open thread – February 11-12, 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.

{ 1,352 comments… read them below }

  1. Should i apply?*

    To those working in large tech companies, any experience using for compensation information? Either the salary/ compensation ranges posted or their paid “1-1 Salary negotiation support”?

    I made it past the first round of interviews with FAANG company and just scheduled the final round (6hrs) for a couple weeks out! I am not in software engineering, which levels is definitely geared towards but I am in mechanical / systems engineering.

    Assuming I get an offer, I think I could mostly like use some help negotiating because a) I haven’t been successful when I tried it before and b) I’m not used compensation structure of these companies as my current company just is salary & small performance based bonus. c) the compensation ranges on this website look ridiculously high to me coming from a different industry.

    Of course the website claims amazing success with helping people increase their compensation, but since I don’t see ads on the site, this negotiation coaching is probably their revenue stream. If you’ve had any experience with or know of other similar sites (besides glassdoor/ LinkedIn) tell me all about it.

    1. Marie*

      Are you just looking for negotiation coaching? That’s something you can get for free just reading around online (AAM has had a lot of good info on this over the years).

      You mainly want to make sure you’re in alignment about what is a reasonable salary for the company and position, and at a FAANG company, I imagine Glassdoor would be a good start. Don’t be afraid to ask for a number in alignment with that salary range even if it seems ridiculous coming from the sector you’re in right now- remember, they like you enough to interview you, and if they send you an offer it means they want YOU to come join them!

      1. Chris*

        Glassdoor isn’t accurate, it’s on the low end for tech. and blind are both better. Though both will have less info for mechanical and system engineering. Offers will be lower than dev offers.

    2. Raboot*

      The info posted seems pretty reasonable. In fact I learned about it from a recruiter from a company I tlwas talking to to help us both get a sense of where my former role landed in their own leveling system.
      Make sure to look at the view that breaks it down by salary/stock/bonus though. Comp IS super duper high, but it’s not all salary, which does make it look unbelievable.

    3. NaN*

      A friend of mine recently got an entry-level dev job at Google, and info was spot-on (almost exactly matched his offer, based on level and location)

      1. NaN*

        At the non-FANG company where I work, our VP recently listed as a place where they look to see what competitive salaries are in our area. So I do think it’s a better starting point than glassdoor and the like for software jobs.

    4. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I haven’t heard of, but based on the other responses it sounds like a good source. I was going to recommend Also I work for a very similar tech company that while not a FAANG company is in the same boat (think largest software company and one of the founders runs a large nonprofit named after him and his wife :), and I would expect your offer to be very high based on the current labor market, and your role in mechanical / systems engineering. That’s more niche than software engineering, and very much in demand. Good luck!

    5. StellaBella*

      I do not know the sites but want to thank you for teaching me FAANG today. All I can think of now is bloodsucking capitalism. Good luck with the negotiation!

      1. Should I apply?*

        Now that there has been a couple of name changes I think its more like MAANA or maybe MAAAN (which I find very spot on).

      2. Mimi*

        There’s a Charlie Stross book about a bunch of software developers who get turned into vampires. He’s clearly punning off of this.

    6. voluptuousfire*

      I’d recommend Recruiting in Yoga Pants. Amy Miller who runs that blog is a recruiter at Amazon for engineering mostly and has a bunch of videos that may help. I’m sure she has a video about negotiating.

    7. David*

      …the compensation ranges on this website look ridiculously high to me coming from a different industry.

      For what it’s worth… I am in that industry (software engineer working at a smaller tech company) and I also think the ranges for the FAANG companies on that site are ridiculously high.

  2. EnergyGarlic*

    I have had a lot of toxic work experiences and am moving into a new job that has more green flags than red. I am really excited but want to focus on making this new job as healthy as possible. What do folks do to reset for a new role? (It’s going to be mostly WFH)

    1. Silver*

      Organize coffee chats (virtual is fine) with everyone on your team. Share tidbits from your life and see how they reciprocate. Make a point to learn something unique about everyone

    2. Marie*

      Change the layout of your home office- hang new pictures, get a new plant, rearrange your desk. Anything visual to make your brain think “yes, this is a BRAND NEW SITUATION”. I’m a consultant and do this every time I switch clients and have found it helps a ton.

      1. JustForThis*

        I would have never thought of that, but can totally see that would work. Thank you for sharing your idea!

        1. EnergyGarlic*

          Yes this is a great idea! I’m a very visual organizer. Maybe I could redo how the room is set up and where I put my notes and to do list/planner.

      2. WFH is all I Want*

        I love this advice! I’m going To borrow this and rearrange some things on top of replacing my chair and desk (the chair is going back to my old job and the desk is cheap and breaking).

    3. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Congratulations!! What helped me the most was coming in with the mindset of being purely observational for the first three months or so. By being observational, it was easier for me to adapt and change to what my new job was and new colleagues were doing because it was easier to see the dynamics, relationships, and processes more clearly. This actually ended up being more healing than I expected because it taught me how and where to adjust my expectations so I could be healthier in my approach to work and break all the bad habits/survival mode that my toxic old job put me in.

      Also don’t be afraid to ask questions! Sometimes hearing “we do X because Y” or “no, you don’t need to do that” will help break bad habits and remind you that you’re in a better environment. It took me a very long time to reset and recalibrate my brain/habits to my new organization. So just be prepared that mentally or emotionally resetting may not happen as easily or as quickly as physically resetting (such as be redecorating your workspace or developing a new routine), and it’s all a part of the learning curve! But one day it’ll all come together and you can look at Old Job in the rearview mirror.

      1. Red*

        Seconding this. I was going to say the exact same thing as Let me be dark and twisty. Observe for the first few weeks and work out the new businesses dynamics and work norms. Ask questions and take advantage of the good grace most places extend new hires until they’re fully onboarded. Good luck in your new role! :)

      2. SansaStark*

        I’ve recently started a new job and have been complimented several times by people on my team for doing both of those things – observing and asking questions. So we’ve all won – they feel seen/appreciated and I’m learning while (hopefully) developing a reputation for being thoughtful.

    4. Jareth*

      I observed and waited (and discovered that my past employers had encouraged “maximum speed forever”! and then I got really practiced at dealing with my discomfort around “normal timelines and taking breaks”!). I relaxed as much as I could before the job began. I wrote scripts for interaction norms based on phrases and philosophies shown by my coworkers + the person training me. I reflected on differences between past and the current job, and how I felt different. I write down positive feedback as sign posts to myself of how I’m perceived and why my being an individual is good, actually.

      1. EnergyGarlic*

        This is very smart! I think I will need to remind myself to stay in that observational space. I’ve definitely worked at places where work life balance was not valued and I’m trying to be as consistent as possible in setting those boundaries while still being fair to my new workplace.

    5. New Mom*

      Are you able to take any time off in between jobs? I think giving yourself a little breathing room (two weeks?) would be great if that’s a possibility. Then come in with a blank canvas. In my job history I had two jobs that were probably borderline toxic and at least in my experience, once I left, the toxicity did not follow. The issues I had experienced were very job-specific instead of industry specific but there were things difficult about the industry (teaching) that I was much happier once I moved to an adjacent field where I was no longer teaching.

    6. TOModera*

      Congrats on the new role! I typically review what I did and did not enjoy at my previous role, and how to avoid it in the future. So my last job was bad at crossing boundaries for overworking me; my current role I’ve setup healthy, professional boundaries on timelines and talked through what’s expected of me.

    7. Jana*

      It’s a small thing, but something that has really helped me in making this kind of transition is always keeping in mind that the experiences I had in my previous workplace were *not* the norm. When I started in my first role after Toxic Workplace, I found it very hard to overcome the fears that had been drilled into me by my previous boss. For example, I’d been yelled at for typos found in a report that was published before I started working at Toxic Workplace, so, I became anxious about things that I had no control over at New Workplace and felt like my boss and colleagues were hoping that I would fail. It can be hard to let those things go, but continually reminding myself not to view everything at New Workplace through a Toxic Workplace lens has helped.

    8. Jane*

      When you go to your new job, try not to compare it to your old job. Try to get out of the mindset of “this is different, I used to do it like this” and instead just frame it as “this is how I do this”. This helps with making a clean break.

      (Also, even if you can’t do that in your head, try to not verbalise the differences – even if it’s not your intent, talking about how things were done in your previous company can come across as critising your new company or regretting the move.)

    9. Bagworm*

      It took me just under two years of in-person talk therapy to get somewhat past a previous toxic job and I still run into issues. A lot of my issues were feeling anxious about things that didn’t necessarily warrant it and starting to spin to worse-case scenarios from there. One thing that has helped me is when I feel anxious about something, I take a deep breath and ask myself why I am feeling that way and what I am afraid is going to happen. When I do that, I usually realize I am worried that something is going to repeat from the past and I can adjust my thoughts to whether that was normal behavior or not.

      Good luck!

  3. Silver*

    What gendered language are you trying to avoid professionally? For me it’s “if that makes sense,” which I only hear women say. Instead I’m trying to say, “do you understand?”

      1. londonedit*

        I definitely think it’s gendered – I see it as another example of the softening and playing-down language that women (including me) often use at work. Like saying ‘I think…’ when you 100% do know the answer, or saying ‘I just wanted to ask…’ or any of those. I’m definitely trying to do less ‘Hello Fergus, I just wanted to send you a quick email to ask whether you might have time to look at the TPS reports by the end of Friday? I think we need to send those out by lunchtime on Monday afternoon so if you wouldn’t mind giving them a quick check and letting me know whether they’re OK, that would be great’ and more ‘Hello Fergus, could I have an update on where you are with checking the TPS reports? They will be going out at 2pm on Monday, and I will need enough time to make any necessary corrections, so please send them back to me by the end of Friday’.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          I could easily see myself using either of those two examples, simply depending on my position relative to the other person in the hierarchy.

          1. RagingADHD*

            To me it’s partially hierarchy and partially familiarity.

            I am rarely quite as squishy as the long version, but I tend to use more soft language with people I don’t know or work with directly, and less with people I already have a good working rapport with. I’ve always been brief and direct with good bosses, to save time.

            I might go full squishy with someone several rungs down that I don’t know well, so they don’t feel put-upon. And of course some people are just high-maintenance and need the long version so they don’t derail the project by throwing a tantrum.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        “Does that make sense” puts the responsibility of any misunderstanding on the speaker (ie if the listener isn’t getting it, it’s because the speaker is “not making sense”). “Do you understand?” is neutral and doesn’t implicitly blame one of the people in the conversation for any misunderstanding, it just identifies misunderstanding. Women use self effacing phrases a lot, so any effort by any woman to get rid of their self-effacing phrases is gendered, IMO.

        1. I heart Paul Buchman*

          ‘do you understand’ literally has the word you in it. It isn’t neutral, it implies if there is misunderstanding it is on the part of the listener.

          Th unspoken part of ‘does that make sense’ is ‘…to you’, which at least shared responsibility for meaning. ‘Do you understand’ isn’t gendered it’s rude when used deliberately to absolve yourself from blame.

      3. Loulou*

        This is all extremely contextual. It’s literally my job to explain things to people and I use variations on “does that make sense?” liberally. I would not think to use “do you understand?” which in my context could make patrons or colleagues feel bad (ie., what’s wrong with me if I don’t understand this very confusing thing?) I’m not a fan of declaring various forms of softening “feminine” and excising them from my speech. Making people feel comfortable asking questions is a skill that more people should develop!

        1. Jay*

          Completely agree. I’m a woman in my 60s with nearly 40 years of professional experience. When I explain something, I often say “does that make sense?” and I don’t see that as gendered. It feels like I’m taking responsibility for communicating and I’m checking in with the other person. That’s how I experience it when others say it. “Do you understand?” feels both confrontational and condescending to me.

          1. Forrest Rhodes*

            Agreed, on all points—especially the possibility that “Do you understand?” can be heard as challenging and insulting.

          2. Cold Fish*

            But “taking responsibility for communicating and checking in with the other person” is gendered in and of itself. More burden is placed on women (speaker) to make sure they are “communicating effectively” (ie listened to). With men, the burden is placed on the listener to understand and communicate that if they don’t. I think that is why “Do you understand?” is coming across as confrontational. (More of a masculine phrase used when the speaker (male) is unsure if they are being listened to.)

            Yes, yes, I know, not you. And there are always exceptions to every rule. However, when speaking in general terms about society at large there is a LOT of gendered language out there and I appreciate Silver’s effort to address that.

            1. Jaydee*

              Sure, more burden is placed on women to make sure they are communicating effectively, and men tend to get away with unclear communication more often. But that doesn’t mean the “masculine” way should be the default or the baseline. Maybe men should be using *more* softening language and doing a better job of confirming that they’re communicating effectively.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Do you understand reminds me of my parents and the nuns. It usually came with anger… lots and lots of anger.

            I guess not so much gendered, just condescending mostly.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Good point. A lot of the advice around avoiding softening language seems geared at situations where you’re pitching your idea for a project, proposing a strategy, etc. If that’s not your job, I totally agree you should ignore most of that advice.

          But since Silver asked the question, I’m assuming her job is one where the advice makes sense.

          1. Loulou*

            But in the situations you mentioned, how does “do you understand” make sense? I only see it working when you’re checking for comprehension of something you have just explained.

        3. Emma2*

          Completely agree with this. I consciously use “does that make sense” rather than “do you understand” – with people who work for me, I want them to challenge me if they disagree, or let me know if they don’t understand, and I feel that language creates more space for people to speak up, with people at my level or more senior I still think it is less confrontational phrasing.
          I realise that everyone will have their own feelings about this, but I am at a stage where I also don’t feel that I want or need to try to train myself out of my more “feminine” approach to certain things – I am female, I am a competent professional, and this is one version of what a competent professional looks like. People who work with me need to get used to it and get over it (I recognise that is coming from a place of privilege, but if I have that privilege I am going to use it both for myself and because I think it is useful to normalise other versions of what someone can look like in a role).

          1. Loulou*

            Definitely, and your point about privilege goes both ways. Women who come off as terse or condescending are certainly judged more harshly for it than men, and there’s often a lower bar for women seeming condescending.

            But I find the easiest way to avoid this is…making an effort not to sound condescending, which I wish more men did too.

      4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        It’s funny how we’re seeing this two different ways.
        “Does that make sense?” or “Does this make sense?”
        “Do you understand?”

        I do not think either are wrong, depending on who you are speaking to or what you have conveyed. However, “Do you understand?” reminds me of something often said to a juvenile, because it is often something they will not understand yet, but you want them to comply regardless of understanding. Possibly also said to someone who may speak a different language from the asking party. You are asking “Was I understood?”

        “Does this make sense (to you)?” somewhat implies that what was said IS understood, but may or may not make sense to the person. As in “I understand what you have said, but not the why?”

        Splitting hairs I guess. Perhaps it’s a regional thing?

    1. Spooncake*

      I’m trying to apologise less and thank people more since starting a new job at the end of last year. So, instead of “sorry I’m late” it’s “thanks for waiting”, and instead of apologising for not knowing things, I ask and then say “thanks for your help”. It’s tough! But in the new role I have people around me who are setting a good example by doing it consistently, so that helps with making the change.

      1. PivotPivot*

        I really like that shift @Spooncake. I am going to try and pivot (no pun intended) my language around this.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        I don’t mind being asked for help, but if you’re late and make me wait, I would prefer an apology. :)

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          Yeah, thanking someone for something they didn’t agree to do or even know they were doing doesn’t sit well with me.

        2. Alexis Rosay*

          Yeah…”thanks for waiting” sounds rude and entitled. I had a coworker who was late all the time and said stuff like this to avoid taking personal responsibility. It’s not a good look.

          I can see using it if the circumstances that made me late were truly beyond my control–my boss kept me overtime in an earlier meeting, for example. In that case there would be no need for me to apologize as it would not be my fault. But this simply isn’t the case most of the time.

          1. Loulou*

            I’m happy that I’ve only come across the “thanks for writing” suggestion in the AAM comment section and not in real life, because it would absolutely drive me insane if somebody said that to me in lieu of an apology.

            1. SofiaDeo*

              I agree, “Apologies for being late” or some such statement acknowledges others’ feelings in a self confident manner IMO, compared to the effect actually saying “I’m sorry blah blah blah”. I don’t think the former is overly apologetic, for someone trying to stop excessive “I’m sorry” in conversations. And I agree it’s difficult to say “thanks for XXX” without sounding entitled/dismissive. Please reconsider this!

          2. Rake*

            I used to have a job where I was responsible for managing the flow of patrons through an area. They lined up and every so often I had to close the line and make the next person wait until it had cleared a bit for the next crowd to go through. I used “thanks for your patience” or “thanks for waiting” in that context because I wasn’t making them wait just to be mean and interrupt their day and I did appreciate it when guests just paused for me rather than whining about fitting in ‘just one more’. So they both have their place, but I agree with you about apologizing when you’re late because of your own time management.

          3. meagain*

            I think “thanks for your patience” reads a little bit better than “thanks for waiting” but sometimes a “I apologize for the delay” is much more appropriate.

      3. catscratchfever*

        I’ve seen the “thanks for waiting” suggestion before but I disagree. In that case it is you who have inconvenienced someone else and a apology is warranted. Not apologizing for things you don’t know is different (unless you’ve been told those things numerous times).

        1. Squeakad*

          I’m surprise that you think an apology isn’t warranted. If I am late, unless it’s a known problem, I would always apologize. Example I can think of or it’s a known problem is that I sit on a committee for which a more important committee right meets right before ours. So people who are in both committees are often late to the second meeting. In that case we all understand the situation so “thanks for waiting” would totally work.

      4. Quinalla*

        Yes, this has been a big shift for me. Saving the almost automatic “sorry!” for when I am actually apologizing and not use it as filler “Sorry if I misunderstood, but …” or when really the other person should be apologizing – the classic someone runs into me and I say “Oh, sorry!”. It has the added bonus IME of making my sorry meaningful when I am apologizing.

        I also am trying to use softening/warm language in addition to being firm and competent when presenting the situation. That way I’m not softening the message itself, but just showing that I’m a warm person who is approachable, but actually this situation really is serious.

      5. Chirpy*

        I’ve found “thanks for waiting” to be far better than “sorry this took so long” because if you thank people, they subconsciously feel like they did you a favor and feel good about themselves and the interaction. Apologizing (assuming it’s just something that took slightly longer than expected, not a major issue) seems to make people think, oof yeah you should apologize for wasting my time.

        1. Loulou*

          I mean, it depends if you were wasting their time! If someone is late to meet me and I’m stuck waiting, I want an apology. If there’s a delay that is outside of our control, then I do appreciate a “thanks for waiting” (though even in this case I frequently combine the two — sorry for the delay and I appreciate your waiting). But saying “thanks” doesn’t magically trick someone into thinking you have nothing to apologize for when you do.

          1. Chirpy*

            It’s more of the situation when you’re, say, going to get something for a person. It may actually be the fastest possible retrieval, but people have no clue about how big the room you’re going into to get the thing is or what the normal amount of time to do the task is, and so to them it *feels* like a long time because they have no reference.

      6. Workerbee*

        I think the “say sorry less” movement was more around the need to stop apologizing for things like someone sitting in your seat or skipping ahead of you in line, banging into you in the hallway because they weren’t watching where they were going, asking someone to do their job, etc. So often responses, primarily from women, start with that “Sorry,” which to me gets into apologizing for daring to exist when the clodhoppers of the world expect to bulldoze through.

        Yes to your asking for help example, but no to the being late example. The former makes sense because we shouldn’t have to apologize for not knowing things new to us. The latter is quite different. I would say both phrases there. People’s time is just as valuable as yours, and you do need to show that you respect that.

      7. Cj*

        Please go back to apologizing. You are the one that was in the wrong for making them wait. Unless you are way above them in the hierarchy and they are expected to wait for you, thanks for waiting is extremely condescending, and it has nothing to do with gender.

      8. Spooncake*

        Whoops, I need to clarify- I would always apologise for being late if it was my own fault! I’m used to being reliant on public transport where delays have generally been out of my control- of course I would limit “thanks for waiting for me” to times where that’s the case and not ones where an apology is absolutely warranted. And of course I would try to let people know about any delays in advance. I promise I’m not rude!

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      “if that makes sense” is softened language, not gendered language. I’m sure there’s a lot of intersectionality there, but I wouldn’t get the two conflated.

        1. Loulou*

          Sure, but people should soften language for all kinds of reasons besides gender. When I think of people in the workplace I have difficulty communicating with, it tends to be people who come off as condescending or harsh because they don’t bother, and I try to avoid sounding like them.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          When did ‘gendered language’ change definitions? My understanding was that ‘gendered language’ is language that has bias towards a certain gender, particularly when it leads to erasure or downplaying of non-male gender. You seem to using it to mean ‘language more likely to be used by one gender than another.’

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              How odd. I can’t find any reference to the latter other than people misusing the term because they think it describes any time language and gender intersect.

              1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

                Wait… so you’re finding plenty of uses of the other term but they’re all wrong? There might be a different answer there.

          1. Anonymous Luddite*

            It didn’t change definitions, friend. It expanded to encompass a larger meaning. It’s both “fireman to fire fighter” AND “the way different genders say things differently and the power structures those things convey.”

        3. Isben Takes Tea*

          But even though softening language does frequently fall along gendered lines, “gendered language” actually has an existing meaning that isn’t “language one gender tends to use,” but “language indicating a particular gender”. So “hey guys” is gendered language, “bitch” is gendered language.

          I absolutely agree that “softening language” is something to work on, especially for women, but it is factually not the same as “gendered language.”

      1. Tom Servo's sister*

        Yes. There seems to be an assumption that the language more commonly used by women is somehow inferior to what men are more likely to use. Why should that be case? It’s like saying pink is inferior to blue because it’s more associated with girls.

        1. Silver*

          No- as people upthread have explained, softening / self-effacing language is more often used by women. It’s not that this type of expression is “inferior” – it’s that it projects less confidence on the part of the speaker, which can be undermining in professional contexts.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Softening language tends to take other peoples’ feelings into account…. maybe we should be encouraging men to do that instead of discouraging women!

        1. fueled by coffee*

          Right? Why is the solution never, “Hey wait maybe men aren’t apologizing in situations where they SHOULD,” it’s always, “Silly women, taking a read on the power dynamics in the room and deciding that apologizing is a worthwhile rhetorical move, you should just (no, not just! That’s softened/gendered language!) lean in and get those promotions that you’d totally receive if you stopped saying ‘sorry’ so much!”

          1. Kiko*

            Yes, yes, yes.

            The way women write is often non-accusatory, team-oriented and very considerate of others. Why is the focus on us changing?

          2. Tali*

            Completely agree with this. It’s very “lean in” feminism, very focused on how women can contort themselves to align with male-driven social norms, and not at all concerned with how men might make room for women at the table, or contort themselves to meet women in the middle, or how women might deal with the repercussions of being too assertive, bossy, shrill, etc.

        2. as a woman*

          As a woman, I would 1) both be more comfortable saying, “if that makes sense” and 2) would prefer that somebody else said “if that makes sense” rather than “do you understand?” to me. I think there’s a potential (not necessarily a certainty, but def a potential, esp. depending on tone and relationship between speaker/audience) that “do you understand” could get received poorly, as undermining the listeners’ intellect or capacity with new skills.

        3. Silver*

          It is all context dependent. If I’m spitballing ideas with my colleagues, I think softened language makes sense. I am not confident in what I’m saying, I’m trying to figure out what I’m saying, I want to make sure what I’m saying makes sense.

          However, if I’m the subject matter expert briefing others or if I’m the task lead delegating work, I want to project confidence in what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. And I don’t begrudge men when they do this. I just want to try to get better at it as a woman

        4. River Otter*

          While this is true, the only thing that I as a woman am willing to sign up for is changing my own language. I am actually not willing to sign up to coach a bunch of men into being more considerate.

        5. Peonies*

          One hundred percent this! Why do we assume that the way women communicate is a problem. Why not encourage men to leave more space for the views of others instead of being over-confident that they know everything that needs to be known?

        6. Jess*

          But don’t we have to bust balls to make it in a man’s world? /s (for sarcasm) As in I completely agree that rudeness is not inherently male. And kind men don’t want to deal with rude, powertripping colleagues either.

          Everyone could use a good dose of consideration of other people’s emotional space. Work isn’t life or death most of the time. Take a sec and check in with the other human.

          That being said, I’m all for direct communication wherever and whenever possible. If for no other reason that efficiency and expediency. But if someone is snippy and dismissive of me in an email, hoo boy. they either get no reply, or if I am forced by necessity to continue the interaction, they get bullet points and nothing else, formatted like a regular email. Shit WILL be in bold.

          Efficient communication is not rude. Rude communication is not efficient.

      3. Zennish*

        FWIW… Male, manager, who uses “if that makes sense” and other “softened language” regularly simply because I’m trying to communicate, not dictate. It’s possible to analyze yourself into paralysis with this sort of thing.

    3. Enough*

      Years ago husband and coworkers’ put together the 11 simple rules for the program they were a part of.
      #2 Mission: It doesn’t have to make sense, you just have to understand it.

    4. KateM*

      I have said “if that makes sense” this week when trying to explain as an intern to my mentor what I had hoped my code could do.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I work in a male-dominated field, and many of my coworkers ask “does that make sense?” after explaining something. Because of my experience, when I read your comment I keyed in on the phrase “makes sense” and my initial reaction was “I only hear men say that!” Reflecting further, there is a subtle difference between asking “does that make sense?/do you understand?” instead of saying “if that makes sense” (the latter is softer).

      1. Silver*

        Yep. I only ever said “if that makes sense” in the past because it put all the onus on me as the speaker. Then I graduated to “does that make sense?” which is slightly more pointed.

        1. Beth*

          Ooo, yes — a very important distinction! For me, “Does that make sense?” has the subtext “this is something we’re working on together and I’m making sure we both see the same next step”, while “if that makes sense” implies “you can ignore my input, without further discussion, if it doesn’t meet your standards”.

        2. Cj*

          If those the two examples you would have used in your original question, maybe you won’t have gotten as much push back as you did. But as others have said, just because something is more likely to be the way a woman would say it doesn’t mean that it is the wrong way to say it. Maybe men should speak more like women are more prone to than the other way around.

      2. birb*

        This is driving me nuts.

        There’s a huge difference between women using “does that make sense?” when delivering a decision or justifying an action to others at work… and TRAINERS using “does that make sense?” after demonstrating / explaining / training to confirm they are following / give opportunities for questions and clarification. That’s how training works.

        It is good practice to regularly pause and check for understanding, and there is nothing wrong with “does that make sense” or “let me know if that’s clear” or any similar variation.

        It is NOT good practice to say “does that make sense?” to soften delivery / solicit approval when making a decision or presenting to a group, specifically because it makes the person sound like they’re not certain or confident, and opens them up to further conversation by seeming to invite feedback.

        1. Loulou*

          I agree with this whole comment, but I think the suggested correction of “do you understand?” is what’s tripping many of us up here. That doesn’t make much sense to say when delivering a decision or giving a presentation, so naturally we were imagining a situation where “does that make sense?” would fit. Certainly people shouldn’t soften their declarations with “if that makes sense” but I would also find it jarring if someone asked “do you understand?” after giving a spiel or whatever.

    6. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      A better question is open ended. Both of your examples are yes/no and people (even when they don’t understand) will lean towards just automatically saying yes.

      “What questions do you have for me” is a much better question. And people will be more likely to seek clarification.

      (I don’t disagree that women tend to use softer language overall and we need to stop!)

      1. Hannah*

        I was hoping someone had already said this. That’s been my substitution for “if that makes sense” – “Let me know if you have any questions.” Presumably if something didn’t make sense, they would have questions! Or it might have all made sense, but now that they’ve seen my explanation, they are wondering about something else. It doesn’t have the potential implication that I think I didn’t make sense, but still leaves space for someone who needs more, whatever “more” looks like.

      2. beach read*

        This is good. I find “Does that make sense?” to be condescending, although I understand it is typically not meant to be.

      3. Anon for This*

        Yeah, my manager often says “Do you understand?” after explaining something to me that is actually my area of expertise or seems to be off topic (in my opinion). It comes off as really really condescending and it doesn’t really help either of us because I can’t actually judge whether or not I’m understanding something the way he apparently is. I usually answer by summarizing what I think he’s saying and he’ll sometimes add more details. And we go round again usually once or twice. I would rather “Any questions?” or just summarizing what he wants me to do differently.

    7. New Mom*

      Ohh, I think I’ll TRY to replace “does that make sense?” with “do you have any clarifying questions?” because “do you understand?” sounds a pit patronizing to me.

      1. Loulou*

        Yes, “do you understand” comes off as patronizing to me too. I think some version of “can I clarify anything” works better, though I personally use “does that make sense” all the time specifically because what I’m talking about often does not make sense. It’s not a reflection on my expertise or communication skills — it just doesn’t make sense and it’s my job to explain it until it does.

    8. just a thought*

      I usually focus on not up-talking when I’m giving a professional presentation.

      I just focus on that since I do it a lot when I’m talking normally. But there’s also research that says it’s not a bad thing. (

      I usually practice the presentation first so I’m more confident in what I’m going to say and find the places to pause for questions more intentionally.

    9. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      Chiming in to the chorus–softened language isn’t gendered. I find injecting some consideration for others goes a long way to improving communication with all sorts of stakeholders. It is not a failure of confidence or gendered socialization to put effort into making others feel comfortable enough to ask questions, correct you, or point out something you have missed. “Do you understand?” has a tendency to put the other person on the spot, because to say “no” feels either like admitting failure or confronting the person asking.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Perhaps there are regional or cultural differences, but I frequently hear men say “if that makes sense” in a work context. I haven’t noticed if women say it more, in general. Certainly when I cast my mind back to the people I’ve been working with in the last 2 years, it seems about evenly split. To me, “do you understand” sounds quite condescending and would be very alienating regardless of the speaker’s gender.

      “You follow?” or “Are you with me?” would be much less alienating in my area.

      Personally, when I turned 40 I started to drastically reduce all kinds of qualifying and apologetic language around my thoughts and opinions. It is highly liberating and I recommend it.

    11. River Otter*

      Who do you say these to? If someone asked me, “do you understand?“ I might just shiv them. “Does that make sense?” was recommended in communication courses at my previous company precisely because it does not imply fault with the listener. If you think it is too self-effacing to be used by a woman, I really recommend you find something different that also does not imply fault with the listener

    12. Bosslady*

      I wouldn’t use either unless the person is looking at you with a confused look on their face. In that case, a “What are your questions?” works.

      I go back through every email and take out all the extra qualifying language because I do put it all in there automatically. Things like, “I just wanted to know…” or “Just checking in…” I think my email communication has really improved since I started doing that. If I need an affirmative response and don’t think I’ll get it automatically, I say “Let me know if you have questions” or “Please confirm receipt of these instructions.”

      1. Loulou*

        I don’t really say thanks for “checking in,” but I almost always say “thanks for writing/asking” (unless it’s a situation where it doesn’t make sense, like a close colleague I write to every day). I don’t even view that as softening, just basic email ettiquette and courtesy. Though I’m sure there are workplaces where super bare-bones communication and brevity is valued, I’m not in one of them.

    13. AlphabetSoupCity*

      Maybe we should focus more on asking men to be less confident instead of asking women to be more confident in arenas they’ll be punished in for doing it!

    14. Nusuth*

      I think a lot of people are disagreeing with the exact sentences, but the overall project of trying to avoid ways of communicating that have typically disadvantaged women or feminine-presenting people/made them seem less authoritative is a good one. Obviously these sentences won’t work for everyone, but a lot of women/feminine-presenting people SHOULD be working on ways to present more confidently at work. This recently came up a LOT for me – I’m a young woman and I recently trained two new, male coworkers, both my age or older, and caught myself constantly undermining the (extensive and authoritative!) trainings I was giving them. Constantly saying “does that make any sense?” made the material seem more confusing than it was and made me seem like less of an expert and a poorer communicator than I am. I started saying things like, “do you have any questions?” or “do you understand, or should I explain more/in a different way?” Anyway, I’m all for this, and I also would note that, as Alison constantly says, tone is crucial here.
      I also agree with some commenters that “softened” language isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that moving towards a more conciliatory/traditionally “feminine” way of communicating would be a good thing! (see – all the guides and videos calling on women to remove all the exclamation points/softening language from their emails. I think we should all be more collaborative and enthusiastic, when it’s appropriate!)

    15. tessa*

      My head is spinning from the over-thinking of this.

      Just ask “Does that make sense?” or “Do you understand?” politely and with genuine curiosity. I’d think most people would appreciate that and then would move on.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        The whole idea of asking people if things make sense annoys me. I’m not an idiot, and I’m not going to ask anyone else if I’m coming across as one. I assume I make sense unless someone else claims differently. I ask questions like “Does this work for you?” or “Is there anything I should know that would change my assessment?” Things like that are gender-neutral, confident, and also open to others’ perspectives.

    16. JSPA*

      “do you understand” can have strong overtones of, “I’m right, and I susupect you may be ignorant and slow to catch on.”

      “If that makes sense” is short for, “if that makes sense to you.” Not, “wheee, unless I’m an airbrain, LOLOLOL.” It may be more used by women, but being collaborative and checking for agreement and buy-in are GOOD things, not traits to be extirpated.

      “Do you see my point and agree with that analysis”
      “That’s my argument; does it mesh with what you’re seeing”

      may better delineate and connect, “my arguments are solid and cogent” vs. “I also would like to know if this meshes with your perception and thinking.”

      But “do you understand” would land really badly with anyone who’s ever been talked down to, especially if they’re from a group that might be stereotyped as, “less likely to understand.” And if people have talked to you like that…it’s good you managed to look past that, I guess????

    17. Jenna Webster*

      I can’t think of a time I ever heard a man ask, “Does that make sense,” because they are sure it does since they said it (not a criticism). I think this is an excellent phrase to get rid of if you are a woman, though I am unsure of the “do you understand” part which may sound confrontational. I think it usually works to just quit talking after you’ve said your piece – you’ve offered your information and you don’t have to add anything.

    18. MigraineMonth*

      Huh, I may have reached the DGAF stage of my career development, because changing the way I talk to be more assertive seems like way too much work. Then again, I’ve only recently stopped getting the feedback that I’m “abrasive” in my communication style, so maybe I’ve found a happy medium.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I am guessing you are a woman?

        Have you read Caroline Criado-Perez’s “Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men?” She has an entire chapter on how women and men are perceived and evaluated differently at work. Some of her analysis is of performance reviews – and men are rarely called “abrasive.” It will probably come as no surprise to you that women are called the pejorative version of what’s considered positive in men – “bossy” instead of “strong leader,” for instance.

    19. Style is not tied to gender*

      Why not just say you’re trying to be more assertive? Some people are more direct, some people are more consensus-building. Both approaches have validity depending on the specific situation. But linking a less direct approach to gender is itself a type of gendered language that needs to go away.

      Personally, I like “what questions/concerns do you have?” as it invites the listeners to provide feedback – people are often reluctant to reply “no, that doesn’t make sense” or “no, I don’t understand.”

    20. ThursdaysGeek*

      It’s probably a bit late for this, but I’ve been wondering about other professional language that isn’t gendered, but seems a bit racist. Specifically, saying something is “black or white”. Because, the implication is often white=good, black=bad, and that bothers me. How do I indicate that someone engages in black and white thinking, doesn’t consider nuances, using another easily understood phrase?

      1. RagingADHD*

        It’s funny, I think of something being “black or white” as in text or lines on a background. Sharp contrast, no transition or overlap, no in-between state. As in, “it was all right there in black and white.”

        But if you just want to stop saying it, you could use “all or nothing” instead.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Both of those are good. If I’m talking about a printout, then sure, black and white are quite appropriate. But when I’m talking about people taking positions, I think I’ll start with “all or nothing” and include “binary thinking” if it doesn’t seem clear.

          Thank you.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I disagree that “black or white” is anyway racist. But if you’re trying to avoid the phrase, you can try out “It’s an either/or situation” or maybe “There’s no room for nuance here; we have to pick one and go with it”

        Or colloquially, there’s “You can’t change horses mid-stream” which may kinda similar in some situations.

      3. David*

        “Only a Sith deals in absolutes” :-P

        I’m mostly kidding, but that would probably be very effective with people who get the reference, and very ineffective with people who don’t.

    21. Peter*

      Having looked at 101 replies, as a male finance manager in the UK I frequently say “does that make sense to everyone?” or “anything else we need to consider?” when weighing in on discussions both within and without my team.
      From the perspective of the (excellent) commentariat, particularly those who are working on a higher Scalzi difficulty level, does the question mark soften that enough to allow people to be comfortable responding (and I know that this relies on me being approachable IRL) or do you have any better phrasing? I work in a multinational French-owned company if that helps.

  4. Changing Career Path, cont.*

    I asked a couple weeks ago about what to say in my performance review now that I am uncertain about my future goals. The general consensus was that it was fine to say that my goals have changed and I don’t currently have a career path in mind.

    Well maybe I didn’t word it very well. My manager is now *concerned*. She is a problem solver and wants everything solved asap. But I don’t have much solid feedback for her. I reiterated a few things that we have discussed before. It was a little odd because she questioned if I wanted to stay in my current role but I have never indicated that I wanted to do this role long term.

    Is there a professional way to say that I am in a funk from this overall situation? To make matters worse, I think she may believe the solution might be found in returning to the office which we are doing next month. I am not thrilled about this.

    I am considering leaving this company to get more PTO and flexibility, but will not take that leap without some serious consideration. I guess I just need to know how to stop the concern.

    1. 867-5309*

      I did not see your original post but as a manager, if my employee said they don’t currently have a career path in mind AND that they were not interested in their current role long-term, I would go into solutions-mode, as well. If someone seems disengaged (and both of those statements would lead me to believe that) then my role as a manager is to find a way for them to become more engaged or determine if we need to either move them into another role or if we should be considering that the person is likely leaving.

      1. Changing Career Path, cont.*

        Thank you for your perspective! I will clarify that while my role isn’t exactly entry level, it isn’t really a position that someone would stay in long term. So I never said that I didn’t want this job long term, it’s more implied by every other future-oriented conversation we’ve had over the last 2 years.

        1. Aly_b*

          I am also a manager and agree with 876. I didn’t see your first post – is it more that you are not sure and re-evaluating where you want to go next? Or that you are feeling disengaged and bored? Or something else altogether?

          You may be able to steer your manager’s energy into solving the right problem – eg if you need more info on alternative roles at the same company or possible career progressions (since you mention previous future oriented conversations), that may be something she can help facilitate. If you’re just plain ready to move on then her being worried about that may just be the way things are – neither of you is wrong in that scenario, it just may no longer be a fit.

        2. JSPA*

          I think you CAN say that it’s a covid-risk / loss of WFH issue.

          “when you ask where I see myself in the future, covid makes that a trick question. I am looking through the lens of considerable distress and trepidation over the forced return to in-person work. I hope I’m alive and fully functional and have not lost family members in 6 months, due to that policy. Except for that policy, I remain as engaged and committed as ever.”

      2. HR Exec Popping In*

        I came to say something similar. Actually, I would hope that most people managers would want to help understand your interests as part of their job is to help develop you so that you are well positioned to make progress on your interests, whatever that is. If you don’t have any interest in another role and you don’t want to stay in your current role, I would be concerned if I was your manager as well.

        1. Changing Career Path, cont.*

          Thanks for this response! I have made it clear that I am interested in learning new things. I paid my own money to go to a conference in my field last year because my employer does not pay towards professional development. It’s more like, “I don’t know what job title I want next.”

          My original post was mostly about how I had said in my interview (2 years ago) that I wanted to go into management and don’t want that anymore.

          1. 867-5309*

            In that case, I would suggest you have that exact conversation: When I started in this role two years, I thought I wanted to move into management but am realizing now that I enjoy working as an individual contributor. Can you tell me what kind of roles in the organization would allow me to continue to increase my responsibility, perhaps lead a project team and continue to expand my areas of work, without having to manage others? I’ve been thinking that I might be interested in x, y and z but am not quite sure where to start. I would love your help to figure out this next step.”

      3. manager lou*

        100% agree – I did not see the OP either, but I would never have given the advice to say I don’t have any goals or am not certain of my career path. I would have suggested saying something about taking time to grow in role leaving it open ended as far as keeping alert for any potential opportunities that might help me use my skills in X/Y/Z. The idea of a development plan or the establishment of goals is so that a manager can help guide you. To say “my goals have changed and I don’t currently have a career path in mind” is basically sending up a signal flare for help so of course your manager is stepping in.

    2. Jean*

      You mention that your manager is a problem solver, but is it really that clear that there is a problem here for her to solve? Press her on that. Ask her to name the problem that she’s actually seeing, and center your discussion around that. “I’m concerned” isn’t an actionable problem, nor is it actionable feedback.

      1. Changing Career Path, cont.*

        Good point. Or at least the problem is not a standard problem that can be solved in the way that she would like to. Her solution was to get concerned and press further on what I’m looking for. Overall, I’m not finding inspiration in this role and because of certain limitations of the role. A real solution would be to invest in my professional development which isn’t going to happen.

    3. Me (I think)*

      “Thanks for your concern, but I am happy in my current role and have no plans to leave.”

      Which is true, you have no plans. Thinking about it, even applying and interviewing, aren’t plans to leave, only giving notice counts :) The “I’m happy” part is maybe an exaggeration, but I wouldn’t want my manager to think I was halfway out the door.

      If they continue to press for future goals, etc, I might say something like “I’m reassessing my long term goals but I’m happy here for now.”

    4. I was told there would be llamas*

      I didn’t see the initial post either but I think it depends on the manager on how truthful you can be. For example, one of my direct reports has no desire to change her job, get promoted, etc. Her goal is pretty much to do what she’s doing and not get fired until it’s time to retire. I am fine with that. I hate the belief that everyone has to always be striving for something “greater.” However, the big cheeses would NOT be happy if we put that in her goals. So she humors me and puts something vague about her goal is to make her job more efficient and look for savings, blah, blah. :)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you think you can say it in honesty, perhaps you can say something like, “I see myself staying here for the next five years”, if she asks if you plan to leave the company. I added something vague like, “It fits with my personal needs ATM.” And of course those needs are personal, so my tone was along the lines of “And we will not be discussing those personal things.”

      Or perhaps you can redirect, “I mentioned earlier that I am interested in learning new things. Do you have any ideas on this for me?” I think this is the best route. Answer her question with a question for her. Then if she comes back later (she probably won’t, ask me how I know) you can say, “Oh I was waiting to hear back from you on how I could take on some new things here to learn.”

      My experience with this question has been that it’s a dead end. They ask the question and then life goes on as if nothing happened.

  5. Collie*

    Because I have a chronic illness, I hoard my sick leave in the event I need a lot of it. As a result, I now have 30 days saved up (I would have likely taken more were it not for the pandemic and how it affected my schedule, but I still would have quite a bit saved up). Like most places, when I leave, my vacation leave will be paid out, but my sick leave will not. I’d like to benefit from it since, you know, it’s a benefit I earned, but obviously I can’t just take a full 30 days of sick leave in the name of mental health (though that does sound very appealing and I do have documented mental health issues). I’d be okay with donating some to a leave bank, though I’ve been hearing the leave bank is handled sketchily. I’m hesitant to reach out to HR to ask for options because it would tip them off to the potential of me leaving.

    Now that I’m a-little-more-than-casually job searching, any recommendations what I might do?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Would it help your chronic illness if you just took some random sick days to rest? One day at a time, like maybe a day every other week?

      1. Collie*

        Fortunately, I’m in remission right now. That could change at any moment with no warning, though, which is why/how I ended up saving so much.

        I’ve considered using a day every other week, especially because — and I meant to mention this in the original comment — I have therapy twice a month that I do in the morning, prior to my shift starting. But especially since, like most places, we are understaffed, I’m a little concerned it might raise some eyebrows and draw additional unwanted attention.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Well, they’ll be even more understaffed if you crash. I think taking off the day of your therapy sounds very reasonable.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Another option is to take a few sick days in a clump every month or so. Being out for 3-5 days at a time really shouldn’t raise any eyebrows, especially with COVID. I would profusely thank any coworker who said, “I was experiencing some symptoms and wanted to make sure I wasn’t contagious” or “Just feeling under the weather this week, hope it clears up soon.”

          When it comes to burnout, there are studies that suggest taking off a week or more at a time has greater benefits than taking that same time off in single days or half-days.

        3. Gingerbread Gnome*

          I second taking off your therapy day. All you should need to say is you have a medical appointment that day, you don’t need to say what time or where. Or even taking off half a day if you are worried about depleting your leave too quickly.

        4. JSPA*

          There are times when I’ve been around sick-seeming people when I had to do [necessary task that can’t be done remotely–including getting boosted], where doing that thing late thursday, taking a sick day friday, puttering around the house for the weekend, and covid testing before heading in to work Monday made excellent sense for the greater health of all.

        5. tangerineRose*

          Is your manager a reasonable person who you can discuss this with? I once had a lot of vacation time left over that needed to be used up, and I asked my manager if taking off every Friday for a while would work. It did.

    2. HE Admin*

      I would definitely start doing scattered in mental health days. Sure, you can’t take a 30-day block, but start wearing it down bit by bit…

      1. Collie*

        I have taken a few here and there lately — I recall Alison at one point (and maybe I’m misremembering) suggesting mental health days should be limited to 2-3 a year at most.

        For you or anyone: Agree? Is that pretty standard? Is more unreasonable?

        Perhaps also worth adding — I’m a librarian. A quick Google search will give you an idea of some of the crap my field has been through the last two years in addition to the regular challenges of working with the public (COVID mitigation assistance in the form of handing out test kits/masks/serving as a vaccination site while also open under normal operations, increased incidences of book banning attempts — to name a couple). So, even if I didn’t have existing mental health issues, I could no doubt benefit from some R&R.

        1. Gracely*

          Do you have to take entire days, or can you also do half days? Half days wouldn’t be as noticeable, I’d think. A whole day one week and a random half day the next week would help whittle that time down. And if you get questions about it, you can just say you’re catching up on some health issues you put off handling because of the pandemic.

        2. ecnaseener*

          I disagree with 2-3 days a year, at least in your situation where you’re getting ready to leave. And because it sounds like it wouldn’t be just for the hell of it but would actually be good for your health.

          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            And for most people during pandemics. 2-3 a year won’t cover the other 5 times I had a breakdown.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Oh, that’s just a normal sick day IMO! I always understood “mental health day” to mean “taking a break to de-stress,” not “having a mental health crisis.”

        3. spoonie*

          That 2-3 days a year is probably a great benchmark for otherwise “healthy” people but as a fellow chronic illness sufferer I encourage you to remember that just dealing with having an ongoing illness is a second full time job (one you cannot get any time off from) so it would be more than fair to consider that you might need 2x as many mental health days (or more) in the course of a year.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Same (from another chronic illness sufferer). I’m going to be taking more sick time this year as well for this precise reason (I have about four weeks of sick leave accrued so far and am still accruing more time).

        4. Squidhead*

          I interpreted “2-3 mental health days a year” as “days when you’re actually feeling fine (mentally and physically) but could really just use a break.” Not a great habit to get into all the time, but reasonable once in a while. Also not the same as taking a sick day when your mental or physical health actively needs attention. That’s a sick day either way!

        5. The Rat-Catcher*

          I think with that advice she is referring more to days to prevent burnout – sort of the equivalent of when you feel a cold coming on and elect to take a sick day rather than work until you’re in the throes of it and make everything worse. Days dealing with symptoms or taking preventive measures like your therapy are more equivalent to experiencing physical symptoms and going to doctor’s appointments.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yes, this 100%. A day off here and there, an early afternoon on a slow day, it can add up/make a difference. You can also lower your bar on how bad you have to feel to take a sick day, and how quick you return to work. Like if you’d normally work through a cold or a bad day of allergies, start taking those days off. And if you’d only take one day off because you feel mostly better the next day, take an additional day off to fully recover/treat yourself as well. You could also say that you’re catching up on some health appointments that you skipped/got delayed/etc over covid and pre-plan some time out of the office – this is also a good excuse to use when scheduling interviews. If you do have any real health appointments, stretch out how long they take – that quick step-out over lunch for a teeth cleaning or eye exam is now an afternoon off. Unless you have a super nosy (and inappropriate office), no one is going to ask any questions, doctors offices have delays all the time and who knows what you went in for, that’s none of their business.

        I’m not sure how long your job search would take, but doing some of this will definitely help make a dent in your sick bank

    3. VV*

      I third the suggestion to start taking more one off days while you can, and if relevant/needed, maybe give yourself more time for Dr. or other medical appointments? That’s what I started doing when I knew I was leaving a job soon — I would book two appts for the same day and take the full day, for example, or take a half day for an appointment I normally would only need to pop out for an hour for to give myself a break.

      1. Collie*

        Ooh yes, this is good. I tend to do that as well and I *have* put off going to the dentist for COVID reasons…

        1. quill*

          One day I took off for two doctors’ appointments and decided to get my covid booster between them. Aside from getting lost, it worked out okay… I wouldn’t recommend it if you have reactions to the boosters. (I only get a sore arm)

        2. StellaBella*

          Use the dental work to use more days. As in, I need a day or 2 off for this dental thing… Dental work takes a while, you need another day off etc.

      2. Hillary*

        I agree – you can take the whole day for one appointment too. Schedule it for early afternoon, then sleep in and treat yourself to a nice coffee or lunch. Rest is important for your health.

    4. Me (I think)*

      I carried over a lot of PTO this year, and instead of waiting until late in the year to panic and try to use it, I am taking every Friday off in January and February, and a week off in March. Our PTO is combined sick/vacation, and we have limits to what we can carry over a second year, so it would just be lost.

      They seem to be getting on fine without me being in the office those days.

    5. Mrs Peaches*

      Take some mental health days…like on days when you have an interview. Use sick leave for doctors appointments if allowed (I’m currently changing jobs and trying to see all my providers before my insurance changes, which is a lot of appointments). I’m leaving behind 50 days of sick leave that I had hoarded for maternity leave and I wish my org had a leave bank we could donate to.

    6. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I second the advice to just start taking random sick days. Especially if it’s a day with little to no meetings or deliverables due (like a quiet Friday or something similar depending on your employer’s work week). This way it doesn’t raise any flags, but you are still getting the benefit. Good luck with the job search!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe you can use a side-door to get an answer about the leave bank. Perhaps you can find out what people’s experiences have been with sick leave. I mean people who have actually used it.

      I asked for a sick leave bank to be established at one place and they went into melt down. “Well everyone has different rates of pay so we’d have a hard time figuring out how to distribute it.” oh boy.

    8. BBB the cabinet builder*

      I retired with almost 2000 hours of accrued sick leave. I got nothing from it, yet it gave me peace of mind for years knowing I could use it if I needed. Yes, you earned it and saved it, yet it’s one of those things you’ll have to let go – akin to the insurance you paid on your car but never used.

  6. ThatGirl*

    Ever been tempted to lay out a list of requirements before you pursue a new job?

    I’ve been at my current job about a year, I have no intention of leaving anytime soon – it’s a good company, I like my team a lot, I know I have a lot of room to grow and some great projects to work on. Plus, the office is 5 minutes from my house. But 1-3x a week I get emails from recruiters; a lot of them I can dismiss out of hand because it would be a long commute or it’s a contract gig or the pay range is really low. Still, sometimes I’m kinda tempted — but would only leave my current job for a really excellent situation — e.g. a six-figure salary, at least 3 weeks of PTO, permanent WFH, etc. Would it be total insanity to reply to these recruiters and say “I’d love to keep talking if you can provide all of these things”? :)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve done this, but I have NEVER received a reply from a recruiter, so I’ve mostly stopped asking/responding to their fishing attempts.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Third-party recruiters tend to be sketchy, for sure. But a lot of these are also in-house HR recruiters, and those I have better luck with overall.

      2. Christina*

        Agreed. I responded to one with “I’m interested, but want to know the salary range before I invest time”- I got “we don’t discuss that until we are ready to make an offer – but its competitive” Yeah, I don’t need to waste my time to discover you are 30% under market – and even if you are 30% over, I don’t want to work for someone who is that opaque.

        I’m spoiled. I did a lot of career growth in the late 90s when recruiters and employers knew that they had to give you information in order to even get you to talk to them – and also figured out that the pay had to be competitive and the job good for you to keep talking. I’m hopeful that the current employment situation might wake up recruiters, but for right now….nope.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I was shocked that the job boards I’ve tried to use don’t let me filter or alert by salary. I’m happy at my job, so pretty much the only reason you could get me to leave is by offering better compensation.

          Then I looked through the posted jobs, and I’m not even seeing salary bands. “Competitive compensation”, blah blah blah. If it’s actually good compensation, you should be willing to advertise it!

          1. Chirpy*

            Same, I can’t even filter out unpaid internships and volunteer jobs. I’d like to be paid for my work, thanks, I already have things I like to volunteer for. :/

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      It can’t hurt! Worst outcome is that they never respond or say no, and then you’re exactly where you were to begin with. It’s honestly great to start off from knowing what you want, it will weed out garbage and save you a lot of time/energy.

    3. Kes*

      I’ve seen advice to do exactly this. In a situation like this I think it makes sense to put together a standard reply on your end asking for the pieces of information you need to gauge whether it’s worth investing the time in talking with them. If they push back or don’t provide what you asked, that tells you something right there, and that way you can screen out the ones not worth pursuing while staying open in case an actual better opportunity does appear

    4. Parenthesis Dude*

      Not in the slightest. Most people have an understanding of their expected salary/benefits before they apply for a job. Now mind you, that doesn’t mean that a recruiter won’t bait and switch you.

    5. Annie Moose*

      If it’s very obvious that what you’re looking for is out of step with what they’re offering, I don’t see much value in it–you’d be wasting time responding to these emails when you know that they’re not actually going to be able to match it. Unless you really love writing emails. :P The recruiters are just sending out mass blasts; they don’t know and don’t necessarily care that almost all recipients are not going to be interested.

      But for cases where it’s not such an obvious, immediate mismatch, where there’s something where you’re like, well, if they did XYZ, I could see myself being interested, I don’t see what’s wrong with it. Maybe don’t send a list of demands like a ransom note but a quick “I’m interested by X that you mentioned, but would only consider leaving my current position for Y and Z, which are not negotiable for me” seems reasonable. (keeping in mind that some recruiters may say these things are possible when in reality they aren’t)

      I’d only do this if I was serious about considering leaving my job, though. Otherwise it’s just a waste of both your and their time.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I would only do something like that in specific circumstances where the job itself does sound vaguely interesting and the pay is likely to be more than what I make now. There are plenty of instances where that clearly isn’t the case and I just ignore it. I know recruiters cast a wide net and I’m not interested in wasting my time or theirs, but every so often it does seem like my profile/resume specifically caught their eye.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I would say that I am currently in a good situation and would only consider leaving for a substantial step up, and then *ask* what the job offers for compensation, PTO, WFH, etc.

      I would not lay out a list, because I would want to see their best offer instead of seeing if they can meet my minimum requirement.

      1. ThatGirl*

        While this is a fair point, I feel like I’d get dragged into a “well, why don’t we just have a phone call” and then they tell me the range is $50-60k or something.

        Maybe a better methodology would be “can you give me a range up front to make sure we’re not wasting each other’s time”… but this is all kind of a hypothetical anyway.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, in this hypothetical scenario, I would just delete their reply. You can’t get dragged into anything without your consent.

          When you aren’t looking to move, you can be as picky as you like about the process as well as the numbers.

    7. Ama*

      My father did this once (He’s a CPA). He was at a job that was fine (accountant for a health insurance company), although maybe didn’t offer a lot of chance to advance if he stayed, but one of the things he really liked about it is he rarely needed to work beyond 40 hours a week and they let him flex his schedule to 7:30-4:30, which meant he was always home in the evenings for his family (he was the cook in our family and also coached sports teams for all three of us kids).

      When I was just starting high school, an internal recruiter from a more standard accounting firm called him and offered him a job that would pay quite a bit more, but would put him on a partner track (requiring much more extensive hours) and a couple of other things about the job he wasn’t really into. So he told the recruiter, “this job isn’t really what I’m looking for, but someday if you have a senior management job that’s not partner track and has A, B, and C, please get back to me.”

      Two years later, they did, he took the job and worked there happily for 25 years until he retired just last month.

    8. Anonymous Luddite*

      To have the list? Certainly. It’s good to keep your eyes on (a description of the actual) prize.
      To give to a recruiter? Never. I don’t bother trying to teach a pig to sing, either. Wastes my time and annoys the pig.

  7. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Librarians who work in libraries that distribute at-home COVID tests: How has it gone for you? It was just announced that our urban public library will be distributing at-home tests. Sadly, my compass is thrown off so far at this point that I’m not sure if I’m worried about this because I’m burned out or because I have a valid reason to be worried.

    We are already starting to lose control of patrons and mask wearing (our state just lifted its mask mandate, which has just added gasoline to an already tricky situation). I just have this fear of (1) some of these patrons requesting the tests because they have COVID symptoms, and being just across the reference desk from us; (2) patrons taking the test in the library, and expecting the library staff to interpret the results, and (3) being overwhelmed by long lines, even though cases in our area have dropped sharply, and having a mob of angry patrons when we run out;

    Are these valid fears? Or is this a good thing for the community that I should be happy that we’re doing, and should I trust that if I wear my own mask properly, I have nothing to worry about, especially since I’m vaxed and boosted? Thanks, everyone.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      I think you more need to be worried about the crazies who will object to you wearing a mask even if you’re not requiring them to. Some people will get beligerent about it.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Many crazy things have happened here over the past few months, but that’s one scenario that hasn’t come up. We are in a very liberal area and generally don’t have that sentiment around here. There’s a small but growing number of people who think the rules don’t apply to them, but they don’t seem to notice or care that we’re all masked.

        1. ...*

          That’s because the majority of people who’ve been deemed “anti-mask” don’t actually care what other people do; they just want the choice for themselves.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Hmmm. My kid, who works in retail, has been verbally assaulted by customers who are angry that she wears a mask. Some of them obviously do care, quite a bit.

          2. not feeling like i wanna get lit*

            Tell that to the poor teachers and students who were terrorized by anti-maskers forcing their way in to the school and banging on classroom windows, screaming about the dangers of masks.

          3. JelloStapler*

            You’d be surprised. Some are so hypocritical that they just want the freedom to choose but also the freedom to tell everyone else what to do. Or they are so deep into misinformation that they want to “save” everyone else.

      2. Loulou*

        Lol, I assure you that we (not to speak for OP, but librarians in general) have been dealing with all manner of mask-related patron interactions and are already worried or not worried about them as appropriate! OP was asking how worried they should be about a novel situation, not the same thing we’ve already been dealing with.

    2. FridayYea*

      Yikes!!! #2 would bother me. That is potential hazardous waste if they leave it around and left for you to clean up.
      I am wondering if you can put some kind of sign up (very big sign) that says “Do not take the test in the library”?
      Is there a way you can corral the line so they come in and are immediately sent out the building? Or have a table right by the door to hand them out?

    3. fueled by coffee*

      I’m not a librarian, but perhaps #1 could be circumvented by signage outside stating that patrons who are feeling unwell should (call a phone number/etc.) and someone will bring the tests outside to them, like how restaurants and other stores do curbside pickup.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I volunteer at our local library, and I was wondering about #3. I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but can you set up a table outside? Maybe even hand them through the car windows for people? That last one would solve all three! If it’s cold (but not dangerously so) maybe you can have staff quickly rotate.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Not an option, unfortunately. There are days here where the weather (unseasonably) would be warm enough for an outdoor giveaway, but our building is set along the side of a major highway and a drive-through distribution is not feasible given our setup.

    5. Reba*

      Anecdotally, these giveaways don’t really require staff contact. At the libraries in my area, the free tests have been set out at a table with signage firmly stating you can’t open them there. The table is set up right in the vestibule or at times, even outside. Early on, there was a staff member who watched over the table but the more recent times I’ve been, there was no contact with staff. There were lines and shortages around the holidays but not really otherwise.

      Is the plan at your location to have people ask a staff member for the tests? that seems unnecessary!

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        That’s a great question. I’m pretty sure that the plan will be to have patrons approach a staff member. Speaking from experience, if 50 test boxes are left out on a table unsupervised, someone will grab 30 of them within the first ten minutes, and then we’ll really have a problem.

    6. Nope, not today*

      Our local libraries are all giving away tests ONLY in the drive-through windows (if they have a drive-through window for picking items up), or curbside (I think there is a sign and people park there and call in to request a test and someone brings it to their car). Patrons are not going inside for the tests ever.

    7. NameChange*

      In a word, it’s been exhausting. It was especially bad when we started offering rapids in addition to PCRs and it was the height of post-holidays/omicron.

      I’m vaxed and boosted and, so far, have been lucky not to have been infected that I know of.

      We have a number of signs up stating not to take tests in the building, and were careful to also post these signs outside the bathrooms. Obviously I don’t follow folks into the restrooms, so I can’t say with 100% certainty that it worked, but there have only been a few times where it seemed like someone was taking a test indoors or was about to.

      Overwhelm was a thing. There’s not really a way around the in person rush. We found that we were also getting nonstop calls about test availability. There was an online tracker for the city that we updated hourly (as did other locations). It’s hard to say how many people referred to that instead of calling us, but it probably helped some. Eventually, IT also set up a phone tree that redirected calls based on a press-1 system if they were calling to inquire about test availability or other similar questions. I believe these were rerouted to the department of health. In any case, prior to that tree, we were literally getting calls every five seconds on the front desk while also doing kit handout, library card sign up*, and other typical assistance. So it was a lot. The tree, and I think the falling of omicron, helped a lot.

      *One thing I didn’t anticipate was the increase in new patrons who suddenly learned we had free printing, databases, public computers, books, and other free resources. by virtue of coming in for the first time to get a test. So you may see, in addition to the influx of people coming in for tests, a flood of new people interested in using library services. A good thing, to be sure, but it no doubt adds to the feeling of being overwhelmed.

      At the height of omicron, I was refusing to lower my mask for any reason in the building. If I really needed a sip of water, I stepped outside. I ate my lunch in my car. Two staff members of 11 1/2 ended up testing positive in that period. To my knowledge, all are vaxed (unsure about boost status) and I’m aware of 1 who had COVID over the summer. I think we’ve all kind of seen that anecdotally, even the people who claim to be/are the most cautious have still gotten unlucky, but doing what you can isn’t nothing and should bring you some peace. I say that as someone who is an extreme worrier.

      This is going on a bit, so I’ll leave you with one last thing — if your library isn’t unionized, now is the time to start looking into it.

      Good luck!

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Thank you for all of this. It does sound like a lot. It also sounds a lot like when we’ve offered free tax help, etc. Which, coincidentally, will be happening at the same time.

        Our library is unionized. Honestly, though, our union is useless. They have not stood up for us on any issue either during the pandemic or before, no matter how critical, and people are so cynical about how bad the union is that they don’t go to meetings and don’t vote in elections, so the same few people who participate vote the same people in over and over again, creating a terrible endless loop.

        1. NameChange*

          Yes! The tax assistance adds another layer, for sure. Ours was surprise-started just a week or so after the rapid tests were surprise-started (I’m sensing a pattern…).

          I’m sorry to hear about your union. Hopefully a new leadership change will help in the near future. We’re seeing similar issues here with what seems to be inexplicably corrupt union leadership.

        1. Jack Bruce*

          Hey, no need to be snarky. If you don’t work in public libraries during this time, don’t judge them for wanting to be less overwhelmed and understaffed.

        2. Loulou*

          OP literally said it’s a good thing! But they are also dealing with an additional and fairly sensitive responsibility on top of the usual, and more patrons can be difficult to manage.

        3. jortina*

          I read that “oh dear” as directed at the general public who don’t know the library has books :)

    8. another, another librarian*

      These are all valid fears! Such good, valid fears unfortunately. As someone who works for a fairly large system that has been handing them out, #1 happened often even with multiple signs staying to not enter the library if experiencing symptoms. #2 hasn’t happened and we make it clear that the instructions are there for them, not us. #3 !!! IT’S NUMBER THREE!!! This has been the biggest hurdle that has done a lot on me. Truly, in order of your fears, from my experience, for worst to best it’s #3, 1, 2.

      My state never had a mandate (lol red state) and masks were required to a point, but as someone who wore their own mask properly, with all the shots, I’ve been fine. That being said NUMBER THREE! And getting yelled “let’s go brandon!!” while accepting a test has done a lot on my mental health.

      And to the person above to said put a sign. LOL. The signs do not get read. Even if you have multiple from the front door to the desk.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Yes, signs are not read here. They’re useful to set expectations and to have something to point to when there’s trouble. But they’re not read. We have, maybe, 300 “mask required” signs throughout our large building, and some good that’s done us!

        It’s funny you mentioned the order, because I originally had number three first and then reordered my post to emphasize that I’m more afraid of people coming into the library while sick.

      2. NameChange*

        Sometimes, I think the value of a sign is not necessarily that it will always be read and followed, but for the staff to have written language to point to when they meet pushback. Not that that’s how it *should* be, but…

        1. another, another librarian*

          Oh! I completely agree! It’s unfortunate, but has been helpful to be able to point to the multiple signs.

    9. I edit everything*

      My library (where I do not work, just to be clear) has been passing out at-home covid tests for a while now. If you want one, you have to call ahead, and they bring it out to you by a side door. There are big signs on the main entrance saying “If you’re here for a covid test, don’t come in!”

      I imagine if anyone did come inside and ask for one, the circulation desk people would direct them outside immediately and send the test out. So there’s no worry of anyone doing the test in the library, because they’re not allowed in the library in the first place.

      1. abbynormal*

        This is similar to our local library. You had to call ahead, and then tests were grouped together with your name on it, and set out on a table. Pickup occurred in 30min blocks. Any tests not claimed in that time frame were brought back in when the next time frame set was set out. Could your library set up something like that?

    10. Random HCW*

      I have distributed home COVID tests in a hospital and these are all valid fears. All of these happened at my clinic.

      For 1–wear n95 masks and do what you can to keep things clean. You will be exposed so be prepared to do surveillance testing or whatever will keep you safe.

      For 2–we had stations set up for self testing so we were prepared for that. If you don’t want these at your library (which is reasonable, a library is different than a hospital!) be prepared to repeat over and over again that patrons can’t self test in the library, you aren’t qualified to interpret results, and know what you can do if patrons won’t listen.

      For 3–I would suggest having an area cleared for a line, extremely clear signage about where the tests are being distributed in the library, ideally two workers totally dedicated to line management/test distribution, and scripts for what happens when the tests run out or people are mad about the line. Hopefully this is overkill and you won’t have that kind of demand but it’s better to be ready for it. My employer wasn’t ready for the demand during the omicron surge here end of December and it was terrible.

      Good luck!

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Thank you — this is really insightful. I appreciate it.

        Re: scripts, I think that’s a great idea. My library system has been notoriously bad through the whole pandemic about preparing scripts for situations like these. Our administrators are mostly working remotely and I think there’s a lack of urgency because they don’t face the situations we face themselves. Perhaps our staff should brainstorm our own scripts. One good thing I will say is that I know the self-testing stations will be a nonstarter here. The announcement made it very clear that this will be a grab-and-go service (though what patrons interpret it to be is another story).

    11. Beth*

      My wife’s system did this in January. Each library that was used as a distribution point had insanely long lines of mostly fairly well-behaved people — the kind of people who were willing to turn up to stand in long lines and collect free tests were not likely to be the full-on Covid-denying crazies.

      I believe the distribution points were set up well away from the other library traffic, with clear signage. However, there were inevitable streams of people who, in spite of coming to the library, appear not to be able to read, so they constantly walked past a sign saying “Test kits over there” and asked where the test kits were.

      One of the biggest issues was parking. The libraries chosen as distribution points were not the ones that had lots of extra parking capacity. It was a real mess, but fortunately only for a few days. If you can actually get your administration to think about traffic and parking, unlike ours, speak up ASAP about it.

      I never heard any stories about people taking their tests in the library; if they had, my guess is that they would have been told to stop immediately and take it home.

      I would say: stay fully masked and be glad that people want the tests; it’s good for your community and good for you.

    12. martin*

      Our local libraries and pharmacies that distribute the kits have signs on the door that say STOP – then something to the effect of “if you currently have a fever or any symptoms or have been exposed to a known case of COVID-19 please wear a mask / or please do not enter, go to a medical facility for testing and care”

    13. JelloStapler*

      I think you can think how to proactively mitigate some of this – a sign that says “it is prohibited to take the tests in the library (also because- ew) and that you will have a limited supply?

      Not sure how to avoid people with symptoms, though.

      1. JelloStapler*

        I retract my idea of a sign. I should know better. Even our college students don’t read them.

        1. Swordspoint*

          Yup. I work in a pharmacy and we’ve been giving out free test kits for a few days now; we always post signs out front when we run out saying NO TEST KITS LEFT but people just walk right by and ask at our counter.

          But I’ve kind of given up on people making sensible decisions at this point. The other day, I had someone walk in to show me a picture of his at-home antigen test and ask “so these two lines mean it’s positive, right?” My dude, yes you’re positive, please leave and stop putting my other patients and staff at risk.

        2. PotatoEngineer*

          Signs are for the sort of people who read signs. It’s not everyone, but at least SOME people will read those signs and not bother you if the question is clearly answered by the sign. There’s three kinds of people: the ones that won’t read the sign, the ones that read the sign but assume they can override the sign if they can just talk to someone, and the ones that read and follow the signs. The second group gets some value from signs, the third group gets lots.

    14. GracieLea*

      The libraries in the large-ish city and small towns closest to me have held all test distribution events outdoors, even, it appears from photos, in the rain. The lines have been very, very long. Your compass is not off in any way. You are right to be concerned. Large numbers of people shouldn’t be gathering indoors if masks are optional. Or, honestly, even if they are mandatory, because most people are wearing masks that provide little protection. It’s easy to pick up great N95 masks from big box retailers now. Stay safe! Good luck! And it is a wonderful thing you’re doing!

    15. intheliberry*

      We’ve been distributing COVID tests for a few months now. We require people to call (not come in person) to request a test. If we have them available, we label the test with their name and ask them to call again FROM OUTSIDE when they arrive. A staff member will put their test on a table for them to retrieve. It has worked reasonably well. We and our partner agency also reiterate the procedure on our social media channels and signage. We still have those people who come inside sick, without a mask, but luckily they have been the exception. Our bigger issue is the influx of phone calls & a lackluster system for informing the public when we currently have tests available (we get shipments at random intervals, so we get a flurry of calls once word gets out that a shipment has arrived).

    16. lolly pop*

      This is a huge overreach on the part of your overseeing agency. My partner works for a public library managed by the municipality and they have been acting as a shelter/medical clinic/mental health intervention facility since the pandemic started, without consent, appropriate pay or training. The stress of facing a breakthrough covid infection (or bringing it home to at-risk people) is ridiculous too.
      She’s been stalked, spat on, verbally harassed etc repeatedly, as have many coworkers. Acting as mask police has also been traumatizing and risky and if anything happens to her you can bet I’ll bankrupt the city.

      Your fears are valid. People lost their shit so easily and have no care for harming others. I hope you can get some security/law enforcement help.

    17. Coenobita*

      I agree with the other commenter who said it’s been exhausting. I’m not a librarian but I sub in circulation/customer service about once a week when they need extra staff. Our library periodically gives out rapid test kits, but supply (coming from the state, so we have no control over it) has been both insufficient and extremely sporadic. I haven’t actually worked any days (LOL, more like minutes) when we had tests to give out, but I have spent entire shifts just answering the phone to apologize to callers that we didn’t have any tests and, no, we didn’t know when we would get more. It sucks.

      The upside is that (a) we still have a well-enforced mask requirement in the library, for now, and (b) patrons are specifically prohibited from taking tests in the building, so the actual infection risk to staff seems relatively low.

    18. Loulou*

      My library just announced the same, though my location won’t be participating. As with everything, it seems like too little, too late (like, where was this during the actual giant surge we had two months ago?) but I would not have wanted my colleagues to be handing out tests during the surge, either. I’m curious to see how it goes — I’m all for the idea, but I’m incredibly pessimistic that the public will understand that the library is not a testing site, and that they shouldn’t come if they think they are sick and need a test now. Please update us in a few weeks! Crossing my fingers.

  8. Marie*

    I’m in a situation I’ve never had to navigate before- I am thinking of getting a new job and am currently casually browsing (mainly, letting recruiters come to me via LinkedIn). The response has been amazing, so I’ve got a lot more recruiters asking to connect than I thought I would. How can I best communicate “Yes I’m casually browsing but am not going to make the jump unless/until something really great comes along”? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but I DO want to set myself up to be able to browse a lot of potential new jobs.

    1. WFH is all I Want*

      That sounds pretty good to me! I have said variations on “I’ve been working at my current role for awhile and I’m looking for growth opportunities and seeing if anything excites me. I’d really like to move in X direction with my career.”

    2. Miel*

      What a great situation to be in!

      I think it’s totally valid to have a 10-minute call and say “tell me more about this position” and ask some specific questions. If you’re not excited about what you hear, just say “thanks for chatting! I am really looking for x and y in my next position so I don’t think this is the right fit, but please let me know if something in that vein comes along!”

    3. Mrs Peaches*

      Tell them that! “Thanks for connecting with me. I’m not not actively searching at this time, but I’m open to a new opportunity in XYZ if it’s the right fit and (insert whatever you’d really want in a new job).”

    4. Cocafonix*

      Whenever I see coworkers with a bump in LinkedIn connections with recruiters, it’s a yup, someone is looking to make a move sooner rather than later. Often holds up too. I’m very selective on the recruiters I’ll connect with. Food for thought if you are connected with current colleagues and want to manage the narrative.

  9. BlueDijon*

    Any advice from those who have experience moving from higher ed admin to tech? I’m at the beginning of my search and am looking for roles where I know I have analogous experience, but am just really conscious that this all sort of depends on a hiring committee being open to transferrable skills that don’t have the direct keywords. I’m wondering if anyone has had experience with this, and how you framed your resume/cover letter to address this. Thank you in advance!!

    1. Middle Manager*

      Join us on Facebook at Expatriates of Student Affairs! Tons of folks in higher ed admin and student affairs (basically non-faculty roles) are looking to make similar changes, and there is a lot of crowdsourced information about exactly your questions.

    2. Mbarr*

      Do you know anyone who already works in Tech that can give you a referral? That would be the #1 step to get your foot in the door.

      Otherwise, to beef up your resume, do some online training about common software programs that companies use. (Check your local library – mine gives us free access to LinkedIn Learning.) For example, get trained on how to use JIRA and Confluence. There are lots of jobs that don’t require indepth tech knowledge, but you should at least know how to navigate the systems that teams around you are using.

    3. Another anonymous person*

      Former higher ed person who made the transition here – have you worked on any tech projects in your role? If so, showcase that experience and what you learned from it. I worked on a couple of technical projects (on the functional side) to improve our processes through use of technology and highlighted that experience to get an entry-level business analyst job.

    4. Emmie*

      Your experience will be valuable in Education Technology companies. I recommend focusing your searches on those.

    5. 867-5309*

      There are a bunch of ed-tech companies that popped up during the pandemic – and many that existed before. That would be a good transition. Depending on what you do in higher ed, you could do something similar at one of these companies (e.g., moving from marketing to marketing) or often they look for people with industry experience in sales.

  10. Watry*

    Any advice on surviving for months on a skeleton crew?

    Unrelatedly, today’s my immediate supervisor’s last day, and there are some rumors floating around about how she’s going to be replaced. If they turn out to be true, I am going to be furious. And probably job hunting. I am deeply frustrated with how often our chain of command changes (in three years, I’ve gone through four supervisors, three GrandBosses, four GreatGrands, two GreatGreats, and four CEO-equivalents) and the effect it’s having on my department, because NONE of these people come in understanding anything about what we do.

      1. Watry*

        Thank you, but I REALLY hope I end up not having to. It’s energy draining, time consuming, difficult what with the autism and all, and I’ve been told several times by different supervisors that they want me in there as well, they just don’t have final decision.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            I was a bit glib, but if that many bosses (who tend to have a bigger picture view of things) have all left, there’s likely nothing there left saving. Certainly its not on you to turn it around.

            Also, it’s going to be really difficult to hire a good boss with that amount of turnover. Who would take the job?

            1. Watry*

              So I’m actually police-adjacent. With the exception of the immediate supervisors, no one has actually left, they’ve just been reassigned–GrandBoss level and above are all sworn officers. Which is why the popcorn management assignment doesn’t hurt most departments, the duties don’t change just that much because you’ve been moved from beat officer shift 1 to beat officer shift 2, y’know? But we’re administrative, and things are way different.

              But honestly, you’re still kind of right because no one wants to be in the administrative command. Most of our command staff were voluntold.

              *sigh* The job market around here for someone without job-specific degrees is not great, and no one wants to pay or train. I’m making slightly over fifteen an hour and that’s actually really good unless I want to drive into Atlanta every day. But now I’m just whining.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Don’t sell yourself short! If you have any marketable skills (and it does sound like you do!), you should be making much more than that, even in the semi-rural south.

              2. Cold Fish*

                If part of the frustration is constantly training the voluntolds, could you put together a welcome packet for new supervisors on how your department tends to be different than similar duty assignments for other departments, explain the biggest differences and why those differences are necessary. (Make it appear to come from previous supervisors if that would be received better since police depts tend to be highly hierarchical.) Then you might not have to explain for the umpteenth time why you do X in this department instead of Y.

    1. Gopher*

      Whenever you get frustrated, just remember that you can only do what you can do, and that the end isn’t far off if you’re leaving.

    2. Green Beans*

      Do what you can do reasonably in 35-40 hours per week. Take your vacation and PTO as if you weren’t understaffed. Note the staffing and bandwidth issues in writing, be specific about your priorities and then let things fail. If you can’t get it done in 40 hours/week, it is not a priority to your company. If it was, they would have hired the staff necessary to cover it.

      Be very, very clear as to why things are failing. If it’s important, they’ll fix the issues once things stop working. If it’s not important, they won’t. But staffing issues are not yours to fix.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        Agree 100%. If the problems aren’t something that management worries about, you certainly shouldn’t be worrying about them either. Do your job, but don’t go above and beyond so that management doesn’t feel the pain.

    3. Generic Name*

      Ha, yeah I’m in a very similar situation. Two managers have left for other jobs recently, including my own. I’ve been without an actual manager since last summer, and I have grave concerns over their replacement. I would be job hunting, but I’ll have to take FMLA leave soon, and I wouldn’t be eligible for it at a new job if I were to leave soon. I’d start job hunting now so you can pull the trigger to leave quickly after new boss gets named, if needed.

      1. Watry*

        I mentioned this to Trout Waver, but I’m police-adjacent, so it’s less leaving and more being reassigned/promoted. But yes, it’s a lot.

    4. Becky*

      Completely unrelated to your question–I’ve been watching the Olympics and so “skeleton crew” didn’t ping the usual part of my brain for that phrase–it went to the skeleton event. It took me a moment to recalibrate. :D

    5. Zucchini*

      In a similar position (also for months) with constant turnover, persistent understaffing, and, recently, layoffs!

      I’ve been job hunting and only making the skeleton crew life work by keeping firm boundaries – no overtime and, honestly, letting a few non-essential projects slide while communicating with my supervisor that it’s simply not possible to complete them. It’s a bummer position to be in but I think I’m handling it professionally, ensuring that it’s clear that my performance isn’t because I’m a bad employee, but a direct result of the understaffing. My supervisor has been very receptive and understanding that the expectations can’t be what they used to be with full staffing.

      Even with my supportive supervisor, I don’t see things getting better at my company. Hopefully I can leave before the whole thing shuts down.

  11. Rusty Shackelford*

    Things you wanted to say to your coworkers this week, but didn’t…

    1. No, I didn’t do the thing. Because I haven’t been trained on how to do the thing, I didn’t know the thing needed to be done, and it’s not my job to do the thing. You don’t have any of those excuses, so why didn’t YOU do the thing?

    2. Please, for the love of god, shut up.

    (Not to the same coworker.)

    1. AnonForThis*

      “Why are you blaming me for not previously seeing something that was your job to know? You’re dealing with an outside company on this project; you should absolutely know we need a contract for that, and it’s not my fault that I discovered this after the fact and called you out.”

      But it’s good that she put that blame in an email so I could get it forwarded to my boss’s boss as well as our contracts team. And my boss’s boss called out them for the screwup and asked how they could not know they needed to do this.

    2. Meghan*

      “For the love of god, please wear shoes…”

      Not necessarily a coworker, but a student worker. He’s one of those types to go barefoot everywhere, even in the middle of winter. Its gross.

      1. Anonymous Luddite*

        Oh I have a full fledged adult that had to be reminded to put his shoes on before he leaves his desk… even if he is just going to the printer.

      2. Neosmom*

        I am so outrageously underutilized here — perhaps because my lobby workstation makes everyone think I am an entry-level receptionist!

    3. bassclefchick*

      I relate to your second one!

      To add to it: I don’t care about the subject you’re discussing and I have stuff to do so…shut up.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Why am I trying to find the IT solution when you are the one who works in IT? Followed closely by why do I have to update your boss/colleagues, shouldn’t you be doing that?

      1. tangerineRose*

        Also to IT, if you fixed something that I needed fixed, let me know! Sometimes I’ve gotten back to my desk and found that someone was there, but I’m not sure if the problem was fixed. Other times, the fix could be done remotely. Do you expect me to just keep checking if it’s still broken every 10 minutes, or will you send me an e-mail to let me know it’s OK.

    5. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      please for the love of god, check the thing. You waited until FRIDAY BEFORE YOU TAKE VACATION to look at the thing and now the thing STILL ISN’T WORKING and you won’t be around to troubleshoot.

    6. Purple Cat*

      Said this to my husband last night about a coworker.
      How many months in a row do I have to tell her that I need TWO files to get my part of the job done, and sending me HALF of ONE file is absolutely useless!

    7. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      1. This is why I am making an exit strategy! THIS IS WHY I AM MAKING AN EXIT STRATEGY!
      2. Please, please file the official claim. Please. Let the investigators in to do what they do best.
      3. YOU are the reason my dog growls at my work computer.

      1. Purple Cat*

        Ha. #3 have you watched Lupin? Is your coworker named Pelligrini?
        Very good series if you can look past the dubbing.

    8. Niniel*

      Please don’t get huffy with me. I did not ASK FOR or DO ANYTHING to cause this device to break. It’s not my fault, but it needs to be fixed and I have done everything I can. Now it’s your turn.

    9. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

      It might be a good idea to stop texting during a meet and greets that were organized so you could meet the students in faculty in our department.

      1. Ginger Dynamo*

        From the other side of the screen, “why are you texting me during this grad school info session with a work request on the day I requested to have PTO for grad school interviews?”

    10. Librar**

      You are not my manager. You are not her manager. You are not anyone’s manager, you’re at the same level as the rest of us AND you’ve worked here less time, so stop telling people what to do! Whoever told you that the best way to get a promotion is to act like you’ve already got the job clearly didn’t understand how much of a misogynist jerk you’d be trying to implement that. The day you get promoted will be the day the rest of the department resigns on the spot.

    11. I AM Sparkling }:(*

      None of your damn business!

      Wash your freaking clothes!

      I don’t care!

      Learn to count!

      Yes, all the same person.

    12. FridayAngerrrr*

      “You make three times what I do, and you don’t do shit, so how about YOU DO THE THING, F***FACE?”

    13. Amber Rose*

      You were told to stop doing my job because you always do it wrong, and if you don’t stop messing up my job I am going to RUIN YOUR LIFE.

      (What I actually said was way more professional but distinctly icy.)

    14. AsherCat*

      “Do you really need to invite ALL the salespeople?” I wanted to say this to a vendor rep I’m working with. Every meeting we have, the salesperson count grows by at least 2. Pretty soon we’re going to have a legion of salespeople in these meetings.

    15. Allornone*

      1. No, I don’t have the Board Development Plan. I was supposed to do a Board Development Plan? What the hell is a Board Development Plan? I love special projects, but holy crap, someone NEEDS TO TELL ME WHEN THEY EXIST. Give me a couple of hours…

      2. You scare me.

      3. Did you even look in your department’s file? This info is right freaking there. I just did a search in the shared drive and found it in two minutes. It’s not even my department. You outrank me, woman. Be resourceful!

    16. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I understand that your request is urgent (from your perspective) and time sensitive (to you) and a priority (because it is your personal priority, not the company priority) and you want me to take care of your request first ahead of anything else. Every person who submits a request wants that same thing–I’ve got 50+ “urgent” requests pending from folks all across this company. Why don’t you go talk to the CEO and convince him to hire 10 employees to help me so that we can process every request instantly. [ending with a big eye roll]

    17. Choggy*

      No I will not purchase a $500 printer for one person because you can’t find the time to train them, though they’ve been with the company for a few months now, how perform the process the rest of your team does every day that does not require them to print *anything*.

    18. Sled dog mama*

      1. Don’t schedule meetings for all of us without checking the schedule (especially meetings with vendors that you aren’t going to attend)

      2. For the love of all that is holy it is literally my job to watch you do the thing and sign off that it was done correctly I can’t do that if you only call me once the thing is done and I’ve been telling you this for 2 years, not the other people in the same role just you. That’s why I hate working with you you passive aggressive b$*%^!
      3. You cannot change the laws of physics!
      (I came close to saying this one)
      4. Coworker (same person as #2): I see you have the final QA scheduled for client X so I’m going to move up the delivery date since it will be ready sooner
      Me: I won’t know if the deliverable is acceptable until I run the QA (I didn’t say “and I’ve been telling you this for 2 years”)

    19. Not Your Mother's Principal*

      After she said “no one told me” the information that was highlighted in the daily email I send every morning. And, she said, we have too many meetings that could be emails. NOT IF YOU DON’T READ THE DAMN EMAILS!!

      Thanks for letting me vent!!

      1. Elle Woods*

        I almost said this to a hiring manager after she essentially told me that if I got the position I was not to show any initiative or be a self-starter (despite what the job posting said). I withdrew my name from consideration a few hours later.

    20. Jay*

      “No, I do not want to pick up extra call shifts because the whole reason I shifted to per diem work was to GET AWAY FROM BEING ON CALL and I flat-out told you that when you asked what you could do to keep me full-time.”

      What I actually said “That’s not going to work for me.”

    21. quill*

      1. Stop stealing my samples.
      2. Of course I’m confused, we’ve revised this twenty times already
      3. Stop stealing my samples!

    22. Forkeater*

      When I sent you the thing you asked for and you didn’t reply….
      and then I sent a follow up to check and see if you’d received it and you didn’t reply…
      that means next time your request goes to the end of the queue.

    23. ecnaseener*

      I hope you’re happy with yourself for scheduling this meeting so you could watch me tell your contact person the things I told you before, and watch her say okay. I hope you’re glad you didn’t just give me her email address last week like I asked. Yes, this is going to delay your project.

      1. Aarti*

        “I did you a favor and you complained about every aspect of it and went straight to my CEO AND my boss with all of your complaints, humiliating me completely. Then you come back and ask for another favor. No, bitch! No more favors.”

    24. Purple Jello*

      Why is it when you want something I’m supposed to drop everything else and do your thing first. But when I send you a request, you don’t respond without at least two or three reminders, and that’s AFTER the deadline?

    25. TaxGeek*

      1)Do you strive to be this insulting or does it just come naturally? (I actually did say this though)
      2) If you can fix the issue, then how the f*** can you not tell me what the issue is so that I can fix it myself next time??? Is this some type of job security thing for you?
      3) It’s called math. I know math is hard but just try.

      1. I was told there would be llamas*

        I had to laugh at #3. I am also a “Tax Geek” and find myself saying, “It’s just math” when I mean something is easy, lol.

    26. Beth*

      “If you really want to help me deal with this Incredibly Important and Vital Thing, get the f* out of my office and stop interrupting me.”

    27. ErinWV*

      “Oh, you realized on Tuesday that the report was wrong? And you got IT to fix it on Wednesday? That’s awesome, good for you. Did you think to drop me a line on Tuesday when you noticed it was wrong? You know, because I also use that report? And I just spent three days messing with this data that it turns out IS WRONG? Why are you so DUMB?”

      We do the same job in different departments. Yes, when the roles have been reversed and I have noticed a problem with something we will both be working on, I have always notified her.

    28. anon teacher*

      “Say, what if you actually read the email before you came running to me with questions?”
      “Stop inventing problems to worry about! We have plenty of real problems already.”
      “Wow, what an absolute non-answer to my very straightforward question!”
      “Whyyyyy is everything you maaaaaake so damn uuuuuuugly?”

    29. Lora*

      To the mansplainer who Splained the instrument I have been using some version of for the past 17 years:
      My dude, there are at least four intern student resumes on my desk, who are more qualified and who I’d rather have working for me than you. But do go on, tell me how stuff works.

    30. Hermione Danger*

      That thing you just did? Was not only a shining example of poor leadership, it was also extraordinarily unprofessional, and a supremely cowardly act. It’s also the reason I’ve decided to get more serious about my job hunt.

    31. Mimmy*

      1. Pay attention!!! (to people who ask about something that was just mentioned very clearly)

      2. Quit saying you’re going to email something to the staff today if you’re not going to get to it, or at least acknowledge that forgot/got busy

      And that’s only just what’s off the top of my head :P

    32. Hotdog not dog*

      Did you TRY looking it up yourself, or did you jump straight to “call Hotdog, she’ll look it up for me”? (As if I had a magic Google with different answers…)

    33. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Thank you for accepting my resignation from the role you’ve been sidelining me from for months, and telling me that you think I’m doing the right thing by moving on. Without your enthusiastic validation, I’d have been so worried I was making a big mistake!

    34. Fraying at the Edge*

      No, Chicken-Little, there isn’t a problem with X. Literally everyone else in the company has used it for years and never had an issue.

      There is not (large amount of money) at risk because of X… Maybe because you can’t follow procedures, but not because of X.

      Why are you wasting our time with this BS? How has no one in your region caught onto your nonsense? You went straight to great-great-grandboss for an invented problem and no one says “boo” *silent scream*

      Same person….

    35. Lyudie*

      1. “Why does it take literal weeks to get access to this system. And why can’t they use Citrix like other systems, which maybe isn’t perfect but doesn’t make me want to stab things like SecureLink.” -.-

      2. “My question ‘does this person have access’ does not require a dozen questions about who they are, how I plan to share documents with them, what their role is, why can’t I just get on a call and show them, and it doesn’t require reiterations of basics of how the system works that I already know because I’ve done this half a dozen times”

    36. HigherEd-Staycation*

      Not to direct coworkers but way high up.

      Stop trying to motivate us this way, it does not work and just reinforces that you are tone deaf.

      Stop asking us about staff retention but refuse to hear what we need to actually you know, stay. Or, do what we’re saying we need instead of repeatedly asking us.

      1. Philosophia*

        Stop using “opportunities” as a euphemism for “problems we tell you about over and over and over again and you do nothing to address in any meaningful way.”

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          And, stop telling us to “practice self-care” to deal with the frustration of being overloaded with work. To us, self-care would be you hiring more people to help us.

    37. Squeebird*

      1. If you continue to complain about the vaccine mandate, I will snap and pull your spine out, Mortal Kombat style.

    38. ThatGirl*

      Dear president of our division, covid is not over just because you want it to be. You should listen to the head of HR.

    39. Choggy*

      Stop sending me emails, and then sending me chats to tell me you sent me an email two seconds after you sent it!

    40. Nesprin*

      Why the ever living hell do tweezers keep wandering off? We have 20 pairs of tweezers that live in the lab, and the chance that I can find ANY of them is slim at best.

    41. NotRealAnonForThis*

      1. You gave me to lines of text and 24 hours to put together a proposal worth millions, and NOW you want to critique my work? $hit in Sh!t out, I did the best I could with the utter $h!t you gave me!

      2. Lay off whatever mind altering substances you are indulging in, please.

      3. Oh FFS.

      4. If you act a fool and try to toss me under a bus via email, and copy the CEO, I’m going to reply all and inform you that what you need is on page 6, please re-read.

    42. Dr. Doll*

      Why did you not respond to this obvious and very fixable need months ago when it was brought up multiple times in multiple ways and now we are down to the wire and you’re worried about *messaging*?

      1. Dr. Doll*

        Also, don’t you ever complain again about your students not reading the syllabus when you just sent me a question that was answered in the ONE PAGE flyer attached to the email offering you a paid opportunity.

    43. Pam Adams*

      No, the student wasn’t badly advised- the student ignored the advice they were given! (said to a department chair)

    44. Tenure Track Academic Full*

      1. To the candidate for Full-Your dossier sucks and why didn’t you follow the excellent advice I gave you to revise.
      2. To my fellow promotional committee members. You make excellent points for why you do not want to promote this candidate. I agree with you but can’t say so because my director wants me to vote yes and I still have to work here. See above.

    45. Lunch Ghost*

      Not a coworker but work-related: Couldn’t you have just done what you were supposed to do so I didn’t have to sit here tweaking the form to make more space to list the things you didn’t do that you were supposed to?

    46. Elizabeth West*

      LOL this thread reminds me of an old SNL skit where flight attendants actually said what they really wanted to say. “Buh-bye!”

      I don’t have a coworker one, but: For f*ck’s sake, hire me already!

    47. Mimmy*

      Just thought of another one from this morning on behalf of all my coworkers: You want us to let you know if something doesn’t feel right? That’s great! Then don’t defensive when we give you said feedback! That might be why we grumble amongst ourselves instead!

    48. A Feast of Fools*

      “Hi everyone who has only been with our department / the company for 3-6 months and is making less than $50K/year: Just because a manager sent an email asking for donations, you do NOT have to give any money to buy our $300K/yr VP a Get Well gift for a routine medical procedure. We’re a $4B company. If we can’t afford to spring for flowers for this guy out of a departmental budget, then that’s not your problem.”

      But, alas, the collection plate was [virtually] passed and $300 was collected.

      1. Chirpy*

        My company asks employees for donations for their annual fundraiser walk (healthcare issue one of the founders had). Most of us at store level do not get paid a living wage, and I’m pretty sure the store managers aren’t paid super well either. The CEO has taken a private jet to visit a store that’s about a 3.5 hour drive from headquarters (which they make us drive for yearly training). No, I’m not donating, thanks.

    49. Mother of Corgis*

      “We’ve been paying him for a year now. I’m not sure he’s ever actually worked though.”
      What I wish I could have said when asked how long the grand boss’s son had actually worked here.

    50. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      What I actually said: “I heard you were leaving the company – I am really sorry to hear that.”
      What I didn’t say:
      I hope you are moving on to a much better job and work environment. I’m surprised you put up with this place for so long. You can do much better somewhere else – you are awesome. You deserve better and I have no doubt you will get better anywhere else you go. Sure, this company saw your value, but also took you for granted, overloaded you with work that wasn’t even part of your job, and abused your time. You are part of the Mass Exodus that is occurring because annual bonuses are about to be paid out. Quitting time! 5 people have just given notice. I am so envious. Wish I was leaving. Run free, my friend.

    51. Hermione Danger*

      How are you so terrible at listening or reading something all the way through but so very, very good at throwing other people under the bus when you mess up because you didn’t listen or read something all the way through?

    52. MigraineMonth*

      Thank you for showing me the dozen steps you need to go through to accomplish this task. It is now clear that the entire thing can be done automatically by the computer.

      … would that make you happy, or am I destroying your job security?

    53. MigraineMonth*

      I am not going to do the potentially-illegal thing until I talk to the in-house lawyer. Yes, I know *you* talked to the in-house lawyer about it, but I’m not sure you understand why it’s potentially illegal and, again, it would be *me* who was doing something that is *potentially illegal*.

    54. Squidhead*

      1. Did you check the policy?
      2. Did you read the provider note?
      3. What does the order actually say?
      4. Please, for the love of God, shut up.
      (All the same co-worker. We have access to all the same policies, notes, and orders, and there is no language barrier.)

      5. Oh, you ARE actually *Mark. (*Mark = former lazy co-worker, now reincarnated in new lazy co-worker.)

    55. Quinalla*

      Remember when I told you to do X? Yes X would have saved you all the time of having to do Y now. Also, this is the 3rd time I’ve told you this, do you like wasting time?

    56. Well...*

      1. What makes you think you have the right to talk to your colleagues like this?

      2. How can so many of you show such poor judgement?

      This is cathartic!

    57. tangerineRose*

      “Why do you always ask questions that take the meeting off-topic and make it much longer than it needed to be?” (I know the meeting leader also has some responsibility, but…)

      “I told you what to try, what to try if that doesn’t work, and what to try if the 2nd thing doesn’t work. Stop asking what to do if the next thing doesn’t work; just go try the things. If none of them work, I’ll figure out something.”

      “Most of us hate talking to you because you can be so mean when you think we aren’t high enough on the corporate ladder. You’re technically smart, but you’re so hard to deal with. How about acting like a decent person for a change? I know you can; I’ve seen you be delightful to people you think are important.”

    58. Tired Of Being The Target*

      1. We have a major performance tomorrow and you waited until after the final rehearsal STARTED to call Fellow Performer (who you frequently manipulate) and DEMAND that he leave the rehearsal and come and pick you up.
      2. NO, he can’t leave rehearsal, which has already started, which means that the rest of the cast would be be standing idle.
      3. What do you mean by, if we don’t send him to get you today, you don’t think you can show up tomorrow?
      4. If you don’t show up, you are messing up EVERYONE’S timing and placement.
      5. By the way, Fellow Performer (who you are trying to guilt trip) put you on speaker phone so we know exactly what you are trying to do.
      6. Your performance partner had to drop out because you aren’t showing up. She is a pearl beyond price and deserves better.
      7. Nice try on trying to make this out to be Fellow Performer’s fault. We are ALL mad at YOU. I expect you to try to recruit me as your flying monkey. Good luck with that.

      I wish there was some point to actually telling her the truth, but it would change absolutely nothing in her behavior. At least we didn’t let fellow performer give in to her demands and we rearranged things to work without her.

      What we did say, “Sorry that you can’t make the performance. We’ll see see you next week.”

    59. 653-CXK*

      Yes, please…

      1. Do I look like a g.d. nursery?
      2. Stop guilt tripping me.
      3. What have you tried to solve the problem yourself?
      4. For frick’s sake STOP TALKING.
      5. I don’t know…in fact, sitting in police headquarters with two detectives is more pleasant than YOUR grilling me.

      1. 653-CXK*

        And there’s more…

        1. I don’t know, and with the amount of obnoxious behavior on your end, I personally don’t care.
        2. I’m not your agony aunt/sounding board. If you want to complain, write to Dear Abby!
        3. Get off my back, RIGHT NOW.
        4. No, I can’t look into this until I’ve solved the EIGHT HUNDRED OTHER PROBLEMS that I have to solve.
        5. You want this fire put out? Call 9-1-1. I’m sure they’ll help,
        6. You know what goes good with that word salad you spouted out? A big side of I Couldn’t Care Less croutons.
        7. I am not responding back until you rein in that passive-aggressive attitude of yours.
        8. It’s nice that they’re expecting a phone call for something YOU messed up on. I’m not solving this problem – YOU are.

        1. 653-CXK*

          Yes, this is most cathartic!
          1. Yes, I know you’re covering for someone else and their screaming babies have become yours, but you have no right foisting off those problems on me. Groveling isn’t going to make me do it faster!
          2. Make up your damn mind…either it IS or it ISN’T.
          3. STOP HARASSING ME. NOW.
          4. I knew you’d be popping up on a Teams meeting right before I go to lunch/before I sign out for the day to pick my brain for something you don’t know and you think I do, and it will take two to three hours to resolve. Double nope on that, bucko. Email me and I’ll do it tomorrow.

            1. 653-CXK*

              The past two months at my job have been brutal (lots of changes, conflicts, consternations, etc.) – but #4 is a special pet peeve of mine. Nothing gets me riled up more than a Teams call before I downshift.

              Please note that I never said (or would never dare say) these things – as much as I would love to.

    60. Chirpy*

      1. Can you PLEASE actually do the work you were hired to do? Instead of hanging out with your friend in another department and leaving me to do everything by myself? Also, I can see the stats for the pick system (you could too, if you ever checked it) and I know you’re only picking 5 things all weekend when I’m picking close to 200. In a single day.

      2. FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, CONRAD, STOP SCREWING UP THE SYSTEM! Do not rearrange the shelf! Do not over-fill! Backstock properly! Get off your phone and stop running into things! You’re not helping anyone if we all have to follow you around and fix everything afterward!

      1. Chirpy*


        3. Dear corporate: you asked us to email if we have questions. You took away our ability to email and replaced it with a stupid “social media-like” program that nobody from corporate is on. You are not answering your phone during normal office hours, so I have no way to contact you. The deadline is today. I cannot ask you the relevant question and it WILL affect sales of the very thing you’re trying to increase sales of.

    61. linger*

      “No, I don’t want to give an effing farewell speech at the next department Zoom meeting. Preparing something — because, make no mistake, anything that politely avoids the myriad actual reasons I want out of this hellhole is going to have to be very carefully scripted — will be a LOT of work, and really, the whole point of quitting is so I don’t have to do that kind of work any more. And no, do NOT send me flowers. I know it’s traditional, but since I’m going to be leaving my office, my apartment, and the country pretty much simultaneously, I’ve literally got nowhere to put them. Seriously, don’t waste the money and the time just to give me the additional work of binning them somewhere.”

    62. FACS*

      Stop offering me daily advice about how to do my job. I wrangle llamas, you paint teapots. Stay in your lane.

    63. Noxalas*

      Are you… licking your fingers to flip those papers?! Oh god, you ARE licking your fingers…

      I can’t look at this person the same way again. Help.

    64. Office Gumby*

      Honestly?! Did you just vote against everyone getting a pay rise? I ought to slap you and the other 205 people who were stupid enough to vote against us all getting much-needed payrises. What the hell do you mean you had no idea what you were voting for? You are an idiot who definitely does not deserve a pay rise. But we’re all on the same EBA, so if one of us doesn’t get a pay rise, none of us do. Why on earth didn’t you stop to think why I kept telling everyone they needed to vote *for* a pay rise and not let the C-suite shaft us for another three years?

      For the next three years, all your service requests are going to the BOTTOM of the queue. Good luck getting that thing fixed by me or my team. Don’t think I’m not gonna tell them about what you did.

  12. Laney Boggs*

    I have a job interview today!!!!

    …except I realized last night it was contract. I know Alison always says to figure 50% of your salary goes to tax/insurance/vacation, but I looked up some salary calculators and got 37% (not including time off tbf)

    Puts me at a whopping 1000 per YEAR more than I’m taking home now. And they want me to move to DMV. Bye bye enthusiasm!

    1. Filosofickle*

      In my experience as a longtime contractor/freelancer, the contract upcharge varies if it’s “freelance” type contract vs. a FT contract role, and if you’re paid as 1099 or W2. My full-time contract roles have actually been W2 through a payroll company which handles taxes and sometimes benefits. The big block of stable hours counts for something, and you only have to clear enough extra to offset the lack of permanence (whatever that’s worth to you) and benefits/taxes. I only need to charge that 50% more if it’s freelance style contracting, where it’s project based or not full time. Then you have to cover EVERYTHING including time spent chasing other work and running a business in addition to taxes/insurance/vacation etc. So make sure it’s clear how it’s classified and how you’ll get paid!

  13. Leilah*

    Any advice for managers who encourage you to work less, but don’t seem to realize you would feel worse to do so? They keep saying that they support us in our work-life balance. They say they are totally okay with us pushing deadlines when we won’t be able to meet them.

    The problem is, that’s not enough. All the other teams to which we deliver things are going to be impacted if we don’t meet our deadlines. I care about those people, I don’t want to screw them over. On top of that, when I don’t meet my deadlines *I’m* the one who will have more work next week because I wasn’t able to implement a solution in a timely fashion and have to clean up the mess made while I was slowly working on the fix. It’s to the point where I think they might start telling me that *I’m* the problem for working late — I worked until 9pm the last three days. But I would much rather do that than miss my deadlines!

    Anyone have advice for me? How do I get them to understand that they can tell me to miss deadlines all they want, but I’m the one who pays the emotional price for those missed deadlines and I’d rather work late than feel bad by hurting others and adding clean-up work to my plate.

    1. CTT*

      Have you said that it will negatively impact the other team? I understand that feels like an emotional price for you, but that’s also a not-emotional issue for them and your organization.

      1. Leilah*

        I have done that. I have also laid out the financial case for it – each day I delay a deadline is a direct, measurable cost to the business. Their answer is that they care about people more than profits, so I shouldn’t ever burn myself out on account of that. That’s why I focused more on the effect to me as a person here — they seem to know the financial case and decided they don’t care. It’s also well-known that it is our #1 reason for turnover on my team. They seem to think that just telling us we should stop working so much will solve that dissatisfaction issue. For me, it’s just making it worse.

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          You shouldn’t care about the financial impact more than they do. There is a reason they want you to take care of yourself. I would consider listening to them.

    2. Kathenus*

      I’d consider looking at your tasks/workload and breaking it down into separate components, maybe with some idea of % of time/hours each one takes. Then figure out if there are any things on there that could be deferred, moved to someone else, not done at all/done at a lower level, etc. With that knowledge in hand have a meeting with your manager. Say you really appreciate that they support work-life balance, and that they have offered flexibility on deadlines. But be honest that with the same workload, pushing off deadlines both impacts other departments work and gives you more work in the future to catch up. Bring up areas that you think could be removed from your plate or streamlined to help you actually achieve work-life balance and see if she is receptive or has other ideas. Sometimes someone can be well-meaning, but not fully think out the big picture – in this case if her wanting to support flexibility/work-life balance is genuine, she may not realize that other things have to change to achieve it. A frank conversation might either bring solutions, or at least understanding between you, and help you know if things might change or not. Good luck.

      1. Leilah*

        I have had so many meetings with so many proposed solutions. I have explained it so many times and they say that want I am saying makes perfect sense and that my ideas are good. They have not implemented any of them. They have tried some things that from my perspective were doomed to not help and at all, and lo and behold, they have not helped at all. They transitioned a bunch of our team to “specialists” in certain kinds of requests in the name of removing things from our plate — that was nearly a year ago, and nothing has actually been removed from my plate (so honestly what are those folks even doing all day? I’m starting to feel jealous and resentful which I feel awful about, but come on!). They also recently instructed the people that we serve to….send us fewer emergencies. Which, to me is useless, because my “customers” already cared about me as a human being and only asked me for emergencies when they really needed them anyway. I think that’s partially because they know I care about them and work my hardest for them. They are overworked, too.

      2. Leilah*

        My comment is stuck in moderation, short answer is yes I’ve explained it, yes I’ve given many suggestions, no they have not taken them. We have done time budgets for the team. They have tried two things that haven’t helped at all and that’s it.

        1. Kathenus*

          That’s demotivating, isn’t it. I was hoping she was more unaware, but sounds unfortunately like she wants to have her cake (saying she offers flexibility and cares about work-life balance) and eat it too (no reduction in workload). I’m sorry.

          The advice I’d have for this situation is either 1) keep doing everything as is, or 2) take her at her word, and let her deal with the consequences of other people being delayed – if they complain, direct them to manager; something isn’t done and there’s a consequence, direct them to manager. If she has to deal with the fallout from her words, she might substitute them with some action.

          1. Leilah*

            The funny thing is, I haven’t even been proposing or asking for a reduction in workload. I’ve just been asking for us to move around some of our scheduled tasks (right now they clump up over half our work into the first week of each month) and/or to trade off who has to do what kind of tasks (i.e. Mondays I handle emergency requests, Tuesdays Sarah handles them, etc.) because it would make us vastly more efficient than the constant interruptions we have now.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Have they laid out how they expect you to work less if they’re not taking work off your plate? Talk is cheap.

      1. Leilah*

        They insist that they will be taking work of our plate…someday, somehow. And for now to just miss the deadlines and get things done when we can.

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          Sometimes to get extra resources you need to show evidence that you are unable to get the word done.

          1. Leilah*

            I don’t know how much more clearly we could show them. We are working 60 hours a week and still not meeting all the deadlines. They know this.

            1. introverted af*

              But you’re working it. I think what HR Exec is saying is that you need to work the 40hrs they pay you for and just do what you can in that timeframe. Everybody does, even if it hurts. That’s what will drive the company to hire more to fill the gaps.

              1. HR Exec Popping In*

                Yes, that is my point. They don’t feel you working 60 hours a week. They see the results. And the work is getting done.

    4. bunniferous*

      Have you considered the possibility that a bit more work life balance could help you work more EFFICIENTLY in the long run? I know that when I am in one of those busy seasons my efficiency takes a hit the later I work. Sometimes, yes, long hours are unavoidable but when I stop work at a reasonable time I come back fresher to it in the morning and I am able to get things done quicker. If you have support from your managers-and you do-you should at least experiment with this. You might be pleasantly surprised.

      1. Leilah*

        I get that — my problem is that my job is a combination of unpredictable emergency requests, and large extremely complex projects that require focus. I feel much, much better if I can grind out a focus project in the evening when I am not constantly being interrupted by the emergency requests. If it’s 5pm and I haven’t been able to finish the focus-project, I would much rather stay late and knock it out so I can sit down at my desk the next morning ready to be a pleasant and productive teammate – the other option is quit at 5pm and try to relax knowing that when I sit down the next morning there a 50% chance I will be able to finish my project on time and a 50% chance I will be bombarded with emergencies that I will not be able to handle well while trying to multitask and getting increasingly more frustrated as I watch my deadline loom. I also do a much, much better job at those extremely detailed large tasks if I can focus on them and not be interrupted, so I am literally doing better work if I do them on evenings or weekends.

        1. Gracely*

          Are you the only one handing both, or are there other people who also do both? If so, would it be possible for you to alternate who handles the emergencies so the other person can focus uninterrupted?

          1. Leilah*

            We have about 10 people all with the same mix of duties as me. I have suggested this so many times to literally anyone who will listen. Ever single person on my team says it sounds like an amazing idea. I have explained it to at least 3 members of the management team. No action has been taken.

            1. Paper lightbulb*

              Maybe they think you’re going to set it up yourself? Have you told them what action is needed or just run the idea past them?

              1. Leilah*

                No. We have pretty strict guidelines about what responsibilities belong to whom. They do not want me to just start telling co-workers that I have changed their responsibilities.

                1. LizB*

                  I wonder if you could agree with one buddy coworker to try out this kind of responsibility-sharing for a while, kind of informally/under the table, to a) see if management even notices and b) see if it provides some good data to make the case for making it formal? That way you’re not telling a coworker anything, you’re agreeing to back each other up. I have a coworker with the exact same job as me, and we started doing a rotation of who tackled what tasks on what weeks and literally nobody noticed we were doing anything different, but our lives got 500% easier.

                2. Quinalla*

                  I would also suggest trying this out with one person, not you assigning things, but you and one or a couple other people agreeing to try it out. If you feel the need, go to your boss and say hey X, Y, Z and I are going to try this out for a month and let you know how it goes as we want to try and get that work/life balance you are pushing. We think this is a good path to it, but we’ll report back in a month and try something else further/different depending on the results. Sometimes you have to take more initiative then maybe they’ve let you in the past to get stuff like this moving – you and your peers understand the issue better than your boss, I’d go for it. At my work place, we’d likely let someone know we were trying something like this, but not to ask permission, just to give a heads up.

        2. OtterB*

          If you haven’t, I’d make it clear to your managers that it’s not just deadlines, it’s a need for uninterrupted time to work on the focus projects. Maybe there’s some way they can help with that. Would it be possible, for example, for you and the rest of the team to take turns being on call for the emergency tasks so that you get some time “off duty” for those?

    5. milaxo*

      I’m in the same boat but I’m on a super small team so it seems like there’s no other options as the work needs to get done and there’s no one else to do it. However, this year I told myself I will be more vocal about what I can and cannot finish and meetings/deadlines will need to be pushed back. I’m looking forward to seeing what advice others have for this.

    6. Miel*

      It sounds like you’re being asked to do the work of two people. If you want things to change, it might be time to start letting the company feel the natural consequences of their actions (aka, if you don’t hire enough people, work doesn’t get done).

      It sucks because others will be inconvenienced, but if nobody is inconvenienced, nobody will ever know there’s a problem.

      And, talk to your managers about what work they want you to postpone/ stop doing/ do a quicker version of.

      1. Leilah*

        I know which work they want me to postpone. My concern is, every deadline I drop is to some extent an enemy made. I would much rather work 60hrs a week with people I have a good relationship with than work 40 hours a week with people who hate me. It also just feels really icky to not live up to my own standards, it feels bad to miss deadlines. It’s not fun, it feels awful. It feels good to deliver good work on time. And how will I ever move up in the company and develop a good reputation if I turn recalcitrant?

        1. Green Beans*

          Reasonable people are not going to hate you for having too much work to do in a week and therefore not getting it all done. That’s not a healthy mindset – are you working with a lot of a-holes or are you putting this reaction on them?

          Be clear about pushing deadlines, give people as much head’s up as possible and a quick explanation “hey Harry, the report isn’t getting done because Emergency Project came in. I should have it for you by Tuesday; I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

          I spent an entire six months missing deadline after deadline and by the end of it my emails looked like this, “Hey, this didn’t get done. COVID. I’m doing my best to get it to you by X date.” I didn’t make any enemies, and pretty much everyone was just like “yup you’re overworked it happens.” The vast majority of people understand that deadlines get moved and that one person doing the work of two is often going to be the person moving the deadlines. It’s fine, especially if your manager is supporting you.

          1. Leilah*

            I guess the issue is, the people I’m working with are working 70 hours a week, I’m working 60 and being told to only work 40. They are mostly folks doing hard, dirty physical labor 70 hours a week. I have worked really hard to build rapport with them so that they don’t think I’m just a lazy desk-jockey sitting on my rear while they do the hard work. It’s a challenge to show them that I do care about them and that I do want to make their lives and jobs go smoothly. It’s one thing to only work 40 hours a week when I am giving them everything they need, it’s another thing to walk away at 5pm when they are still sweating it out due to my missed deadline, or when they are the ones having to face angry customers because I wasn’t able to meet a deadline.

            1. Leilah*

              Hu, come to think of it, one of the reasons I have been able to build that rapport is because I have a background in doing very similar dirty, physical work as these folks do. They trust me because they know I that I know how hard it is. I wonder if any of my managers have that understanding of their experience at all — or if it was so long ago for them they’ve forgotten what these folks are going through. Maybe when I tell my managers how this impacts downstream people, they don’t really understand why that is so important to me and why it would so severely damage our department’s relationship with the people we are supporting.

            2. Green Beans*

              Yeah, but that’s not your issue – sounds like the company is in general understaffed. I would definitely be willing to go above and beyond in emergencies, but you can also tell them “I realized as long as I am willing to work crazy hours, they’ll never hire another person for my department. I also can’t sustain these hours and put out quality work, so I had to make some hard choices here.”

              Most people do understand that different jobs are different and require different things. As long as you’re respectful and willing to help/be flexible to their workload, you shouldn’t be losing relationship points.

    7. TOModera*

      I’m going to comment on this as someone who worked as a project manager for 9 years, for disorganized, non financial people:

      The truth it they don’t care. You can show them the financial amount and the impact for years. The change has to come from someone who can implement it. Project Management is completely useless if management doesn’t back it up.

      So you have two choices:

      1. Follow what they say, let them lose money, and let them deal with the consequences, and wait for someone else to come to the same conclusion. Have all of your data and conversations ready to go when the blade drops on the guillotine.
      2. Find a new job that actually cares about timelines

    8. martin*

      OP, sometimes you have to give managers what they are asking for and then let them see the outcome before any real downstream change ever happens.
      Document, document, document, so that it’s clear that they told you to do this as a solution, and that you just did what they said.

    9. Anonymous Hippo*

      Perhaps the solution is not to miss deadlines, but to have a broader review/update to the deadline process. If they are routinely making deadlines/timelines that require you to work until 9pm that’s a company problem, and needs to be addressed at the company level. Not with you just missing the deadline and someone else receiving late work. I’d push back from that standpoint.

    10. TechWorker*

      Sorry if this point has already been made, but who is setting these deadlines that regularly mean you need to work 60 hours to meet? Yes it’s annoying for other teams if you don’t meet the deadline but it’s a lot less annoying if your team/manager says upfront ‘we’re overloaded, Tuesday isn’t possible you’ll get it on friday’. If it’s ‘ok’ to miss deadlines then they literally can’t be that fixed – have you tried that angle?

  14. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Small success. I have started the ball rolling on a procedural change. I hope to get this added to our Manual. It is not a corporate process, but, instead a practical engineering process that I want to become a standard with certain kinds of projects and not a special request.

    And, wow, the week went fast.

  15. Jules the First*

    I’m now working from home three days a week. Would it be weird to use my lunch break for a long hot shower on one of my wfh days?

    As a solo mum of an 8mo scamp, a long hot shower without having to toss toys around the bathroom while putting on a one-woman Sound of Music sounds fairly blissful…but the lunchtime shower also feels wrong and somehow unprofessional.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think your lunch break is for whatever you want to use it for. I sometimes take a quick nap on my WFH days.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Nothing wrong at all. It’s your lunch break, set Slack to “I’m away” and do whatever.

      Plenty of people, in the office or WFH, go for a run at lunch and then take a shower, and nobody bats an eye.

    3. Darcy*

      Not at all. That break time is yours to use as you want. You could go to the gym, garden, mow your lawn, etc. It never needs to be “professional”.

    4. WFH is all I Want*

      Do it. Don’t even think about it. Just avoid wet hair in a towel for any on camera meetings.

      That lunch time shower is amazing and you own that time. It’s no different from eating lunch in your car to be able to completely disconnect from work or running a quick errand.

      I’m a solo mom too and a shower during nap time is so reinvigorating and has actually increased my performance in the second half of my day.

    5. Meowquis*

      Not at all. In WFH I’ve gone for walks, nipped to the post office, napped, showered, any number of things. Occasionally for team standups (just chatting to one another or brainstorming to help with someone’s problem), I’ve walked around the park on headphones and mobile signal. Your lunch break is yours to do as you wish, and feeling relaxed, clean and fresh will help you in all aspects.

    6. londonedit*

      Not at all! I do want to say that I completely get the irrational and yet somehow completely understandable impulse to think ‘having a shower in the middle of the working day is weird’, because it’s something I also struggle with, but it’s your lunch break and you can spend it doing whatever you like! It’s one of the joys of WFH – I quite often go for a long walk in the morning and get back just before I start work, and because I live by myself if I don’t have any meetings that morning I’ll often just get stuck in with checking my emails and having a coffee, and then I’ll take half an hour to have a shower and get dressed into ‘proper’ clothes at maybe 10am or whatever. Felt weird to start with but it’s totally fine!

    7. Raboot*

      You can do literally anything you want during your lunch hour! Maybe it feels weird because you’re thinking “I’m at work”? But you’re at home and on an hour break from slack/teams. The time is yours!

    8. milaxo*

      It’s not unprofessional or weird at all, no one would know anyhow! I’ve showered, taken naps, run out to appointments (eyebrows, laser, etc.). It’s your lunch hour and that’s the perfect way to use it while you’re WFH.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Sounds delightful to me! Lots of people exercise and then shower on their lunch hours; you’re just skipping to the good part.

    10. Murphy*

      That sounds lovely!

      I work from home 5 days a week and I do all sorts of things during the day, including dyeing my hair. As long as people know you’re unavailable at that time, I don’t see any problem.

    11. KateM*

      Would having a shower during your lunch break also feel weird if you imagine working next door to your home and going home for lunch?

    12. Everything Bagel*

      Reading this on my lunch break which began with a nice hot shower. Why does it matter what you do on your break?

    13. Joielle*

      I say go for it! I often work out and take a shower over my lunch break. Or do the dishes, or vacuum, or watch TV while eating, or any number of other things that would be unprofessional to do at the office. I consider it a WFH perk!

    14. WellRed*

      I just filed my story (reporter) &10:30, sent it to editor, hopped in shower. This is my typical Friday. No one even knows, let alone cares. Go forth and shower!

    15. AsherCat*

      DO IT!!!! I often take showers on my lunch break when wfh. It’s your break, use it how you want! I don’t think it’s unprofessional at all.

      If you use a chat program, be sure to put your status as “away” or “busy” to cut down on possible calls. But even if someone was trying to reach you during that time, you can just say you were busy, no need to elaborate. It would be the same as if you went out to a restaurant at lunchtime and couldn’t be reached.

    16. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Just try to remember to take the towel off your hair before you go into a camera-on meeting. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

    17. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      Not weird at all, I’m full time remote and have used my lunch break for showers, walks around the neighborhood, cleaning, napping, working on a puzzle, etc. Just part of the joys of working from home. Who would even know?

    18. Cafe Lighting*

      Go for it and enjoy every minute of it. I know several people that go to the gym during their lunch hour and they all take a shower after their workout before they return to work. This does not seem unprofessional to me in any way.

      1. Aarti*

        Absolutely. I work 10 hour days sometimes (I average about 42 hours a week so it works out) and if I didn’t do stuff on my lunch and even take extended lunches sometimes I’d go crazy.

    19. Beth*

      Go for it!! Especially if you find hot showers energizing, or relaxing. Or if you get good ideas or inspirations in the shower. It can put you in a much better place for tackling the next part of your day. What’s not to love?

    20. Jane*

      Absolutely not. I’m pretty stressed out with work at the moment, so had a lovely hot bath and read on my iPad for my lunchbreak today.

    21. Anonymous Luddite*

      Of all the stuff I’ve heard done (and done myself) on a lunch break, this is remarkably refreshing.
      Enjoy your shower
      Just don’t tell your coworkers you had a thought while you were in the shower. They might picture you nekkid.

    22. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Who’s going to know?! It’s your life…shower when it makes the most sense for you! And as a mom who’s kiddo was 8 months old at one point…showers made me feel like a new person and ultimately a better mom. Enjoy!

    23. Nope.*

      I don’t tell others what I do on my lunch break, nor do I expect others to tell me what they do during theirs.

      You’re overthinking this.

    24. Anonymous Hippo*

      How can it be unprofessional if nobody knows about it? Do you have to jump on zoom immediately afterwards with wet hair?

      Personally I don’t think even that would be unprofessional, l0ts of people use their lunch hour to run to the gym and likely shower afterwards. Your lunch hour is yours, do what you like.

    25. lolly pop*

      I use my wfh lunch to do anything from clean my chicken coops to weeding the garden to baking cookies. It’s your time!

    26. Coenobita*

      I’ve started doing this every once in a while – it’s great, and I don’t even have kids! In my opinion it’s a huge perk of working from home.

    27. Fran Fine*

      I have coworkers who do this – well, they exercise for a half hour and then use the last half hour or so for “lunch” to shower. Then they eat while working after.

    28. KR*

      Nothing weird about it. I frequently took my showers during my lunch at my last job. They can’t smell you through the webcam.

  16. Anon state gov interviewer*

    Y’ALL I applied for a new job with a big fancy title kind of on a whim and now I have an interview scheduled! And I’m a little bit freaking out, please reassure me.

    Background: I hadn’t planned to leave my job anytime soon, but my current agency doesn’t really have opportunities for growth unless my boss retires, which is maybe 15 years from now. I was looking at postings to see what kinds of experience I might need, for some time in the future when I might start looking for a different job at a different agency, and I came across one that I was already pretty well qualified for… so I applied. And then they emailed me to schedule an interview, and had me send transcripts and fill out paperwork for a background check, and it’s feeling REALLY REALLY REAL all of a sudden. The interview is scheduled for two hours and the panel includes the head of the agency, so I assume it’s just the one round of interviews.

    I haven’t even had the interview yet so I have no idea how it will go, but I’m suddenly nervous! I love my job but realistically, if I could jump to the next level already, I should probably go for it. Just nerve wracking to contemplate leaving my stable, fairly easy, fairly cushy, very flexible job for a big step up in responsibility in an area I’m not as familiar with. I’ve never really struggled with impostor syndrome but I think I am now. Any encouraging thoughts would be much appreciated!

    1. Just a Manager*

      You’re in a great position. It sounds like you don’t need the job. I would take the attitude that they need to sell you on the job.

    2. Lurkyloo*

      Good luck!
      Remember how you felt starting your current job? I’d bet money you had some imposter syndrome then too and now you are rocking it! It’s really the same with any new job. I took my most recent role almost 2 years ago and literally knew nothing about the processes and now I’m considered a SME.
      You got this!

    3. Rey*

      Power pose! If you don’t know what this is, look up the TED talk by Amy Cuddy. I did this before my last interview and it really helped to take a few deep breaths and not be sitting in my chair getting anxious right before the interview actually started. You’re going to do great!

    4. SansaStark*

      I recently did this, landed the job, and am really happy! For me anyway, the first 60 seconds are where my nerves are the worst and then I calm down so take a couple of calming breaths before you begin. Remember that you’re interviewing them, too. The job was a big step up for me so I was really candid about the areas that I’d need some coaching in because I didn’t want to get into a situation where I oversold what I could deliver. It worked!

    5. the cat's pajamas*

      Congrats! My previous job was at a fancy place. I applied because the job sounded interesting, thinking they’d probably never call… then I had a phone interview! I decided to be happy enough if that was it because fancy place thought I was good enough to talk to… then I had an in person interview… then I got the job! You never know, good luck!!!!

    6. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

      I once had a grand-boss who told me that if the job I was applying for didn’t scare me at least a little, I wasn’t stretching far enough (I was deciding if I was going to interview for the same job my then-boss was applying for). An interview lets you determine if it’s a good stretch or a too-far stretch; you can always decline if made an offer. Go for it!

  17. WFH is all I Want*

    Anyone had experience with the background check company HireRight? I’m starting to understand why the reviews online are so scathing.

    After last week’s major delay, I paid for my own background check sourced directly from the government and federal police. It’s already arrived and showed I’m in the clear…HireRight has run their check through their own company in that country (which costs even more than if you just go directly through the government run background check process) and have referred it for additional research. They’re refusing to accept my government issued, legal/criminal clearance certificate as proof of my clean history but they are allegedly more qualified than the government and federal police.

    It’s no use calling customer service. They’re call centers with scripted speeches rather than actual options to escalate my case.

    I’ve looped in the recruiter but haven’t heard back from them. I’ve never encountered anything like this.

    1. Leilah*

      I don’t remember the company, but I had background check issues that delayed my start date once and I ended up complaining about it on Twitter, tagging the company. Immediately was reached out to by people within the background check company and had it solved within a day. It might be worth a shot?

      1. WFH is all I Want*

        I have avoided joining Twitter up until this point but this may be the thing that gets me to join. I’m about to lose my start date and my mind.

        1. twitterphile*

          Twitter has *a lot* to say about HireRight if you keyword search it. If you’d been on Twitter before, it might have saved you the trouble of finding out the hard way ;)

          1. WFH is all I Want*

            I would still be dealing with them though. I saw the online reviews and provided every single piece of evidence they could possibly need to verify that I am who I’m claiming to be as soon as I was asked to start entering in my info for them. 80% of my 25 documents have been rejected (including my official transcripts and my redacted W2s).

            But now the only thing I’m waiting for is their criminal background check for a country outside the US and they have no sense of urgency at all.

    2. Lora*

      They complained to me that they couldn’t find the address or contact information for Huge University, where I went to grad school, and I needed to supply it. I asked if they tried Googling the address. They said they can’t use Google because things on there aren’t true.
      You don’t even Google job applicants?
      *long pause*
      “no we do not”
      What if there’s something important you could find by Googling, which you wouldn’t necessarily find by other methods? Like what if they were originally charged with something bad, but the charges were later dropped? (At the time, my industry had just seen a HUGE class action lawsuit of a major company which had harassment and assault charges dropped in exchange for a large settlement, and I didn’t want to end up accidentally hiring one of the perpetrators.)
      “We don’t check for things like that. Just did you work where you said, and schools.”
      Oh. But you didn’t bother to check those either. You’re just taking my word for it that the contact info I give you is right. What are you checking the address against, an old phone book?
      *hangs up on me*

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Not sure it’s the same batch of idiots, but I started my current job a week late because they *wouldn’t use* the contact information I provided for my grad school. There’s the registrar’s office, which confirms enrollment. They called the HR line that confirms employment, and I wasn’t an employee, so they had no record of me. I complained, and explained what they’d done. So what did they do? Called the HR line again, same result.

        Fortunately, the hiring manager had attended the same grad school, and he ended up vouching for me.

      2. WFH is all I Want*

        I clearly remember learning how to do a web search and verify the results when I was in 8th grade. That seems like necessary job training for something like this.

        I was able to get to a supervisor by mentioning the last lawsuit against them but it still hasn’t resolved my issue.

        I seem to have a slightly more senior group working on my background check since it’s doing more than verifying my employment but it’s still shocking that this is how it’s going.

      3. RosyGlasses*

        HR 101 – you don’t use google. You don’t want to stumble across anything that could prompt discriminatory decisions and there are many things you might find (social media) that are a slippery slope should you decide to make a decision or start a conversation based on what you find.

    3. Bronze Medalist*

      My current company uses them. It took mine seven weeks (!) to come back. They blamed it on covid closing a lot of government buildings. It was super frustrating.

      1. WFH is all I Want*

        That’s what I’m afraid of but their slow turn around times have been well documented and existed long before 2019. So much of the criminal checks are automated too. I went directly to the government websites (local and National) and was able to pull all my information in 15 minutes for most of them with the longest taking 48 hours. They’ve been verifying through their own process and outsourcing to their own international companies and it’s set to take them FIVE weeks or longer. I’ve spent under a $100 USD so far and I’m wondering how much this weeks long process is getting billed to the hiring company for.

  18. Meowquis*

    afternoon commentariat,

    a situation I wouldn’t mind opinions on, or just general discussion: you may have seen news articles percolating out about selling off 2700 customer service agents to the outsource customer service business, majorel.

    I am also an employee of, but not a customer service agent. my job is (as far as I am aware) safe, and in this same week of virtually laying off these agents (which is what it is: go to another business and lose your tenure, benefits, choice of which business to work for, possibly be forced to relocate to a cheaper country, etc…. or quit) there have been compensation conversations with the rest of us.

    I’ve made myself fairly valuable. And had conversations with my boss implying that I needed to see growth of pay opportunity… resulting in a 28% compensation increase and 12% bonus. these events are occuring simultaneously and, me being an anxious annie, I feel quite guilty surviving the second round of huge pandemic layoffs and coming out richer for it. is my increase coming out of savings from people losing their livelihoods, my brain asks? I feel quite conflicted and like I oughtn’t be happy about something I fought for.

    1. Leilah*

      They were going to lay those people off whether you got a raise or not. Really, they were. Just because some people did not get what they deserved *does not* mean you don’t deserve good things. This is survivor’s guilt and it is really common after layoffs. I am sorry you are going through it.

      1. Meowquis*

        Thank you, it sucks. Just… all very sudden after effusive promises post-2020 that layoffs were all ready and done. The grim, auto-cue, empathy-less announcement promising that this is a good thing followed by the obvious, gruelling distress of people with a ten-year tenure feeling like they’ve been sold like cattle is a very bitter taste.

        Ultimately I have worked exceptionally hard – if I got hit by a bus my team would *flounder*. I’ve truly stepped up, and even since the conversations I had, have stepped up in awkward situations to assume a leadership role where finding a candidate was proving near-impossible. I know I worked very hard for it! Just… argh. What a time to announce it all!

    2. Raboot*

      > is my increase coming out of savings from people losing their livelihoods, my brain asks

      No. Your boss presumably had no say at all in such a major decision for a different role, let alone a major say. You made your case and it was approved based on the company’s financials as it stands. Certainly no one’s job would have been saved by you not asking for your due. I totally get the feeling, having “survived” major layoffs recently, but hopefully you can avoid any feelings of guilt as they are unwarranted.

      1. Meowquis*

        Thank you! Yeah, my boss (and 3 levels above him) were not aware. Which is really shifty, as we are extremely connected to the CS business unit, and one of the members of our team is from one of the sites being closed – we know now he is one of only 5 survivors, but everyone up the chain was scrambling to see if he would be staying. Even shadier, the compensation conversations were scheduled for the day *after* the announcement – we (jokingly) bullied our boss into the knowledge on monday, but a thursday-friday rapid rollercoaster would have thrown me off even more. (Especially with a funeral this morning, too.)

        But thank you again, I’ve been throughout layoffs before (50% of staff in my area for first covid, but large severance and people applying for voluntary redudancy, so no hard feelings) and in my old workplace that was so toxic that laying off half the staff and making them pack up their belongings around those of us staying, then marching them out, seemed so cartoonishly villainous that you had to almost laugh. This one just seems… horrible. Over a thousand comments under the post of people where both couples work for this business and are expecting a baby… and are now both in a bad place. The same with mortgages. Grim reminder of why it’s better not to work in the same place as your partner.

        I’ll have to take some time and try and process that survivor’s guilt and spend a few moments mapping out (once again, for clarity) all the things I did when arguing for increased pay.

    3. Kes*

      One person’s raise is absolutely not going to affect layoffs of thousands of people. It’s a drop in the bucket in comparison.
      The only thing that is worth worrying about is the stability of the company and whether you’re still comfortable working there. It’s clear you’re a valuable employee and will do well either way

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      Survivors guilt is normal. But your benefit has nothing to do with their jobs being outsourced. That is purely a financial or strategy decision and it is is actually nice that the employer arranged for the new company to take on their employees. They would have had to negotiate that into their contract and they didn’t need to do that.

  19. Middle Manager*

    Does anyone have experience/advice switching from a standard office hour schedule (8-5) to quasi-second-shift (11am-8pm)?

    I am in the final stages of interviewing with a company and position that I’m really excited about. Fully remote work, great compensation/benefits, and work I am confident I can do well. The ONLY issue is that I am located in EST hours, and the company is specifically hiring for PST hours — their 8-5 is my 11-8. I have only ever worked 8-5 so this would be a huge shift. My interviewers have been clear that staff work their dedicated hours and absolutely nothing outside of that, so I’m not worried about a late night turning into an even later night. I am married, but no kids, and my husband and I are both homebodies anyway, but I worry that I will mix the flexibility to meet friends for happy hour or go for an afternoon walk after work while it’s still light out.

    I’d love to hear from anyone currently working non-standard hours, especially if they made a similar shift, and your take on how it changes your social dynamic!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I did it about a decade ago. It was retail/bar, not a normal office environment, so my experience might not apply.

      I made sure that I had a couple of days with a hard out, handed off at 7:00 to the bartender and walked away without a second glance.

      One of the things that really helped me was to use my mornings for all my chores: get up at a reasonable time, do a load of laundry, run errands, etc. before I headed into the job. That way, when I got off work, I had nothing but me time.

    2. FridayAngerrrr*

      I used to have a similar schedule and I LOVED it. I went to the gym in the morning (or after work as part of the late-night crowd), and it was much easier to get errands done and appointments in. I was dating at the time and it was no problem to grab a drink or a meal after work. 8pm is not too late to do these things. I actually wish I had this schedule again, I could use a couple extra hours of sleep and more time to do things when I have the energy.

      Why couldn’t you take a walk on your lunch break (3 or 4 pm, I am guessing) while it’s still light out.

      1. Middle Manager*

        This actually makes the hours sound pretty great! I am not a night owl, but after work I find myself just sitting around on the couch anyway. If I’m doing that from 5-8PM every night, at least with this schedule I get back some morning hours to exercise/do chores!

        1. FridayAngerrrr*

          Same! After work I’m usually ready to sit on the couch, as well. I am most productive in the morning and on weekends.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I had a similar shift when I worked in a call center that served a different time zone. I loved it! I got so much done in the morning & am a night owl. The only thing it really interfered with was making Friday evening plans sometimes. (Evening events in my city generally start at 7 or 7:30.)

      I do recommend doing dinner prep before work so you can just throw everything in the oven when you get home, unless your household likes late meals.

      Oh, and rush hour is never a problem on that schedule.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Yeah, my current job ends work at 4:30 on Fridays, so I think that day would be the hardest adjustment for me :(

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Would you have to work the exact same hours as your team? For example, could you modulate to a 9-6 schedule for you, 6-3 to your Pacific coworkers? And then adjust as needed for days with later meetings? This is what my east coast friend does for her remote company.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        This is a reasonable request, though I also think it would be reasonable for the company to reject depending on the role. My experience working across time zones is that having a 4-6 hour overlap with coworkers I worked closely with rather than an 8-hour overlap turned out to be more problematic than I expected in turns of collaboration. With that said, it probably depends greatly on how collaborative vs. individual the role is.

      2. Middle Manager*

        That would be my hope and I plan to ask, but based on the interviews I’ve had so far, it seems that folks have consistent 8-5/9-6 schedules in whatever their assigned timezone is — I get the sense that work hours are very set so that non-work hours can be respected. I don’t hate that philosophy, tbh! My current job is 8-5 but has sporadic business travel and night/weekend work required throughout the year.

    5. SomebodyElse*

      My first job out of college was working this shift in an office setting. I hated it. I’m a morning person by nature, so found that I still went to bed fairly early (10pm-ish) and still got up early. So most of my time was spent not really doing anything in the morning and not having time to do anything in the evening between work and bed.

      If you are a natural night owl, then the time could work out better than it did for me.

      It was also a drag to miss out on a lot of typical ‘evening’ activities. Meeting friends for happy hour, playing sports, mid week dinner plans. Also think about what time your spouse goes to bed, it’s a real drag when you don’t really see each other during the week if they are a go to bed early/get up early and you are go to bed later/get up later kind of couple. It can put a strain on a relationship when you don’t really see your partner during the week awake :) I’ve had this situation too with my husband’s schedule (I was 8-5 and he was 11-11 we never saw each other awake).

      To be fair some people I worked with loved the schedule, so it really is a personal thing.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Your first paragraph is exactly my concern, except I don’t know that I’d call myself a morning person — if I wake up naturally, it’s around 8 or so, but I prefer a slow start to the day. I can just see the slippery slope that leads to me waking up at 8 but laying around in bed until 11, and then not having the afternoon/evening to do things either.

        We don’t do a TON during the week, to be fair, but I do make the occasional happy hour or weeknight gym class, and I know I’ll miss the flexibility of just…having that option whenever I want to, and not having to schedule time around it.

        1. Chirpy*

          This is exactly my problem. Occasionally I’m scheduled for 10-7, and as a night owl whose natural wake up time is somewhere between 7-9 am (usually on the later end), I always end up sleeping in, because if I get up and start something I’ll either get frustrated that I have to go to work right as I got into it, and/or be late to work because I was in the middle of something and didn’t see the time, instead of my normal morning routine. Plus, then I’m stuck with no time to get anything done after work because it’s too late by the time I get home.

    6. Velociraptor Attack*

      I know this isn’t super in line with what you’re specifically looking for but one thing to flag since it’s fully remote, is what your home office situation looks like.

      My now-husband and I worked split shifts for awhile, where I was 8-5 and he was usually 12-9 and I don’t think it impacted us socially that much (we also were/are homebodies) but if one of us had been remote, our living situation at the time could have been a little tricky for the person still working to not feel interrupted and the person not working to feel like they could really relax.

    7. Paris Geller*

      I worked a similar schedule when I was in grad school. Personally, I loved it! Having mornings to myself was glorious. I could sleep in, run errands, go for a walk, do my school work, etc. I don’t know if I would love that schedule forever or if I would even like it now that I live with my partner, but it really had its benefits.

    8. Jane*

      I worked 5pm-10pm when I was a student. Two issues I had were a) still being buzzed from work when I was trying to get to sleep at midnight and b) being out of sync with my friends. This was before Netflix, so one of the weirdest things was not watching the live TV programmes that everyone was discussing.

      The not being able to get to sleep at your usual time might be something worth considering? Also, check if you will get two meal breaks on that shift.

      1. Middle Manager*

        I pretty reliably fall asleep around 10 every night (my body just can’t hang!), so I’m worried about the opposite — only having a couple of hours between finishing work and going to bed.

    9. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I’ve never done this for a WFH job, which might be different, but I often worked 4-12 or 3-11 early in my career.
      My coworker on the “left” coast does this in reverse, working 6am-2pm to accommodate EST time.

      11am-8pm does not seem like that huge of a shift. It’s still mostly normal day working hours until about 6pm. But I guess it depends if you are an early bird or a night owl? What is your lifestyle and when do you like to do things? The only think I would say, is that for EST people, getting off at 8pm on a Friday in the nice extended daylight of summertime will kind of suck. But hey, for some of us, that happens anyway even if we started at 8am.

    10. Haha Lala*

      This doesn’t exactly answer your question, but food for thought:
      I know someone who has a similar job– He’s based in the midwest, but has a WFH job based on the west cost, so there’s a 2 hour time difference. He works normal west coast hours M-Th, but normal midwest hours on Friday. There are only a few hours a week he’s not overlapping with the main office, and he still gets to be off work by 5 on Fridays. If the new company is willing to compromise with that sort of set up, it’d be a good option for you.

      Also, the company may be saying that “staff work their dedicated hours and absolutely nothing outside of that” but really meaning that don’t expect you to work overtime, not that they wouldn’t necessarily be flexible with setting slightly different hours, or occasionally starting your day early. It’s definitely worth a conversation.

    11. Purple Cat*

      OMG I would love these hours. Time to sleep in or get errands/appointments done in the morning. Then buckle down and get work done and still done by 8. Without having to work around kids schedules I think that timing is ideal!

    12. Filosofickle*

      I worked 11-7 at a couple of jobs and loved it. It fit the cadence of my mind/body well, I could get up without an alarm and ease into the day taking care of things for me. It is hard that you can’t do stuff after work, and weekends have to bear the social load. (When I was young I just went out late but as a middle aged person that’s a non-starter! Even if I still had energy my friends are not meeting me at 8:30 or 9 on a weeknight.) I definitely missed out on some fun things and it did feel frustrating at times but as an introvert homebody it wasn’t that big of a deal and I enjoyed sleeping in more. Work type events only happen on weeknights, that’s the piece you can’t get around.

    13. River*

      A few days a week I will work the standard 9-5/9-6 and other days I will work an 11-7/11-8 shift. So while I don’t work the same hours daily like you will be, I find that working a little later gives you time to do things in the morning like more time to get ready or do laundry, cook breakfast, etc. I will sometimes do laundry early in the morning if it’s day I come in at 11. Or you can sleep in a little bit. I don’t really socialize or go out to gatherings during the week. Call me boring or cliche but I tend to reserve weekends for going out. Could you go out for a walk when you have your lunch at home? I have done that. I will eat for the first 30 minutes than take a brisk walk. You may have to adjust your sleep schedule since you’d be working until 8pm. Since you said you and your husband are a homebody anyway, I don’t think these quasi hours will really affect you. I am a homebody as well and it doesn’t make a difference to me, especially in this pandemic when most of my friends aren’t really going out as often as we used to. Regardless, I hope you get the new gig, enjoy it, and can adjust well to the new schedule. Best!

    14. ww*

      I have worked 4-11 for years, with occasional 6-2ams in there, and I love it and would never want to switch to a 9-5. I’m obviously an extreme haha, but it works in that I am naturally a night owl. I also have plenty of friends with similarly weird schedules, and live in a city where things stay open 24-7, so I can get groceries at midnight if I want (related: best time to get groceries is 1-3 am when it’s just you and the stock crew). It will be harder if you’re naturally an early bird, or live in a place where everything shuts down at 5!

      The “winter darkness blues” are absolutely a thing and the pandemic taught me I have to make an effort to combat them – so maybe your evening walk will need to be a morning walk once a week, even if you’re not in the mood, just so you remember the sun is a thing. Similarly I do often have to be the one instigating plans, finding ways to make my schedule work for my friends (imo especially if you’re working an otherwise normal shift in terms of days, it’s not too hard to find people willing to hang out later on a Friday night. My weekend is midweek so it’s extra hard mode – I am very good at being flexible, whether that means taking my work laptop to a party and working in a bedroom so I can join the group the second I’m done, or hoarding my time off, or specifically looking for other people off Tues/Wens to make friends with!)

      Give yourself something specific to wake up for, even if that’s just “get cat food” or “pick up library book” or the aforementioned “remember the concept of the sun.”

      Also! Semi-contradictory to the above but equally important! Don’t let anyone give you crap about sleeping in! I get (loving) remarks from loved ones about how nocturnal I am, but if I’m working till 2 in the morning I’m not going to feel guilty about sleeping till 11. I’m also probably not going to go on a 9am jog or breakfast date with anyone, but I’ll happily meet you for coffee at noon when you’re done. Do what you need to do to feel rested, be flexible with the time you have to spare in the mornings, find other schedule-oddballs to hang out with at oddball times and enjoy the ability to schedule doctors’ appointments at off-peak hours.

    15. Sopranistin*

      I worked Mon-Fri 2-9pm for about 4 years in my 20s. It was manageable but I didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t make it work for me long term.
      I felt like I didn’t get enough daily time with my husband. I even synced my sleeping schedule with his (11pm-7am ish) so we could see each other for breakfast and bedtime. Weekends were our dedicated time together. It doesn’t sound bad, but while living through it, we were always missing each other.
      It was difficult not having wind-down time after work to destress. My brain had a hard time transitioning to sleep so soon after work. Many of my coworkers would stay up til 2-3am and sleep in late every day.
      Some groups or events only happen on weeknights, like book club, church choir, community events, happy hour, concerts. So anything like that isn’t possible.
      I had lots of time in the morning to myself-exercise with my dog, errands, cooking/meal prep.
      Mornings were great for doctor/dentist appointments and other stuff that’s only open during office hours.
      No rush hour traffic.
      It didn’t keep me from seeing friends, but I always had to show up late if it was a week night.

  20. milaxo*

    I’m hoping to get some thoughts from any marketing professionals out there.

    I’ve been in a coordinator role for the past 3 years and I’m looking to pursue a more senior role in a new company. I’ve had a number of interviews for coordinator/specialist level roles and usually the hiring manager will have a second person on their team join in. These people usually have a Marketing Manager title and I’ve noticed they’re all young around my age group (mid 20s to early 30s). I now realize through looking at a number of marketing manager roles in my area that I have the required years and work experience to apply to a manager level position. However, I’m worried that having coordinator in my title may appear that I’m fairly junior. Is this true or does anyone even care about my title? The number of years I’ve been in the role and the list of things I work on + results are listed but I feel like it seems like a bit of a jump to go from coordinator to manager.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Yeah, I think that coordinator unfortunately sounds junior, but manager is often after coordinator so it’s logical plus companies are wildly inconsistent about titles. Regardless, the truth is that’s your title and you can’t change that! Yet that also shouldn’t keep you from going after a job you want and think you can do. Keep focusing on the results, dial those up, think about how you can message how “coordinator” at your company translates to “manager” in your next role. BTW, for marketing and marketing-adjacent fields, some of the best advice I’ve been given is that your resume/letter is marcom selling yourself. We’re very good at understanding who we’re talking to and crafting a message for that person. Highlight the parts of your experience you need them to see most. Bury the pieces that work against you or dilute your message.

      1. milaxo*

        Yes I’ve noticed companies are very inconsistent. I work for a very large company and the marketing manager is quite senior, there’s 3 titles under the manager. I get the sense that other companies are seeing my role as junior but I’ll continue to search/apply for manager roles. Thank you for the advice!

    2. Teal Fish*

      Hi I’m a little late to this thread but I work in marketing. I can’t speak for every hiring manager but I quickly realized that marketing titles are all over the place, and I’m much more likely to look at what someone has actually been doing rather than their current title.

      When looking at titles, also pay attention to what size and type of company, is the role in-house or at an agency, things like that. I feel like I’ve noticed a trend of Manager level people being a little more senior at smaller companies & startups where the person might be the only marketer, vs Manager is one step up from entry level at my big company.

      If you have the required experience, and the roles sound interesting, just go for it and apply! There is absolutely no need to have a specialist title before applying for manager level roles. Especially because marketing is a hot talent market right now, seems like everyone in my network is hiring and has had roles open for months.

      1. milaxo*

        This is reassuring, the titles are all over the place so I’m hoping other hiring managers are doing the same and looking at the work and not just the title. I definitely thought my next step was specialist but I now know I can and should be applying to manager level roles. Thank you!

      2. Late*

        In case OP is still following the thread +1 to this. I hire specifically marketing managers, and I definitely consider candidates with coordinator titles. The fitness for the role is all down to what that “coordinator” is doing, where they’re doing it, and for how long.

  21. Yawning through my Friday*

    Has anyone here made the move from being a “super user” of a software used in your industry to working for the software company itself? For example- being a highly skilled user of salesforce and then taking a job at salesforce?
    I am considering making a similar career transition. Any thoughts, advice, etc?

    1. Leilah*

      It’s possible that the software vendor is not allowed to hire you away. That is in many contracts for service. I had a similar issue at one point in my career.

      1. Raboot*

        Is that a sales indistry thing? As a software dev, I certainly know people who left my company to work for companies making products we used as devs.

        1. Leilah*

          Not sure, I’m not in sales. I just know I was part of an integral team that implemented a certain software at my company and a non-compete was part of the sales contract. That software company could not hire us.

          1. Hillary*

            The contracts I’ve read have non-solicitation language but not non-hire. I can’t invite my vendors to apply for a job, but they’re free to apply independently. The optics are complicated but it’s possible, especially if the reason and benefit is clear to all parties. One of my colleagues just went to one of her vendors because her dream job became available. I know someone who switched to direct hire from contract because his parents wouldn’t move to the states until he had a “real job.”

        2. martin*

          Some states/countries have laws that forbid companies to force these exclusivity or non-compete clauses on their employees, California being one that comes readily to mind. Silicon Valley would not have been the success it was in the 80s/90s if non-compete was legal. No one could have ever bounced around inspiring further innovation and less stagnation. But not every place does, in my state you are allowed to write non-compete clauses into contracts that say you cannot go to work for either a direct competitor or a client within X months of termination of your current employment. Consider yourself lucky if you live/work in a place where that’s not allowed.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I was the functional analyst for our SF implementation in 2 places and it would make a ton of sense for me to make a jump like that. I think you’d stand out well as someone who sees the customer side.

    3. Nicki Name*

      It depends what kind of job it is. If it’s a position where you help with onboarding and teaching clients to use the software, go for it, your experience is invaluable. If it’s a position where you’d be helping build the software, you need to be prepared to learn that not everyone uses it the way you do, and development may be driven by how those other people use it, not by the things that made your work better.

    4. Considered Secularist*

      The large software company I work for has a bunch of former “super users” as employees. They contribute a ton and help us keep customer-focused.

    5. Rey*

      I’m in this exact position, today is my last day at old job. The benefits, pay, and promotion opportunities seem like they will be better in the software company than they were in higher ed because my specific office is so small and people usually stay until they retire so there isn’t a lot of upward options. I can’t remember specific interview questions, but mostly tried to show that I was excited to expand my view of the software from one specific institution to serving their entire customer base. I’m hopeful that moving to the software company early in my career (late 20s) will keep my options open, whether it’s continuing to work in this software company, moving to other software companies in a similar capacity, or gaining enough experience to work as a consultant with higher ed who are implementing similar software.

    6. Forkeater*

      We recently had a demo of a CRM and all of the people doing the demo had previously worked at businesses that used the software, so I think it’s pretty common.

    7. Becky*

      I don’t have any advice or experience here, but I have actually thought of doing the reverse–I work for a software company that serves the insurance industry. I have mused about taking my experience with the software I have used very day of work for 9 years and presenting myself to the insurance company as an internal expert on the software to solve issues for their users/agents and clients.

      There are a number of people at my work who actually did do the type of transition you are describing though! They worked in the insurance industry for years and then joined our company that provides software solutions to the insurance industry. From what I understand their knowledge of the insurance industry and process has been very useful.

    8. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I did this several years ago – I worked for a niche industry and was the in-house guru for the third party software we used. I quit that job with nothing lined up, and two months later the head of the software company (it was a very small outfit) called and asked if I would come on board for user training, incoming tech support and technical writing.

      I found my experience as a user of the software and my understanding of the business needs of the industry were a huge asset. The other techs came from a software/IT background, and struggled to understand why certain things were being requested or were a pain point for the customer. It was a great fit and I did very well in the role until I left to start my own business a couple of years later. I would highly recommend a move like this!

    9. Nela*

      Not me, but one of my best friends did that. She used the software as a part of her research work, which is quite technical and involves lots of complex calculations that the software helps with. She got a job as a software developer in the company. She didn’t have tons of experience in development prior to that (this is her first software dev job), but her insider engineering knowledge of the modelling that goes on under the hood gave her an edge. They were prepared to have her learn on the job, and she’s doing great.

      I’ll say that it’s definitely a relaxed culture in this company, the opposite of the Silicon Valley rockstar-chasing attitude which expects you to have X years of experience on similar jobs.

  22. Alexis Rosay*

    I’ve been reading two work-related books recently and I’m curious what others who’ve read them think of them.
    1. Machiavelli for Women by Stacey Vanek-Smith: Biggest reaction: Wow, that was depressing. A few parts resonated but most did not–however, I’m a woman switching careers and about to enter a very male-dominated field, so I wonder if I’ll need to come back to it.
    2. No Hard Feelings by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy: I’m leaning toward abandoning this one because I’m the examples they give of ‘work-life balance’…aren’t? For instance, not sending emails after 10pm. I’m wondering if there’s a reason to keep going.

    – If you haven’t read these two, what was the most helpful work-related book you’ve ever read, and what was your takeaway?
    -Both of the work books above are very narrowly tailored to suit people in just few professional fields, like law, media, finance, and tech, without ever acknowledging that bias. Are there work-related books out there written by people with more diverse professional backgrounds, especially working-class or service jobs?

    1. Emma2*

      I really liked Radical Candour by Kim Scott, I found it useful in thinking about how to manage people effectively and fairly, and to frame why we have difficult conversations with people (which for me makes it easier to have those conversation).

    2. Rey*

      The most work-specific book I read was Work Rules by Laszlo Bock. I know there’s been criticism of things happening at Google since then, but I learned a lot from the chapter about the hiring process. The things I remember now are 1) outline the exact skills needed for the job before you have an actual applicant, 2) don’t be afraid to wait for the right candidate if nobody matches the skills you outlined in step #1. There are people on my team now that I’m really grateful we waited for them to apply instead of rushing to hire someone who was less qualified just because they applied earlier.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        Interesting. I’ve had the opposite experience (though I haven’t read this book)–in my last job I did a lot of hiring and frequently we did not get the ‘ideal’ candidate applying. The nature of the work meant that our hiring timelines were inflexible, so we hired a lot of people who did not have perfect qualifications or didn’t interview extremely well but often turned out to be wonderful employees. It made me feel very humble about the hiring process and one’s ability to really assess a candidate accurately via an interview process.

    3. Observer*

      I’m curious what you mean when y0u say that not sending emails after 10:00 is not an example of maintaining work-life balance.

      1. Daisy Avalin*

        I’m assuming that Alexis Rosay is thinking that if you’re sending email up to 10pm, assuming your hours are 9 – 5, your work/life balance is already out of whack, therefore stopping sending emails after 10pm doesn’t really make any difference!
        Which makes a lot of sense, really.

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          Yes, exactly this. Another example in the book was taking one weeknight off from work each week. That seems to me like bad work-life balance, not something to aspire to.

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            I loved the No Hard Feelings book, though I was reading it more for the “how to manage your emotions at work” and “how to not take stuff personally” bits. I skimmed through the work life balance and other less relevant (to me) parts.

            1. Alexis Rosay*

              Thanks for chiming in, I was very turned off by the first section but I’ll try another chapter.

    4. (Former) Middle Manager*

      For any woman in management- Sarah Cooper’s “How to Be Successful without Hurting Men’s Feelings” should basically be a standard onboarding book. It’s not a serious book, but on my worst days at work it has literally had me LOLing and got me through.

      More seriously, I really like the Manager Tools/Career Tools folks- both their podcasts and their books. I have and like both the “Effective Hiring Manager” and the “Effective Hiring Manager” by Mark Horstman.

  23. The Millennial Pickle*

    I feel like I am perpetually stuck in, what I like to call, the millennial pickle. Growing up with computers, I am pretty quick when it comes to typing/administrative tasks. The current problem is that our office admin person is… not quick with computers. I am not exaggerating when I say the same task will take her 3x longer to complete. I keep getting thrown into these projects that require a lot of backend administrative support (adding in a new field to our database, updating database contacts, managing Excel-based reports) because I am able to complete them more quickly. I would be fine if it was a one off situation and I am fine being a team player, but it just keeps adding up to the point that 15-20% of my week is spent on basic admin tasks and my boss sees no issue with this since it is taking a load off our admin person. Anyways, does anyone have any advice for how to break out of the millennial pickle?

    1. Meowquis*

      It may be that you need to be worse at things? Not everything, and not if it’ll reflect poorly on the things you do for your role, but…. gradually increasing your “I’m not sure how to do that, I think you need to spend some time working on it” could help. Or, perhaps, some “I wouldn’t be able to do it until Thursday, but let me know if you find a solution in the meantime and want 5 minutes for my opinion on if it’ll work” so they have time to research solutions but aren’t worried about breaking everything if they implement the change? I have been frustrated by the same problem before and I think it got to the point where it visibly annoyed me to do it, I caught myself and starting pushing politely back instead, and they switched it asking someone else…

      1. WFH is all I Want*

        I’d add that if this is becoming a regular occurrence it would be worth having a conversation about removing other tasks to balance it out. It may help your boss realize that they are squandering your experience but coddling the admin. Also, this person should be growing their skill set. It’s not doing them any longterm favors. What if you quit? What will they do then?

    2. Miel*

      I think you’re going to have to find ways to say no to this work (assuming that it’s really not part of your job). The admin person is never going to learn how to do their job efficiently if you keep doing their job for them!

      1. Pascall*

        100% this! I’ve run into the same issue as a millennial in my department and my boss started instructing me to give the people the resources they need to figure it out themselves before they call for help.

        Lots of people are perfectly capable of improving their skills and speed with certain tasks, but because others pick up the slack for them, they never feel the need to. Don’t give them such a wide safety net! Their own managers should be empowering and encouraging them to learn these things for themselves, not rely on someone who isn’t even responsible for those tasks to begin with.

    3. LCS*

      Been there! And I still take on more of the Excel/database stuff than someone in my role typically would, but at this point I do it on my terms to pick and choose only the interesting things or the ones that will have a direct impact back on me or my team. A couple strategies I’ve used to transition this work:
      – Be super explicit about the trade-offs. “I can help our Administrator with X, but will no longer be able to deliver Y this week if I do so (And “Y” is always something I know is way more important than whatever the admin request is). Is that the trade-off you want me to make?”
      – I’ve developed and regularly run Excel & database training for internal colleagues. Which makes it a lot easier to redirect a large portion of requests back to “We covered this in training, why don’t I resend the guide and you can check out page 3?”
      – “I can help, but am swamped this week – probably won’t get it to you until the end of the month. Does that timeline work?” Nine times out of ten it’s too long, and they find another option.
      – “I won’t have a chance to look at this until Friday, but if you need it sooner this YouTube video walks you right through it (link).”
      – “I don’t have time to build that tool from scratch, but if you prepare a draft and book half an hour with me next week, I’m happy to review it and help make some final tweaks”

      Basically I still look like I’m trying to be helpful (and I am, to a degree) because the response is never just “Go away, that’s not my job.” But I’m still putting up enough reasonable roadblocks that the path of least resistance ends up being getting people to do their own jobs, even if to start they’re slower or not as comprehensive as I would be.

      1. Aarti*

        I got really good at weaponized incompetence. I didn’t want to be this way but I had no choice. I’d be like “I’m not sure! Let’s google that” or “I won’t have time to really drill into it until next week, is that ok?”

    4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Your millennial pickle concept is a huge turn-off, by the way. It’s an ageist concept. Let it go. This type of work issue can happen whenever one person demonstrates more proficiency, skill, experience or knowledge than another person, regardless of age.

      1. CTT*

        Yeah, I’m a millennial and this rubs me the wrong way. This isn’t about age, it’s about someone not getting the proper training.

      2. Workerbee*

        Thank you. I, too, “grew up with computers,” but am no millennial. I work with Boomers who do amazing things with Excel. And I’ve worked with people of all ages who have no people skills and assume egregious things about other generations.

        It really is just down to interests and opportunities. As they say of Jeopardy, the questions are easy if you know them.

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      First question: what would you rather be doing, your “real job” or your “bonus job”…

      Rewind back to the Great Recession, I’m 22 and I like sleeping indoors, so I took the first job I was offered after months of looking. The job was technically within the industry I was trained for, but the actual job duties could be done by a conscientious first-grader, and so it paid a hair above minimum wage. Within a few weeks, they hit a crunch, and then they remembered the MIT-trained engineer who was flattening boxes in the back room. Yes, I still had to do my official job; helping with the nerd stuff was more-or-less on my own time. But I was getting paid in experience, and that experience led to a better job.

      So, if you actually want to be a data analyst or something along those lines, you might consider leaning in. Get some lines on your resume that show you’ve already done the things you’d like to do more of, and then apply for jobs where that’s explicitly in the job description.

      If you’d really rather be left alone to do your job, rather than faffing with spreadsheets just because you already know how, then it’s time to be less helpful. Of course, you’d be happy to help, but you’re swamped with Actual Job Duties A, B, and C. Maybe you’ll get to reviewing those reports next month. In the meantime, here’s a hint or two, but I’m sure Admin has it under control.

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

    Did anyone see the WaPo article about Apple changing ALL former employees job titles to “Associate” in a national job verification database after they leave? I’m…stunned. How is this not fraud? Everyone relies on former companies to at the least be truthful on verifying employment dates and job title even if they refuse to give recommendations or references. I’m sure there are tons of reasons why NOT, but I wish Alison would do one weekly blog post about news headlines that aren’t tied to a specific question. Verifying accurate job dates and titles is just so basic! Now I’m paranoid that this is a wide-spread thing in corporate America. I didn’t even know there were national job verification databases.

    1. pbnj*

      I had heard about these databases before, but I guess I naively assumed they’d be accurate since it’s not a lot of info. I’m especially wondering what will happen with the person who lost a job opportunity because they couldn’t verify her position at Apple since it showed a discrepancy in what she said her job title was. I too would love to hear Alison’s thoughts since she may have personal experience with these databases.

    2. WFH is all I Want*

      My former company switches everyone to “staff”. It’s caused some interesting conversations with my recruiter on my progressing background check. I’ve provided my offer letters and employment contracts to support my resume but it’s really doing a disservice to their former employees. I was an HR manager not “staff.” It totally casts a shadow over my actual experience.

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

        This just makes the verification database useless doesn’t it? I’m surprised that the companies creating/maintaining the database don’t automatically reject any info from companies that fraudulently change info.

        1. WFH is all I Want*

          I could see a lawsuit assisting in getting their ducks in a row. It nearly affected my financial well-being and I can’t be the only one.

    3. Can Can Cannot*

      It’s an interesting article that was poorly researched and reported. Lots of things they didn’t bother investigating.

      1) Companies are usually not required to verify employment. What were Apple’s obligations, if any?
      2) Is “Associate” an existing job title within Apple? That could be a big problem if it were a valid title, less so if it wasn’t.
      3) A few years ago Steve Jobs broke the law and interfered with other companies recruiting Apple employees. That history could be used to show a pattern that Apple clearly interferes with its employees and their opportunities for employment outside of Apple. In the earlier case, Jobs colluded with other tech company CEOs, most notably Eric Schmidt at Google, to block employees moving between their companies and punish employees involved with cross-company recruiting. A lawsuit was settled for $415M in 2015.

  25. Lurkyloo*

    Tl;Dr: Dealing with an aggressively friendly, over the top, self-absorbed new co-worker (AFOTTSANC for short).
    I have a new-ish (6 months or so) co-worker who is bizarrely aggressive about being liked. Now, in all honesty, I was the ‘outgoing person’ on the team until she arrived, so I’ll own that maybe (ONLY maybe) I miss being the go-to for talking? I’m also the professional ‘re-direct’ person and calmer downer on the team.
    Case in point: on a weekly ‘coffee’, one person asked if anyone was aware of X Charity. AFOTTSANC said she gives a scholarship in her daughter’s name at her old high school for $X and the prerequisites are THIS, but since COVID, she changed them to THAT and the last student she gave the scholarship to did THAT with the mentioned charity. And that’s the extremely truncated version.
    So I find out that she’s been inviting team members to individual coffee/tea chats. My mentee told me that she went, and AFOTTSANC spent the entire 20 minutes talking about herself.
    She seriously grates me the wrong way. Every meeting, every get together ends up being her cheerfully taking over even after I redirect to others. I’m dreading the 1on1 invite because I’m afraid I’ll snap on her.
    FWIW, I have taken it to my manager (over many many other incidents) twice and he’s talked to her but it obviously hasn’t sunk in.
    Advice? Besides ignoring her?

    1. I AM Sparkling }:(*

      I’ve got one of those, too. Ours is also a know-it-all, unprofessional, crass, and immature. Think Homer Simpson belching in front of customers and dropping the F-bomb right and left. They’ve annoyed the heck out of everyone since just last August. I cope by being totally polite but not exactly friendly and thanking the office gods that I have my own office with a door.

    2. Raboot*

      I honestly don’t see anything wrong with what you’ve posted. Maybe she is doing something wrong but I’m not surprised your manager hasn’t acted if you’ve told them basically what you have here. Again, I’m not judging the real situation, just this post, but it definitely sounds from this post like you just miss being the center of attention. So she talked at someone for 20 minutes, ok, did they have a problem with it? Did they say anything? Not really your concern tbh.

      1. Lurkyloo*

        Thanks for that; I should clarify. :)
        We work with a vulnerable population. This individual is aggressive about making everything about her. IE: One of the groups she worked with had a devastating fire. She spent her time talking with them entirely on how badly she felt and her physical reactions to their situation, even when they were asking for assistance. Her mentor had to step in and take on the conversation.
        And I’ve had several people (including her mentor and my mentee) come to me for advice on how to deal with her because of the challenging behaviour. It’s to the point that she refuses to go to her mentor but has picked someone (also somewhat new) to help her because they find her amusing rather than challenging.
        I’ve found in the last couple of years that I’ve dialed back a lot on my extraversion because I work with a majority introverts.
        I hope that clarifies?

        1. Generic Name*

          Looks like we posted at the same time. I don’t see that any of this is your problem to solve, since you are not her manager. If others ask how to deal with her, you can say, “That’s a good question, because I struggle with that too.” Focus on what you can control and what impacts you directly. So if she is meeting with clients/the public with you and she starts monologuing, you can step in, but if it’s happening with other people/areas you aren’t involved in, there’s not a ton for you to do.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Okay, so this isn’t about her personality or being “friendly” or self-absorbed.

          She is disruptive in meetings, sabotaging her mentee by not actually mentoring her, and bad at her job because she isn’t listening to or helping your clients.

          When you talk to your manager, get the psychology and feelings out of it, and focus on impacts and outcomes. Managers can’t manage relationships or interpersonal annoyances. They can and should manage job performance and team effectiveness / the team’s ability to communicate.

          1. Cj*

            I don’t think the problem coworker has a mentee. Lurkyloo is talking about her own mentee, not the co-workers mentee. From my understanding anyway.

            1. Lurkyloo*

              Yes, sorry for the late reply. She is a mentee; but in essence is also sabotaging her mentor as it is a growth opportunity for her mentor.
              Thanks to @RagingADHD…I have to take that to heart. Ungrit the teeth and focus on what’s happening with the work. :)

      2. JelloStapler*

        Even if it’s not “wrong” or not “her concern” but it can be really annoying, and she can feel annoyed by it.

        1. JelloStapler*

          outside of asking what to do about it, I just read the comment as policing how she felt- and that may have been a mis-read.

        2. Raboot*

          Sure, they can feel annoyed. They can feel however they want. But not all feelings require action and not all feelings will be shared by those they explain the situation to.

    3. Generic Name*

      Other than you not vibing with her, what is the problem? As in how is it impacting your work? You can decline a 1 to 1 coffee with her if you really don’t want to spend any time with her. If you went to your boss and basically said Coworker is annoying, then yeah, I’m not sure what your boss could reasonably do about it. As long as you can work productively with her, you don’t have to like her. So what if she wants you to like her?

    4. Important Moi*

      Good on you for admitting you miss being the go to person. It is OK to have feelings.

      Even though people have asked you how to deal with this person, it is not your responsibility to offer a solution. I know you used to be the go to person, but not this time. People may be used to it, just like you were. Now it is time for new habits. Just offer a few words, like someone said above. “Her style can take some getting used to.” or whatever.

      1. Lurkyloo*

        Thank you for that. I do tend to be a fixer/helper type person. (I have to remind myself that it’s not always about the nail! Look up It’s not about the nail on Youtube.)

  26. rkz*

    This is a really specific situation, but I (a cis-woman) teach college students and early on would often say “if that makes sense” when I wanted to see if they understood. I got a lot of student comments that I seemed unsure of myself and realized that “if that makes sense” sounds like I’m asking them whether or not I am making sense. “Do you understand?” assumes that I make sense but that they still may not understand for various reasons. And there is definitely a history of women adding tags to their sentences that make them seem less certain/assertive about the things they are saying.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      I’m curious if this has actually changed your course evals at all though? Mine comment on how ‘nice’ or ‘mean’ I am or how ‘cool’ they think I am regardless of the teaching strategies I employ, and research has shown they’re a flawed (sexist/racist/etc.) metric anyway.

      Also do tags actually make women sound less assertive or do we just think women are less assertive and attribute that to the tag questions? “The meeting is at 2pm, got it?” doesn’t actually seem any less assertive to me than “The meeting is at 2pm.”

      1. rkz*

        So I 100% agree that the course evals are a flawed metric. I paid a little more attention to this specific comment because 1) it was my first semester teaching and 2) it was fairly consistent – it showed up a bunch of times across the two classes I was teaching and 3) no one in my life EVER has thought I was “not assertive” so it was very surprising to me. While of course student comments on evals are wild, I’ve never gotten that comment again since.

        And to your second question, it’s a great point and I have a lot of possible responses! Even the concept of “assertive” and whether or not it is good to be “assertive” are all rightly debatable questions. I do think there are different types of tags, though. Adding “got it?” to a sentence is a pretty assertive tag as it assumes you have some sort of authority ensure the other person is at the meeting.

    2. Green Beans*

      “does that make sense to you?” is what I use. A little more specific in asking if it was communicated well.

    3. River Otter*

      ‘ “Do you understand?” assumes that I make sense but that they still may not understand for various reasons.’

      That is precisely why my previous company’s Communications courses recommended asking “does that make sense?” rather than “do you understand?” Implying that you are perfectly brilliant if only your dumb listener could be capable of understanding tends not to build the best relationships. Can you think of a third option that also does not imply that you’re a dumb listener is incapable of understanding but avoids sounding as though you are bad at explaining things?

      1. rkz*

        To be fair, what I actually end up saying most often is “does anyone have any questions?” which hopefully fits the bill. In the context of a classroom “do you understand?” is indeed a little overbearing. I meant this to be a response to the post way up thread about gendered language, and I do think being a young woman plays a role in which choice to make here.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Probably best to not say it at all. How many people are really good at self-assessing their understanding of a concept instantly and on the spot? So it’s sort of a useless question. If you really want to know, ask the learner to explain back what they understood (“reverse classroom concept”) or just have office hours for when the students get a chance to assimilate or use the concept later and come up with questions.

  27. PrairieEffingDawn*

    Wanted peoples’ takes on an unpopular opinion: I’m not writing thank you notes after interviews anymore, and I don’t care if prospective hires write them to me.

    In the past, I always, always wrote one. It’s something I enjoy doing in my personal life, and I think I write good and sincere ones.

    But I always hated writing them after interviews that didn’t go well. And last year for the first time in my career, I moved onto the hiring side of the table. When candidates sent me notes, I just felt like I was reading, “Hi, here’s a templated thank you note I’m writing you to fulfill this required portion of the interview process.”

    Then, about 6 months ago when I was job searching, any time I wrote a thank you note, I just felt robotic and disingenuous, the same way I felt reading the notes that got sent to me. So I stopped writing them. And I got plenty of job offers. I always make sure I’m gracious and thankful at the end of each meeting. What I actually ended up doing is writing a thank you note after the whole process is over, whether I got the job or not, because I truly was thankful for the time, wanted to keep in touch, and by that point in the process it didn’t feel obligatory or forced.

    I guess I just feel like in most circumstances, a thank you note probably isn’t going to tip you over the edge of getting hired. Curious to know if anyone agrees? Or thinks I’m a monster?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I’ve never written one and I’ve rarely seen them received. I feel like it’s a cultural thing that’s slowly dying.

      1. Jane*

        Definitely cultural. Sending a thank you note in my country would seem very weird, and also couldn’t influence the decision as, in my sector, you can only use the information from the interview to ensure fairness/equality.

    2. milaxo*

      Funny that you ask this because I was just saying something similar. I had an interview with a hiring manager and forgot to send a thank you note. I moved onto the next round of interviews and I ended up writing a thank you note to the 2 interviewers and not the hiring manager from the first interview. I felt it was too late to send one to him at that point but I also didn’t care too much.

      I’d love to hear from any hiring managers to see if it makes a difference. Is it an absolute must? If you have two great candidates and one sends a thank you and the other doesn’t, does that help decide who gets the role?

    3. CatCat*

      I haven’t been doing it in my current round of job searching. Frankly, I just don’t have mental capacity these days to devote time to this. I will way over think it, it feels performative, and ultimately I doubt it makes a difference. So I don’t do it.

    4. PAX*

      I think you’re way more likely to get people agreeing with you here than you think!

      FWIW, I do tend towards liking to see them, but that’s because of the sort of hiring I do. I’m on the recruiting committee for a BigLaw firm, and I do day-long on-campus interviews where we see 8-12 people in a day. I would would never pass on someone just because they didn’t send a thank you note, but it’s definitely to a student’s advantage to send one – if I write down “Good connection with [city where I work]” but don’t have a chance to expand on that before the next interview, getting an email from that candidate that references back to our conversation about the local sports team I support and her sister plays for is really helpful. (And I should add that most law school career centers I’m visiting are still advising to write them, so it’s not a hidden expectation.)

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never written one and I don’t give two hangs whether someone writes one to me. But I also don’t care if interviewees show up in jeans, sweats or a suit, so long as whatever they’re wearing is clean and covers their parts without tugging.

    6. Enn Pee*

      For my current job, I had (literally) ten interviews, some with multiple people in one interview. I wrote a thank you note for Every Single Interview (but not an individual email for those with multiple people).
      I took notes during every interview and looked at the thank-you note as a way to show that I heard what people were looking for. (My current position had been mostly vacant for two years, so there were a LOT of things people were looking to have solved or improved.)
      Someone mentioned a few months ago that they were impressed by my thank-you note (“you heard everything we were asking for”). If you’re in a similar situation, it MAY help.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think a sincere thank you note can be a small plus in the relationship part of the equation, and is always going to be more important or effective in fields that are intensely relationship-based. It’s rarely going to tip the balance definitely in someone’s favor, unless the candidates are so evenly matched in every other respect that a general feeling that “I kind of connected with X more than Y” is enough to make the difference.

      A perfunctory or insincere thank you note isn’t going to do anything but tick a box for hiring managers who are habitual box-tickers, and those are becoming more and more rare.

    8. LCS*

      As a regular hiring manager – I couldn’t care less if anything is sent. It’s not a black mark if it’s missing. That said, if you actually have something relevant to add to the discussion post-interview and can skillfully incorporate this into a note (vs. just being a template with platitudes and generalities), it would be an extra point in your favour.

    9. The Assistant*

      Good point about after interviews don’t go well. If the point is to reiterate my enthusiasm for the job or add a detail about why I’d be a good hire, it doesn’t work if that’s not there, you know? Then it feels almost automated.

      And even if it did work and a person was hired because of this note, if they’re not enthused or it wasn’t a good interview, would they even want to take the job? One might have to for money but overall, I don’t want to fake enthusiasm unless I’m really, really desperate which I hope I’m not as much anymore.

    10. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I always wondered whether it’s something people feel more strongly about in the US! I’ve been involved in hiring for years and only ever received one (from a US candidate – I’m not in the US).

      I never wrote one in my recent job search, and can’t say that it’s made much of a difference. A couple of reasons:

      1) Some of the roles I’ve been interviewed for were sent to me by external recruiters. I didn’t have the hiring managers’ contact details, and would always catch up with the recruiter after interviews to share my impressions. If there was anything I was excited about that I wanted the hiring manager to know, the recruiter would be the one passing it on.

      2) I too feel robotic and disingenuous writing interview thank you notes, and prefer to be gracious and thankful during the meetings. I also double down on the “gracious and thankful” when HR or the hiring manager get in touch about the outcome, so if they decide to take me to the next stage of the process, I still have a chance of sharing what I like the most about the role, and the interaction feels more natural. Most of my rejections happened before reaching the final stage, and since I got constructive and useful feedback about my experience from most companies, I’m confident they’d have rejected me even if I’d sent a note.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I did write them while interviewing in the US and also wrote them when interviewing in the UK after I finished working in the US.
        Maybe it’s just a tone thing, but I found it way harder to write them and feel sincere when writing to interviewers in the UK. I found it easier to write than in the UK if I framed them mentally as interview follow-up emails instead of thank-you notes.

    11. martin*

      I have never written one and have only received any from about maybe 5-10% of candidates over the years for multiple positions in multiple roles. Opinions are going to vary on this, but like you, I have never made any hiring decisions based on receiving one. and unless a job role was in a field where this would be directly related to a skill set (like customer facing etc) don’t find them necessary.

    12. Cold Fish*

      I’ve always thought thank you notes after interviews was a waste of time and the reason for doing it manipulative. I’ve never written one. Either you are going to hire me or not. Wasting my time trying to remind you I exist doesn’t make sense to me, nor does it demonstrate my ability to act professionally or do the job in question.

    13. tessNYC*

      I work for a large financial firm and I just wanted to give you a heads up that anyone who didn’t write a thank you note after an interview was automatically cut from consideration. Also, I was told that my thank you note basically got me the job because my boss said she was really impressed with a couple of relevent points I mentioned in my thank you note. I guess if you don’t want to write a formal thank you note, just a quick email to thank someone for taking the time out of their day to talk to you is always polite.

    14. 867-5309*

      I’ve never required or turned down a candidate because they do not write a thank you note and there have been times that some have been exceptional – personal, enthusiastic, etc. I stopped doing hand-written thank you notes about 7 or 8 years ago but still shoot off thank you emails for jobs that interest me. However, I am an avid writer of handwritten letters, so highly personalized, well constructed written communications are something I enjoy.

    15. AnonNTA*

      I did lots of hiring and never cared about the thank you note. Not once. Got one? Okay, cool. Didn’t get one? Didn’t notice.

    16. And Etc.*

      Well, you’re not a monster! But having said that…I once got a job over the other applicants because I was the only one who wrote a thank you note after the interview! We were otherwise all closely matched.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I’m more inclined to do it if the interview went well or if I really want the job after talking to the person. If I’m on the fence about it, I might not, although I sometimes do after a rejection if I get a personal one and not a no-reply form email. In that case, it’s something like “I appreciate you letting me know. If you think of anything I might be a good fit for, please feel free to reach out, have a great afternoon,” or whatever.

      I did this recently—a job I phone interviewed for sent me an auto-reject after I sent a TY note to the recruiter. She emailed me later to express appreciation for my note and reject me personally (whee! :P). I let her know I was informed but thanked her for the personal touch. This was done to keep the connection cordial because I found another job there that is a better fit and I applied for it.

      I didn’t think this workplace would call me EVER, and they did, so I might as well leave them with a favorable impression of me. It took me two tries to get Exjob and I did the same exact thing that time. You never know!*

      *fingers crossed, please please pleeeeeeeease

    18. MigraineMonth*

      I do mostly technical interviews which often have super-clear evaluation rubrics. I don’t think I’ve ever written a thank-you note because it doesn’t seem like it would make a difference.

    19. WoodswomanWrites*

      I think this is dependent on which sector you work in. For example, I work in nonprofit fundraising where communication and thanking people are considered core skills. For me to have an interview and not send a thank you note within a day would be a major ding for my candidacy. When I’ve had interviews with a team of multiple people, I’ve written customized emails to each individual so that none of them were repeated language. Sending these helped me get the jobs I applied for.

      1. BadCultureFit*

        Yep. I work in Comms and consider thank you notes to be another way to showcase my writing skills — but that’s because I make sure to write excellent, custom letters that are so far from a templated thank-you that they really can’t even be considered thank-you’s!

        I need candidates to send them to me for the same reason.

    20. allathian*

      I wouldn’t write a thank you note unless the interview went well enough that I could be sincere in my thanks, or if I wanted to clarify something that came up in the interview. But then, thank you notes aren’t really expected in my area.

    21. KR*

      I just realized I didn’t write a thank you note after my last interview! Oh no! Sh*t! It’s far too late to write one now. I got a second interview scheduled for Monday so I’ll just have to write a super good one after that. AHH

        1. PrairieEffingDawn*

          Hopefully this thread helps you feel better since it may not be as necessary as we’ve been trained to think :)

  28. Mockingjay*

    Technical Writer vent:

    Just had an looong discussion with my Project Manager, who insists my (only) role is to play Nagging Mom and remind his precious engineers (20+ people) that they have documents due and can they please send them to me for review. (Shades of Oliver Twist.) Note that the project has a comprehensive schedule, a workflow system, calendars, trackers for each project element…myriad ways to figure out what’s due when. We also have a project management team for additional support but he refuses to use them.

    I replied that as a ‘Technical Writer’ my role is to work directly with the engineers during content development to accurately capture info and that waiting until the week before something is due for editing, let alone proofing is insufficient to produce a quality document capturing the design or test results of said design.

    He countered that the engineers “are focused on technical content development and aren’t going to remember that they need to send me something to work on.” (Seriously. This is a quote.)

    I noted that as adults in a work capacity, all team members should be responsible to manage their own work and due dates.

    What I left unsaid: Isn’t it the Project Manager’s responsibility to monitor and hold his team accountable for missed dates and incomplete work?

    I just have to get through until the end of summer, then I can retire.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Don’t you love how often a job that should not be babysitting, turns into babysitting? It took me years to escape retail only to find that the true trap was all that experience I had looking after five to ten year olds.

      1. Mockingjay*

        So I don’t get fired before my 401k is fully vested. And that’s the ONLY reason I haven’t walked.

    2. Jules the First*

      It never ceases to amaze me how many project managers can get quite far into their careers without ever learning how to actually manage a project!

      1. introverted af*

        I just started a new job as like a PM .5 instead of a PM 1, and one of the senior PMs says this a lot. He’s been really generous with his time talking me through things and providing additional context and just sharing what he knows.

    3. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I am a PM. Your assessment of what the PM should be doing is correct. It’s not your job to monitor people, it’s the PM’s.

    4. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Your project manager is a glassbowl. And you are absolutely right that deadlines and completion of work is his responsibility. A project manager’s job is time, cost, and requirements. It is still boggling to me how many PMs I’ve worked with who don’t understand this or who see projects to completion. They get to “good enough” and quit.

      As a fellow project manager, I’d tell you to do malicious compliance, but only the project manager when he isn’t approving or accepting your work, or to cut the PM out entirely and lean exclusively on the PM support team.

    5. Not Today, Friends*

      As a proposal manager (and former technical writer) dealing with this same issue while trying to wrap up a huge opportunity, I feel your pain. Wish I had something better to offer, but at least know you’re not alone.

    6. River Otter*

      Yeah, designers/developers are really treated like gods who are above such mundane stuff as documentation, and boy, do they know it. I freaking hate designers, can I mention that? I got that crap foisted on me as a system engineer, which is not a position I would have taken if I had known it was basically a technical writer who gets paid better. Document your own ish, Skippy, and get it done on time because you are not better than me.
      I have at least 15 years before I can retire.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Where’s your boss in all this? Does she know the PM wants you to take over part of their job? I think it would be good to let her know and ask if this is the best use of your time.

  29. Fluffernutter*

    Has anyone graduated from a coding camp and can give some pros vs cons? I can do basic HTML and have realized I like logic in a job but am scared of investing time and money while jobless for possible little payout. A paycheck higher than my current $50k would be nice though.

    I haven’t mentioned to anybody my interest in coding camp but I overheard my brother (who codes for a living) say camps aren’t great since they don’t get the well rounded education he got.

    1. ??!*

      I never went to bootcamp, but I can tell you right now graduating =/= securing a high-paying job, especially since Gen Z has been encouraged to take up coding and there’s a lot of competition out there if all you know is coding.

      Have you considered working as a technical writer for a software development project? Starting pay may still be in the $50k area, but I would consider it a better investment than doing bootcamp.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        My partner is on a hiring commission for his group. He is a software developer himself, with 25 years of experience. Large non-tech company that is trying to get more tech-y, good salaries, benefits. etc.
        The bootcamp came up in a conversation recently, and he is not a fan. He has to run various tests for the potential hires and he noticed the bootcamp grads do not have the agility and the berth they want.
        In addition, his company, if they do hire you, will drop you 2 pay bands below people with CS degrees.

    2. Meowquis*

      I haven’t, but know the owner of one of the coding camps so have had some fairly in depth discussions about their offerings. The primary benefit I see in (most of) them is that they’re already networked with tech businesses in the area and thus it can help you getting a job a lot quicker, but on the con side like your bother says, they aren’t very well rounded. Most seem to focus on basic front end, which if you’re a self-starter has a huge amount of free online resources to learn. Given the very short amount of time the bootcamps run anyway, you’re most likely going to have to be good at learning from the internet anyway as the widely varied work requests are unlikely to have been covered by bootcamps. Personally, and this is only one opinion that I’d be happy to hear pushback on, working through codecademy or a similar service, having projects you’ve built in your portfolio, and maybe seeing if your current business will let you work with the team part-time would get more practical experience that future employers would look at.

      However, as a side-note, take a browse at some of the bootcamp websites – I know many here in the UK have scholarship places available if you’re a woman. girls first code also offers free places on intro courses, though with limited availability. time investment but no financial investment makes it a lot more worthwhile.

    3. Spessartine*

      Disclaimer: I have not graduated from a coding camp and do not work in tech/software. However, I am in the middle (well, more like beginning) of a camp. Doing a bootcamp is something I’ve thought about for quite a few years, but never had the nerve to jump into it. They’re so expensive! And how do you really know which ones are legit? So I decided to go back to college for a computer science degree. That was when I realized that there really *is* a great reason I dropped out of college last time. I only made it two semesters in before putting the whole thing on pause. I was ready to give up on the idea of getting into software when I found a *free* bootcamp that seemed pretty sincere. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a lot of doubts about its worth, but it’s five weeks in now and while parts of it are somewhat unconventional, I’m really enjoying it, and for the first time I’m starting to feel optimistic about my future. The whole bootcamp is 30 weeks long and they are VERY upfront that while it costs zero money, you will have to devote a large amount of time and effort to it.

      Since I’m still so early in the camp, I have no idea if what your brother said holds true for this one, but I will say that the biggest draw was the emphasis on how to get a job. When looking at paid bootcamps, it was one of my biggest fears–what if I pay all this money and then still can’t get a job? Free bootcamp heavily emphasizes networking, portfolios, how to interview, how to get clients. They “require” you (you won’t get kicked out if you don’t–there are a lot of more casual or pressed-for-time attendees who are doing it at their own pace) to start getting freelancing clients by, I think, week 9. It’s something you can do while still working full-time if you are able to find the time to get the studying and work done. It’s been tough for me so far but not impossible.

      I definitely recommend checking it out if you think you might want to move to software (specifically, this bootcamp is for web development). It’s called 100 Devs and all the past classes for this cohort are available on youtube and twitch, so you can decide if the style is for you. There’s a Discord server for the camp which is a fantastic way to connect with other students and get help if you need it. I was really skeptical when I first started, but I figured that if it turned out to be a bust, all I’d wasted was a couple weeks of my life. A small part of me is still skeptical, won’t lie–it does seem too good to be true. But so far I don’t feel like I’ve wasted anything and I’m pretty impressed by how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time.

    4. Annie Moose*

      I work as a programmer and I have to say, bootcamps are a mixed bag. We have some great programmers who came out of bootcamps, and we have some who aren’t so great. Not saying that to say you either should or shouldn’t go to a bootcamp, but it is true that it’s not a guarantee programming will be for you. (and your brother’s not wrong–a full-blown degree will naturally be a lot more well-rounded. Whether or not that matters for getting a decent-paying coding job is another question)

      I would recommend looking up free programming tutorials (perhaps something like Python?) to get a feel for whether or not you like programming at all; it requires a certain way of thinking. Some folks have aptitude for it and some folks don’t, no matter how hard they work at it! If you try it out and are interested or find it an enjoyable puzzle, only then would I suggest pursuing an actual bootcamp.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        This has been my experience as well. In the abstract, I’m in favor of them as an alternative to a lot of the gatekeeping that happens around programming jobs. But not only will a bootcamp not provide the same education as a college degree (which, to be fair, they don’t claim), no two bootcamps will provide the same type of education as each other.

        I agree with Annie Moose’s suggestion of trying out some free tutorials to see if you even like programming – it’s definitely not for everyone! And if you do decide to go the bootcamp route, definitely do your research first – what’s there curriculum, what sort of contacts do they have with local employers, what support do they provide for students during and after the program? (And be dubious of anyone claiming a 100% graduation or 100% placement rate – no program is perfect, so 100% of anything suggests they’re either fudging the numbers or not being sufficiently rigorous in their criteria, maybe both.)

    5. TechGirlSupervisor*

      I’m a software development manager and it really depends on what type of software you are looking to get involved with. I’ve worked most of my career in government contracting, doing large, custom projects. We develop a lot of back-end services and front-end services that can run across multiple sites (or not, depends on the project). I would not hire someone with only a few weeks from a coding camp. I need people that have a community college/private college diploma or a bachelor degree.

      That said there are lots of companies that just need people that understand coding basics and can work on-top of middle-ware. Like able to create complicated workflows and processes in business orientated tools. The specific language doesn’t matter there, just that you understand basic algorithmic thinking.

    6. Bootcamper*

      I’m a current student in a bootcamp. I chose my current bootcamp because it includes an industry internship, which is unusual, but if you decide to do a bootcamp I highly recommend looking for that as it helps you build industry connections and actual skills. Very few bootcamps include this however, and those that do are much more competitive to get into. I applied multiple times over several years before I got in.

      The bootcamp market is overall very oversaturated, a lot of people come out of them with very little skills, and this has destroyed any good reputation that bootcamps may have had a few years ago with employers. So research carefully and be very picky. It is possible to do a bootcamp and get a job, but it’s absolutely not guaranteed.

      A few more notes:
      1) Working with HTML isn’t similar to coding at all, so do (at the very least) some Python and/or JavaScript tutorials to see if you like that. Even if you were to become a front-end developer, you’d spend…maybe…1% of your time on HTML.
      2) Look for non-bootcamp options. Community colleges in my area offer certificates and degrees in web development and CS; if you qualify for financial aid, you could spend a lot less than you would on a bootcamp. This is actually what I was planning to do before I got accepted to the bootcamp I wanted.
      3) Learn as much as you can before you enter a bootcamp. Although some are self-paced, most move extremely fast. Some of my peers did not have a very strong basis in the fundamentals and have struggled throughout.
      4) Think about your network–do you already know folks in the tech industry? This can be a deciding factor if you decide to go the bootcamp route, unfortunately.
      5) Make sure you like self-teaching. A big part of being a developer is just searching for resources on your own. Not everyone enjoys this.
      6) Know that even the best bootcamps will not get you a job on Day 1 after you graduate. Budget for a 3-6 month job search. Some bootcamps have money-back guarantees if you don’t find a job within 6 months; I’m not sure how good they are about paying up, but it might be something to look into.

      There’s a self-published book called ‘Foot In The Door’ written by someone who successfully went the bootcamp route; you could read it to get another perspective.

      Best of luck! It’s definitely not impossible, but I would suggest thinking of a switch into tech as a 5-year plan, not something you can do instantaneously (as the bootcamps market it).

  30. The Assistant*

    I like to share articles here. Thanks to anyone who replies. And yes, the party is on all weekend. I check replies until Sunday night, even if I can’t reply right back so keep ’em coming!

    This one is about employee sponsorship and Black employees from the Harvard Business Review.

    Here is a quote from the article from a Black woman:

    “I was just a year into an executive position at a top-tier luxury goods company and beginning to hit my stride when a young Black woman asked me to sponsor her. It’s hard for me to admit, but I balked. I know and like the woman who approached me. She’s a hard worker and a high performer. But while valued by the company she is not a shoo-in for promotion. She’s been passed over for promotion once before and is known as “very, very vocal.” I worried that I did not have enough clout at the company to get her over the line. And even more importantly, I worried that even attempting to do so would get me into trouble.

    If I backed her and she failed to win promotion, it would reflect badly on me. I’d no longer be seen as an executive to watch — a powerhouse of the future. If I backed her and she succeeded, my reputation would also suffer. My sponsorship of her would be seen as favoritism… Colleagues would whisper to one another that I was only sponsoring this particular young talent because she was a Black sister.

    This thought really troubled me. I’m a person who’s racked up an impressive track record over 20 years, and I want to be known first and foremost as a great performer, not as a person carrying a torch.”

    I honestly never thought of sponsorship before. I have worked mainly in nonprofits and I’m not sure I was even aware of it. I understand the person quoted and the position they are in. Just wondered what others thought. Are sponsorships going on in your field? And do you feel comfortable sponsoring people of color?

    I am just curious, not accusing anyone of anything or wanting to start any controversy. I just honestly didn’t even know this sponsorship (different than mentoring) was even happening.

    1. Generic Name*

      Sponsorship is like enhanced mentoring. Your mentor can give you career advice, but a sponsor helps to get to where you’d like to go behind the scenes. They advocate for you. Sponsorship is what has been happening for eons within the Old Boys Club. A powerful man would take a young upstart under his wing and get them jobs, raises, and promotions. Sponsorship isn’t always overtly called “sponsorship”. Some people just think of it as advocating or simply mentoring (even though not all mentorships are sponsorships, as you note). It’s basically having someone in a position of power willing to to go bat for you.

      1. The Assistant*

        Thanks! I like thinking of it of enhanced mentoring. But more than the usual mentoring.

        It may have been happening in the Old Boys Club but I had no idea that there were people willing to go to bat for others like that.

        1. Generic Name*

          Oh yeah, that’s why those types of relationships are so important, and it’s why the “no women [or blacks or Jews] allowed” rules for certain types of clubs or Pence’s policy of never having lunch with women he works with is so harmful to women is because it closes off those types of opportunities to women/POC.

    2. WellRed*

      I’ve never heard of such a thing but maybe it makes sense? I certainly don’t like the racist and sexist notion that the young black woman is known for being “very, very vocal.”

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah yikes. Charitably, perhaps she’s known for complaining a lot or something. But if this OP feels like that’s a legitimate issue for the younger person, they may be able to provide some coaching or feedback on that without putting their own neck out as a sponsor. And it would certainly be a greater kindness coming from someone who likely has a better sense of the dynamics, as other mentors might back off saying anything like this.

      2. The Assistant*

        Yeah, I’ll never know exactly what the woman interviewed for the article meant by that. I do admire the other woman asking for sponsorship. It’s like she knows she’s being passed over and asking for help. I admire that because it would never even occur to me to even ask for help or that anyone would help!

        I don’t know why the other woman would not have given the other woman some pointers privately. Especially as she liked her. But the quote points to her really seeming to want to stay out of it altogether. She really felt at risk.

        1. Generic Name*

          I think this highlights the importance of allies for women/POC. They typically have more capital to spend.

    3. retired3*

      Was in high school during “Sputnik.” Was valedictorian of my high school. White female. Many years later found out that white men my age received mentoring from white male groups/individuals that I never experienced. We all ended up with advanced degrees. There was a whole network/resource for support I never knew existed.

      1. The Assistant*


        I’m glad you received your degree. But whoa, so much going on that we don’t even know about. Still going on. Like right now.

  31. ??!*

    Can we get a salary:rent/mortgage poll? Asking because I just learned that my co-workers, who have about the same amount of knowledge and experience as I do, have been living in an apartment complex that’s about $1000/month more than the one I live in. Not sure if they’re just saving less or if I underestimated the salary range for my job.

    1. ThatGirl*

      That’s a big swing in rents. Are they married/partnered/living with a roommate? Maybe they can afford higher rent that way? Have they been with the company longer? Would YOU be able to afford $1k more a month on your current salary? There are a lot of things that could be going on, it’s hard to say.

    2. Meowquis*

      I’m in the UK and while my pay is changing this month, here’s the figures. My rent is 21% of my pay, will be 17%. Looking to buy soon and doing mortgage calculations, repayments will likely be 27% of my salary. If there’s a 100 pound a month service charge with the property, 37% of my salary. Honestly though, some people will just happily pay more for convenience. My mortgage will be higher because I live so far from work that I commuted 12 hours a week, and the place I buy has to be more central for me to be able to socialise despite working from home. If you’re living around the same kind of trendy/close area though, $1000 extra seems eyewateringly expensive!

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

      People’s living circumstances and finances are so unique you’ll make yourself crazy if you try to compare. They could have other sources of income or just prioritize their expenses differently so that rent makes up more of their budget than car payments or entertainment or savings. I’d pay more for the place I live and drive a cheap 15-year-old-beater car, but I know others who would rather live in a cheap place and use the money for vacations.

      The better way to find out if your salary is in the proper range is to look for industry/job data for your region.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        To illustrate this point with my salary:rent ratio, my answers for my past three salaries/apartments:

        I’m one person who has earned different salaries, lived in different places, and prioritized my spending and savings differently depending on the year. I agree when The Man Behind the Curtain that you should look into salaries directly if that’s what you’re most curious about.

        1. I heart Paul Buchman*

          In my country the ratios are typically 2:1 or 3:1 at best (or housing costs between 30-50% of after tax income). In the biggest cities or for people on welfare the ratio is worse with housing costing up to 100% of a single wage.
          Australia. Housing is a national crisis.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            I used my pre-tax income for my ratios so they would all be lower if I were looking at after-tax. I’m in the USA, where housing is a crisis in many areas, but not everywhere. So far I’ve managed to live in non-housing crisis areas.

      2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        Seconding this –
        So many unique financial aspects to balance. I and a peer have close to equal salaries but very different financial priorities. People outside our department have asked if I’m paid significantly less than my peer, but it comes down to my having pets and recurring medical expenses while my peer has neither of those things and chooses to spend their money on travel. I have a mortgage and my peer pays rent.

        Definitely do the research on an industry/regional level to get a feel for what your salary should line up. IF you find you are underpaid, then loop back to your coworkers and see if they are also underpaid or if your compensation is significantly different from theirs.

      3. Anonymous Koala*

        This. People’s rent and lifestyles can be dependent on so much more than their primary salary – family/partner support, side hustles, etc. And sometimes landlords will freeze rates for good tenants while increasing the cost for new tenants, so it’s possible they’re not paying the +$1000/month rate.

        1. Siege*

          My partner and I live in the same building. He’s paying $1350 a month for a 750-sq-foot two bedroom, and I’m paying $825 for a 750-sq-foot one bedroom. (Mine has a larger living room; one of the bedrooms was cut out of his living room’s floor space.) It’s because the landlord hates to raise the rent and most rent-rises in this building come when new tenants move in.

          I make $78K; my partner makes 40K.

      1. martin*

        I make $160k and my mortgage payment is the same ($1300 per month). OP, this is a really arbitrary question and I don’t see what the value add is from a few hundred people giving you their ratios and you trying to parse some kind of sense out of it. If you just want to know if your co-workers are making more than you, there’s more direct ways to find out than a math exercise, lol. Especially since housing costs are so variable by region and even by side of the same street.

    4. MechanicalPencil*

      Is it possible your coworkers moved in at a significantly cheaper rate, and then real estate prices rose so that any new tenants see a drastically increased price? Conversely, they could have roommates or spouses or side gigs or…

    5. Joielle*

      I think the rule of thumb is that housing costs shouldn’t be more than a third of your gross income? Personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable paying that much if I could avoid it, but I know a lot of people do. When my spouse and I were buying our last house, we wanted to keep our mortgage under a quarter of net income, which still felt like a lot.

    6. LKW*

      Make no assumptions – there is so much that goes into this that you can’t compare. I have family members that get monthly income from a trust fund – it’s not “trust fund baby” money – but it’s a cushion. I have a friend who at 40 divorced and her parents paid her mortgage for years. I know others who make $500K year and save nothing. Your co-workers may be saving less, have family money, other income, a second job, a sugar momma/daddy – there’s no right/wrong here.

      Do your research on what your job salary range is. Focus there, and spend only what you feel comfortable spending.

    7. WellRed*

      Haha! When I recently learned that a coworker ( who does have a higher title) was moving to a certain neighborhood my first thought was, “exactly how much are they paying him?”

    8. Nancy*

      My landlord chooses to not raise rents unless someone moves out. As a result, my rent is the same as it was when I moved in 15 years ago and does not reflect the actual rents in the area or even the rest of the building. This is a high cost of living area with no rent control. Could be the same situation here, or any number of other situations.

    9. Just Hearted a $2M Teardown On Redfin*

      It’s super variable based on personal circumstances – some people are content to live in a shoebox and spend that money on other things, some people want to eat cereal for dinner in the most luxurious environment they can possibly afford.

      (I’m kind of in the middle. I don’t drive, so I’m stuck living in expensive shoeboxes near a transit line.)

      For the record, I decide what I can afford based on what I’m saving every month. The number in my bank account needs to be going up, or I need to do something about it. Back when I was making $32K – $34K, my hard line was $1K per month in rent. Below that, I could live thrifty but without having to sweat it, and the emergency fund would slowly creep upwards. (My now-husband and I shared a $3.5K/mo room; he chose to subsidize me rather than join me in the somewhat creative housing options available for $1K/mo/head in 2010’s San Francisco.)

      Now I make $140K, we’re looking to buy a house, and my range is $4K to $5K per month. I’d prefer $4K; that’s easy mode, I can keep making up for lost time on savings and have a buffer for increased costs due to possible child-making. Above $5K, I’m nervous; there goes my buffer. I’m trying to hold up my half of the mortgage, even though the husband still out-earns me (it’s almost entirely stock, but 2-3X my salary in an average year). That’s a nice safety feature to have, but I don’t want to depend on it. Markets crash, people get fired, etc.

    10. Chirpy*

      It’s just so variable depending on circumstances. Where I live, most apartments hover around $1000/month whether it’s an efficiency, 1-bedroom, or 2-bedroom, unfortunately. I split a $1000/mo 2-bedroom with a roommate, so I currently pay $500. I make $15/hr plus a $2/hr weekend bonus. The new “affordable workforce housing” building down the street has *efficiencies for $1000/mo* and caps the max salary to live there at $50,000/yr which, if I actually made anywhere near that much, I could afford rent anywhere but the most expensive buildings in this area.

      Some people like to spend their money on nicer apartments, and some are more frugal, it doesn’t necessarily depend on how much they make. If they have roommates, that absolutely changes the equation, too. My rent will double when I lose my roommate, and there’s not much I can do about it and still live in this county. There’s so many variables, it’s really hard to say.

  32. TotesMaGoats*

    I took the plunge 2 weeks ago and applied for a new job, just to see what would happen. In shocking higher ed news, they emailed Wednesday for a virtual interview. I had it this morning. I think I did well. Maybe only fumbled one question. Now, to craft a thank you. It’s been so long since I interviewed that I was more nervous than expected. Now to see what happens!

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I think everyone should have the ability to feed their families, no matter why they’re unemployed. There are many people collecting unemployment who have been fired as a result of their own poor decisions about any number of things, so this doesn’t strike me as odd.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Plus, unemployment is not exactly a huge payout. I’ve been on it before due to a layoff and it’s usually just a percentage of your previous wages. Most states also require those receiving it to be actively looking. I actually was sent on a required job hunting class not long after I got on it too.

    2. Girasol*

      I am very frustrated with the way the unvaccinated present risks to the health of everyone else. But it’s not all selfishness. Some feel that vaccination is not a viable choice because they are honestly terrified that the vaccine will kill them. I struggle to imagine either the selfishness or the fear, but starving them won’t solve anything. Unemployment at most offers a brief and poorly paid opportunity for them to rethink their decision. Let ’em have it.

    3. Xenia*

      I’m not thrilled by it.

      Rightly or wrongly, people who left because they were unwilling to meet the vaccine mandates were effectively terminated for cause. If they feel that they were unjustly terminated, or that their health needs and fears were overridden, then the correct path to handle that is by filing a lawsuit against the company and/or the state, which quite a few people (including healthcare workers) are already doing.

      While I understand the position and sympathize deeply with people who felt they were stuck in an impossible situation re: the vaccine, I’m not in favor of a precedent for providing unemployment for people who disagreed with a decision based on personal opinion of political stance.

    4. Berlin Berlin*

      I think literally everyone should get subsistence benefits without exception. Do we want people to starve?
      Obviously we need as many people to get vaccinated as possible and in my opinion vaccine mandates are an effective way to increase vaccination rates. But I don’t think there is literally any reason I would want anyone to be ineligible for benefits enabling them to survive.

      1. Yala*

        Yes, thank you.

        I’m always unnerved by the “maybe unvaxed folks shouldn’t get prompt medical care” suggestion, and this just seems like a softer version of that.

        I’m fine with requiring proof of vaccination for non-essential things, or in the workplace, etc. But when it comes to things that are necessary, like food or medical care…then it seems like we really shouldn’t put up MORE restrictions as to how people get those.

        Restrictions almost always come down and hurt the most vulnerable anyway.

        1. tessa*

          Thing is, though, vaxxed people who need life-saving surgery have been put at the back of the line to free up resources for treating those who are unvaxxed and get the virus.

          That’s just beyond unfair. Those who don’t want to do their part – not those who can’t, but those who won’t – to mitigate a pandemic shouldn’t benefit at all from care by the very society they’ve rejected in the first place.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Yes, this. I do not like the people who deliberately choose to go unvaccinated. But frankly, even if I was able to trust that this wouldn’t be used primarily against people with health issues that prevent vaccination, I don’t want anyone to starve to death irregardless of my personal distaste for them.

  33. Amber Rose*

    I cannot accept praise professionally. I turn to goo. I get all weird and awkward and giggly and omg. I’m an embarrassment. D:

    I was doing a training thing yesterday and our CEO was sitting in, and then both the person I did the thing for and our CEO were like, you’re so good at this, this is really well done, very impressive, etc. and I was like… “thanks, teehee.” I AM proud of the work I’ve put into that whole program. It’s my baby. I know it’s well developed. I just… jeez, stop telling me I’m good at stuff, I’ll dissolve.

    I have a performance review next Tuesday and I’m dreading it because I suspect it will be full of more such socially awkward behavior from me. How do I person when I have to talk about myself? Ugh, they’re gonna want to talk about my achievements.

    1. Lurkyloo*

      Are you able to write down your accomplishments and either read them in the meeting or study them beforehand? Once you get practice dong that, you should be able to focus more on that than the nerves. :)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I dunno what my achievements are. I feel like I’ve both done an impossible number of things, and yet nothing at all. Part of that’s because we’ve spent the last year basically overhauling this entire company, something I’ve been involved in at a pretty high level. But none of it is done. I’ve contributed, but not actually seen anything finished.

        Does being halfway through a huge project count as an achievement?

    2. I AM Sparkling }:(*

      Were you brought up not to be a showoff, or not to get a swelled head when you were praised because you can always do better/there’s always someone better? It makes you feel awkward accepting praise because you always feel a little guilty or unworthy about it. Stuff like that can pop our of your subconscious well into adulthood. Acknowledging it for what it is can help you change your mindset.

      Just a suggestion. Any way, good luck on your review!

      1. Amber Rose*

        Nah. I was basically never praised for anything (I have lived the invisible, ghostly life of the extremely shy), so when I do get any I like it TOO much and then I feel completely not OK with how happy I am over the smallest acknowledgement.

        1. Chirpy*

          My guess then is it’s a reaction to not having had enough acknowledgement in the past. It’s like you were starved previously, and now an appropriate amount of praise feels excessive to you because you aren’t used to it.

          Let yourself be happy. It’s okay to want acknowledgement.

    3. Meowquis*

      For me that’s all practice, practice, practice. I HATE it. So I made myself do it. In writing, at first, just to myself. Then in writing to a friend. Or just a tweet thread! Somewhere another human will see it. Then a coworker who is more a friend. Then brought up the courage to mention it FIRST to my manager. Not waiting for them to say it or bring it up, but being in control of the narrative and letting them agree instead. It took out the unexpectedness and the specific need to apply, and also made me internalize it more. For accepting praise, I struggled with that a lot but have come to accept that a bright smile and a “thank you!” is totally fine. Or, if it’s someone interested, an opportunity about my favourite part of the hard work. :)

    4. Annie Moose*

      It’s okay to be excited when people praise you! I hear you about feeling and acting awkward, but some of that is to be expected in these sorts of situations. I just had my annual review with our director and he said the NICEST things and I blushed so hard I was glad we were just doing a voice call and not on cams or in person. But it really isn’t a bad thing! Most everybody gets a bit self-conscious and awkward when people praise them, we’re often not used to it. I’m sure the person who’s doing your performance review will understand perfectly!

    5. introverted af*

      For me in this scenario, I have found in the past I’m mostly surprised by the praise I get. I keep a couple scripts in my back pocket for this, but coming up on my annual review I try to refresh them. As said above, it’s ok to be happy about this, you’re just looking for the professional expression of that happiness.
      “Aww, thanks!” (and then just stop lol, I struggle with that)
      “I really appreciate that, that means a lot to me.”
      “Thanks, I worked really hard on this and I’m glad it turned out so well.”
      “Thank you, that’s so kind of you to say” (this one is probably less context-appropriate for a performance review)
      Or even for something particularly effusive – “oh wow, thanks so much! That makes me so happy.”

      I feel like I often turn to just stating what emotion I’m feeling. You tell them, they know you’re feeling it, you have acknowledged their compliment, the conversation can keep going.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. This. Have some general thank yous that you use as go-tos.
        I totally agree about putting the emotion out in the open with wording such as “I am so glad” or “I am very happy to hear” or “so kind of you”.

        As with tears, expressions of joy do not respond well to “sshhhhh”. When we suppress an emotion it just gets bigger. When you are sad, if you tell yourself not to cry, you cry harder, right? This is more of that general idea.

        Your way out is to just accept that this is you. Build some go-to phrases that you will use.

        For me, once I realized I had to listen to a bunch a negatives at a review the positive comments did not provoke such strong emotions any more.

    6. The Rat-Catcher*

      I’m a words-of-affirmation person. I live on compliments. I know this struggle.

      Honestly, I use some of the same strategies I use for criticism. It’s not an attack on you as a person, but a shared evaluation of what could go better, right? It may help in the moment to view praise in the same way – as an assessment of your work separate from you. For me, that makes it easier to agree without sounding either disingenuous or conceited.
      Also, whoever said above to get some go-to responses ready is a genius. They had great scripts already, but I also like “thank you for sharing that with me” for more spontaneous compliments (not for your review – that’s the whole point so that might be weird.)

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Separate the professional from the personal. Instead of getting weird over Amber Rose being complimented, think of Professional Trainer being complimented, so your emotions are one step removed. This helped me. It also made me more able to assess my own accomplishments because I was looking at my performance in the same way I would look at someone else’s – wow, trainer had a really good year – adapting to COVID helped her to train more people because the virtual format allowed more participants (or whatever the case may be.)

  34. Albeira Dawn*

    Advice for documenting your processes to make them more efficient and reduce the time you spend fixing your mistakes?

    I’ve stepped up a little in responsibility from “execute these very clear instructions” to “here is a list of general guidelines, both internal and external to our organization, produce something we can submit after minimal edits.” Obviously they don’t expect me to do everything perfectly, and I think I’m doing well so far, but I’d like to properly synthesize the revision comments I get and make it easier to get it right the first time.

    So far I’ve written out the general process these submissions go through (one round of my initial edits to get something to build off of, one where I check against an external list of requirements, one where I verify everything is legible, then it goes to my direct supervisor, then to my grandboss) and come up with checklists for the two types of submissions I put together, which I add to as I get comments. Anything I’m missing or any tips and tricks?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m a big fan of having a step 0 in every process: is this the right process to use? If you have some rules about when you need to drop out of the general process to a very specialized one for particular cases (or when it needs to be ad hoc), you’ll save everybody a lot of heartache and rework.

      This can be as simple as “Check with Fergus before you make any changes to the 35-year-old llama grooming database” or “If this teapot is going to be exported to Ireland, you need to do Process XYZ for customs and shipping before you do the pricing process.”

    2. Generic Name*

      Can you have someone (like a peer) who checks your work for errors? It is very difficult to catch your own errors. In exchange, you could offer to review their stuff for them too.

    3. GarlicMicrowaver*

      Invest in a project management system. It’s life changing and completely worth the investment and the learning curve.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have built in check points where the work so far is double checked before proceeding.

      Usually there is a point of no return in a process. At the point of no return mistakes become way more difficult to fix. So right before opening up that point, I insert a double check of some sort. I do think that framing it as the point of no return makes it embedded that double checks not only must be done, but are very valuable.

  35. Hallie Dills*

    I’m an office manager for a small company and I’d like y’all’s input on an awkward situation at my workplace. We have a recent hire who has some, uh, interesting personal habits. Every time she walks into my office she positions her crotch on the corner of my desk, and she’s done that on our meeting room table and other desks in the office as well (she’s on the tall side). Some of my other employees have complained about this, saying it makes them uncomfortable. She does some other weird things, like lowering her chair all the way during meetings so she can put her breasts on the table and yawning loudly every minute or so, even when someone is talking. We did address that last one with her, and she just laughed at us, saying that’s just how she rolls. Given that, I don’t know if she’s going to take us seriously on the crotch thing, and I’m wondering if y’all have any relevant experience dealing with borderline inappropriate behaviors like this. Thanks for any advice you can give!

    1. Raboot*

      I feel like both of these behaviors can be addressed without the weird focus on her body parts. Like, “so she can put her breasts on the table” – it’s SO weird to make this about her boobs? That’s how someone with boobs leans on a table. If the problem is the leaning then address that. As a boob haver, if I want to rest my top half on a table, obviously it’s less comfortable and more weird looking to have the table cut into the middle of my boobs.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        I don’t know, I think resting my vagina on the corner of my bosses desk would be really really weird and inappropriate at the office. And it’s one thing to happen to be at the height where your breasts might be on the table, but actually lowering your chair so that you can rest them on the table in a business meeting is also really weird. I have absolutely no idea how one would address this though! Regarding the desk thing, do you have a side chair at your desk? You could start asking her to take a seat when she comes in.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Yeah the crotch thing is… very weird and not a normal way that people sit on desks. I do think the advice of asking her to step back or to not sit on your desk is the only way to address it without being like “Susan, you need to stop putting your crotch on people’s desks” which is, uh, not a conversation most people want to have!!

          I know it’s often better to have a direct, blunt conversation with someone, but my word, I don’t even know what you could say to be direct about this without it being exceptionally weird and uncomfortable for everyone…

          1. Siege*

            I mean, this is so egregious, I feel like it’s reasonable to actually just say “Stop putting your crotch on my desk, it’s weird and unsanitary.” and accompany it with a freezing look. Because I am a 6’4″ lady, and I can tell you that I would know if my crotch was on a desk … mostly because I would have to actually interact with a desk in a VERY specific way to do what Hallie Dills is describing, and it is a way that violates most, if not all, conventional senses of personal space in America. It doesn’t seem like something that needs to be softened or negotiated or anything else, because this person is walking into an office, and maneuvering her body so her genitals are resting on someone’s desk.

            1. Annie Moose*

              I guess that’s true! I was thinking in terms of a manager having to have a specific conversation about it, but addressing it in the moment is probably much more the way to go.

        2. Hallie Dills*

          That’s pretty much it; she’s around 6’ tall, but she intentionally lowers her chair to the level where she is putting her breasts directly on the table without leaning at all. She’s even said “Ah, that’s the spot “ a few times when she does this; it’s very noticeable.

          I like your suggestion about offering her a chair in my office; we’ll see how she responds to that.

          1. tessa*

            That made me laugh out loud. I’m sorry this is happening, but “Ah, that’s the spot?” omg.

            Please let there be an update.

          2. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Don’t “offer”, you must insist. Also, rearrange things on your desk so there aren’t any available corners and get “museum wax” to use liberally to make it hard to move anything from the corners.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I agree that the breasts are less of a problem than the crotch (omg??? I literally said WHAT out loud reading that) but because of the other issues and the way it’s worded I can’t help imagining her like, openly hoisting one boob at a time onto the table and letting them plop audibly into place lol

    2. Pascall*

      I have no advice but this is such a weird set of behaviors that I’m baffled as to how I’d handle it.

    3. Nea*

      Yawning loudly every minute or so, even when someone is talking. We did address that last one with her, and she just laughed at us, saying that’s just how she rolls.

      You don’t have to address the crotch or boobs thing when this is Right There. She’s distracting people around her with the yawning, disrespecting co-workers who are speaking to her with the yawning, and she’s laughing at attempts to warn her that her behavior isn’t reflecting well on her. She stops “rolling that way” or she’s gone.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        Yeah, that’s sort of shocking. Yawning in people’s faces as they’re speaking is absolutely rude. I don’t know how she got away with responding that’s how she rolls. I can’t imagine my manager letting the conversation end there.

      2. Calliope*

        I actually wondered if this was a medication side effect – it’s not uncommon among people on certain common prescription drugs. That said, she should have responded better if that is the case and the whole picture is very weird.

        1. tessa*

          I don’t know of any yawn-inducing medication that prevents people from covering their mouths or otherwise be polite about their yawns.

    4. Cold Fish*

      I’m going to attempt to tap into my inner Alison and ask, when you addressed the yawning, were you very direct or did you try and soften the message? Blowing off a true concern about being disrespectful to your coworkers by constantly yawning while they are speaking would show that she is not going to take the more serious crotch/breast any more seriously.

      I’m sorry I don’t really have advice but my questions to HR Pros (or employment attorneys) would be. Does the inappropriate behavior constitute a hostile environment if multiple people report her behavior is making them uncomfortable? Could the company get in trouble by not confronting/stopping that behavior? If she has a medical condition that makes the yawning involuntary, does she have an obligation to report that?

    5. Joielle*

      When she stands with her crotch on your desk (ew) can you say “Could you back up a couple steps? I have a big personal space bubble.” or “Have a seat (*gesture to chair on other side of desk*), what was it you needed?” Doesn’t really fix the overall problem, but maybe fixes the immediate gross situation.

      I don’t think this should be up to you as the office manager, but I think her direct manager should have a conversation with her about professional behavior. Including keeping a respectful distance when talking to people (certainly not close enough to touch their desk), keeping chairs at an ergonomically appropriate height when sitting in a conference room, and yawning quietly. They should be clear that whether or not she agrees with these behavior standards, they are required in your office (and in most professional offices). It’ll be an awkward conversation, but they’ll only need to have it once, since she should probably be let go if she doesn’t change.

    6. librarianmom*

      Sorry I am not sure I understand —- is she straddling your desk? Sitting on the corner? leaning her crotch on your desk as she is standing next to it? Whatever it is, this is really about her encroaching on others’ personal space. That is what is making people uncomfortable and that is what needs to be addressed. As far as leaning over a table (no matter what parts of her body is on the table) and yawning during meetings, this is disrespectful (sitting up straight is what one does when one is paying attention) and disruptive (being quiet and listening, not yawning, is what one does when paying attention) and again, she needs to be told that it will not be tolerated. Take the focus off her body parts and put it on her general conduct.

      1. Hallie Dills*

        Thanks very much for your perspective! It is the body part aspect that makes this so awkward, and you’re right that may not be the best way to approach it. Since people have specifically complained about the crotch thing I guess I was focusing more on that, but her overall behavior has just been a bit off in general. We can maybe focus on that.

    7. OyHiOh*

      To me, all of the behaviors described fall under the heading of professional norms and learning to drawing attention to yourself for your work, rather than behavior.

      I would have a direct, clear corrective/counseling conversation in which specific behaviors are named, and what you want her to do instead/in place of.

      The yawning, she may not be able to do much about. How she places her body in relation to desks and tables, absolutely. The yawning may become less of a grievance if she changes the other things.

      In my setting, once I had the conversation, I’d put 6 ft distance bubbles on the floor, measured from all desks and direct people in the moment to not come inside the sticker for conversations; or as suggested elsewhere, direct her to take a seat the moment she comes to have a conversation. If the 2nd chair option is possible in your layout, make sure the language used is direct and instructive rather than optional. “Please take a seat” rather than “would you like to sit down.” I’d also have her commit to adjusting her conference room chair to a height where her feet can rest flat on the floor at a 90 degree angle from her hip.

      1. Khatul Madame*

        This brings to mind the conversation about scream-yawns and scream-sneezes on this site a short while back. So.
        She CAN regulate how loud her yawns are. The yawns might not be so egregious if she performed (sic!) them quietly and covered her mouth.
        All in all, the behavior described veers from inappropriate to offensive and disrespectful. Even if this employee is incredibly skillful in what she does, I would consider termination. I hope Hallie Dills’ company is in at-will state.

    8. I was told there would be llamas*

      I don’t know about the meeting room…but for everyone’s desks…put something so close to the edge that she’d have to move it or knock it over!

    9. Purple Cat*

      Wow, these behaviors are just bizarre……
      I am well endowed and can honestly say I’ve never lowered my chair to rest my chest on the table. Leaning over a counter while standing is different, and unavoidable….
      Someone needs to have a very frank conversation with her that her behaviors are distracting people from the actual work that she is doing. And while they’re at it – make sure that the work itself actually is up to par. And if not, bypass the weird body positioning entirely and just focus on the work aspect.

    10. Nonny*

      For the crotch to deal thing, I like the suggestions to have her sit or you could ask her to not lean on your desk. No need to bring her body parts in it.

      For the boobs on the table, I would let that go. I bet it stands out more because of the crotch to desk relationship. As another poster mentioned above, depending on her build, this may be most comfortable to her. I have to imagine that there are people out there with body shapes that mean their breasts rest on tables or desks naturally.

      I think you could address if her posture is poor, in terms of it possibly leading people to think she’s not interested, but you can def bring up the loud yawning. Is she doing like a full body yawn? She may not be able to cut down on the amount of yawns, but she can keep them quiet and contained so she isn’t disrupting meetings or insulting colleagues.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        I think the breasts on the table thing is standing out because she’s actually lowering her chair in order to rest her breasts on the table. This is just a weird thing to do around other people. I’m assuming she makes it through the rest of her work day without a desk bra.

        1. Nonny*

          She might do it at her desk, that’s why I say leave it alone. Personally, as a taller woman, having chairs all the way down is awful, but eh.

    11. RagingADHD*

      If you mean she’s sitting on the desk /table, ask her not to sit there. If she’s somehow pressing the front of her body against it, ask her to back up.

      Ignore her boobs.

      Assuming you are her manager, then address the yawning issue as a rudeness issue, especially the part where she *laughed at the feedback*. If you are not her manager, there’s not much you can do about the yawning/inattentiveness except bring it up with her manager as general feedback about her attitude toward her coworkers, or if she does it in a client meeting, then you can talk about rudeness to/in front of clients.

    12. Observer*

      that’s just how she rolls

      Well, for starters, if she’s disrupting people that’s not good enough. But, do you have HR? Or at least access to someone who can advise you? Her behavior is weird, but you want to tread carefully here.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      For the desk thing, you can just tell her not to sit on desks, period. She can use chairs or stand.
      For the thing with the boobs and yawning, I would tell her that she looks like she is going to take a nap. I would frame it as “leaning and yawning” and leave the boob reference out of the conversation.
      Tell her that you get she likes to lean on things and some times lean on things and yawn but it sends a message that she is tired and not ready for work. It’s really not professional to drape ones self all over the furniture and it’s even less professional to continually yawn through meeting. It disrupts the meeting with distraction.

      Tell her that she needs to look and act like a contributing participate in the work place.

      So here goes: “Jane, I have noticed that you lean against the furniture a lot such as desks and tables. Sometimes when you lean you begin yawning a lot, especially in meetings. Both the leaning and the excessive yawning are not professional. It looks like you are not ready for the work day and not ready to carry out any responsibilities that come up. I understand you said this is not how you fly. However, this IS how workplaces fly. Please stop leaning against the furniture and stop disrupting meetings with excessive yawning.”

      Notice that here I have made it irrelevant which body part is doing the leaning. And this is preparation for her to switch over to leaning on her elbow, tilting way back in her chair when everyone else is sitting up straight and so on. She needs to just stop leaning, period. You can say it is too casual a look in a professional environment.

    14. Might Be Spam*

      I am short enough that my boobs would rest on the table when I pull my chair all the way in. I do not do this. It would feel so weird and I would be so self conscious. Ewww

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

      “Can you not?”

      That probably wouldn’t be professional would it? Yikes, maybe the pandemic is your friend — add a line of tape on the floor 6 feet away from the desk and tell her she needs to stay 6 feet away…for COVID reasons.

  36. Cold Fish*

    I’ve never been a good “long time” planner. I’m really good at organizing and planning short term but whenever I think long-term all I can think about are the myriad of things that could impede or change. As a result the future is often just a hazy someday. As a result, I’ve always struggled with that “where do you see yourself in X years?” questions. And there seems to be an increase (or I’m just noticing) posts about 1-year or 5-year career goals during performance reviews. All this to ask…
    How do you go about thinking and planning out your goals?
    How important do you think it is to have 1-5 year goals to work towards?
    How often do you revisit your goals?

    1. Meowquis*

      I’m also shit at goals and personally don’t have them long term right now (am living in a state of flux) but on leading projects I tend to use miro, which is basically virtual stickynotes, with a bit long arrow from now to the future. I have a sit and think about what needs to come in the future. For career I’d probably sit there and think, well. Ideally, more money. More career progressing. Do I like the kind of work I do? Cool. More money often = more responsibility for which it = needing more skills. So, at the end I would shove “improve myself to a more skilled and experienced version of myself, with easy to point to projects under my belt”. Then just start brain dumping stickynotes on top – research training courses, get manager on board to suggest me for any projects that need a lead, see which programmes are used in my field I’m not experienced in, become an expert at this and that software I’m merely good at, etc. Then take time to organise them along the timeline. I generally leave all my boards open in the software on my laptop and flick through the boards once a week or so – I’d likely see my goals timeline then too and either act/update if I needed to.

      I guess it all just starts with one question: what do you want? Things can change very easily in the details, but a big overarching goal tends not to so much. Just the way you get there.

    2. Jareth*

      I agree, it’s a hard question — nothing is certain! Who am I to write the Future on this performance review sheet?

      When I have to answer this question, I go back to my personal values and needs then find professional expressions thereof. For example, I care a lot about justice and access >> Professionally, I’m invested in making sure our services are and remain accessible to disabled people >> Goals: update website to be even more friendly to screen reading software, work with other teams to investigate potential for discounted or donated services, work with the business organizers to format internal documents in a way that allows neurodivergent people to read them more easily, and be the best [my title] I can be so that I am not a roadblock to coworkers or clients.

      I’ll not answer the other two questions, as the importance and timeline of professional goals are determined more by my employer than by me, and my personal goals and timeline are dictated entirely by whether I’m making enough to live, which until 4 months ago was not a guarantee.

    3. Nela*

      I stopped making long-term overarching goals because they don’t motivate me in the slightest, and they just feel arbitrary, like I’m forcing myself to be more ambitious than I actually am.

      I operate entirely on a project basis. It can be an actual project with a series of deliverables and measurable impact, or a learning project like “focusing on improving my skill in X”.
      I’m also not too attached to the timeline, because in my experience things always take 5 times longer than I think they will. I revisit my “goals” (projects) after I complete the current ones and have room for a new one, so it’s not a “every X months/years” thing, but whenever it makes sense.

      Something 5 years away is more in the category of “Ah, it would be nice if this happened by then”, but not something I’ll be committed to or use as a guideline for all my short-term planning.

    4. 212-85-07*

      I am a self-described opportunist. I get excited by the uncertainty (hey, it beats living in fear!) and have the mental flexibility to accept opportunities that are not in perfect alignment with the logical progression of my career.

    5. Girasol*

      I used to say that in any position in my IT career, the technology I was working with had not been invented five years before. So I expected that in five years later I would be working in an area that I knew nothing about yet. “Where will you be in five years?” seems like a question for the 1950s.

    6. BookMom*

      At age 50, I can look back on my life in 5 year increments and say long term career plans are all whimsy. I like to evaluate whether my life (personal and professional) is aligned with my personal values. If it is, then I’m doing ok.

      I hate those questions about 5-years-from-now too. My workplace does have upward mobility for the people who work in our industry but I’m in a supporting/admin position that has little room for promotion. That’s totally fine with me. I don’t want the stress of managing. Usually I just talk about wanting to hone specific skills or improve efficiencies.

      1. allathian*

        Sounds familiar… I’m about to turn 50 as well, and I’m a translator with nearly 20 years of experience in my field, and an additional 10+ years in various retail and admin positions, both PT and FT. I have no ambition to get into management, and even if I did, I’d have to switch employers to an organization with more than two translators. So whenever I’m asked this question, I just say that I want to become a better and more efficient translator, and so far, this has been true. I’m as happy in my job as I expect to be in any job. I’ve been here almost 15 years, and I could easily see myself working here for another 15 years or so, until I can retire. I work for the government, and they can’t fire me unless I do something horrible that’s a fireable offence, or if they decide to outsource or disband my job function entirely. They can’t fire me and hire someone else to do my job, at least not unless my performance deteriorates to the point that I become incompetent at it.

        I’m very risk averse, and I guess that I’ve been very lucky because I’ve never worked in a truly toxic environment, because for me, the one constant in my life is that change has almost always been imposed from without. I know I could probably earn more if I were willing to take more chances, but I’m happy enough where I am and that’s enough for me.

      2. retired3*

        Age almost 78. Yes. Tao: You get up; you do some things; you see what happens. Doing something in my retirement (for 20 years now) I didn’t even know existed until I started doing it. I’d look at the future in terms of skills and knowledge you want to develop…I have a degree in journalism and a masters in public administration. One of my first jobs was to set up a major statewide medical system (that still exists) when I had no relevant medical background or knowledge. My retirement work is medical adjacent that uses my writing skills…you just never know.

  37. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

    Y’all, I am so excited and nervous at the same time. I’m going to be finishing up my MPA this fall and my department has already started looking at what they need to do to keep me. One idea that my supervisor had is to have me take over managing Jade, a recent hire that currently reports my supervisor, and my supervisor will help support me as I learn to manage. This is a big step up for me and I’m very excited and nervous about it at the same time. Another reason for the change is that my supervisor and department head think that Jane may be more comfortable reporting to me, another staff member, than to an associate professor. I’m also more available than he is and will work very closely with her position.

    Jade is straight out of college with no formal office experience. I’ve already volunteered to talk to her about a problem that my supervisor and I noticed. We’ve had two meet and greet events this week where we had students and faculty come by to meet her and another new hire. She spent most of the time texting on her phone. I understand that there could have been something else going on, but part of her job with us will be serving as a program recruiter. We would prefer for her not to be on her phone texting when she’s at an event like that. I didn’t say anything in the moment because I didn’t know that my supervisor and department head wanted me to start supervising her and I think my supervisor didn’t say anything because he wanted to see how it played out.

    Right now, my plan is see if Jane wants to go get coffee and try to talk to her about this then. Thinking about some of the scripts I’ve seen Alison use, I’m going to open with asking her how she’s doing in the position (she’s been with us about 3 weeks now) and ask her how she thinks the meet and greets went. From there, I’ll bring up the texting issue. How do y’all think that sounds? Any pointers, suggestions, etc?

    1. Raboot*

      Have you already formally been made her manager? Otherwise this would be pretty weird imo. I mean it’s nice to catch up with new coworkers and give them pointers, but that’s not really what this sounds like, it sounds more like “practice supervision”.

      1. Jane*

        Ooh yes, this. I have multiple managers and team leaders due to a complex hierachy and it’s a bit of a nightmare. If you’re not formally her manager, what happens if you want to discipline her for continuing to use her phone at events, but her official manager doesn’t think it’s a problem (perhaps because she’s not involved day-to-day)?

        Or from your employees perspective, are you her friend, her mentor or her boss? If she sees you as a mentor, what will you do if she shares that she was on the phone because she was bored?

      1. Cordelia*

        yes, be specific about what is expected of her – but only if you are already her supervisor. Otherwise, your role in this situation is very blurred. Does she know you are going to be her supervisor? I’d find it very odd to be taken out for coffee by someone who I thought was a peer, who then appeared to start reviewing my performance.
        I’d get clarity with your current supervisor about everyone’s roles and expectations here, before you start doing anything.

    2. BRR*

      It should be made clear to Jane from her current manager that you’re managing her. 100% non negotiable.

      For delivering feedback, I wouldn’t combine asking her how it’s going going and saying the thing about her phone. Just tell her about the phone. Otherwise you’re making it a bigger thing than it is. Also don’t use the wording that you’d prefer her to not be on her phone. Be more concrete.

    3. retired3*

      It sounds like you’re trying to be “nice” rather than to supervise . You may need some mentoring to understand the difference. Both of you need to be clear about what your role is. Just tell her neutrally when she can and cannot use her phone. Then follow up with reinforcement when she does and does not follow the “rule.” You are not her friend (the going for coffee thing).

  38. PicklePower*

    I have seen multiple posts online about how frustrated job candidates are about online resume systems that ask you to upload your resume but also ask you to fill in your job experience, education, i.e. things that are on the resume you just uploaded. Many candidates state that they refuse to do this, they expect the company to peruse their resume. A relative who is struggling with a job search stated this exact sentiment and also refuses to fill out those sections. How important are those sections? Is it detrimental to a candidates prospects if they don’t fill them in?

    1. Pascall*

      I think it depends on the system that the employer is using. Some allow much-quicker access to the employee’s resume than the filled in work history, but others put the work history first and foremost in the candidate profile and use the resumes as a secondary tool.

      To be on the safe side, I fill all work history fields out, but I always just copy and paste exactly what’s on my resume, so I’m not really doing a ton of extra work. But that way they get the same info no matter which their system prioritizes. I think, unfortunately, not doing it will put you at a disadvantage for those employers whose systems work that way.

    2. milaxo*

      It is quite annoying but I didn’t realize it was optional – I recall always having to enter information. I can’t imagine truly needing/wanting a job and doing something that would likely take me out of the running, at that point it makes no sense to apply. Again, it is annoying and if I was job searching for months I would be tired of filling it out but from the forms I’ve seen it usually just takes a couple of minutes of copying and pasting.

    3. Joielle*

      I always assumed those fields were to make it easier for the ATS software to scan for keywords and reject any applicants that it deemed unqualified, which would make them very important. But I don’t actually know if that’s the case!

    4. Annie Moose*

      I don’t have personal experience with ATS applications, but I would never assume these were optional! The whole point (I imagine) is that a person’s resume could be formatted any which way, which makes it hard to quickly extract info in a standardized way for the hiring folks to peruse. Of course it’s frustrating as a jobseeker, but it’s just the reality–nobody is actually out there reading 700 resumes for one position or whatever. They have to have some way to get data from resumes, and “have the applicant enter it in a standardized way” isn’t a completely absurd solution.

      1. Annie Moose*

        I forgot to add–I’m sure you can often just copy-paste from your resume for these things. I doubt anybody’s expecting totally new wording or explanations for the basic stuff.

    5. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

      This isn’t a fix for everything, but they should check their resume formatting: sometimes you have to fill those in because it isn’t correctly parsing the resume and a little bit of reformatting can help. (Obviously, having done this and still experiencing the “upload your resume only to have to fill things in” myself when I was on the market, it can still happen). Along same lines, check things like college major in your resume. If your major is something that is not typical, can you make it an analogous major so that the system recognizes it? For instance, if your university major was “quantitative reasoning and the world,” saying “statistics” instead will make the system recognize it.

      But also, as frustrating as they are, you can’t count that a human will read your resume if those fields don’t check all the required boxes. I would recommend if not inputting the entire resume, putting enough so that the system flags you as qualified.

    6. The Assistant*

      I was filling in one of these this week and it was tedious but only took 15 minutes. I am not sure why they want both, though.

      Weirdly, there was never a request to upload a cover letter or even a section for that. There was a place where I could upload any ‘extra documents’ but I didn’t want to because they never specifically asked for a cover letter.

      I wonder if it’s that they just don’t want one and now reading the comments here they just want to scan on through key words in that form. It still seems weird they didn’t ask, but I didn’t want to give something not asked for.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I don’t know how important they may be, but in general one’s tolerance for annoyance is (or should be) in direct proportion to how badly you need a job. If you already have a fine job and can’t be bothered, great. If you need a job, why would you refuse to do something that doesn’t hurt you, but might help you get what you want?

      If someone refuses to do something tedious and annoying but really, really needs a job, I have to wonder – are they going to do the tedious and annoying parts of the job in order to keep it? Because every job has some tedious and annoying parts.

      It’s not like repetitive uploading and typing is *hard.* It’s just dumb. Life is full of dumb stuff that could be simpler but isn’t. Life is also full of obstacles that are actually hard. If the dumb stuff stops you from trying, what are you going to do about the actual hard stuff?

    8. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work the on on-line form is used by HR, but hiring managers prefer the resumes. Yes, it is detrimental if applicants don’t fill them in – their info won’t populate into the HR system.

    9. Lady_Lessa*

      Not HR, but I would be afraid not to, if the job looked promising. I am sure that the program sorts by keywords, and dates. If there was nothing to sort, any information may NOT get passed on.

      Due to age, I’ve been screened out by dates, especially if they want them for HS and College graduations.

      I’d love to see a comparison of two people, of the same gender, would submit the same resume with one filling out the data and the other not.

    10. Observer*

      Is it detrimental to a candidates prospects if they don’t fill them in?

      Almost certainly. If nothing else a lot of people are going to think “this candidate can’t follow instructions.

      Also, depending on how the system is set up, the whole application could get screened out because this information is not in the correct fields.

    11. Parakeet*

      I truly hate these things, because most of the resume parsers are so terrible and I have to spend almost as long on fixing parsing mistakes as I would entering the entire thing from scratch, but it also never occurred to me that they were optional. I assume they’re meant to standardize formatting and make it easier for hiring managers to find relevant bits of information quickly. And I’m not going to forgo any job application that has them – maybe this varies by field, but I would lose out on a LOT of jobs that I’m actually really interested in (probably between a quarter and half of the ones that I apply to, as someone currently casually searching), if I took a hard line on this.

    12. Dark Macadamia*

      My impression is that the individual fields are for a computer and the uploaded resume is for a human. So your application can be screened/filtered/searched or whatever they need to do when comparing new candidates, but they can print out the resume to have on hand for interviews.

      I just hate when the fields are too strict! I’ve had ones where it requires the exact number of digits for a license number, but different states format their version differently so I had to do something like a row of zeroes and then explain in a comment because it wouldn’t accept my actual number as valid

  39. CalAH*

    I once again need help determining if a coworker’s COVID denial is worth raising with our manager. As mentioned in previous open threads, our manager has privately asked me to inform her of COVID issues with this coworker. I have not yet brought issues to our manager but have corroborated when other coworkers report problems. Other people’s reports do not seem to improve the situation. Our manager is busy, and I don’t like taking time out of both our schedules to be a tattle tale.
    This week I learned I was exposed to COVID at work (I’m fine, tested negative and have no symptoms).
    Per company policy, I immediately packed up to take a test and work from home. While packingg my coworker guessed why I was leaving and (jokingly?) asked me to cough on her so she could “spend a week at home watching movies.” For context, she’s the only person in our office not trained to work from home. None of the rest of us are getting time off for this.
    I replied no, I would not do that because I do not want to kill her.
    She said she wouldn’t die.
    This is where I believe I went wrong. I said that I am worried about infecting a high risk family member. Sharing my personal life with this person does not end well, and I shouldn’t have engaged.
    She responded by laughing and saying my relative will be fine. I was almost out the door when she said this but turned back to say that she has no way of knowing that, and that I don’t appreciate her joking about it. Then I left. I’ve been working at home since then, and really dread being in the office and interacting in person.
    I know I’m bringing too much of my personal stress to this situation. No one was endangered. She did not get in my space without a mask (this time). I’m angry, but that’s probably a problem for me, not the manager. Mainly I’m angry because it’s been this way for months. My coworker has no interest in changing her behavior. Management does not seem willing to lose her.
    Under these circumstances, is this an off color joke I should keep to myself? Or is this something a manager would want to know?

    1. Amber Rose*

      The rule of thumb is, report something to a manager when you have a specific thing in mind that the manager can do with that information. Given what you’ve said here, I doubt your manager needs to know.

    2. Elle Woods*

      I’d keep this to myself. If your coworker had engaged in behavior that was dangerous to others (like not being masked or coming to work while sick), I’d go to your manager.

      FWIW, I think your response to her was appropriate. It was factual (she doesn’t know if your relative would be fine) and informative (you don’t appreciate her joking about it). Unfortunately, you may need to repeat your statement to her about not knowing if your relative would be find and being unappreciative of her joke many times before she shuts up about it.

      1. CalAH*

        Thank you for the helpful advice. I am grateful that it wasn’t dangerous this time. She was refusing to mask/mask properly until about a month ago (and still complains about our manager, grandboss, and public health liaison “bullying” her).
        I also appreciate your feedback on my response. I’ll work on calmly repeating it.

      1. CalAH*

        Thank you. Yes, it really was insensitive. I’m going to hold off on telling my manager. If the insensitive jokes escalate, I may tell my manager there seems to be a communication problem.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      The joking about having a week off is a dumb office snark that landed on the wrong person.

      You gave her a legitimate take on what she thought was funny, and now the awkward is all on her.

      If she’s uncomfortable later on, and it causes you issues, then that’s when to bring it up.

      I hear you on the “this ain’t a joke” stuff. They’ve just lifted the mask mandates for businesses in my state and now anyone can do whatever they want, regardless of vax status. It’s not making me happy. I have family I’d like to be able to be in the presence of without feeling like I’m a bucket of potential death.

      1. CalAH*

        Thank you. Framing it as office snark helps me step back from viewing it as a continuing campaign to bring more people into her conspiracies.
        I am worried about her retaliating for the discomfort. I’m being promoted and will be training her to take on some of my current duties. I will loop my manager in if the coworker is disruptive during training.
        I’m sending sympathy to you for the ending mask mandate. It is really difficult, especially with at risk family.

        1. WellRed*

          I think your response to her was fine, it sounds like you were calm and matter of fact. She has nothing to “retaliate” for here.

          1. CalAH*

            Thanks. I hope you’re right. She has yelled at me several times for things I did not do. Given that history, I believe she will “retaliate” for any perceived slight, including making her uncomfortable.

    4. DinosaurWrangler*

      Why would you NOT report this to your manager, especially when your manager has asked you to do exactly that? This is not “being a tattletale”. I urge you to change your thinking about this. Don’t make this issue about office drama. It is not. It is about people’s health.
      Your coworker’s behavior is outrageous. And she an idiot about covid.

      And because your boss has specifically asked you to report this cind of stuff about this coworker, it’s your responsibility to do so. Your and/or your boss’s amount of work or overwork has nothing to do with this.
      Maybe your boss needs evidence from multiple people to build a case against this covidiot.

      1. CalAH*

        I’m hesitant to talk to my manager because I doubt she can change this.
        Months of repeated interventions with management got this coworker to wear a mask (crying was involved on her part). It has not changed her attitude. I think “not actively endangering the office” is as good as this will get. Management won’t be willing to fire her over a personal option, even though that opinion is odious.

      2. Down to the minute*

        Whether we like it or not, co-worker has as much right to say, “Your family member will be fine,” as OP has to say, “You’ll die if I cough on you.”

        You can make a good argument that co-worker is foolish for not admitting the seriousness of a contagious and deadly disease. You can also make a good argument that OP is foolish for making sure she got the last word in instead of continuing out the door when she has this contagious and deadly disease.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      This seems like something that mainly annoys you because you’re already mad at her about more serious comments/practices. “Cough on me so I can go home!” is more in the realm of boring office banter than public health denial – super annoying and clueless, but you already made it clear that you don’t appreciate her “jokes” and reporting it seems like overkill.

      1. CalAH*

        You are absolutely right. If someone else had said this I would still be annoyed but not to this degree. I won’t go the overkill route.

  40. OyHiOh*

    If you knew someone in your social circle using phrases like this in their cover letter, would you say something and if so, what?

    My work is hiring and as the office manager/admin/whatever-the-hell my jack of all trades role is, I collate resumes, make the first pass at sorting, and send them on to the hiring committee. I’m paraphrasing/summarizing for anonymity, but two people used phrases along these lines: “I’m a young, tenacious, enthusiastic woman and . . .” The role is a mid to late career position requiring significant soft people skills as well as depth of niche experience, not an entry level role where a person new to the industry would benefit by being tenacious and learning on the job and this is clearly articulated in the job listing (I re-read the listing after getting two of these cover letters in one day!)

    I’ve gleaned enough from this blog to know it’s not necessary to respond with counseling on writing better cover letters. Everyone who has applied received a bland, fairly generic “we’ve received your materials, we’ll contact you in the next two to three weeks” email. If you were helping an adult daughter/niece/friend in their job search and saw this kind of phrasing in their cover letter, what, if anything, would you say?

    1. Llama Tickling Manager*

      “I’m sure you are tenacious, enthusiastic, etc– but the thing is, someone who isn’t can also write that in their cover letter, so it’s the kind of thing that hiring managers just bleep over. What they are looking for is where you’ve DEMONSTRATED tenacity and enthusiasm. How can you articulate that?”

      1. Girasol*

        I used to write stuff like that when I was fresh out of school and struggling to find anything to say to make me sound grown up and experienced when I wasn’t. We all have to struggle through and outgrow that stage. I would say just let them be. They’ll keep trying until they find appropriate jobs where they can start small and gain real experience.

    2. FridayAngerrrr*

      How is their resume? Because everyone sucks at writing cover letters, and there is some terrible advice out there for writing them. I don’t put too much emphasis on cover letters when serving on hiring committees. I care much more about their resume and work experience than the cover letter.

      1. OyHiOh*

        In these cases, the resumes were very weak candidates for the role (think clothing boutique manager applying for a lab manager position) with no indication in their materials that they had lab management training or experience anywhere in their backgrounds. Relevant, we have some very, very strong candidates who are female, come from less-often-seen experience/education backgrounds, etc. All of the strong candidates either didn’t submit a cover letter (in the niche we’re hiring for, cover letters are not necessarily standard so this didn’t surprise me) or wrote something that managed to show rather than tell.

        I have daughters myself so seeing these two examples made me think about what if one of my daughters came to me for help as an adult.

    3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I would tell my daughter that she should not use any sentence that says “I am a ___ woman”, and that she should delete that entire sentence on all future letters. Even without the gender (which is a big nope in my book), I think the declaratory sentence is awkward and unecessary, and there are better ways of incorporating purported personal qualities into a cover letter. The word tenacious would be a red flag for me for practically any office job (but may be fine for some sales jobs where aggressive sales tactics are expected).

      1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        Try this test: “I am young, tenacious, enthusiastic young woman…” who likes hiking, sunsets, puppies and hip-hop music. If it works on a dating site, it probably doesn’t belong in a cover letter.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      I think that the first sentence of a cover letter (and cover letters in general) should avoid 1. mentioning demographic facts that are often used for discrimination (age, gender, race, religion etc) unless the trait is directly relevant to the job (rare); and 2. should not list personality traits (tenacious, intelligent, hardworking). Personality traits will show themselves through the interview process, experience and references — and are usually pretty irrelevant (and completely meaningless when self-reported). Instead the cover letter should avoid demographics entirely and focus on experience and interest in the work, especially if the link between the experience and the work is not obvious. “After my 10 years of herding cats, I am interested in llama grooming and believe my experience will service me since they are both difficult to control animals.” That’s a terrible sentence, but you get the idea.

  41. Nynaeve*

    I have a dilemma I’m hoping some of you can weigh in on for me.

    It has recently come to my attention that a manager in my company’s wife is potentially harassing his direct reports. He has given them, mostly women, his personal phone number in order for them to contact him outside of work hours if needed. Think things like, a quick text to let him know you’re running late, or to get clarification on something, etc. She has sent at least half a dozen of them reply texts, from his phone, that basically say “don’t contact my husband, you have the ability to use work e-mail, or Slack, to contact him for work things” And, she has referred to at least one of them as his “work bitch”. I am also aware of at least one instance of her getting onto his work e-mail through his phone and sending a similar message to someone’s e-mail.

    We have an ethics complaint process, though I don’t think any of the affected women are willing to use it to report the behavior. I am tempted to. Both because she has no right, and because she has been able to get on to his e-mail and use it, which is significantly more egregious of an offense, IMO. Some of what we handle is covered by HIPAA, so guarding access to our systems is a top priority.

    Do I have standing to report this and let the chips fall where they may? Can the company do anything about her behavior, or is it all going to be on our employee? Clearly, he has relationship issues he needs to sort out, but, short of firing or demoting him, is there anything the company can do about this?

    1. Llama Tickling Manager*

      Both because she has no right, and because she has been able to get on to his e-mail and use it, which is significantly more egregious of an offense, IMO

      I think if you have evidence of this, or even just a strong suspicion it’s happening, you have a duty to report it. This seems pretty clearcut to me.

      The other stuff — several options:

      1. If the texts are coming from another number (ie direct from his wife’s phone, tell them to block the number ASAP. To be honest I would probably do that and assume it was the end of it.

      2. Encourage the affected staff to raise it with their manager himself. Even if it’s in a super roundabout way like, “Could your kid have got access to your phone? I got some weird texts the other day.” Get clarification from him on whether he wants them to continue to use that number or not. But basically, his number, his problem.

      If they won’t raise it with him and won’t raise it with HR, I would let it go. I don’t think reporting it on someone else’s behalf would be very effective– it would be very hard for you to give the level of detail that would make it worthwhile for HR to investigate, and it’s not (the way you’ve described here) egregious enough that they would need to require people to cooperate with an investigation. Whereas I think the email/HIPAA stuff is.

      1. Nynaeve*

        No, she appears to be getting his phone in the middle of the night and responding to text threads to people she doesn’t recognize, or people she knows to be his coworkers. He knows about it, both because it’s on his phone, and because the ladies have not hesitated to tell him when it’s happening, at least a couple of them. I get the impression that he is just laughing it off because he wants everyone to be happy, wife and coworkers, and thinks he can just keep brushing it off at work, and making excuses in his home life.

        1. Llama Tickling Manager*

          We’ll— that or he’s in an abusive relationship and has no idea how to handle it. Which I think is what a lot of people would assume if the genders were reversed and it were a heavy husband coming onto people like this. (I don’t think you can always make a direct gender swap because the external power balance is different, but it can be useful to make you think about alternative readings.)

          If your co-workers have talked to him about it and then presumably blocked his number and are using other ways to contact him, I think that’s as far as that needs to go, unless one of them feels threatened enough to make a report. I do think you should report the HIPAA stuff though.

          1. Observer*

            There is a good chance he’s in an abusive situation. But it still needs to be reported. DEFINITELY the HIPAA violations. But also the harassment, unless he has given his staff a different way to reach him. It is just NOT acceptable to put his staff in the middle of this problem.

          2. Clisby*

            I can’t tell, though, what the HIPAA violations might be. The husband having access to information covered by HIPAA doesn’t mean the wife has access to it just because she has access to his phone.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Wow! Does the manager know that his wife is doing this? I would report his wife using his email account, especially because of the sensitive nature of the materials you all handle. I had to report someone to my IT security group once because the person (who worked in payroll) wrote all of their passwords on a pane of paper next to her computer. Per our IT security policy, I was required to report the person.

    3. irene adler*

      Isn’t this considered hacking – in some form?
      AND if you do have HIPAA regs to adhere to, then there needs to be protections from Wife using Hubby/manager’s email. That seems awfully sloppy cyber-security-wise.
      If you are a manager in the company (even if you are not directly supervising any of the players here), you may have a legal duty to report knowledge of harassment/breach of security. Check your employee manual.

    4. Meowquis*

      I would personally 100% report that on our anonymous employee tipline. The worst thing that happens there is nothing. Besides the absolute cruelty and appropriateness of harassing them and insulting/swearing at/about them, her being able to access his mailbox is a huge problem likely violating his contract/employee rules.

    5. Annie Moose*

      If HIPAA is involved and there’s reason to think she’s seen PHI that should be secured under HIPAA (which DEFINITELY should not be going through ordinary text messages!!!), then that’s what needs to be reported first of all. HIPAA breaches are serious business. Your company likely has a designated HIPAA person or way to report HIPAA violations; they need to know. Immediately. Ideally this should come from a person who has direct proof/experience (one of the employees in the text/email chains) but even if they aren’t willing to, I think you should still reach out.

      If HIPAA/PHI is not involved, then I would still say you should strongly encourage the affected employees to report it. Your company can absolutely take steps to deal with this–they can tell him to stop using his personal phone for work matters, they can tell him to change his email password and that he cannot share the new one with his wife, and yes, they can threaten to demote or fire him if he won’t comply. Maybe he is being abused, maybe he’s a serial cheater and his wife doesn’t trust him, it doesn’t matter–this behavior needs to stop!

    6. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      If she has gotten into his work email and replied from his work email, this is a violation of company security. Worse, she has sent harassing messages from his work email to other employees.
      I would focus on that.

    7. Observer*

      Do I have standing to report this and let the chips fall where they may? Can the company do anything about her behavior, or is it all going to be on our employee? Clearly, he has relationship issues he needs to sort out, but, short of firing or demoting him, is there anything the company can do about this?

      It NEEDS to be reported. And, yes, it is ALL on him, from your company’s point of view. You have no authority over her whatsoever. You (ie the company) DO have authority over him. And both the potential harassment and the potential HIPAA violations are MAJOR issues that your company needs to deal with.

      To be honest, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him. He knows the deal with his wife – why is he exposing them to her? Either he needs to protect his phone better or he needs to have a different way to communicate with his staff. His marital problems are not their problem and it is utterly in appropriate for him to pull them into the middle of it.

      And, the fact that she is getting to his work email is VERY much on him! If his security on his phone is that bad, he should not have work email on his phone! This is so bad, that honestly, that SHOULD put his jib in jeopardy.

      But also, your IT folks need to get involved. Either they need to require that his phone has a password or longish PIN in order to be allowed to have email in his phone – or they should not allow him to have email on his phone. And if he NEEDS to have email on his phone to do his job, then you guys need to figure something out. If he can keep a work phone locked down, that’s an option. If he’s giving her access to that too, well then that’s the end of his job.
      I know it’s harsh. But he’s putting the organization at risk.

      1. Sue*

        Absolutely this. The company has liability if one of these employees decided to pursue it. Being called a “bitch” not ok. And the HIPAA issue is a huge potential liability. I just read about the Spokane County prosecutor’s wife, not the same issue of contact with employees but an interesting issue of how a spouse can interfere/damage your professional standing.

    8. Hillary*

      My employer would expect me to report this – as a manager I have a duty to report any perceived harassment. It probably doesn’t rise to the level that he would be formally disciplined, but it’s enough that they would investigate.

      If it’s a company phone that’s worse than a personal device, generally company devices should have fairly strict control policies. I’d never hand my partner my work phone, it stays biometrically locked. And it would take my thumbprint again to open my email. His relationship isn’t the issue for this part. He needs to control access to his devices or remove company access from the phone.

  42. MCL*

    Hi! I have an interview this afternoon for a role at a Boston-based tech company. I currently work in higher ed and I sort of applied to this position on a whim. It would really need to be an amazing fit (I actually don’t think this is the best fit for me, but I sold myself well enough for an interview), but I’m viewing it as good interview practice. I do like my current job and am in the fortunate position of being able to be super picky, but I’ve been at this position for many years and am starting to look at other opportunities. Anyway, good vibes are welcome and I hope it’s a good conversation! I used Alison’s free interview prep packet and book, and they were really helpful to frame my thoughts, so I highly recommend that for anyone.