open thread – January 7-8, 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.

{ 1,200 comments… read them below }

  1. high performer*

    How do you deal/tolerate a low performing team member? I’m on a team of 4 in a newly created position. We don’t have any hard metrics yet. The last couple weeks half our team has been out with COVID, so it’s been just me and the low performer. I estimate I’ve been doing 75-80% of the workload. What this person does take on, they cannot complete themselves and often needs to ask for help from myself, from other people, from several people on the same question. I’ve been carrying the load, and I’m exhausted, and I’m not sure if it looks petty to bring it up to my manager. He has little visibility in the day to day operations, so as long as the work gets done he seems to be satisfied. But I don’t think he realizes that I am the one doing it all. We do however, have another manager that crosses our paths daily, has been giving low-performer additional training for some time, and I believe is well aware of at least the technical skills issues. Do I bring up the division of workload to my direct manager (and how do I do it without looking like complaining) or do I just hold my tongue and hope it’ll work itself out another way, perhaps through our other manager?

    1. Sunflower*

      Well half your team is out and you and one other person are being expected to pick up all the work…so it sounds like this low performer is maybe not actually low performing and just has way too much work? If half your team is out for WEEKS(!!!!), the solution is not to give you and the other person all the work. Your manager needs to manage the situation- and possibly take on some work themself.

      I wouldn’t even include the new person in your conversation with the manager. I would tell them ‘look it’s been weeks and I can no longer sustain this workload at this level. Are there any plans in place to hire temp staff or reorganize priorities?’ and offer to help out in whatever way you can.

      Honestly I don’t blame your coworker for not going above and beyond. This is NOT either of your problems and your manager isn’t doing his job.

      1. Rayray*

        Yeah, I know when I’m overwhelmed and feel like I can’t get my head above water, I lose motivation and it’s super difficult to perform as well. Doesn’t matter if I put in more hours or what, it’s just hard to get done.

      2. high performer*

        I should clarify – our workload has been naturally slower in this past week due to the new year. So while I have picked up a lot of the work, it has been manageable between the two of us. It’s just that I’m doing the lion’s share.

        1. Fran Fine*

          This is the story of my mother’s life with her direct teammate – it’s been going on for 13 years across multiple different managers. She has reported her underperforming colleague several times and nothing changes. She continues to do most of the work for very little pay and because of her age and lack of degree, she doesn’t believe she can find anything else, so she just sucks it up.

          Try taking this information about the workload distribution to your boss. If nothing changes and you still can’t manage, consider going to your boss’s boss. Hopefully things get better when the rest of your team gets healthy and comes back.

    2. Bluebelle*

      Ugh, that sucks. I would talk to your manager about the workload you are taking on and not mention what the other person is doing or not doing. Just lay out the work you are doing and ask if they can help you manage the priorities, from this they should be able to see that you are doing the majority of the work.

    3. TimeTravlR*

      I don’t know if this fits your exact circumstances but we have a low performer on our team who is being given some of my stuff because I had way too much. It has taken a long time to get her up to speed and is still a work in progress, but one thing I have done is ask her to look over the task, document, whatever, and then come to me with what she thinks is the best approach. Then we talk it through. Or she talks it through with our supervisor. I think this doesn’t exactly fit but perhaps is something you can use sometimes?

    4. Mostly Managing*

      This is where you use Alison’s “explain the impact on your self without naming and shaming” routine.

      Go to your manager and say something like, “with Sam, Pat, and Riley all out sick, I’m finding all their work has landed on me. Obviously this is not sustainable, so how would you like me to prioritize?”

      The subtext is that Low Performer hasn’t picked up any of the extra, but the issue is how it affects your workload.

      1. Mama Sarah*

        This is awesome. I would add try not to take any thing personally and take rest days when you need them.

    5. C*

      This is coming from experience with very similar work distributions as you: speak up. To whatever leader makes the most sense in your situation. Maybe frame it as not being sustainable for you to take on x amount of Bob’s workload so what should you put on the backburner for now?

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Bring it up as a process thing, maybe? “Gee boss, at this point, I’m wondering if we should re-think our process. It looks like Fergus can do X and Y but I’m taking on a lot of the Z. I know we’re in a learning curve, and the rest of the team hasn’t come in yet, so in the meantime, could I suggest that Fergus focus on X and the Y that he can do, and I’ll bring the list to completion by doing all of the Z.”
      (if this isn’t something that’s possible, you’ve raised the training need, which is not your responsibility to resolve)

      AND for goodness sakes — point out that this is a NEW position with a Team of 4 that is actually a team of 1.5, so any deadlines/workload expectations should be adjusted accordingly. So again, put it back on your manager “how would you like me to prioritize the teapots until the whole team is up to speed?”

    7. Essentially Cheesy*

      You do need to talk to your manager, even if you need to get a fresh perspective on the situation. What are the expectations? Are you maybe pushing yourself too hard, doing 75% of the work, or is your report really falling behind? Maybe they are a low performer but are you also being an over-achiever and practically killing yourself?

      I am not sure that your employer would expect two people to get the work of four people done. Maybe it’s due time for expectations/reality check for all.

      1. Anonymous4*

        When you’re got a lot of expertise at a job and a new employee arrives, you’re naturally going to be carrying more of the load. No matter how badly as you need someone to pick up part of the load, that new employee is going to be an additional time-and-effort burden because you have to train and mentor that person. And even when the new employee gets the hang of things, their output is going to be less than yours because you’ve been doing it so long and can tear through an assignment quickly and effectively.

        But I agree completely — expecting two people to do the work of four is completely unreasonable. The manager has got to establish priorities and lift some of that crushing load or High Performer is going to collapse from exhaustion and stress, and that poor newcomer is going to wig out because everything will fall on THEM. Not a good outcome for anyone!

    8. Artemesia*

      This is one of those things where you don’t want to be perceived as endless whining about his performance. SO to avoid that you need to sit down with your supervisor with the data. % you have had to do and the examples of where even when he works on a project he can’t complete it. Lay it out clearly as a problem for the department. And put some boundaries on how much overtime you are willing to put in to carry the load. It is reasonable with people out sick to have to do more work — but with a poor performer, you are looking at doing his work forever and at some point you. need to focus on your share, get it done, and go home. Make sure your boss understands the situation clearly and then start having some boundaries on your hours of work.

    9. Annony*

      I think it is important to bring it up with your manager but it may be better to focus on the the fact that the amount of work you are doing is unsustainable rather than your coworker’s performance depending on other information. Is your coworker supposed to be at the same level as you? Also, are they normally able to handle the work but cannot take on the additional workload with the other two people out or were there problems even before your other coworkers went out sick? Normally, it seems like they would only need to do 25% of the work so doing 20-25% is almost pulling their weight (not ideal but not nearly as egregious, especially if they are less experienced than the rest of the team). Talk to your manager about a short term solution for how to deal with the added workload ASAP and then figure out what you need long term after your coworkers get back and the job is back to normal.

      1. high performer*

        Low-performer hasn’t just been a low performer in the last couple of weeks while people were out sick. They have been like this since they were hired (which was before me, mind you) and I was warned that they were not the first-choice candidate, but a distant second. They’ve been slow to pick things up all along. As the team learns a new skill, it has always taken low-performer much much longer to be effective with that skill. If I had to put numbers on it, I would say I’m picking up 30-35% of the workload when we have a fully functioning team, she is at perhaps 15-20%. I am naturally a fast learner and higher performer, so I’m ok with picking up a little bit extra, but the past couple weeks have really highlighted the disparities.

        1. Cold Fish*

          High Performer myself – In the times I’ve found myself with jobs where multiple people are pulling from the same work pile and found myself getting a little aggravated but it wasn’t in suitable complaint territory, I have found it helpful to keep a personal spreadsheet logging the metrics. I find it usually works more in my favor to have the numbers available rather than just look like I’m complaining. Then if you do feel overwhelmed you can go to your manager with “Typically I handle about 30 jobs a month, but with Y & Z out I’ve had to take on 50 this month. I just can’t do it anymore.” At the very least, when it comes down to review time, you have something to take to your manager to say “While Y & Z were out with COVID I covered 75% of the work that came into the department.” and back it up with numbers.

        2. I should really pick a name*

          What would happen if you didn’t pick up more than your share of the workload?

          1. high performer*

            It would still be there the next day, and the next day, and the next day. We do have an team we can overflow to if need be and given that our team members have been out sick it would be reasonable. We truly have been able to manage this week, and I have not been killing myself to do it because the work naturally slowed down. So the volume of work is not necessarily the issue so much as the disparity of what I can complete vs low-performer. It’s just that this week being stuck in a room with only them has really highlighted that disparity.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              What I’m getting at, is if you stop picking up extra work, will it become more obvious to higher ups that your co-worker isn’t doing enough?

            2. Not So NewReader*

              There’s your answer. Ask the boss since you’re down half the team can you (he?) start sending stuff to overflow. It’s self-explanatory that 2 people cannot do the work of 4 people.

              I hope you are not answering too many of this guy’s Qs. If yes, start sending him to the boss for answers.

            3. Observer*

              I get that the disparity is what’s annoying you right now. But what you need to bring to your manager is the potential impact on performance. As the work picks up, do NOT kill yourself. Do a high level of work as yo always do, then let the rest overflow, and talk to your boss. If he’s ok with the overflow, then fine. If not, well, he’s going to have to figure out how to deal with it in a way that’s not you taking it all on.

        3. Alice*

          It sounds like a rough situation for you. But I am struck by the fact that you have been told X was a distant second choice when she was hired, before you were around. How is that possibly useful info for a colleague to know? Why is your boss (or whoever told you that info) telling you that instead of managing the person out?

          1. tamarack & fireweed*

            I wondered, too.

            Lower performing co-workers, or co-workers who aren’t used in a way that most fits their strengths, are a fact of life. Unless someone is being dishonest or is campaigning against you, you don’t have a co-worker problem, you have a manager problem. It sounds like your direct manager is absent and the senior co-worker who has a day-to-day presence isn’t in a position to lead the team. The management job of putting together a performant *team* where everyone is happily going about their work isn’t being done, and TBH your co-worker is unlikely to be any happier about the situation than you are – they’re not getting the best of them either. Being overloaded is frustrating, and so is constantly having to work in a state of feeling comparatively incompetent.

            Managing your co-worker’s performance isn’t your job – managing your own workload, together with your manager, is. Also, having your exceptional contribution recognized doesn’t require you to dunk on your co-worker.

            1. Mannequin*

              “ Managing your co-worker’s performance isn’t your job – managing your own workload, together with your manager, is. Also, having your exceptional contribution recognized doesn’t require you to dunk on your co-worker.”

              This is it, in a nutshell

        4. Summer Day*

          Well… if you’re picking up 35%, low performer 15% and the other two team members 25% each… honestly… I think this happens a lot in work places. It’s seldom that everyone works with the same efficiency. I think you want to be the high performer for promotions/ pay rise negotiations. To me the issue here is you are exhausted, you are two years into a pandemic and you are currently short staffed and the workload is manageable but a stretch at the current staffing. I think you need to discuss this with your boss but personally I would leave out comment on disparities in workload unless it’s a “until Jane gets up to speed on X all of Y task falls to me”. Complaints at a time when you have been short staffed for weeks and covering for coworkers are less likely to be taken seriously as from your bosses perspective they are probably expecting that you will be somewhat stretched.

    10. A Simple Narwhal*

      Oh my gosh please say something to your manager! You are going to burn out, and it sounds like you’re starting to already. It’s not sustainable to have two people doing the work of 4, and it’s not petty to mention that. Depending on your type of work, there’s a good chance that the goal/expectation is not be that your team will be able to get everything done. Especially if your remaining coworker is spending more of their time training and is less available to work on the queue.

      A good manager (or even a mediocre one) isn’t going to see you bringing this up as just complaining.

    11. Leah K.*

      I am a manager who recently discovered a similar problem on my team. I am not the low performer’s direct supervisor or functional supervisor (I am three steps above him on a reporting chain – so very little visibility to his day-to-day work). I am very frustrated that this information has not been brought up to my attention much sooner because certain decisions, including promotion/compensation related decisions have been made without taking this information into account.
      The issue will not work itself out if your boss does not know there is an issue. Now, there is always a chance that the boss finds out about the issue and simply won’t care. But then you have a “boss problem” not a “low performing coworker problem”. I don’t have a good advice on how to bring up the unfair division of labor without sounding like you are complaining because I personally would not have a problem with someone point blank telling me that they are carrying 80% of the workload because that is a very valid thing to complain about.


      Call in sick for a few days if you have the sick days available. Let them figure it out.
      Frankly, it sounds like you could use (and truly deserve) some mental health days to take care of yourself.

      1. high performer*

        I wish! We are not allotted any sick days, so unfortunately that would eat into my PTO a bit.

    13. Attractive Nuisance*

      Absolutely you should bring it up! It’s the manager’s job to manage who does what work – the fact that your manager doesn’t seem interested in that part of his job doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push it back to him. I’m not sure if your manager is the one who assigns tasks to people, or if team members assign tasks to each other. Either way, the manager should know that one team member is routinely unable to complete the tasks they are assigned (and you should perhaps stop picking up the slack, or at least alert the manager when you are taking over someone else’s work).

    14. Anonandannoyed*

      Honestly, I’m trying not to give as many f*cks any more, I think that’s part of the problem, caring too much, so we take on the load. Until and unless something is not getting done, and usually it has to be a pretty important think, no manager will step in to correct the problem.

    15. anonymous73*

      Yes speak to your manager. If they’re not in it day to day, the only way they can know is if you talk to them about it. Anytime someone else’s performance is affecting you and your ability to get your work done, you need to talk to your manager. It’s not complaining or tattling, it’s stating facts. While this situation may be unique because of the others that are out right now, I’m guessing it happens at other times too.

      And if someone keeps asking you the same questions over and over…if it’s documented, tell them where to find it. If it’s not, let them know that you expect them to write it down. And then stop answering their questions. You’re not doing them or yourself any favors.

    16. Observer*

      You need to brig it up to your manager, because he’s the only one who can help with the situation. Tell you boss that as he knows, the place is short-staffed because half the group is out sick right now. But you are also carrying most of the rest of the load, and that’s unsustainable even in the short term. At minimum, you need some guidance on how to prioritize and which balls will do the least damage if they get dropped.

    17. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      We don’t have any hard metrics yet. [Why? Everyone needs metrics of some sort.]
      The last couple weeks half our team has been out with COVID [It’s causing issues everywhere.]

      Is low performer really a that low of a performer? I know it looks and feels this way right now (and not saying what you sense about them is wrong) but given the lack of metrics is it possible they don’t even know they’re under-performing or know what “good” is? Also, is low performer even supposed to be on the same level as you? Are they newer to the company, or is this their first job kind of thing where they’re still somewhat in training? Many factors at play here. I think you should discuss with your manager, not so much as to blame low performer, but to get a sense of what everyone on the team ought to be doing and to what level.

    18. Clearlier*

      It might be worth figuring out what you want here. This post mentions exhaustion but comments further down suggest that your current workload is manageable because it’s quiet at the moment.
      If you’re worried about what it’s going to be like when things pick up then discuss that with your manager.
      If you’re concerned that your contribution is not being adequately recognised then bring that up.
      If you’re concerned that the other employee will mess things up and cause problems down the line then bring that up.

      There are many other concerns that could be listed but my point is that while it’s not really your place to assess the performance of a colleague for you manager it’s absolutely your place to flag issues that are caused by poor performance. Also, have idea for solutions, of course your manager will have to make the decisions but if you’re raising the issue you’ll likely be in a position to influence (suggesting firing the colleague wouldn’t normally be a good option here) and it gives you an opportunity to stand out and build trust if you do it well.

    19. meagain*

      Is your position a newly created position or is this a newly created team and you are all new to this role? How long ago is “new” ? If half of your team has been out with COVID over the past couple of weeks, I think it’s hard to get a sense of if this is a temporary issue or a long-term one. Are you both just doing regular tasks or are you providing additional/different coverage for the team members who have been out of the office? Do they have duties that you and the low performer don’t typically do? Will this improve when you are back to a team of 4?

      Does the low performer just need more training so that they know how to do the role better? Are they asking for help on HOW to complete jobs – like questions? Or are they asking for help to complete work that they didn’t finish? Are these technical issues where they need to learn? Or are they lazy and just don’t have a sense of urgency and don’t care?

  2. WonderMint*

    I have a near impossible time understanding my coworker, who I often work with as our roles overlap. I’m newer to this job where as he has been here for two years, meaning our department went from one (just him) to two (me and him) recently.

    His English isn’t very strong, and he’s constantly using incorrect words. Quick checkins turn into half hour meetings because it takes a while to get on the same page. Malapropisms are often (he’ll say he doesn’t understand the “context”, and after taking time to go over circumstances, it will become obvious what he means is “content.”) I also fear he tells me that he understands direction when it’s reveled weeks later he didn’t. When I ask him to repeat what I’ve said in his own words he gets defensive. Any advice? English is not his first language if that isn’t clear, so I’m trying to handle this delicately.

    1. Massive Dynamic*

      Does the communication get any better over email as opposed to in person? If so, can you move check-ins to email updates instead?

    2. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I work with non native English speakers in my state agency almost exclusively. The trick is simply time and patience on both parts. You’ll simply start understanding his accent, syntax and semantics more and more the longer you work with him. The best thing I can tell you to do is assume positive intent and hope he’ll soon do the same for you.

      1. Maggie*

        Agreed! It gets easier over time. I also have multiple non native speakers who all share the same native language which makes it easier sometimes

    3. Green great dragon*

      Yeh, I can understand him getting defensive if you’re at the same level and newer and telling him to repeat back what you’ve said – that’s not really common amongst peers. Can you move more to writing, so he has time to study it, and or follow up a conversation with an email of the key decisions? I do that sometimes without any language barrier, mostly to confirm I haven’t missed anything myself.

      And you’ve learnt to be alert for possible misunderstandings – that’s one to remember and do consciously if he seems not to be getting something as quick as you’d expect.

      1. Rayray*

        Yeah, being asked to repeat back what was said to you probably comes off as very patronizing honestly.

        1. Sabine the Very Mean*

          Oh dear. I didn’t read that bit correctly. Yeah, don’t do that again. Might even be good to acknowledge that you were wrong about that and apologize. I would be that might still be hampering this relationship improving.

        2. WonderMint*

          I said this below, but feels it needs repeating: I also repeat in my own words when he tells me something so we can ensure we’re on the same page.

          This wasn’t explained in my original comment, but I’m senior to him. I’m not his manager, the entire company shared one manager (which will change as our small company grows. I was brought on to help improve processes).

          The suggestions of writing more than speaking is helpful. We do that a fair amount, but I’m going to communicate via written word more often.

          1. Loulou*

            I’m not sure the fact that you also do it makes it less patronizing to make him do it? Choosing to do it yourself (I do too!) feels less…pedagogical than your boss telling you to. Plus, it’s apparently not working, so try something else, like following up by email.

          2. Aquawoman*

            Yeah, I think this is common to make sure everyone has the same understanding, I don’t see why it’s patronizing.

          3. Librarian of SHIELD*

            When you do this, do you preface it with “I’m going to repeat this in my own words just to make sure we understand each other”? Because most people don’t say that part out loud even when that’s what they’re doing. Without that, all he sees is that you’re doing the same xenophobic thing other people do when they’re talking to people whose first language is not English, and it’s prompting him to put you in the “this person is probably racist” pile in his brain.

            1. WonderMint*

              My “asking him to repeat back” has gotten completely misconstrued throughout this thread. I am not saying “I want you to do x on Wednesday, now, can you tell me what you will do on Wednesday?” with some preschool tone and giant grin.

              I ask him, the same I do any employee, to tell me what he has lined up, ask if he can fit in x into his schedule, then probe for rephrasing. This has two benefits: 1. He has more context at the company than I, given his longer tenure so if I’m missing something I need to know, and 2. Understanding we’re on the same page with expectation management.

              Part of my script for repeating back is, “Let me just get this straight for my understanding…” and then continue to rephrase in my own words. So, to address the first part of your comment, yes I have done that.

              1. Sabine the Very Mean*

                But can you tell us how you probe for rephrasing? What prompts are you using? It’s just hard to see how you wouldn’t be treating him like a preschooler and an example might help.

              2. Humble Schoolmarm*

                I hope you don’t feel like this is a pile-on, but I would still recommend against this from a language learning point of view (I’m a second/additional language teacher). One of the ways to think about fluency is being able to say things in more than one way. It seems like this employee may not have the vocabulary base to rephrase things yet, so what you’re asking, while perfectly valid, may be frustrating because it’s still outside his skill set. Patience and backing things up with writing to give more processing time, will be useful here.

          4. Pukekos can fly*

            I’ve had experience working with people who are learning English and patience and repetition are key to clear communication. But more importantly you need to be able to trust that when they say they understand they truly do. Some cultures penalise people when they make mistakes so workers won’t admit it. Our workplace had a massive improvement in communication when it became clear nobody was penalised for mistakes like that. We did it by doing things like asking juniors to nag us (using those words) if we’re late in responding, or when a junior reminded me in a meeting I hadn’t responded to a request, me visibly acting embarrassed, and another senior reading out loud a note they were pretending to write that they would kick my butt if I didn’t response before the next meeting. The relaxed atmosphere and clear willingness to laugh at ourselves when needed solves a number of communication issues

    4. Coenobita*

      Can you change up your mode of communication? I had a similar issue with a former coworker – lovely person, highly skilled engineer, but not great English writing skills, on a team that mostly communicated by email. The two of us ended up communicating mostly by IM instead, and for whatever reason that was way better.

      1. APerson*

        Yep, this. I have a support-ish job in a company where maybe 25% of the company speaks English as a first language. I only speak English (and a small bit of Spanish, which I use with the few Spanish-as-a-first-language people we have). We do everything in text. It gives people plenty of time to polish what they want to say, and they can run them through Google Translate (in either direction!) if they need to.

        The other thing we try to do is stay away from idioms! So many of them don’t translate out of American English – I said something about “knocking it out of the park” without thinking the other day and the person I was talking too had no idea what I meant.

    5. JP*

      How much are you supplementing your meetings with written material? I’ve worked with English language learners in a tutoring context, and it’s super helpful for them to have something to read in addition to spoken instructions. Maybe after a meeting you can circle back with quick meeting notes so he can have something to refer to and any misunderstandings have a second chance to be sorted.

    6. a tester, not a developer*

      I did have an ESL coworker whose default when he didn’t understand something was to agree (nod, smile, say “Yes, I understand”). After a bunch of issues from him going off and doing his own thing, we switched to confirming he understood what to do via email. It’s worked fairly well.

    7. Artemesia*

      You need to routinize the ‘double check’ where he describes the instructions. as in ‘After we miscommunicated on the Jensen project and produced widgets instead of wadgets, it seems like we need a better procedure when we start projects. We need to be sure we are on the same page — so if you are giving me instructions I will repeat them back to you in my own words so you can be sure we are clear. I will do the same — when I give instructions, you need to confirm them back to me in your words. We can’t afford to have the Jensen disaster happen again. This routine step will help avoid that.’ or something like that to make this just the norm.

      1. WonderMint*

        Yeah, that’s what I meant by “ask him to repeat back to me.” I understand people find it patronizing (and I do to some extent agree) but I also repeat in my own words when he tells me something so we can ensure we’re on the same page.

        Also, this wasn’t explained in my original comment, but I’m senior to him. We all report to the CEO. While the CEO is our ‘manager’ the CEO is relatively hands-off

        1. CCC*

          Can you recap via email? Eg, “Just to recap today’s conversation in writing for my records, I’m going to do, A and B, and you’re going to do C and D.”

          1. Fran Fine*

            This would be best because then he could use Grammarly or some other online tool that could help him figure out the meaning of things he doesn’t understand, and it’ll help him to find the right words to give his updates as well.

        2. All the Words*

          Something I learned after training hundreds of staff is that asking people if they understand instructions they’ve just been given is not productive. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY admits they don’t understand something in this scenario. One must find other ways to confirm a person did really absorb and comprehend. Yes, I will ask people to mirror instructions back to me. I frame it as verifying that I’ve covered everything and communicated effectively, not that the trainee is lacking in any way. I disagree that this is patronizing. By all means use written or visual aids whenever they’re helpful, but it’s not patronizing to verify that everyone is on the same page.

          Even if everyone shares a common language it doesn’t mean we communicate the same way.

          1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

            “I just want to make sure that I explained what I need in a way that works for you.”

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yep. I was very clear with my group that it was MY responsibility to clearly explain the task. If they did not understand it was up to me to do a better job explaining.
              I also suggested that if they did not want to ask me (the boss) I was very much okay with them checking with each other.
              I also said things such as “We work too hard, we need to do it right and not have more work with re-dos.”

          2. LC*

            Nobody, and I mean NOBODY admits they don’t understand something in this scenario.

            I mean … I do. I would much rather ask, potentially risking that they’ll think less of me (although that’s very rare in my experience), than not ask, get it wrong, and either have to go back and admit I didn’t get or just mess it up and it’s only caught after I’m done.

            Even in lower stakes situations, I’ll make sure I’ve actually understood something before I let the conversation end. I have ADHD and one of the ways that manifests for me is how I process information. Sometimes I just need a minute for it to finish processing, sometimes I get it but have to repeat it back to solidify it, sometimes I just plain do not get it (either because it was said in a way my brain didn’t like or it really just is confusing/unclear).

            I’m certain there is a large percentage of people who wouldn’t speak up in these types of situations, but I also really don’t think I’m particularly unusual in this regard.

            I basically agree with the rest of your comment, I just wanted to address the “Nobody, and I mean NOBODY” part.

            1. Myrin*

              I thought the exact same thing – I basically always admit immediately when I don’t understand any instructions in any given context. People are sometimes taken aback – not in a “wow, she must be so dumb” kind of way but rather because of the very blunt way I say “sorry, I don’t get it” – but I can’t remember feeling even once like they actually thought less of me (could be a wrong perception by myself, of course, but I’m seldomly wrong regarding these things).

          3. Budgie Buddy*

            Also people often don’t know what they don’t know. It is a conundrum…

            I like your idea (for training) about doing exercises with or mirroring. I’m a hands on learner so I’ve often had the experience of “Got it! First I….wait was was the first step again? That was 20 minutes ago..,”

    8. Cranky lady*

      I work with many non-native English speakers and native speakers of non-US English. As others have suggested, try writing rather than spoken means of communication. Also, it does come across as odd to have him “repeat back it his own words” unless you are his supervisor and assigning him tasks. You can do that with things he has said to you but asking for the reverse may not be taken well. Try to use plain English (there are lots of sites on this) where the idea is to simplify for clarity. It also helps to be aware of sayings that many people use that can be easily misunderstood.

      1. It’s Friday*

        I was coming on here to say this about plain English. I try to stay out of conversational tones and lingo and keep wording concise.

        1. Windchime*

          Exactly. I worked with a guy years ago for whom English was his 3rd (or 4th) language. I learned quickly not to say things like “Do you see what I mean?” Because it confused him when I used the word “see” instead of “understand”; how can anyone “see” something like an idea? That was a very valuable lesson to me, and it served me well when I went on to work with other coworkers for whom English was not their first language.

      2. Sabine the Very Mean*

        Right. It’s not, “Food and Drink are prohibited” it’s “No Food or Drink”. Direct communication only.

        1. Cassie*

          Yes! And if the person doesn’t seem to understand, try using a different word or rephrasing the sentence. (Some people just repeat the same thing, like they think if they say it again, the person will understand).

      3. learnedthehardway*

        Yes – if you do have to get the employee to repeat things back, it might be better to ask him how he plans to complete the assignment. That should give you some idea of whether he understood it or not.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have also asked people to show me an example before doing an entire batch. I think a key here was I treated everyone in the same manner. So they expected me to say that.

    9. JT*

      Patience and practice. Consider what you would want if all conversations suddenly changed to his first language and you were the one that was making mistakes while still trying (I personally would be screwed because I only speak one language!). You *will* get used to his communication (accent and style/word choices), it’s just going to take time and understanding on your part.

    10. Not A Manager*

      You can combine two of the themes in the comments here. Instead of requiring that either of you “repeat back” what the other one said, you can formally institute a follow-up email chain. I suggest that the email chain start with the initial communicator (“to confirm, here’s what we need this week”), followed by a “repeat back” from the communicatee (“I am planning to do the following”).

      It might feel less patronizing when it’s in this different medium, because there’s a reason for it beyond “I think you don’t speak English very well,” and it accomplishes the goal of communicating in two mediums rather than one.

    11. not a doctor*

      Late, but for anyone still reading this thread: one piece of advice I haven’t seen yet is to make use of visuals! Not like alphabet cards for kids, obviously, but if your conversations could benefit from something like an easily-read flow chart or graph, throw one together. Or if you’re talking about a tool, website, etc. you both use, actually grab it or log on to it together and take a minute to physically go through the process while you have him.

      1. Interpreter (anon for this one pls)*

        This x 1000. I work in two languages all day and it’s amazing how much clearer things become with a shared visual.

        Other musings:

        Proper nouns either help a lot, or they don’t help at all. If you’re explaining something about, for example, saving to a shared drive, keep the language simple but try using the exact label name of the drive as seen when you navigate to it, instead of calling it “the shared drive”. For some ESL users this may be WAY clearer, or it may overwhelm their processing. If one way doesn’t work, rephrase and try a different way.

        Alternatively, making meaning without either party being fluent in the other’s home language requires meeting halfway. In your example, does the difference in meaning between “context” or “content” really matter? The most important point is he isn’t understanding something, time to pause and figure out what. “Which part?” or “Happy to clarify, what’s confusing?” or even (friendly tone) “Sure! What would you like to know?” gets the ball rolling again.

        If he has a slightly awkward English translation for something, can you go with the flow and just fill in the more technical term in your own head? Even better if you can adopt your colleague’s unique terms and use them when communicating with him.

        You’re building a shared library, or even better a bridge. You’re each on one side of the river and need to build a bridge to each other. It requires some patience, flexibility, and willingness to be honest when you don’t understand, while also giving grace for mistakes that don’t impact meaning. If it actually does cause confusion (like “file” vs “folder” or something when giving instructions) that’s worth mentioning, and figuring out a way to communicate more clearly about that concept going forward.

        After some time, you’ll have created your own shared contexts and lingo and everything will get much easier and faster. And you’ll both have learned a new way of making meaning and seeing the world from another lens. It’s a worthwhile effort. Good luck!

        1. WonderMint*

          Thank you both, not a doctor and Interpreter (anon for this one pls). Very helpful perspectives and suggestions!

    12. Policy Wonk*

      You will get used to him in time, with patience. (I had colleagues tell me a new hire was impossible to understand because of a heavy accent. But I didn’t have any trouble understanding him, as was evident by my follow-up questions. With time they acquired the ear for him.) Documentation is your friend here. I know it’s a pain for what should be a quick check-in, but maybe before you meet with him send a quick e-mail or IM with a short agenda. Follow-up the face-to-face discussion with a quick summary e-mail. Many who speak other languages but are not completely fluent will be able to read better than speak (recognition vs. recall). This will help you both keep on track. And given that English isn’t his first language, it could be that he can’t understand you, either. Be sure you aren’t using slang or euphemisms, and keep your language as simple as possible. Good luck – I am sure you will work it out.

    13. Arctic tern*

      I am a non-native speaker who started learning English as an adult. I recently went to live in an English-speaking country and started a new job, and I am struggling with English language. Some of my thoughts about the situation:
      1) From your description, it looks more like “poor technical knowledge” problem rather than language problem. Because when you’re know your job and your project well, you can understand the directions and have productive discussions even when you don’t understand 100% of the words that your coworkers are saying. It should be possible to guess from the context.
      2) If he does not understand your instructions, it is on him to communicate and ask for clarifications, not on you. It is his responsibility to make sure that he understood everything correctly. And I agree with other commenters that it can be easier to communicate by email or messenger.
      3) Did you explicitly let him know that his poor English language skills cause problems and affect productivity? “quick question turns into 30 minute discussion” and “does not correctly understand instructions” are quite serious problems. Maybe it is time to let your manager know. English language is a skill that is 1) essential for the job and 2) can be learned and improved.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And this post is a great example of someone who identifies as struggling yet writes VERY well. I can’t see your struggle here, Arctic, but I do believe you.

        Look for recurring stumbling blocks, OP, and figure out how to make it smooth. Someone mentioned folder vs file as an example. Work on clearing up what you do see.

        1. Arctic tern*

          Thanks)) I am good at reading, ok at writing, and bad at speaking and understanding the speech (especially thick british accents, all kinds of them). Thats why I suggest to the OP to communicate with their coworker in writing.

          1. Anonymous4*

            I grew up speaking American English, and I have trouble understanding thick British accents too. I have no idea what some of them are saying, and if they repeated it, I still wouldn’t understand.

            1. allathian*

              English is my 3rd language, although after living in the UK for a year, I was pretty fluent at 13. Growing up bilingual makes it easier to learn other languages, because your brain is wired for more than one language already. Still, you can become fluent in a foreign language at any age, even if it’s pretty hard to eliminate accents after a certain age, unless you’re particularly talented, or get extensive training from a speech therapist, and even then there are large individual differences.

              In college, I volunteered as an exchange student tutor. One of the students was a guy from Scotland who seemed to seek me out to the point that I suspected he had a crush on me, but it turned out that he enjoyed my company because I could understand his native accent without trouble, whereas he had to modulate his speech a lot with the other exchange students, most of whom spoke English as a foreign language. Interestingly enough, the student who had most trouble understanding the Scottish guy was from Texas. The Scottish guy had little trouble understanding his thick Texas accent, but the Texan couldn’t understand his Scottish accent at all. I suspect this is because the average person in the UK grows up hearing a lot more American English on TV than vice versa.

      2. Washi*

        I agree with all of this, as someone who worked in my second language where 99% of communication was verbal, often over the phone. Repeating back what someone told you is honestly kind of a basic strategy for making sure you understand, and I did it constantly. In fact, that is such a natural strategy to adopt when you notice you’re making a lot of mistakes that I do wonder if the language issue is combining with not quite having the right skills for the job and that is more why he is getting defensive, because he’s feeling in over his head with everything.

        If you are senior to him, I don’t see why you can’t name the problem, list a couple of things you think would help, and ask him what he thinks would help. I also wonder if you can check in on his work earlier in the process, like can you see it when it’s 20% complete instead of 80% complete and at least catch stuff earlier?

      3. raspberry*

        It should be possible to guess from context goes both ways though: if you have good technical knowledge, you understand what people with not-great English skills mean even if they mangle up some words. And that’s also basically what some comments say: it will probably get easier over time.

        As a non-native English speaker myself I disagree with point 3. This person worked there before OP did; if perfect English was a requirement for the job, he should not have been hired. Language learning doesn’t come easy for everyone.

        Note that this could also be a job in, say, Romania, where up until now everyone spoke Romanian, but the company wants to expand, hires OP, who doesn’t speak Romanian. The CEO who hired OP probably speaks English well and doesn’t see an issue. I have seen this happen very often in my own country, where in some professional environments English is seen as lingua franca.

    14. Myrin*

      Can you ask him how he would like to proceed? Because surely he, too, must realise that you guys often end up talking about completely different things, and I can imagine that that causes him frustration as well (although it’s unclear to me if he’s aware that this happens primarily because of his poor grasp of English?). Something like “I’m sure you’ve realised that we’re often not on the same page about projects and misunderstand each other. Do you think there’s anything we can do to communicate better? Because clearly, what we’ve been doing so far isn’t working, and I’m wondering if you’d prefer [examples of different techniques, like more written communication, or for both of you to have little summaries of your duties regarding a certain topic, etc.]?”.

    15. Rebecca*

      I am an English speaker working in France, and while my actual work does not require me to work in French, communicating with my colleagues often does (I work in a school where I teach the English classes).

      Any meeting where we spend most of the time figuring out what each other means is at best a waste of time and can often devolve into frustration, resentment, and shame. For what it’s worth – speaking to someone who speaks your language as a second language in a way that is understandable but that also doesn’t make them feel stupid, or that doesn’t put the emphasis on their language skills instead of the idea they are trying to communicate, is a very difficult skill. I teach second language learners and it took me years to develop that skill.

      When I communicate with colleagues or bosses where there is a language barrier, I do it all through email. The sheer number of hours we have won back by just running each other’s emails through (NOT google translate!). We can focus on the ideas, nobody thinks I’m dumb, and we spent 10 minutes solving the problem instead of 2 hours.

    16. raspberry*

      English is not my first language, but it is the native language of my boss and most of my coworkers. Everyone says that my English is good, but I still notice that at the end of the day, it deteriorates. It is very annoying! If you do need to have in-person meetings, maybe schedule them earlier in the day.

      I’m missing the context about the question about context (no pun intended) but to me that seems the kind of question where you would ask clarification before spending all that time going over circumstances. “Can you clarify what context you are missing? Can you give an example of what is not clear to you?”

      Also agreeing that it comes across as patronizing when you ask someone to repeat something in their own words. That you are senior and do it yourself too does not make it less patronizing to me. That may be a cultural difference. If you want to be sure that you are all on the same page, a followup email is much more useful.

  3. HatBeing*

    Low stakes here, but I’ve been thinking about Wednesday’s post regarding women’s hairstyles at work. I’ve only ever worked in fashion and tech where dress codes are very casual and haven’t encountered the idea that a high updo (like a bun, not a beehive) is considered less professional than a lower style. This makes me wonder if there are other unspoken hair ‘rules’ I haven’t run into before, especially around my bangs! I have a large forehead and have worn short, straight-ish bangs for the majority of my adult life. Would this cut be considered unprofessional in many environments?

    1. different seudonym*

      I think it would read as “youthful” to some. Which isn’t inherently unprofessional, of course! But a lot of dress code things are more or less about demonstrating submission, so it could be an issue in highly-conservative contexts.

      1. Mannequin*

        A blunt cut or bob with bangs is one of the most chic, classic, sophisticated styles that exist, so I’m unsure why it would be an issue even in the most conservative of environments.

    2. Persephone Mongoose*

      Typically when I see or think of high updos, I see/think of messy buns, which I guess could come off as unprofessional. This is as opposed to something more neat like a ballerina bun that’s not quite as high but styled carefully.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! There’s a huge difference between a messy topknot & a neatly styled updo, such as when a woman could a long, neat braid).

      2. JT*

        I agree. I think it’s more about smoothness than height. Frizzy, straggly, chaotic hair will always be seen as more unprofessional than slick and polished (as I sit here with my frizzy and asymmetric mop of curls…)

        1. Anonymous4*

          A professional hairstyle is more about smoothness? In a way, yes. The question is, is the hair controlled? I have shaggy layered curls, and while it looks fine, it wouldn’t do for someone in, e.g., a high-powered finance position.

          1. pancakes*

            That’s a pretty restrictive, old-fashioned, and white-centric idea of who belongs in high-powered jobs. Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley, seems to have done alright for herself with curls intact.

      3. A*

        Agreed. I started adding a hair pin to my bun and now I get compliments on my ‘polished updo’ – so I agree that it’s more so the messy bun ‘hair up like you’re about to wash your face’ look that can be viewed as unprofessional / overly youthful.

    3. RagingADHD*

      No. There is nothing at all unprofessional about wearing a bun or ponytail higher on the back of the head, and there’s nothing unprofessional about bangs either. The LW was reaching for some reason why the email might possibly apply to them, and landed with that even though it isn’t really a thing.

      That said, really childish or dated styles could come off as too casual. Like pigtails. Or a ponytail right on top or right on the side of the head. But then again, a really elaborate updo that one might have for a wedding, with huge amounts of poofiness, might look odd too. You don’t want to be extreme.

      A high bun/pony or bangs aren’t extreme.

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

        I agree, but regional or industry differences still might apply. I don’t think there is a One Right Answer on this one. Clean and neat (brushed or styled in some way so as not be appear to have just fallen out of bed) is the way to be professional.

    4. Purple Loves Snow*

      I think the hair style advice from Allison about a high bun may be regional specific. Where I work (outside of the USA), we are business dress 100% of the time and today alone 30 of the 40 women I work with have high buns. I am one of the rare exeptions in my office as I wear my hair down 100% of the time. In the last year, I have worn my hair up once and it was commented on by many people. I personally find, being polish overall to be a bigger deal than hair style.

      1. Emi*

        I suspect some people are thinking of a high bun as a sort of messy topknot like I do when I’m washing my face.

        1. Myrin*

          That would explain the confusion I experienced when I read that in the aforementioned post. I’m not a native English speaker and even with googling, I couldn’t really gauge what exactly “high bun” means – I thought anything that’s higher than directly above your neck which seemed weird to me because buns directly “at the back of your head”, so to speak (so, like, opposite your nose? This is really awkward to explain verbally), are completely normal and professional where I live. But then I wondered if it actually means on top of one’s head, like what you describe? Much confusion.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            A high bun, you can probably see as you are facing the person as it sits on top of their skull or near the top.
            A low bun you would almost have to be behind the person to see it as it is closer to their neck than it is to the top of their skull.

      2. topknots*

        I am too lazy to look but I am 99% certain she said “messy topknot on the top of your head” not a high bun, which is a different thing completely.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      My grad school career center told us to pin bangs back because they were unprofessional. I disagree but I guess some people in more formal environments would consider them unprofessional? This is coming from someone with an undercut and fun colored tips who often wears their curly hair in a bun so maybe not the best person to advise professional hair styles lol.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I am a banking lawyer with bangs and any notion that bangs are “unprofessional” or have to be pinned back is complete nonsense. The main concern is that hair look neat and clean. No one much cares about detail unless the hair looks actively unkempt.

        1. londonedit*

          Admittedly I don’t work in a very formal industry but I’ve never heard of the idea that a fringe would be unprofessional or that people should pin their hair back if they have a fringe. I have a chin-length bob with a fringe and the only comments I get are along the lines of ‘Oh my GOD how do you make your hair so sleek?’ and ‘Your hair looks amazing, I wish mine would do that!’

          1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

            Same, I don’t think bangs are unprofessional and have worked where many people had bangs. I think the pin the bangs back part is to say that you shouldn’t have your hair in your face, especially for an interview. You might accidentally start playing with it or something. And some people hide behind their hair and that’s not good for an interview.

            1. pancakes*

              I suppose, but “don’t play with your hair” goes for everyone, not just those of us with bangs.

      2. AsherCat*

        I have never heard bangs are unprofessional! That seems weird to me, especially with the myriad of bang/fringe styles. I am currently rocking long swoopy curtain bangs with some very extra cowlicks.

        I love undercuts, I’ve had a few, and I’m missing them now that my hair is long again. :) Grass is always greener!

        1. londonedit*

          I have an undercut and I love it. My hair is very thick and without the undercut it’s so difficult to get it to sit properly and/or not look triangular, so when my hairdresser suggested an undercut it was a stroke of genius – half the hair to worry about! Now it always sits just as it should and doesn’t get massive when I haven’t had it cut for a few weeks.

      3. Nikki*

        I could see certain bangs styles being considered unprofessional. If they’re always in your eyes or if you’re constantly brushing them away or messing with them, that’s going to be distracting in a professional environment. Maybe that’s what that person was thinking of. But in most cases, well kempt bangs are going to be perfectly professional.

        1. AFac*

          I was going to ask whether the advice to not have bangs was originally from the 1980’s and not changed. Some of the bangs we schoolgirls had…

          1. Windchime*

            Ahhhh, we called those “mall bangs”. I used to work with a gal who had a very impressive mall bang, clear into the 90’s. I caught up with her recently on Facebook and am glad to see that she no longer has them.

          2. RagingADHD*

            From what I see online (here and elsewhere), it looks like most of the career advice from schools is stuck in the 1980’s.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I have a high forehead. I get layered bangs to help hide/blend it. The longer layers are on the sides of my forehead.
          I do think that straight across bangs on a 60 y/o (me) would look odd but that has little to do with work appearance.

          1. pancakes*

            Anna Wintour is 72. There are lots of reasons to not be a fan of her, but I don’t think her hair looks odd.

          2. Mannequin*

            I know women in their 50s & 60s who wear flapper style bobs and they look amazing. It’s a classic style.

      4. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I work in finance (for almost 20 years) and I have never heard that bangs were unprofessional.

      5. A*

        The only type of bangs I could see being potentially viewed as unprofessional is if they were so long they were partially blocking your eyes – or the dreaded side swipe bangs requiring constant Bieber-like head swoops to keep them out of your eyes.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I have side-swept bangs, and as long as I make sure they’re not curling weirdly at the ends and I’ve used sufficient hairspray to keep them from falling in my eyes, they fit in quite well in my workplace’s dress code.

    6. Wy-leen*

      I would think that long bangs that cover your eyes or have to be pushed back every 30 seconds would read as unprofessional in many environments. But not straight ones, those seem fine to me.

    7. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      As others have stated I think the letter writer was reaching for something since she was confused why she got the letter.

      there are different types of buns. If it was an extremely messy bun like what someone might use to workout in or to sleep, that would be a problem. But nice bun high up on the head is very professional. (I call them Librarian buns because that’s the stereotype of a librarian that you see on tv shows and such). One of my coworkers does that for he hair and she looks so nice. Sleek and very professional.

      1. Windchime*

        My niece does this. She sometimes wears a very high bun with a few tendrils escaping, and it looks very nice and professional.

    8. ecnaseener*

      Think ballerina bun (neatly in place, few or no flyaways) vs. messy bun (intentionally has lots of stray locks tumbling around). A low messy bun would also not be professional dress, but the version right on top of your head reads especially casual.

    9. learnedthehardway*

      I don’t see anything unprofessional about bangs – as long as they’re not actually covering your eyes so you can’t see, or so you have to keep moving them out of the way.

      As far as buns – I love the fact that I can have my hair twisted back with a scrunchie to hold it, now that video calls are a thing. Looks professional from the front, lol.

    10. Policy Wonk*

      Bangs are fine. (Note: once a woman is of a certain age bangs become rather common as a precursor to a facelift, and you will even see them in the C-suite.) If you have a trusted hairdresser, ask that person what they think the style says about you. A professional should be honest with you.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think bangs are fine! I have bangs. I usually wear them down, sometimes brushed back. My face looks way better with them because I also have a high forehead. That being said, I just found a new hairdresser and the way he’s doing my bangs now looks amazing. I think they might be a tad longer and more layered and I think they look much more ‘current’ and also professional.
      Hope that helps!

    12. Liz*

      I was surprised by this too. I’m very grateful that I work in a laid back sort of industry where “polish” is not expected, because I have neither the spoons nor the fine motor skills to do anything with hair. The messy high bun is my go-to “hair out of face” style and doesn’t look out of place in my office. My hair is extremely fine and frizzy – if my hairdo is looking in any way sleek, that usually tells me it’s in need of a wash, because the flyaways are held down by grease!

      I did ballet as a child, and my mum used to joke that the only way to get the sleek bun look with my hair was to plaster my entire scalp with gel. Even then, by the end of a recital, parts of it would start to rebel by peeling away from my scalp in sticky, crispy spikes. I could not survive in a workplace that demanded professional hair – I think I’d be forced to get a pixie cut.

      1. Mannequin*

        I’m the same as you- I don’t have the spoons or fine motor skills to have polished, professional hair, nor would I be willing to put in the time needed for regular daily upkeep. If I worked somewhere that insisted on polished hair, I’d just go to a barber and get a man’s haircut.

  4. JustNoPeanutGallery*

    Any suggestions on managing non-useful questions or comments that derail my presentations?

    I work on collaborative teams and give weekly updates to the team on the status of my work. These updates are intended to be updates, not live problem-solving or brainstorming sessions. I am of course open to feedback but sometimes I get feedback that just feels lazy and more about having the asker feel smart/important and less about trying to help.

    For example, imagine that I am presenting on preparations for the National Teapot Convention and I mention among my updates that the hotel hosting the convention had an issue with one of their hot water heaters with an ETA of [date] to be fixed. A useful piece of feedback would be contact information for the head of facilities for the hotel chain that I could escalate to if the problem isn’t fixed. A non-useful piece of feedback would be someone asking “You should move the convention to [other hotel]” or “You can also heat water on the stove in the kitchen” or “What have they tried in fixing the hot water heater? That should have fixed it already. Hot water heaters are pretty easy to fix.”

    Unsurprisingly, the non-helpful types of comments come from people who are my peers (not managers) and not invested in having a successful outcome. I have set up my actual working meetings to specifically exclude the peanut gallery but I still have to give these weekly updates. The weekly updates matter because there are also actually-important people in those meetings who rely on them to see the status of my work.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Can those questions not be live? Can they be submitted ahead of time or after the fact, and then screened?

      1. JustNoPeanutGallery*

        The meetings are pretty small. Screening questions would be cumbersome and people would know I skipped their question.

    2. Bluebelle*

      Just acknowledge and move on. “Thank you. Any other questions?”
      If they try to question what you are doing about the thing you can say “We can take that offline, this meeting is designated for updates, not problem solving.” or “it’s under control, but thank you!”

      1. JT*

        My response is similar to Bluebelle’s. Something like “Thanks Bob. I don’t want to hold up the meeting with questions beyond my update, but if you want to talk strategy why don’t you find me after the meeting and we can circle back.”

        1. JustNoPeanutGallery*

          That is a great script! I especially like how it puts the onus on the asker to follow-up.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “Thanks for the feedback. I’ll be checking back with the venue to confirm the fix has been done by the target date.” or “Thanks for that idea. I’ll check into it after the meeting.”

      If it’s not useful feedback for your presentation, just a dry thanks and a “I’m on it, which is why I’ve mentioned it” and a moving on to the next topic should be enough.

    4. mcl*

      I think I’d try doing something like try to set up meeting ground rules, one of them being that you have to stick to the meeting agenda. So, you would have everyone agree that the person presenting information will build in breaks to address questions and/or address questions at the end of the update or the end of the meeting so that the meeting doesn’t get derailed. You could also just build in a couple minutes of time for questions and have anyone who has additional things to ask email you. If someone starts speaking up while you’re talking, just gently remind them that you’ll address their question at the designated time. “Sorry Joe, I need to complete this update and then we’ll address your thought.” It’ll feel rude for a little bit, but then it becomes normal if you keep enforcing.

      My department instituted a hand-raising procedure where the meeting facilitator will call on people who raise their hands to speak, because otherwise we were all interrupting each other and it was annoying mayhem. But hopefully taking a minute or two at the beginning of the next few meetings to remind people of the ground rules will get people into the rhythm. And usually that will cut down on the peanut gallery, because those comments you describe sound very “of the moment” and may not come up later.

    5. Annony*

      You could always give a bland answer to their feedback and make it clear that you won’t be taking their advice. “As I said, the hot water heater should be fixed by {date}. If it’s not, I will escalate hit to the facilities manager.”

    6. Hlao-roo*

      Can you say something along the lines of “I’ll note that down for later, now back to the update…”? If it would go over better, maybe expand to “I’ll note that down for later, but I’d like to keep the focus of this meeting on updates, not problem solving. So back to the water heater…”

      These should work for both useful and not useful feedback. Quickly note down that Alice is the head of facilities in case you need to escalate the problem/quickly note down that Joe might follow up about moving the convention to a different hotel. Then if a coworker asks in the future if you followed [useless advice] you can answer “I looked into it and determined it is not the right direction for this project.”

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      If people are really saying stuff akin to “heat water on the stove”, it sounds like they’re bantering or talking out of their a**es, not making actual suggestions. If you aren’t already doing this, you could ask people to hold comments and questions until the end of your entire update. My experience with these kind of unhelpful suggestions is that they tend to be thoughtless, offhand remarks. Having a dedicated time for discussion can raise the quality.

      Specifying up front what kind of feedback or suggestions you are interested in, or mentioning some of the troubleshooting you’ve already done, can also help cut off unhelpful remarks.

      1. Should i apply?*

        In my experience asking people to hold questions & feedback to the end of the presentation (or section if is long) can be effective in preventing these types of comments and people who tend to derail the meeting. Also the others in the meeting who don’t want their time wasted will thank you. However, you do need to be consistent about this, and at first it will probably be a struggle until people get used to it.

      2. JustNoPeanutGallery*

        Boil water on the stove guy is luckily not insidious, just overall someone who loves theories and ideas and sometimes forgets the practical aspects.

    8. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think this is a great example of “this meeting could have been an email.”

      I would send out the detailed status stuff in writing, in advance. 90% odds that the non-productive-comment people won’t read the written stuff.

      During the meeting, speak in summary about the things you have solved, and present the problem & solution together for the things that are still being worked. “We knocked out 47 of the 62 outstanding action items for the teapot conference on March 10th; details were emailed out last night and are on the 3 backup slides in your packet. The only critical path issue is a hot water heater that has an estimated fix date of March 3rd.”

    9. Not A Manager*

      I find that the best way to deal with this sort of thing is to “ignore” it. Look at the person for a moment, blink, repeat your original remark, and move on.

      “The hotel hosting the convention had an issue with one of their hot water heaters with an ETA of [date] to be fixed.” – “You can also heat water on the stove in the kitchen!” – “The hot water heaters should be fixed by [date]. The next issue is the folding chairs.”

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      Maybe just build in your answer to the question. “The hot water heater is out of order and the hotel is on it, I have a Plan B in case they can’t fix it” Don’t take a breath and then move on to the next part of your update
      You can also say you won’t be taking questions so there will be time for everyone else’s updates

    11. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      Can you be more direct with what you are looking for? It sounds like contact info would be helpful. So ask for it.

      Example: “. They should have the problem fixed by ETA, and I will keep this group updated on any changes. Does anyone have a contact at the venue above person A in case I need to escalate?”

      Then move on to the next topic.

      Don’t ask for questions if there aren’t any that actually make sense from the audience. Or ask if anyone needs clarification on any point. It just leaves it less open for commentary.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Be sure to indicate someone is working on it or it’s in process and then move on to your next topic.
        Also, don’t expect to eliminate all of these types of questions.

    12. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I’ve had this problem, and especially because I tend to work with mostly men and a lot of executive types who have short attention spans. Here is what I found to work, but it mainly only works for presentations.

      >Start with a TOC type slide that shows what you’re going to cover.
      >On that TOC slide, but in a disclaimer like “Please hold all questions until slide X.” Repeat this instruction if you need to before you get into the slides themselves.
      >If someone tries to derail, politely ask they hold their questions and comments until slide X. (unless they have a very good reason such as needing to drop from the call or something).
      >Allot plenty of time for the questions on slide x and work that time into your presentation time.

      The first time I felt so rude to say this. But it worked like a charm! I think it kept people focused on listening instead of trying to leap ahead and interrupt.

  5. hmmm*

    How do you give the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech when resigning from a job?

    I work in finance. My office is a small, casual. I can’t emphasize enough that I work for an amazing company, coworkers who like family; best boss in the world…. I also commute 2 – 2.5 hours a day.

    Part of the reason I took this job is the company is flexible. Everyone has a busy life which is why I feel so stupid saying “this is not working.” For me personally, my life seems to be in overdrive – helping a parent with some long term but temporary medical issues; one of my kids has a special need; I have my own medical and personal things to take care of; not to mention normal everyday stuff like taking care of the house, a dog, etc. Before anyone asks, yes my husband and I hire help where we can (cleaning company comes twice a month, landscaper comes every 10 days, we run errands online, have terrific babysitters). I literally get up at 4am to do it all, hubby does the same thing at night.

    My company is great. For instance I need to come in 30 minutes late each day due to a family issue; My family member was in a bad car accident during our busiest time – go ahead and work from home a couple days; schedule whatever doctor appointments you need; Bad weather no worries the company is closing for the day; etc. In return I try to be there for the company. I always make my time; my work gets done; rarely take off sick; plan vacation time well in advance; give me notice and I’ll move my schedule around to accommodate the company’s needs.
    The problem is this 2.5 hours commute makes every second count in my day. Overtime means I miss tucking my kids in at night; not being able to put many extra hours means I don’t qualify for a raise (all stated in company handbook but it’s been 3 years since I’ve had a raise); my reviews are average (apparently I do great work but am not showing I want to excel). I literally spend my breaks at work catching up on personal stuff and at home I squeeze in whatever time I can to make sure I work a minimum of 40+ hours a week. As selfish as this sounds I’d like a little time for me to go to the gym, friends, volunteer, even reading a book – things I rarely get to do without a TON of planning.

    Sadly while the company while very flexible, it does not allow work from home on a permanent basis. My office is the closest to my house so no way to transfer. All the chaos in my life happened after I started at this company.
    Because I have a great work environment and outstanding benefits, I took a long time, almost a year, trying to make things work so I can stay. I even worked with my boss to shift around due dates. After a lot of thought and research I’ve come to realize that I need a work from home job or something much closer to my house. I care about this company. After I leave I’m even going to offer (with pay) to continue working on a huge annual project that no one has time for. I’m just at my breaking point. My two ends of the candle are burned out.

    Now that I’ve started my job search, my eventual departure will probably be a shock. Everytime I play a conversation in my head I feel like it’s finger pointing (giving examples of how I am going above and beyond on new projects; taking initiative; pointing out that others were given a WFH option) or in my head throwing a childish fit (It’s not faaaair because of….).

    AAM readers I trying to explain that I’m not looking for a free pass. I work hard for what I earn. I don’t expect things to be handed to me. I have tried to adjust things from every angle possible.
    While I don’t always agree with management’s style, I do think I have an incredible boss/ mentor and coworkers. I just can’t do this job anymore the way the company needs. It comes down to time. Right now my commute is the only thing that will give me some breathing room. Cutting my commute down will allow me to get everything done and not be so stressed.

    Basically as asked in the beginning, how do I say “It’s me, not you” when resigning?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think there needs to be a huge justification here. When you leave a job, you aren’t necessarily implying “This is a horrible place to work.” And, honestly, it sounds as if the 2-2.5 hours you’re commuting is too taxing, and anybody would view that as a valid reason to leave a job, no matter how much you love the work, the company, or your co-workers.

    2. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      I’d probably just emphasize that the commute is just unworkable for your life right now.

      1. Person from the Resume*


        I can’t handle the 2.5 hour commute any longer is extremely understanding to anyone.

      2. Sparrow*

        This. Assuming they are reasonable people who respect boundaries, you can just focus on the appeal of the new position (and a shorter commute definitely qualifies!) and not comment on your current situation at all. I had a laundry list of reasons for leaving my last job, but there was no point getting into that, so when asked about leaving, I just said, “The new position is an opportunity to focus primarily on X work, which you know I enjoy. So I’m excited about that, and the commute is better!” That was sufficient.

        My old commute pushed 2.5 hours round trip. My current job is an improvement at 1.5-2 hours, but truthfully I didn’t realize how much even that daily commute drained my energy and negatively impacted by mental health until we started working from home during Covid. Life is SO much better when you’re not wasting literal hours of your day, every day. Leaving for a better commute is more than justified!

    3. The Original K.*

      You could just say your circumstances have changed and you’re no longer able to meet the demands of the job. You could also simply say the commute no longer works for you. A 5-hour daily commute is brutal, and I think most reasonable people would understand not being able or willing to do it forever (I wouldn’t do it at all, for any reason I can think of). I know more than one person who changed jobs solely because of a commute and their commutes were much shorter than yours.

      1. Cj*

        I’m a little confused on the commute time. OP says they commute 2 – 2.5 hours a day, which I took to mean round trip, not each way. Which is way different than 5 hours/day, but if it’s too much for the OP, then it is.

        1. Mannequin*

          I would also be exhausted if I drive over *each way* to get to and from work every single day. Just because lots of people have to do it doesn’t mean it’s reasonable or sustainable.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah. This one is short and sweet. “I love everything about this company/job, but I just cannot do the commute.”

        1. Windchime*

          I recently resigned from a job that I (mostly) loved, great people, etc. I basically said that, after much thought and soul-searching, I am leaving my position here at [company]. This has been a very difficult decision, I have really enjoyed working with you all, blah blah blah but it is time for me to move on to blah blah blah. In your case, you could say that the commute just no longer fits in with your life.

          I really had to carefully craft my email because it’s the first time I’ve left a job where I’ve mostly been happy. Usually I’m just like, “I’m outta here, my last day is xxxxx”.

    4. awesome3*

      Answering the TLDR here – basically, companies are very eager to hear that it’s not them, even sometimes when it is them, they jump at any other reason someone quit. If they are reasonable they should know that people leave jobs.

      But I think what would make you happiest is to add a thank you into your resignation, thanking them for great years work there and for being such a great place to work for so long. It’s not working for you anymore, and that’s okay. It’s okay to look after yourself and your family above your job, and if they are as great as you say, they are aware of that too.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        I agree with this. A ‘thank you, this company is amazing, but as you all know due to life events I am unable to continue making the long commute. I hope to cross paths/work with you all at some time in the future” or something like that would help leave on a positive note. Also expressing appreciation that your management (yes, I know its technically their job) for being flexible would be good as well.

        They should definitely understand, but I feel like being super positive is a way to ensure if things change, and you want to return to the company they also remember you in a very positive light.

    5. MissBaudelaire*

      I don’t even think you really need to give a why or a break up speech. “I will be pursuing other employment. Please consider this my notice.”

      On that note, a five hour daily commute is insane. I’ve opted not to return in person because I can’t tolerate an hour commute anymore. It doesn’t make you a bad employee, it doesn’t make them a bad employer (although I am raising an eyebrow at how you don’t want to excel. What more do they want from you, blood?). It just means that these are the circumstances.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Still! That’s a lot. That’s more than I would put up with. You want an excuse to say “it’s me; not you.” And the commute is the perfect one.

        OTOH you have to work overtime to get more than an average rating, well, honestly that’s the company’s fault even if they tell you that in handbook and it’s not a surprise. But you can let that go.

        Just blame the commute.

      2. Shenandoah*

        I live in an area where commutes this length are very very common – and when a coworker resigned for a job with a shorter commute, literally everyone’s reaction was “oh, of course you want a shorter commute, best of luck!”

        But really OP, your commute could be 25 minutes and it would be fine to want and look for a job with a shorter commute!

      3. Green Goose*

        Still really long! My commute is 90-120 minutes round trip a day, always at least an hour driving home and it totally drains the last little bit of energy I have.

      4. RagingADHD*

        I still couldn’t do it. That’s 12.5 hours a week. And you’re getting up at 4am, caregiving on both ends, and with a kid who has special needs.

        I’d be in the hospital after a couple months of that. Literally.

    6. Artemesia*

      The commute alone is enough. But you don’t need to explain why you are leaving. You let them know you will be leaving on X date and that you have valued working with them and have appreciated (stuff they did to make your life easier.). END. PERIOD. No explanation needed.

      If they press you, the commute is making it difficult for you to manage your other responsibilities.

    7. Joielle*

      I think the commute by itself is plenty of justification! I don’t know if that’s 2.5 hours total or each way, but either way that’s a LOT of time every day. Not unreasonable at all to just say “I’ve really enjoyed working here and have appreciated your flexibility, kindness, and guidance over the years, but the commute is just taking up too much of my day and I need to find something closer to home.” You don’t need to prove that you did everything possible to try to make it work!

    8. Purple Cat*

      Gently – you are WAY overthinking this.
      You need a shorter commute. There doesn’t need to be any additional information/explanation given beyond that. It sounds like you’ve asked for permanent WFH and they’re not willing to do that, so actually it does become an “it’s THEM, not YOU” problem. You don’t owe your company anything more than that.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Yeah . . . it’s definitely a “them” problem and not an OP problem. I read the part where the OP hasn’t had a raise in 3 years because OP doesn’t work more than 40 hours in a week, and where OP’s evaluations are average even though they do great work since they don’t put in a lot of overtime . . . yeah. I get that everyone has different standards about what makes a great workplace, but this place wouldn’t be rating so very high on my own personal list.

        1. Anhaga*

          Requiring overtime to get normal raises is jerky. That’s the sort of thing that makes being salaried feel like a scam.

          OP, that commute is more than enough reason, especially if you’re not in an area where that kind of commute is normal. Even if you *are* in an area where it’s normal, it’s still a solid reason.

          1. Mannequin*

            I live in an area where that kind of commute is normal, and have never worked a job that took more than 20 minutes to get to because I absolutely do not have the spoons for a commute.

            I couldn’t even do it on public transportation, because once I’m done with my workday, I’m completely peopled out, and need alone time in the car to help me recharge. Being exhausted in a bus full of people is a NIGHTMARE.

    9. RagingADHD*

      You can’t sustain the commute. It’s too much. That’s it.

      You really don’t have to overexplain that. Many people — many, many people who don’t even have to look after anyone but themselves — would find a 2 to 2.5 hour commute absolutely ridiculous and never even consider a job that far from home in the first place. To me, it sounds absolutely horrific.

      I think maybe you are so burnt out and used to putting everyone ahead of yourself that you don’t feel like you deserve to breathe and live and not be tortured all the time. You do deserve a sustainable life. This is just excessive. You are not being lazy or entitled to not want to keep up this extreme pace any longer than you have to.

      Best of luck finding something close or remote quickly. I hope you get that ease back into your life ASAP.

    10. Happy Sharpie*

      Also….that’s a weird way to do raises (although I work in education…we’re lucky to get COL raises) and a good way to not retain employees (particularly it penalizes people that have to be caregivers outside of work).

    11. Fiona*

      “As selfish as this sounds I’d like a little time for me to go to the gym, friends, volunteer, even reading a book – things I rarely get to do without a TON of planning.”

      Living a well-rounded life is NOT selfish. I hope once you leave this job you’ll be able to have some kindness towards yourself! You don’t have to give a whole big explanation. “The commute isn’t working for me. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me” can be the bulk of it. The anticipation of giving notice is the worst. Once you actually do it, you’ll feel so much lighter. And as much as it might sadden us, our employers are spending MUCH less time agonizing over our departure as we are.

      1. Mannequin*

        That stood out to me too- there is absolutely NOTHING selfish about OP wanting time for their own pursuits and it makes me really sad we still live in a world where a person taking care of themselves is considered “selfish”.

    12. Never Nicky*

      You might be surprised.

      Pre-Covid, my organisation didn’t do work from home.

      Six uears ago, I gave the CEO (I reported directly to him at the time) a heads up that I planned to relocate to live with my partner (we were long distance) so could we start on a transition plan, and long story short, I got permanent WFH with monthly office visits because someone with my skills, subject and institutional knowledge would be tough to find. Good luck!

      1. Windchime*

        This happened with me, too. My workplace offered one WFH day per week. It was a godsend and I loved it. The commute just kept getting worse and worse and my boss granted me special permission to have a second WFH day. Complete, 100% WFH was a non-starter and was never going to happen. Then came Covid and a new CEO; he saw that we could get as much (or more!) done working from home, and it became an option. Some people still want to come to the office several times a week (when it becomes safe); others of us moved out of the area and continued working.

        Good luck!

    13. Clefairy*

      I’ll be super honest, I only read your first paragraph, because saying “I love my job, but this crazy commute isn’t tenable anymore” will be 100% understood by anyone who is reasonable

    14. Attractive Nuisance*

      “Everyone has a busy life which is why I feel so stupid saying “this is not working.””

      Other people’s lives are neither your problem nor your business. It’s not stupid to leave a situation that is not working for you. It is stupid to make decisions about your own life based on your judgements of other people’s lives.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think this would be a whole lot less encumbered if OP absolutely hated the job. It’s because they love it that the problems start.

    15. socks*

      I know this isn’t the point (other people have already addressed the commute), but you haven’t had ANY raise in three years? My company leadership is super stingy in general and they still offer small annual raises regardless of performance, and they certainly don’t base it just on amount of overtime worked.

      You’re being really hard on yourself for wanting to have a life! I believe you that this company has a lot of good aspects, but it seems like there’s some unhealthy attitudes around how much you should be willing to sacrifice for the company floating around.

    16. ArtK*

      This is a business arrangement, not a personal relationship. You don’t need to go into a deep justification for leaving and you *certainly* don’t need to manage anyone else’s feelings. Besides, you have an excellent reason for changing jobs. The commute is a major problem.

    17. triceratops*

      OP, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds a little bit less like you are trying to figure how to justify your departure to your company (which as others have said, is simpler than you think!) and more like you are trying to justify your departure to yourself.

      It is 100% ok to leave a job because it doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore. It is 100% ok to leave a job to be able to spend more time on yourself and your family. If you are looking for permission to quit your job, please please please take it from me and quit :)

      1. Anhaga*


        When I was working a job that ate my life, I stopped and asked myself, “Wait, why am I working? Am I working to support this company or am I working to support my family?” The answer was the second of those things, which in turn made me stop and wonder why on earth I was giving so much time to the company that I didn’t have the physical, mental, or emotional energy to engage with my family. Employers that expect to be the center of their employees’ lives are toxic, wrong, and bad. You’re a human being, not an automaton, and the center of your life should be normal human things like your own well-being and the people you love.

    18. Ellie*

      You are WAY overthinking this. You don’t need to justify or explain. You can just say “this works better for me with the shorter commute”. No one else needs to hear all the rationalisations you are doing inside your head.

      You get to make the decisions that make your life work for you. Own it. Have a simple, clear statement like “I needed a job with a shorter commute and this worked out well for me, but I’ve loved my time here” and stick to it.

    19. BlueWolf*

      I agree that just stating the commute no longer works with your circumstances is enough. I used to have around a 2 hour round trip commute before the pandemic. Being able to work from home and no longer commute has been life changing and I don’t have anywhere close to the family responsibilities you have.

    20. OtterB*

      Agree with the others that you can blame the commute. You can also thank them for the flexibility they’ve shown you and say that you like the company and wanted it to work, but your circumstances have changed and you can’t.

      But – for your self-framing, not necessarily to say to them – it’s not entirely a you problem. If they would entertain WFH, even some days, that would make a difference. If there wasn’t an expectation of putting in extra hours to be rated above average or to earn a raise, that would make a difference. Those aren’t you.

    21. knitcrazybooknut*

      What strikes me about your letter isn’t centered around the commute, but that’s sufficient reason to leave a job, for the record.

      What strikes me is your stating over and over that you love the company, which is probably true, but how little they’ve done to reward you and return your commitment. Yes, they’re flexible, but so are you. I’m going to just quote some things from your letter here:

      “I always make my time; my work gets done; rarely take off sick; plan vacation time well in advance; give me notice and I’ll move my schedule around to accommodate the company’s needs.”

      “not being able to put many extra hours means I don’t qualify for a raise”
      “it’s been 3 years since I’ve had a raise”
      “my reviews are average (apparently I do great work but am not showing I want to excel)”

      You shouldn’t have to work extra hours to receive a raise, especially if you do great work. You shouldn’t have to work extra hours to “show” you want to excel. Any reasonable workplace will recognize that people doing great work (your words) are worth more as time goes on. They will supply great benefits because they want to attract great workers.

      I think it’s like most employers: they do really well in some areas, and not great in others. I agree that the commute is justification enough, but I want to encourage you to reframe some of the other aspects of working there. You’re giving them your time and effort for compensation and benefits. Flexibility is nice, but it doesn’t offset the fact that they don’t feel obligated to give you raises or recognize anyone for great work unless that work is done in addition to a full work day.

    22. Irish girl*

      I feel like it is a company issue. They wont allow for remote work in this currently environment when if you had that opportunity, you would not be as stressed, especially if others were given WFH. Plus tying raises to working overtime seems really bad to me.

    23. Esmeralda*

      “I’m really sorry, I love this job because (three top things). But, I’m commuting X hours every day and it’s just not sustainable.”

      No story. No excuses. No tugging your forelock, bad mouthing yourself, etc.

      If they are as wonderful as you say, they will understand. If they don’t understand/get mad/feel all butt-hurt, then they are not as wonderful as you think they are.

    24. SINE*

      I just went through the “Its me, not you” resignation a few weeks ago. Basically just flat out said 1) I have some things going on in my personal life that require more of my attention, 2) this means I can’t give the time and dedication this job requires, 3) so I’ve decided to accept another position.

      It was a shock to everyone but I made it clear that it’s not what I expected to happen either but life is full of surprises, and this is just what needs to happen. Kept it short and sweet – didn’t want to get into what the personal life stuff was because what is major to one person may not be considered major to another person, and I just didn’t even want to open that avenue of conversation/gossip. Luckily, everyone was very supportive.

    25. Lizzie*

      Forty to fifty hours a month commuting? I don’t think you have to say anything really, other than that this is not sustainable any longer.
      I changed jobs after realising that forty hours a month commuting was a whole extra week each month. I was already underpaid and mentally adding the necessary travel time to my work time and then looking at my hourly rate made me really see I had lost track of what was reasonable.
      You are good to go! Best of luck, and here’s to a normal amount of sleep for you, Lizzie

    26. tamarack & fireweed*

      Once you’ve set up a meeting with your manager….

      “You know how much I appreciate this job. This is an amazing company, and you’ve been an excellent manager. I’ve learned so much from you and will always be grateful for the experience. There is one single thing that I have been having increasing trouble with, and that’s my commute. I’ve thought long and hard about the options that I have, but after weighing them all what it comes down to is that I need to recoup the time I spend on the road, and that I will need to make the change. Therefore, and I’m really sorry about it for the sake of the excellent time I’ve had here, I am resigning, effective on [date]. I have my resignation letter in my email and will send it to you after our conversation.”

    27. beach read*

      It’s a shame you have to leave a job and place you like but that commute is tough! It seems there are some great scripts for you here to use so that the company understands your message. I’d just add that it may be good to consider what counter offer you might accept if offered, and/or be prepared with a response to the “What would it take for you to stay.” question if it is asked. Good luck to you!

    28. London Calling*

      That commute is a perfectly valid reason to give when they ask while you’re leaving. I had the same on my old job and some days it was just over an hour to get in. Other days it could be two and it was really in the lap of the transport gods which it was. After four years I decided that there were better ways of spending hours a week than on the train. Or trains, in my case. My life was commute, work, commute with no time for me and weekends were spent recovering and prepping myself for the next week.

      In retrospect committing to it was daft, but I enjoyed the job. When I stopped enjoying it, my thought was ‘Hang on, I’m spending 10-15 hours of my life travelling to something I don’t even enjoy pr want to do anymore?’ (altho I appreciate that’s not the case for you).

  6. Changing Career Path*

    Early in 2020, I was let go from my previous job. Luckily someone recommended me for an open position at a new company that perfectly fit my qualifications. I interviewed a few days after my last day at my previous job and started a couple weeks later.

    I don’t actually remember what I said in that interview. That time was so stressful with too much uncertainty that I don’t remember much from that time period. I know my manager asked about my career goals and I think I said something about management. This is no longer my goal (at least for now). These last 2 years have changed my priorities. I am slowly working on a solid plan for my next step, but I know it is very different than what I previously wanted and is not an option with my current company.

    My performance review is coming up and my manager will be asking about my goals. She is a great manager and a good listener. She has referred vaguely to what I said in my interview before. I am not sure how to approach my change in goals because I am still figuring out what my next step will be. I also don’t know what my current role could offer my future career path which I anticipate to be very different.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Is there a way to frame it as you’d like to continue working toward being a subject matter expert (SME) in your current role? Can you identify training, projects, etc. that you’d like to take on in the next 1-2 years? You don’t have to commit forever to SME (hey, people’s circumstances change!), but this might give you something more specific to point to in the context of this company while you also work toward what the longer term career path for yourself.

    2. HigherEdAdminista*

      I think it is very common for people to change goals! I would say that the last two years have really impacted your thinking, and you are still reflecting on long-term plans. Emphasize something in your current role that you would have as a goal instead. Perhaps you want to learn or improve on a particular skill that is useful in life or broadly useful in the new path you are considering, or would make your current job more efficient or interesting… I would stick to stuff like that and don’t worry about having the same goal you had a couple of years ago.

    3. Bluebelle*

      Goals are meant to change! You say you are really enjoying your current role and want to continue the skills needed to grow in this role. If you can specifically pick out something that would be helpful, you ca also ask for your manager’s feedback and direction. Good luck!

    4. Artemesia*

      Don’t justify a change in plans — just think about what you do want and let her know that. Lots of people are choosing individual contributor roles instead of management roles and a fair number of businesses are actually providing career paths or good compensation for those. If you want to continue to develop skills as an individual contributor is there something the business could do to assist that, that would get them more effectiveness. Maybe there is certification in your specialty or there are seminars or conferences you would like to attend to sharpen your skills and knowledge. Forget what you said before and focus on what you want now. If she brings up management you can say that you have decided you would prefer to develop your XYZ skills and advance as an individual subject matter expert. No reason to be even slightly defensive.

    5. JT*

      “Oh, yeah, I’ve actually been giving this a lot of thought since I came on here – [Org Name] has really given me some perspective I hadn’t thought about before. So now, I’m really interested in…”

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        Yup, this. A good manager will just switch in her head from “how do I support my employee in their goal of going into management [or whatever her notes from your interview say]” to “how do I support my employee in their goal of becoming a subject-matter expert in X”.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      A LOT of people have reevaluated what they want out of life in the wake of COVID. You could easily say something to the effect that the past couple of years have caused you to reconsider some of your goals, and you now find that X and Y are more important to you than people management. I wouldn’t close yourself off from management, unless you really do NOT want to do that, but if having meaningful work on interesting projects or upgrading your skills in a particular area is what is really important to you right now, then it is okay to say that this is a main goal that you have right now.

      It’s also okay to say that you’re in the process of reevaluating what your goals are, and that you’re in the process of figuring out whether management is really what you want.

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        Depending on the situation (and the supervisor) you may also be able to say that you don’t know what you want to do, but you’d like help figuring it out by trying new things. So rather than digging in deeper as a SME, you’d be available to help out in and/or cross train in other departments, work on any one-off assignments, etc.

    7. anonymous73*

      Be honest. It’s understandable that goals have changed over the last 2 years of this dumpster fire we’ve been living in. If she really is a great manager, she will want you to be successful with what you really want to accomplish.

    8. Hillary*

      Put yourself in her shoes – you said earlier you want to think about management as a next step, she’s a good manager, so she wants to figure out how she supports your goal. Like the others said, you can say it’s been a dumpster fire of a couple years and you want to focus on your current role. I bet you’d like to experience your role not during a crisis at some point. :-)

      You’ll feel more comfortable going into the conversation with an alternative to talk about, but that can easily be getting better at your current role. In the before times at 2 years in I’d be worried that a good direct report is getting antsy and trying to support them before they start looking outside my company. These aren’t normal times and most people get that.

  7. Cold Fish*

    Earlier this week, in one of the comments, the subject of the lottery came up. I got to thinking about how people say things along the lines of “If I won a million dollars I’d quit my job.” Now for me, 1 million would be nice but definitely not enough to get me to quit my job without something else lined up. I think I would have to win at least 5 to be comfortable not having a job. And yes, I would give notice. I’d just feel bad leaving co-workers in the lurch otherwise.
    But now I’m curious, how much would you have to win to quit your job? Would you give notice or just “See Ya Suckers”?
    *I’m about 20 years from retirement age. Don’t know about you, but I know that factors into my thinking.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree. I’m 40 and I live in London, so a million pounds would just about allow me to buy a nice house in the area I live in (which I love, but clearly can’t afford to buy in) and really wouldn’t leave much (if anything) left over for living. So I could have a nice house, but I’d have to work to keep it up. Or, I could use maybe £500,000 to buy a nice flat around here, and then have £500,000 to invest/put in the bank, which would be a really nice cushion but not enough to retire on. So then I wouldn’t have the upkeep of the nice house (which wouldn’t even be that big for £1 million, probably 3-4 bedrooms and semi-detached/terraced) but I’d have a financial cushion to build on for retirement/for going on some nice holidays/for improving my lifestyle a little bit day-to-day. Either way, there’s no way £1 million would be enough to retire on. I’d need enough to buy a house/flat and pay myself a nicely comfortable salary so I wouldn’t have to worry about money – I wouldn’t want to live a hugely lavish lifestyle, but I’d want enough per year so that I could travel if I wanted to, go out for dinner, just generally enjoy life without having to worry whether I could afford something or not. And I think that would take quite a bit of money! Otherwise, I’d probably want to carry on working part-time at least. I definitely wouldn’t do a ‘Ha! See you later!’ unless it was a seriously huge amount, like £100 million or something.

    2. Lunchtime Doubly So*

      Funny enough, my husband and I had this conversation just last week. His feeling is that it would take $5M for him to quit and $11M for both of us to quit. (We’ve already agreed that I will retire later than he will because I enjoy my job more and make substantially more money). I think we could do it for less if we cut some costs, but his belief was that if we win the lottery, we should at least be able to maintain our current standard of living if not improve it.

      1. RagingADHD*

        No snark, y’all are making $770,000 a year? What do you do? Because my spouse and I are obviously in the wrong line of work.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I think about 10 million US dollars (after taxes) would make me feel comfortable leaving my job, because I could set aside enough of it to invest/earn, and then also have plenty leftover for everyday expenses.

      1. Green Goose*

        Same. I live in an expensive place with high property taxes so a nice house (but not luxury) would be at least $1M and then property taxes would be about $20k a year so at least $10M after taxes would be a minimum for me to never work again and also have a comfortable life.

    4. ineligiblebachelor*

      $1m would definitely be enough for me to quit my job– not to the point that I’d never work again, but I’d have the freedom to choose to work wherever I want. I could cover my daily bills with a job that’s just a bit above minimum wage, so if I didn’t have to worry about saving I’d go back to working in a bookstore, which was my favorite job I ever had.

      1. Rayray*

        Agree. I’d buy a house, put some in my IRA, and then I’d just take a break for a few weeks and then I’d start job hunting again or maybe go back to school. I’d work again but I would love to buy a hoe and have a short break too.

          1. cheapeats*

            at first i was like “wut” and then i was like “oh, gardening sounds nice but that hoe sounds expensive”

      2. WellRed*

        This! Maybe I won’t be in lifestyle of the rich and famous but breathing room and just space to live my life rather than going from deadline to deadline would be heavenly.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        Right — for most of my career, anything over like $20K, and I’d quit my job. I would start looking for a new job quickly, but I would surely quit the job I was in at the moment.

      4. Fran Fine*

        I was going to say something similar. I would take the $1M, go part time at my current employer if they let me because I actually really like what I do, but if they didn’t let me stay on PT, I’d quit, pay off my student loans, invest and save the rest, and then get a PT job in the arts. I’d love to work for a museum or theater as a communications manager. Maybe I’d do some freelance consulting in comms and UX design. Either way, I would need to keep working in some capacity – I end up climbing the walls when I have too much free time.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yeah, it’s a function of where you are in your career and life. I could retire (early) now, so if I won $1M I’d be seriously considering it, or at least cutting back to 10-20 hours a week. But I really like my company, our management, and my coworkers, so I’d probably give them at least 2-3 months to find a replacement. And to be perfectly honest, they could probably find someone who can do what I’m doing for less money, even in today’s labor market.

    6. Thought experiments are fun*

      I’ve given this a lot of thought. I would leave my job if I won $200k. It’s not enough to last me a long time, but it’s enough to pay off my house and other debt, so I could then spend a month or two recovering from burnout before finding a different job that was less stressful – probably making less money, but my expenses would have dropped with the debt payoff so it would be workable. Of course, it would be nicer to win more, but even in my fantasies, I’ll take whatever I can get, LOL.

    7. You Can't Pronounce It Anyway*

      Husband and I had this conversation about a week ago. $5M and he take a “fun” job and I would move to more volunteer work for local organization I care about.

      I would give notice. No matter how I feel about whatever company I would be at, I wouldn’t want to leave my co-workers in the mess of up and quitting.

    8. The Original K.*

      $1M net, no, nothing would change except I’d think “great, I know I can retire comfortably” because I’ve been saving already and would add this to that, and I have time & compound interest on my side. $2M net I’d quit my current job for a part-time one. I’d probably stop working altogether at $3M net. (I’d run all this by my accountant and financial advisor first!)

    9. HigherEdAdminista*

      If I had about $5 million, I would feel comfortable walking away from work. What I might do instead though is try to use it to negotiate some flexibility in my work, and not walk away right away.

    10. MissBaudelaire*

      My husband and I like to play this game. Along with A Million Dollars, But…

      I think he came in at around two million dollars, and I came in at five or so. But the difference is I like working. I think I would continue to work, although I would put up with significantly less crap. If we maintained our *current* life style, then we could make that kind of money go far and still tuck some away for our kids. If we upgraded our life style, then I don’t know how far it would stretch. That’s the biggest factor.

      I would want to be comfortable. I wouldn’t want to blow it all on a house I couldn’t afford the upkeep on, or things we didn’t need.

    11. awesome3*

      Just because you quit your job it doesn’t mean you need to stay away forever. Maybe the pandemic hasn’t burned you out the way it has for me, which sounds lovely! But even if I started working 6 hours a week, or took some years off before going back… yeah. If it’s a lottery reason to quit, of course I’d give notice, that’s why it’s not a good example of why someone is suddenly unavailable. Alison’s reasoning of being abducted by aliens is the best phrasing for what you need for that.

    12. Ama*

      Right this moment, I probably would resign but professionally, giving ample notice, because I am VERY burned out and getting a windfall that would allow me to take 6 -12 months off without eating into my current savings is my biggest fantasy right now. But it would be with the understanding that I eventually intend to go back to work so I’m not going to burn my reference. (I am about your age.)

      I have always said that even if I won one of those mega millions jackpots that was 30-40 million or more I’d probably end up using it to create my own business and/or set up a private foundation to fund causes I’m interested in, because I would need some kind of project to keep me busy.

    13. Sunflower*

      10 million to quit and consider never working again. 5 million to quit my job and start looking for another.

      It’s not that I couldn’t live on less but if I did get a chunk of change like 1 mil or more, I’d immediately put it towards purchasing 2 homes (primary and vacation) and it’s likely that would take up at least 2 or 3 million if not more. I would prefer to have luxuries and continue to work so while I could very easily quit my job and live nicely for 1 million, I’d rather keep working and put the money towards something else.

    14. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      A million would buy my house and make a nest egg, but would not change my work plans.

      5 million would buy my kid a house and buy me an empty nest, and let me take retirement whenever I get too fed up with my job, which I mostly really like.

      More than that and I have to quit to manage the process of giving it all away.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, for a million I’d pay off our house and student loans and not have much left. Maybe a nice vacation and put the rest in the retirement accounts. Even if I won a huge jackpot I think I’d still work! Maybe part time. I love my job and I find it meaningful.

        I actually said to my spouse recently that the only extremely-rich-person thing I really want is a driver. I hate driving but I love going places and I would LOVE to have someone on call to take me everywhere. What a dream!

    15. Delta Delta*

      I’ve had this conversation before, too! It came up once when I was going to Las Vegas and someone asked if I won a million dollars if I’d come back. I pretty quickly said I think I’d need $4M to never come back. That was 5-6 years ago, and I sort of think it’s still true. I live in an area where there are a fair number of really wealthy people who all drive beat-up Volvos and wear clothes til they’re holey. If I stayed where I am, I could fit in with basically zero change in lifestyle and be okay for a long time on that much.

    16. The Golden Spine of Engineering*

      I did a little mental math the last time our state lottery’s jackpot was high. If I won $40 million, I wouldn’t have to work another day in my life.

      I like my job, and I like the security it brings. I wouldn’t quit for a smaller amount.

      1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        This week someone won $620M in the Powerball. Damn. Wish it were me.
        That would definitely make me quit my job without a backward glance, pack up my kitties, and move to my own private island. LOL!

    17. Anon for this One for Sure!*

      Funny you should ask. After a death in the family last year and selling their single family home in California, on top of our existing savings, my spouse and I now have $5M “in the bank”. They (in their 50s) and I (in my 40s) feel like that is the magic number for us both to not have to work (they were already retired, I make about $150K/yr), so I am starting to plan to leave my job later this year, giving notice of course. Part of that is I am so fried from managing a team of 15 through 2 years of COVID in a huge impersonal organization, and maybe if my job were lower-stress, I wouldn’t be so excited to make ends meet on essentially the interest from the $5M. We have two tweens and are looking at 6 years of private school and then college, but I don’t know, for us the numbers make sense. I do plan on hustling for consulting work in my field, but hoping to stabilize at max 20 hours/week.

    18. RagingADHD*

      We already own a home and are in a low COL, so if we had $1 million well invested with a decent rate of return we could live on it just fine.

      However, we have kids going to college in a few years, and of course in a real-world scenario assets like that would change the calculus of what we expect to contribute, the kind of financial aid they’d qualify for, etc. It could also impact things like our obligations to parents if they should need help paying for long-term care, etc.

      So in the magical scenario of “win the lottery that we don’t play,” yes it would be enough. In the real world, that’s too much math to do right now and the answer is probably not.

    19. HR Exec Popping In*

      For me 1M would not be enough for me to change my plans. I could probably retire now (early) if I really wanted to. I actually really like my work though. If I won 100M I would most likely leave and take a lower stakes role in a smaller organization – most likely a non-profit and even volunteer my time. But I don’t see stopping working in some form or fashion for a long time. I enjoy work and get a great deal of satisfaction from it. If I won 1-10M I would definitely look into buying a second vacation home.

    20. OTGW*

      I’m like 50 years away from retirement lol and if I got $1 mil I would leave one of my PT jobs. I would keep the one I like because (assuming I don’t have, like, taxes and get the full cash) I would like to keep having money come in. I would eventually run out of money.

      But I would go back to school and get a MA. I’d encourage my husband to quit so he could focus on getting his education too (he just has high school). But neither of us would ever QUIT quit at $1 mil. For being so young, I would probably want like…. at least $10 mil. I wouldn’t just be spending the money on myself and my spouse, I would buy off my parent’s house, get my brother on his feet and pay off his school debt

    21. ThursdaysGeek*

      I had a co-worker win 1 million in a lottery. After taxes it was less, and she did not quit her job. But it did allow her to retire a bit earlier than she had planned.

    22. Lora*

      Oh gosh, I vaguely remember this math problem from Finance class.

      You have to have an idea of both what you’d invest in and the return rate on that, and also be very confident in your estimate of inflation rates. Inflation can mess it all up, you need to know the real return rate which is return rate – inflation. That gets you r.

      Now you need an estimate of how long you’re going to live. Like, let’s say I’m going to live another 30 years, optimistically. t=30

      The formula for annuities is present value = C x {1-[1/(1+r)^t]}/r
      Where C = coupon payment, which is the payment you would receive.

      If the after tax present value = 1mio, and we invest it in a mutual fund with a rate of return = 7% over the past 10 years, and inflation = 2.2% (what it’s been for a few decades now though this is changing at the moment), the real rate of return = 4.8%. Therefore C = $63576/year, correcting r to a monthly compounding and 360 payments C=$5247.

      But, $5247 might not be all that much money in 15 years. At a 2.2% inflation rate, $5247 has the buying power of $3786 in 15 years. Working backwards, in order to make $5247 have the same buying power in 30 years, I will need C = ~$10,000/month (assuming inflation stays steady). Plugging C = $10,000 x my formula, I need it to be $2,000,000 after tax. There’s some tax shenanigans you have to have an accountant do to ensure you aren’t double-taxed, taking the lump sum as capital gains and then the withdrawals getting taxed as income, but I’m not super clear on those.

      Me personally, I actually would need more than that to feel comfortable, because inflation can wreck these type of calculations. I remember the late 1970s, they were no fun at all for people who were retirement age. Even just a few years of inflation can make all your scrimping and saving useless and force you to go back to work, nevermind life stuff that can wipe out a million dollars in one bad car accident or severe illness.

      1. NotARacoonKeeper*

        I appreciate you doing the math for us, Lora! But you double-accounted for inflation when you worked out the future buying power of the monthly spend down to $3786 – it’s already accounted for in your previous paragraph, when you reduced the interest rate by the inflation rate. (the alternative would be to not subtract it from the interest rate + to calculate your monthly spend plus inflation)

        The financial independence/early retirement (FIRE) folks use a simpler rule of thumb from the Trinity Study, which found that a 4% withdrawl rate is safe for a 30 year retirement in 99% of periods between 1925 and 1998 (when the study was done). You can reduce the 4% slightly for a longer retirement/more conservative rate/poor social safety structure (hello USA) – 3.25-3.5% is common – but as a Canadian I’m using the 4% for my early retirement forecasting calculations.

      2. Girasol*

        Web sites of mutual fund companies like T Rowe Price, Vanguard, and Fidelity have calculators that do Monte Carlo simulations (a sort of average of various scenarios of how the rest of your financial life could pan out) that are easier to use than a spreadsheet and quite helpful. Of course, you have to start with a pretty good idea of how much you need, both to live the way you want to live and to cover emergencies.

    23. Gay Hamster in the Corporate Wheel*

      For me, a million would do it. We are in our “forever” home (one level in a resort-type neighborhood worth $600k), I’m 5-ish years from retirement and pretty much hate my job. $300k to pay off the mortgage, $100k for needed repairs / wanted renovations, $40k to pay off husband’s new car, $35k for me a new car (sold mine in pandemic). $60k per year would easily keep my contribution to our lifestyle, so I could go out early and even delay collecting SSI and 401k a bit longer than planned.
      (Note: husband is younger, and loves working, so I’d get be a stay at home dog dad)

      1. Sun in an Empty Room*

        I immediately assigned my husband to stay at home dog dad role upon imagining $1 million. Honestly, my life would improve so much with him doing that! Wishing you a gentle, quick path to that goal!

        1. Gay Hamster in the Corporate Wheel*

          Aww, thanks Sun! That’s kind of you. We will get there, so long as the world doesn’t get even weirder between now and then.

    24. Jessica Ganschen*

      My current lifestyle is pretty frugal, on account of being paid a decent but not grandiose amount of money, so if I just wanted to keep going as I am, a million could sustain me for a few decades. If I won that right now, I’d probably quit my job, invest half of it, give myself a modest allowance until the pandemic ends, and focus on my personal projects. I’d like to get into voice acting, for one, or try my hand at copyediting, and I’d never be able to manage a full time job and building up a freelance career at the same time. The only thing that would give me pause is possibly having a gap in my work history or making my resume look even weirder than it already does (I went Air Force -> student worker/admin assistant -> data entry).

    25. CupcakeCounter*

      $1-5M I’d get myself the “dream” car (keeping in mind the practicalities that I have a pre-teen who needs a chauffer and that I live in an area that regularly has significant amounts of snow), take the fam on a freaking awesome vacation or 2, and save the rest. Not sure about quitting the job…I like it and it has the potential to be a nice, long-term cushy job if I want it to be so.

      $5-10M would move up to the dream house on a lake with an indoor pool as well as all of the above but chances are much higher I would give notice.

      $10+M Would definitely give notice, probable spend a cool $2M on some fun stuff mentioned above (car, vacation, etc…), then set up a trust with an annuity or something to pay me a salary of sorts to keep me on a budget.

      Over $100M and I’m gonna live like a Kardashian

    26. Anonymouse*

      I am part of a national longitudinal study in the US. This year they asked a question they have never asked before–I don’t remember the exact wording but it was something like “If your company offered you a lump sum of money to quit immediately without anything lined up, how much would it have to be for you to consider it?”

      I said $100,000.

      This is a little different than your question but I really want to see what the aggregate answers turn out to be!

      1. Cold Fish*

        To just quit, without anything lined up, with the plans to start looking right away…
        $100,000 is a pretty good number. Enough to pay off some debt and pay bills while looking for a new job.

      2. Admin of Sys*

        That is an interesting twist on the question – that number would be way lower for me than the lottery one, even though it technically is asking the same thing!

      3. Lora*

        For me it’s two years’ salary + benefits. Had a job about 10 years ago where they were going through a huge merger, and looking to downsize about 50,000 employees. They were looking for volunteers to take early retirement or leave, and offering VERY good severance to people who left. I had been poking around at some jobs and had two interviews, was pretty confident at least one would work out, so I volunteered to leave for the severance payment available at that time, which was a base of 6 months + 2 years health care + an additional amount of time based on how long you’d been with the company that was being acquired. Was told “NO we need to keep you, you’re staying right here.”

        One guy took the money as a lump sum and used it to start his own business. He made about $5mio/year in revenues from his previous colleagues sending him work, plus new clients. He just retired an I-don’t-know-how-many millionaire and sold the business to another one of our colleagues who was tired of working for startups.

    27. Daisy-dog*

      In my last role, I did have a word document titled “In Case I Win the Lottery” in which I outlined many of the tasks that I handled that no one else knew how to do (like payroll….). I did this because I couldn’t bring myself to title a document “In Case I Tragically Die”. I would definitely have given notice and trained someone on these tasks if I won the lottery.

      In that particular role, I do think $1 million would have been enough. I would have taken a few months off and then probably picked a new degree to pursue and hopefully restarted my career in something prone to less burnout.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Haha I was the one who brought up the lottery earlier, in the context of saying those documents should be titled “In Case I’m Abducted by Aliens!” (Allison used that example in a response to one of the offsite letters.) Less morbid than sudden death, but equally communicates the whole “what if you are suddenly gone and impossible to contact” thing better than winning the lottery.

        1. Anon for this*

          lol I have an “eeyore” employee who phrases this as her instructions for “WHEN [not if] I am hit by a bus…”

    28. Littorally*

      I expect I won’t be retiring until 70 with the way things are going, so I have a fair bit of working life still ahead of me.

      To quit working as a lottery or other windfall winner… man. I’d say a bare minimum of 10 million for me, maybe 15. Something that could produce a really solid income plus grow enough to beat out inflation even conservatively invested. Even then, I’d be more likely to keep working, just scale back into a less stressful and less career-oriented job. In any case, I would definitely work out a notice period and leave my employer on good terms. You never know what the future holds and even one or two bad decisions can obliterate a windfall.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        This was me, not sure what happened to the rest of my name.

        The only reason the $1M net would work is that I have a guaranteed pension that I can tap right now. In a year, I’ll be eligible for full SS, so that’s my target date.

        Without the pension, I figure about double that amount.

    29. Nicki Name*

      I’m around the same age as you, Cold Fish, and that definitely does factor into my thinking. To give up working a regular day job forever, I’d probably want something in the $5-10 million after taxes range.

      With $1 million… I really like my current job, and it has great pay and benefits, but eventually I’ll feel like I need to move on. At that point I might use $1 million to pay off the mortgage, put some away in savings, and then give myself a couple years of sabbatical to travel, try a couple things I’ve always wanted to try that could become a new career, that sort of thing.

    30. The New Normal*

      Funnily enough, I had a coworker win the lottery. :) He won just over $30 million and kept working for about 6-8 weeks while lawyers and accountants did their business, then he quit.

      I would definitely follow a similar timeline – lawyer up, get finances arranged, claim prize, and get first distribution date before I quit. But I would absolutely quit for $1 million. In my situation, that would pay off the house and leave plenty as a cushion while I decided what I really wanted to do. With a paid for car and house, the disbursement from lottery would cover all other bills and taxes and a job would just be fun money, so I would look for something I truly enjoyed.

    31. Anonymous Luddite*

      Amusing side note: Douglas Coupland, the man who wrote the original Generation X book, wrote another thinly veiled story about working in Seattle called “Microserfs.” He coined the phrase “F-U money” (spelled out). That is the exact amount of money one would need to quit everything and walk away. I’ve always used that term to describe what you’re asking.

      Right now, I would say my FU Money value is approximately $3.5 million to just walk out the door and never look back. I’m 50, live in a large coastal city, and make just under $60k /year.

      1. Sun in an Empty Room*

        Love the Douglas Coupland reference. The term has become commonly used in the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) community.

    32. Anhaga*

      $1 million would be enough to clear all my family’s debt and let us get/build exactly the house we wanted exactly where we wanted. Like Ama, I wouldn’t permanently leave the workforce, but I might quite my job (and my husband definitely would) just to stop and breathe and recover from burnout while making the big decision about what to do next. We would probably try to keep our lifestyle at about the same level, just with added perks like a few more dinners out and season tickets to the symphony and the theatre.

      The idea of having enough money to clear all the debt and not be going paycheck to paycheck is a major dream for me. As a very cynical Gen Xer who is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, I would love to simply feel a little more stable.

    33. Cold Fish*

      Just if anyone is curious my thinking goes:
      50K+ – pay off bills and put money into the bank but no change in life style or work life
      1M – maybe look into upgrading my housing situation, no change in work life (nice security to know if I really needed to leave job I could)
      5M – secure enough to upgrade housing situation and take some quality time to figure out what I really want to do
      50M or more- varies depending on mood from starting my own business and going back to school to become a permanent full-time student (I would love to take some of those classes, like philosophy, that just didn’t fit in with my business degree plans while in college)

      I think I would be pulling my hair out with boredom after 6-8 month without some kind of plan/goal on the horizon, even if it’s vague and hazy.

    34. Buni*

      Last time I played this with friends we all eventually came to the conclusion that while a lump sum would be nice, something in the £2m-£5m, what we really wanted to win was one of those continuous payment lotteries – there used to be one (may still be? I never play) that paid £40,000p.a. for life, and I’d be all over that.

    35. Sun in an Empty Room*

      $1 million (net or gross) and my husband quits/retires, I keep working. At even $1.5 million winnings in the bank I’d quit, too. We both are very passionate about the fields we work in but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in both areas we’d love to dedicate ourselves to with much less stress! My husband and I are Dual Income, No Kids in our mid-30s. We live frugally in a low cost of living part of the US and are hoping to early retire around 50. We have land we’re modestly and slowly building on in South America. Either would dramatically speed up how quickly we could start splitting our time between North and South America.

      1. Mannequin*

        DINKs! Haven’t heard that one in awhile!

        Anyone else remember POSSLQ? (persons of opposite sex sharing living quarters)

        They made that one up for the 1980 census and for some strange reason (:snort:) it never seemed to catch on.

    36. Sled dog mama*

      Hubby and I calculated this out a few years ago. Things have changed since then (different area of the country so lower housing cost but higher other costs). I think at the time we figured out that if $1m after taxes I would be able to drop to working 3 days a week but we figured out that we’d need $5m after taxes to fully quit working because we would travel more and probably spend a bit more on hobbies.

    37. Beth*

      My wife and I are only a few years from retirement, so you would think the quit-now figure would go way down. But at this age, the lottery win scenario runs into a bunch of different obstacles. With this many years of experience, we both have a very clear picture of how much money it takes to bridge a given set of needs without too much stress — and there wouldn’t be much point in quitting working if it meant more stress.

      We’re both somewhat burned out, but at the same time, the finish line is in sight; and each of us likes a lot of things about our jobs, so we aren’t usually wishing for an instant exit. We’re both making more this year than last year, and continuing to do that for a few more years will also nudge up our eventual Social Security.

      On a more important point: our health insurance comes from her job, so the minimum quit-now figure has to be high enough to cover ALL of that for the remaining years, plus a cushion to make up for the loss of security.

      So, bottom line, I’d still want at least a couple of million.

    38. Angstrom*

      I would give notice and stay through a transition period. Current boss(es) have been good to me, and I’d like to leave on a positive note.

    39. Person from the Resume*

      $1M net* would do it for me I think. I’m single and I’ve already got lots in retirement savings, and I’m only about 10-15 years from retirement. Invest well and that $1M would last until I was planning to retire anyway.

      * I have no idea of tax implications, but I know a flat $1M winner won’t do it.

    40. Cj*

      I’m only 5 years from retirement, and I do believe that changes a persons perspective. I for sure would quit for a million *after taxes*. Maybe before taxes.

      Since I’m a CPA that does taxes, and actually enjoys the work, but not the hours during tax season, if it was a million before taxes, I would probably try to find a job that allowed me to work only 40 hours a week even during busy times.

    41. MissElizaTudor*

      I’d probably quit my job for something like $200,000. It might not be a good idea, but I’m so burnt out, I wouldn’t be able to resist the chance to take a couple years off.

      I wouldn’t quit working forever, though. I think two years that would be enough time for me to sort myself out a bit, gain some skills, and figure out what kind of work I want to actually do. Depending on other factors, I might find a part time job (or maybe even do my current job part time) to keep something on my resume.

    42. Anonymous Hippo*

      1 million would likely be enough for me. Assuming 50% goes to taxes, $500k would bring in a bare minimum of $25K/yr and probably closer to $50K. I’m getting close to being completely debt free including mortgages, and I have rental property, so I could get as is if I HAD to. The winning would make it easy. Whether I’d “retire” or eventually start my own business or find another job in future is debatable.

    43. Potatoes gonna potate*

      This is a fun thread! $1m alone would be enough to pay off our house and buy another one all cash. Homes in my area have skyrocketed. A really decent, spacious house, that was built in the last 20-30 years where no major repairs are needed is somewhere in the ballpark of $500k+. I’d always prefer to a lease a car than buy one.

      Otherwise I don’t think there’s an amount that’d make me quit working forever; it *would* make me feel like I don’t need to take on crappy jobs or put up with toxicity at work for fear of losing a paycheck. But for the most part I do enjoy having a routine of going to work. Having some sort of structure is important for me.

    44. Abated*

      I’m not sure the amount. I’m pretty sure I’d give notice. I’m absolutely sure I would not at all feel guilty and, if I would win enough, I would drive away on my last day honking the horn with cash flying out the windows as I peel out of the parking lot!

    45. seahorsesarecute*

      I just turned old enough to take early retirement, which I would if we were debt free. All I would need is about $100 thousand to pay off debts and handle self insurance payments until we reach medicare age.

      BUT I have a ‘Sweet 16’ list of family and close friends who I would share with if I win over $100 million. That much money would let the people we’re close to retire also (even after splitting it 16 ways and paying the taxes), because who will we hang out with all day if we retire without them?

    46. Pam Adams*

      I’m on the ‘not any amount’ side of the spectrum. I enjoy my job supporting university students. My million plus lottery winnings would be spent on more vacation- pandemic allowing- and doing more assisting others. (Plus of course, hiring house-cleaners, chefs, possibly chauffeurs….)

    47. OtterB*

      I am expecting to retire in about 3 years anyway. I don’t think $1 million would change that. I would like to either do a major renovation on my house or buy something else nearby that would be easier to manage for retirement, and given the area where I live, that would be expensive. I would like to help daughter the elder pay off her law school student loans. I’d like to splurge on a nice vacation. And I’d like to create a special needs trust for daughter the younger. I’m … not sure $1 million would cover all of that.

      Health care is the other variable. The OtterSpouse recently started Medicare and our special needs daughter also has it, but I’m not eligible yet and am too high risk to be without coverage. It would be all too easy for a major medical issue to burn through a big chunk of the million.

    48. Hermione Danger*

      $1 million would let me quit my job, take a break and figure out how I want to support myself for the rest of my life. It would even give me enough money to at least start a business if I wanted to. $10 million before taxes would pay for the rest of my life and give me some breathing space in case medical issues came up as I got older.

    49. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      You get about 1/2 of any jackpot. Winning $1M would only be like $500k. Nice, but hardly enough to quit your job unless you happen to be 64 years old and nearing retirement.

      I think it would take a jackpot of at least $3-4M to warrant quitting.
      But even with that, you’d have to plan carefully and not blow it all. Possibly work part time even.

    50. Cdn Acct*

      For me the number would be pretty low. Maybe it’s because I’m almost done paying my mortgage, am fine with apartment living and don’t own a car, but I’d be fine with net $2MM. I don’t even know what I’d do with over 5MM – I could buy a vacation home but I don’t think I’d want to keep it up. I think I’d just give some to my younger friends who were unlucky enough to start jobs in a horrible real estate market. My parents have more money than I do, and the rest of my extended family are doing well on their own.
      I don’t hate my job but it’s been really stressful the last couple years, so maybe I’d take a sabbatical and then try to come back into a lower role. I like where I work and my coworkers but I wouldn’t miss the daily grind.

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

      All other things being equal — live in the same place, drive the same car, etc — I would say that $1M would get me to quit even though I am about 15 years away from retirement. But if I wanted to upgrade anything in my life (and to be honest, I’d like to upgrade or at least change a few things) I’d need probably $3M to quit and not work again. I’d also want enough to take care of my aging parents in total comfort, so maybe add another $1M for their needs because getting old is EXPENSIVE and the savings go quickly.

      But I also think, after a few weeks in my PJs refusing to answer any phone, email or be on video, I’d be happier with something to DO all day and I hate TV so I’d end up back working in some capacity — volunteer work is still work — but I’d be very selective.

    52. Annie E. Mouse*

      Late to the party, but this is something my partner and I have daydreamt about a lot. We’re ~20 years from retirement, so it would take at least 10-15M for us to both be able to quit. I would be really hesitant to quit thinking I could potentially go back later. (Look at how hard it is for SAHMs to re-enter without having to take a step backward.) With $1M, I’d pay off some debt and accelerate our retirement savings. I’d much rather keep working now and shave a few years off the end of my career. My current job I’d give notice; company is fair and boss is reasonable. But there have been some places where I would have just ghosted.

    53. JelloStapler*

      After taxes? At least $5M. I would want to make sure my kids college is paid for and such.

    54. Alex*

      Yeah especially with taxes! After taxes, a million dollar lotto win won’t even buy you a single family home where I live.

      But…I still might quit my job with a million dollars. While not enough to let me live on it for life, it would be enough to keep me going for a few years while I find another job. Obviously, if I liked my job I would keep it. But I hate my job, so…

      And yeah, I’d give notice, because I’d need a reference. But also, while I don’t care about leaving my coworkers in the lurch, the people who would actually suffer are my customers and so I would stay long enough to make a transition plan for them.

    55. SnappinTerrapin*

      For me, retirement will probably mean being more like Bartleby the Scrivener in choosing what I am willing to work on, and when.

      I wouldn’t mind a windfall, but I wasted a little time when I was younger imagining the “what-if” games about lotteries and sweepstakes. I suspect I would be less prudent than I like to believe I would be if I had such a windfall, though.

      I once told an employer I’d probably keep working if I won the Publisher’s Clearing House. A couple months later, I told him I had won. I received a $20 check in the mail from PCH.


  8. Anon and annoyed*

    I have a coworker who is high-risk and requested WFH due to the omicron spike. The request was refused, so the coworker gave notice. Already has another job lined up, so it’s all good, but I’m annoyed that we’re losing a good employee with specialized knowledge, who CAN do their job remotely, because management refuses to be flexible. (We were WFH at the very beginning of the pandemic but were required to return in-person just when numbers began spiking in our state.) It’s just so frustrating!

    1. Spooncake*

      If it wasn’t for the fact that I left my previois job back in the autumn, I’d be convinced you were one of my coworkers there- this exact situation happened to me. It’s annoying for everyone involved, because there’s literally no need for it to happen- management in a lot of places are just short-sighted and unwilling to change with the times.

    2. The Original K.*

      It’s so silly. Years ago one of my colleagues asked to WFH one day a week because her commute was long. The request was denied, so she gave notice on the spot. She was like, my Amtrak pass is up at the end of the month and that will be my last day. It was incredibly short-sighted on our employer’s part.

      1. takeachip*

        I also quit a job over a decade ago when they refused to give me any flexibility while I was working full time and in graduate school. My classes were all outside working hours, but my days were insanely long and I was eating all my meals in the office or a classroom. All I asked for was one day a week, on a day when I had class after work, so I could catch my breath. It was more important to the leadership at the time to have control over employees than it was to have good employees; turnover there was high, like 30%.

    3. MissBaudelaire*

      Ah yes, the old ‘butts in seats’ style of thinking. I’m curious to see how this thinking pans out.

    4. knitcrazybooknut*

      Welcome to my life. We’ve been WFH, but just did a soft opening in fall. The powers that be want to ramp up gradually, and I have two out of three staff members who are going to start actively looking if they have to be on site more often. We’re already stretched thin, and I have no idea how to do their jobs (which are very specialized). I continue to push back, with much resistance from my boss. It’s stressful. For the record, the jobs can be done remotely, but “how will it look?” is the concern. Yeargh.

      1. Dutchie*

        It will look like you are a place of work that cares for the physical (for now, at the very least) and mental health of their employees and values their preferences in where and how they work.

        It’s not rocket science, boss of knitcrazybooknut!

    5. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      I requested some WFH time next week (even just some of the week) to be available to assist with a minor family emergency if it suddenly goes worse.
      This has been granted to other people at my level and with my title recently (somebody this week even).

      I’ve been told that as of today or maybe next week, the executive team has decided my position is not eligible for WFH, full stop. So I’m denied.

      I was told they would waive the current (punitive) process of assigning points if you’re late (by 5mins or more), or have to leave early because of “the circumstances.”
      Or I should just take next week off to handle things “instead of thinking about work”.
      However, they don’t pay enough to be able to take a week unpaid, and we only have 2wks PTO/vacation for the year. No sick days at all, and those punitive points for anything else. (a certain number of points essentially puts you on the block to be fired).
      (The point system was implemented not even a month after I was hired, and completely changed the calculus I would have done after my interview.)

      There is literally no reason I can’t do my job from home. I have a company-issued laptop and my entire job is done on the computer. I rarely even talk to my seat neighbors because we all have headphones on!
      It’s just a big FU from the executives right after declaring our department “critical” (and without us, they wouldn’t make any money).

    6. Lizy*

      So we basically won the lottery about 2 years ago. Not really, but we have guaranteed income forever (as long as either myself or my husband is alive), and it’s not a bad amount. If I didn’t work, our budget would be tight, but it would be do-able.

      However. I like working. We like the flexibility my paycheck provides, and working is good for my mental health. I will very likely always work. There’s a possibility down the road (like 5+ years) that I might look at working some amount of reduced hours, but it would be after a hobby picks up and makes enough income to justify working it as a job instead. But I’d still have a “real” job. I honestly don’t think there’s any amount of cash that would make me say “I’m never working again”. It’s just not who I am. (I’m still fairly young in the work world – mid-30s. But if someone asks me now for an amount to get me to quit working? There isn’t one.)

  9. awesome3*

    I know we shouldn’t hold out hope for closure on the Leap Year Birthday situation, but if anyone here has a birthday on Leap Day, I’m curious – does your work do days off for birthdays? What was your take on that letter?

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      No I’ve never worked in a place where they give you a holiday on your birthday or a floating holiday for your birthday to use other times. I guess I come from a school of thought where I find birthdays in the office odd and silly. However, in this case, I would have gone full Ham if this were happening in my workplace. What a stupid stance to take, huh? And she doubled down when we all told her she was wrong.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I am not someone with a leap day birthday, but my office offers everyone a personal day to use around their birthday. It doesn’t have to be on your actual birthday, and I think most people pick a Friday or Monday sometime that month to give themselves a long weekend. I think it’s the best birthday celebration I’ve ever seen in my career – a day off is waaay better than any cake or card, and requires literally zero effort on anyone’s part.

      If leap day birthday boss’s office had offered this, maybe it would never have been a problem, since you don’t have to take the actual day off, it’s just an extra day to take in the vicinity of your birthday. Though that boss was stubborn enough I’m sure they would have still claimed that no birthday date = no birthday existence.

      I still can’t believe how much they doubled down!

    3. RagingADHD*

      I had never in my life even heard of people getting the day off for their birthday before that letter.

      Children in elementary school don’t get a day off for their birthday. It seems very odd to me that grownups would consider it a day they should have off at all. I mean, use your PTO however you want, but an extra day just for that? Strange to me.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I guess it used to be fairly common in the US. But that was 50 years or more ago. When I was a trainer, I was surprised the first time someone asked if we got a day off for our birthday. Then an older relative told me it used to be a Thing.

      2. awesome3*

        I did work somewhere where one of the holidays was called “birthday” but it was like an extra PTO day you could use anytime.

      3. Myrin*

        One important thing about that letter – which only got brought up in the update – was the fact that this happened in a country with very different attitudes towards both birthdays and obedience-a-the-workplace compared to Western countries.

      4. The Original K.*

        Me neither. Best I’ve seen was cake & a card. I’ve known people who always take that day off but they have to use PTO for that.

      5. Not my real name*

        When I first started at my current tech job (company was ~3 years old at the time), we were given an extra day off to use around your birthday. We went to unlimited leave though, so that isn’t officially the stance anymore.

      6. Annie E. Mouse*

        I worked as an admin for a lawyer when I was in school. He gave everyone off on their birthday, because he liked to take his own off. But he never had more than 2-3 employees at a time and never really had formal policies in place. He was very generous with time off, so it didn’t really matter.

      7. tamarack & fireweed*

        Well, in elementary school we would get no homework on our birthdays. (Not that homework in elementary school should probably be a thing, but that’s a different debate.)

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’ve never worked somewhere with birthdays off. However my current employer provides a few floating holidays (in addition to generous vacation and holiday time off) that people can use for that.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      We don’t have a specific day off for birthdays, although anyone who wants to take their birthday off is welcome to as long as there’s coverage. In my case there’s a public holiday in England that falls usually within a week of the actual day, plus in my specific job there’s a reason why that time period is usually quiet, so that time is a good time for me to take off anyway.

      1. londonedit*

        I normally take the day off for my birthday (last year I took the whole week off because it was my 40th) but I’ve never heard of anywhere that actually gives people a specific day’s holiday to take on/around their birthday. People are of course welcome to use a day’s holiday for it if that’s what they want to do, but you don’t get an extra ‘this is for your birthday’ day.

        1. Gracely*

          This. I always take my birthday off if I can, but I’ve never worked anywhere that gave people a day off specifically for their birthday.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          I am actually thinking about doing the same since that’s what I have coming up this year, and August bank holiday week is always joked about in my job as being so quiet that the team mascot could cover.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’ve never worked at a place where you could get the day off for your birthday, and also I’ve never worked with someone who would spend a vacation day for their birthday. TBH if someone told me they were going to take the day off for their birthday, I’d be tempted to ask them if they were turning twelve.

      But I’ve worked in plenty of places where birthdays were acknowledged — whether per individual, or, say, once a month for all the birthdays in that month. It would be odd at best and mean at worst for a February 29th birthday to be excluded at the February birthdays celebration.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Idk. I never cared whether I worked on my birthday, then I took my 40th off, because I didn’t want to turn 40 at my crappy job. I often take a day or two off on or around my birthday, because I usually need to use up some time, & it’s a good excuse. (Also, my mom’s birthday falls within a few days of mine, so we usually meet for lunch around that time. Or I renew my license & buy a new pair of boots.)

      2. awesome3*

        I’m generally off on my birthday for unrelated reasons, and my partner has taken the day off for my birthday before so we can hang out. It would be different if I didn’t have a birthday on a pre-existing holiday though.

      3. kitryan*

        My birthday is close to July 4th. Sometimes my family wants to take me out for a nice dinner sometime that week or for me to spend some time with them. The weather’s usually nice as well. So I frequently will take the whole week off, which frees up my schedule that week to see family and, due to the existing holiday, means I’m usually using 4 pto days and getting a full week off.
        I’m not turning 12, nor do I care overmuch about the specific day. I wouldn’t be particularly sad if a pto request was turned down or anything.
        However, why *not* take time off on your birthday, it’s as good a day as any and sometimes better. I enjoy my birthday vacation week and it’s a bit like giving myself a little present of relaxation (I am lucky to not have many other scheduled events I need use my pto on, so taking the time also doesn’t inconvenience me for the rest of the year).
        While it would indeed seem odd for an adult to be overly invested in getting their birthday off (unless they were missing a perk granted to everyone else, a la the leap year birthday story), it also seems equally odd to me to be specifically against taking one’s birthday off.

    7. Metadata Librarian*

      When my father worked on the railroad — many many years ago — their birthday was treated like a holiday. They got double time and a half if they worked on a holiday, so most of the people he worked with, decided to work on their birthday.

    8. Zephy*

      I’ve never had a job where it was a policy that employees would take their birthdays as PTO (or the nearest Monday if it fell on a weekend, as in the Leap Day letter), but it’s not been uncommon for people to take PTO explicitly for birthday-related reasons in the places I’ve worked. Like, Siobhan would put in to be off Friday because she and her husband are going to Vegas for the weekend to celebrate her 40th, and she’d openly be talking about that as part of normal office chatter, that kind of thing. The Leap Day letter continues to be just bizarre to me. I think the part where it was compulsory to be off specifically and only on one’s actual birthday was the weirdest part, weirder even than prohibiting employees whose actual birthdays do not appear on the calendar in a given year from participating (especially given that people whose birthdays fall on non-business days got the next business day for their Mandatory Fun Birthday PTO), although that was also plenty weird – the LW doubling down in the comments was the weird icing on this weird cake. I hope Ms. Leap Day Birthday is thriving.

    9. Feb 29th birthday here!*

      I’m a leap day baby – February 29th birthdays unite! I’ve had one employer where in the holiday section, they specifically called it “your birthday holiday.” When I asked (during my interview – as HR brought up PTO/holidays first), my birthday is Feb 29, how would that work? She said it’s more considered a floating holiday that I can take anytime after my birthdate occurred. I don’t recall that being worded that way – however, I was able to take “my birthday” holiday when I wanted to. I don’t recall testing the ability to take it on February 28; however, I don’t know that it would have been refused.

      I will also state that February 29th birthdays bring other headaches of their own – there are companies that don’t recognize the Feb 29th date – as in I literally cannot put it in the birthdate section – and you get your free birthday drink (cough Starbucks)/free appetizer/free hotel night (cough Marriott) on either Feb 28 or Mar 1, whichever one you put as your birthdate.

      1. awesome3*

        Thank you for sharing! I really appreciate the insight. So interesting that they said it has to be after your birthday, I wonder how that works for Jehovah Witnesses.

        I am glad that you get your free starbucks every year instead of once every 4 years.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          I expect it’s that the day off is only “accrued” on the birthday, so taking it in advance you don’t actually have that PTO day yet.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      My previous employers – the military and the federal government – do not give days off for your birthday.

      I don’t think it’s really a “thing” except maybe a small business where a large personality who loves birthdays pushed for it.

      My mom was a lifelong teacher and of course teachers just can’t take a school day off without more of of preparing lessons that a substitute can supervise and losing a day of teaching for the kids.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      My current company give employees the day off for their birthday. Someone with a leap year b-day would certainly get off the day before or after!
      That letter made flames shoot out of my face, frankly.

    12. Anonymous Hippo*

      My boss at my old job was a leap day birthday, and our job gave us birthday holidays. But it was basically just an extra PTO day, and nobody cared when you took it as long as it was in the general vicinity of your birthday (like a month either direction). You’d just say “I’m taking my birthday “x” day” and that was that.

    13. Cj*

      Not a February 29 baby, but during college, I worked for a company that gave you your b-day off. At that age, what I really needed was the next day off to recover from my b-day celebration the night before!

      Anyway, I can’t imagine that the company I worked for would have not given a day off to a leap year baby.

    14. Beth*

      At my current job, I usually take a few days off around my birthday, but that’s my decision of how to use time off. I have never, ever had a job give me a day off for my birthday.

    15. Anonymous for this*

      My work announced starting this year, they’re giving us 4 hours of PTO for our birthday and 4 hours for our work anniversary.

    16. CatMintCat*

      I’ve almost never worked on my birthday – I’m a teacher, and my birthday usually falls in the middle of one of our holiday breaks. I can remember twice I’ve had to work in my career, when the dates just worked that the holiday was particularly late that year.

      You’d be amazed how many school students take their birthdays off – it’s a definite thing in many families, but not preparing them in anyway for the real world.

  10. Phone screen email question*

    If I get an invite for a phone screen that’s an email telling me to select a time in their calendar app, and then after I select a time it automatically sets up that interview and send a calendar invite, is the expectation that I still respond to the initial email thanking them and expressing that I look forward to talking? My feeling is that it’s early on enough that no one has spent enough time to warrant the need for an emailed response alongside the automated calendar invite and that it’s reasonable to just follow the instructions. My parents think I should always respond thanking whoever emailed me, though.

    1. Llama face!*

      I wouldn’t necessarily say it was necessary as a matter of etiquette but I might do it as a failsafe in case there’s a glitch and the auto calendar doesn’t properly save your interview time. That way they would know you did select a time and didn’t just ignore their email.

      1. Sunflower*

        Exactly. A 10 second email saying ‘Thank you, I received the link and look forward to seeing you at X time on X day’ is not too much and will not come off as overly communicative. It takes you 10 seconds and gives piece of mind.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Agreed. You do hear stories of people who scheduled an interview time on those apps, only to find out the hiring manager didn’t get notified – or was busy and declined the event but the candidate didn’t get notified.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If that’s the only communication, then no. If you’ve spoken to someone (or emailed them) and have already established a connection, then send the response.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      No – simply setting up the call in the app is clear enough that you will be available and on the call at that time.

      I use my online calendar to invite people to set up calls with me, and would think it odd if someone set up a call (which I get an email about), then accepted the call (in their own calendar, which I also get an email about), and then thanked me for the upcoming meeting.

      That’s just the way my calendar works, but I routinely get two emails for every calendar appointment, anyway, which is one too many, in my opinion.

    4. KX*

      I would confirm in words, with a sentence about date/time, because time zones can get wacky.

      I had a phone screen call me TWO HOURS EARLY while I was in a drive-thru line, because the server setting of the email account I happened to be using was different from the server setting of the city that the corporate main office used, even though the job was listed in the same city as me.

      I looked an idiot.

  11. Temporarily Anonymous*

    Update to last week’s question about asking my workplace for better COVID protections.(There’s drama, folks!)

    Last Friday I posted asking for suggestions on what I should propose to my COVID complacent workplace in terms of better protecting our staff from Omicron’s increased infectivity.

    Anony*, Girasol*, and pancakes* replied with the suggestion that I ask to work from home or reduce my time in office since there was doubt my employer would step up and improve their COVID procedures. Wowzers, were you ever right! And you were underestimating the depths to which my workplace would sink!

    Long story short? As of next week I will be at home- on unpaid leave. Because not only did my employer NOT agree to make improvements, and NOT allow me to wfh 100% temporarily, but they demanded I immediately stop doing any wfh at all and work every single day in the insufficiently protected office that I expressed concerns about. For context, my previous workflow was 2 to 3 days in office per week. They refused to engage with any other suggestions for alternatives to the workflow and denied they were not following our current rules (even though they know that the mask order is not being consistently followed in my workplace by both them and others under their authority). So, that was just generally awful. But they are allowing me to take a leave of absence. So I have decided to do that and will obviously be taking the opportunity to look for something better.

    Anyone have suggestions for employers in Canada who respect employee safety and wellbeing and may need staff in the administrative area? It’d be a bonus if they offer at least some proportion of work from home.

    Or does anyone have suggestions about other things it would be smart to focus on during my time off?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Start by searching for new jobs that are fully remote. And check the websites of employers who have open jobs for language about Covid protocols/expectations. I’m seeing commentary on the job posting page if it’s not on the landing page for the company. If you don’t see it, don’t apply.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Thanks, I have been starting to look but remote jobs still seem to be very thin on the ground. And I haven’t found a single ad or employer site yet that specified any COVID standards for employees. It is frustrating. (I also live in one of the worst governed provinces where there is a disturbingly high number of antis/conspiracists so I would definitely be willing to move provinces for a better job if necessary).

    2. a tester, not a developer*

      Canada Life has offices everywhere, a good WFH policy (right now only employees who MUST be in the office are allowed in – think people who handle cheques/tax slips – and even they have to schedule the fewest number of people possible for any given day), and usually needs admin staff in a variety of areas. And when people were allowed in the office in the fall, distancing and masks were strictly enforced. Benefits are great, and I think salaries are fair for the market.

    3. Delta Delta*

      This is bananas that a company would rather have you NOT WORKING AT ALL than allow you to work safely from home.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Right? They are stressed about being behind in work (that was the excuse for the in-office only demand, despite the fact that I have been doing a lot of that exact work from home the entire time) but now I’m gone for 2 months and anyone they hire to cover my position will spend that whole time training to get up to speed on our complex work. It makes no business sense.

      2. JelloStapler*

        It’s cutting off their nose to spite their face.
        Lots of companies missing facial features lately.

    4. Gipsy Danger*

      I know lots of people working for the federal government who are working from home. Where in Canada are you?

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Do you know the one province that decided they don’t need to do any Omicron measures, including in schools? That one. :'(

    5. KFL*

      Not sure where you’re located, but for larger cities I know that at least one big four accounting firm has admin positions across Canada and they’re allowing almost all admin to WFH for most roles. You could look at KPMG under Experienced Professional Careers on their website, and then search Administrative.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Thanks, I have actually applied with them before but I believe at the time they wanted more industry-specific experience that I didn’t have. It’s worth re-checking, though.

      2. Canadian psychologist*

        I would recommend you check if it’s legal for your employer to put you on unpaid leave for this reason. Do a quick Google, and also see if your provincial law society offers consults for cheap. Or call an employment lawyer’s office directly. And talk to your union, if you have one, as well as looking at any HR documents your employer provides about legal rules for employment, rules for unpaid leave, etc. And call EI, see if you are eligible for unemployment in this circumstance. Honestly, in Canada I doubt this is legal, but I’m not a lawyer!

        1. Temporarily Anonymous*

          Thanks! So to clarify, I was given the choice (ultimatum really) of returning to in-office work or taking an unpaid leave. So from their perspective I chose to take the leave and they were being generous in giving that option. Since the requests I made for COVID measures other than the mask order are not legislated within our province (worst province ever) it is up to them if they choose to do it- which I confirmed with our provincial OHS office. And my contract does not specify location of work even though I was told verbally in the interview that it would be mostly wfh with occasional office check in. Also we have no union and no hr department. I am doubtful that I would have any legal grounds for fighting their decision.

          And I am most likely not eligible for EI although I will be checking to confirm. Luckily I do have savings to live on for the duration (and for a while past that time if needed).

    6. Sarah*

      I’m actually hiring for an office admin shortly for a fully remote position in Canada. I’m okay if Alison gives you the email address attached to this comment, and I can send the posting when it’s live.

    7. AnonCanadian*

      I’m in post-secondary education, and we are remote if we can be but it’s only temporary and there are still some people who have to come in because they are essential. However, I have friends in high tech (in Finance) and they are 100% remote even before the pandemic – most of their company is remote, most of the time. Depending on what type of profession or skills you have – there may be options. I’m also wondering if you look for a regional branch of a company with headquarters in another province if that would help? Might be more likely to actually follow COVID protocols and take it seriously?

      I’m sorry. I have friends in your province and I know the whole thing is super stressful.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Thank you! I was looking into your last suggestion in previous job hunting and it is a good reminder.

        So far in my job hunts, finance departments seem to strictly want degrees that I don’t have or expertise in systems I haven’t yet had the chance to work with (although I have a fairly diverse job history in terms of what industries I’ve worked in over the years and have a good range of on-job experience). But I am still keeping my eye out and applying for positions where the job description is not too far afield from what I know and I can point to equivalent experience.

      2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I work for TD.a And while I am unsure if you are in an area with administrative offices I would say at least 2/3rds of the 50k employees (90k across north America) have been full time remote since the pandemic. Every single group has administrative support. Don’t rule out finance – there is so much that happens behind the scenes at a large institution and only a fraction of it customer facing. Like an iceberg. Good luck!

    8. learnedthehardway*

      That’s really terrible, especially considering that the Ontario government (at least) has made a directive for people to work from home, if they possibly can. If you’re in Ontario, I’d find some way to report the company – to the Labour Standards board, perhaps?

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Yeah, when I made the request for changes to protocol I referenced the federal government recommendation that everyone who can should WFH as well as the guidelines for mask quality and ventilation. Unfortunately I do not live in Ontario- where they are actually putting some steps in place to try and slow the wave- but in the do-nothing province who had to send patients to Ontario in the fall and has learned nothing from that experience.

  12. CalAH*

    Are there trans people who could give me feedback on a coming out plan?
    When I applied for my current job, I decided not to share that I’m nonbinary and use they/them pronouns. My plan was to not talk about gender until the end of my trial period. This is my first job out of grad school, in a public sector that can be politically diverse. Hiding my gender has not been fun but I have identified likely allies (and some coworkers who may cause problems). My performance reviews document that I am an asset to the department, which would make it difficult to claim I am not a good cultural fit.
    My goal was to come out to one of my managers during a performance review next week, a day after my trial period ends. I planned to bring a copy of the office equal employment and anti harassment policies, and the Human Rights Campaign’s resource packet for employers.
    Are there any other resources you recommend I bring to this meeting?
    A complicating factor is that I applied for a promotion. The position just opened and would use more of my skills. My concern with coming out as I apply for a promotion is that I would begin a new trial period and need more training. The coworkers who would train me have been kind so far, but some are quite conservative. I worry that they may be less motivated to train me after I come out. If I get the promotion I could delay coming out until I complete the new trial period. However, using the wrong pronouns for another six months is unappealing.
    Have other people come out while applying for an in-department promotion? If so, how did it impact your work life? Based on your experience, is it wiser to not come out until I know if I’ve been selected for the promotion?
    The promotion would also change my managers. Instead of being shared between Teapot Design and Teapot Admin/Reception, I would report only to Teapot Design. My upcoming performance review is with Teapot Admin manager. I consider her an ally. She has been with our department for 5+ years and spends more time with employees. Teapot Design manager is another ally, but also the department director and technically my grandboss (intermediate boss’s position is vacant). He is a recent hire and has less contact with daily work. I am considering asking Teapot Admin manager for her thoughts on a coming out timeline with the rest of the office based on my current job and possible promotion. She encouraged me to apply for the promotion, although she would miss having me as a direct report. Based on her support and her understanding of office politics, I trust her input. Does this seem wise? Would it be problematic to ask a current manager for help coming out to a team she does not manage? Are there potential problems I have not considered?
    Thank you for your assistance.

    1. A1*

      Just a thought-I’m a CIS woman that appears to be very conservative-2 children, Attends Church, works in a very conservative field in the Deep South. Very typical southern soccer mom. Both children attended conservative christian schools. On the surface I would appear to be a perfect candidate for being intolerant. However, one of my children has just come out as trans (and I support him totally). I know I’m not getting the pronouns right, (learning!) and I am trying hard not to dead name. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know my trans son was.

      1. Daffodilly*

        Not sure how this is helpful at all unless you are one of their coworkers.
        I suspect they have good judgement on who may or may not be allies in their workplace, let’s trust them on that and not make the assumption that they are making invalid assumptions.

        1. I.*

          It’s a valid point. One of the tricky things about being trans is that you can feel lowkey (or highly) unsafe everywhere (if you pass, you could out yourself accidentally, and if you don’t, you’re kind of always aware it could go badly and you’re dependent on someone else’s goodwill to stay safe) , and sometimes you do assume based on things like church affiliation, schools, etc. After I came out I was surprised by the positive reactions I got from some people I knew. Yes, we can take the OP at their word, and it’s good to remember allies exist in unlikely spaces.

          I’ve never been up for a promotion so can’t speak to this exact issue. I’d weigh carefully how it would feel to have to misgender yourself for another X months. (And keep in mind it can be an uphill battle for people to actually use different pronouns, esp if you “don’t look non binary” (giant eye roll), so you’re looking at a longer period of misgendering.) you can start over at a different company if you really need to (esp if you have a senior person to be your reference). And what else might keep you on this precipice—a performance review, a possible bonus, a conservative boss? It is scary but can also be really freeing to just do it and deal with the consequences. Sorry, this probably isn’t very helpful. I do know the kind of impossible situation you’re in and hope you find a way forward that lets you be you and gives you the promotion you deserve.

          1. CalAH*

            This is helpful, thank you. You are right there probably will be other things that would keep me on this precipice. Even while being out would be difficult, it sounds so freeing. Thank you again.

      2. CalAH*

        Congrats to you and your son for having such open and honest communication! It’s great to hear stories of parental support. I hope my coworkers pleasently surprise me. Some of them have said negative things about trans people, but maybe that isn’t the majority opinion.

    2. Coenobita*

      I’m not trans, but my wife is, and she navigated coming out at work in a conservative-leaning U.S. federal government agency (this was a couple of years ago, during the previous presidential administration) while also switching teams. It went WAY better for her than either of us anticipated, so hopefully things are similar for you! My sense is that switching teams during her early transition meant she could “start fresh” with coworkers who never really knew her by her old name, for example. In your case, I think talking with the trusted manager is a great idea. She seems someone who can provide valuable mentorship and support, even if you are not on her team.

      I can also go grab my wife if you’d like her input!

      1. CalAH*

        I’m glad your wife’s transition at work went so smoothly. It’s reassuring that she had a good experience while working in a conservative field of government. Thank you.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      No direct experience, but if you search for the following articles they may help you:

      “how do I change to “they” pronouns at work?” from July 23, 2020
      “how do I know if it’s safe to be out at work … and other questions about LGBTQ+ issues at work” from September 1, 2021

      I’ll put links in a reply to this comment (it’ll take them a little while to get through moderation). Best of luck with whatever you decide to do!

    4. Anon for this*

      Nonbinary transmasc here, came out in 2021 to a close-knit team (peers), a left-leaning pod in a sea of conservative folks. I turned down an opportunity to work toward a promotion because transitioning was hard enough at the time.

      I did it first in a conversation with my supervisors, whom I consider friends, then took several additional months to work up the courage to disclose to the rest of the department in a short, friendly email. (I also sent an even shorter email to HR and IT as I needed them to change my name on work communications, which they did, not immediately but quickly enough.)

      On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised (and I think you will be too). My immediate team was so kind that I nearly cried; some disclosed to me that they had trans friends or relatives and were wholly supportive and already “in the know” about pronouns, transitioning, etc. I detected a truly minuscule amount of hesitation/confusion among the folks outside my immediate team, who are more fiscally and socially conservative, but within a few months they had also caught on and were using the name and pronouns I had requested. Everyone feels differently about this, of course, but I made sure to say that it’s not a cardinal sin to get my name or pronouns wrong and that I would never be offended (and I’m not, though getting unexpectedly she’d is never pleasant). The most important thing for me was not to create awkwardness or a situation where my colleagues felt like they had to tiptoe around me.

      I would absolutely take your Teapot Admin manager up on her offer. I relied a great deal on my supervisors to spread the news for me, which they were happy to do, and it smoothed the process. If you have any semblance of a functioning HR, I think most folks will have an incentive to play nice. For those coworkers that you think might be an issue, it might be helpful to tell yourself (or them, if they are so bold as to attempt to argue with you!) that the news of your transition is just that: news. It’s not up for discussion or debate, they are simply being informed.

      Good luck with your promotion! I’m sure you’ll rock it.

      1. CalAH*

        It’s is great to hear your transition went well at work!
        I was questioning asking my Admin manager for help, you lay out a great case for including her in this process.
        Our HR is very small and even newer than me, so I can’t tell if they will be helpful. Maybe Admin manager has some info about that.
        Thank you!

    5. Theo*

      Hiya! I literally just came out to my new manager last week; I’m also nonbinary and with they/them pronouns. I chose to do so over email so I could fully control the messaging, but I didn’t attach any kind of resources — I stated my needs, my plans, and mentioned that I could provide some basic FAQs for my coworkers if needed, but didn’t hunt them down upfront. I decided I wasn’t going to try and prove myself, you know? I did end up mentioning that our DEI group may want to do some work around trans stuff (which it turned out wasn’t the first time someone on my team had brought this up, which is great to know). I’ve identified as nonbinary for long enough that I’m tired of lining up fifteen different reasons people should listen to me. I just want them to listen because I’m saying it.

      1. CalAH*

        Congrats on recently coming out!
        I’ll follow your example of stating my needs and plans. I doubt either of my managers need resources. My goal in sharing them is that my managers can use them with potentially problematic coworkers so they hopefully ask me fewer weird questions. Fingers crossed I won’t need this!

    6. Littorally*

      I’d say you’ve got a pretty solid plan here.

      Having the Teapot Admin manager on your side is a good thing — you’ve got a better sense of the inter-office politics, but ime she can be a force on your side, and if the Teapot Design manager turns out to be less accepting than you expect, you’ve got your current boss on your side.

      Applying for promotions when you’re in the process of coming out really can be tricky — I’ve had to carefully pussyfoot around ‘are you going to be weird at me’ questions when interviewing — but a supportive current boss is a treasure.

    7. JT*

      I’m non-binary and have a coworker who is trans. We chose very different methods of coming out. I did it very gradually, dropping hints here and there, talking about the queer community in general (‘my friend Amanda and her wife…” using they/them pronouns when speaking about a single individual). Then I added my pronouns to my email signature line – this brought up a conversation from the leadership team, who were just generally curious as to why I did it because no one else in our department (of a post secondary institute) had seen it before. I explained my reasons (more inclusive, signalling myself as safe, etc.) and they were intrigued/accepting and asked me to send out an email to the team explaining the reasons for doing so and encouraging others to do so (the vast majority of my team now have their pronouns in their sig!). After this it was pretty much out, but I never really “announced a thing”.

      My coworker, on the other hand, did very formal meetings with 3-4 people at a time. They had created a little info-sheet about what they felt comfortable sharing and was open to answering (some) questions during the meeting or after.

      When you say “I planned to bring a copy of the office equal employment and anti harassment policies, and the Human Rights Campaign’s resource packet for employers.” it sounds like you’re ready for a fight right off the bat. If you feel like you need to bring all these resources with you, it sounds like you think there will be disagreement or disciplinary action?

      I’d suggest talking to the Admin supervisor first to get her take on the group. And this is personal, but I would wait a few days/weeks or so after the probation period is up so it looks less like you doing a big reveal (Haha, I was a queer all along but now you can’t fire me, haha!!) – which, again, to me, feels a bit combative. When/if you do talk to your supervisor, I’d make it more casual. Let them know, then tell them that if they have any questions about how this affects work that you’d be happy to answer them or find appropriate resources.

      1. CalAH*

        It’s interesting how you and your coworker had such different methods for coming out. It sounds like each me this worked for you, showing there is no single right way to come out.
        You are right about my approach being overly combative. I don’t currently expect disciplinary action. I do expect at least one coworker, who has said negative things about trans people, to cause problems. I’ve been looking at the anti-harrasment policy so I can recognize what rises to the level of a reportable issue. Being able to review that with a manager would be reassuring but maybe isn’t the best topic for a first meeting. I’ll hold on to the policy for now. I can mention the resource packet and ask if my manager wants to see it.
        Thank you for your help.

    8. Canonical23*

      I’m nonbinary and use they/them pronouns and came out last year during the pandemic at a previous job. (I no longer work there because I needed full-time work, not because they were a bad environment for my gender identity.)
      The way I came out was that I’d just started to put my pronouns in my email signature – it was a part-time staff position at a college, so pronouns in signatures were fairly common. One of my supervisors noticed and said that he would work on making that switch in his brain. After about a month of me having a few one-on-one conversations with my colleagues, wearing a they/them pin, etc., it just wasn’t sinking in for most people, so I met with that original supervisor and asked what I could do. He had me sit down with him, my other two supervisors and the dean of our college and asked me what would make me feel most comfortable and respected at work. We hashed out a plan where I wrote up an official “coming out” email that went out to my department, and he had me write a sentence at the end that specified if people had any questions or concerns about gender identities to ask him and the dean, and to not bother me with it. There were a few older staff members that had to be reminded frequently, but no one was rude or disrespectful or difficult and any time I reminded or corrected someone, they took it in stride.
      I think in your situation, coming out to someone in management who you consider an ally is best – they can facilitate emails/meetings with any other members of leadership that need to be on board. That’s part of what being an ally should be – doing some of the hard work so it doesn’t all fall on you. Now, it’s probably a good idea to give her a heads up that you want to talk about something after the performance review since the conversation is never a short one and she should block off some time for you.
      You should do it now, prior to the promotion, because it will become old news very quickly and by the time you’re talking about the promotion, it should become part of just the every day life of the office.
      The only thing about having all the documents you discuss – anti-harassment policies, resource guides, etc – is that I wouldn’t START with those as it could give the vibe that you expect the manager to be hostile towards you. I’d have them in your back pocket for later in the conversation, but I wouldn’t start off the conversation with them.

      1. CalAH*

        I’m glad your supervisors and dean’s were helpful. I hope I have a similar experience with my managers.
        I hadn’t thought about my transition becoming old news so quickly. I look forward to that!
        You’re right that I shouldn’t start with all the anti harassment documents. I like having these resources but don’t want my managers to think I distrust them.
        Thank you.

    9. Beth*

      Just as a general thing, if you can: brace for the worst and hope for the best. You will almost certainly get some of each, and not always where you expected.

      1. CalAH*

        That seems wise and doable. I’ll be sad if the worst comes from work friends, but I’m doing what I can to prepare for all outcomes. Thank you.

    10. marvin the paranoid android*

      I don’t have any useful advice because I am also planning to come out (as transmasculine) at work for the first time, but I just wanted to offer solidarity! I agree with the others that a supportive manager could be a great person to ask for advice specific to your workplace and hopefully to take on some of the work for you. I’ve been trying to figure out people at my employer who could fill a similar role. I hope your coworkers turn out to be supportive!

  13. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How do you create a career plan when your energy and health fluctuates so much? Sometimes I can work full time and other times I just collapse and all the balls drop. Of course I live in the US, with the attendant health insurance and job search issues.

    1. Gipsy Danger*

      I am in Canada, so my experience is a little different, but here’s what worked for me: I got real about what I could do most of the time. I had a habit of taking on jobs I could do fine for about 6 or 12 months, and then my energy would drop/my mental health would get bad, and I would crash and burn and have to slink away from the job with my tail between my legs. So I sat down, and I talked it over with my counsellor and my psychiatrist, and came up with my needs for a job: it had to be task-oriented, not project-based. Meaning that on a daily basis I have tasks to do (answer the phone, write emails, whatever) but no long-term projects to manage. I could not be the boss of anything/anyone. I needed a job that had good sick time and good benefits (for things like prescriptions, eyeglasses, dental, etc). Preferably I wanted a job that was unionized so I would be protected if I became disabled in the short or long term. Long-term disability coverage. A pension, because any task-oriented job is likely to be on the lower-end of the scale pay-wise, and after a decade of being employed on-and-off, I’ve got nothing in the bank.

      I ended up as a receptionist in a large medical clinic. Unionized. 18 sick days a year, great benefits. Does the job stimulate me? Not particularly, but I like the patients and my co-workers. Because I’m doing a job below by skills, I am really good at it, and that feels good. If I’m not here (I just took two sick days – post-holiday depression) the place doesn’t burn down, and balls don’t drop out of the air.

      For me, the solution was to let go of having a career, and finding a job that I could do for the long-term.

    2. The answer is (probably) 42*

      My health situation is similar so I’m hoping others will respond too! For me, I lucked out with a job that’s about 50% but flexible both up and down, and hours at my own discretion. Money can be tight because I live with and share expenses with my sister who is in the same situation, but we’ve been (precariously) making it work. Could something with a high degree of flexibility work for you?

      I’m not from the US and my healthcare isn’t tied to my job, so I can’t speak to that angle. Best of luck, and I hope you find more ways to manage your health situation to at least get it to the point where it’s predictable!

    3. Dino*

      I had things pretty good working in fields with very defined seasons and/or lots of unexpected days off (education, nature recreation etc). It was good for my health, but bad for my bank account. I’m now in the opposite situation and I’m hurting. I hope more people weigh in.

      Take care and good luck out there!

  14. C*

    Does anyone have a good free resource for putting together newsletters they could recommend? (This will be for work.) Thank you!

    1. lurkin-since-2015*

      I use Canva — you can select from templates, edit them, and save the template for future newsletters. I really like it and the learning curve has been pretty easy (I have no actual graphic design experience but playing in Paint).

      1. C*

        This is great, thank you! Easy is key, I went from a very technical ancillary health job to a desk job so my word processing skills are lacking.

    2. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      Canva is great. Plus there are so many other things you can do with it. Signs, posters, presentations. The list goes on. And the free version is pretty darn good. That’s what my university uses (but many of us wish they would pay for the extra)
      Plus its not a free trial it’s just free. I use it a couple of times a month if not weekly.

    3. NancyDrew*

      If you’re looking for programs that don’t just design but also publish/send, consider Poppulo or Bananatag.

  15. 29 and lost*

    I have no damn clue what I “want” to do anymore but I’m tired of nonprofit work, pointless assignments, and being miserable because other people are making my job harder on purpose.
    Communications is maybe not where I want to be anymore (?); writing is my best skill, and I can’t do much physical labor. The 9-5 grind is crushing whatever semblance of a soul I might have left. I’m turning 30 this year and didn’t think I’d even be alive. Now, though, I am and I have to keep making $$$ to afford caring for my health/disabilities.

    Seeking some advice or encouragement.

    1. Getting back to tech*

      Is there a way to pivot your comms skills to a non-tech role in the tech space? Many tech companies offer 100% health insurance premiums paid for, have unlimited PTO, and pretty much all pay better than nonprofits. I moved from nonprofit and public sector to tech and then back to nonprofit and I’m realizing I need to get back to the tech space – as much as I thought I needed to care about the cause to enjoy the job, it turns out I actually just need to have some amount of enjoyment of the tasks at hand but mostly I need to feel well compensated in money and time so that I can place a higher value on things outside of work. Just a thought! Though doesn’t solve the 9-5 part.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This! I think if you actually like your job, you’ll feel better about doing it. And a lot of tech companies are extremely flexible regarding WFH and hours

      2. 29 and lost*

        I’m sure I could move into the tech sector if I wanted; I did two years of proposal writing at an HR consulting firm. I’m honestly not sure where I would start/how I would go about doing that. And I’m also someone who feels like they need to care about the cause a little or feel like some good is being done. A company like Amazon is not for me, I don’t think.

        1. MissGirl*

          There are so many tech companies that do good and make a good profit. I work for a tech company that does healthcare analytics. I’m working with doctors to improve care. Good tech makes the world a better place in so many ways.

        2. Fran Fine*

          You could try to find proposal writing jobs in the EdTech or ESDG space, at a medical tech company, even in software, if you truly must care about what you do for work. Tech isn’t just Amazon, Facebook, and Google (all companies I would never work for, even if they paid me half a mil a year). And good proposal writers are always needed. I also work for a software company that makes software for the infrastructure industry (which is pretty damn important if I do say so), we’re about to post for a comms role, so you could even find those types of gigs out there as well.

    2. Anon for this One for Sure!*

      Hey, the good news is that writing is an incredibly useful skill that is transferrable to many other fields! How about city planning or local govt in general? If you can come up with coherent memos and staff reports, you’re way ahead of most of our entry level employees!

    3. Sunflower*

      I recommend everyone read What Color is Your Parachute. It was by far the most practical career book I’ve ever read. It operates on the premise that you’re never gonna find the perfect workplace or job so you need to rank and decide what you are like, what you can tolerate and what is a big fat no as well as your favorite/best skills and interests and ones you want to avoid. It makes much more sense to me than many others I read. It gives a really full circle view as well (there’s also a piece in there about budgeting and how you feel about WLB, etc)

      I also really sympathize. Pointless assignments feels like it describes my work for the last year. Once you feel like there is no value in the work you do, it’s very hard to come back from that. GL and hope things start looking up sooner rather than later :)

    4. Juror No. 7*

      I recommend looking into technical writing or grant writing. It may require some training or skills-learning before finding that type of work.

      Good luck with everything.

  16. Excel Jedi*

    How do you deal with being the only person in your department, whose boss doesn’t know what you do?

    I’m a statistician with 10+ years experience, and my boss keeps giving me reports to do – but they’re administrative reports. Think reporting on the policies we have in place to regulators. She doesn’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between that and business intelligence – in her head, it’s all analysis. I try to push other reports, but she doesn’t seem interested in them, and many of the other leaders are intimidated by data. I’m honestly not even sure why they have me in this role, except maybe they think I’ll fix problems that they can’t even articulate?

    I’m applying for other jobs, but is there any way to salvage this? Should I just cut my losses?

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      Is this something new, like a new boss, that has just started happening?
      Have you had an open and frank conversation saying that you were hired to do X type of reports and Y reports are out of your scope. Have you explained what the differences are and how has she taken that?

      You might be right that you need to look elsewhere, but I would try and explain, maybe give concrete examples of the different types of work. And if there is a job description or anything, you can use that as backup.

      1. Excel Jedi*

        It’s the first time I’m working for this boss in this kind of role. (I was working for someone else in the company, moved to another role under her, which I hated, then moved to a role more similar – but she refused to let me go work for my original manager again.) It’s been a few months, and she’s still not utilizing my skills. When I ask for work, she gives me complete inappropriate admin tasks.

        I think she sees me as a problem she doesn’t know how to deal with, honestly. Like, she seems me as really valuable and wants to keep managing me – but she wants me in the role she imagined for me, but which I didn’t like. Which probably means she’s not going to change.

    2. Saffie_Girl*

      I don’t have a great answer for you, but want to let you know you are not alone! My organization does not really understand that there is a difference between a report and an analysis. My supervisor was great about it, but she recently left and we are back to the same discussions I have had for years. A lot of the strategic work that I should focus on is beyond most of my leadership. For me, I’ve accepted that I can’t change this so am looking elsewhere, but there are a lot of other factors that went into that decision. Luckily your skills are in high demand, just perhaps at larger organizations/different industries. Good luck!

      1. Excel Jedi*

        “A lot of the strategic work that I should focus on is beyond most of my leadership.”

        This sums up so much here. I feel like I’m constantly pushing people who should be helping me grow, not vice versa.

        It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. Thank you, and good luck with your job search, too!

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Perhaps focus on communicating about the VALUE you provide to the organization through the specialized work that you do. Tie it in to the strategic decisions you have helped to support, etc.

      At the same time, if the organization needs the more administrative analysis work done, then it needs to be done. And it’s possible that the organization simply doesn’t recognize the need for the work you can do. In that case, I would get the work done that does need doing, treat your area of expertise as a special project area (and do do some work in it, just to claim it on a resume), and put your real efforts into finding a role in another company that genuinely understands and values your area of specialization.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      If you are not already swamped, maybe do a brief analysis of something that might be helpful, with a couple of easy-to-understand visual graphs or charts to give her an idea of what you can do for her. She might see reports as long-slog bookish things that she just doesn’t want to deal with, as opposed to something useful.

    5. It's Snowy*

      Hey fellow data person! I worked in a similar environment earlier in my career, and I’m much happier having moved on to an organization that has a higher level of data maturity/literacy. Some people really thrive in a situation where they’re opening people’s eyes to what data can do for them, but for me, I found it really exhausting to have to advocate for the value of my work all the time. Where I am now, there’s still plenty of room for growth, and I can introduce innovative techniques, tools, approaches, etc., but don’t need to fight to be able to do work that’s appropriate to my skillset and interests.

  17. GrantPosition*

    I’m interested in applying for a grant-funded position in local government. Does any body have any insight on working in a grant-funded position? This particular one is temporary and set to last only a few years. Can you negotiate salary? Do these positions usually have a set start date?

    I’ve also never worked in government (local or otherwise). In general, is the hiring process as slow as federal government? Any other insight would be much appreciated! This is completely outside of my wheelhouse. Thank you!

    1. OyHiOh*

      I’m in a grant-funded position. The pay rate (and hours, in my case) is set in the grant’s personnel budget. Some grants, the applicant is allowed to make amendments (revisions) to the personnel budget but frequently that means that if one person gets more salary/hours, someone else has to get fewer.

      You’ll have a set start date. you’ll also have a set end date. A person should start job hunting well in advance of that end date! It’s possible they will value you enough that they’ll make an effort to find new grant funding for the position before this one closes, but don’t ever count on it.

    2. higheredrefugee*

      Salary tends to be pretty set, as many grants will need to cover some combination of your salary, benefits, and program (including training and professional development) costs. Some grants are covering only portions of each of these, so the agency has to find money elsewhere to cover the rest. All federal and most municipal and state and even quasi-governmental agencies will have gone through multiple layers of approvals and authorizations to arrive at the salary offering as they likely had to create a singular-type job posting. That isn’t to say that if it is a long-term contract, there won’t ever be raises, or if is is a recurring grant, there may be ways to restructure the funding to pay you more, but that may have to come from different pots of money, and that may not be possible at the outset with a new hire. That said, higher ed regularly hybrid pays folks, but outside highly specialized senior or academic roles, those supplementary pots would not likely be available from the outset.

    3. Accounting Gal*

      Hi, grant administrator here at a University – I deal with many government and non-government grant funded positions.
      Typically no, you can’t negotiate salary. Grant budgets tend to be very rigid because they’re often trying to do a lot with a very set amount of money (and that can sometimes even be reduced year over year so they have to manage it carefully, especially if planning a no cost extension at the end).
      They usually will have a set start date, but because hiring can be difficult it’s not unheard of for someone to start after that date (so if the award period begins 06/01/2022, but they can’t hire someone until 07/18/2022, that person wouldn’t start at the start of the award of course). They would want you to start as quickly as possible though, because they need the work of the award to be done within a specific time frame.
      The hiring process can be INCREDIBLY slow in my University, but not sure if that is the case elsewhere.

  18. Golden*

    I know we’ve talked about people trying to covertly work two full time jobs here recently, and I recently found an instance of this in the news!

    If you search “MBTA double dipper” (I think the Denver Post is available without a paywall and I’ll link in a comment if so), you’ll find articles on someone who was recently caught working for both Boston and Denver’s transit authorities. It appears his contract specifically prevented this. I can see both sides of the ethical argument (aside from the contract), but I figured there might be some good discussion here!

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      Wow that is really interesting. I’m surprised he was able to work from another state!

      I wonder what his job was in transit? And I really don’t see the problem with working in Denver and for Boston. Afterall it’s not like they are competitors and I highly dought there are any big top-secret things. It’s not like he was working for Samsung and LG and would have trade secrets or know about any new products or anything.

      I really don’t understand why employers have these rules about ” not authorizing outside employment”.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        For government jobs, they often want you to live in the community you serve. Not only do you understand any issues better, but people don’t like their tax money going outside their community.

      2. Maybe*

        I think the issue isn’t that he was working remotely, but that he was working two full time jobs at the same time.

      3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > I really don’t understand why employers have these rules about ” not authorizing outside employment”.

        It won’t be a popular opinion here, but in providing full time work and a full time salary it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to expect a similar commitment from the employee.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t follow as to why this seems reasonable to you. Work and a salary for it aren’t “provided” as a means to get commitment, but because the work needs to be done and no one’s going to do it for free as a hobby. It’s an exchange of labor for money, not a trust exercise. If it’s not a profitable exchange for the employer they can end it anytime they like.

  19. Anon For This One*

    Would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped talk me off the ledge in last week’s Open Thread about my fears around failing my drug test from the Delta 8 gummies I stopped taking two months ago.

    I am happy to report back that I did indeed pass with flying colors, and will be starting my new job on 1/31!

  20. Names are Hard*

    tl;dr: How do I ask a coworker to not blast music when he gets here first thing in the morning because I get overstimulated (autism)?

    long version:
    I usually work mid-shift, but work mornings on Fridays. Fergus always works mornings. When Fergus comes in, he is blasting his music very loudly, to the point I can hear it across the large room that is our cubicle farm. The music goes on until he gets/makes his first call of the day. The problem is that I have autism, and while I’m okay with the general level of talking in our small office, loud music completely throws me off when I’m not expecting it, and when I have to make my own calls it makes it very hard to concentrate on what customers are saying. How do I approach this tactfully, hopefully without giving him my autism diagnosis. I’ve only been in this position for 2 months and don’t want to step on toes, since Fergus is a very nice guy besides this.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      This sounds super annoying! No need to bring in your diagnosis, it is 1000% reasonable to ask him to use headphones, it’s honestly pretty rude to blast music in the office. You can just ask him nicely the next time you see him – “hey Fergus, do you mind using headphones when you play your music? I’m finding it really hard to concentrate when I talk to customers. Thanks!”

    2. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      I would just address it head-on but be kind. Say something like this:
      Hey Fergus You might not realize it but your music in the mornings is very loud and distracting, so much that if I’m on a call I cannot concentrate on what the customers are saying. Could you please turn the music down or wear headphones.

    3. Joielle*

      I think no loud music in a cube farm is an extremely reasonable request, autism or not! I’d just say “Hey Fergus, would you mind turning the music down? I’m about to make a call and it’s hard to hear.”

      I think one reminder will probably be enough for him to realize he shouldn’t do this in general. But if he goes back to loud music on other days, I might say something like “Would you mind wearing headphones for your music in the mornings? I’m usually trying to focus on emails and prep for the day and it’s a little distracting. I appreciate it!”

      It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to ask and if he’s a nice guy, he shouldn’t be offended. I’m neurotypical and I’d be happy to make that change if I were Fergus (and I’d be glad my coworker said something rather than suffering in silence!).

    4. Happy Sharpie*

      Could you use either of the following:

      If it’s just the volume that bothers you
      “Hey Fergus, could you turn your music down in the mornings? You might not realize it but I can heart it all the way over at my cube. It makes it hard to hear what customers are saying on the phone and hurts my focus. ”

      If you don’t want to hear the music at all
      “Hey Fergus, could you to wear headphones when you listen to music in the mornings? You might not realize it but I can heart it all the way over at my cube. It makes it hard to hear what customers are saying on the phone and hurts my focus. ”

      Then say thanks when he does.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Seconding that this is a general, normal request that should not be a big deal if Fergus isn’t a huge jerk. Best addressed immediately when he turns it on.

      “Hey Fergus, could you please use headphones? Your music is so loud I can hear it all the way at my desk, and it’s really distracting.”

      I can’t believe you’re the only one bothered by this. It would annoy most people, ND or NT. It’s hard for me to believe that nobody else has said anything, unless they are all using headphones already and blocking it out.

      1. Mantis Tobaggan, MD*

        As a NT person I find it hard to understand how anyone thinks listening to music without headphones is acceptable in an office environment.

      2. Cold Fish*

        Loud music is hard to deal with in a cube farm. If no one else is bothered, I wonder if it could be some weird acoustical thing. Years and years ago I remember an episode of American Castles where a millionaire designed one of the rooms specifically so he could listen to whispered conversations by people on the other side of the room without them knowing. Sound would bounce off the ceiling in such a way as to carry it to the other side of the room above the heads of everyone else in the room so they couldn’t hear it. Sorry, don’t mean to sidetrack the thread. Just thought it might be an interesting experiment.

        I agree, there is nothing wrong with asking Fergus to turn down the music or wear headphones.

    6. Casual Muskrat*

      Oh goodness—this would annoy plenty of people who are not autistic as well! Since you say Fergus is a nice guy, trust that he’s not going to be a jerk about this. Ask him if he would mind using earphones/earbuds when listening to music on Friday mornings because it makes it hard for you to concentrate and prevents you from hearing clients clearly (which is both true and doesn’t require disclosing a diagnosis). If it makes the conversation easier, you can give also indications that you aren’t upset with him: a complement about his enthusiasm or his taste in music, for example. But this is a beyond-reasonable request to make–especially in an open office where other people need to be working and communicating with customers!

    7. Anono-me*

      Joining the chorus of people saying that blasting the whole office with music is a problem for most people no matter what their neuro status is and can be addressed without mentioning that you have autism . (Of course it is probably more so for people with autism or other noise sensitivities.)

    8. learnedthehardway*

      I know someone on the spectrum who used to wear noise-cancelling headphones at school (the sounds of the lights was unbearable for him). Perhaps you could do the same thing? That would make it less important to address the issue with the other person.

      You could also ask Fergus to use headphones, and simply say that his music makes it really difficult for you to concentrate.

      Since you’re so new to the organization, I would talk to your manager about how to handle the situation if Fergus isn’t responsive.

  21. Witch of HR?*

    EEeeeeee. About half a year ago I decided on a career change and jumped from agency PR (not for me!!) into something more relaxed. Throughout my search, I’d been considering an HR communications or HR assistant role, because I’m very much interested in “working” as like, a general concept, how companies communicate internally, and just like organizing information.

    I had no experience in HR, though, and eventually found a really good job as an executive assistant for a small business. However, the former HR contractor’s contract wasn’t renewed (they really struggled in the role), so now I’m “in charge” of hiring! Basically, I’m doing the position of an HR assistant; organizing candidates’ information, preparing onboarding documents, and monitoring the company Indeed and LinkedIn.

    I’m so super excited, but does anyone in HR have any tips? Even basic stuff! There’s no one else “doing HR” but me and the controller of the company.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      You may want to look into joining SHRM (society of human resource management). Most towns have a local chapter and they provide training, workshops, conferences, networking, etc.

      1. Ankle Grooni*

        As someone who kind of fell into HR as well, I second this suggestion. SHRM and AAM have been great resources for me to learn the lingo and pick up career-building skills.

        I also suggest taking advantage of any trainings that may come your way. A lot of agencies that HR deals with, from OSHA, your insurance vendor, Department of Homeland Security, your state’s bureau of labor and, if you have one, your payroll vendor, usually offer webinars or newsletters which clue you in on various pitfalls in the HR world.

    2. kitryan*

      I’m on the site to manage our firm’s attorney continuing ed but PLI (Practicing Law Institute) has HR continuing ed courses too (HRCI and SHRM credit), maybe some of them would be of use to you in learning more about the role/field. If not, I’m sure there’s other resources like that geared even more towards HR that might be helpful.

    3. knitcrazybooknut*

      Though you may be hiring instead of dealing with disciplinary stuff, I still want to let you know that, as an HR employee, you may be viewed with suspicion by all other staff. Obviously it’ll depend on the size of the organization, but it startled me quite a bit to be viewed as the enemy by everyone else, simply because of the department I was working for.

      Some HR departments deserve this skepticism! Some do not. It’s almost like Schrodinger’s HR department — you can’t tell from the outside, so many people just assume you’re evil regardless. I’ve known HR employees that were really disheartened and disturbed by this, to the point where they left HR entirely. I just always laid out ridiculously cheerful and helpful customer service in front of anyone, so taking the high road always worked for me. But it’s something to be aware of.

      Also, yes, SHRM is a great resources. Look into any local HR groups as well. If you get the chance to get those certifications, do it.

      1. Witch of HR?*

        I’m already in a very niched position as an executive assistant reporting directly to the owner of the company. His brother works with him as a VP and it’s been a bit of a tightrope walk already, lol. I think it’s a very good thing to keep in mind, though, so thank you!

  22. 1qtkat*

    Yesterday I got a tentative offer from my dream fed agency! I didn’t think it was possible since I had been trying to get a foot in there for years, but after three rounds of video interviews while also fighting off morning sickness, I did it! I feel so accomplished. But I am also wondering how to broach the subject that I am pregnant with twins due in July. In reading Alison’s posts, I know that it’s appropriate to mention pregnancy at the offer stage. I’m waiting for the HR person to send me the tentative offer letter terms after I sent her an acceptance to proceed with the process. Would it be appropriate once I receive the offer letter to mention the pregnancy and negotiate extra leave and such? If so, what phrasing would you recommend? TIA!

    1. Fed*

      Can’t help you with the pregnancy question, but as a 30 year Federal Government employee I would advise you to not get your hopes up about being able to negotiate extra leave. Can’t hurt to try, but it’s the Federal government. Leave accruement is 4 hours per (2 week) pay period for first 3 years, then 6 hours per pay period until you hit 15 years. It’s all set by OPM (U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the Federal Government) and is standard across the government (unless you have a super niche government job)

    2. Policy Wonk*

      If you require a security clearance you may have your twins before that comes through, particularly if you have ever lived in a foreign country. Federal pay, leave, and benefits are all standard so about the only thing you could negotiate would be additional steps within grade. Depending on the department/agency policy you will likely only qualify for FMLA – in mine you have to be on board for a year before you qualify for maternity benefits.

      I think the Federal Government is a great place to work – welcome to the fed family!

      1. 1qtkat*

        No clearance required thankfully, just the general background check. Glad I don’t have to go through the clearance paperwork again, it was lengthy even for someone straight out of college and working as defense contractor.

    3. Grits McGee*

      Ditto to what Fed said about negotiating- definitely explain that you’re pregnant and ask how that will be accommodated, but it’s very very likely that there’s nothing you will be able to do to influence what you get offered in terms of leave. If you’re new to federal service, it looks like you won’t be eligible for FEPLA unfortunately. You may be required to take your maternity leave unpaid.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      As others said, leave is not negotiable for most positions and FMLA might not apply to you in time, but unpaid leave is an option. I took almost a week of unpaid leave for a planned vacation just a few months after I started. I did ask about the unpaid leave before signing the final offer. My hiring manager also said there’s a way to borrow ahead on leave that you accrue throughout the calendar year, as well as banking comp time (though only up to 24 hours). So there may be strategies to have at least some means of having some time paid during your mat leave.

      There is also a system for leave sharing or donating, but you’d have to look into how that works at your agency and if/when you qualify to apply and receive donated leave time. I signed up for the leave sharing program here but wasn’t officially enrolled until the start of this year.

    5. CG*

      Long-winded advice below. I don’t have any experience being newly pregnant when about to receive a federal job offer, but I do have years of federal experience. (Congratulations, by the way!!! I know what a huge deal it is to land that dream agency job, especially coming from outside the government. And twins – that’s great! Exciting year ahead for you.)

      Parental Leave:
      As others have said, you won’t be eligible for FMLA yet (requires having been in the job for 12 months) and so won’t be eligible for federal employee paid parental leave. However, there are some other things you may be able to do, including leave without pay, using your accumulated sick and annual leave, taking an advance on leave (agency/manager discretion), and/or taking advantage of your employer’s (Note: if you have friends in other federal agencies who would be willing to donate some annual leave to you, they can do so even though you don’t have the same agency. There’s an extra form – HR can help with that.) You will not be able to negotiate additional paid leave for maternity – that leave can only be donated, from your accruals/advances, or through FEPLA.

      Rules about leave are generally pretty consistent and inflexible across federal agencies, but your office may have some specific flexibilities – like if it’s a telework friendly office or an office with a lot of flexible schedules, you may be able to work with your boss on a return from maternity leave that is phased in with half days or telework. That’s something you’d connect with your boss about.

      The Offer:
      Federal government hiring offers have multiple stages: usually some kind of informal/verbal heads up of a coming offer, a Tentative Job Offer, and a Final Job Offer. You just passed the first one and gave HR the nod to work up a Tentative Job Offer for you. As other commenters noted, the federal government is wildly inflexible, so your options will probably

      Once they send that Tentative Job Offer your way, you can *try* to negotiate it before accepting. It’s not likely to succeed unless you have some particular sought-after skillset, but it doesn’t hurt you to try if you have several years of relevant prior non-federal experience. I have successfully negotiated a tiny salary bump in a Tentative Job Offer as a fed, and I know plenty of DC lawyer types who have successfully negotiated leave and student loan repayments. All leave starts at zero unless you’ve accumulated it in previous federal experience; that seems non-negotiable. Sick leave accrual is non-negotiable: 4 hrs per pay period for everyone. Annual leave accrual is generally based on time in federal service: starting at 4 hrs per pay period for the first three years of federal employment. But you can try to negotiate for a higher annual leave accrual rate, usually based on the argument that you are highly sought after and have years of relevant/necessary non-federal experience – see under “Creditable Service for Annual Leave Accrual…”. Similarly, if you’re coming from a private job where you make more than the base offer for the federal position, you can usually ask that they start you at a higher grade or bump your offered salary up a step or two, aligned with your value to the organization and your salary history. Federal HR, in my experience, is not able to give you anything that you haven’t already gotten elsewhere. I would keep this negotiation focused on the broader job, not on your maternity leave, since most of how that works will ultimately be up to federal rules and your specific managers.

      As far as how to message the pregnancy – IF and only if you want to alert your future boss/HR this early in your pregnancy – once the Tentative Job Offer is at a point where you are willing to accept it, I would 1) contact the hiring manager and let them know you are going to accept the Tentative Job Offer, that you wanted to give them a heads up that you are pregnant and due in July, and that you’re happy to discuss planning for that when you are onboarding (or whatever it is that you might want them to know). Then, I’d 2) reach out to HR to accept the Tentative Offer; mention in your email that you are pregnant and due in July; ask them what they can share with you about the agency’s maternity leave policies, programs for new parents, Voluntary Leave Transfer/Leave Donation Programs, etc.; and see if there is anything else agency-specific that might be valuable for you to know as a soon-to-be new parent joining their agency. (For example, some agencies have special spaces for nursing mothers, new mothers’ groups, in-building daycare, and other things that may be useful to know about in advance.)

      Then, the Final Job Offer comes your way once they’ve finished processing the paperwork, and everything should match what was agreed in the Tentative Offer, with the addition of a start date and some first day info. Offers won’t mention maternity leave.

      1. Says Gal*

        CG, I’m not the OP, nor someone who works in or has plans to work in federal government — I’m just a frequent lurker on the site — but I just had to comment and express appreciation for the outstanding feedback and response you gave. Your knowledge share is incredibly generous and a stellar example of why I read this site each day.

    6. Claire*

      Congratulations! My husband started with the federal government when I was 9 months pregnant. In his case, there was no negotiating for “extra” leave, but he was eligible to take advanced sick leave and also to draw from the leave bank. Once you’ve been in the job a year you would also qualify for parental leave, but of course that wouldn’t help with immediate post birth recovery.
      Separate from parental leave, he did negotiate creditable service (so he started with accruing 6 hours annual leave per pay period instead of 4) and a higher step to get a pay raise from his non-fed job.

    7. Midwest is Best*

      Not familiar with the federal government, but as a twin mom that had lots of complications with my pregnancy and both kiddos had significant NICU time, be sure to talk with your supervisor about a contingency plan. Can you work remotely if you end up on bedrest for a period of time (I was in the hospital for 8 weeks before my babies were born)? What’s the plan for coverage if you go into labor early? Can you extend your leave if needed (I went back part time for the first month because my son was still in the NICU when my 12 weeks were up)?

      Hopefully none of those things come to pass but twin pregnancies are so much more unpredictable. My water broke at 22 weeks and I ended up in bedrest until they came totally unexpectedly at 30 weeks! And trust me, having the conversation in advance is 1000x easier than when you have newborns and might be dealing with high stress situations and just talk to your new boss beforehand, ok?

      From one twin mom to another, it’s a wild ride, but truly just the best, so wishing you a healthy and uneventful pregnancy!

  23. Albeira Dawn*

    For anyone who works in CAD, how do you handle digital markups? My office is currently working from home (not because of COVID, but because our IT director can’t get it together and get the new internet installed like he said he would. But that’s another story.) and I do mostly drafting for now. The workflow in person was the senior engineers would hand me a hard copy of a plan with redlines, I’d implement the changes, then print out another hard copy for them to review. We’d go through this process at least twice for every submission.
    Now we’re at home and I will scream if I have to wrestle with Adobe Acrobat to mark things as done one more time. We have Bluebeam Revu, but only a limited number of licenses (way too few for our size) and it’s not universally used within the office. So my questions:
    (1) Do you use Bluebeam Revu, Adobe Acrobat, or another software? How satisfied are you?
    (2) Do you use just your keyboard and mouse, or a tablet?
    (3) What’s your workflow look like, whether you’re on the “marking up” or “implementing” end?

    1. Albeira Dawn*

      (I know this is a very specific question, but in my experience drafting and CAD forums are surprisingly nasty and I don’t want to deal with that!)

      1. jfgulia*

        So… it isn’t clear to me how technical the markups are that you are dealing with, which can impact what does/doesn’t work. My perspective is that of the non-CAD user overseeing a largescale construction project for my company (we are building out a new space – I’m overseeing it – I’ve never worked in construction, but do know how to read a drawing). Our process has been pretty much 100% virtual. I’ve found Adobe works for my level of mark up – I’m able to redline / add comments / note questions or places for revision. For those on my team who have bluebeam (such as our Owner’s rep), it is very much preferred as it has some good functionality like being able to pull an unmarked dimension etc that isn’t available in Adobe.

        All that beings said, if I’m reading your comment correctly, what you might actually need is some sort of virtual project management software. On my project, we run everything through Viewpoint (which may be larger scale than you need, but the principle holds) and that allows basic markup within the software (basically the same level of markup that Adobe allows, but it automatically saves and re-uploads the markup without having to download/reupload each drawing). But it also holds multiple attachments and has room for comments, so you can have a single RFI or Submittal # that has all versions and notes and is accessible by the whole team. Because what you are describing seems more about the communication/tracking/workflow than the actual markups…

        Hope this helps!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      From an engineer’s perspective: I use Nuance Power PDF to markup drawings that I send to designers. I find it easier to use than Adobe Acrobat.

      The designers in my org have some software (Bluebeam sounds right, but I’m not certain that’s the one) that allows them to overlay the old and new drawings to make sure they captured the necessary changes. Whatever the software is, I haven’t heard of any licensing issues.

      The workflow at my place is roughly: I send pdf markups to the designer. They make changes to the drawing. We review the overlay and the new drawing together (via Teams/Zoom call). If there are more changes needed, repeat the process. If the new drawing is good, it needs to be signed off by three people to officially go into the system.

      1. FormerCADGirl*

        Confirming that Bluebeam Revu does allow the overlay as described :)

        Can also confirm (and give side-eye) to the overall nastiness of the CAD world, including forums and in-person. Why are people suck jerks?

    3. OG Reader*

      22 years in the engineering industry here. My background is mechanical engineering but I’ve been a PM for a long time. I’m at my 3rd company in the past 13 months and all have used Bluebeam. Bluebeam is exactly what you need, IMO. While engineering used BB at my second company, I had an Adobe Acrobat license and IT wouldn’t give me BB because I wasn’t an “engineer” job title. After years of using BB, AA was very difficult to use for markups. Plus Bluebeam is already set up to let you open a review session. It’s the right tool for the job. My current company is also using BIM360, but I haven’t been here long enough to see how that’s used with BB or in lieu of BB.

      Workflow. . .I’ve seen several variations. My current company has engineers/designers put drawings in a network drive folder, reviewers are notified, they review and place comments in a separate QC folder. The designer goes over those comments with them and picks up. My previous company had the lead designer open a Bluebeam revu session. Other times people just send the drawings by email, the reviewers mark up in BB separately, and email the comments back to the designer to pick up. To me, your workflow needs to reflect the staff you have available and project size.

    4. Llellayena*

      Architect here. We use Bluebeam Revu for all our markups. I think it’s excellent. It’s a little harder if you’re trying to sketch something, not as fast as hand sketch but notes and regular redlines are easy. On the other end, we use the highlighter tool to mark what comments we’ve finished. Bluebeam also has a “studio” session where multiple people can be in the same drawing set at the same time making and completing markups. You can see when someone adds a note in real time. It might be worth your company just getting enough licenses for the whole company…

    5. Haha Lala*

      Another engineering perspective: My office works more in Revit than CAD, but here’s what we do.
      I’ll mark up drawings in Bluebeam and send the PDF to the drafter.
      The drafter updates the Revit files based on my drawings and sends me updated drawings pdf’s back. They don’t explicitly mark each comment as done, but they let me know when they’ve finished the set. Some of the drafters will highlight completed comments or cross them off as they go in their copies of the files, but that’s more for their tracking than for me.
      I’ll back check the updated pdfs by comparing my original comments to the final product. If there are questions from there, either I’ll send a new set of mark ups or call the drafter to go over things.

      Our office switched to Bluebeam a few years ago, we used Adobe before with the same set up. Internally, we don’t use the comment tracking or studio sessions or any of the more ‘advanced’ bluebeam features, I just add text/arrows as needed. We switched to Bluebeam because we had several clients that do use the studio sessions options, but we don’t use that very often. I like working in both, I think Bluebeam is a little more user friendly (but we all have licenses, I know that was a sticking point of our office for a while too)

      Both the engineers in our office use just standard mouse and keyboards. Occasionally I’ll draw something out by hand and send a scan/photo of that if it’s too hard to replicate on Bluebeam. But the biggest key is to have at least 2 monitors. The drafters will have the pdf red marks on one screen and the file they’re updating on the other. And when I’m back checking, I’ll have my original comments on one screen and the revised set on the other.

      How are you marking things as complete? There might be a way for you to bulk mark all as complete at the ends, versus each item as you go. Or do you even need to mark them as complete? Can you just tell the senior engineer it’s picked up and send them the new version?

    6. Ranon*

      Bluebeam is wildly better for markups than Acrobat. The last time I looked at licenses it was also not noticeably more expensive (maybe actually cheaper, depending on the math) and available on a permanent license rather than subscription model so the case for you to have a license to, you know, do your job, shouldn’t be a wildly difficult one to make. Also it actually works for the purposes you need it for. You know, like software should. You can even mark comments as completed, as though it were designed for construction industry workflows or something. Funny how purpose designed software works like that. (See also Procore, etc)

      I’ve mostly marked up via mouse but I’ve recently gotten a touch pad and it’s awesome.

    7. Hola Playa*

      Non- engineer at tiny all-virtual civil engineering firm here and I love Bluebeam for mark-ups. The licenses are cheap so I don’t get the resistance! Our process is basic since it’s just a few of us – engineers and PMs give marked-up plans to the designers and we’ll have a quick zoom call for anything that could be a training opp or if it’s a bit more complex. The most junior designer highlights the comments or markups to indicate they’ve been addressed and sends back the orginal mark-up sheets with the updated sheets. The less junior one doesn’t send anything back.

      Adobe is infuriating now to even open let alone actually use it!

    8. Lissajous*

      Mechanical eng – working from home last year we were using PDF software for markups – acrobat or Nitro, usually.

      Marking up by hand is a lot quicker – I was doing PIDs mostly, but we all noticed how much longer drawing reviews were taking! We were just using mouse and keyboard.

      Now that we’re back in the office we have switched back to paper for drawing markups! So much faster and easier.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’m not sure about the specific software, but the way to approach this (with a software solution in mind) is the business impact, with actual numbers, of having too few licenses to be able to work efficiently. Amount of time/money being lost due to “your inefficient process” relative to the cost of the software you select.

  24. ineligiblebachelor*

    I’m kind of spiraling right now and could use some advice about a) finding a new job when I don’t have a specific career path and b) leaving my current job when I feel guilty about doing so.

    I find it hard to apply a lot of the career advice on here because my degree was a pretty general “check the bachelor’s degree box” one and I don’t want to keep doing what I’ve done in my job I got out of college. I don’t even know what search terms to use on job websites! Is it just a matter of reading thousands of job descriptions and finding the 5 that seem to match with my interests and skills?

    I’ve been applying to new jobs because I can’t handle the stress of my current one but I’m feeling a lot of guilt about leaving. I know there’s the saying of “don’t be loyal to the company you work for, because they wouldn’t be loyal to you” but they actually have been super loyal to me– trying not to get identifiably specific but they have been ridiculously accommodating about my changing life circumstances (it’s not disability related or anything they’d be required to accommodate), they kept me on at full salary when my department had almost no work for over 6 months and basically said “check your emails but you can do what you want with your time”, and they’ve given very substantial raises every year. (also makes it hard to leave, because they’re really great and I likely will not find a new job with as good of salary and benefits)

    But I don’t enjoy the actual work I do, and I’m constantly stressed out during the busy time, and I really need a change. I just know my manager has made plans for the next year with the assumption that I’ll be around to help out, and I feel bad that I’m throwing a wrench in that. Even if I give a month’s notice that’s not really enough time to hire and fully train someone for what I do.

    Any advice on either topic would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Job searching*

      One thing I do when I’m not sure where I’d want to go next is I keep a list of all the orgs that I see when just doing my day to day stuff and then look them up later to see what kind of roles they have and whether any spark any interest. And when I say orgs that I see, I mean – if one is mentioned in a newspaper article, if I hear that someone started at a certain company, if I read something in a book or hear about a company in a podcast, if a coworker mentions a company may become a client, etc.

      In general, when unsure about job titles to search, I find that first searching the company and then seeing what titles they have open can be more helpful. And I use the above to help find companies to search for to begin with.

      1. ineligiblebachelor*

        Thank you! I’ve done this to an extent but have generally not had luck with the companies having open positions, but I also haven’t been great at checking back regularly– I need to work on that.

    2. Albeira Dawn*

      Are there any parts of your job that you do enjoy, however unrelated they may be to your main purpose? Like, maybe you don’t enjoy painting teapots, but you do like restocking and setting up each station, or the process of ordering supplies from vendors. Pick one of those and figure out what kind of position would do that full-time. Not that you have to go in that direction, but it gives you somewhere to start. So in my example from earlier, you might look into logistics planning for teapots or another product, figure out what if any of those jobs appeal to you, and move from there.
      Also, I like to explore based on projects. Is there some big project in your industry, or another, that you find yourself wanting to know more about? Mine was the renovation of a children’s museum, so I looked into who did the exhibition design, the structural engineering, the construction management, the signage, the permitting, the marketing, anything I could think of. Then I could look at the careers page on each of those companies and think “okay, this company does this kind of work, and seems to hire this kind of person with these skills. Do I want to be that kind of person? What would it take to get those skills?” Even if the answers were “No” and “Way too much work”, that still narrowed down the possibilities.
      Good luck!

      1. ineligiblebachelor*

        Thank you, that’s super helpful!

        I’ve really liked researching things and providing a summary of my findings–e.g. “what are the customs requirements for selling teapots in x country?” or “if we purchase a bunch of broken teapots wholesale, how much would it cost to fix them?”

        I also like finding info that isn’t easy to get. ex. My manager asked me to find the contact info for a teapot purchasing manager at another company– he had the guy’s name but couldn’t find his email anywhere, and using his name with the company’s standard email structure got bounced back. The purchaser didn’t have a linkedin, but I found his facebook account. From there I looked at the company’s Twitter followers and found one with the same profile picture, but under a different first name. Then used the company’s standard email structure to email the guy and it worked– he goes by his middle name IRL but has his first name on professional stuff. (May seem a little invasive but cold-calling is very common in my industry and the guy was very receptive and ended up working with us)

        I wish skip tracing paid more lol

        1. 1qtkat*

          Totally agree that you should identify the skills you like to do to find the jobs you are interested in. It sounds like you’re very analytical. You might like working in a legal/regulatory compliance setting (I personally work in pesticide compliance with a state agency.) From my side I educate businesses and individuals on my state’s pesticide laws and regulations. From the industry side, it’s important they comply with all laws and regulations related to the business, not just the ones I work with. Good luck in your search!

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You would be perfect for donor research (also called prospect research)! Basically, gathering info on prospective major donors so an organization’s fundraisers can craft tailored pitches to specific rich people.

          1. Fran Fine*

            You would be perfect for donor research

            Any kind of research really. I work for a software company that could desperately use market researchers for everything from competitive intelligence to email marketing and in-app message benchmarking. I do a lot of this work myself when I have free time, but I’d love to have someone on my team that does it full time so I can focus on managing my comms programs and executing campaigns.

    3. Not My Usual Name*

      Using a different handle for this, because I don’t want to be too identifiable. I don’t have advice to offer, I’m just right there with you right now. My current company has finally pissed me off enough that I am starting a job search after more than 15 years – I seriously hate job hunting, and I’m trying to look at different job titles, because I’m also not 100% on what I want to do. That is, for me, one of the down sides of having a versatile skill set – there’s a bunch of stuff I could do, and a bunch of stuff I’m mostly qualified for, but I’ve never been someone who’s known exactly what I want to do. I do know that I want a fully remote job, and what salary I think I can get.

      Any suggestions on the best places to look for fully remote work? I’m a fairly strong writer; I like digging into things and providing an overview/summary, and I’m good at documenting processes and procedures, and asking the questions about things people may not think to explain, and that someone less experienced might not think to ask. I am firmly of the opinion that work is always more complex than it appears from an outside point of view/on the surface. I do like a balance between interacting with people and independent work, preferably one that favors independent work.

      1. IRB analyst*

        Based on what you say about yourself, I’m seeing overlap with my own work. (I have no experience in hiring other than my own coworkers in this job, so I’m just tossing this out there in case it sparks your interest.)

        IRB = institutional review board, aka a committee that reviews human-subjects research to make sure it meets ethical standards (and legal/policy rules too). It can be done remotely and from what I’ve seen many/most IRB staffs have stayed remote. As an analyst (not an actual committee member, those are Drs and other experts) the main job is to pre-review research protocols before they get full review from the committee.

        So, digging in deep and asking good questions is very important — every study is different and raises different ethical/logistical questions (and yeah the logistical questions inevitably lead back to the ethics of “treating your participants well and not wasting their time on something that won’t work.”) If the researcher wrote the protocol from scratch, they definitely have blind spots about how it’s going to be implemented. Written language skills are important (consent forms etc need to be really simple and clear). Documenting processes/procedures is also a big part of the work, at least if it’s an accredited IRB. The work is mostly independent but with a lot of communicating with researchers (and the rest of staff & committee).

        Obviously I have no idea if your background will jive with this specific type of work, and you’re not entry level.* But maybe it will send you down a fruitful train of thought! (In case this is exactly what you’re looking for, there are for-profit commercial IRBs and there are internal ones at universities & research hospitals. May also go by other names like “ethics committee” “research review board” etc.) (*If anyone else reading this is entry level and is wondering about what background is needed, it’s pretty broad — human research experience of some kind is a plus, ethics/science in general also good, you learn the regulations on the job.)

        1. Not My Usual Name*

          This is actually super helpful and something I hadn’t thought of! As it happens, my current work is…call it adjacent to an IRB, and I have some familiarity with their work and even with some of the considerations, like what’s considered a vulnerable population, plus some other miscellaneous stuff I’ve been exposed to over the years. So that is definitely something I’ll look into – seriously, thank you!

          1. Fran Fine*

            Look into technical writing if you’re not already in that field. Companies across industries are always looking for strong writers to be able to document their instructions, workflows, processes, etc., and many of those jobs can be fully remote.

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      So I can’t help with A because I’m currently stuck in the same place, though I’m happy to commiserate/wish us both well, but maybe I can throw a few cents toward B. It’s great that your company has been good to you – I’d love it if that became the norm! However, them being a good company and treating you right doesn’t mean you have to stay with them Forever. They aren’t buying your labor permanently, they’re buying it as long as the arrangement works for them AND for you – and right now, if you’re super stressed and need a change, it’s no longer working for you.

      Also, no amount of notice you give them will be enough to hire and train someone, because that’s not the point of a notice period! :) The point of the notice period is for you all to discuss where you are in projects, who can take over what pieces of which projects, and what can be put on hold until they hire someone new. It’s purely to work out the logistics of “Bachelor is leaving; what do we need to do to keep the wheels on the bus turning while we look for a replacement?”

      Even knowing all that though, it’s entirely possible to still feel bad about leaving. They’ve been good to you! You seem to mostly enjoy your managers/coworkers! Human beings are emotional creatures so it’s natural to have an emotional reaction to a big change. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong to make the change, but it also doesn’t mean it’s wrong to feel kinda bad about it either. Try to be gentle with yourself, let yourself feel bad if you need to, but also remind yourself that logically it’s still worth taking steps to at least see what’s out there. Good luck!

      1. Ashley*

        Don’t forget we get to grow and change. Leave as many notes and documents as you can for those left behind. If you know something only you do is tricky maybe offer to show someone or do screenshots for them. If they are nice answer a few questions that might pop up after you leave. But you get to move on and not get stuck someplace because they are a good place and have nice people.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m a supervisor who had long term plans that included an employee who recently left our organization. From the way you describe your managers here, it sounds like they feel the same way I do about caring for staff, so I’m going to tell you what I would tell any of my people in your situation.

      The only thing you owe me in exchange for me treating you well as your supervisor is good work while you’re in my department. Supervisors who treat you well and look out for your interests are doing it a) because we like to be kind to people and b) because treating staff well makes it more likely that they’ll stick around and do good work. You owe us no debt of gratitude. All we really want is for you to learn and grow and enjoy your career. If that means staying with us long term, great! If that means moving on to do something else with another company, we’ll miss you and we genuinely hope your future will be the one you want. Is it hard when we have to rework our plans because a team member has moved on? Yes. But we are not angry with those team members for causing that work. This is a really, really normal part of supervising other people.

      If you want to be loyal to the supervisors who looked out for you, do that by being happy and successful wherever your career path takes you next.

    6. PollyQ*

      On the question of guilt, “because they’d do it to you” isn’t the only reason not to feel guilty. The other, bigger one is that you’re not doing anything bad to them by leaving your job. People leave jobs all the time. It’s a totally normal part of running a business, and if they’re well-run, they will be fine without you. (And if they’re not well-run, all the more reason to leave.)

    7. Anono-me*

      Since it sounds like you really like your current employer and with good reason; Can you take Alberia Dawn and Job Searcher’s advice and apply it to your current company? Maybe find as many of your company’s prior job postings for the past 5 years and go through them to see if anything appeals to you. Then meet with your manager and others at your company to discuss your long term career goals and see how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

      Good luck.

  25. avocadotacos*

    Are hospitals raising the wages for non-nursing/non-medical positions? I was surprised when I applied to one with a non-negotiable rate that I’d be making less than I am now, and another where I could potentially make what I’m making now, but probably not more (which is fine by me). They also aren’t offering bilingual stipends. Any insight on this?

    1. Quality Girl*

      This year the healthcare system I work for has done market adjustments across the board, raised their minimum wage by $3, gave everyone the maximum raise (4%) and bonus without doing performance reviews, gave us an extra bonus at the end of the year, and has given third shift free food for the past few months.

  26. A CAD Monkey*

    Got the dreaded auto response “We will not be continuing with your application”. I’m disappointed, but I knew it was a long shot. Still would have liked to get to the phone interview stage. Ah well, just gotta find the place that will take a chance on someone not in that particular industry with skills that should transfer over.

    1. FormerCADGirl*

      Key words to look for “willing to train the right person”, at least those were the key words in the job description that led to my username :)

  27. Construction Safety*

    New Covid vax / testing requirement start Monday for employers with more than 100 employees. It is going to be a cluster for us. 90% of employees are on remote/rural sites, we guestimate that ~75% are unvaxxed. Some site will have 25 new employees on a Monday, be required to fill out the Yes/No/Exemption form (via QR code & which goes somewhere into the cloud), will work 7 x 12hr days & then be laid off. Mgmt, has no idea how fast the cloud will spit back information on who has to be tested, who needs an exemption, who didn’t complete the form, etc. As a total aside, WTH are we going to get tests or are we going to make them wait in line for 3 hours somewhere??

    1. ThatGirl*

      The actual testing-or-vaccinated requirement doesn’t kick in till Feb, to give companies time to plan. But starting Monday companies need to know who’s vaccinated and who isn’t. That said, it’s up to the company on how to comply — ours will be providing testing on-site for a few months.

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      You may want to look into some free talks that some of the national safety organizations are giving about the impeding changes, but one of the things I picked up on was the ‘good faith’ strategy OSHA is going to be using to start looking at companies. Since times are difficult, they are looking more for ‘are you in good faith trying to make the requirement work’ and not ‘are you fully compliant’ at the moment. Unsure what the timeline for ‘are you fully compliant’ will be, but I’m betting since tests are scarce, it may be a little while.

      Note: I am not a lawyer, just a safety person who has been trying to understand what we need to do. You might want to consult a lawyer that practices OSHA law if you want a real answer.

    3. SweetestCin*

      I’m sorry. Even in the old days, having 25 new hires show up on a job site was a cluster bomb at best, usually ending with me slamming my door and huffing “Not HR, go away, don’t know, can’t help”.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Hey, three hours ain’t too bad. We had a scare earlier this week. We went down to the clinic first thing in the morning, signed up for a 4:20 PM slot, came back at 4, and didn’t get seen until 6:15.

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

      My org already implemented their own system prior to it being mandated so I’ve already been through some of this. We have over 1,200 employees. We do both a PCR test (3 day results) AND a rapid response (15 minutes) on the first day back in the office whether we are vaxxed or not; it’s just easier than to try to herd us to different paths for vaxxed or unvaxxed. While there is an exemption for getting vaxxed, there is no exemption for being tested if you are back in the office for any length of time, not even 5 minutes to pick something up. 100% WFH people only get tested if they come into the office. Ongoing testing after the first is still being determined. All this is on the clock for hourly people. We CAN opt to get tested off site and submit the results, but that’s at our own cost whereas on campus is free to us.

      They contracted the testing through a 3rd party who supplied all the kits and does the laboratory work and reporting — it seems like those companies have proliferated in the pandemic but that may not be the case everywhere — but our own employees run the testing site out doors on campus, hand out/collect the test kits, observe us take them, mark off on a sheet if the rapid results are negative/positive, the training for it really isn’t complicated. We have a specific HR email address to send copies of our vax records to (a cell phone photo of the little wallet card is fine) and I assume a live person is then checking off a newly added box in the employee system and running a report for anyone who hasn’t submitted something.

    6. JelloStapler*

      Yes! I understand the need for testing, I really don’t know where all these people are going to get them in a quick enough time that we actually can do anything with it?

      1. pancakes*

        This is a good reason to invest in testing, no? Both the tests themselves and people to carry out the process. Being prepared for things like this a key part of public health preparedness planning.

    7. Lizy*

      I’ve been wondering how remote workers play into this, too, so I did a quick google search and… they’re exempt. Workers who are 100% outside or not in contact with others are exempt too. Obviously your company may still require vaccinations but for what it’s worth …

      1. pancakes*

        It’s not clear from the question that all of these workers will be 100% outside. At some point people working on a building will be working inside of it, and/or interacting with people who are.

  28. Kesnit*

    I started getting sick last Friday and tested positive for COVID Sunday. Agency policy is to stay away for 5 days after a positive test. I wasn’t sure if 5 days included the day of the test (Sunday) or not, so contacted my boss yesterday to ask. He said he would count Sunday as Day 1. With Sunday as Day 1, Thursday was Day 5 and I could come back today. I also got a message from the second-in-authority in the office indicating that coming back after 5 days is fine. I knew I would have to wear a mask, but that wasn’t an issue. I’ve been wearing cloth masks all along anyway.

    So I went into work today. Upon arrival, I was told I should be wearing an N95 mask. No one said anything about that prior to this morning. Luckily, I had one in my office. Later I was told to avoid common areas and to not go to the office of one of our staff members, at her request. (No surprise. She has always been the most vigilant about social distancing and sanitizing.)

    Now I am starting to think I should have stayed home today and come back Monday…

    1. AnonTopHat*

      Yikes – I hope the policy specifies that the “after 5 days” standard the CDC set is only for asymptomatic people, and I hope it acknowledges that many health professionals believe it should require a negative COVID test. If symptomatic, the symptoms need to be noticeably reduced and there can have been no fever in the last 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing drugs like ibuprofen). Also 20-40% of people with COVID are still contagious after 5 days. Also coming in after five days would have been Friday, Thursday is still within the five days that even the CDC thinks people should be isolating for.

      I got COVID 8 days ago and am still symptomatic and testing very solidly positive on rapid tests, which means I will be following the guidelines of 10 days of isolation, because chances are good I’m still contagious.

      1. AnonTopHat*

        Whoops, forgot today was Friday not Thursday, so rescinding my comment about being within vs. after five days. The rest still stands, though.

      2. Kesnit*

        “If symptomatic, the symptoms need to be noticeably reduced and there can have been no fever in the last 24 hours.”

        I never had a fever. I started getting sick Dec 31 and was really sick Jan 1. Sunday through Tuesday I was OK, but my throat hurt and I had almost no voice. Wednesday and Thursday, I felt fine. As of today, I am coughing a little, but that’s all.

    2. londonedit*

      The way it currently works where I live, you have to self-isolate from the day of your positive test and can stop isolating after 7 days but only if you test negative on days 6 and 7; otherwise you have to isolate for 10 days (assuming you’ll test negative by then). So here, you wouldn’t be allowed to go back to work until 7 days had passed. Personally, seeing as it’s the first week of January and today is a Friday, I’d have sacked this week off and just gone back to the office on Monday – that would have given you the weekend firstly to recover more and secondly to make sure you’re not going to still be infectious.

      1. Kesnit*

        “Personally, seeing as it’s the first week of January and today is a Friday, I’d have sacked this week off and just gone back to the office on Monday.”

        I seriously considered that. I decided to come in for two reasons. First, there are a few things I needed to get done that are easier to do in the office than from home. (I had my laptop at home and did a little work once I started feeling better.) Second, I got the impression from my boss and the second that they felt I should come in today since I hadn’t run a fever and was feeling better. Of course, that could be my anxiety that took it that way and they would not have questioned if I had stayed home.

        1. WellRed*

          Just as an FYI I wouldn’t give an employer specific info like, “no fever” because then you have the scenario you describe where they judge whether you should work or not. In this case, “out of an abundance of caution, I plan to stay home until Monday” would have given you a bit more recovery and give the worried coworkers space.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Exactly this. Your management team are not doctors, OP. They should not be diagnosing the severity (or lack thereof) of your symptoms.

    3. Artemesia*

      yeah your office was short sighted here — and they should be providing N94 masks for everyone in the office — the cloth masks are better than nothing at dispersing COVID but worthless at preventing the wearer from breathing it — we are long past the time for cloth masks and need to be using the now very available superior med and n94s. I personally buy the Korean ones because they have a long reputation for quality and the Chinese have sold lots of fake masks on line including some made with toilet paper as the filter layer rather than the effective blown filter layers. Offices should be stocking up on effective masks. The 5 day thing appears to be more about pleasing employers than protecting health.

    4. Merci Dee*

      If it clears anything up about the five-day situation, the CDC generally considers the first day of your symptoms or the day you got the positive result as Day 0, so then it’s five days after that. So today (Friday) would have been your Day 5.

      I looked this up just this morning, and the info is available on the CDC’s website.

  29. anon person*

    Have you done an interview that includes shadowing? How long did it take? Did they cover the stuff you shadowed again in training, or did they count that as part of your training?

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      I had one that was somewhat of a job shadow. it was mostly just a normal interview and then at the end for about an hour or so I followed someone around. She mostly just showed me to different offices, met people, etc. It was in a hospital for an admin position, so it might depend on the company

      1. anon person*

        This is also at a hospital, so that must be more common in that setting. Good to know! Thanks.

  30. CNY*

    For those who have left their industries for a career switch, how transparent were you with your employer during your decision making process?

    As I’ve posted about before, I’m seriously considering leaving my current industry (social services nonprofit) for nursing school.

    My conundrum is – I definitely need a place to work as I take some pre-clinical classes and save up. (Because I’m a single income household, I want to put off quitting work for as long as possible until I literally need to be in person for clinical classes.)

    In this interim period, I’m feeling like it is NOT safe to be transparent about this with my employer — if they know I’m planning on leaving a year down the line, that could affect things and cause them to push me out sooner, right? But should I basically just pretend to have fake professional development goals in the meantime?

    1. Artemesia*

      a year down the line — I’d not give it a thought and proceed with real goals — who knows what you will decide in a year? And in a year you can give notice as in ‘decided to go to nursing school’ —- if you were going to school in 3 mos then it would be different and you should probably look for temp jobs. But a year — no one really knows what they will be doing in a year so just ignore that possibility when in the current job.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      I recently switched from nonprofit education to going back to school for a technical field, and I did not let my boss know until I was actually accepted to school (at which point I gave a fairly long notice). My boss was a kind person who would not have retaliated, demoted me, or tried to lay me off, I’m 100% confident of that. I just did not feel comfortable discussing it with him, because it wasn’t his business. I don’t think there’s any reason you should discuss it with your boss ahead of time. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel there’s a big issue with fake professional development goals–even back when I was satisfied with my field, I had a hard time coming up with professional development goals and would just write down whatever came into my head at the moment I had to do it.

      I took community college classes for two years while working before I tried to go back to school full time. They became a big part of my life, but I avoided discussing them with my coworkers as much as possible; a handful of people knew I was taking them but I just told them that I was pursuing a personal interest and learning more about something I didn’t get to study in college, which was true in its own way.

    3. Anono-me*

      I would suggest that you not think of your social services np professional goals as “Fake”; but rather as the goals you have to be happy at the non profit during the remaining time there (especially if nurse’s training takes longer than anticipated) and also focus on universal development skills that you can take with you into your new career.

      Good luck as a new nurse .

    4. 1qtkat*

      I decided to switch from a technical job to go to law school. While I was still going through all the preliminary stuff (LSATs, applications) for a year, I didn’t mention the plan to my boss, but I did try and set reasonable short terms goals for the year with my current job even it was relatively small. I didn’t give my notice until I was admitted and started making long term plans for my new situation.

      Bosses understand that plans and goals change. As long as you continue to do good work it’s not likely they will push you out if you’re on good terms with your boss.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I always think this is quite short sighted of employers, “CNY is planning to leave in a year so we’ll push them out early”… the other side of it is that you are, presumably, guaranteed (as much as you can be) to be there for the next year. Any employee could quit next week!

    6. Cordelia*

      I don’t think you need to have “fake” professional development goals, just short-term or transferable ones. It’s not as if you are going into a totally different field – there are a lot of transferable skills that you can take from social services into nursing. Your current experience and skills will enhance your application to nurse training. So perhaps look at some courses and development opportunities that will help you both in your current and your future career? There’s a lot of overlap, you’re still working with vulnerable people. Good luck!

  31. The Original K.*

    Career change update:
    I have my first appointment with a career counselor next week. I also have an info interview/catch-up next week with someone I used to know who actually reached out to me about a job kind of adjacent to what I do, but the compensation is substantially lower than what I currently make (score one for putting salary in the ad!).

  32. Lucky*

    I’ve been offered executive coaching as part of a planned promotion into leadership. I have bios of several executive coaches. How do I choose which one to work with? I won’t be able to interview with any before choosing.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have any of them worked for your company before? I’d find out who worked best with your soon-to-be-peers.

      1. Kathenus*

        Great advice. Another thing might be to list the top things you hope to get from the coaching/mentor, then read/re-read the bios with those things in mind and see if it helps to narrow it down (based on their past experience, coaching philosophies, etc.).

  33. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

    Has anyone else whose job has turned remote been told to work when sick unless they are “really sick”. My mom, who works customer technical support for a specific product, is now permanently remote (while using her own personal computer but that’s a totally separate issue). And they told everyone yesterday that if you’re remote and if you are quarantining or not feeling well you can still work, “so it doesn’t put pressure on the rest of the team”. She says the way the message came across was that you have to be “really sick” to take a sick day.

    Are companies who are moving remotely really doing this to their employees? I remember a few weeks ago Alison had a letter and explained that if you are sick you should take the time off even if you aren’t infecting others because you won’t be good productivity-wise and it will probably make you sicker for longer.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I sort of read this as sick vs. really sick if you’re home is different than coming in. Like if you have covid but all you have is a stuffy nose and a cough, you could still work from home because you’re not incapacitated from working, you just have to not be around other people. Vs. “I can’t get out of bed” level of sick.

      It would be different if you have a stuffy nose and a sore throat/cough but are otherwise fine and came into work these days with presumed Omicron. Pre-pandemic you’d probably have to physically go in, these days you probably shouldn’t…but does that make you completely unable to work from home if that’s all you have right now?

    2. Not a Name Today*

      I think the key would would be if they said you “have to work if you a little sick” or you “can work if you are a little sick.” It’s a benefit if you can work while a little sick and save your PTO and your team understands you aren’t working at 100%. It leaves the decision to you if you need to rest all day, or work a little bit while taking it easy.
      But it’s a jerk move if they said that employees HAVE to work unless they are bedridden.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I work from home and I wouldn’t take a sick day unless I were “really sick”, which in my case means unable to sit up and/or think clearly. So bad migraine? I’m out. Stuffy nose? I’m here. Granted, I can also take an hour off in the middle of the day if I need to rest.

      I think everyone should use their own discretion, but personally, if I’m only marginally unwell and I can handle the workload, I’d rather do that than let everything pile up or ask someone else to take it on.

      1. A*

        Same. Prior to becoming fully remote the majority of my sick days were when I had colds etc. as I have a hard fast rule that I don’t go into the office if I might be contagious. But more often than not I’m still physically capable of working, or at least putting in a few hours. Now that I’m remote I only take sick days if I need a mental health day, or am physically unable to perform my job / focus etc.

      2. Fran Fine*

        Also same. I was fully remote long before COVID and my company has always had a robust, full time WFH contingent (we’re a software company), and I work when I’m a little unwell. The only time I take off for a sick day is if I need a mental health day, have severe cramps to the point where I can’t get out of bed, or have a bad headache and can’t focus (I write and edit all day, so my brain has to be 100% or close to it). Otherwise, I work while sick, even if it’s just from bed and I log off early. I believe most of my remote colleagues, including the ones who only recently became remote due to the pandemic, have a similar system.

    4. Kathenus*

      Agree with all the responses already on the sick vs really sick distinction. If there’s pressure to work unless you’re on your deathbed, that’s wrong, but if it’s for something like the stuffy nose, minor cough or something that’s annoying but doesn’t really affect working then it seems reasonable. But I did want to mention that I agree with the expectation to WFH if quarantining – if you have no symptoms but are in quarantine for precautionary exposure reasons, it makes perfect sense to me that you’d be expected to work those days.

      1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

        I agree with the quarantine as well. If you’ve just been exposed or have little to no symptoms I think you can work from home as normal.
        But the way my mom took it is you have to be on your deathbed type of sick. So like if you have a nasty cold and could do with a days rest you should still work.
        I think it also matters that she mostly does over the phone customer support and she is talking people through troubleshooting tech stuff. You really need to have your head on right to be able to help. So if you’ve got a bad cold or something and your throat is sore and your head hurts it makes for a long and miserable day to take phone calls. It would be different if it was a job where she didn’t have to talk with people all day and could do stuff just by email, but that really doesnt happen.

        1. A*

          In which case it sounds like that would be an example of when she would need to take the day off. I think it’s more likely that the intent was to clarify ‘can work but not up to working on-site’ vs ‘need to take a sick day as unable to perform job’, rather than a literal translation of being on deaths door. Only she can assess if she is capable of working that day. When that kind of situation comes up I’ll often take a half day since I’m still able to work, but might not have the stamina to put in a full day.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      To me this is the equivalent of coming in to work with a runny nose and cough – not sick enough to burn a sick day, but could infect all their colleagues. If you wouldn’t burn a sick day over it when in the office, you shouldn’t burn a sick day over it when you are WFH.

    6. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      It sounds like a poor attempt to say if in the before times you would come into the office (coughs/colds type of stuff) you can still work (because hey, you would have gone in and not used a leave day anyway in the before times). Also, quarantining doesn’t always mean that you’re symptomatic. I think it could have been phrased better though.

    7. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      Let me make it clear it was more like you have to be on death’s doorstep in order to take a sick day.

      Also, they have said no vacation time off unless it’s an emergency between Thanksgiving and the end of March. This really doesn’t make much sense because between December and the middle of March they don’t get super busy. Their busiest times are early November and the middle of March. So I could see maybe no extra time off at those times but January and February is not going to be approved. They also have been doing other crappy things like saying you have to schedule doctors appointments outside of business hours. So early mornings before 9 or late afternoons, which doesn’t always work.

      I totally think if you are well enough to work, just a stuffy nose, or if you are just in quarentine for exposure or something then you should work. But if you have a really bad cold and could use a day of rest to recover you should be able to take a sick day, otherwise your just going to be sick for longer and not as productive for longer.

      1. urguncle*

        “Really sick” is different for everyone. I work from home while not feeling excellent on a regular basis. Where I draw a line is when I can’t be this miserable and working. Being sick is my full time job, and I’m spending more time thinking about how I don’t want to be working or can’t work well than doing my job. It sounds like they generally suck. But she can draw a boundary on deciding what’s right for her own body and maybe take solace in the fact that they’re likely too short staffed already to fire someone who took a day off.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I mean, sure that’s what they want, but how are they going to know exactly how sick a remote worker is? Are they going to start requiring a doctor’s note? Grownups know when they are too sick to work and when they aren’t.

        Unless there are actual ways to track and enforce this new “requirement” then it isn’t a real requirement, it is the manager making irrelevant noise with their mouth.

        The vacation restrictions don’t sound like they make any sense, but since you are two steps removed from the situation and your mom just got the policy stated without any in-depth reasoning why, it’s possible that there are business reasons that aren’t immediately obvious.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      I used to work in accounting/financial reporting. Big year-end through February crunch, basically no time off until the auditors sign off on the annual report. In ten years at one employer, there was ONE year that I did NOT end up with pneumonia from “toughing it out” with a cold. (Dedication, check; self-preservation, not so much; but there were Expectations expressed by management.)
      Respiratory illness can turn serious really fast if you don’t give your body the care it needs to fight the disease. Pneumonia kills, and so can influenza. When you’re sick, you need rest and hydration and more rest, and that doesn’t mean working just as hard as ever but with Kleenex handy.
      I’m picturing your mother’s boss asking an employee with chest pains if they can’t finish this one more thing before the ambulance arrives.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Respiratory illness can turn serious really fast if you don’t give your body the care it needs to fight the disease. Pneumonia kills, and so can influenza. When you’re sick, you need rest and hydration and more rest, and that doesn’t mean working just as hard as ever but with Kleenex handy.

        + 1

  34. Pricey*

    In your experience what industries have good levels of camaraderie and opportunities to socialise a little outside of work? Pre-pandemic of course! I’m an individual contributor where I work now – and even pre-covid my role was incredibly isolated. I don’t need to be bffs with my colleagues but I miss jobs where the room doesn’t fall silent when I walk through the door! For context I work in compliance and this unfortunately very often makes me the ‘no’ person. In my current company there’s a huge WhatsApp group of personal cell numbers for chit chat and socialising that I was left out of on purpose, and then when someone let slip about it I was invited to join….at which point it went silent because they created a second one that I wouldn’t be in! I’m in my early 30s and the same vintage as my coworkers (this homogeny might actually be part of the problem) but really on the outs in terms of banter and social interaction. I hate it. I have the opportunity to change industries (my skills are transferable across a range) so am curious on which ones are better/worse for interactions with colleagues in your experience.

    1. Lucy's Diamonds*

      Advertising! And specifically media (the buying part of it) can be very social (pre-pandemic)! Mostly for the younger folks but even higher ups would join in on the fun on occasion. Location/team/agency specific but lots of paid for happy hours by vendors (other companies) we work with. It was a blast! I miss it but sometimes I’m shocked I could go out more than once during theweek and be functional in the morning.

    2. Louielouie*

      I’m sorry your co-workers were so rude to you wrt the WhatsApp group, that sucks!

      I work in health care and have found it easy to connect with coworkers in those workplaces, including socialising outside work (in The Beforetimes, ofc…)

  35. Unluckie*

    I’ve been job searching for a while and with every rejection or interview that goes nowhere, I inevitably get the “it’s good practice!” comments from my friends/family. I know that it’s one of those generic platitudes that people say to comfort a job-hunter but it’s so aggravating and condescending. I’m a grown adult and a professional at what I do! Having them tell me that it’s good practice just feels like they’re kicking me while I’m down. Anyone else been in this boat?

    1. Artemesia*

      Not having a job when you are searching makes you feel like crap and so comments like this are like acid on cuts BUT they are just social gibble gabble from people who don’t know what to say and want to be ‘positive’. Develop a thicker skin or a little distance and translate such comments as platitudes people say like ‘have a nice day’ rather than actual specific commentary to you. People don’t know what to say so that’s what they say.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Well, it fills their need of responding in an encouraging way without actually going too deep, so I’d encourage you to simply process it as a kindness and move on.

      You could also provide the news differently — “ABC went with someone else with more experience in X & Y, so tomorrow I’m going to do some research about X & Y so I’ll have it for next time” — it might help “close the loop” before they need to, and then they can respond with a “that sounds like a good idea” or “Bob knows about X, you could talk to him”.

    3. CTT*

      Have you told them that these comments don’t help? I haven’t gotten that with job interviews but I have gotten that with dating, and it was always from friends who have been married for ages. I finally told them that those comments weren’t helpful, and they have mostly stopped (for one, I actually compared first dates to job interviews, and since she was in the middle of that process she REALLY got it)

    4. AnonTopHat*

      I hear you on how it can feel condescending when you’re the one searching. One thing that may help to keep in mind is that it’s likely not intending to say anything about your professionalism – it’s more a remark made based on the fact that interviewing well is a unique skillset and it can be a very different challenge compared to day-to-day work! I’m an excellent programmer but I’m shit at live coding interviews just because it’s so removed from how things work normally. In that way, even behavioral interviews can be a challenge for people who are otherwise excellent at their jobs.

      Definitely feel free to let people know it’s not a super helpful comment (setting boundaries explicitly may make things feel more manageable) but try to give yourself some grace and space by remembering that no one reasonably equates ability to interview with ability to do a job.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’m sorry you are struggling and find those comments condescending. Honestly, interviewing well is a skill and interviewing is good practice. Just accept the comments understanding the intent, not your interpretation. These people mean well and believe wheat they are saying (I actually do as well). Your frustration is does not change that they mean well.

    6. Rayray*

      Yes! I spent a long time unhappy in a job and then was unemployed for a few months after a layoff. It can be soul crushing and frustrating. People mean well but it sucks.

      I personally found a lot of solace from the subreddit RecruitingHell. Even if you just lurk and don’t participate, it was just comforting in a weird way to see so many others going through what I was. I also found a few career coach people on YouTube that I liked, Don Georgevich. I’d watch his videos and scroll the comments and see others in my Situation. It’s just one of those things people don’t understand if they haven’t been in the situation. I also had so many people suggesting I apply at local fast food places or grocery stores. I’m not saying I’m above the law jobs, but I need to focus on getting back into a full-time job using my skill set. It’s beyond frustrating but I do hope you find something soon. It’s rough out there. I’m debating job hunting again but I’m still scarred from last time.

    7. 1qtkat*

      I can relate. I spent 3 years underemployed and desperately trying to get out of my current job. Hearing other people’s attempts to reassure me that something was out there for me hurt my self esteem, but sometimes in frustration I would tell them it wasn’t helpful to say or ask anything about my job search and they would back off. Now viewing the situation from the other side, the people who got me through the situation were the ones who often listened to me rant and then changed the conversation topic.

    8. RagingADHD*

      People respond differently to different kinds of support/encouragement when they are stressed. Look for which friends and family members support you in ways that feel good to you, and make them your go-to people.

      Well meaning but unhelpful folks don’t need as many updates, so you can just re-draw your circle of who you tell what to.

    9. Fikly*

      Tell them what y9u would like them to say instead.

      If they still stick with the “it’s good practice!” comments, then you know they’re jerks.

      Well meaning is a meaningless excuse once you’ve explained that they are causing pain, and to do something else instead. Then you know it’s about them, not you. People who actually mean well listen and change their behavior.

  36. bossben*

    Does anyone have any advice in transitioning into an IT development type role? I work in manufacturing and am super interested in building the systems that we would use to manage our processes. Every time I work on a process, I think that there has to be a way to make it automated and simpler. My team is small and whoever comes up with these processes we have to follow does not realize that I can’t just dedicate someone 100%. I’ve started to do some self-taught learning on the Office 365 power tools (SharePoint, power automate, etc) and am really enjoying it. Has anyone who made this transition? Is there formal education that I should be considering? Thanks!

    1. Louise*

      If your workplace has a Microsoft environment (which it seems to by your comments) I’d suggest diving more into the Power Platform. Microsoft Learn has a lot of (free) self-paced learning, dove-tailing into certifications. Studying for something like one of the Fundamentals exam will give you a taste as to whether you like it – I can’t speak about transitioning into IT as I’ve been in the field my whole career (consultancy/architecture now) but the field is booming, especially in the low-code area (Power Apps/Flow etc etc). From what you mention above, that would be a better fit for you (using business knowledge and low-code tools) than doing something like an IT degree or pure development study. In my many years in the industry I’ve seen many users/client staff get involved with new products we’ve been implementing and get really passionate about them, gain skills and then move into IT roles or even join our or other vendor consultancies. There’s real value to knowing and understanding the business side and processes and I’d always recommend this to someone mid-career rather than doing something like a boot-camp and trying to get a junior pure dev role.

    2. J.B.*

      I’m hoping others have seen this and give their responses. What I have found in my settings is that this is very customized to the process, and really needs to be analyzed and put in one spot with revisions as you implement.

  37. The Smiling Pug*

    Hello AAM commentariat,
    My last day at my current job is next Friday! I’m making the transition from in-office to WFH, so my question is this. What are some of the mindset shifts/perspective changes that made this easier?

    1. londonedit*

      Congrats on the new job! Some people find it helpful to build in some sort of ‘commute’ even though they’re WFH – you could go for a walk around the block, maybe come up with a routine where you walk to the shops every morning and buy a newspaper or a coffee or whatever, then when you get home you’ve still got the ‘right, now I’ve arrived, time to start work’ feeling. Even if you don’t do that, a morning routine is still a good idea – people imagine it’ll be amazing to roll out of bed and start work (or even work in bed/from the sofa) but that’s not great in practice. I always have a shower and dress properly even if no one’s going to see me, because it gets me into work mode mentally and makes me feel more professional (and then if someone asks if you can do a quick video call, you don’t have to worry about being in your pyjamas!) I’d also recommend, if you can, having some sort of physical separation between home time and work time – personally I have a bureau which I use as a desk, so at the end of the day my laptop and work stuff gets shut away in the bureau and I’m not tempted to look at it. You might be able to close the office door or put your laptop in a drawer or whatever else works. Unless it’s an absolute requirement of your new job, I’d 100% avoid doing any work outside your working hours or giving in to the temptation to ‘just check’ something because your work computer is sitting there. I also like to have something to mark the end of the working day – once I’ve closed my desk and shut my work stuff away, I might light a nice candle or change the lighting or close the curtains if it’s dark or have a nice G&T. Anything to get my mind out of work mode and into evening mode.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        This is awesome! Thank you so much. :) I’ve heard from multiple people that having a routine is really important. I’m going to implement some of your strategies about marking the end of the work day.

      2. Gay Hamster in the Corporate Wheel*

        Everything “londonedit” said! These are the things that do it for me:
        Taking a shower and dressing as though I am leaving the house.
        Having separation (I am lucky have my own office), so when I “clock out” I shut down the work computer completely, turn out the lights in that room, and leave for another part of the house. As above, you may not have your own room, but close your work stuff away, log off your computer or cover it?
        Blocking time on your calendar for lunch; you can flex it if you need to, but have it there and use it to get up from your chair!

        1. The Smiling Pug*

          Thank you! Having a routine and a separate workspace will help: I thrive on those. I’ll probably be blocking out time for coffee breaks too! :)

      3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I WFH 2 days a week (and was 5-6 days a week during the thick of the pandemic). I roll out of bed and work in my pajamas. If I have to be “public facing” during my WFH days (giving Zoom workshops mostly) I comb my hair and wear something appropriate on the top half of me.

        My clothing/routine/showering status do not affect my productivity, so basically the WFH gives me extra hours where I don’t have to commute or primp.

        I pack up all of my gear at the end of the day because I’m working on the laptop I use at the office.

        However, the idea that one should build in some extra activity to counteract the lack of walking around the office and whatnot is a good one that I struggle to maintain.

        1. The Smiling Pug*

          Thank you for these tips! The role is fully remote and the company has no physical location, but I’ll try to be diligent about packing up my work computer and looking presentable for Zoom meetings.

    2. Not a Name Today*

      Get exercise and vitamin D! WFH is almost like working in space, you have to schedule time to keep your body going. It’s fun and easy to start WFH and take your health into consideration, but once the novelty wears off, you have to consciously make exercise part of your routine. And unless you make outside time part of every day, then you need a vitamin D supplement. I knew about vitamin D, but never thought how much working from home would impact it. I was feeling generally unwell and kind of depressed and it turned out that I was severely deficient in Vit D.
      Make sure your health is part of your day!

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Will do! Thank you for recommending this. I didn’t factor in Vitamin D and going outside with WFH.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been doing well at keeping up a minimum of exercising and stretch breaks, but not the Vitamin D/outside exposure. I sit right by a large window but it’s winter and overcast and barely any light makes it in.

    3. Joielle*

      My advice is try out some different tips/routines and decide what works best for you! I know a lot of people swear by showering and getting dressed in the morning as if they were going to the office, but for me, it works best to roll out of bed, brush my teeth, and go right to my office in the next room. Then I’ll usually work out and take a shower over lunch. I like getting started right away and having a mid-day brain break. I also do more work in the evenings sometimes rather than having a hard stop at the end of the day. If I think of something important or I’m really feeling it, I prefer to just log back on rather than forcing myself to wait for the next morning. (But I do have the flexibility to cut out early a different day – otherwise I probably wouldn’t.)

      Basically, this is just to say that if something isn’t working for you, try something else! There’s no one right way, so don’t put pressure on yourself. Just do whatever you find most helpful.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        This is true too! Fortunately for me, the place closes at a certain time, and no one calls after that time. But, my schedule during work hours is probably going to be flexible with breaks.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      If possible, create an office at home. It doesn’t literally need to be a separate room (this is ideal, though), but any space that you designate as being for work only. At the end of the day, leave it, close the door, whatever. Create that separation between work and home.

    5. beach read*

      Things I’ve learned: 1. Making breakfast for myself takes longer than ”just a minute”. 2. Standing up and walking about is crucial. 3. Have a mirror handy in case of a surprise Teams call. 4. Go outside even just for a minute. 5. Be on time, take the same breaks, work as hard as you did when in the office. 6. A Hallmark Christmas movie is great white noise background when it’s too quiet. 7. Die Hard is not. 8. Keep in touch as best as you can with your co-workers. Good luck with it!

    6. allathian*

      I’ve been WFH since March 2020, with only 4 days visiting the office during this period. I tend to shower in the evening because my long hair takes so long to dry. I guess washing my face in the morning does the same for me as the morning shower does for many others.

      I have very flexible working hours and I vastly prefer to work in the morning, so WFH lets me work some of my most productive hours (I’m usually at my desk by 7.30 at the latest, most often by 7).

      I’m lucky enough to be living in a house that’s large enough for me and my husband to work on separate floors (and for our son to be in remote school in a separate room if necessary). I do use the same monitor for my work computer and my personal one, but just shutting the computer down at the end of the day and closing the lid marks the end of work for me. I’ve always been pretty good about separating work and leisure, except when I’m particularly stressed (if I find myself dreaming about work I realize I need to do something to de-stress).

      I live at 60 N, which means we get about 6 hours of daylight at this time of year. WFH has been wonderful, because I can take a long lunch break and go on a walk after lunch. It has done wonders for my mental health.

      Switching to WFH was easy for me, because I was able to do it occasionally even before the pandemic, and I’ve worked for my current employer long enough that I knew my coworkers so well that I didn’t really miss seeing them in person. It also helps that my job requires very little synchronous collaboration, so I rarely have to time my breaks to anyone else’s schedule, as long as I attend all the meetings I need to attend.

      I hope that your new job has good remote onboarding practices and that you’ll get to know your new coworkers quickly. During the pandemic a teammate and a former manager retired, the interim manager went elsewhere when she didn’t get the permanent position, two other teammates have left for new challenges, and we’ve onboarded our current manager and 6 new teammates. It was lovely to meet the new hires in person in November, but they seem to have settled well into their jobs, and I’m very happy working for our current manager. Our interns give consistently good feedback about the onboarding practices here. Throughout the pandemic we’ve been able to hire interns and have them work for us just like any other employees. I guess it helps that most colleges, universities, and other institutes of tertiary learning have been remote for most of the pandemic, so it’s nothing new for them.

  38. JustaTech*

    This may just be complaining, but I am hoping that someone can offer some insight into this line of thought.
    I work for a company with three sites (two manufacturing, and mine, with is R&D and everything else). Over the New Year’s holiday our acting head of HR sent out an email that because of omicron, everyone who could WFH should, and everyone else, regardless of vaccination status must wear a mask on site. The next day my director (head of R&D) sent out an email saying that all lab folks needed to be in every day, and that we were not to delay lab work, and (basically) why worry, it’s a big open office and there aren’t that many of us. (Says the guy on a completely different floor with his own spacious office.)

    Here’s the thing: no one ever suggested delaying lab work. But for every day I spend in the lab I have two or three (or more) that are spent planning, writing up protocols, analyzing data or working on other, non-lab projects. And because of the very specific nature of the lab work that I do, I basically can’t have a “spontaneous” day in the lab. My starting material requires ordering weeks in advance. Very occasionally there is some kind of emergency where I need to handle some material in the lab, but that’s an emergency (so, rare) and because I live nearby I could just come in if it comes up.

    This is not quite as true of the other lab groups: one has been coming in regularly the whole pandemic (even when everyone else was WFH because they had patient samples that had to be processed right then, and it was just 3-4 people in the building), and the other doesn’t always have to request outside material for their work. But none of us are discovery – we are development, which is way more about carefully planned and structed studies and way less “eureka!” lab work. And our director knows this: he used to do lab work.

    So why does he want us to be in? It’s not like the board or CEO is just going to “drop by” – they’re in other states or other countries. It’s not like our patients can see us (we don’t have any direct connection with them anyway). So what’s the business value of me analyzing data at my desk in my mask, getting dehydrated (because I don’t want to take my mask off to drink, again, open office) rather than me sitting at my desk at home analyzing data drinking tea? The data gets analyzed one way or the other.

    Is there something I’m missing?
    (Possible side note: before omicron we had all been in every day, and most people were sans mask because we’re all vaccinated.)

    1. Kathenus*

      This may not work with your director, but I’d try to use the distinction that you are a ‘lab folk’ on days you need to be in the lab and of course you’ll be in for those; and for the prep days that can be done from home you will of course follow the HR directive – basically that you are following both of their directives but using the ‘lab folk’ definition to only mean lab days. Again I understand that if your director is unreasonable on the topic it might be ineffective but if said in a way that was matter of fact like of course that’s what the plan should be/honoring both the HR and director instructions are, maybe it’ll work? Bonus points if you can somehow put it in an email response to both your director and HR at the same time. Good luck.

    2. Arctic tern*

      Can it have something to do with patients’/client’s privacy or intellectual property? I work in R&D, and we are no even allowed to log into our work emails from home because of confidentiality reasons. So work from home is not possible, even in spring 2020 everybody came to office every day.

      1. JustaTech*

        Nope, we did WFH for most of 2020, and some even before that. Before it was less common (not everyone had a laptop) and periodically all WFH would be canceled for no apparent reason (I think usually having to do with changes in upper management).

        My group doesn’t do patient work, and I’m also not in a group that works with clients (and even those that do are at several sites and have done remote work in 2021).

        As far as I can tell it’s just the usual “new upper management, panic, butts in seats!” thing, which everyone pretty much ignored. Folks came in for lab work (and because we had a leak in the building, joy), and otherwise continued to WFH.

  39. Escaped a Work Cult*

    When corporate comms send out the “volunteer during MLKJ day” sign ups or any kind of take your day off to give back to the community, is this something you should do? I’m very jaded

    1. Loulou*

      Doesn’t it depend on if you find the proposed volunteer project worthwhile? Not sure we can answer this for you.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I would take it as a lovely reminder of ways I might choose to reflect on Dr. King’s message and mission during the holiday.

      However, if they’re asking you to volunteer on behalf of the company in some way, I might sweetly attempt to offer to volunteer with your team on a day that you’re scheduled to work.

    3. Kathenus*

      Following up on Aspiring Chicken Lady’s perspective, it sounds like a great time to propose your organization give each person one day off per year, paid, to volunteer somewhere – in honor of MLKJr day since they are advocating the concept.

      1. A*

        Yes! My employer made that switch a few years ago and it’s worked out great. I’m a big fan. Extra two days ‘off work’ and I get to spend those days volunteering? I’m in!

    4. Purple Cat*

      My company gives each employee 16 hours of volunteer hours, you could cheerfully ask your company to do the same ;) Letting people know of opportunities is a good thing. Expecting them to sign up on their day off is not so good.

  40. Mimmy*

    Zoom question: auto captions

    Background: Because I’m hard of hearing and have difficulty processing auditory information, I often rely on auto captioning in Zoom. At my job, my supervisor had to get a special upgrade to her account so that I can have captions for meetings she hosts.

    I think I need to start using captions when I meet with my students over Zoom. I use my personal Zoom account (with permission) but it’s the basic one where you have a 40-minute limit if there are 3 or more participants. Do anyone have any suggestions or insights about whether it’s worth it to upgrade so that I could have the captions? I’m also confused about the options available: Do I have to use a third-party app, or is it built into Zoom? I’ve heard different things. For those that do use captions, what have you found to work the best?

    I want to dabble in accessibility, so you’d THINK I would know this, but…. *shrugs*

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Check with your Zoom administrator. It really depends on the licensing & version your org has. We used to have to use a 3rd party transcription service, but our new version has very nice automatic captions. (We still arrange for an ASL interpreter when needed.)

    2. Endora*

      No need to upgrade, just enable the feature in your account settings, and the option will be available in the tool bar when you hold meetings.

      1. Anhaga*

        This. After Zoom made auto-captions paid-only, there was pretty hefty pushback (I work in digital accessibility and woooowwwww was there some venom coming through our professional Slack server!) and Zoom made auto-captions a standard thing for all accounts. The captions do still have the problems that we normally associate with automated captions, but it’s definitely better than nothing!

    3. Dino*

      It’s not the same thing as captions, but if you find that the auto captions mangle your technical terms to the point of being useless, you could look into getting a videophone/VRS account set up. You can use relay services with Zoom so long as there is a call-in phone number you can give to the interpreter. It has its own pros and cons, but sometimes it’s nice backup if the captions leave you lost here and there.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      My company has the paid Zoom app. It had closed captioning as part of the package. FWIW, Google Meets also has it. They both work about the same in my opinion.

  41. CreepyPaper*

    Result! I posted last week about HR being hardheads about me coming into the office while the house next door was being renovated and… I can work in the office as much as I need to while the noisy construction things are happening in the house next door to us.

    I told my manager what HR had said about it not being a ‘necessary’ reason for me to come into the office and she said ‘leave it with me’. Two hours later I’ve got full permission to come into the office for the duration of the construction.

    Oh, and HR is being Spoken To by someone higher up, apparently mine is not the first request of this nature they’ve said no to.

    I shall enjoy the peace and quiet of an almost empty office! Rather than constant BANG bang BANGBANG whrrrrrrrrr bang

    1. Never Nicky*

      Great news! Glad your manager went into bat – and from the sounds of it, may have borrowed a clue-by-4 from the building site to knock some sense into HR!

    2. Filosofickle*

      I am so happy for you, and I feel this one personally because I spent this week over a demolition site. Trying to work through a total gut of a kitchen and bath in the flat downstairs has been a nightmare. >.<

  42. bananas-n-chocolate*

    This is something that I’ve struggled with professionally and have internalized as a problem with my social skills. But now I’m starting to wonder if it’s more of a gendered issue. I am a woman and about 10 years into my career. In meetings I tend to be direct and don’t shy away from speaking up or jumping in to raise a question or concern. I’ve often worried that I come across as pushy or forceful and that I am alienating my co-workers. Especially on conference calls when I can’t read others’ facial expressions, I accidentally jump in at the wrong moment and speak at the same time as my colleagues. I worry that I’m going to get the reputation of interrupting and dominating the conversation.

    But on a conference call today I started to notice something. Some of my male colleagues tend to always be the first to respond to a question as soon as the floor is open. Some, but not all, tend to continue speaking without interruption, rarely pausing to let others jump in. One co-worker in particular will respond to questions and as soon as they are finished, they will then turn immediately to the next topic without pausing to let others react to what they’ve just said. It’s in these moments when I start to speak that I find myself talking over my male colleagues.

    Has anyone else had this experience and how have you navigated this? Do I need to just get better at social and conversational cues?

    1. Artemesia*

      I find many people do this and it is easier to interject in a personal meeting because body language — you can alert that you want to enter. So on zoom either the team has to have some norms (that is what we do with social things like book clubs where there are always two or three people who go on and on or don’t let less forceful people have the floor) or you have to develop some skills. I think you need a way to call a halt and interject. If it is on zoom you can sort of put up your hand as you say ‘Before we move on, I’d like to comment on . . .’ Of course you will be on top of the monologue but it is a transitional statement. ‘Excuse me, I’d like to add something. . ‘ ‘Before we move on, I’d like to comment. . .’ ‘One moment, I’d like to offer another point of view. . . When dealing with pushy dominating people on conference calls or zooms, you have to learn to be assertive as gracefully as possible or be ground into the dust.

      1. bananas-n-chocolate*

        Thanks for responding Artemesia! These are all good scripts, which I already try and use. The problem is that even when I’m at the point of saying “Excuse me, I have something to add,” I’m already talking over my colleagues because they haven’t paused for others or left any room for anyone else to speak. Do you think that in this instance when I end up speaking over others, it will still be perceived negatively?

        The other thing that stands out to me is “you have to learn to be assertive as gracefully as possible.” And while I agree with this as a general rule and wish that everyone could abide by this, it seems that in our culture insisting that someone do something “gracefully” more often than not applies to women. Research has shown that men who interrupt, speak louder and speak for a longer period of time are perceived as more confident and capable. But when women do this, it’s the opposite. It just seem so unfair.

        1. Kathenus*

          I think Artemesia is spot on, and I might also offer the phrasing “Sorry to interrupt, but I’d like to add something on this topic before we move on” or similar. I know it could be perceived as falling into the women needing to apologize and being ‘graceful’ when others don’t – and that may be valid. But I also just learned it as being polite and modeling the behavior I want to see, what I think is right, even if others don’t.

          As to your question of whether it could be perceived negatively? Perhaps – but in my opinion if it’s said in a neutral way versus an accusatory tone, if someone takes offense at that it’s their issue. I think most people would not and there are probably others with the same problem of wanting to jump in but not having the chance who would welcome someone speaking up on this. And by doing it when needed regularly you normalize it for others to do and (hopefully) those who bulldoze through speaking without giving others a chance might learn to modify their behavior.

      2. Voodoo Priestess*

        I just wanted to let you know you are not alone in this issue! Lady By the Lake said it well. I don’t think there’s an eloquent solution.

    2. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I have the same problem, both in meetings and in casual conversations. I still haven’t found a great way to deal with it, most often I end up not getting to say what I wanted to because if I “wait my turn” the topic changes. It’s very frustrating. I also constantly deal with people not acknowledging my suggestions until someone else finally accidentally tries it, at which point I can’t help saying “I said that half an hour ago, 10 minutes ago, and 5 minutes ago!” Now I have the reputation among my friends of being “the loud one”. My only answer is “you didn’t hear me the first 4 times.” I’m afraid of how that carries into the professional world.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Yes, you will be perceived negatively for being a woman who uses words directly. No, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. So just own it — eventually maybe the world will change. And please don’t say you are “sorry” for having words to say, just say “if I may, I had a thought . . .” or “I’d like to add . . .” or “As a counterpoint . . .” Think about how a male you admire would interject and do that (and they are unlikely to excuse themselves or apologize for speaking).
      Tired of Having to Apologize for Being Direct While Female

    4. Anon for This*

      Early in my career I was told not to be so direct and forthright as it would hurt my career. I would really be interested in hearing if a male ever got such advice! It has taken me longer to get to my level than it should have, but I think that is because I am female, not because I am direct. You need to be you.

      Clearly if the conference call is on the phone, you need to interrupt and say “excuse me, but I want to add something on [topic] before we move on to the next agenda item. You may consider suggesting having meetings by Zoom or similar – I think it helps a lot with the dynamics of the call, and you can un-mute yourself, before the male colleague is done talking, so that your box lights up and everyone can see you want to talk.

      But if it is necessary yes, talk over them with the “excuse me…” (I disagree with Kathenus – do not say “sorry to interrupt”. Women too often apologize like this and I am willing to bet none of your make colleagues would say this.)

      Be sure your intervention is necessary, not just an attempt to say something. That is what could get you the negative reputation. No one likes meetings that are longer than they need to be!

    5. OtterB*

      Is there a leader for the conference call? Can you talk to that person about establishing some agreed-upon ways to get responses from more participants?

    6. Purple Penguin*

      I tend to interrupt with “one question, please” (and if I talk over somebody, who cares) and waiting to be acknowledged before asking it. That works because our culture tends to have more pauses, and if the speaker doesn’t stop the meeting lead will either interrupt to say “Hang on, Penguin had a question” or I can be confident they’ll bring it up at the next opportunity “thank you Fergus, but before we move on – Penguin?”

  43. Exhausted HR*

    HR folks, is anyone else extremely burned out on HR? And not just because of the ongoing pandemic, I mean in general? And is this normal for HR?

    I’ve worked in HR at 2 different companies for a total of 7 years – 5 years at Generalist level and 2 years at Manager level. And I’m done.

    I hate how often I have had this conversation, “yes I understand that you are employed full-time, making $25+/hr, and are on our health insurance and that you STILL can’t afford your medications” and all I can do is help them with price shopping pharmacies, give them scripts for talking with their doctor about finding cheaper alternatives, etc. and they still have to make hard choices.

    How do you put on a smile at Open Enrollment time and tell everyone about our new insurance that is more expensive and covers slightly less — and have to do this every year?

    I hate lean staffing measures. That instead of hiring someone – even part-time to do a job or own a function – HR is just the catch-all for anything the company can’t find a place for. On top of everything else, I own Safety, facilities, any extra work within Supply Chain, Document Control, shipping/receiving. I know much of my work may not be visible to everyone – paychecks just happen every Friday, new policies just appear in the handbook, and discipline and writeups are done behind closed doors. But all of these things take hours of work to happen. Why am I the default for owning anything and everything that doesn’t immediately and obviously fall under someone else?

    Not even touching on everything that’s been added to HR’s plate because of the pandemic.

    Senior HR folks, please tell me, is this just because of the places I’ve worked? Or is this what the HR world is like?

    P.S. I’m not looking for advice about handling the examples I gave – they’re just the first 2 big things that came to mind. Thank you.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Different organizations do HR differently. It sounds like you are working for smaller-ish companies. In bigger companies HR tends to have people who are responsible for some of the “catch-all” work you describe. You may want to see about moving to a major corporation if that is possible.

      To the larger question, HR can be exhausting. It can be a mix of the repetitive and the crisis – both of which can wear you out. But HR is also made up of a lot of specialized roles. Consider what parts of HR do you like the best. Is is L&D? Compensation or Benefits? Generalist/HR Business Partner work? Talent Management? Talent Acquisition? I personally have always preferred HRBP roles, Talent Management roles and HR Analytics.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        A friend of mine is a very senior HR exec at a very large public company and she is FRIED. The whole pandemic on top of all the usual stuff, plus a CEO whose attitude is “how hard can it be?” has really burned her out

    2. urguncle*

      I’m not in HR, but I recently ran into the VP of HR and she gushed to me about how excited she is to introduce our new and improved benefits package soon, so it’s not everywhere. To me, it sounds like issues that affect all employees at one point or another: working for a department that’s understaffed, under-resourced and ignored. You can either talk to the people who can change that (your boss, the C-Suite, upper management) or look somewhere else. You can’t fix systemic inequity, but you can at least work for a place where you don’t have to defend your employer’s decision to provide shoddy benefits when you know they could do better.

  44. Anon for this One for Sure!*

    To make a long story short, oops I hired a toxic employee. In their sixth week here, with the support of my boss and HR, I’m proceeding slowly down the separation path which is made slightly easier by their being on probation, and slightly harder by their saying they are a member of multiple protected classes and a victim of discrimination. I think this phase will last another couple weeks, then an appeal process that will last ?? months. I have never been in this situation before, and it’s really hard. I feel guilty that I hired them, angry at how well they snowed us in the interview process and how much of my time they’re wasting now, sad because this is just a sad situation for them, but I have to maintain professionalism throughout and not bring any of this home to my family. How to keep up my morale? Anyone been through this and share support from the other side of being a hiring and a firing manager?

    1. Kathenus*

      Years back I had a very toxic employee, I inherited them from another area due to the union rules at that facility where people could transfer to certain other positions by seniority. What HR worked with me on really helped, and I remember the concepts to this day – your goal is to manage them up (to acceptable performance) or manage them out – it’s not just to get them out. Second, have very clear expectations then manage the closely to be able to know whether they are/aren’t meeting them – but (and it’s a very important but) – these expectations can’t be substantially harder/different than those for other staff doing the same work. My toxic employee ended up choosing to leave once she realized that she wasn’t going to be able to get away with the things she had in the past, and we didn’t give her ammunition to use against us by treating her unfairly or differently. That didn’t mean that the union couldn’t still have filed a grievance (or in your case the employee file for discrimination) but it made it very unlikely that they’d win. Following these tenets has helped me many times – be clear, be fair, be vigilant – and never forget that the goal is to manage their behavior up if possible instead of the goal of just getting rid of them. Good luck.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This x1000! This is not your fault. As much time as I’ve spent analyzing and re-analyzing what I could have done differently during the hiring process, sometimes the answer is NOTHING. My tenets are be kind, be fair and be timely. Good luck OP and please don’t beat yourself up!

    2. Scotlibrarian*

      Firstly, don’t feel guilty about choosing this person – interviews never Wed out all the unsuitable people and some will always slip through. In this situation, I follow procedures to the letter (so I know I’m being scrupulously fair), remind myself that removing someone who isn’t working out is the only way to be fair to their colleagues, and that being in the wrong post is ultimately painful and stressful for the employee too. Mine was an employee who had been with us a long time, been okay at their work (not brilliant, but average), and then had a car accident with an acquired brain injury – we all felt so so sorry for this person, but they couldn’t do the job, no matter how much training, mentoring and support we gave them. In the end, they left voluntarily, just before the hearing stage, and it was such a relief for everyone. Just keep reminding yourself that in the long run this is best for everyone, and push through. Much sympathy.

  45. Talia*

    What are some fields you can enter if you’re leaving librarianship? I am very much in a state of “I want to not being working here anymore” and if that means changing professions so be it, except I have no idea what else you can do with years of librarianship (without terribly many accomplishments, at that, which is one reason why I’m trying to leave) or how you go about finding such jobs.

    1. Mantis Tobaggan, MD*

      I used to work for a market intelligence firm that hired some former librarians for a mix of information services ad hoc research type stuff. It was an OK stopgap job but didn’t office much career advancement opportunities

    2. Aisling*

      If you worked with patrons, customer service skills can be transferred to nearly any other job. Records management and document control are two closely related fields that use similar skills.

    3. Gracely*

      It depends which aspects of librarianship you’re trying to get away from. If it’s patrons, then I’d look into administrative or more technical fields. If it’s the tediousness of cataloging/tech services, I’d look into customer service positions or teaching parapro positions. Or more general higher ed positions at universities, especially if you’ve got academic library experience.

    4. Scotlibrarian*

      If you’ve done training, you could do that (maybe do a train the trainer qualification)

  46. Adams*

    I’m updating my resume to begin a job hunt, and I’m curious for everyone’s opinion on this. For years, I’ve always included Microsoft suite skills, Google suite, etc. Is it really necessary to include those at this point? Wouldn’t those be considered standard skills? Thanks!

    1. Artemesia*

      It has always surprised me how many people don’t have, for example, good EXCEL skills. I don’t think you make a big fuss about this but include a line somewhere that lists skills that can include these. Depending on the role I have seen this near the top or a final line at the bottom.

      1. A*

        Agreed – and I’d recommend taking it one step farther and listing 2-3 specific examples (i.e. ‘Must be proficient in Excel – macros, pivot tables, vlookups etc.). With Excel in particular I’ve found a lot of folks consider themselves proficient when really they only know how to type in cells and create a basic table – just a case of they don’t know what they don’t know.

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          Yeah, this is really true. The same goes with Word–you can do so, so much beyond just opening and saving documents but a lot of folks aren’t aware of all the options. If you are and can concisely list them (and it’s relevant to the position), go for it. Otherwise, I’d agree that it’s standard.

          Google consumer-facing apps are some of the most user-friendly out there, so someone who just listed Google Suite with no details would raise my eyebrows in a negative way. However, more specialized tools like Google AdWords or Google Analytics would certainly be worth noting.

        2. Dragon*

          Or they are aware of what they don’t know.

          My friend had to contend with some colleagues who couldn’t deal with multiple Excel spreadsheets in a single workbook.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’d leave them off but if they played a key part in your accomplishments you can still reference them, e.g. I mention I learnt a new formula as part of a huge process I revamped.

    3. Box of Kittens*

      I am not a hiring manager so take this with a grain of salt (and I’m curious to see what others say), but I’ve had this dilemma too, and I still think it can be valuable to include depending on what your job is. I just got a new job that involves heavy use of Microsoft Word – like not just opening a new document and typing in it, but using the fancy review tools, specific and company-specified styles, etc, and having the Microsoft Suite listed on my resume helped me. They followed up on that in my interview and would have probably asked if I hadn’t listed it, but my software/skills list matched the job posting almost exactly before I had even customized it, so for me it was beneficial because my new team actually uses those apps to the fullest extent possible.

      Also, I have run into enough people in my limited work experience who can’t save a Word doc as a PDF or who can’t tell the difference between Chrome and Internet Explorer that I think it can make sense to include those things. I feel like it may be helpful to list more advanced skills/knowledge within those so hiring managers are aware you’re not just listing Microsoft Office because you know that the Excel icon is green and the Word icon is blue.

    4. BRR*

      I try to do it by mentioning how I’ve used them for an accomplishment. Because I think the skills are usually important but I feel dumb just saying I know how to use word. And with excel, I feel it’s necessary to show what exactly I know since there’s no universal definition of “intermediate excel skills.”

      1. Gracely*

        This. You want people to have an idea at what level you can use those skills. Otherwise, if you list MS Office in your skills, I’m going to assume you’re including it because so many people include it.

    5. Purple Penguin*

      I see MS skills as akin to summer jobs or college coursework projects – you include them early on when this might help put you ahead of other candidates who don’t have those, but as your resume fills up with recent accomplishments and specialized skills, some of your older milestones fall off the bottom. As others say, maybe you’ve done something specific that pushes this back up into a recent accomplishment (“used Excel conditional formatting to…” “published quarterly reports efficiently by implementing MS template…”) and it would rise back toward the top, but it’s definitely okay to let it go.
      Consider how you’d respond to an interviewer if they said “It says here that you’re accomplished in Microsoft Office Suite – tell me more about that.” If it’s not a question you’d enjoy answering no need to bring it up.

    6. Marco*

      I did hiring and served on various hiring teams for many years and I never took those skills seriously when listed under a Skills section. I stopped looking at Skills sections altogether, as they were usually generic and, really, I expected applicants to be familiar with basic office suites as a basic inherent work competency. If you’ve accomplished anything with the software, I’d put it with the job as an accomplishment. (Sorry. I’ve reviewed 200+ resumes and never saw a useful Skills section.)

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yeah, the only areas I could see a skills section being really relevant/useful are for positions in consulting, tech, finance, and insurance.

        1. Marco*

          And only then if the skills are very specific and more than the norm. I’m in the behavioral sciences. I recently reviewed a resume for a person we may hire on to my team, which requires advanced training and degrees just to get in the door with the expectation of continuous professional development as well as development of at least one niche expertise, and her skills section after 16+ years in the field was “works well with others, proficient with Microsoft Word, efficient.” After that many years in the field, all she’s got down is…Microsoft Word? See, I won’t blink if there isn’t a Skills section, but I’ll side-eye the heck out of a Skills section that suggests all someone is proud to do is the bare minimum of being able to use a laptop.

  47. Overeducated*

    I’m having…fun at work this week! Anyone else enjoying everyone else being gone? Half my team is out so we have almost no internal meetings scheduled, and a couple of the projects that are important but unenjoyable are stalled while I wait for higher-level managers to come back and approve next steps, so I’ve had time to focus on the more appealing parts and reaching out to potential collaborators.

    At the same time as I finally start to enjoy this…there may be a short-term opportunity to fill in for my old boss. It would be tough to juggle and I might not be able to convince my current supervisors to let me go given everything going on in my job right now, but wish me luck!

    1. Marco*

      No fun here. We’re down over a hundred people and we’re all covering essential positions outside of our scope and not getting our own work done. Everything is backlogged and important deadlines are being missed. I’ve also been to a few a COVID funerals and have a few coworkers not doing so well.

  48. Lemon Ginger Tea*

    I’ve just gotta vent here… I have a workaholic colleague driving me crazy. She’s supposed to be part time but regularly works late (to the point that many of our coworkers don’t even realize she’s supposed to leave at 4 every day!), signs in on her day off to do things that can easily be delegated, takes over projects that would naturally go to me, and so on. When I tell her I have availability to take on more work she gives me BS things like scanning documents while she continues working late and frenzied and not getting to things that I could take on. I get that it’s rooted in her issues of control and overworking, but it’s so demoralizing! Not only that, but it sets up expectations that other employees will do this kind of thing. She never puts in for the constant overtime she works. I used to attempt to address it, but at this point I’ve pretty much given up and am job searching.

      1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

        We have the same job title, but she is senior to me and works more closely with our boss/is the de facto supervisor when it’s not actually her role.

        1. Ashley*

          I wonder if it is worth a conversation with your boss about the impact it is having on you. Point out you have time to tackle things (and maybe mention co-worker has indicated they have a lot on their plate) so maybe boss can redirect some work your way.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Yes, this! Please let your boss know. The tenor of that conversation will inform the rest of your decision tree. Good luck!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Is she exempt? If she’s hourly or salaried non-exempt, she’s breaking the law and opening your company up to significant financial liability, and management/HR needs to know.

      1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

        She’s exempt. I am certain that our boss is aware of her extended hours and accounted time and doesn’t care.

  49. Llama Wrangler*

    This is mostly just a vent… I’m the manager of a small, high performing team of relatively early-career professionals. We have bi-weekly team meetings to touch base about team-wide updates, and then I meet with each of the team members individually about their work (there’s not a lot of overlap between team members).
    I offered anyone who is on the team to facilitate the check-in portion of our team meeting so that they could bring their own ideas and develop skills facilitating, and offered some ideas (topics about how we approach the work, news articles, etc).
    One of my team members has been doing things that are increasingly personal – not over the line of inappropriate, but not things that are all work related.
    I find these annoying, but the other team members have been vocally excited about them. Since it’s not distracting from the work and I’m the only one who doesn’t like it, I feel like I might just have to suck it up. But now I kind of feel like I created a monster…

    1. WellRed*

      We had something similar on our small team where everyone took a turn leading and there were definitely a few that verged on overly personal. Luckily that burned itself out but as a manager you are well placed to get this back on track. I’m sure you aren’t the only one thinking this.

  50. Future Cat Lady*

    I have a Zoom job interview today and I have a question about conducting it while having a very curious and insistent cat.
    The last time I had an interview, I placed my cat in the bathroom a few minutes before, as she likes to be the star of the show and has to be around whenever I am on Zoom, whether it’s with friends, work, or any doctors I see. She broke out of the bathroom just as my interview started and really didn’t do anything but lie down by my computer and set a “threatening” foot on the edge of my laptop kind of as a reminder where she was and that she could do worse but chose not to at that point. I did tell the 4 person panel that my cat broke out and I apologized in advance for any distractions that might happen (her jumping up on the table and me setting her down on the floor repeatedly, for example).

    Should I just do the same thing later today, try to put her in the bathroom (I live in a studio) and go through the interview (which I was told should be about 45 minutes long) and work around her if needed, or should I try to conduct the interview in a Starbucks or something? I figure that if I got the job, my cat would stay at home while I went to work and anyone working with me would know I have a cat soon enough, anyway.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Put the cat in the bathroom and make sure she doesn’t “break out”. What kind of a Houdini cat do you have?!

      1. Future Cat Lady*

        She is really smart and apparently very determined to have her closeup!

        OK, I’ll do that and put some toys in there and hope for the best. Maybe I’ll put the vacuum cleaner in front of the door or something. :)

        1. Abated*

          If the door opens out, that seems like an easy fix. Maybe you need something heavier than a vacuum though.

    2. Rayray*

      I don’t know if I would sweat it too much. If your cat makes a cameo, it could lighten things up or open for some more personable exchanges. I was doing an interview in my bedroom once and my cat was not having it when I shut the door so I just let her in figuring she’d just stop meowing and do her own thing. As I was answering a question, she jumped up on the desk right in front of my computer and it was actually a funny moment, the interviewers loved it and it felt more relaxed knowing they were just people and weren’t going to scoff at me for just having normal human things happen.

      1. Future Cat Lady*

        When this happened during my last interview, I apologized and the dean of the school mentioned he had cats and understood so fingers crossed, this group of people are pets people and understand the home dynamics of pet ownership during Zoom meetings. :)

    3. Aggretsuko*

      These days, bathroom cat is the answer. I wouldn’t try to do one in a Starbucks both due to omicron and that random people are likely to be far more numerous/loud than one cat.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      Just try to keep the cat in the bathroom and don’t sweat it if they make an appearance. I actually hired someone who’s huge dog broke into the room the candidate was interviewing from. I simply laughed and acknowledged that this our reality these days. To me, children and animals making surprise appearances on camera is the very best part of the pandemic. :)

    5. AnonTopHat*

      Put a couple ping pong balls into the bathtub, if you have both! Infinite cat entertainment because they’ll bat them up the side but the balls will keep rolling back down.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      I agree with trying to find a way to keep the cat in the bathroom. If she breaks out, though, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. When pets make a cameo for my interviewees (this has happened a few times), it has never reflected poorly on them.

    7. Gracely*

      I would love it if more cats broke into Zoom meetings. So, do what you can to keep the cat entertained in the bathroom (maybe some treats scattered in places she’ll need to work to get at?) but if she houdinis her way out, don’t worry about it. “Sorry, my cat escaped” is all you need to say if she makes an appearance on camera.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        These days, the cat should be the Opening Act! If one of mine was confined to a bathroom, the rowls could be heard in the next county….

    8. OyHiOh*

      My boss is the most cat loving, must pet all the regal beasts of the world, human I’ve ever met. If a cat were to break in during an interview with someone, he would be utterly charmed. There’s no way to know ahead of time what your interviewers would think, of course.

      I’d go for the cat in the bathroom option, with smelly delicious treats she has to work for (tuna in an under sink cabinet, perhaps?) and highly interactive toys and if she still Houdini’s out of there, carry on.

    9. Purple Cat*

      Hope the interview went well!
      My previous cat could open all of our doors (lever handles) so I totally *get* not actually being able to contain them anywhere.

  51. Generic Name*

    I have an interview next week and I’m trying to get into the “I won’t get it but it’s worth a shot” type mindset, but the signs are already looking so good (I have some insider knowledge) that it’s sickening! Anyone been in a similar boat? Even if not would love to hear some interview stories to either help or distract me!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Why not just prep for it like it’s any other opportunity and go for it? I’m never any good at pretending, even to myself, that I don’t want it “that bad,” but maybe apply for a million other opportunities just to keep your mind off of it?
      And, I wish you the very, very best of luck!

    2. beach read*

      Even if you don’t get the job, every interview interaction is practice. (And possibly next weeks ‘crazy interview’ post). Good luck to you!

  52. quick vent about newish boss*

    I hate hate hate the way my new manager is managing us right now. She was always senior to me but we reported to the same person before. and I never liked her working style and as soon as she was made my boss i knew i’d be irked all the time. she is very nice as a person and when we hang out socially in our group we feel like friends.

    but just now, i asked her and another teammate how i can help with our project. and instead of just suggesting something, she does the Socratic method as a coaching tool and said: “Here’s the milestone we know: get a final version of XYZ in 2 weeks. What do you think we should plan for between now and then to ensure we’re ready?”

    it just feels so officious and a little condescending. like just tell me what to do damn it! i see you’re in our collaborative doc, obviously you’re reading something, just give me a tasks. not everything has to be a teaching moment. just be normal.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Honestly her response doesn’t sound officious/condescending to me. It does sound like she’s interested in growing you into a project lead role. However, it could be your response is something like, “I don’t have the big picture on this one and I don’t know what others are working on. Is there a discrete chunk you can hand me to get done by Friday? I have a few hours between now and then.”

      1. Ashley*

        I agree. When I take offense to the Socratic method is when we are under a deadline and have 10 minutes to finish something. Let’s finish what we have to meet the deadline and then circle back. Someone taking the time to help you think through is actually a good sign, but I can see how it can rub some people the wrong way.

        1. quick vent about newish boss*

          Yeah I guess i’m one of the people who it rubs the wrong way. i think maybe if we hadn’t worked closely together for the last couple years and we didn’t have the history we do — if she was JUST my boss — maybe it wouldn’t? but either way it’s just not the way I thrive. i learn a different way. i just hate the “i know the answer but i’m not telling you yet” tease. i learn by observing and doing. just tell me what i should do and why and i’ll know that for next time.

          1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            Sounds like you have the BEC (b* eating crackers) mindset about her. Happens to the best of us, some personalities just don’t mesh. Maybe have a quick chat about how she may see learning opportunities one way, but you have a different style of learning or something along that line?

          2. Esmeralda*

            Maybe she is genuinely asking you. That method is not always “guess what I’m thinking”.

            If you just want discrete tasks, then ask for discrete tasks.

            It’s possible however that there aren’t discrete tasks…

          3. Purple Cat*

            A mismatch in process is something you can/should talk to her about.
            It feels like you’re carrying a lot of emotion behind this, so you’ll have to adjust your mindset. It’s not a “tease” for a boss to want to their employee to think through things for themselves. It’s how employees grow. You may not like her wording or delivery, and that’s a different issue.
            Also make sure that you really ARE learning and retaining things for next time. For me, I only took the “what do YOU think we should do about x” approach was when I had previously coached employee multiple times on the next steps in the process and they were STILL expecting me to just give them the answers. Nope, gotta learn how to fly on your own.

    2. pancakes*

      I don’t think you’re framing this right if you think it’s more condescending for her to ask for your input than simply assign you something. I also don’t think she’s trying to teach you something by giving you an opportunity to speak up during planning. It is pretty normal for people who have a good working relationship to ask for input on something like meeting a deadline rather than just dole out tasks with no opportunity for discussion.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        It sounds like it could be a mismatch between what Quick meant in the offer to help (a discrete piece of the project) and what the manager thought was the offer (help with the project generally). Or, potentially that the project doesn’t have pieces that can be easily carved out so any help is more generalized.

        I’ve run into that kind of response too – I’ve offered to help when I meant “feel free to assign me a section of the group paper” and been asked instead what I think the long term strategy should be. If I’m not familiar with the project or joining in late, please just assign me something with a limited scope and straightforward deliverable because I don’t think I know enough to have a useful say on the project plan. If I’ve been involved all along, I would be more okay with being asked my opinion on the plan.

        Since it sounds like you’re asking for a specific task, I think Lunch Eating has a great suggested wording for a response.

    3. Purple Penguin*

      I get that feeling incredibly condescending, but here are some framing thoughts:
      1. Sounds like she’s googled “how to coach younger employees” and is wanting to help, she’s just bad at it.
      2. Sounds like she thinks you’re capable of having good ideas and valuable contributions to the plan (better this bad socratic crap than steamrollering over you or micromanaging)
      3. She’s a new manager and she’s not good at her job yet. It’s okay to roll your eyes behind her back, but give her a chance to get better. If you can give her a few months to settle in, and take a clean snapshot of her attitude then without holding this against her, please do. If she’s still doing this, call it a pattern. But maybe she’s just new.
      4. Maybe she honestly doesn’t know and is trying to get you to make some suggestions so she doesn’t have to admit she doesn’t know.

      Having a strong but useful response to this will help. “What do you think we should plan for…” and you answer “Well, I know we’re doing XYZ and I just helped Jane with X would you rather I keep on X with her or move to Y?” so flip it from a what needs to be done type question to a tasking/assignments type question. Or point out that you’re asking for specific information: “I’ve been following Jane’s big-picture plan on the shared docs folder, but that doesn’t say what’s currently assigned to who or what the status is – all I meant to ask was since could use the rest of my afternoon to help someone else meet their deadlines, what task needs that right now, that’s guidance I was hoping you’d have.”

    4. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I think you are bristling so much at this because you didn’t like her when you were coworkers (or not liking how she worked) and now she is your boss.

      But as a manager I think it is a fair question. If you are asking to help out are you offering because you have thoughts? Or think your skills could be useful? If you have direct skills you wanted to offer or ideas that is a great opportunity to share them. If you only know the basics of the work you could say: “I don’t know a lot about it, but based on what I had heard I think I could help support these areas. Or if you know nothing at all about the project be direct and say so.

      While there are style differences with managers, this type of approach is pretty common, though many managers don’t use the stiff phrasing, but I do expect my employees to offer their thoughts, ideas and perspectives, and asking them how they would approach it is pretty routine.

      I think you may want to reflect on whether you are inflating this minor style thing because of other discontent and should reframe a bit. The best thing I ever did in my career was focusing on managing up and learning my bosses style. So I could anticipate and still work the way I preferred to.

      Good for thought.

  53. Science Degree?*

    I’m writing on behalf of my sister. She graduated Spring 21 with a bachelor’s in Chemistry. The plan is to take a year off and then start pharmacy school next fall.

    She’s not certain this is what she wants – our parents have been pushing her towards this and she was on board through undergrad. But she also doesn’t know what she can do with a BS in Chem.

    Can anyone help me help her to identify potential career paths? She’s a little lost and depressed and our parents are not OK with her not having a plan.

    1. Ashley*

      Honestly if she can afford it she should look at some year long volunteer opportunities like Americorp. With COVID that may not be possible, but I found those to be a great kick the can and get the parents off my back option.

    2. The New Normal*

      She can work as a substitute teacher without a credential and with that degree. :) That lets her test drive whether she wants to do that for real and also gets parents off her back for a few months to give her more time to think.

    3. CCC*

      I think that depends a lot on where in the country you are and what industries are big in the area. In my area, there’s so many medical related lab tech jobs that she could likely get one, especially if she did some bio course work. But if you drive an hour out of town there isn’t nearly as much in the way of that.

    4. Gracely*

      Has she done any work as a pharmacy tech or in other non-pharmacy-degree-required pharma/medical jobs? That would give her both experience and a better idea if she really wants to go into the field (my best friend is a pharmacist who had a pharmacy tech job at a local hospital through college).

    5. Wordnerd*

      Is she invested in doing something with her chemistry degree, just maybe not pharmacy school? Or is she thinking about outside of chemistry altogether? Many universities and colleges have lots of positions in different areas that just require any bachelor’s degree. higheredjobs dot com would give her an idea of what kinds of jobs might be open at colleges and universities in the area/remote. Office work, admissions/recruitment counselors, residence life – lots of options.

    6. After 33 years ...*

      If she is considering a degree in Pharmacy (which at my place is quite competitive and intense), she should consider where she wants that to lead. Pharmacy grads here go into positions ranging from laboratory research assistant (which others have mentioned) to working in a Pharmacy with a goal to ownership (which many of the grads wish to do). Those occupations require different skill sets in addition to pharmacy science.
      Depending on her specialization in Chemistry, environmental consulting / regulation / mitigation may be an option.
      Teaching wouldn’t be possible here without a B. Ed., and I wouldn’t recommend that as a default option.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      The government always needs scientists across a range of functions. She should go on USA Jobs, create a profile, and ask that it alert her to appropriate openings – she should start broad brush, and narrow the profile if she gets alerts to jobs that aren’t for her. Don’t ignore the intelligence community in the search – there is a need for people to follow scientific programs of concern.

    8. Fold In The Cheese*

      As a somewhat recent pharmacy school grad, I don’t have any real advice except to say, your sister should not go to pharmacy school unless she is absolutely sure that’s what she wants to do. The coursework can be brutal, her student loans will be well into the six figures, and depending on where she works, her job can be extremely stressful. More than a few of my classmates have said if they knew then what they know now, they would have chosen a different path.

    9. OtterB*

      The American Chemical Society website has a section on careers in chemistry. If she hasn’t looked there, that might give her some ideas.

      Does she know any areas that she doesn’t want to be in? For example, does she want/not want to be a bench scientist in a lab?

    10. Lady_Lessa*

      She might want to consider applying for technician jobs. We generally assume that they know very little and will train them with the specifics of the tasks.

      After all, I had never run a viscometer until I started working. My first chemistry job was a research tech position.
      Also, that will give her some ideas about what branch of chemistry and/or insight into other avenues, like regulatory, etc.

      (MS in Chemistry)

    11. Boots in CA*

      Would your sister consider a temporary position working in a pharmaceutical/ biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant ? Asking because there are lots of opportunities ( at least in the SF Bay Area) for recent grads in Chem / Biochemistry/ Microbiology. If not in the Bay Area, there are other hubs for biopharma work (Cambridge Mass., Colorado, Raleigh-Durham NC, there are others, check out Biospace for job opportunities ) . It could be something to do before moving along to whatever is next OR could be the beginning of a career in pharma/ biopharma.

  54. Disabled Too*

    I’ve got a tricky ADA-related situation I’d like feedback on.

    I work in a hospital in a non-clinical but patient-facing role, things have hugely changed because of the current COVID surge. One of my coworkers “Anne”, who was redeployed from another area into mine, is not taking the changes well. She is very, very open about various disabilities, neurodivergencies, and other health problems she has both to myself and our on site managers. Multiple times a day she points to the ADA as a reason she can’t/won’t do certain job-related tasks, and/or complains this job is discriminating against her and unsupportive because of the changes. I do not know if she has any official accommodations with HR, I do know there’s a regular pattern where she will try one of the new tasks we’ve been given, announce to me after trying she can’t do it because of X condition, and won’t do it again. I don’t know if she’s communicating with HR or our managers about these tasks. I do know that there’s basically two tasks she consistently wants to do and everything else falls on me to do the majority of the time.

    This is extremely frustrating to me. I’m disabled too, though I haven’t disclosed it to anyone at this employer or asked for any accommodations because I didn’t need them previously, being asked to do the majority of the work in this crisis situation IS making my conditions worse. For example, I have an old foot injury that went from mostly healed to very painful because Anne refuses to do any tasks that require standing because her feet hurt so I’m on my feet all day without relief (and yes, I have podiatrist-prescribed shoes, exercises, and compression socks!). The foot thing’s the tip of the iceberg.

    I don’t know what to do. I get that Anne is having a bad time and has real medical issues and probably needs accommodations, but asking me to do so much extra is unfair. I don’t see Anne being open to feedback from me that we need to find ways to make other tasks accessible to her to take the burden off me. I know one of the on-site managers is supportive of her, the other is exasperated and doesn’t know what to do about this situation but ask me to do more to cover for Anne, and who knows what’s going on with the off-site manger she originally reported to. Does anyone have any ideas of next steps I should take? I’m at the end of my rope and worried in my frustration I’m going to bungle things from an ADA/discrimination standpoint with the Anne situation.

    1. quill*

      I would disclose the foot pain. If neither you nor Anne can be doing standing tasks without pain, either the task needs to be modified to allow you to do it without standing, or you need someone else to be doing the standing task.

    2. CatCat*

      I think the next steps to take are figuring out what accommodations you need to do your job and then ask for them. For example, “To accommodate a disability, I need to be able to sit instead of stand on my feet X minutes of every Y hours.” You can discuss with your doctor what makes sense to keep your conditions from flaring up making it painful to do your work. Your employer may ask for a doctor’s note that the accommodation is what you need so working with your doctor on what makes sense for here is a good idea.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Yes, please focus on the accommodations you need. Accommodating Anne is not your responsibility, nor is trying to evaluate their accommodations.

        1. Dino*

          This. And if you handle your accommodation requests more discreetly, people will not associate you with Anne.

          Focus on you, take care of you.

    3. Kathenus*

      Since she’s your colleague I think you need to stop accommodating her and taking on the other tasks. She says – I can’t do new task A due to Y disability; you say – sounds like you need to talk to manager about that. Don’t just pick up the task or you’re basically reinforcing her behavior by giving her what she wants.

      If you think that manager will then assign you all the tasks, there might be two options. 1 – if you can do the tasks physically within your own limitations but it will put a strain on you workload-wise – answer to manager is ‘sure, I’ll do A tasks, but then won’t have time to do B tasks so that will need to be reassigned; or 2 – if the task might be a problem with your disability – I’d probably pro-actively talk to manager or HR now about your own limitations before the conflict comes up so it isn’t seen as just being a response to Anne’s behavior.

      I know it’s challenging but I think with her being a colleague you have a bit more agency to not take on her load, that’s what her manager is for.

    4. Anhaga*

      From my experience with ADA stuff, there needs to be an actual accommodation plan, not just random “Oh but I can’t do that.” For instance, it sounds like *you* need to have an accommodations conversation with your managers about your foot injury meaning that you absolutely cannot be on your feet all day. Focus on what you need for a few minutes so that your managers know that you are actively being hurt by what’s going on and that they already have an ADA risk with the current work situation. I’d be very surprised if your organization does not already have an accommodation process in place, but who knows. If there is one, though, making your own needs and accommodations official with the managers and HR hopefully will force your managers to require Anne to go through the same process so that there’s no risk of having not followed proper procedures. The conversation has to actually be had about accommodations before the employer is required to give an employee the requested accommodations, and there is leeway for the employer to say, “No, we can’t do that, but we can offer this alternative.”

      Disability activist Sheri Byrne-Haber recently wrote an article on COVID accommodations that might be helpful, as she goes over the accommodation process in general:

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Look into formally requesting the accomodations YOU need and let Anne/employer figure out what to do about Anne. At most you should only mention her if they ask why you need official changes when you were fine before, like “I was previously able to delegate X but Anne replaced that person and she doesn’t do it” or however you got stuck with that task. Don’t accuse or question why she doesn’t do it, just clarify that you can’t be the one to do it.

    6. RagingADHD*

      1) Reasonable accommodations under ADA does not equal randomly announcing to your peer/coworker that you can’t/won’t do a task. It is a plan created with management, and must be reasonable for the employer as well (which includes not placing an undue burden on coworkers). It is not your job to accommodate her, and these accommodations are not supposed to be done on the fly.

      2) Agree with the others that the solution is to get your own accommodation plan in place because you need it.

      Make management do their jobs. Get the help you need to do your job. Anne’s job is between her and management. Don’t let either of them make it your issue.

  55. Tacobelljobfair*

    How do I explain to my boomer relatives that taking breaks on the job even of you have to because of state labor laws. It is frowned upon in retail and fast food? This was a thing even before the pandemic.

    1. irene adler*

      Won’t your employer get into trouble if their employees do NOT take their legally prescribed breaks per the state labor laws? So if nothing else, you are taking those breaks to make sure no one gets into trouble.

      And, taking breaks allows one to return to the work refreshed and fully ready to tackle the tasks at hand. Less likely to make errors. Errors that could be costly to the company.

      My take, anyways.

      1. Littorally*

        The employers figure that no one will find out. Labor law violations in those kinds of jobs are rife.

    2. Aisling*

      I’ve worked many retail and fast food jobs, and lunch breaks are NOT frowned upon. If you’re not getting lunch, that is a huge issue and one the job can be cited for. I didn’t often get the other 15 minute breaks that were allowed in addition to lunch, but lunch was non-negotiable. If you’re in a place that isn’t giving you lunch, I’d start looking for another job.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I worked at McDonald’s a couple of decades ago, and I remember the managers being good about reminding people to take their breaks and lunches. Something about following the law. Of course it was only the 1 specific McDonald’s; I have no idea if they all were like that or if they are now. Sounds like your place of work is doing things illegally. Maybe find another place to work?

        1. Siege*

          Something like 9 states require lunch breaks, so this is very state-dependent. My state (Washington) is one of them, and I’ve never had a problem with taking a break or being required to take a break, but other states are different. They shouldn’t be, but they are.

          1. pancakes*

            It’s quite a few more states that that. I think you’re thinking of the number of states that require separate breaks besides meal breaks. I’ll link to a Dep’t of Labor chart in a separate reply.

    3. Purple Cat*

      It shouldn’t be frowned upon because they are legally required.
      Your boomer relatives are absolutely correct that you need to be advocating for yourself and/or looking for a new job.

    4. Katie*

      I imagine in your conversations with your relatives, their subtext might be “We care about you and want you to be able to take these legally mandated breaks,” and your subtext might be “I wish you understood that I’m telling you the truth about my experience.” So maybe make the subtext more textual? “Hey relative, I know by law I should be able to take a break, but there are real consequences if I do. Can you just commiserate with me that it sucks?” (if you want compassion) Or “Can you help me figure what to do about this?” (if you want advice) (I know, often easier said than done!)

  56. OTGW*

    I’m just :) so thrilled :) that employers care so deeply :) about staying open they’re making people come in when they’re still sick :)

    I was sick over new years, still kinda sick, took a covid test Monday and still haven’t gotten results. My job told me not to come into. Absolutely a-okay, better to be safe. But with the new CDC “””recommendations””” I’m supposed to come back today. I don’t think I have covid but who knows in these days and I don’t really have any standing to push back. Any idea on what to do? Any one else dealing with fantastic employers like these? :/

    I might just lie and say I’m sicker than I really feel and see what they say. They might have me stay home then.

    1. AnonTopHat*

      The CDC recommendations of 5 days are for asymptomatic people! If you’re symptomatic, your symptoms have to be substantially reduced (and most health professionals believe you should have to test negative on a rapid test to leave isolation before 10 days, regardless). 20-40% of people are still contagious after 5 days. So just tell them your symptoms haven’t reduced and out of an abundance of caution and to follow current public health protocols and ensure that the rest of the team won’t all be out sick the following week because you went in to early, you need to stay home.

    2. WellRed*

      If you’re sick, take sick time. Just because CDC has guidelines doesn’t mean you are required to report to work once the Qurantine is up. And what if it’s not even Covid? How would you have handled it?

  57. lurkin-since-2015*

    I have an in-person interview next week for a job I’m really excited for. The interview includes a tour of the facility. I’m nervous because I have trouble walking sometimes (back/SI/hip issues — I was injured in a car accident in 2020 and I’m still pursuing treatment for it). I don’t have any mobility aids currently but I also don’t want to limp around awkwardly. I can walk “normally” at a slower speed but how do I deal with this? I don’t want my injury to raise any red flags or cause them to think that I’m not able to do the job. It’s also a male-dominated field (IT) and I’m a younger woman, which just adds to me wanting to blend in/not stick out. I was thinking about trying to hide it the best I could but I just don’t know? Any thoughts are welcome.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Can you reference the injury but imply that it’s more transitory than it maybe is? Something like, “I’m healing from a recent foot injury so I might be a bit slow today!” Use language that would be compatible with a sports injury or something comparably “masculine” and temporary.

    2. Purple Penguin*

      Agreed with this “recent injury, might be a bit slow today” framing, and will add – don’t be afraid to ask for a compromise!
      I’m really glad to get to see the facility, it’s always so helpful to see a site in person. Since I’m moving a bit slower, what makes most sense to prioritize? You wanted to show me A, B, and C, and normally I’d ask about D – how far will that be?
      And then they say: well, A, B, and D we could do in about 10 minutes with the elevator, but C is in the other building.

  58. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

    Hi, everybody! I’ve been lurking on this site for a while, and it’s fascinating! Wish I could have been around for some of the epic threads. Since I’m here, though, I’d like to make a belated comment on this one.

    There was a lot of talk in the comments about Jane, the employee, possibly being BIPOC or some kind of “other” to the LW. What I’m thinking is, maybe this whole thing about “respect gap” and “Why doesn’t she have savings?” is the LW’s extreme denial. Could be that when LW found out what a huge mistake had been made, she asked herself, “Should I have known about this earlier? Did I fail in due diligence, and was it because Jane is Other?…NO! That can’t be; I’m not that person. It’s her fault for, uh…for being disrespectful! And a spendthrift!” IOW, the mindset that “As one of Those People, Jane should be grateful and respectful!” wasn’t there all along. Maybe it was a smokescreen the LW put up *after* the paycheck debacle, because LW couldn’t face herself.

    And then the thing about LW being “floored that Jane got gift cards after being so disrespectful”. Most likely, HR couldn’t get much cash at a moment’s notice, so they gave her a one-time-use Visa or MasterCard that spends the same as cash (or at least anyplace that takes credit). But LW may have subconsciously interpreted “gift” as “present”, like a birthday or Christmas present, instead of compensation for late fees and surcharges *that were the company’s fault, not Jane’s*. And the concept of a gift card may have led LW to think, “What, for Victoria’s Secret? Dave & Busters? Why are they encouraging frivolous spending, when that’s how she got into this mess in the first place?”

    Yes, I read the whole thread! Took me three days off and on. I didn’t see these specific points made in the comments, and we’ll never know at this rate, what LW was really so bent out of shape about. Just saying, some people can make anything someone else’s fault, especially when they carry at least some of the blame.

    1. Reba*

      Yeah, I get what you are saying that essentially the boss may have been embarrassed by the issues and want to make it someone else’s fault. I think people often lash out when they feel shame and blame it on the person who is pointing out the shameful thing for making a fuss. They would rather paper it over.

      And/or, poverty stigma played a role. I think a lot of financially secure people really have no grasp of what paycheck to paycheck is actually like. Maybe Boss was embarrassed thinking about a poor employee, or maybe she reflexively despises poor people like a lot of folks unfortunately do, and hearing someone unapologetically state that they need money to live activated her disgust. Certainly she had absorbed some myths about why people are poor (“why doesn’t she have savings?”).

      Recently I listened to an episode of the podcast “Death, Sex, and Money” (highly recommend!!) that was an interview with someone who shoplifts. It struck me that the host had a basically middle class mindset that was keeping her from really getting the situation. It’s a mindset I recognize in myself! She kept asking, “well don’t you want to stop, what would that be like?” And the respondent would say, “yeah if I stopped it would be because I was no longer surviving in *grinding poverty* so that would be great!”

    2. RagingADHD*

      The reason you didn’t see those points made is because one of the commenting rules is:

      “Limit speculation on facts not presented by letter-writers to reasonable assumptions based on the information provided. If you’re speculating on facts or context not in the letter, explain how it’s actionable for the letter-writer.”

      The rules aren’t always enforced to the letter, but in general I’d expect that commentary along those lines, if it happened the first time, might well have been removed for extreme speculation and derailment.

  59. Snowboard bound*

    I recently was told in confidence that a junior coworker, who is being personally mentored by our CEO, is taking freelance clients outside of work in violation of the employment agreement. I was told this in confidence by a coworker of his who does not want me to say anything. I am in management so I will need to handle this is some way; it would hurt my career if I do not address it. We do not have HR. I am planning to talk to him 1:1 in the near future but would love to get some advice.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Is the moonlighter your direct report? If not, you need to report this info to their manager and then butt out.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      Follow back up with the person who told you this “in confidence” and tell them that given your role you have an obligation to address this and can not ignore what you have learned.

      1. Kathenus*

        Yes, very much this. I’ve had to do this for safety-related things in my career. In addition to reporting the situation to whoever needed to know, I always followed up with the original reporter and let them know I could not maintain confidence and why. Huge part of trying to maintain peoples’ respect and trust to be open and honest in these situations.

    3. beach read*

      Did the confider offer proof of the violation? Have you been able to confirm validity? If you are able to do so prior to the meeting with your CEO that might be helpful. You may be able to protect the ”whistleblower” as anonymous if you can hand over proof of the violation yourself.

  60. NPO Techie*

    About 4 months ago I applied for a nonprofit job that I felt was a really good fit (on paper) but never heard anything, not even a rejection. Today that same job is posted again, and it’s clear in reading their website that they’d put the hiring on hold – all of the jobs that were open then and some new ones (including CEO) have been posted. The staff member I’d send my cover letter and resume to initially is no longer there. If I choose to apply again (it’s a general HR email listed this time), do I need to mention that I’d previously applied?

    1. Dino*

      I don’t think so given that the contact left, but I’d definitely ask about the hiring pause and turnover in the interview.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      No. It sounds like your application went into a blackhole.

      You mention you applied before when it makes some sort of difference or offers an explanation.

  61. Aggretsuko*

    Well, my organization has decided to stay on remote operations for the month of January after being put on work-from-home this week “only” originally. I’m pleased at it, but my own office hasn’t announced to us yet if we get to stay working from home the entire month. God, I hope so. I hope we aren’t opening to the public for walk-ins if most of the business is closed for that. It’d be a great month to not have to come in, thanks!

    1. Aggretsuko*

      *whine* Never mind. Even though we’re closed to the public. I will still have to come in and do the mail because I’m now “essential.” Dammit, dammit, dammit. We HAVE people for that, why do I have to be one of them?!?!

  62. Voodoo Priestess*

    I commented here a few weeks ago about a young engineer with poor performance and no ability to listen to or respond to feedback. Not sure if anyone cares, but man did things blow up.

    I had a follow up with her to clear up some miscommunication and again address that in order to be successful in this career, she needs to be able to take feedback and not get defensive. We want her to succeed and these are things she needs to learn as a young engineer. She threw her line manager under the bus and made some questionable statements about Manager, which really didn’t sit well with me for two reasons. 1) What she said put 100% of the problem on her manager and 2) If she’s talking about her manager like that, I’m concerned what she’s saying about our interactions. (Note: I’m her task lead and also a woman. Her line manager is a woman but not on this specific project. We have talked about the issues with Engineer and we’re on the same page.) Anyway, I followed up with Manager and even though it felt like tattling, I relayed Engineer’s comments and shared my concerns. Manager was glad I shared and said yeah, Engineer said I was being unfair and that I didn’t hold anyone else on the project to these standards. For additional context, Engineer is the only person I’m responsible for and everyone else on the project has at least 10 years of experience and is licensed. So we’re now verifying and documenting all conversations since she’s clearly trying to manipulate the narrative.

    But it gets better. After these conversations, our group Director got involved because of the level of drama. A few hours after that conversation, he received a cold email from someone in industry praising Engineer saying how she’s “highly talented” and that he should give her “all of your most complex modeling tasks.” Director didn’t know this person and his contact info and position is not readily available online (i.e. there’s no way you would know his position/authority or that he was her director unless you knew him or her). Obviously, this came across as incredibly weird. The drama level over an entry-level engineering is amazing.

    The week after all of these conversations, she started questioning my knowledge and the things I was directing her to do. She kept trying to go to the other senior engineer on the project. I have been using email chains as a way of documenting conversations and action items that haven’t been completed and she now won’t respond to an email chain, she will respond in a new email. (Like that somehow wipes out the history?) Anyway, I’ve been screenshotting all chats and saving chats and emails to a folder. This week, I had to screen shot a folder of files with dates because I asked to her to complete something (again) that wasn’t done but she insisted it was complete. So I had to prove that no, that file didn’t exist when I emailed you (luckily, I thought to screen shot it beforehand) and that file only showed up several hours later and then the file was corrupted and I couldn’t open it. The completed file wasn’t available until 24 hours after I reminded you that it wasn’t complete. I’m exhausted from the effort of documenting every. single. interaction.

    I cannot wait until she’s no longer my responsibility.

    I have a check-in with Director next week and this will be one topic of conversation. I’ve worked with young engineers before and I’ve never had this big of a shitshow. I feel like I’m being gaslit every time I ask her for things and after 8 months of this, I’m less inclined to believe it’s language-based miscommunication and more inclined to believe she’s manipulative.

    1. ArtK*

      Ick. I’m really sorry you have to deal with this. Sounds like she needs to be put on a PIP right away with a lot of specific items addressing her behavior.

      Dollars-to-donuts that e-mail to your director was her using an alternate e-mail address. I’d *love* to push back and ask her about this person and how they know her work so well.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Both the “glowing recommendation from an anonymous source” and the “submit a corrupt file immediately before the deadline” are old tricks learned in some university programmes. Yes, it sounds much like manipulation, and often it’s not readily curable without drastic action (if then).