebody else who wanted to ask questions but couldn’t be at the interview?

      I’d put a lot more weight on how she actually asked the questions and if she asked any followups than I would on eye contact. Did she actually show interest, or was it a completely perfunctory interview? Did you get a chance to ask questions, and if so how did she respond?

      1. Loulou*

        Yes, I found it odd that OP jumped to “she was doing something else” and not “she was taking notes on her computer,” unless there were other clues that made her seem not engaged.

        Also, I’ve read all the “look at the camera, not at your screen!” tips, but as far as I can tell in my own meetings nobody looks at the camera and everyone looks at the screen when they’re zooming. OP, you said you’re new to this so maybe you don’t realize this, but there’s zero way to tell if someone is looking at your video on their screen or something else based on where their eyes are — you’d only be able to tell if they’re looking directly at the camera.