open thread – February 18-19, 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.

{ 1,364 comments… read them below }

  1. Doug Judy*

    How do you leave a job and company you generally like, yet for personal reasons need to look elsewhere? I’ve been at my job 3 years. I really enjoy it and I’m on a high functioning team with a great manager. Some days I’m really busy but some days I have a lot of down time due to the nature of my work (paid to be engaged), I rarely work more than 45 hours a week. Pay is medium and there’s some room for advancing but not a lot, but I’m happy. However, my husband suffers from chronic pain and it has become debilitating in the last few months. He has a surgery scheduled in a few weeks which hopefully will have him regain function in his arms and legs so he can work again. But there is a chance it will just stop the progression so he won’t be paralyzed. A lot of people with his specific condition do end up permanently disabled. It’s hard to reconcile that when you still have 20-25 years before retirement.

    Knowing there’s a chance I’ll need to be the sole income sooner than later, I started casually looking at job openings. I found one I’m really interested in, and applied. The pay is a significant increase and I’ve made it to round 2 of the interview process. Everything I heard in the initial round sounds really good. The company is huge so Glassdoor reviews run the gamut. The benefits seem great and the work is more in line with my graduate degree and I’d have more room to move up, I’m feeling uneasy. I left a job I liked once before and the one I took was awful from day 1 and it took the better part of 6 years and 3 jobs later to finally find something I liked again, I can’t live through that again. I’ve always said I’d rather make less money and be happy at my job than make more and be miserable. I know I can try to flush some of that that out in an interview by asking questions. My past horrible experiences hopefully have thought me what to look out for, but you really never know. If my husband wasn’t facing a very early retirement, looking for a new job wouldn’t even be on my radar. (To be fair he’s not asking me to change jobs at all, we could make it work as things are but we’d struggle and we’ve been there, done that.) And maybe his surgery will be very successful and he can work another 20 years. I don’t even know what I’m looking for as a response other than to get it out of my head.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s always a bit of a gamble, right? But one bad experience doesn’t mean they all will be. Ask a lot of questions, look for Glassdoor reviews that relate to the area you’d be working in, and ultimately – trust your gut. You’re in a good position to be picky about your next job. You may be happy where you are, but I can tell you from personal experience that companies can and do change all the time — a new boss, a sale, a round of layoffs and things could be totally different.

      I wish you the best, both with the job search and your husband’s health issues.

      1. Doug Judy*

        That is another element to it. My company is in the middle of an acquisition that should be done within the next month. Due to many odd factors, while it’s the same job and management for the past 3 years, we were sold in 2020 as a subsidiary. Our new overlords now sold to yet another company. We’ve been told since June 2020 it’s business as usual, and so far it has been. The newest company is expanding so I don’t feel there’s going to be layoffs but restructuring is not out of the realm and all benefits and stuff aren’t changing into 2023. I do need to keep that in mind, as nice as things are, I can’t rely on that.

        1. Katie*

          My work at one point was acquired. It was not business as usual for very long. Companies don’t aquire other companies for BAU. However, for me, it was a huge improvement.
          I am assuming it’s a bigger company. So maybe it will give you more room for advancement.

        2. Momma Bear*

          Sounds like the other factor might be supporting your spouse and overall work/life balance. Do you anticipate needing to use FMLA before you’d hit a year at the new job? I’d keep in mind that an interview is a two way street so if it’s only good on paper, let it go.

          Having been through an acquisition before, I know all bets are off. We lost 2 weeks of PTO under the new overlords, which was huge for anyone in a caregiving role. I think you’re smart to keep your options open.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      From everything you’ve posted here, your risk tolerance is likely to go down as your partner’s condition progress. It seems to me that now would be the time to take the risk, given that the job market is the best it has been in a long time.

    3. Midwest Manager*

      I feel for you! My husband has a condition that sounds similar to what you describe for yours, though we are dealing with early stages, and haven’t advanced to chronic pain/disability yet.

      Regarding the job search, you currently have the luxury of being extremely choosy about your next job. If you are extended an offer, that is not an obligation to take the job. Have you met members of the team during the process? If not, ask the hiring manager if that is possible. Ask for a tour of the workspace. These interactions will tell you more about the day-to-day culture of the team/department/workplace than you could ever get from an interview alone. If you still feel uneasy, don’t take it!

      Going through major personal stress the same time you’re changing jobs is a very scary and overwhelming thing. If the whole idea has you losing sleep, then pause the search. Wait until after the surgery and see where things stand then. If it’s apparent that you’ll become the sole income, then renew the search and go from there.

      1. Doug Judy*

        Yes this is the first time in a long time I’ve had the luxury of being super picky while job hunting. Looking back at the terrible job I took, there were red flags I should have seen. I do feel like I’d be able to better gauge things from everything I’ve learned from that and honestly this site too.

        The job is fully remote and the headquarters would be thousands of miles away but it seems remote work is the norm. I haven’t met with more team members yet but that does sound like that is part of the process so there would be an opportunity to feel that out.

        I hope your husband stays well. My husband is a Ron Swanson/Roy Kent hybrid and it’s hard to see him most days unable to stand for more than 15 min. This surgeon seems very hopeful that given his age and that other than this he’s a very healthy and active person he can live his life as normal.

    4. Kes*

      I would just be open with them about why you’re leaving and try to leave on good terms so that there might be a chance of coming back if the new place doesn’t work out. And that’s for the worst case, keep in mind that this new company isn’t the one you moved to last time and it’s entirely possible that you take the job and find you’re happy there and are making more money, have more room to advance, etc.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I’m in a similar situation: job and company I generally like, but I’m leaving for personal reasons. In my case, I’m moving across the country to be closer to my family.

      Leaving a job I like is a risk, so I thought long and hard about my values. My relationships with my friends and family are important to me, important enough to risk working at a worse job. I asked questions about specific things that are important to me during interviews and the company I got an offer from had good answers to those questions. Still a risk, of course, but I judged it low enough to be worth making the plunge.

      I have a lot of feelings about moving jobs/states. Excited to be living closer to family. Dreading all the logistics of uprooting my life and settling it back down again in a different state. And very sad to be leaving my current coworkers/projects/company. Throughout this period of turmoil, I have felt that I am doing to right thing for myself, and that bedrock feeling is carrying me through all of my other (mixed) feelings.

      I don’t know if there’s any practical advice I can give you about your situation. Just know that it’s normal and expected to have a lot of complicated and uncertain emotions when you’re going through a complicated and uncertain time in your life.

      Best of luck for you and your husband! I hope is surgery goes well!

    6. Juneybug*

      Oh, this is tough. On one hand, I could see waiting after hubby’s surgery to change jobs. That way you only have one emotional draining event at a time. Another thing is if you stay at current job, you already have human capital built up so if you need some time off, work less hours, etc., to take care of hubby.
      On the other hand, the new job might be better about giving time off to take care of hubby. Guess you could ask them in the next round of interviews about time off, reduced hours, etc. Plus the pay raise would be nice. Maybe use the raise to hire help around the house?
      Good luck! I hope hubby’s surgery is a great success!

      1. Doug Judy*

        The new place has unlimited PTO, which I know there’s issues sometimes with actually taking that, and they also have a mental health day every month, as in the company is closed. So that’s really nice. I’m definitely going to ask how that particular team handles work/life balance. And it’s fully remote so hopefully I can continue to help my husband as needed.

        I’ve been wanting to hire a cleaner for years. He usually does the cleaning but now that I’ve had to take all that on, yeah, not a fan. I think I can finally convince him it’s time.

        1. Quinalla*

          Hiring a cleaner (we do once a month, but once a week and twice a month are options too) and hiring someone to mow and do the big weeding/trimming of landscape stuff has been huge for us. It is a little bit different situation than you, but same in the limited time. Even if you only outsource some of it, it can really free you up to focus on the stuff only you can do. Highly recommend it!

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Your circumstances / decision criteria have changed, so it makes sense to change your approach from “rather make less money and be happy at my job than make more and be miserable” to potentially needing to be the sole income earner. Is there any scope to move up in your current company?

    8. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      It is always a crap shoot, to put it mildly, especially if you’ve been burned before. It’s difficult to get past that “once bitten, twice shy” feeling. But keep in mind, you’re not being punished for that previous bad choice. The new possibility is a new possibility that you’re ready for now and from the sounds of it, it’s worth exploring.

      I was always in the “camp here until I retire or they fire me” school until I met my partner (at 40). Her perspective was “They have to beat the deal.” Example, my current job under pays me and has terrible PTO policies, but it’s remarkably low stress and I enjoy most of the people I work with. But in order to “beat the deal” the new place would still have to pay me closer to industry standards and/or have significantly better PTO.

    9. Madeleine Matilda*

      One factor I haven’t seen mentioned yet that you might want to consider is whether your husband would qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if he is partially or fully disabled. If he did qualify, would his SSDI income and your current income be sufficient for you to stay in your job and maintain the lifestyle you have? Getting SSDI can be challenging and you don’t know what your husband might receive as of now, but I wanted to mention the possibility in case that source of additional income might help you in making a decision. I would also give some thought to whether there would be any impact on health insurance. If you carry the health insurance now, is it sufficient for your husband and your health needs? If you changed insurance due to a job change, would his conditions have the same coverage, could he see his same doctors, would certain costs go up or down, etc.?
      Best wishes for a successful surgery for your husband.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yeah, I’d be very concerned about the difference in insurance at this point. That could make or break a move.

      2. Doug Judy*

        He carries the insurance for himself and our kids. He’ll be on short term/long term disability for a bit and will retain coverage until he’s no longer able to be on the LTD, I believe it’s covers two years but I’ll have see if I can confirm that. I know they’d be covered this year. I cannot take his insurance, and mine terrible if we all had to move time mine. The place I’m interviewing already sent over details and is very affordable for a family and manageable deductibles. It’s a good idea to check what would be in network for us as it’s a different provider than either of us have.

        As for SSDI, we did look and see on the IRS site what he’d be eligible for. We could hack it but it would be a struggle but we’d be ok. I know I shouldn’t complain. His condition isn’t life threatening and we’re very lucky that we have a great marriage and family and even scraping by financially we’d probably be happier than a lot of people. So I’ll see the process for this job prospect through and if I get an offer hopefully I’ll have a clear idea of my direction. If it doesn’t work out and I stay out for a bit, we’ll be ok too.

    10. Aggresuko*

      Well, a now ex-coworker of mine left a job she loved to get more money here, then here was a freaking nightmare and her old job was still open, so she got it back AND with a pay increase.

      No idea if that’s an option for you, of course, but in the event that you’re offered the job and have to explain to your current job that THAT is why you’d leave, I dunno….maybe they’d make allowances. Or you could get it back in the future after they’ve had a chance to miss you.

    11. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I have worked for medium sized companies, small companies, and have been at a large company now for 7 years. What I will say, that I didn’t realize until I got here, is that large companies often offer so many opportunities. There is room for promotion, room to move to another team, just so many options. I would ask some pointed questions about the culture around career development. If they have an active culture of potentially moving around, that gives some leeway if you land in a team you don’t like.

      I will say with a big change to a new company I felt like I had made a huge mistake but it has been 7.5 years, I have been promoted 3 times and moved around to get experience in other areas and it has been a great opportunity.

      Good luck to you and your husband.

    12. Augustus*

      A few years ago my spouse had a substantial and life changing alteration in his disability. Even though we anticipated the risk of the major change, our hopes and a surgical plan were pointing the other way. Being prudent we shifted some things financially in case I ended up as the sole earner. What I had not anticipated was how destabilising to my own well-being the change in my spouse’s disability would be – how my Carer role changed, how their grief would exhaust them, how their sleeplessness caused by the change would cost my sleep, how my grief at the things lost would feel and how much that would take from my ability to concentrate.
      Relating this to your situation, do consider that there are advantages right now, ahead of a time of an unknown amount of change, to being in a job you know and enjoy and which has periods of downtime. Having something that isn’t changing and isn’t new in a time of continuous change could be a healthy choice, even if in the long term it is not the long term financially sustainable choice.
      Some years on from spouse’s major life change we are doing okay, btw. At the time someone asked me how we were coping. I remember saying “we aren’t yet, but give us 3 years and we will be”. It turned out to be true – somewhere in that 2nd and 3rd year we had found our way through all the changes and made a rhythm of life that works well for our household.

      1. BananaFace*

        Have you thought about talking to your current manager about your desire to advance within your company? You may be correct that there are no avenues, but a manger who is willing to retain a long-term employee may go to bat for them. It can be a hard conversation to broach because it may signal you are looking to leave, but it may make your decision easier to know you have exhausted all possibilities at your current company.

  2. Honey Bear*

    How can I (a white woman) support my Asian colleagues with all the recent murders in NYC on Asian women? 

    With one, she’s not technically a co-worker (more like a vendor) but my team works very closely and have weekly calls with her. She lives in the same city as all these women, and yesterday she actually reached out to my boss (team director) to tell him she was really upset with one of the recent murders and couldn’t make our team call. I can’t imagine what she’s going through. I want to reach out to her but I don’t know what to say or even if it’s my place to reach out. What gives me pause is that she only told my boss this (who told our team), so I don’t know how she would feel knowing he relayed this information to us.

    I also have a teammate who is Asian. We don’t live in NYC but I’d imagine she’s dealing with emotions about it. While we’re teammates, we actually don’t really work together and don’t really chat (we work remotely). I don’t know what to say if I did reach out to her, but would that come across as fake or patronizing since she and I don’t really have a relationship? And I don’t want to assume what she is feeling.

    1. Observer*

      All I can tell you is that when I reached out to some Balck coworkers around the George Floyde murder, they appreciated it.

      The key here is to keep it focused on THEM, not you. And to be empathetic rather than pitying. No sad dog eyes or “You poor thing”. But “I know that this must be a very difficult time for you.” or something like that. And if there is a concrete offer of help you can provide, make the offer. But, again, with a light touch and be willing to gracefully accept a No. And make sure you’re not providing help that’s actually a burden or “information” that’s either incorrect or “Duh!”

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Honestly, with someone you don’t work closely with and don’t chat with (and who didn’t actually mention the situation to you personally), I wouldn’t reach out. Be understanding if she needs extra time to do something you’re waiting on, or takes a while to get back to you, or has to reschedule meetings–that’s about it, really.

      1. RedinSC*

        I think it’s difficult. You’ve got people saying, reach out, and others saying don’t do it.

        I know that one of my friend’s staff members is Asian, and last year when there were so many attacks on Asians (especially older women) my friend’s staff member mentioned that she’s having a hard time, and NO ONE on the team acknowledged it. Nor did the business. They put out a statement supporting Black Lives Matter, and not one word about the violence facing the Asian community. That made her feel even more isolated.

        So, I think I fall on the side of reaching out, not requesting a response, but as Observer said, this is a difficult time. Especially if your coworker or vendor is one of just a small handful of Asians at your place of work.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      (also a white woman)

      I hate that your boss announced the reason. I think since you work regularly with her and she was recently out it would be kind to just say something generic like you missed her on the call and hope she’s doing well.

      I think it would be strange to reach out to someone you don’t usually interact with. It kind of sends a vibe of “I see you first and foremost as The Asian One” in the same way as a teacher asking the one (race) kid in the class what they think of a book about (race) like they’re some kind of expert/representative.

      I’d suggest directing this impulse outside the workplace: check in with your Asian friends, donate to Asian causes or organizations in your community, contact your government officials to show support for anti-racist legislation, and call out anti-Asian sentiments if you encounter them.

      1. Honey Bear*

        Yes, I was thrown off he told all us that. If I told him something personal like that and he told everyone, I would be bothered and annoyed.

        I like your suggestion of sending her a generic message, but I’m not sure what to say and don’t want to overstep.

        I agree it would be strange to reach out to my teammate since her and I don’t really talk.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I can’t speak for your teammate or vendor/co-worker, but I would just send a message saying that you’re thinking of her and that you’re available if she wants to talk or need support, and (most importantly) that she doesn’t need to respond to your message.

      That way you’re not placing a burden on her to say “thank you” or to say “no thank you” or whatever.

      1. cookie monster*

        I am an Asian woman but I would have no idea what to say if someone reached out to me at work about it. I like this because more support from people is always nice, but this isn’t alarming or pushy at all.

      2. Honey Bear*

        I’m not sure if I would include “if she wants to talk”. We work closely but it’s professional and not personal.

        I don’t think “thinking about you during this time” is appropriate either.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Can I ask what it is you do mean to offer, then? If not a listening ear? If you’re in a position to take some work off her plate, that would be good — but otherwise I don’t see why you would reach out to her if you don’t want to offer emotional support and don’t want to say you’re thinking of her.

    5. matcha123*

      I am not Asian, so you can toss my advice if you want.
      But maybe, don’t randomly “reach out” to Asian colleagues if you aren’t already on good terms with them? It kind of comes off as…attention grabbing.
      I remember during the BLM protests, people were saying to reach out to black coworkers or friends, but that really depends on the person. There were and are black people that didn’t need their white friends, who never talk with them about race, to suddenly message them. It can end up placing more stress on the other person, because they are expected to read your feelings and make you feel better, while also praising you for reaching out.

      My suggestion would be that if you do reach out to them, let them know that they can keep your number on speed dial in case of an emergency. Or ask if they need to list you as an emergency contact.
      I think if you didn’t try and reach out when a different Asian woman was pushed onto the tracks and killed a month or so ago; or when countless others were assaulted; or when that guy murdered those women in Atlanta last year, then they might wonder why now. If you get what I mean?

      1. Honey Bear*

        I see what you’re saying. Maybe I won’t message her separately about it, but the next email I send to her (about work stuff) I could start with an opening, “hope you are well, missed you on last week’s call”.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        There were and are black people that didn’t need their white friends, who never talk with them about race, to suddenly message them. It can end up placing more stress on the other person, because they are expected to read your feelings and make you feel better, while also praising you for reaching out.

        Yes, a lot of this really depends on what your existing relationship is with this person.

      3. Here we go again*

        Maybe a general “How are you doing?” Like you would say to any coworker that you’re not close with, but have good will towards. They can share as little or as much as they would like. Comes across as polite and concerned but not pushy.

        1. Fran Fine*

          If you’re going to reach out, OP, this is the best and most respectful way to do it (especially since your manager should have never shared the reason for her being absent with you and your team to begin with – if she wanted you all to know, she would have told you).

    6. Cartographical*

      I can only speak as a person with other marginalisations but I know I don’t want support because someone knows me but because what’s happening to people like me is wrong — whether you know someone like me or not. You can definitely put forth an effort to be a little more warm towards your colleagues, that’s always nice. I think people assume others know that we’re well regarded and respected but it’s not always clear if someone is just being polite as a veneer over their real feelings so a little extra warmth (not familiarity) goes a long way, in my experience.

      The other thing you can do that will support them indirectly through the larger community is look for Asian women’s orgs that are soliciting support. Aside from financial contributions, you can consider offering whatever skills you may have via their volunteer process. It doesn’t have to be consuming, just whatever you can offer to put your shoulder to the wheel, so to speak. If there is any unity/solidarity action going on, you can get in on that specifically.

      I think, and this is just my personal experience, offering help 1-to-1 about a systemic problem can make a marginalized person feel even more singled out. Offering to help an organization set up to process your contributions and following through can make marginalized people around you feel safer and more supported even if you never have a conversation about it.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think this is one of those times when social media can be helpful. If you can see her on a social platform, see what (if anything) she’s saying about it publicly, and if so how she’s responding to discussions around it.

      If you aren’t already friends or following her, I wouldn’t start now, but a quick scroll of her profile can give you some insight into how much she wants to engage with the topic outside her close personal circle.

    8. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I think there’s a possibility anything you say could come across as awkward at best and kind of weird, like, “I want you to tell me what I can do, my Asian Acquaintance!” Just be naturally nice! And maybe a “Damn, there are a lot of nasty people out there!” within the person’s hearing but not directly to them – kind of letting them (or anyone) know where you stand.

    9. LemonLyman*

      It sounds like you don’t know these women so don’t reach out. I’m a half Asian American (+ half Latina) woman and I’d have no clue how to reply to a white woman who randomly reached out about something traumatizing to me that she shouldn’t have known. But do reach out to you Asian friends! Give this support to those you know and are in your circle. Use it as a time to learn and reflect on both AAPI history and contemporary life in America, similar to how many people’s eyes were opened after what happened to George Floyd. A place to good start is to know that tomorrow, Feb 19, is a significant day in Japanese American (well, American) history that few people seem to really remember outside of the AAPI community.

      1. PT*

        Here’s the Executive Order on commemorating Feb 19

        “NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 19, 2022, as a Day of Remembrance of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II. I call upon the people of the United States to commemorate this injustice against civil liberties and civil rights during World War II; to honor the sacrifice of those who defended the democratic ideals of this Nation; and to commit together to eradicate systemic racism to heal generational trauma in our communities.”

    10. Gabrielle*

      It sounds like you’re feeling the pressure to do something, and that might be interfering with your judgment about how to support your coworkers. Give some thought to the long view: are there efforts in support of Asian women that you would feel motivated to contribute to in the medium to long term? Are you currently motivated to research what Asian community efforts are happening around you? Because if you are, you could tell all your non-Asian friends, find one who wants to show up to volunteer with you, and in the long run make a difference. If it’s not about the big picture and you really just want to be nice to your coworkers because you hate to see them in pain, be honest with yourself, and be very aware of what you are really able to offer that doesn’t require anyone to be grateful to you.

      (Also a white woman, and I do understand how hard it is to figure out how to help.)

    11. Lady Danbury*

      As a Black woman, I would NOT have appreciated a random white coworker with whom I didn’t have a personal or close working relationship reaching out to me to provide support in for non-work racial issues. Even with the best of intentions, it ends up centering your feelings over mine because now I have to think about how to respond, if you’re genuine or just reaching out because you think you should, if something I say in response is going to offend you (because most people aren’t anywhere near as open to talking about race as they think they are), etc.

      The best way you can support both of these women is to advocate for issues that affect Asian women (and minorities in general) in the workplace and in life. Alison has had a number of posts about how to be an ally in the workplace, so I would start there.

      1. Mitski*

        Best response here. As an Asian American woman, I concur. “Being there” for people of color only where there is a highly publicized racial incident tells us that you have no consciousness of the exhausting pervasiveness of racial stress in our lives on a regular basis. Developing yourself as a white ally is the absolute best thing you can do. I crave having more white allies in the workplace to speak up against inequities and to teach other white folks how to do better so the entire burden is not on us POCs.

  3. Sunflower*

    I am looking to move into sales/account management from business development events. I’ve applied and am getting great feedback and interviews for these roles. The recruiters have been transparent that the only concern is I’ve never carried a quota or been in a formal sale role. I know there is a lot of crossover between my role and sales but I don’t know how to formally present that so looking for:

    1. Resources/books or terminology in sales to read/make myself familiar with
    2. Any other advice for what to focus on/speak about in interviews to prove I’ve done the research and my skills can translate (ie I’ve been told to focus on metrics in my work and how I’ve translated them into action plans)

      1. Sunflower*

        The one I’m really excited about is for a video sharing website. The company is branching from B2C into B2B and the role would be an account manager. Due to the nature of the product, a lot of the videos would be used for event purposes so there is definitely a crossover in that I do have a solid book of business to bring as I’m connected to tons of event planners and I’d have to understand how the videos would fit into events (so my experience definitely comes into play there!).

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’d cross post this on reddit/sales as you’ll probably get quite a bit of feedback there too.

    2. 867-5309*

      Can you move first into account management where it is more about supporting customers and upselling?

    3. Teal Fish*

      Ugh, I work in marketing and there can be a similar attitude of “well if you’ve never had a revenue metric then you are completely unqualified.” It is so ridiculous. I think what they are really worried about is whether you can “hustle”, close deals, and understand/interpret data. So it might help to speak to areas of your work where you’ve been accountable to big metrics/goals and had to really push through obstacles to meet them. I also like someone’s suggestion above to ask on Sales reddit and get ideas from real Sales people–or see if there’s a Sales Slack group that sounds appealing to you.

  4. Applesauced*

    My office has reopened and we are “strongly encouraged” to go in a few days per week.
    Vaccinations are required, and masks are required when moving around (you can remove them at your desk)

    That would be fine, but about half the people at the office just don’t wear masks at all.
    I’ve been invited to in person meetings and happy hours (which…. COME ON. You want us to mask when moving around the office, but suddenly it’s safe just becasue there’s a beer in our hands?)

    Since in-office is recommend not required, I’m staying WFH for now. But I prefer working in the office and I’d feel ok-ish going in if the “masks when moving around” rule was followed.

    Has anyone had luck getting your company to actually enforce their own rules? What worked?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      My employer is healthcare-adjacent so pretty much nobody works here who isn’t already mostly on board, but if your higher-ups don’t enforce it, I’m not sure it will get traction. Refusing to wear a mask where I am would get you a talking-to by your supervisor, and I don’t think anyone has balked beyond that. But it works because people generally agree and our bosses aren’t wishy-washy.

    2. Sunflower*

      I see why it’s confusing but I don’t think their policy is about keeping everyone as safe as possible, I think their thought process is behind trying to compromise and make everyone feel safe to a degree. My guess is that people gathering at happy hours or meetings indoors aren’t super concerned about not wearing a mask and being close to people.

      At this point everyone has different comfort levels so I think you are best suited to just keep WFH and I don’t think you are going to have much traction. Esp now that many places are lifting indoor mask mandates, I don’t think people are going to get stricter about these rules unless you are working in a health care or travel facility.

      1. tessa*

        …or if the new Omicron variant, theorized as more contagious and possibly more deadly then delta, takes hold.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Wait, what? Where are you located that Omicron is considered “new” or has not taken hold yet?

          Omicron has been the dominant strain in the US and the UK for at least two months by pushing out Delta almost entirely. It is not theorized to be more contagious, it is proven to be exponentially more contagious and (thankfully) much less serious for the vaccinated, though it is still killing the unvaccinated.

          The Omicron wave has already burned itself out where I am and cases are falling rapidly.

          1. Former Hominid*

            Unfortunately the Omicron that just burned out was the BA.1 type. A new more contagious and possibly more deadly type has been spotted and is spreading that’s being called Omicron BA.2 So yes, one wave has burned out. Another is coming.

            1. JelloStapler*

              This was found about a month ago and partially true, Ba.2 has, at best, mixed results in studies about the severity and the Japanese study resulting in all the scary headlines just says it “may have features that could cause severity”. Most places that had a BA.2 surge after Ba.1 have already dropped again and Denmark is finally starting to fall.

          2. PostalMixup*

            I’m assuming they mean “stealth Omicron,” or BA.2. The version of omicron that’s been prevalent is BA.1.

    3. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      But… alcohol is an antiseptic *eyeroll*
      Good luck. Where I live, it’s still 100% masked indoors, but I can walk out on the shopfloor right now and see more mouths than masks. Oh, they’ll pull them up when someone from “the office” comes around, but it’s frustrating to see all this and get only a tepid “please remember to wear your mask” email once a month.

    4. Loulou*

      I’m honestly not sure why you feel okay with a “masks when moving around” rule but it doesn’t bother you that people don’t need to wear a mask at their desks. It just seems like a lot of cognitive dissonance to be shocked by an optional happy hour you can skip, but okay with working in the environment you describe.

      1. Applesauced*

        That’s a great point about cognitive dissonance.
        The correct thing to do (per the CDC) is masks indoors. I think I’m grasping for any little bit of normalcy and see the “masks while walking around” a sort of middle ground / better than nothing.
        ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’m just doing my best

        1. Loulou*

          I hear you! But I’m also not sure how much luck you’d have enforcing this rule, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and probably to others as well. This may or may not work for your company since I suspect most are moving more in the “no masks” direction than the other way, but could you point out to HR that the mask requirement would be more effective and easier to follow if people also had to wear them at their desks? Otherwise, I’d probably focus on what you can do personally, like wearing an N95 yourself when you’re in the office and asking people to put on a mask when you are talking or meeting.

        2. Anecdata*

          We also had (last winter) several months of “masks required when walking around but not at your desk”, and the reasoning was that desk chairs were 6+ ft apart. Yes, we know a lot more about how covid spreads now, but I think a lot of institutions have kinda locked on to the 6ft thing, could be what’s going on here

      2. coach beard*

        Not LW, but it could still be a totally legit rule depending on how their desks/offices are set up. My work requires masks while moving around, but not at desks as well. But our desks are all either single offices or larger multi-person office stations 2m apart with glass barricades in place. The thought is we are only un-masking while alone at our desk. If someone comes by my office to chat, we’re both masks up again.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this is how it is at my office as well. I haven’t been back often, but they’re lifting the strong WFH recommendation at the end of February, after which we’ll be hybrid. I couldn’t work with a mask on, because my glasses fog up so badly (no, dish soap and air drying doesn’t help), and my eyesight is poor enough that I can’t see the screen without my computer glasses.

    5. Mynons*

      My office has the same policy as yours, except we’re ft on-site. I finally accepted that I can’t control what’s happening past my face, so I wear an N95 all day every day. It is not comfortable, but I can tell it works much better than the surgical masks I was wearing. Good luck.

    6. anon for this*

      The only way it’s working at my work is leaders modeling the behavior. We see VPs and c-level wearing masks in the kitchen and hallway, and they tend to initiate conversations about what company made the masks people are wearing (a lot of us used to work at one of the big ones). The other tenants in our building aren’t doing the same.

      We’re going team by team in terms of WFH and masking. The current requirement for our city and company are masking in public spaces. My team has chosen a 3/2 schedule and we mask when we’re not in our corner. We talk a lot about our relative risk and we stay home if we have the sniffles or if we’ve seen people.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      As an immune compromised person with an infectious disease background, I can say that IF and WHEN I needed to mask at work (healthcare), it needs to be either on or off. Taking it off while sitting down at a desk is…..bizarre. There is no medical rationale for masking this way. On, or off. Inside a closed office, possibly, but with Covid so unpredictably transmitted it’s a crap shoot to take it off.

      I started wearing masks during flu season when I got the cancer/started treatments affecting immunity. Those who gave me a hard time about it, dropped from my sphere (shopping, neighbors, whatever). No arguments from me, just “well, I need to wear this so if it bothers you, I’ll go elsewhere.” If there are reasons you want to mask, just avoid going into work. They can “strongly recommend” but if anyone gives you pushback, politely inform them that until masking is done properly, or this pandemic truly resolves, you need to stay protected. Make it about you, not them.

      Regarding “getting people to follow their own policy”, when I went to places that violated their rules, I reported it up the chain of command to the appropriate person. So if I were still working, I would explain to boss my needs, eventually going to onsite HR, then district/regional management, district/regional HR, etc. Not sure how applicable this will be to you, though.

  5. Justin*

    Well. I am at stage 2 in the interview process with 3 different jobs. Meanwhile, my book is being fast tracked and my dissertation is in its final stages. A lot is going on.

    1. Teal Fish*

      Take it from someone who just landed my “dream job” — good stress is still stress! Remember to keep up with your coping mechanisms/self-care routine.

  6. I am “that” person - help!*

    I am “that” person – help!

    Strategies to stop messing up people’s names? I’ve never been particularly good with names, but lately I’ve been making the same mistake repeatedly and I need to stop because its probably damaging my relationship with my co-workers.

    There are two men on my team, who work on the same subject but in slightly different areas, that I (and others on the team) often use the wrong name when referring to their work and sometimes them. For example saying “Dave’s report on teapots” when I really meant to say “Jim’s report” if I realize I’ve done it, I will correct myself. However, I know I get frustrated when called the wrong name, or think my work is being credited to someone else, so I can’t imagine this doesn’t frustrate my co-workers.

    I feel especially bad about this, and really need to stop doing it, because these two men are from the same ethnic group, and are the only ones from that ethnic group on the team, which makes my behavior even worse. I want to fix my behavior, but issue isn’t that I can’t tell them apart or know their correct names, and I am definitely not doing it on purpose. I just can’t seem to get their names consistently right when talking. I’ve done this in the past, where two people get linked strongly in my mind and I start mixing up their names (last time was two white women)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Does writing it out help? I’m not an auditory person so just trying to remind myself “Dave from IT” doesn’t make much of a dent, but writing it out seems to stick it in my brain a lot better. Maybe a sentence or a few sentences specific to each guy (“Dave’s report on teapots” vs. “Jim’s sales analysis”, or whatever they do for the team). I know this sounds like a kindergarten strategy but maybe it doesn’t matter if it helps?

    2. ThatGirl*

      Can you figure out a defining feature of one of them (keep it to yourself – but like, one always wears a certain brand of sneakers, or has blue eyes, or something else distinctive) and firmly attach that name with that feature? The other thing is to pause before speaking and fix the correct name in your head. With some practice, it will get easier.

      (I sympathize to a degree – there are two dark-haired women in similar positions that I mixed up for a good while in my new job; I finally had to say to myself “OK, Dana has CURLY hair, you can remember that”)

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If I have thought of both my brother and my son within a certain window of time, I have difficulty using the correct name for either one. They must both live very close in my neural synapses.

      I wonder if adding a word to their name, even a silent one, would help. It’s just about the only way I get through having a conversation about my “[Son who is] Fergus” and “[Brother who is] Fred”. It adds a beat to every use of their names but at least I get them mostly correct.

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        I can empathize with this. In our family, my mother has to juggle (for example) Dad, Dan, and Dave – her father, her son, and her brother. She can look at one and say the other. But we’ve found that making a big deal about it makes it worse in the long run.

      2. FreudianSlip*

        I have the even more embarrassing problem of doing this with my husband and father’s names. I call my dad by his first name and have since I was a small child (when he was my Jason, instead of my Dad). This happens especially when I’m mildly annoyed with one of them. It all feels very Freudian, but I like your phrase: they live very close in my neural synapses.

        I still don’t have a strategy that works to prevent the mix up unfortunately.

        1. Rainy*

          That’s adorable. My sister had a little friend who called her parents by their given names and I always thought it was super cute when she’d say “Lorraine, may I have a juice box?”–and obviously her parents didn’t mind!

      3. Anna Badger*

        ha! growing up my parents frequently called me either:

        [dad’s name]-[oldest brother’s name]-[middle sibling’s name]-Anna


        [dad’s youngest sister’s name]-[mum’s youngest sister’s name]-Anna

        mum and dad were childhood sweethearts so they each grew up close to the other’s sister, and they both made both filing errors. brains are complicated.

        as for remembering the right names for people at work, it might be worth talking out loud to yourself about each person in turn to get some practice in. like, Sulman works on teapot handles and his wife is Farah and he likes the beat poets. Yoshua works on spouts and does competitive walking and makes the running joke about carrots.

    4. No Name Today*

      I do the same thing. There’s the obvious ones like Zoe Deschanel and Katie Perry, which yeah, does it matter in my life if I say the wrong name? No. But then there’s the workplace one, where I cannot remember which of the 5’9″ coworker and 5’2″ coworker is Leah and which is Diane. I got mixed up ten years ago and it’s been a problem ever since.
      I use mnemonics for EVERYONE.
      What is the first thing you think of when you think of these people? Leah sits on the left side of their section. She is leahleft.
      So Teapot Jim. Get something in your head.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I sympathize with you.

      I used to run a wine shop. Got visited every week by reps from a dozen different distributors. I swear to God they came in pairs. Reps for distributor A and distributor B were 30-something skinny blonde white women, who both came on Tuesday. Reps for distributor C and distributor D were short, bearded, balding, paunchy, 50-something white men, who both came on Wednesday. And since I only saw them for 20 minutes a week, it took me forever to get their names straight.

      I made sure I put their names on every piece of paper I could; and every morning I’d review the schedule and remember that Sally usually came at 11:30 and Nancy usually came a little later.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      People are recommending associating their names with descriptions, which I think is good, but only gets you halfway there: you CAN tell them apart. But when you go to talk about them, focus on that description in your mind before you say a name. Think, **guy with the horn-rimmed glasses is the one who did that report. Jim’s the one with the horn-rimmed glasses.** Then say “Jim’s report.”

      1. I am “that” person - help!*

        So to add to the fun of this situation, I knew both men pre-pandemic but not particularly well. We have been basically work from home for last 2 years, lots of virtual meetings where no one turns on their cameras.

        1. Madeleine Matilda*

          Since you are using their names virtually with cameras off, could you write the associations for each on a post-it note and keep that on the edge of your computer as a visual reference?

        2. Cold Fish*

          Can you try color coding their emails? I know you can set that up in Outlook but I don’t know other email programs. Then you can think, this report came in a blue email it must be Jim’s report.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, pause before you say the name and confirm it with your post-it, memory device, whatever. I usually make 3 sentences about each person with their name in it and say them to myself everyday over and over until I get it and prep before a meeting.

    7. Beth*

      If you can, try rhymes or alliteration or bad puns — anything you can use to nail down the difference in a form that has extra sticking power. I once mentally tagged a contact named Cindy as “sin-free”. It worked, partly because she was very religious and the other person I was trying to differentiate from her was not. (It would have been horribly awkward if I had ever told either of them, but it was short and memorable and I could call it up mentally in the moment before I had to use the name.

      Dangerous Dan? Magnificent Manuel? Over-the-top Oleg? Just Jan? Crickety Jim?

      1. Esmae*

        Yes! I once learned to tell identical twins apart because one of them had slightly fluffier curls, and I started thinking of her as “Fluffy Flora”. Stupid nickname, but it was so stupid that it immediately lodged in my head and I never forgot it.

        1. Msnotmrs*

          Lol I had an extremely similar thing. Parents had a friend who had twin teenage daughters. Katie is curly, Samantha is straight.

    8. Mid*

      I’m bad with names, and faces, and remembering people in general. If someone changes their appearance drastically (hair cut, new glasses, etc), I sometimes struggle to recognize them at all.

      When I worked in donor relations, I started practicing people, as in making flash cards and practicing their names, jobs, etc. I wrote notes about what they liked (blonde Jane has three cats, redhead Jane is a runner), to help separate them in my mind. It does feel slightly creepy, and I NEVER bring my cheat sheet to work.

      1. Windchime*

        I used to work with a guy named David who was based in another branch about 40 miles away, so he wasn’t often on site. I would talk with him over the phone and email mostly, but sometimes he would be at my site and would stop by to chat. He was constantly changing his appearance. One visit, he would have short hair and glasses and a beard. Next visit, he might have a crew cut and be wearing contacts and clean-shaven. Next time, glasses with a moustache. I had such a difficult time remembering who he was when he would pop his head into my cube and then sit down to chat!

    9. GlowCloud*

      Can you do the Name Game in your head?
      “Dave, Dave, bo-bave, banana fana fo-fave, a fee-fi-mo-mave, Dave!” I sometimes do this when I meet new people.

      You could also attach a handle onto the name. Even though she’s a fictional character, I still remember Dolores Herbig’s name (from Dead Like Me), because she always introduced herself as “Dolores Herbig, as in – Her big brown eyes”.

      Just be careful it doesn’t backfire, though. When my mum was going into primary school, she was told her teacher’s name was Mrs Lester. “Think of Lester Piggott (the jockey) to help you remember”, she was told. On first meeting her new teacher, she says “Pleased to meet you, Mrs Pig- I mean, Mrs Lester!”

      1. Dragon*

        This wasn’t about names, but a woman having a guest over for afternoon tea cautioned her young daughter not to comment on the guest’s big nose.

        The guest arrived, the daughter was introduced to him and she didn’t comment on his nose. After the daughter left the room, Mom asked the guest, “And how many lumps of sugar would you like in your nose?”

    10. anonymous73*

      I do this with my husband and stepson. They both have names that start with the same letter, and when speaking to them I call them the right name, but when speaking ABOUT them I mix them up. Not really a big deal in my personal life, but just n example to say this isn’t all that abnormal.

      Maybe try word association? Find something about their work that you can link to their name and then it may be easier to remember who is who when speaking about them. I will also say that I suck at remembering people’s names when I first meet them, and until I’ve worked with someone personally for a bit it just doesn’t stick for me. I’ve found that trying to joke about it helps – “I’m really bad at names so please don’t take it personally if I don’t remember it later” – and most people are cool about it.

    11. RagingADHD*

      I have been bad with mixing up names my whole life. I even mix up my kids’ names and my immediate family. I’ll call my brother by my dad or husband’s name, for example. I am not in the least bit confused about who these people are. There’s just some kind of short circuit between my brain and my mouth.

      I tend to avoid using people’s names in a hurry or on the fly, and just say something about “this report” or “the analysis.” When I am going to refer to someone by name, I’m forced to stop a second because using the name at all is unusual. So that automatic pause before speaking gives me time to get it right.

      Still not 100 percent, but it helps.

      1. CatMintCat*

        My mother had one child. No names to mix up? Nope – I still answered to the cat’s name a good part of the time.

      2. allathian*

        I think it’s adorable that my MIL calls my son by her daughter’s (my SIL’s) name sometimes, although now that he’s almost in his teens, I think it’s starting to embarrass him a bit.

        My husband’s and my closest coworker’s names differ by one syllable, like Mike and Micah. I sometimes call one by the other’s name and it’s a bit embarrassing… I correct myself instantly, and it’s not like I can’t tell them apart. Luckily both of them have a sense of humor about it.

    12. Confused in Canada*

      I had trouble with our friend’s sisters’ names, because my mother told me them wrong. This was like 20 years ago! I still have trouble, and the only way I can remember is to say the whole name of the one sister in my head, as in Judy Smith, yeah that’s it, because her husband is Pat Smith. It does not help that in my mind, they really suit each other’s name better!

      1. Windchime*

        My sister used to have neighbors who she knew as Jim and Trish. They would socialize together and had known each other for several months before Trish asked sis, “Why do you call me Trish?” Sister said, “Isn’t that your name?” Nope. Turns out their names were really Stacy and Roger, but somehow my sister had gotten Jim and Trish stuck in her head.

        1. Rainy*

          I look so unlike my actual government name that no one has ever called me it including my parents. My legal name is the result of a six-week game of post-birth chicken which resulted in my parents naming me something they *both* hate and then just calling me something else anyway.

    13. evens*

      As a teacher, I frequently have a couple of kids whose names I mix up for YEARS. I know the difference between them, I don’t confuse them as people, but I confuse their names. The only thing that really helps me is to wait a beat before I say that person’s name to think about what I’m saying.

      But yeah, it’s going to happen. Just ask any mom of multiple kids! Don’t feel bad, just correct yourself and move on.

    14. Laura*

      I have a good visual memory. So I would try to get a picture of each guy, put it where I am likely to stare at it for a minute or so multiple times a day without anyone ever knowing about it (over the coffee maker at home works well for that) and write their names across the images in a different colour and a different font for them. I want to create a trigger in my mind that shows me the name when I see (or visualise) the face, or role.

      Maybe pin more images/symbols to the pics. Has a dog. Works in development. Drives a blue car. Wears knitted sweaters. Dis-link them by focussing on their differences. I might conjure the images and say (or subvocalize) the name several times a day.

      It will make you look scarily creepy to anyone who notices what you are doing, though.

      Another important point IME is to focus on what you are doing when you are about to refer to one of the guys by what should be their correct name. Using the wrong word can mean that your mind is in the wrong place, or all over the place, and sends wrong words to your tongue. Focus should help. People might notice, but it rarely hurts if you are seen paying attention to get things right.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. I hate it when I do stuff like this.

      The thing that worked the best for me was to stop and sincerely apologize each and every time. “Dave… oh, gosh, I AM sorry, I mean Jim.”
      For me I only had to go through this a couple times and the name swapping stopped. I think it is because I made myself SLOW DOWN and think. For me an apology is a commitment to make a strong and successful effort not to make that particular error again. (I know if I keep doing X mistake and keep apologizing for it, that won’t fly.)

      In the process of slowing down and thinking I realized I could take a second to think before I spoke. This could be as I walked over to him or as I dialed the phone to call him. I had to get it squared away in my head that this sloppiness on my part was not acceptable and I had to insert an extra step or two to make my tired brain stay sharp.

      Another reason why this worked is because this is how I handle my stupid errors anyway. Argumentatively, one could say there was no bad intent behind the error. And that can be true, but it’s only step 1 of the fixing process. There does have to be good and deliberate attempt to make good. For me, finding ways to insert an extra step to check myself was the key.

    16. Distractinator*

      I almost hate to say it, but pick one. While I’m learning new things (like Dave and Jim, and Dave’s curly hair and Jim’s red shoes, and Dave from Baltimore and Jim from Toronto) sometimes everything ends up in the mental bucket labeled “new things”, and I’d do better to take it one at a time. What if you really focus on Dave, and everybody’s either Dave or NotDave? You may stall out on who wrote that report, and it’ll take a minute to say Jim – but you know it wasn’t Dave! And then next month you focus on Jim, and then Rebecca, and eventually you’ve got it all sorted.

  7. Muffy Crosswire*

    I think this qualifies as a work question. I have a Mac work laptop and a HP personal laptop, and I use a Logitech mouse. With my personal laptop, I use the mouse on my coffee table (that has contact paper on top) and it works perfectly. But with my Mac computer, it’s awful!! There is a lag and it never moves the way I want it to. It’s such a pain in the booty. It’s kind of a big deal since it’s impacting my work (slowing it down).

    The Logitech mouse technically works with Mac computers, but I wonder if I need a new mouse that works better with Mac computers.

    Does anyone relate or have advice?

    1. Don't Touch My Snacks*

      Have you made sure your mouse driver is up-to-date and the connection is good?

      Otherwise; I had a similar issue and it ends up my mouse was on the slow decline to death. Replacing it with the exact same thing just newer solved the problem.

      1. Muffy Crosswire*

        {Have you made sure your mouse driver is up-to-date and the connection is good?}

        Hmm, no I haven’t. But I don’t think the mouse is decline because it still works perfectly with my personal computer

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The driver is on the computer side – it’s the software that tells the computer how to interact with the mouse. So that might explain a difference.

    2. Procrastinating at work*

      Have you checked the sensitivity settings for the mouse on your Mac? It could be set low and that would explain the problem

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

      I’ve experienced what you describe with an Apple magic mouse that finally died, so it might be as Don’t Touch My Snacks says — a mouse on a slow death. I’m assuming you have fiddled with the settings in system preferences to see if adjusting the tracking speed and/or disabling any of the features that logitech doesn’t support would make a difference. Also, most mouses (mice?) these days I haven’t needed any sort of pad or specific surface underneath anymore. My magic mouse 2 reads my all black keyboard tray just fine. Have you tried different surfaces? Maybe the contact paper is actually a problem for the Mac.

      1. Muffy Crosswire*

        SO the contact paper is only with my personal computer, with my Mac I have a mouse pad, and I tried it without the pad on my work desk.

    4. Beth*

      In your case, I would get a new mouse. Probably in a different colour, so it would be easy to tell them apart.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      My work computer is a Mac, and I use an ergonomic mouse from Jelly Comb. It’s a very comfortable mouse and works really well with the Mac. The only minor disadvantage is that if the screen times out or you’re inactive for a few minutes, you have to turn the mouse off and on again to get it to work again.

      1. None the Wiser*

        I have Jelly Combs, too, and they work well with Macs. Just be aware that they can break somewhat easily. On the other hand, they are also pretty cheap. I usually order two or three so I have extras around.

    6. Xena*

      It sounds to me like either a driver or a settings issue. I would look up where mouse sensitivity/speed settings are for Logitech on a Mac and fiddle with those.

      Also, is it a bluetooth mouse or a wired mouse? Because if it’s bluetooth then it could be a battery problem too.

    7. *daha**

      You can ask work to replace the mouse, since it is for work use. But if not, mice are cheap. You can get something perfectly fine for $10, or $15 if you splurge.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Logitech hardware and Macs are known to have some bluetooth hiccups. It should cooperate better if you use the USB doohickey? And if you already use the USB doohickey, make sure the Logitech software on your Mac is up to date and try unplugging the doohickey and plug it into a different slot; it shouldn’t make a difference but sometimes it does because science is like magic :)

    9. Semi Bored IT Guy*

      If it’s a wireless mouse, have you checked the batteries? (I know, it sounds weird, since it works with one system, but not the other, but check it anyways)

      Also, you mentioned using the mouse on different surfaces. Have you tried using the work laptop on the coffee table with contact paper?

  8. Jorts Hall (Tuesday OP)*

    Hey Guys,
    OP from the “new team lead is horrible” letter from Tuesday. No major update, but I was depressed scrolling job postings on Wednesday night, applied for a job for fun, and got an interview request the next day!!! So yay!

    1. Stackson*

      Heyyyyy that’s great! I’ve been feeling pretty low at my job for about six months now and finally gathered the courage to put in for something myself. Got an interview request the day after my boss met with me to tell me all of the things he wants me to start working on (that I really don’t want to do lol). Such a good feeling! I hope it works out for you!

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      That is fantastic news and I’m thrilled and hopeful for you, OP!

      I did notice that there were job openings posted in the specific jorts hall of the duck nature in an area known for 3 specific cars, if that one doesn’t pan out :) I’m wondering if the goog machine can read the AAM letters too and that’s why it popped up as an ad for me….

    3. Antilles*

      Good luck to you and I hope it works out!
      (And certainly send an “I escaped successfully!” positive update to AAM once you’re free of the horrible team lead; always love a good update)

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      I was left in the dust last week still trying to figure out what company name rhymes with “Jorts Hall” (Sports Ball?). I’m going to need another clue to figure it out, I’m afraid. Can someone take pity and provide one?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The clues were not meant to provide a specific company name, just the overall industry. “Sports ball” rhymes with “jorts hall” and the OP mentioned in the original comments that their industry had a major event this past weekend. The Superbowl (American football championship game) was on February 13. So based on those two clues, the OP works in the professional sports industry.

        1. a tester, not a developer*

          I had assumed they were in trade union stuff and their big event was the Starbucks unionization attempts. Shows what I know!

    5. JelloStapler*

      That’s awesome- hopefully it is a silver lining to the situation that you find a great new opportunity. Maybe you then can tell say in your exit interview – “Teamlead is a Jerkface”

  9. Watry*

    I have a LinkedIn question that I’m sure has been answered before–my title includes the word Technician, but I do sort of clerical/admin work. Can I get it to stop sending me jobs working with heavy machinery?

    1. Watry*

      As an aside, I asked for advice on last week’s thread and decided you were all right–I’m going to start job hunting while I can still be picky.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You can change your job title … or add stuff for clarification. “Teapot Technician – Administration and Reporting Specialist”

      Load your profile with words like the jobs you want.

      You may also want to look at the job alert settings on LinkedIn to see if you should adjust any of them.

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Probably not. I frequently get jobs for which I have absolutely zero training, experience, or expertise in the sub-specialty. When the recruiters get aggressive on these, I tend to inquire if they’ve actually LOOKED at my profile in the least, and if so, what the what made them think I can design kettle electronics if I paint teapots, exactly. Sure, its all related to making a cuppa….

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        (Note the “only when they get aggressive about it” part. Typically I just reply with a note stating that its really not a great fit for me, thank you. I’ve had between 5-6 in the past two years and hit the level of obnoxious, and they were the ones who I asked what they were using as a metric.)

        1. Watry*

          Whoops, I should have been clearer. I’m talking about the automated emails, I’m not in-demand enough to hear from recruiters.

      2. Doug Judy*

        I once got one that was for a dentist position. I am not a dentist, haven’t even worked anywhere remotely related to healthcare let alone dentistry. The salary looked nice though!

    4. cubone*

      I don’t know if there’s a more technical way to do it, but I believe you can click on the little symbol that looks like a crossed out eye for Linkedin to stop showing you “jobs like this” in the future. You might have to be diligent for a bit, but hopefully it’ll start understanding ?

    5. Nopity Nope*

      Why not just change your LinkedIn job title to reflect your real role? LinkedIn isn’t your resume, so you can put something else that makes sense. I had a similar issue when my job title was “Director,” but at that company Director was an individual contributor role, not what you would typically associate it with. I just used a more accurate description as my title for LinkedIn. Problem solved.

    6. Siege*

      I changed my title to be more in line with industry convention (Teapot Specialist rather than Darjeeling Containment Technician). On my resume, I noted my actual title in parentheses next to the edited title, and I think on LinkedIn I just let it ride. I was careful to match job duties though my field is quite broad and has a lot of room for this kind of thing. No one’s ever had a question, and I generally get outreach for jobs that fit my skills.

    7. Art3mis*

      I wish I knew. I get inquiries about Customer Service jobs all the time even though I’ve removed CS jobs from my profile and the words customer and service appear no where on my profile at all for this very reason. Apparently something about my profile screams “Would love a low paying job in a call center.”

      1. Cat Mouse*

        I’m starting to think recruiters think everyone would love a low paying job in a call center. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn in a few years, so no customer service jobs (or the call center job) listed or connections regarding and I get contacted via LinkedIn about them constantly

    8. Database Developer Dude*

      Good luck with that. I regularly get calls from recruiters for Financial Analyst work when I’m a software and database engineer. Why, you ask? One of my former employers had the words “Financial Management” in its name.

      That’s it.

      People are stupid.

    9. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Good luck.
      I’m still trying to convince them that just because I am a veteran, I’m not keen on warehouse jobs 50 miles from my home “because we support veterans.”
      I’ve tried filling out the feedback option of “this doesn’t apply to me” but really only ever saw progress when I selected the “other” option and said things like “You REALLY need to work on your algorithms if you think I qualify for this.”

    10. HR Exec Popping In*

      If your title isn’t a good descriptor of your work you don’t technically need to use your official title on LinkedIn. I would consider putting something more appropriate and then in the text description of the role include official title and duties.

      1. Lisa*

        Or leave your official title off altogether if it isn’t helpful describing your actual work outside of your company. The role of your LinkedIn (and your resume) is to portray your actual expertise, not how your current employer chooses to classify it, which is usually based more in HR bureaucracy anyway.

    11. anonymous73*

      I have actual humans contact me for jobs that I’m not qualified for because the computer found one word on my resume and the recruiter didn’t bother to actually read my resume before emailing me. So unless you change your title, I’m gonna go with no LOL.

    12. As per Elaine*

      Unfortunately, I had a “Technician” job six years ago and I’m STILL getting a couple of emails a month from people impressed with my experience and wanting me to apply to a job about pipette cleaning (I am not a lab tech. I have never been a lab tech. I am not even lab-tech adjacent.) You may be stuck with it.

    13. None the Wiser*

      Heh. I work on plants. You know, leafy green things with pretty flowers.

      If I had a nickel for every time a recruiter reached out about a plant, as in manufacturing facility, manager position…

    14. Chirpy*

      Following, because I really want it to stop suggesting medical stuff for me. I am *not* anything even remotely close to an oncologist….?!?!

    15. DJ Abbott*

      IMHO LinkedIn is more trouble than it’s worth. It has never worked well for me. I keep a profile in case anyone looks for or asks for it, and I look for jobs on Indeed.
      I’ve gotten a few Indeed emails from recruiters who didn’t read my résumé, but no automated ones unless they’re from a search I created.
      I have a second interview next week for a job I found on Indeed, woo hoo!

  10. Stackson*

    So I just got moved on from an initial HR screening to a “technical phone screen”. Problem is, I haven’t had formal education in the role I have now, so I have NO idea what to expect from this sort of a call. I’m in a manufacturing adjacent role but not engineering, so if they ask me about some formulas or something I won’t have any idea how to respond. I’m reading everything I can in the meantime to brush up on my terminology but I’m terrified I won’t be well enough prepared no matter what I do.

    Tl;dr: I have a technical phone interview and I’m struggling with a serious bout of imposter syndrome. Any ideas on how to combat it?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Treat this as information gathering for you as well as them. If they ask a lot of technical questions that you do not know, ask if this is critical for the job. If the answer is yes, then this is not the right job for you — and that’s okay! Bullet dodged.

      1. Stackson*

        That’s very helpful; thanks! I know interviews are as much for me as they are for them but I really want to do well… this would be such a good move for me. It’s hard to take my emotions out of it.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Most technical interview questions are looking at how you think, not if you get the correct answer. So, for something along the lines of “how many manhole covers are there in Manhattan?” instead of panicking and guessing “10,000?” practice thinking out loud:

      “well, to figure out how many manhole covers there are in Manhattan, first I would look up how many manhole covers there typically are for a mile of road in a city. Then I would look up how many miles of roads there are in Manhattan. I can multiply those two numbers together to get a good estimate of how many manhole covers there are.”

        1. David*

          I definitely echo what Hlao-roo said, that technical interviews (if done well) are about the process you would use to solve a problem, not about whether you can actually get the right answer. For questions like the manhole covers one, the interviewer may not even have any idea what the right answer is, that’s how much they don’t care whether you figure it out.

          But not all technical interviews use that particular kind of question, where you’re asked to figure out some big number by breaking it down into more easily estimated parts. (It’s called “Fermi estimation”, in case you want something to Google for more info.) Questions like those are popular in part because some of the big tech companies (Google and/or Microsoft I think?) used to use them 10-15 years ago, but it turned out they’re not actually that good at predicting on-the-job performance in software development. Not everyone got the message, of course, so many interviewers still do use those questions, but a lot of other interviewers will actually give you some sort of skill test that’s more directly relevant to what you’d be doing on the job. Like, when I (a software engineer) interview candidates for my company, I’ll give them an actual programming task to solve. It’s going to be something small, so that they have a good chance of being able to finish it in the one-hour interview with time to spare, but still non-trivial enough that it gives me insight into their process. Something like, say, sorting the digits of an integer. What I’m looking for while they work on it is stuff like: do they ask questions if something is unclear, or make assumptions and just forge ahead with the task? Do they write well-organized code, with meaningful variable names? Do they have some awareness of what’s available in the programming language’s standard library? Are they able to explain why they chose to do something one way as opposed to another way, if there are multiple options? If they run the code and it doesn’t do what they expect, are they able to efficiently track down the error? And that sort of thing.

          Obviously, all this won’t apply exactly to your situation if your field isn’t computer programming, but the general idea should still apply: the interview should be your chance to show how you solve a problem, it’s not a quiz to figure out if you actually do solve the problem.

          That being said… from what I’ve heard, there are definitely plenty of companies and interviewers out there who do technical interviews badly. So if the interviewer is quizzing you on random pieces of knowledge and only seems to care about your answers, and doesn’t actually evaluate your performance on a task actually related to the job you’d be doing, well, that probably tells you something about the company.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      Two pieces of advice. First, google technical interview + your field—it’s likely there exist some examples of the kinds of questions you’ll be asked.

      Second, the worst thing in a technical interview is silence. Talk about how you’re thinking about an answer, say “I’m not sure, but this is how I’d find it out”, or “this is where I’m thinking of starting on the problem…” Maybe, “I’m not familiar with that formula off the top of my head, since I’m self taught, but here’s how I’d become familiar with it…” If you feel yourself short-circuiting with nerves, just try to talk through it.

      1. Stackson*

        Oh gosh, this is such good advice; thank you so much! I can usually talk myself out of my nerves so that’s doubly helpful.

    4. cheapeats*

      I run a lot of technical interviews and all of the above is good advice. I’d also add, you can say “I’m not familiar with that”. Depending on the job, this may be just fine. I have a standard sheet of about 50 VERY technical questions that I bounce around on. I have never had someone know the answer to everything I ask. Read up on the technologies they list in the job req and ensure you at least know what they are.

      It’s really not the end of the world if this particular one doesn’t go well. You should be able to glean a lot of information from it as to what they expected you to know that you didn’t. Work to close that gap for the next time and treat it as a learning experience.
      GOOD LUCK!

    5. Anna Badger*

      you might not have had formal education but you know how to do the role, right? the technical interviews I’ve been involved with generally revolve around a fictional scenario that the candidate might face in their role, to understand how they would approach it. technical as in technique, rather than as in theory, if that makes it any less scary.

  11. Mouse*

    Happy Friday! I am struggling with ethics in my workplace and am wondering how common this type of mindset/behavior is in high-level corporate environments.

    I have been working on a huge project that is very critical to my company and would be disastrous for client relations if it went wrong. The project has been insanely underresourced, but we pulled it off by the release date with only a few hiccups.

    My boss is a major executive of the company and has a direct interest in the functionality of this project. I cannot count the number of times I asked for help, clarifications, guidance, and advice. He was generally happy to answer direct questions 1:1, but no additional support, and did not attend any meetings I invited him to, reply to emails, or provide help in group settings.

    Now that the project is more or less behind us, he keeps making comments about how the project team didn’t keep him in the loop, he doesn’t know how x issue happened because he wasn’t involved, and he can’t answer any questions because we kept our discussions “secret” and didn’t involve him. He then made a comment to me that he “never plays a chess game that he doesn’t already know he will win.”

    My strong suspicion is that he intentionally distanced himself from the project due to its reasonably high risk of failure/flaws. His involvement could have made the project more likely to succeed, but because it wasn’t a sure thing, he made sure his own ass was covered. I think this is horrible leadership, unethical behavior, and damaging to the company. He left his junior employees with all the risk and will take all credit if it goes well, and redirect all blame if it does not. Is this normal? Is this how executives have to behave to keep their jobs? I’m on a leadership track and this is not the kind of person I want to be.

    1. Ama*

      Your boss is a horrible leader and, while it is unfortunately common for executives or VIPs to weasel out of taking the blame for anything, it’s not good leadership and shouldn’t be considered “normal.”

      I would honestly be tempted to go to him with a very polite, concerned face and say “I’m worried there’s some technical issue that’s causing you not to receive my emails, since you keep saying you weren’t kept in the loop on X project, and I sent you many emails about it, including invitations to our meetings. Do you think we should have IT look into it?”

      BUT, I am old and cranky, and in a place financially where I can survive being out of work for a few months if he took offense to me saying that. I have actually used this tactic successfully with external VIPs to my employer who have tired the “nobody told me” excuse when we’ve told them dozens of times, but my boss was fully on board with me doing that — I’ve never had to try it with someone I actually reported to.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Oooof. Your boss is rolling up his sleeves to throw you and the project team under the bus. That is not normal, and it is not good.

    3. Kes*

      Yeah he sucks. To be fair executives are often very busy, but it doesn’t sound like he made any effort to be involved, even when you tried, so for him to then turn around and complain that he wasn’t involved is a bit ridiculous. You could try next time he mentions something like this that you did try to keep him in the loop and ask if there would be a better way to do that next time – you could get a useful answer about how he’d like to stay informed or he may just dodge, either way it would tell you something
      There definitely is a wide range of leadership and he sounds on the not so great end of it, which we tend to hear a lot about on this site. That said I’ve seen and worked with lots of great leaders who truly want to support the people under them and see them succeed. I don’t think executives have to behave that way to keep there jobs, although there are probably companies where they do or where that is the norm. What have you observed of other leaders in your company? How do they behave? Is his behaviour aligned with theirs or is it just a him problem?
      I certainly think you can be a better leader, the only question is whether you can be that under him or at that company

      1. Observer*

        To be fair executives are often very busy, but it doesn’t sound like he made any effort to be involved, even when you tried, so for him to then turn around and complain that he wasn’t involved is a bit ridiculous.

        It sounds to me like this is a lot kinder than he deserves.

        Having said that, I do agree with you that it’s probably more useful to address it by asking for a BETTER way to keep in the loop since all of your efforts (which you will mention) don’t seem to have worked.

        But, also make sure that others are aware of the work you did and all of the efforts to keep him in the loop. Because you’re boss has basically told you pretty clearly that he will absolutely NOT have your back.

    4. Purt’s Peas*

      Yes, it’s pretty normal. Executives don’t have to behave like this, but they often do. This guy is just being a little more obvious about it than most. No one wants to experience adverse consequences, and execs have the power to…not experience them.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think you’re correct in your assessments.
      Who is he making these comments to? You (“you didn’t keep me in the loop”) or to other people *about* the project team?

      1. Mouse*

        Always to other people in group meeting settings. Of course, I have NO idea what he’s saying when I’m not there! But his reaction to different topics when we’re talking in person 1:1 vs when we’re in a group are like night and day.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          If I were a peer in those meetings, I would wonder why he was complaining to us about his team keeping him in the dark, since he should have a handle on his responsibilities and authority.

          I’d probably infer that y’all were trying to keep him from messing up the project. A manager that out of touch could easily mess up a project if he actually tried to participate.

    6. Student*

      This isn’t how executives have to behave. It’s a pretty common approach though.

      A lot of people in”leadership” roles that I’ve worked with in my career don’t add any value, they just make lots of noise, preen, and are buddies with somebody important. There will be leadership people somewhere (or, possibly, somewhen – they may have set things in motion then left) who make actual decisions and have enough of a stake that they care about things succeeding and will do real work.

      When you’re trying to figure out a leadership person to figure out whether they are dead weight to work around or someone useful to support your program, do some homework. Talk to people who worked on other programs under them to get a sense of how they operate. Chat with them one-on-one enough to get a sense of whether they have meaningful, non-trivial knowledge of what you’re doing, or if they’re just full of hot air and smiles.

      1. Mouse*

        That’s the thing–he’s a very smart man who is very good at what he does, with a lot of technical knowledge and meaningful success. But now I’m wondering if that is the image he projects only because he apparently refuses to engage with anything that has any degree of risk.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          Sometimes, those with a lot of technical knowledge don’t have the necessary people skills. I’m a chemist, who prefers to be doing bench work, and have seen that a lot.

    7. Juneybug*

      Next time he makes any comments like the team didn’t keep him informed, could you ask him how he would like to be informed?
      Pointy hair boss: (said in whiny voice) I can’t discuss subject X with leadership because the team didn’t keep me informed!
      You – super star employee: (said in calm manner) Would you like to send you some info about subject X to help?
      Boss: No, it’s too late.
      You: How would you like us to communicate in the future about project status or information?
      Boss: Mumbles, has no answer, changes subject.

      Meanwhile, could you provide a summary of the project to him? I would include who did what as well. For example, the project replaced the shampoo for llamas with a better formula shampoo (their coats are so shiny!) with less cost. This was due to the effect of Sam’s research in llama fur and Sally’s search for the better product at lower cost. Overall, they saved our company 1.3 million in shampoo supplies.
      Try to send this summary out to as many folks as possible so your boss can’t act like he was a decision maker or innovator.

      In the future, could you send him meeting notes with list of attendees? That does two things – it provides a record of who attended (and who didn’t attend like your pointy hair boss) and puts the burden on him to stay in the loop.

      It’s always good to have a “cover your assets” (CYA) plans with bosses like this. Sigh…

    8. Observer*

      I’m on a leadership track and this is not the kind of person I want to be.

      Then don’t be. It’s that simple. I cannot say how typical this kind of game playing is, but we do know that it is NOT universal. So, you do have that choice.

      Now, simple and easy are not the same thing. Depending on your industry, it may be a lot harder to be the kind of leader. It IS possible though. And you’ve taken a good first step bu actually thinking about it. Keeping this stuff top of mind and being careful to always think these issues through rather than just going with the default is going to be the thing that helps you be the kind of leader you want to be, rather than someone like this guy.

      This sounds like something out of an “inspirational pep talk”. But it happens to be true.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Didn’t Alison say something a long time ago about how two of her most effective management inspirations were bosses whom she decided she did NOT want to be like?

        OP, this is the kind of behavior that jerks use because they’ve accumulated enough power that they can. People who are not jerks don’t do it even when they accumulate enough power that they can, because they don’t want to behave that way. You’re not a jerk, so your reaction is a perfectly reasonable, “Ewww, I don’t want to be like THAT dude.”

        Great! Now you have developed one important aspect of your leadership style: you don’t want to be like that dude. You get to do that! Just as he has enough power to choose to throw the team under a bus, you will someday have enough power to decide whether you want to do that or not, and you won’t.

        Meantime, I agree with everyone who suggests sounding innocent while asking him in front of the meeting how he would like to be kept in the loop, because you and the team did X, Y and Z and you’re concerned that it didn’t seem to be sufficient. But that’s only if you think you have enough capital to get away with it. I’ve been fired before for asking the “innocent” question in a meeting where a jerk in management was trying to screw over me and my colleagues, so I am probably not a safe voice to follow unless you feel pretty definitely secure. ;)

    9. KatieP*

      Your boss is a terrible leader, and his behavior isn’t conducive to long-term team (and therefore, leader) success.

      A good chunk of my leadership training has been having worked for bad leaders, learning that when the boss does X awful thing, their team’s morale and productivity plummet. Therefore, don’t be a person who does X awful thing.

      I’ve also been privileged to work for good leaders that I can emulate.

    10. anonymous73*

      I wouldn’t say it’s abnormal. I’ve been working professionally for over 25 years and encountered many managers that I often wondered how they kept their jobs. Thankfully only 1 of them was my direct manager.

      And I would be tempted to call him out when he complains if you have proof that you got no feedback from him throughout the project (unanswered emails, IMs, etc.). Although he’d probably find a way to blame someone or something else for his lack of participation.

    11. Panda (she/her)*

      Personally, my approach would be to ask for clarification when he makes comments (not necessarily taking a whole meeting off on a tangent, but possibly mentioning it to him later) – so when he says something like “project team didn’t keep me informed” you could respond by saying “Was there something in particular you would have liked us to do in order to keep you informed? We copied you on the key info and meeting invites, but if there’s a different approach you’d prefer, I’d like to know for next time”. It may be that what you felt was a good way of keeping him in the loop actually wasn’t what he was looking for (for example, maybe he would have preferred a weekly status update email rather than having to sort through every email he’s copied on, or a quick 15 minute touchpoint with the project team each week rather than having to sit through a bunch of meetings).

      Your description does very much seem like he might be preparing to throw the team under the bus….but in my view it’s the manager’s responsibility to stay in the loop and to let the team know in real time if that isn’t happening or if something needs to change (just like with a lot of other management responsibilities – it’s not a manager’s job to just sit back and complain that their team isn’t doing something, it’s their JOB to tell the team what needs to happen and follow up if they aren’t seeing it).

    12. RagingADHD*

      Executives don’t have to behave that way but a lot of them do.

      You’re right that it’s bad leadership. Leaders are like any other group of people: there’s a standard distribution across the spectrum of good, middling, and terrible.

      You had a great lesson in how you don’t want to be. Good for you. Don’t be like that.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      ” he keeps making comments about how the project team didn’t keep him in the loop, he doesn’t know how x issue happened because he wasn’t involved, and he can’t answer any questions because we kept our discussions “secret” and didn’t involve him. He then made a comment to me that he ‘never plays a chess game that he doesn’t already know he will win’.”

      I would be sorely tempted to say, “I am confused. When was there a chess game?” I never heard anything about people playing chess.” All the while, I’d looked confused and seem kind of distracted by something else.

      Then I’d quickly continue, “I have emailed you the meeting dates [list other things you have done]. How would you like me to handle it differently going forward?”
      OR If I was feeling really devilish, I’d say, “Well, I send out emails to everyone. Would you like me to call you in addition to the email?” Again, say this with sincerity and not a hint of anger/upset in your voice or body language.

      You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make the horse drink the water. Of course, he will say, something like, “never mind”. To which I might say, “Well if you think of something that would be supportive to you in these instances please let me know.”

      You don’t have to worry about ethics as there is not to much ethics going on here. One thing that might be helpful to your peace of mind is what he said to you, he absolutely cannot say to his boss.

      For my own sanity I might send him an email summarizing each meeting when he is not in attendance.

      With bosses like this, I just do my job thoroughly and completely. I keep dates and records of what I am doing. It’s not MY job to keep him on top of HIS own job.

  12. Friyay!*

    I’m wondering if I have unrealistic expectations. I started a new job about a month ago. In that time, I’ve had one meeting with my boss. On my first day. I work in a small department, in a newly created role. I’m going to schedule a check in meeting for next week but I thought that since this was a new role, and I’m new to the organization, there would be a bit more structured communication in the first month or so.
    Am I unreasonable expecting that my boss would take the lead on scheduling check ins with me in the first few weeks/month?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Not unreasonable! In both of my two most recent jobs my boss practically overscheduled me with check-ins and meetings. But either your new boss is swamped or isn’t very good at onboarding. Can you take the initiative to say “I’m feeling a little lost and would like a bit more structure, can we have weekly meetings?” or something like that.

      1. Fran Fine*

        But either your new boss is swamped or isn’t very good at onboarding.

        Or both. I know that my current manager had this issue when I joined my team in a newly created role – she would forget to schedule meetings, so told me to just put stuff on her calendar whenever I needed to talk to her, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

    2. cookie monster*

      You’re not unreasonable, but in this situation I would go ahead and schedule regular check ins and say “happy to adjust the time and frequency but I wanted to set up the opportunity for us to meet regularly”

    3. Foxgloves*

      Not unreasonable. It’s very bizarre that your boss hasn’t scheduled check ins with you, particularly for a new person in a newly created role! Are you having team meetings/ similar? Do others in your team have regular one-to-one catch ups with your boss? That said, it might just been that they’re a bit useless on this front, so I’d recommend just putting a regular weekly catch up into your boss’s calendar, if that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary in your workplace! It’s annoying that you have to be the one to do it, but if the choice is that you do it, or that your boss does it, it seems like you doing it is the only way it’ll happen…

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think it really depends on the boss. Mine was available at certain times, but didn’t have scheduled check-ins for the first few years I worked for her. (We are very meeting-heavy, & she often just didn’t have a lot of time in her schedule.)

      Pre-emptive scheduling sounds like a good plan to me.

    5. Midwest Manager*

      FWIW, I’ve been guilty of this on occasion with new hires. It sucks when it happens, but probably isn’t intentional. Your manager probably has a lot of balls to juggle, and onboarding and training you could have been dropped by mistake. Do schedule that meeting with your boss, and bring to it specific concerns that you’d like addressed. Need more direction? Ask for it. Need training? Ask for it. Need regular 1:1 meetings to feel engaged? Tell them.

      The longer you sit on the sidelines NOT telling your manager what’s bugging you, the harder it will be to fix the problem. They might assume that no news is good news, while all along you’re sitting there stewing in negative feelings and preparing to leave (either with or without scorched earth). They can’t fix something they don’t know about – so say something!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Sharing my experience from the new hire side, I had to ask my manager for one-on-ones once, and it went very well! I was nervous to ask, but after a few weeks on the job I went ahead and did it anyways. I stopped by his desk, asked if he had a minute to talk, then asked “can we meet regularly to go over my projects and anything else that may come up?” He said “of course!” and set up a 30 minute meeting for every other week.

    6. TigerFan13*

      I feel your pain. In my first 3 months at my new job I have spent more time in the office by myself than with my boss in the building. We are in our slow season, so boss has been taking advantage of that and working less days/hours, but I can’t help but feel I am going to be behind in April/May when we are busy and there is little/no time for training. I have the basics of my position down but feel I am wasting so much time that could be used for learning new skills or getting ahead while we are slow. I was hoping for more imitative on boss’s part as well…

      I actually came here to ask for advice on my situation…..

      1. Midwest Manager*

        Similar to what I said to the OP, your boss won’t be able to fix problems they don’t know exist! Reduced hours during the slow season does not mean completely checked out. Have a talk with the boss and ask about opportunities for learning new skills while things are slow. Ask what prep work can be done in advance of the busy season. If they don’t have anything to suggest, use the time to pursue your own skill-building: watch TED Talks, read books on soft skills you’d like to improve on, explore other aspects of your industry that you’d like to know more about. Even this kind of self-driven skill development can come in handy when all heck breaks loose.

        1. TigerFan13*

          I did find a corporate virtual training event that I signed up for (and learned a lot!). Currently, boss is on a family vacation so I’m not going to bother them, but its been so slow around here yesterday and today that its driving me crazy not know what productive tasks I could be completing and just waiting on the phone to ring.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Is there someone else you can ask? The person who trained you on the basics? Senior coworkers or peers?

    7. CTT*

      Are you connecting with your boss in other ways? I’ve never had the structured/formal checking like I think you’re wanting in a new job, but I was still receiving informal feedback as we worked on projects.

      1. Friyay*

        I think this is part of the problem, I’m not getting any feedback from my boss. He asked me to complete a project so he could report back to the senior leadership team. I completed it, sent him an email, and nothing.
        I’m also feeling a bit insecure because everyone else on the team has worked together for years, my boss built his team when he started 3 years ago and brought over the rest of the team from his previous organization.
        I’ve scheduled a check in for next week and will ask for regular check-ins for at least the next few months.

    8. ecnaseener*

      If someone else is training/mentoring you day to day, I don’t think this is especially weird (although it’s not ideal). When I started my job, I was working heavily with my trainer and almost never with my manager. There were staff meetings, and I think occasional meetings with a small group and the manager, but no 1-1 meetings until my trainer went AWOL.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      I think it depends on the role and the manager. In my first company, check-ins were never done. Not when I was on the front line, not when I worked in a department, and not even when I was a department manager. I honestly had never heard of a one-on-one meeting until I moved on after 18 years. Second company, the boss was very type A. She scheduled a check-in every single week for a minimum of one hour and it was way too much for the role, especially since I was a individual contributor. Not to mention, I couldn’t stand her and the job, company, and people were all wrong for me. Third company I was a department manager and my boss would stop down to my office here and there to see how it’s going. Very casual and conversational, nothing scheduled, which I feel worked really well for us. At my current company I’m a department manager again. I had a check-in pretty much every week for about six months because I had a personnel issue going on and I was out of my depth. (In a nutshell, the previous department manager covered A LOT for a direct report and my manager had no idea how deep the problems ran until I took over and spilled my guts about every single thing.) Once the person rage quit and things settled down, we went down to once a month and it works well. Sometimes I feel like it could be more, but then I’ll just email if I need something.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Sorry, I forgot to add that maybe you need to ask for the check-ins. Some managers assume you will take the lead and schedule one when you need it. Plus different people have different needs. I have a couple people on my team who want regular check-ins, while others want to just be left to do their thing and check with me when they need something. Both ways are valid. Obviously if I have someone who is struggling but doesn’t like check-ins, the fact that they need more guidance and oversight overrides their desire to be left alone.

    10. Katie*

      Set up a one on one yourself. The manager may have lots going on and may not be intentionally ignoring you. Have that one meeting and see how it goes. The manager, if a reasonable person, should have no issues with you doing it.

    11. anonymous73*

      I think it depends on a few things, like what you do, how much experience you have and if you have the information you need to get your job done. When I first started my current job in August, my manager made sure I had what I needed to get started, but then was very hands off for a while. I could reach out if I needed her, but we didn’t have regular check-ins. Even though it’s a new role, maybe boss trusts that you can get the job done and will come to them if needed. But it sounds like you differ on expectations, so you should schedule a meeting and clearly define them.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I’ve worked any number of jobs where I never had a check-in meeting about how I was doing. Many of them were very good jobs that I was quite satisfied with, and only left for outside, personal reasons. Some organizations and some bosses expect you to take the initiative to raise questions or ask for help. They don’t hover.

      It’s great when a company does a lot of formal, structured onboarding. But there are a lot of places that just don’t, and they can still be good places to work. Personally, I don’t learn well from having a whole bunch of information or questions thrown at me without context or experience to attach them to. When a boss asks me how I’m doing or what I need in the first couple of weeks, I really don’t have anything to say because nothing much has happened yet.

      I learn much better by asking questions as they come up, because then it’s about something real. It’s entirely possible that your boss wanted you to get settled in and get started on something in order to have more substantive things to talk about.

      Deciding what to ask about in your meeting next week will help you clarify what you need from them in the way of support, as opposed to having meetings just for the sake of having meetings. It’s a good thought exercise.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      Your expectations are completely reasonable!! Your boss should have given you an onboarding plan (30/60/90 days) with already scheduled checkin times with them and anyone else in the organization you need to get training and info from.

  13. cookie monster*

    What are your recommendations for books about managing up? I feel like I have the day-to-day managing down – I’m good at delegating, organizing, able to give feedback and have tough conversations without making it stressful. But I’ve always been in the position where I have great relationships with people who work with or for me, but not necessarily above me.

    1. AlabamaAnonymous*

      Have you read Managing Up: How to Move up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss by Mary Abbajay? That’s a good place to start if you haven’t. Or maybe The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni?

    2. Midwest Manager*

      My organization has a networking group that did an event around this topic. Here are some resources they shared:

      Cohen, Allan & David Bradford. Influence Up, John Wiley & Sons, 2012
      Cohen, Allan & David Bradford. Influence without Authority, John Wiley & Sons; 2nd edition, 2005
      Center for Creative Leadership, Manage your boss, 2016

    3. Midwest Manager*

      There are a few books that I’ve had recommended for this topic – it’s a training session my org offers occasionally through a networking group:
      Babcock & Laschever, Negotiating the Gender Divide, 2003
      Cohen, Allan & David Bradford. Influence Up, John Wiley & Sons, 2012
      Cohen, Allan & David Bradford. Influence without Authority, John Wiley & Sons; 2nd edition, 2005

      There’s also a TED Talk by Margaret Heffernen that’s really good. “Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work”

    4. Xena*

      Never Split the Difference might be interesting. It’s not a managing book per se, but it’s a book on negotiation written by a guy who did hostage negotiations for the FBI for a while and then retired and went into private consulting. It definitely deals with negotiating when there’s a power imbalance and might be helpful

      1. My Cat's Human*

        Listened to the audio book recently. It was excellent. Very organized and full of examples/ideas/steps.

  14. Anon for this one*

    Is there ever a point where it’s worth bringing up to a board that a non-profit director is kind of terrible? Has anyone had experiences in either direction?

    I found a comments section from an older AAM where Alison herself commented “It’s rarely worth it” (with of course a little bit more detail than that, ha). And the more I think about it, I can’t imagine it would be worth it, especially in a situation where the board must already notice some problems (such as major fundraisers that went VERY poorly that previously always made money, nearly 100% employee turnover in two years, etc.) but I still am curious for others’ thoughts.

    1. AlabamaAnonymous*

      I was on staff at small non-profit (less than 50 people) that brought in a new executive director who was terrible. They had a good heart and good intentions but were totally unsuited for the job. Several staff had close personal relationships with board members (which normally isn’t a good thing) but in this case it was because they were able to let them know there were problems. And they were taken seriously. It still took a year for anything to be done, and the organization almost imploded in the aftermath. It did end up surviving but there was almost a complete staff turnover in the turmoil. But I don’t think we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if it weren’t for the staff-Board relationships already in place where there was a high degree of trust and connection. So while I think it is possible for staff to get a board to pay attention to problems like this, it is not easy and it is always unpleasant. Things will likely implode at some point–whether because the Board steps in or because of the director. So I’d recommend looking for a way out, if you can.

      1. Ashley*

        This is my experience. The boss was terrible but the board thought it was the staff and new volunteers that were terrible. A staff member with a board relationship helped them connect the dots back to the ED. It took a few years of rotating through staff though; it was a fairly small branch of a larger umbrella organization.
        I think if you have a strong relationship with a key board member it might be worth it.

    2. Ama*

      I think it’s only worth it if the director is doing something illegal or you have proof she’s telling the board false information (not just painting a rosier picture of a bad situation but outright fudging the numbers). Because that’s something the board would likely have no idea was happening unless someone else tells them.

      But in a situation where the board is likely aware of the biggest problems with the director’s leadership, you likely aren’t going to prompt them to take action by talking to them. Unless of course someone from the board approaches you first and asks for your opinion, then it’s a different story.

    3. Kay*

      I’d say this is highly dependent on your position relative to the nonprofit. If you are a direct constituent of the nonprofit and have had a personally terrible experience with the director, it might be a reasonable step. If you have an existing personal relationship with a board member, you could use that to convey concerns.

      Generally, though, it’s not a good idea and it’s not going to go anywhere even if it is warranted. If it’s a decent board, they hopefully know already. And if you’re on staff, it would have to be really, really dire to say something (like…embezzlement level dire).

      1. Not a Board Member*

        I very sadly agree with everything you say here, Kay.

        I don’t really understand why boards are slow to act or don’t at all sometimes. Especially when they know.

        Anyone reading this on a board? I’m just curious what goes on there when staff and an organization is clearly at risk due to the ED.

        1. Zee*

          I’m not on a board, but I do work at non-profts.
          I think they’re slow/reluctant to act for a few reasons:
          1. Boards & EDs don’t have the typical employer-employee relationship. Yes, the board hires & fires the ED, but they don’t actually manage them.
          2. Firing an ED looks really bad for an organization.
          3. Hiring an ED is a really long and difficult process.

          1. Not a Board Member*

            I worked at a nonprofit as well. I always wondered (and still do) whether continual staff attrition meant anything with a board. And they knew, they knew.

            Over time, people just left. I remember on Day 1 being told if a board member called, we weren’t supposed to to talk to them. Now that I’m outta there, I often wonder, what do the board members think of that place? I will never meet any off them which is fine with me.

            But do board members really not care that employees are quitting for years on end? Or they just care how things look? I have to admit, I am patiently waiting for the whole place to implode. Then I can wait ten years before writing my Mozart in the Jungle like book.

              1. Not a Board Member*

                Only 3 people had the privilege: the founder, the ED, and the Associate Director. Anyone else, nope.

                Sometimes I think the board doesn’t want to know, honestly. Do they even know (or care) that we’re not even supposed to speak to them?

                There’s gotta be at least one board member of something on this site. I am genuinely curious what it is like in those meetings.

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          The boards at the non-profits where I worked had two types of members – committed and clueless. The committed tended to know about the organization, but it didn’t always help them see things realistically, especially if they personally liked a director. There were a few who got to know staff members and actually knew what we did. Those are the ones to cultivate and cherish. Then there were some who knew our names but only so they could say “Off with Endora’s head!” when it was budget-cutting time. The clueless were on the board as a social point. I swear someone must keep score on how many boards a person is on, and assign (mostly) RWB (Rich White Bastard/Bitch) points that they compare at galas. And they like the luncheons.

    4. Supplychainoffools*

      I found out that the CEO hired to replace the founding CEO was doing some shady stuff (tax dodging, living in/drinking in the office, giving donated money to friends, not doing his job at all). I went to the Chairman of the Board and they fired the CEO. They were already suspicious.

    5. yogurt*

      I’m totally in this situation. Very small non-profit, the ED manages me. 66% staff turnover, including our senior staff member who had years and years of institutional knowledge. The board is well aware of the problems. I’ve been told they’ve had multiple discussions about letting ED go and basically don’t have the guff to do it. And they are aware that the other employee are experiencing “torture” at the hands of the ED but the board is convinced the ED will move away “someday soon” so they do nothing.

      Despite how involved our board is and how good some of them are to me, in the end their ultimate goal is to protect the “image” of the nonprofit I work for, so they have avoided any and all potential conflict. In some ways, I feel like I work for a faceless corporation, not a locally supported community organization, because they don’t care about me or my coworkers at all.

      What I finally did a year and a half ago was let ED fall on their own sword. I made it very clear to my board what their shortcomings were and why they were a disaster as ED, but I was doing a lot of cleaning up and smoothing feathers behind the scenes. I just stopped doing all of that. And over the last year my board has continuously said our nonprofit is “not well regarded” in the community….*insert eye roll here* In the end, I separate myself from work entirely. It hurts and it’s hard, this is not what I came to a nonprofit to do. But I don’t have any other choice until I can get out of here.

      1. Observer*

        Oh wow!

        What an incredible disconnect. They are trying to protect the organization by not managing the ED or firing them, even though they know that the organization is “not well regarded”? That’s beyond ridiculous. I hope you find something new soon!

    6. Formerly Prof, now Non-Prof*

      I think it depends on the size of the nonprofit and how active the Board is. I worked for a large nonprofit where the Board had a really hands off role, basically the bird’s eye view. Even when there were multiple employee complaints, grievances, and even investigations, the Board didn’t seem to have any interest in stepping up. On the other hand, I’ve known a tiny nonprofit that, because of its size and age (it’s only recently gotten its 501c status) has a really involved Board — the majority of the work of the organization is done by Board volunteers, so they are much more likely to step in if/when there’s an issue with the director. I now work for a very small but long running nonprofit, and my experience here is that the Board has stepped up to support when folks at the Director-level asked for help, but that they probably wouldn’t get too involved with overall management unless there were a direct need (like accusations of racism).

      My overall take is: if the problem is staff treatment, Boards are generally not inclined to get involved (until they’re worried about embarrassing public lawsuits), but if the problem is related to money or reputation, they’re more likely to step up.

    7. meagain*

      Yes, it’s worth it. I was on a board of a non-profit once where there were all of issues with the executive director. We eventually had to remove her from the position which is a process that was difficult to navigate. However, there were enough specific examples from some of the constituents to help document. Feedback came in quietly, but it was helpful. We had enough reasons to remove her. But there’s also a somewhat fine line between just “kind of sucks at her job” versus negligence, questioning of finances, double dipping with another company, etc.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I’m very curious about this! My scenario was as an employee (someone I know, not myself), but you mention constituents – did you hear anything from the employees? I wonder if it’s a lot more challenging for employees to “quietly” address issues with the board.

        That said, maybe constituents would have more pull, anyways — I know it’s a challenge to know who to trust when it’s staff vs. ED. But really, constituent perception matters a lot more than employee perception, when I think about it. If the services of an org are being rendered just fine, I can see why it wouldn’t be a priority to a board.. at least until internal issues cause an implosion.

        1. Not a Board Member*

          Anon for this one,

          This has been a fascinating discussion so far. I hope more anon board people chime in. And I hope it helps you in your decision. So far, I think it’s worth it to try a discreet email if you’re not barred from contacting them.

          And goodness, if the fundraisers continue to tank and they don’t notice that, implosion is likely imminent. I mean don’t bills eventually have to get paid for the organization to function? But it could take a while before things get that bad.

    8. Cheese Tooth*

      Hi! I’m VP of a board of directors and we just fired our ED after staff complaints. We were aware of issues, so it didn’t come as a surprise, but the complaints lead to an investigation and strengthened our case when it came to termination. So I would say yes, it’s worth a shot.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I’m curious, who did the complaints come from? Constituents, employees, another category I haven’t thought of..?

        1. Cheese Tooth*

          Employees at all levels. It’s a small organization and we ended up hearing from most of the staff in a meeting we called after an email from one of the long-term employees.

      2. Not a Board Member*

        Hi VP Person! Thanks for your comment.

        If you were aware of issues, why couldn’t you all start an investigation on your own? It goes a long way to supporting disclosures.

        I know no organization wants a bad reputation or bad press. And I, too, value discretion. But EDs have so, so much power.

        Glad you all got that ED out and hope the next one can repair the damage.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Not the VP person here, but I am also a VP.

          Square one is if a board can’t handle simple things, then handling an investigation is going to be mind-blowingly hard. Board members can have a collective mindset of tip-toeing around any topic that they deem as being “difficult”. This allows situations to go on and on and on….

          Next. I don’t care if I stay or if I leave. I’d be sad to leave of course, but I know life will go on. But not all board members have this freedom. Some board members want the perceived prestige of being a board member or something else. This causes people to have problems in starting an investigation for anything.
          The second hurdle is that there is no point to investigating if you know for a fact that your cohorts will do NOTHING about the situation.
          The third hurdle is firing. If the board is not strong and decisive the best investigation in the world is worthless. Because the board will not make a decision.
          Fourth hurdle. What will the public think? The board has to brace itself for backlash or outcry. This can be managed by crafting a go-to public statement that should be used over and over each time a board member is asked. There is a concern about protecting the privacy of the person. Another technique that can be used is to have one board member be the point person for handling individual inquiries about the situation.
          Fifth hurdle. (Yes, this is a long road.) The fired person needs to be replaced. Until they are replaced a plan to cover their work is needed. A plan for interviewing and hiring is necessary. Job ads cannot be random, they have to be well-crafted to follow regs/laws/npo’s standards/etc. Planning a firing also involves planning what to do once the person is gone.

          Inexperienced board members can really struggle with this. If an NPO does not have written standard operating procedures for handling things that can really make the whole situation worse. And heaven forbid there is no formal policy in place. omg.

          Just as managers need guidance from time to time, so do boards. It’s not in their genes at birth. Worse yet, things change constantly- no one board member can be up to date on all the new laws/regs/tech and so on. Wise boards assign these things out, so one person stays on top of new regs, one person stays on top of new tech and so on. This is why it becomes important for boards to have professionals among their members. Yes, free legal advice, free accounting advice etc. A wise board looks at its shortcomings and brings on new members to fill the void. Wise boards also seek out groups they can join to have other resources for advice.

          It gets mind-bending to see how far off the mark some organizations are.

        2. Cheese Tooth*

          The investigation that occurred was an investigation of the complaints from staff. Less than a year prior to my joining the board the ED had been under a different investigation and had been working on an action plan to resolve said other issues.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I am currently on one board but I was long term on a second board.

      The problems start at the top. Boards can have difficulty with group-think and/or infighting. One board I served on, I grabbed an opportunity to update the bylaws. This was interesting. I found that there was NO mechanism in the bylaws to remove board members. So we wrote in what behaviors are absolutely not acceptable and stipulated to vote on removal. I won’t serve on a board where we cannot remove bad apples.

      For the group-think part of it I said, “When we recruit members we have to tell them it’s a working board.” Jawdroppingly new members were being told, “Oh show up once a month for the meeting and go home.”
      This was so inappropriate for the needs of the organization. I was able to say this out loud because if things did not change I was prepared to leave the board. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

      It’s super helpful if board members have basic respect for each other. This is nothing to take for granted and people do not automatically show basic respect. Members within the group have to insist that they all respect each other.

      We started putting things on paper. We have a calendar of recurring tasks. And we have an action list. New members do not know how to help or where to help. This can cause a lot of weirdnesses if allowed to go on and on. These two things- the two lists- help to keep everyone on the same page and people can volunteer for tasks. These are subtle tools for reminding board members to … well, do their jobs.

      So what can happen with a poor performing employee is that board members can be told by outsiders that Bob sucks at his job, “but, don’t fire Bob because he needs the income!” I felt like saying, “Now what do you want me to do with this mixed message????”

      Boards can fall into habits, just like we do in our own private lives. If a board has a habit of being afraid to fire someone, that habit will probably continue. The reason for the fear does not matter. What matters is that the board has no plan on how to remove a bad actor. In a similar vein boards can fall into the habit of not being able to ask for money. “Fundraising is so HAAARRRD! It’s hard to ask strangers for money!” These poor habits hugely impact the organization.

      Then there are the overlords. It could be a watchdog agency or a consortium or something else. The overlords may have the right to dictate how board members act. This can mean the rules are, “Do not tell the Director how to do their job!” wth. What is the point of having a board??? This causes arguing, division and fear within boards. If a board takes a literal read and choses to say nothing to the director about the job the director is doing- guess what can happen next. Yeah, it’s just chaos as the organization struggles with the most basic of things. So some of the stupid behavior is actually driven by regulations or those holding purse strings.

      1. Not a Board Member*

        I wanted to thank all the board people (and any more to come) who replied to this thread. It really gave some insight and I appreciate those who can be on those boards.

        That said, I was a bit startled by the fragility not of the commenters but of their board counterparts. These are the very people who hold power over people’s livelihoods, health insurance, and not to mention the constituencies that they represent.

        One bad director can affect so many lives. Usually, they are well-equipped financially to survive a firing. Sometimes organizations need to implode and restructure. A board member could take or leave their role there, but an employee might not be able to.

        Maybe this is why I’m not on a board! (Though I’ve been asked. And if I ever say yes, I’ll come back to some of these tips.) I fully expect I’d be continually challenging so many things and/or it would feel like beating my head on a wall. But I applaud those who can do it and I hope you guys fight the good fight there and call out these shenanigans. Boards hold so much power, even with oversight. And some of these organizations have the potential to do such good work and truly support those in need.

        Maybe next week we can talk more about positive board stories, that prevailed over some of this inertia, as some were shared here. And I did get a good chuckle about the weather, in DJ Abbot’s comment below. Fundraisers tank, employees leaving left and right and it’s . . . the weather? The pandemic? The new decade? Just how it is?

        Oh my goodness. But these are the people in leadership. They need to open their eyes, wow.

    10. DJ Abbott*

      I haven’t worked at a nonprofit, but IME management is in denial about high turnover. They blame the economy, politicians, weather… I was just working at the grocery store where they treat people like garbage and blame the pandemic for the high turnover.
      So I wouldn’t count on your board knowing what the turnover means.
      Management, please hear this: high turnover is never a coincidence! There is always a reason that needs to be addressed. Especially when it’s a new thing!

  15. Cat Mouse*

    Question especially to those who do hiring in more retail type roles. I recently left my last job for reasons and have been job searching. Whole I hope to get a job in my preferred field (transportation engineering/planning) I was hoping to be able to get a retail job for some income during the job search. Despite all the news stories about these areas needing more employees I haven’t gotten a single response to my applications. Friends and family think it is because I am overqualified. I have considered removing my master’s degree from my resume (I had already removed my first bachelors because it wasn’t relevant, concerns about age, and engineers don’t seem to appreciate a liberal arts degree), but past work experience will still show previous engineering jobs. If these places are complaining about being short staffed, why aren’t they at least reaching out to people for interviews?

    Thankfully I have received interviews for the few jobs in my engineering field, but have heard nothing back from those and relocating isn’t an option for us currently.

    1. Bertha*

      When I worked at a certain large, big box, chain bookstore many years ago, the assistant storage manager said that sometimes he’d get applications from PhDs, and he said he’d never hire them. So yes, it because you’re overqualified. Even places that are short staffed are going to picky about who they hire to an extent.. because they don’t want to put a lot of effort into hiring someone, only to have them leave in a few months, and have to do it all over again! And it sounds like you’d definitely be leaving as soon as you get an engineering job.

      Maybe there are other jobs that you’re not AS overqualified for — perhaps a temp or placement agency? Looking for local businesses that need short term help?

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Agreed, especially on looking into temp work and other options. If you do need to apply to retail type jobs, do they even require a resume? I would plan on only submitting the application and nothing extra that would make you seem overqualified (cover letter or resume).

        1. Cat Mouse*

          If I can avoid a resume I do, I’ll five Lowe’s credit, they just asked basic info and had you upload a resume instead of doing job history and resume like so many other places.

          But yeah, most places want a job history at least

    2. Here we go again*

      It’s the slow season for mall retail. They’re not hiring temps right now they were in October and let them go around New Years. Try a greenhouse or a Home Depot they’re going to start hiring seasonally for spring projects soon.

      1. Delta Delta*

        And you get to smell flowers and play with dirt! OK, maybe these aren’t pluses for everyone, but I think that sounds grand.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      Here is the thing. Most hiring managers want to hire someone who really WANTS to do the job they are being considered for. If you have a choice between someone who wants to work retail and plans to stay in retail vs. someone who clearly is just doing retail until they can get a better job in a different field they will pick the person who wants retail. This is because they don’t want to have to start over in a few months.

      So what can you do? I would create a resume specifically for retail. Remove your masters degree. Emphasis your prior retail experience and include a cover letter that explains why you are really interested in the job to ease fears that you plan on jumping as soon as you can.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. They want to know that you can learn the cash register. They want to know about your hours of availability. Can you flex? I had a retail fill-in type job for a while. I was hired for 20 hours a week but ended up doing 40-45 some weeks and 12 hours the next week. Can you flex, they will want to know.
        Nights and weekends are a biggie. Of course you could just apply at places that are open M-F and close at 6 pm. That would skate by the nights and weekends issue. But these places are not common.

        Definitely take your degree off of there. Try not to let on that this is temporary for you. Talk about your previous retail experience.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think it’s probably that they see you are over qualified. i would just have your bachelors degree (having your liberal arts degree might actually benefit you here). In your cover letter address that you know that you have more education for what they typically see and address any concerns. They may be worried that if they hire you that in 6 months you are going to leave (which you need to be honest about, that’s going to happen).

      Maybe try a temp agency or look for temporary work. At least that way the employer knows that this is someone who is not planning to stick around.

    5. Pop*

      It also depends on what kind of places you’re applying to. If you’ve never worked in food service, a master’s doesn’t mean you’re overqualified to work at a restaurant. It means you’re underqualified because you have no experience in restaurants. Do you have any customer service experience?

    6. meagain*

      I would really put the most focus on AVAILABILITY. The biggest thing retailers want is someone who has available hours. You can also stress that you are open to various roles such as salesperson, inventory/stocking, early morning merchandise flips, etc.

      1. meddery*

        Seconding this. In retail and food service, your education matters very little compared to your availability and customer service skills/qualifications. As a manager in these industries, I’ve only ever been concerned about someone’s education insofar as it pertains to the hours they are available to work. I’ve been curious, for sure, about why someone with a Masters in chemistry would be interested in working as a barista for corporate coffee, but the answers almost always boil down to work/life balance and/or the need for insurance.

  16. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Assistance with a script is requested. When I started my new job last year, there was a written agreement that I’d get a performance evaluation (June/July time frame), and if satisfactory I’d get a specific salary bump.

    Well, that performance evaluation and related salary bump hasn’t happened. I did ask about it last summer (August), the partner remembered it and said yes she’d schedule it. Then I got an email from her in Sept/Oct stating that it wasn’t forgotten, but it was audit season and she was swamped, so was it ok if they did it after the big deadline in November?

    It’s now February, and I would like my money please. I don’t suspect ill intent here, just an overwhelmed partner who forgot. I am stuck on what should be very simple, so how do I bring this up?

    1. Fabulous*

      “Hi [partner]! I’ve sent a couple reminders since last summer, but I wanted to reach out about finally scheduling my performance evaluation. Is it alright if I put something on your calendar for early March? Now that the busy season is over, I’d like to make sure I’m set up for success in 2022. Thanks in advance!”

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          If they put it off again, please remind them about the agreed upon terms for a pay bump if your performance is satisfactory. If they don’t schedule something soon I would reply with something like: “When I accepted this position I was told that my performance would be assessed as of last summer and if my performance was satisfactory I would receive a pay increase. I understand that you may not have the time to put toward conducting the evaluation at this time, however based on the feedback I have received I assume I am currently performing at a satisfactory level and request that you consider putting in for an appropriate increase in recognition of my performance level. If I am not performing at a satisfactory level, I would like to meet to discuss this as soon as possible so that I can understand any concerns with my contributions.”

    2. Becky*

      I really hope that this pay bump after the performance evaluation will be retroactive at this point.

      Are you able to see the Partner’s calendar? Is it possible for you to schedule a meeting while viewing her availability?

      If so, I would just schedule it and include in the body of the meeting invite “Teapot’s Performance Evaluation” and any information about what rubric they use/what metrics you’ve achieved etc.

      If you are in an office where just doing that out of the blue would be frowned upon–are there any regular touchpoints or meetings you have with this Partner? If so: “Partner, I’d like to schedule that performance evaluation. Shall I arrange a time with your Executive Assistant/pick a time on your calendar?”

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This is what I was concerned about. That pay bump should be retroactive back to when you SHOULD have gotten it, per your written agreement. This makes me wonder, though: when you get a retroactive pay increase, do you get it in a lump sum? How is that taxed?

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Would just be normal income in 2022, so depending on math and amounts it might bump you to the next tax bracket, but not really a big deal.

        2. ThatGirl*

          People get a little too fidgety over lump sum taxation – even if it’s taxed at a slightly higher rate due to being a lump sum, it’s still progressive, and will work out when filing your taxes.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Well, if its not retroactive, then they’re going to lose me way sooner than they would otherwise. And they would have a very hard time finding someone with my background and level of experience – people like me are rare. For that matter, I’m already not all that thrilled with them. I get that its been busy, but there’s busy and then there’s breaking contracts.

    3. anonymous73*

      “We discussed a performance evaluation 7-8 months ago and every time I bring it up, I’ve been told it’s coming. Can you provide a date when this will actually happen? I also expect the pay increase to be retroactive to the time I was promised last year.”

      Just be matter of fact and direct. It’s not rude or unprofessional. They made a promise and haven’t kept it and need to be called out about it. It doesn’t matter if the intentions are malicious. And if they keep making excuses about why it hasn’t happened (because those are excuses you are getting) I highly recommend looking for a new job.

  17. Hailrobonia*

    I’ve been job hunting and have had a few interviews lately, and have started noticing a pattern… I get rejection notices on Fridays. At least this weekend is a long weekend for me so it’s not totally ruined…

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I would imagine that recruiters/HR see the generation and sending of those notices as routine, low-stress stuff that they can do on Friday. The decision was made earlier in the week, but Friday is clear-out-the-paperwork day. They just aren’t considering the impact it has on applicants.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        yup. and they may have had interviews and such all week and Friday is the day they can review everything and decide who to choose. It’s nothing personal and they are just doing what works best for their work schedule.

    2. Forkeater*

      I got a bunch of rejections February 1 and wondered if there was a setting in Workday or something to send them out when the month closes.

  18. anonon*

    I had an interview yesterday and figured out during the interview through the coded language the search chair used that they are also interviewing the current incumbent who is a temp in the newly created role. I totally get that this is part of the hiring process and it happens all the time, but it feels like such a waste of time. The temp has worked with this team in different roles over the past 3 years and clearly knows everyone well. I wish they could have just created a temp-to-hire situation instead of wasting my time and making me interview in person, for a position I was excited about, when they already have a clear front runner.

    My partner is on two hiring committees currently in a different department and in both cases, they have an internal candidate as a front runner who will most definitely get the offer. I think I’m just bitter because I am very ready to move on from my current role, and it feels like this issue of an incumbent keeps coming up.

    1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I’m sorry this has happened to you. It happened to me *numerous* times in my job search – not necessarily with an incumbent in the role, but with internal candidates, and/or someone with a personal connection to the hiring manager. Search my username on this site without the “Formerly” and see how many times I referenced being a “filler candidate.”

      With the job market supposedly being better for candidates, I wish there was a way for applicants to politely ask up front if this is a legit interview, or just a sham so that HR can demonstrate they went through a selection process.

      I wish I had some advice, but the only thing that worked for me was sheer persistence, and *finally* I interviewed with a company/department that was sincere about my candidacy.

    2. Jax*

      I’m sorry. I sarcastically refer to myself as “The Third” (as in, the 3rd required candidate needed for HR) or “The Foil” (as in, the compare/contrast option against the internal candidate). I always find myself angry and depressed after interviewing and not receiving an offer–it just sucks.

      Recently, my university hired an external candidate over a very qualified internal candidate. The internal candidate interviewed on Day 1, and the search committee all felt that the job was hers. External candidate interviewed on Day 2, blew the search committee away, and the committee wanted the external candidate so much they even met her request for a higher salary.

      So, it happens! While it’s bad to be the external candidate who doesn’t win the role, it stings even more to be the internal candidate who didn’t win the role.

      1. Loulou*

        I was going to say, I’ve been the fake external candidate a few times, but I’ve also seen exactly what you’re describing happen multiple times. If the external candidate who eventually got the job had known about the internal candidates then they probably would have assumed they were the sham candidate, but they ended up being hired.

        It all just sucks, from either side. Lots of sympathy for OP on this one.

    3. I Said Hey! (Nonny Nonny and a Ho Ho Ho)*

      That is such a tough situation! For what it’s worth, for as much as this type of situation feels unfair, I would push back against assuming that it was a waste of your time to interview with them! And I don’t mean the usual platitude of “any interview is good practice!” and all that, but also because I have seen from the other side how these things can, and do, play out! I have been on hiring panels where the incumbent actually did not get hired because the external candidate won out when it came down to comparing credentials and potential etc.

      I know that bitter feeling well and I wish you the best in navigating a successful job search!

    4. allathian*

      I’m sorry. When our former manager retired recently, they hired the external candidate rather than the interim manager, who had been doing a great job in her first management role. Our former manager wanted to quit management before retiring, and she went on a job rotation to a sister agency. Because she was still technically on our payroll, and they couldn’t hire anyone in that position permanently until she retired. Now the interim manager is on job rotation elsewhere, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she never returns to us. In spite of her disappointment at not being selected for the job, she was very professional in handing over the team to our new manager, even when all of us were WFH. The transition was so smooth that I hardly noticed any difference. She left because she wanted the new manager to be able to learn and do her job without any unintentional interference from her, although no doubt leaving also made it easier for her to get over her disappointment.

  19. Elizabeth*

    Is there a way to teach nebulous skills like how to read a room, how to read people, code-switching, defining why a light comment is ok with vendor A but never for vendor B, etc? 2/3’s of my team understand these things without ever needing to have any input from me but the last employee just does not. Some of it is a lack of experience (he was an internal promotion from the warehouse that I inherited) but some of it is that he’s stubbornly resistant to anything he deems as “not being allowed to have a personality.” I can address the specific incidents clearly, but I’m struggling to explain the umbrella aspects since both myself and the rest of my team understand the culture on almost an instinctive level.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think you’re looking for soft skills training. It was a big thing when I trained customer service oh so many years ago.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I took an emotional intelligence training at my company a few years ago, and one of the things I liked about it was the first part of the course was “why is emotional intelligence important?” The trainer talked about how once workers have a threshold level of technical competence, emotional intelligence separates the ones who receive raises and promotions from the ones who don’t, because they are able to build strong relationships with coworkers and therefore accomplish more things.

      It sounds like he might benefit from a “why is this important?” conversation before the “here’s how to have better soft skills/more emotional intelligence” conversation.

      1. Observer*

        It sounds like he might benefit from a “why is this important?” conversation before the “here’s how to have better soft skills/more emotional intelligence” conversation.

        Yes. And if that conversation doesn’t change him, consider managing him out. The problem here is not his ability, but that he doesn’t think he needs to try or learn.

    3. Kes*

      I think you have two problems here: one, that he doesn’t get these things, and two, that he’s not willing to take feedback, and you’re not likely to be able to solve one if you can’t get past two, which is a real problem

    4. ErgoBun*

      That “not being allowed to have a personality” strikes me as a concern. It seems very close to the sort of mindset of someone who believes they should be able to say whatever they want and anyone who’s offended is the one with the problem. Do you get that kind of sense from them?

      1. Elizabeth*

        I do; reading the comments is really clarifying that it’s not exactly the EQ I’m struggling with, I’m giving more credit to his questions/objections than I should be. I’m starting to recognize that it’s not that he doesn’t understand – it’s that he doesn’t want to have to understand it because it doesn’t fit his narrative. And that is a whole different discussion.

        1. ErgoBun*

          I was afraid of that but I’m glad you’re seeing the situation more clearly! I’ve managed employees in very similar situations, and I have just one piece of advice that my manager told me: The person you’re managing has to do the changing. You can’t force them to change, and it’s not a failure of management if they don’t absorb your coaching and improve because of it. Your report is creating is own situation, and there is only so much you can do for him.

          1. Elizabeth*

            I wish I could heart that advice. It’s now on a sticky in my journal. The next few weeks will be tough; I’ll discuss with my manager next week but it’ll be an improvement plan, or like Observer mentioned, managing him out.

    5. Beth*

      You can only teach someone who is willing to 1) admit they don’t know a particular thing, 2) believe that it exists, 3) admit it’s worth learning, 4) accept that they have to change from someone who doesn’t know it to someone who does. I think you’re 0 for 4 on this guy.

    6. Kathenus*

      One aspect of your situation is his comments about his personality. For that part, it can help to be very clear that you are not asking him to change his personality, but that he needs to change some of his behaviors. That’s not the same thing, so being specific on the difference can at least help diffuse that as a standard argument as to why he can’t/won’t do anything differently.

    7. Leilah*

      Perhaps if you frame it as How he can help himself? Sometimes you need to do these things in order to get your own priorities moving forward. It’s not about something wrong with you, it’s about having these skills in order to meet your own goals and move your own work forward.

    8. HR Exec Popping In*

      This isn’t something that “training” can address. Something like should be handled with on the spot or shortly after coaching from a manager. For example, after a meeting spend some time debriefing what happened. Discuss the different styles and preferences of different vendors. Ask what they noticed when they entered the room, what was the tone? Where people laughing and chatting? Or where they serious and concentrating on the topic being discussed?

    9. Database Developer Dude*

      Code switching? Just ask any of us minorities who work in a corporate setting. We all have to do it and have gotten good at it.

  20. Anon and Exhausted*

    Are there any large companies in the US that handle maternity leave in a positive way for the folks that are left behind?

    I’ve been at my company for just over 3 years. In that time my manager has (rightfully!) taken 3 separate 6 month maternity leaves. There is no coverage plan when she’s gone aside from the rest of us (mainly me) picking up extra duties the whole time. Additionally, my peers and I aren’t allowed to join leadership meetings or chat groups that are only for managers, so we just operate with SIGNIFICANTLY less information than we need during this time, because our usual manner of getting that info is gone.

    This means we have more work to do, but less information on priorities, budgets, headcount, and overall “what we should and shouldn’t care about”. The skip level manager is C Suite and nearly unavailable for us. However, we’re still expected to keep increasing our performance during these long periods of difficulty.

    Pardon my language but what the F*CK?!

    Shouldn’t we have:
    Another manager we can temporarily report to, and get info from?
    Or a temp hire manager who comes in a month or two before the leave, to learn from our manager, and then stays as our resource/leader during the leave?

    I feel so drained and exhausted every day.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Oh dang yea that sucks. Your company should at the very least assign an interim manager so you guys aren’t floating around directionless. It’s completely unrealistic that they leave a big hole on your team and expect you to operate as normal.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      Did you communicate this to your boss before her maternity leave (at least leaves 2 and 3, once you knew there was an issue)? She might not know there is a problem. You also have some proposed solutions, which you could bring up during the same conversation.

      1. Anon and Exhausted*

        Yes. Great point. She’s completely aware but doesn’t have much clout internally and was unable to help set up a better plan for leaves 2 and 3. By the time she’s preparing to leave, she’s often half unavailable due to medical appointments, and frankly I think it’s the leadership’s job (above her) to do better.

        1. Loulou*

          This sadly sounds so familiar. You’re right, when an organization doesn’t allocate the resources to actually cover someone’s leave, the best-organized manager in the world can’t compensate for it. How unfair for everyone.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ugh! When I was out on maternity leave for 14 weeks, my own boss set up regular meetings with my direct reports. I also talked to a peer of mine and asked her to be a resource for my reports in my absence on those things where her advice could be helpful (navigating politics, figuring out who to go to for information, etc.). It makes things somewhat easier that my direct reports are themselves managers, so they regularly attend management meetings. I think that if they don’t want you all attending management meetings or participating in management chats, someone who does those things should at least communicate with you to let you know about anything that would affect you. Or designate one person to be your team’s rep there, even if it’s mostly just to listen.

      Is your manager on leave right now? If so, I would maybe get together with your teammates and contact the skip level manager to say, “hey boss, we really want to make sure that we are able to work to our usual standard while Manager is on leave, and make sure that we’re able to cover everything we need to in her absence. But we’re finding that X, Y, and Z are causing the following problems for us. Can you help us figure out a way to resolve those issues?” If your whole team goes in on this together, it’s harder to ignore.

      1. Observer*

        The manager is on leave and she’s not the one who can appoint an interim or give people the access they need.

        This is a problem with the upper leadership, not the manager.

        1. WellRed*

          She knew she was going on leave and I question what sort of conversations and planning she had with her team.

        2. Raboot*

          It can be both. The first time she came back and realized it went badly, she should have made a plan for the next times. She’s perfectly entitled to leave without interruptions, but when she’s still in the office, advocating for her team is her most important job duty

          1. Observer*

            Well, by the time my response was posted, the OP had responded that the manager HAD in fact tried to do the planning, but the upper management won’t go allocate the resources and provide the access needed.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Where I work there’s a policy in place for a temporary internal promotion for this kind of thing. When someone’s out on long term leave (maternity, fmla, etc) a junior person is usually given a temporary pay bump and asked to step into the roll. Then they go back to their regularly scheduled programming afterwards. It’s not perfect, but imo it’s a reasonable way of handling things.

      Also: you get 6 months for maternity leave? I am extremely jealous. We just got approved for 3 months paid plus accrued sick leave, and that was a big deal.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh my gosh! Your company should be hiring a temp! They come in all levels. The way i’ve done in the past is to bring someone in at least a month before the incumbent goes on leave (esp if they’re manager level) and then the temp stays at least a month after the incumbent comes back from leave.
      Your company sucks! It’s one thing to wing it for a couple of weeks, but SIX MONTHS is ridiculous!

  21. Becky*

    Funny situation yesterday: My company uses JIRA for ticket tracking. Jira has the ability to add Watchers to an issue–if you are a watcher you will get email notifications when there are new comments or status changes, etc. Yesterday somehow 8000+ people (including myself) got added as watchers to a few different tickets. Cue a reply-all cascade of people saying “I don’t think I’m supposed to be on this ticket,” “please remove me from this ticket,” “I’m not involved with this project” etc.
    I went into Jira and manually removed myself as watcher but the email congestion it caused meant I was still getting some of the emails an hour later.

    1. cat socks*

      Oh no! I still don’t understand why people feel the need to reply-all. We use Jira as well and I have a rule to route all the Jira automated emails to a specific folder.

      1. Becky*

        I use a rule as well for my Jira emails.

        This was a new twist on the reply-all cascade as it didn’t require you to reply all–ANY reply to Jira would trigger it because Jira was doing the message distribution to all watchers.

  22. Schuyler*

    I went to a webinar last week about the difficulties people with disabilities have in finding jobs. It was simply disgusting to hear how people are treated. More than one of them said that they have arrived at an interview only to be told that the interview has been cancelled, or that they don’t need to take off their coat because the position is filled, etc. I blows my mind that someone would treat another person that way.

    1. Lead Balloon*

      I wasn’t hired because I didn’t make enough eye contact. I had told the interviewers that I was autistic because I was asking for adjustments for my interview.

      Apparently an accountant can’t communicate with clients without making eye contact.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Wow. That’s awful! I wish people would just do the interview. I bet they would be pleasantly surprised. And with so many jobs being remote, who cares if someone has a disability? (I mean that in the ‘can they do the job’ sense I’m personally sorry they have a disability, of course!) My company recently hired a disabled veteran and the only reason I know is because we’re both vets and got to chatting. They’re fully remote, working from home with the set up they need (we also do an annual home office allowance) and they’re doing great. We need them to program and deal with end users, not run a marathon or whatever.

  23. Fabulous*

    Just want to share I had an amazing second interview for an internal transfer this week (sprung on me, where I had to spend several hours preparing a presentation for them). I should hear back next week sometime.

    Well, I’ve been having dreams every night since Wednesday that I got the job.

    Cross fingers for me!!

  24. EPLawyer*

    so hubby is in manufacturing. There are a lot of POC he works with. For Black History Month they company decided that everyone was going to get a t-shirt and they would serve lunch. After reading here, I dreaded what the lunch would be. At least the company didn’t screw up too badly — Chipotle burritos.

    Except, what really happened is — lunch became I don’t know what. Hubby said he got a pizza (why I don’t know he doesn’t like pizza). No t-shirts were handed out because the HR person didn’t feel like bringing them down from the upstairs offices to the manufacturing floor. Mind you this is MANUFACTURING. There are dollies/carts to load the boxes onto. Also there is an elevator from upstairs to about 60 feet from the spot she set up.

    I guess it could have been worse.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I dunno, its not like they sent out a fried chicken recipe. At least by not following through they didn’t do something completely stupid.

  25. Foxgloves*

    I’ve been in my role for about two years now, and I’m starting to feel a little… stagnant. The pandemic threw my area of work/ expertise right into the spotlight, so the first 18-20 months were really intense and full on- and I LOVED it. Now the pandemic is settling down (in my location), I’m finding that attention on my area of work is waning within the organisation, and I’m starting to feel bored. The laser focus on my area meant that I was having lots of stretch opportunities, and now I’ve adjusted to those- and I’m not seeing much scope to create more stretch work for myself. Any thoughts on how to either create my own stretch projects, or speak to my boss about opportunities for growth in a way that don’t sound like I’m whining about being bored?!

    1. Me*

      Can you say something along the lines of the projects you dealt with durign the pandemic made you realize you really thrive doing xyz and now that the focus is shifting back to more day to day, you are interested in if there’s other projects that will let you flex your xyz skills.

      The phrasing is less, I’m bored, and more hey I really liked doing this type of stuff and I’d love to do more. What will happen is there will either be ways to do that, or there wont and you’ll know you need to look elsewhere for those opportunities.

      1. Stoppin' by to chat*

        +1 to this. No one is going to say you’re bored unless you say it, so focus more on how you found the previous schedule really gelled with how you think and like to work, and are open for opportunities to do more of that type of work.

  26. Marion Ravenwood*

    Tl;dr – what to do when you stop ‘acting up’ but still want to be given responsibilities and stretch goals?

    Firstly, thank you to the commenters who gave me advice on my internal job interview the other week – it was super helpful and I really appreciate it.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job. I got great feedback from my boss and grandboss – they both said I did a good job and gave some really good answers, liked my presentation idea and praised my ambition in applying – but the other candidates were a lot more experienced. That’s OK; sure I’m disappointed, but I knew it was a big step up for me and it probably came a bit too soon (my team is structured in such a way that this job probably won’t come up again for another couple of years at least, so I figured I might as well throw my hat in the ring, and I’d rather have tried and get a no than not tried at all).

    However, I’m now a bit uncertain about what happens next. I’ve been reading Alison’s old columns on ‘what to do if you didn’t get a promotion’ which have been very useful, and I fully intend to go into things with my new colleague in a gracious and supportive fashion and to learn from them as much as I can. And I’m aware that as they get to grips with the organisation there’ll still be a lot for me to do. But equally one of my big worries is that I’ll suddenly lose out on all the fun projects. I’ve really enjoyed being able to ‘act up’ and think I’ve done a pretty good job at it, and am a bit concerned that I’ll suddenly go back to not being able to do that stuff any more as the most junior member of the team. (Yes I know it sounds irrational and petty written down.)

    I’ve got a meeting with my boss next week where I’m hoping we can go through the feedback from my interview and talk about this stuff, and she’s already said that she’s happy to talk about training opportunities etc to help me develop further, so it isn’t like I’m going to be abandoned or not given opportunities to progress within the business. But if anyone’s got any scripts or ideas for how I can sort of allay those fears and reinforce that I do still want to be able to have opportunities to step up without treading on anyone’s toes, I’d be really grateful if you could share those.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. A Penguin!*

      It’s not irrational or petty. The fun stuff is why I go to this particular job. If a job runs out of fun stuff I look for the next one.

      The meeting planned sounds like a good step to making sure you keep some of the things you like doing. If there are specific tasks you’d like to continue being able to work on, I would name them explicitly to your boss. Also ask what it would take to be better positioned for the role you want the next time it comes up, and for help getting there. A good manager will want to help you develop in ways that interest you.

      You asked for scripts, so something like:
      “Can we put together a plan that will give me the experiences necessary to get this position in the future/the next time it comes around/in X years?” (whichever timeline makes sense for you)
      “I’m looking forward to working with NEW HIRE and learning from their experience, but I’m hoping to keep some of the current tasks that I find enjoyable. Can we distribute the work such that I will still be able to get experience with TASKS A, B, C?”
      “I really enjoy / want to learn more about TASK A, can we make sure I will still have opportunities to do work like that as the department grows?”

    2. Wheee!*

      It’s not irrational or petty at all! I relate to this SO MUCH. We’ve been understaffed for a long time and I was the only person on my sub-team (one larger team, several disciplines), and I’ve been responsible for a huge portion of our project and involved in almost everything. Fast forward to now, I actually have two people on my sub-team who are WAY more experienced than me. I’m thrilled to have them on board and learn from them. (And not feel like I’m constantly drowning) But…in some ways it sucks not being THE person who is involved and responsible for all the things. It’s been tough to transition and remember to shunt stuff to the appropriate person or let them take the lead instead of just doing whatever I’d normally do.

      Not much advice, but I think you can just be straightforward about the whole thing. It’s not unreasonable to say “Now that new person is coming in, how do you see my role changing? Would I still be involved in X or Y? I’m particularly interested in/enjoying working on X. Do you see that happening in the next Z months?”. If you’re worried your bosses might think that you’re bitter about it, you can first talk about being happy to have a more senior person on board and looking forward to learning from them. If you know specifics about the new person and past focuses, add those too! Good luck! (I think A Penguin!’s scripts are better than mine)

  27. Skye*


    In relaying an old food service story to a coworker at current job (a lady was calling us racist for asking her to not film us), my coworker decided that it’s a hilarious joke to respond to things I say as ‘racist’. An example: “I have trouble with black coffee, too bitter for me” will get a response of “that’s racist”. “Hm, this looks like a llama report rather than an alpaca report because [xyz].”/”That’s racist.”

    For context I am white and he is not; we’re both at about the same amount of experience/time here and have the same amount of authority and responsibility.

    I know he’s joking, but it’s not one I like and I’ve asked him to stop, which got a weird kinda double down response? Like I’m… Being actually racist to ask him to not call me racist *as a joke*? I don’t think I’m being over sensitive here, it’s not a good look, and if I am being racist I want to not be desensitized by this joke-pattern and take it seriously.

    I know the answer is to again request him to stop using that as a joke, and use less softening language than before. I just need a reality check that I’m not being weird or sensitive about this.

    1. Littorally*

      I don’t think you’re being too sensitive — though, I will admit, I am also white. To evaluate this, I’m drawing comparisons with my own marginalized identities, and these are never 1-for-1 analogies. So I’ll defer to other people’s opinions on that.

      Your point about wanting to make sure that ‘hey, that’s racist’ remains something that is an immediate spur for action for you is a good one, and in your shoes that’s what I’d lean on. Something like — “Hey, I know you’re meaning it as a joke, but I don’t want to learn to laugh at being told that.” You definitely do not need to lecture a nonwhite coworker about how important anti-racism is, just draw your boundary and give a solid reason why.

      This is the kind of thing that can totally be a benign and funny joke, you’re just not the right audience for it. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

        1. Littorally*

          I mean, maybe you don’t technically need to, but I’d say it’s what’s likely to get the best outcome. A white person telling a nonwhite person not to joke about racism feels real weird to me if you can’t or won’t give a reason beyond ‘I don’t like that.’

            1. Skye*

              Yep! I like your phrasing, for this, to go ‘I don’t want to learn to laugh about it ‘. It’s definitely not about stopping jokes about racism, and I do genuinely think he has good intentions and isn’t trying to bully me. (It’s a ‘joke’ that happens maybe twice a week, and I didn’t post this last week because I had thought he had let it go tbh.) I’m going to try this phrasing before going with blank looks and stares, as this job relies heavily on teamwork and collaboration and I would prefer to solve this with minimal fuss.

    2. cookie monster*

      I’m not white and it sorta feels like he is bullying you. What does he say if you asks him what exactly is racist? I’d mention that using the word as a joke devalues it for when someone really means it. You’re definitely on the right side of this, he’s being extremely weird.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I could be wrong, but it seems to me that, if the shoe were on the other foot, he’d complain about it pinching his toes.

        You’re right about the cultural danger of watering down a serious issue.

        Not to mention the semi-rational response that being called racist over something trivial could reinforce some negative stereotypes about race relations and undermine someone’s willingness to speak out against actual racism.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Here’s the thing: I would find that funny, but I am not you. I also have a really dark, nasty sense of humor and it doesn’t work for everyone. “I don’t find that funny” or “ok, that joke is old ” should be enough. He’s being a jerk. I have worked with (and dated, shoot) plenty of jerks like that, and he’s wrong. “Dude, please stop” might need to be applied more than once. You’re not being racist because you don’t find it funny.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’d be tempted next time he does it to say something like “I thought this was just a joke but I’m getting concerned that you bring it up so often. Do you actually feel like I’m being racist? Please let me know so I can stop!”

      It sounds unlikely in this case, but people do sometimes “joke” like this when they mean it but don’t want to seem harsh or confrontational… so if that’s what he’s doing this might force him to be more direct about it. If he’s truly joking, it will hopefully make it clear that the joke isn’t landing.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      The real solution SHOULD be “Hey, I’m doing a lot on my end to avoid racist thinking, and making jokes like this sorta freezes my brain while I work out whether I have actually crossed a boundary — so that joke doesn’t seem funny to me. Could you cut it out?”

      However, it seems like he’s completely disregarding your request. So now you get to do the Blank Stare And Ask Them To Explain The Joke thing. Drop all the awkward right back on his plate.

      Or you could come up with a cringy and off-topic catch phrase of your own when he does it. “OK, Sports Fan.” Just really derail the conversation so that the payoff lands flat.

      1. Xena*

        I second the recommendation for the Blank Stare/Explanation. To me it sounds the fact that he’s joking about racism is throwing you off; he’s making an unfunny joke and doubles down when you ask him to stop. Time to return the awkward to sender.

        I also agree with Aspiring Chicken Lady that as a reasonable person who is trying to be supportive of their fellow humans, being constantly told “you’re racist” would start a reflexive mental run through what I’d just done to try and figure out what I was doing wrong.

    6. Observer*

      Also if he claims that you “just can’t take a joke”, lean into it. “Yup, I’m humor challenged. Now can we deal with getting the correct report?”

    7. Lady Danbury*

      I’m not white and I’d be hugely uncomfortable in that situation if I were you. As a Black person, I’d joke that way with other Black people, though maybe not in the workplace. I wouldn’t do it with non-Black people because the dynamics of being accused of racism and awareness of actual racism are different. I also wouldn’t want to downplay or desensitize the issue of racism, which is absolutely still an issue in the workplace (and in life).

  28. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I’m NOT trying to start a vaccination fight, so a pre-emptive ask to be understanding that decisions have already been made and I am asking about what places are thinking long term.

    So we have one unvaccinated employee, and for our return to office in March we decided the office is going to require vaccinations. Her job can be done remote, and we said we’ll keep her remote and reassess in a year. I don’t want to get into revealing territory but I promise this is legal/equitable/fine in the details. She’s pretty devastated but glad to keep her job.

    She’s worried this means she’s never coming back, and while we’ve set a reassess point…is she right? Do you think vaccination requirements are going to be in place for the long haul? Should we be planning for this for the next…two years? Five? Indefinitely? What are other places projecting?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Is it safe to assume she’s *choosing* not to be vaccinated? I could be more sympathetic if she had a legitimate medical reason, but otherwise — she’s making this choice to not be vaccinated and therefore not come in to the office; I’m not really sure why that’s so devastating.

      that said, unless there’s a state mandate (which in all honesty will probably get dropped at some point), it’s really up to the company whether to drop it, isn’t it? I suspect that outside of healthcare and congregate living settings, a covid vaccine will not continue to be a requirement for years to come, but it’s hard to say at this point.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yes it’s a choice, and we’re all a little…not sympathetic…ourselves. But she’d be difficult to replace and this is an accommodation we can deal with. It specifically adds some pressure to my job but my boss realizes that and we’re talking about expanding another role to accommodate it (with compensation for that role of course).

        I guess I’m wondering less about regulation and more about norms. It’s not required now, it just is the best choice.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I think what you’re doing is the best course for this. There’s no way to tell how the next 6 months or year will go, as much as we’d all like to know! She’s choosing that uncertainty for herself, to a degree, and that’s…just how it is.

        2. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

          I’d be wary only from the perspective of that could set a remarkably difficult precedent if your company ever tries to hire another position. “But you allowed X to WFH” sort of thing.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Without going into too much detail we’re very transparent about decisions that impact different work schedules and why exceptions are made for whatever the cases may be. This may be an issue in the future but it’s one we’re braced for.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      If public health experts and epidemiologists can’t predict what’s going to happen, no one else is going to be able to either.

      That’s not trying to brush your question off, but in six months we could have another variant that’s more deadly, less deadly, and you’ll want that taken into account for any rules. Especially since chopping and changing rules frequently is going to be more stressful for employees.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Totally. I think that’s where my question is coming from – I know I might just be screaming into the void but SOME idea of what the world will look like in moving forward…something I’m desperate for I guess. I’m so sick of writing policies and answering questions that basically end in “this is for now, I just don’t know”.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I think, like someone said below, it’s worthwhile saying how often the current measures are going to be re-evaluated AND having guidance on how quickly implementation will take.

          You don’t want to be the company going ‘well we had a senior leadership/board meeting yesterday, everyone needs to be in next week!’, but ‘The current rules will be re-evaluated every quarter/six months with 2-4 weeks notice of any changes’ will help employees feel a lot more secure.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            That’s fair. We have given a month’s notice, and been transparent about our processes for making decisions. But we’ve been tying timing more to number spikes than to regular intervals. I think because sometimes things have been changing quicker than we could set a schedule for.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              I think it might be worth looking changes your processes to be proactive rather than reactive, if the numbers allow for it.

          2. Storm in a teacup*

            This is what we’ve been doing and also evaluate each time there is new government guidance. As my boss says – it’s not the ‘new normal’ but the ‘next normal’

            Also we’ve got a return to work employee committee to look at things such as timings/ hybrid working policies etc and so many things we’ve already identified from a practical perspective that’ll make the transitions easier (eg software to run hybrid meetings)

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I’m watching carefully how my company responds to this. We have one (note: I’m trying to be as respectful to him as I am to others, even if he is an utter glassbowl) coworker who refuses to mask and refuses to be vaccinated.

      His refusal to follow protocols prevented him from entry to the office while those protocols were in place. He opted to work from home, which was interesting, as he’s always disparaged WFH as for “sissies who have a sniffle and working mothers who think they can hold down a man’s job”.

      There have been rumors of a vaccination requirement/mask + testing, but the OSHA ruling seems to have pushed this off a bit.

      I’m trying to not visibly react in any manner at the fact that his “natural immunity” means he was knocked flat by a second round of Covid within 6 months time, because again, I am trying to show the same respect I do my other coworkers. He does not make this easy at all.

      1. Becky*

        as he’s always disparaged WFH as for “sissies who have a sniffle and working mothers who think they can hold down a man’s job”.

        Well he just sounds like a peach, doesn’t he! /s

      2. Ali + Nino*

        ‘His refusal to follow protocols prevented him from entry to the office while those protocols were in place. He opted to work from home, which was interesting, as he’s always disparaged WFH as for “sissies who have a sniffle and working mothers who think they can hold down a man’s job”.’

        Wow, sounds…lovely.

      3. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        “as he’s always disparaged WFH as for “sissies who have a sniffle and working mothers who think they can hold down a man’s job”.”

        This employee has a problem that has nothing to do with masking or vaccination status. Those comments are ableist and sexist, and should be reported to HR. They also indicate that he will not treat disabled and women colleagues and employees fairly. I would never, ever expect a male colleague to give me a fair shake if he disparaged my career as “thinking I can hold down a man’s job.”

          1. Workerbee*

            I think this is where we get tangled up too much when encountering jackholes your coworker. Too often, “not sinking to their level” winds up just allowing or even enabling the jackhole to keep being a jackhole. In your space. Every work day. In thoughts over the weekend.

            Makes me wonder if the whole sink-to-their-level concern wasn’t put about by the creeps themselves, so they can keep on with their fine selves unaccosted and without accountability.

            1. ErgoBun*

              This is also where I fall on the question of “sinking to their level.” You can hold someone accountable for their behavior without mudslinging … but I fully recognize that doing so is HARD.

              1. NotRealAnonForThis*

                I don’t disagree with you ErgoBun (or several others up thread). He’s very attention seeking, so I mostly choose to ignore him completely. In a just world, he’d be reported to HR and sacked. My industry is not a just world. Its slowly changing, but slowly. Its the reality I deal with. I do what I am able to do in order to force the change, and force it more quickly where I can.

      4. Macaroni Penguin*

        Your coworker made me go 0_o . Bless his heart.

        I’m expecting the vaccination expectations to be permanent. At least in my social work type field.

    4. bunniferous*

      I think a year reevaluation should be fine. None of us knows what the landscape will look like in a year anyway. She can work remotely so, not out of a job-and if for any reason this is not acceptable for her she can always search for a job with different requirements.

      I would think this is a best case scenario for handling things. My personal opinion is a year should be plenty of time to ascertain what new normal will look like for the foreseeable future.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “My personal opinion is a year should be plenty of time to ascertain what new normal will look like for the foreseeable future.”

        I really really really hope you’re right…though I may have said the same thing 18 months ago.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh, I remember a year ago saying “everything will be different in a year.” And it is but it also isn’t. :-(

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Do you have a plan in place for the reassessment? Like, you can’t know what the world will look like at that point, but what conditions would need to be in place for her to come back?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        My very high level thought right now is “her return would not make a reasonable person feel unsafe”. So that’s probably some public health assessment that we’ve achieved herd immunity or COVID is at an endemic status where it’s more or less a flu. And that our relatively small staff is in a place with their personal and family health situations that they are not being put at more risk than they would be grabbing a coffee or taking the train. Also that the norms in other organizations becomes dropping restrictions to the point that we’re reflecting a culture our clients feel comfortable with. And also maybe that enough time has passed that she won’t be triggering pandemic trauma for people. The last might be overreaching but that’s the ideal world I envision. The other points I think are more realistic.

    6. A Penguin!*

      There’s definitely precedent for permanent vaccine requirements for other diseases (school, international travel come to mind). I wouldn’t be shocked if Covid gets added to those lists. Vaccine requirements for jobs doesn’t have a precedent that I know of, but I do think some jobs will end up keeping Covid vax requirements indefinitely.

      1. Imtheone*

        Exactly! Covid will be with us forever. If vaccinated, it will be more like the flu— occasionally very dangerous, but most often mild. To get to that place everyone in the world needs to be vaccinated.

    7. Siege*

      I mean, yes. Polio vaccines were still recommended in the US until 2000, even though it was eradicated here in 1979. I can’t imagine a circumstance where a company can just drop a requirement for a vaccine for a disease that is endemic, and we’re clearly a long way from eradicating COVID. We have vaccination requirements for diseases that are much less common and better understood, I can’t imagine that changing. Maybe the question should be what she needs to change her stance? Not in a hostile way, but if she’s using the emergency authorization excuse (I know it’s invalid, I don’t know what it’s shifted to) maybe she sees a point at which she will vaccinate?

      FTR, we so far have not been required to prove it, but I’m planning to force management to make it a requirement in perpetuity. I’m a cardiac patient, I don’t want to be exposed.

      1. Barb*

        Polio vaccines are still very much recommended and required for school in the US and will continue to be for some time even if it’s finally eradicated world wide

    8. HR Exec Popping In*

      I work for a big corporation. The reality is nobody knows. All you can do is communicate what you do know and share more information as it becomes available. I know people are uncomfortable with that but it is our reality.

      As for what I think will happen, eventually (hopefully) vaccination against covid will not be needed but when that will happen is anyone’s guess.

      But what you can do it tell your employee that right now you don’t have any plans on requiring her to return to the office and you are comfortable with allowing her to work remotely. This will be revisited in the future and you will keep her updated if anything happens that might change the current status quo.

    9. mreasy*

      That’s what we’re doing with our unvaccinated employees.

      I don’t have intel from above about it but I assume this means they’ll eventually be let go if they don’t vaccinate.

      I also don’t love the idea that someone gets to avoid return to office due to their anti-social and anti-science decision – as a person who would love to WFH forever & is fully vaxxed.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        In the case of my office the grand majority of people are eager to return – including this employee. It’s definitely not being seen as a privilege. It’s landing more as ostracization.

    10. Anon for This*

      A Doctor I know speculates that COVID will end up being like the flu, and we will need to get annual vaccinations. The question is how serious COVID remains. I am aware of very few workplaces that require the flu vaccine, though there are some. But if COVID continues to be virulent, and annual boosters are required, this could become an annual exercise. I’m sorry.

    11. Sunny*

      I would assume indefinitely, meaning until COVID risks have been significantly minimized I wouldn’t see it changing. I think your plan to reassess in a year or so is a good one. Maybe the company could set some guidelines they’d be looking for (ex under X number of hospitalizations in your area, under X number of deaths from COVID over a period of time) so that way the employee would have an idea beforehand of where things are trending.

    12. Come On Eileen*

      My company is instituting a “be vaccinated or test weekly” policy. Could you consider that? There’s a ton of places where you can get a rapid test/results in an hour, so maybe she’d be willing to test if it meant she could then come into the office that week.

    13. 867-5309*

      While the current variants do cause fewer severe outcomes, they are more viral than say, the flu. As others have noted, there is no way to predict future variants.

      Perhaps the best you can do is give an indication of the scenarios under which you would be comfortable with her back in the office. For example, when public health experts say it is now akin to the flu in both severity, virality and vaccine efficacy.

    14. SnappinTerrapin*

      We’ve learned a lot about this virus in the past couple of years. It’s reasonable to assume we will continue to learn more.

      That being the case, and given that this accommodation meets the needs of company and employees, it seems reasonable to reassess in a year, and see what looks reasonable at that time.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Whether the requirements stay in place or not, people who choose not to be vaccinated in defiance of public health or job requirements are making a statement about their values.

      It is well-nigh impossible to keep someone in a job long term when there is a fundamental conflict between the organization’s values and the individual’s values. The job may bend as long as the role is hard to fill, but the person who is out of alignment is burning up their capital and damaging their standing with peers and leadership. It’s probably not going to work out in the long run.

    16. Anony*

      This seems like a win win for everyone involved, to be honest. Even the vaccinations and the definition of “vaccinated” may significantly change in a year. I think when you don’t know for sure it’s better to acknowledge that.

  29. Littorally*

    Topic: What are your tips for success in learning a new role fully remotely?

    I’m going to be starting a new and exciting role at my firm in a couple weeks (hurray!) but I will be fully remote from the entire rest of the team — not just due to WFH, but they are all in different regional offices, so there isn’t even an option to come in one day to observe or anything like that.

    This is the first time I’ve dealt with this — in the past, even when training was *mostly* remote, I had other team members on site with me and I could ask them direct questions or observe what they were doing to improve my own performance. I learn best by observing others before trying for myself. This time, that’s just not an option at all.

    I know I’m behind the curve ball on this, since plenty of people have learned new jobs from their living rooms over the past two years. For those of you who have done, what helped you the most to learn in the absence of colleagues close by?

    1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      My team is fully remote. When we have new people come on, they shadow veteran team members for the first few days using Teams with screen sharing; the next few days they are still paired with a veteran team member, but the new person is doing the job and sharing their own screen so the trainer can help them.

      I’m not sure if your new role is a newly created position or just new to you, but if there are others in the same role, you may be able to use similar strategies.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I started a new 8 months ago, fully remote. One of the things I did to learn, because I also learn best by observation and implementation was ask to watch my colleagues as they did tasks that I would also be doing so I could ask questions, and then once I had a handle on it, I’d ask them to watch me as I worked through the task so I could ask questions along the way. It was a lot of video meetings, but it was very, very helpful.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve been working with remote teams (including training and onboarding) for the last eight years, and yep, this is how we do it — lots of screen-share shadowing and teams calls/chats.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      I started remote over a year ago with a fully remote team. What helped me was really using the chat and call features in Teams and not being shy about reaching out to new colleagues if I didn’t know how to do something. And on my first day, I sent introduction emails to my team and asked if they had any advice to share. I got some incredibly helpful responses – one guy gave me a PowerPoint that used to be shared with new hires but got phased out, and another sent me a bunch of different internal doc templates.

    4. MacGillicuddy*

      Being able to record any training sessions or shadowing sessions is very helpful. You can rerun them as needed.

      Also using screen sharing so whoever is training you can observe you doing a task, while they give play-by-play comments. You can rerun the session so you can take notes. Or if you’ve been provided with training materials, you can augment with your own notes while you watch the reruns.

      My problem with trainers saying “here, newbie, you watch while I do this” is it assumes that the newbie has great auditory memory. Not everybody does (and it has nothing to do with intelligence). In those situations the trainer goes too quickly for the newbie to take meaningful notes. And the trainee often doesn’t know where to focus, especially if the trainer is clicking around the screen at the speed they usually go, not at the much slower speed needed for the trainee to follow. Being able to replay recordings of training sessions is huge.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, our onboarding always has a show/explain and then at least two where one of the learners shares their screen and demos while the teacher helps if they get stuck. For the show/explain, lots of pauses and check-ins – everyone caught up? and breaking out with the backup teacher for anyone who gets super stuck. 1 on 1 with screen share, I try to have the learner share with me guiding – helps folks to remember better IME.

  30. Lilac and Gooseberries*

    Got some potentially loaded questions for the freelancers out there!

    I’ve got a few leads for some contract work to do that will help start building my portfolio. Once things are built out, when I market my business and have a potential client, would it be better to charge for a consultation, and if a client likes my work, I can put that charge towards their contract with me? Should I do a free consultation and then charge after the first hour? Or charge for the consultation and leave it up to the client? Or just free consultation regardless if they use my services or not?

    Also, the contract itself! I land a client, they want me to do work for them. Should I invest in a lawyer or a legal service to draft something, or could I do this on my own? I see some contract stuff at big box office stores, would those be sufficient in the beginning? If I go the legal service route, what is something or some things to include in a contract no one thinks of right away?

    1. Xena*

      Not a free-lancer, but adding a recommendation: it sounds like you plan on doing full-time freelancing or make it the majority of your work. If that is the case, I STRONGLY recommend getting a contract drafted by a contract lawyer that can be your generic contract that you give to clients. Contract law & the uniform commercial code are really simple until they aren’t and a contract lawyer will probably have a much better idea of the critical things to include in the contract simply because they see a whole lot more of them.

    2. Imtheone*

      Some trade associations offer advice on being a freelance contractor/consultant. I know people in design who have found that helpful.

      1. 867-5309*

        There is also a Freelancer’s Union that is doing good work legislatively on changing laws so big companies cannot delay payment to individuals by months and months. They have many great resources.

    3. 867-5309*

      I have freelanced/consulted on and off throughout my career. Answering your questions 1 by 1.

      1. I don’t charge for an initial consultation. (In marketing.) I’m willing to have a 30-60 minute chat to talk through their needs and see if I can help, and sometimes they just need a word or two of advice, which I’m happy to give. After that, I usually recap the conversation and if appropriate, share my rates as part of the next steps or for future consults.

      2. A fellow marketing freelance shared their contract, which was done by an attorney, with me and it has worked well. When it’s a consultant-based contract there is less risk than with goods or services like selling homemade windchimes or doing landscape. For the latter, I would want something customized to my business.

      3. Things to think about: a.) determine the termination clause – under what circumstances and timelines. b.) clearly articulate your payment terms (e.g., consider in advance if you want all payment up front, a down payment and then final with project completion, payment at specific benchmarks) and then also clearly state what happens regarding payment if a contract is terminated partway through the project. c.) Always use a contract with family and friends. d.) Include EVERYTHING in the contract, including if you plan to work onsite one day a week or remain fully remote; account management time, etc. e.) Some companies will require that you do not work with competitors for a window of time after your work with them is complete. Name the specific competitors (not industries) and be clear on the timeline. For example, if you consultant for Facebook, do not say that you will not do similar work for another social media channel for six months. Instead, say, “I will not do internal communications for companies including Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest for a period of 90 days from the date I complete my final project to Facebook, determined as when I send the final invoice.”

    4. RagingADHD*

      I wouldn’t recommend charging for a consultation unless you are already a “name” in your field and have people lining up to hire you.

      In some fields it is customary to charge a relatively small fee for a work sample. But not just to talk to you and see if you can help them.

      Generally there’s a consultation which includes a discussion of scope and fees. Then you give them an estimate. Then possibly negotiation or changes to scope. Then you go to contract.

    5. Lady Danbury*

      As a lawyer, I HIGHLY recommend getting a lawyer drafted contract. And not legal zoom or something similar. There are tons of small business law firms out there offering contract templates on a flat fee basis. Think of it as an investment in your business that can save you thousands in the long run. A good lawyer should be able to advise you on what your contracts should cover. Some of the biggies include indemnity/limitation of liability, payment terms (when/how to pay, what are your remedies if they don’t pay on time, etc), termination (ideally you want to be able to terminate for any reason if they become a problem client. Otherwise, you should at least list specific reasons for termination that reflect problem clients in your industry), client responsibilities (to provide information, equipment, cooperation, etc) and what happens if they don’t fulfil those responsibilities (including an option to terminate), intellectual property (Who owns the work that you create? What about licenses? Any use restrictions?) and confidentiality/publicity (what is/isn’t considered confidential, can you publicly share that they’re a client, etc). You may also want to consider adding dispute resolution and change control terms, depending on the nature and scope of the contract. If you’re worried about industry specific issues, find a lawyer that specializes in your industry.

      Charging for consultations can be industry and location specific. Figure out what similar consultants are doing in your area and follow their lead. You can also limit free consultations to a shorter time (15-20 minutes) and then charge for longer strategy calls (or whatever the industry terminology would be).

  31. Beth Jacobs*

    My large company is offering its employees a volunteer work day. We’d be removing invasive plants in a nearby national park.
    I really want to sign up! I love the great outdoors and would really appreciate the chance to get to know some people outside of my immediate team (I joined the company in March 2020, so I’ve worked remotely for a good chunk of my tenure and have attended no teambuilding events).
    The problem is that I’m a rather anxious person and I think in this case my anxiety is holding me back. First of all, I’ve never gardened and am worried I won’t be any use. Furthermore, I’m super nervous about interacting with coworkers in such an informal setting, in gardening clothes and without being able to lean on my expertise for confidence. What if I’m just embarrassingly clumsy and awkward?

    Can I get a sanity check whether any of my fears are grounded in reality?

    1. Alldogsarepuppies*

      These types of volunteer days tend to be geared to all levels of skill – they’ll have a job for you so you can cross that fear off. For the second one, I get overly anxious about social interactions and sometimes legit practice them out loud (to my bf or the mirror of my bff over video chat) so when I do start talking about [insert casual topic here] its much easier.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Seconding this – if the National Park needed trained people to remove the invasive plants, they’d have trained people to do it. If they’re offering non-botany-related workplaces to come in to do it as a “volunteer day,” you can safely assume that they’ll teach you everything you need to know on the job.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes. My daughter (a grad student at U. of Florida) has done this 2 or 3 times in a local park. You can’t really mess anything up – the worst that can happen is that you’re not very good at pulling out invasive plants. Which is very different from gardening.

    2. londonedit*

      I understand why you’re feeling anxious, but I don’t think any of those fears will end up being reality. Everyone will probably feel a bit out of place, and if you feel anxious when you get there, just own it – I find people respond really well when someone is open about their worries in a situation like that. You could say ‘I’ve never done any gardening before, but I’m excited about pitching in – I hope if I’m pointed in the right direction I won’t go too far wrong!’ or ‘Gosh it’s a bit odd being at work in my old clothes!’ or something similarly lighthearted to break the ice. And I really don’t think everyone else is going to turn out to be an expert gardener – and even if they do, hands-on work getting rid of unwanted plants isn’t really the place for expert gardeners to shine. As long as you’re happy to muck in and do whatever needs to be done, you’ll be fine! And if you’re not sure about something, ask – the ‘Never done this before, need a bit of help’ card never goes amiss and people will be happy to help.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You are waaaaaaay overthinking this.

      It takes no gardening skills to whack at a weed with a hoe or a trowel. Most people have no gardening skills! Either the park service will send someone out with your crew to help with recognizing invasive plants, or they’ll give you 30 minutes of training and then some laminated cards or something.

      There will be no penalties if you miss one sprig of invasive giant Patagonia llama-weed, or accidentally dig up a rhododendron. Removing invasive plants is a multi-year process, and nobody will expect a crew of volunteer amateurs to do a 100% job.

      As far as awkward and clumsy – everybody is going to be on the same ground (literally)! Everybody is going to trip over a rock or a root. Everybody is going to drop a tool. Everybody is going to have to stop to retie their shoes.
      Everybody is going to get a little dirty and a little sweaty.

      Go, have fun, just engage in small talk with your coworkers, get a little dirty, do a nice thing for the park.

      1. new worker bee*

        What’s funny about you mentioning rhododendrons is they are actually an invasive species in the UK, so depending on which side of the pond Beth is on, she might be supposed to dig up the rhodies!

    4. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Your fears are not grounded in reality! This is exactly the kind of purposeful event that is helpful for networking/icebreaking. You are all gathered together for one reason (pulling weeds… I mean, to each their own but I’m glad you’re jazzed about it), which provides instant conversational fodder and a reason to bond. I can’t imagine anybody else judging participants for what they are wearing to garden (?) or their weeding technique (??). Sign up ASAP!

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. This sounds like a great opportunity to bond a bit in a no pressure setting and do some good at the same time.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think you should sign up. But ask any questions that might be concerning: Will there be training? (My guess is Yes, because they don’t want people removing the wrong plants!) Is it soli or in teams? How will the teams be determined? What should you bring/wear?

      Do you have a work friend you can ask to sign up for moral support?

    6. MansplainerHater*

      I managed volunteer days in a National Park! In my experience, they were specifically geared towards physical abilities of all skill levels, did not require any botanical or horticultural knowledge beforehand, and were just supposed to be fun! If you want to make yourself the favorite person there, bring extra snacks/drinks for everyone. I was so poor and undernourished when I worked there — volunteer days were when we felt like we could share our passion for natural resource protection with outside folks, but also get some granola bars/coffee!!

    7. K*

      We did exactly the same thing for our volunteer day and it was great! And you definitely don’t need any prior skills. I also feel quite awkward in group settings (especially after 2 years of lockdowns and WFH) but find this kind of group activity easier in that you all have a shared goal that automatically gives you something to talk about. In our case everyone including the director spent the day madly hacking away at those poor invasive plants, and it was great fun (and very cathartic!), especially as we had barely spent any time together in person since the pandemic began. I highly recommend you sign up, I don’t think you’ll regret it!

    8. This Old House*

      I can almost guarantee that none of your other coworkers have experience removing invasive plants, either, except that one guy who is passionate about invasive plant removal and has been advocating for this project for years while everyone ignores him because 99% of the population never thinks about invasive plants. You will all be on the same footing, except for that guy (who may end up more popular or significantly less popular because of it).

      I’d be just as anxious about informal situations with coworkers I don’t know well, but if invasive plant removal was something many people knew a lot – or anything – about, we’d have much less of an invasive plant problem!

      (Can you guess I’d be that guy at my workplace?)

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      Do it! As a lifelong gardener, I can promise you that there is zero skill required for pulling weeds. There will undoubtedly be someone there who will tell you what the weeds look like and the best way to eradicate them. Don’t worry about missing a few or pulling out the wrong thing by mistake…there is a good reason weeding is considered an endless task, and they wouldn’t have volunteers doing the work if there was a risk of damaging some rare specimen. Enjoy the time in the outdoors!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Any weed removal project will have several parts. Some people pull the weeds. Some people move the debris to the compost or burn area. And entirely likely that someone is going to be coordinating snacks and food. When you call, just ask what kinds of things you can sign up to do!

    11. GlowCloud*

      Your fears sound totally unfounded.

      You really don’t need any gardening experience for this kind of work. It takes about 30 seconds to learn how to dig out weeds, and there will be someone with plant identification skills supervising the group. The organiser will set you up with the right tools/ job for your level of capability, then you can use this as a time to chat and socialise while you do something physical and straightforward.

      Everyone’s going to be wearing the same kind of clothes for working in, and outside their usual work context. Nobody’s expected to be an expert in horticulture. The supervisor will be keen that you all go at your own pace and remember to sip water. Just listen to the group chit-chat and join in as much as you want to. Ask about peoples’ own gardens, or their other hobbies. Or get the supervisor to tell you more about the park – they’re almost certain to have some great stories!

      I promise you, this is a really low-stakes situation, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

      1. the cat's ass*

        came here to say this-My DD GS troop did this when they were in grade school and everyone has a great day!

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      This will be a low intensity activity, brain-wise. Someone, maybe multiple someones, will be there to show everyone what this invasive plant looks like. Double checking with fellow puller-uppers (“is this it?”) is a great excuse to chat.
      And you would be doing a WONDERFUL thing for the national park. I spend an enormous chunk of my spring time here yanking up these godawful invasives. They’re just so terrible for our native plant, animal and insect species.
      Hope you have fun!!

    13. Pete the Cat*

      Beth Jacobs, don’t worry a bit about not having gardening knowledge: people who garden are usually downright joyful to share their smarts – they’ll be happy to teach you , or I’ll eat my pitchfork…
      Is there a way to find out who else is going so you can make some chitchat before the event to loosen up and make a connection, or an organizer you can ask about a dress code so you can feel confident in your gardening clothes? (I recommend old jeans, grubby work boots (not sneaks!), a long-sleeved wicking shirt with a long-sleeved flannel over it – and if you don’t want to ruin your own clothes and you like to recycle, visit your local Goodwill or Salvation Army for an easy, cheap outfit.)
      I truly hope you can go and have fun. There’s something about fresh air and touching nature that’s very good for anxiety. Best of Luck!

    14. Beth Jacobs*

      Thanks so much for all the unanimous responses, you’ve all been so kind and helpful :) I’ve signed up and looking forward to the event.

    15. Quinalla*

      Try not to worry, these types of events are geared for people with zero experience. Ask if you should bring your own gloves/tools (if you have them) or if they provide (if you don’t). I’ve done weeding at community gardens run by the local food bank with my company, it was really great to do something different and be able to talk to each other and be outside. I think you will enjoy it a lot!

    16. Working Hypothesis*

      Nobody will care about whether you’re clumsy and awkward. They’ll be too busy doing the work themselves, and they’ll be glad you’re there because one more pair of hands will make the work easier for them. Beyond that, you are just not enough the focus of any one person’s attention for them to notice or care about the details of what you do. Occasionally, being totally unimportant is helpful, and you will have in this case the advantage that just by showing up, you’ll already have made most people around you pleased; and beyond that you won’t draw much of their attention. So go forth and be useful and enjoy!

  32. The Assistant*

    What are thoughts on applying to jobs that you feel lackluster about, but need a job to make money? I wish I could wait a bit longer to find a better fit, but I might not be able to.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      Do it. At a certain point the misery of scraping by gets real old and you can somehow deal with about eight hours of “lackluster” enthusiasm if you’re able to fund the rest of your life.

      1. The Assistant*

        I hear you and am certainly considering all options! But having left a past toxic job and I am very wary of getting into the same.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I say go for it! My current job was a lackluster placement from a recruiter, and it’s honestly the best job I’ve ever had. But it definitely depends on what you define as lackluster – if it means a good fit but kinda boring, that’s way different from it’s ok but I’m not feeling good about it.

      I was looking for something perfect and exciting, something I could be passionate about, but unemployment was about to run out so I said yes to the boring big corporation. Well, it turns out I’m significantly happier working for a place I’m not passionate about (and they don’t expect me to be), rather than the passionate jobs where it had to be something I eat breathe and sleep, where they expect constant enthusiasm and dedication and the job to be my main focus at all hours. I’ve worked for jobs that sounded cool when I talked about it to others, and it was exhausting and burnt me out. I wanted that in my early 20s, but ten years later I like doing a job that I sign off at the end of the day and never think about it in my off hours.

      So if you’re hesitating at applying for jobs that sound doable but not super exciting, I’d say go for it. You’re not immediately agreeing to work for them, you’re just saying you’d like to know more. And if what you learn sounds terrible, you can always walk away.

      1. The Assistant*

        It’s so interesting. There are some jobs I’m passionate about but don’t pay as much or don’t offer benefits. It is so different to interview at a place where you do feel that, you know?

        I am getting some interviews at the lackluster places, but still want to call one place I applied for weeks ago. They said they’d contact after their application process closed five days ago. (I applied four hours after it opened.) I know they probably aren’t interested, but I was so excited when I applied. I’d hate to move forward with the others if it turns out they are interested.

        I think the key to some contentment at a lackluster job is not looking back too much. But this is difficult to do!

        1. Hillary*

          The other key to contentment at a lackluster job is to remember what it’s facilitating. Those 8 hours a day let you survive, yes, but also enable you to pursue your passions outside work. I used to work with a lot of people who stood at the same manufacturing station for 20+ years. It wasn’t exciting or interesting, but it gave them the finances and mental energy to pursue everything else they wanted from life.

    3. Me*

      You’re in good company. Lots and lots of people work a job because they need a paycheck. The whole trope about all these people doing what they love – well its just not true. Sure there are people who love their work, but there’s plenty that think it’s just ok.

      I like my job well enough, it’s been good to me, but I don’t love it. I love pieces of it but that’s stuff like helping others or problem solving – not actual specific to this job. And there’s things I don’t like about it along the same lines. But more or less, I have this job because I need a paycheck.

      It’s perfectly fine to get your fulfillment from things outside of work.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a big fan of temp work. In the two states where I have been on unemployment, temp work was encouraged. Any week you get paid enough, you don’t get and unemployment payment. But that unemployment payment doesn’t disappear if you don’t get a job it is added at the end instead.
      And sometimes temps get hired the permanent staff. I did, and I used it to switch career paths.

    5. Kes*

      Keep in mind, accepting a lackluster job doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck doing that for the rest of your life, it just means you need a job to support yourself and you can always keep looking for something better, just that you’re going to be able to get paid and pay for things while you do

    6. 867-5309*

      Applying for a job does not mean getting the job, so apply away. IF you make it through the process, then you can determine if it’s work you can tolerate doing at a place you can tolerate doing it for awhile.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think you’re far more likely to find a decent job with good pay, benefits, management, and stability when you aren’t enchanted by the prospect.

      The “luster” is the very thing that’s most likely to blind you to red flags or set you up to be underpaid and exploited, so “lackluster” means you are seeing the job as you would after the honeymoon phase wears off. I think it can be a good thing.

  33. Imaginary Number*

    I keep getting side-projects I started pulled out from under me and essentially “given” to someone else and I’m not sure how to stand up for myself without coming across as whiny. This has happened three times and, because I feel it’s necessary context, I’m a woman in a very technical role and these projects kept getting given to men.

    I’m very well regarded in my workplace. I’m the go-to person for a lot of expertise and have been promoted more rapidly than my peers. None which I can complain about. However, this keeps happening: I’ll identify something, a process or a tool that is failing or not working as it should, bring it up to the right technical leadership about my ideas for how to improve it, only to get invited to a meeting where I find out this new project is being headed up by someone else (always a coworker at my level) but they would love my input.

    To make it worse, the first time the person didn’t follow through for over a year, at which point they came up with a tool that was ineffective at fixing the problem. The second time the person didn’t really do anything with it (the third time is really related to restarting project #2 except with a different person, also not me.)

    It would be easy to let it go and find something else. There are lots of technical things I can get into. But these projects specifically relate to problems that I’ve seen impact the projects I work on that I’m passionate about fixing.

    1. A Penguin!*

      The only thing I can think of to say is does your leadership know you want to be the one working on these projects? I can see a version of this situation where the manager comes out of the meeting with you thinking you’ve found a valid problem to focus company effort on, but doesn’t realize for whatever reason that you want to continue working on it / thinks you don’t have the time to work on it in light of other tasks XYZ / thinks you are asking them to solve it. Whether that’s a reasonable read on the situation is dependent on more details than are in your post, but I think it’s worth making sure they know you’re available/interested in continuing to work on the new project.

    2. Zephy*

      Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. Ask your boss what’s up, you’ve noticed this happen several times now.

    3. Girasol*

      Can you tell whether the problem is that your coworkers want the work so badly that they’re annoying the boss until they get it, or whether the boss perhaps thinks you’re too swamped and taking the work away so you don’t burn out, or some other problem? Figuring out why should help you to solve the problem.

  34. Enn Pee*

    First-job question:
    My 17-year-old son recently became a swim instructor. (He’s been a lifeguard at this facility for 6 months.)
    His supervisor (so far) has not given him a class list/roster or a good sense of the levels of any of the kids in his classes.
    My son would like to lesson-plan, and ideally be able to evaluate kids by name (!)
    If someone has been in this situation, could you help with a clear script he could use?
    (Note that the supervisor is odd in general, so it needs to be as clear as possible.)

    1. Nonny*

      When do lessons start? When I taught, we wouldn’t get rosters until right before lessons started because the sign up time was long. My first class was evaluating students, but the classes were also already set up by basic ability, so level 1 was ages 4-8, with no swimming experience. Level 2 was ages 5-9 where kids could hold their breath and submerge under water, etc. I worked at a county pool, which had to operate in a very specific way. Private pools may be different.

      Hopefully his lessons are set up the same way. It would not be safe to have swimmers and non swimmers in the same class.

      I think he could ask when sign ups close and also to see a partial roster if they’re still open, but I do t think he’ll get a sense of ability until the first lesson.

      Is he WIS certified? I found my training and the materials from the course gave me good lesson goals, but you also have to work with each kid where they are, especially the nonswimmers. It was typical for me to have a five year old who went from being scared of the water to being able to swim a pool length over the summer and to also have an eight year old who loved the water, but wouldn’t progress past a very weak doggy paddle in the same span of time. The kids will progress at their own pace when they’re ready. If he focuses on teaching safety and getting kids comfortable in the water, he’ll have a good success rate!

      1. Enn Pee*

        Hi Nonny,
        Yes, he has his WSI certification.
        Classes have ALREADY started (this is why he’s so concerned). The kids are in levels/age groups (he thinks appropriate for the kids) but I think he just wants to be absolutely clear in documenting what the kids are doing and make sure they get what they need.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      He should just be direct and share what he would like but a specific date and why. So something like, “Boss, I want to create lesson plans for my swim lessons and need a class roster so that I am able to understand each participants’ swim level currently and evaluate their progress.” If the boss isn’t committal, your son should be prepared to ask when can he get that information.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      When I taught swimming when I was in high school and college, I taught 4 and 5 year olds and our course goals were for them to be able to put their faces in the water and blow bubbles and maybe float.

      The older kids were divided more by ability than by age, I think: Could they float? Could they get themselves across the pool? Could they swim a basic crawl? Breastroke? Backstroke?

      I never had more than five children per class and had a list with all their names.

      Until tennies with velcro closures came out – halfway through college, I think, I spent my entire five-minute break between classes tying shoes.

  35. Rusty Shackelford*

    Once again, let’s share the things you wanted to say to your coworkers this week, but didn’t. And let’s give ourselves a pat on the back while we’re at it…

    Do you realize you make *twice* as much unnecessary noise as the person you complained was “too noisy?”

    1. Imaginary Number*

      “If you don’t know how to do something, please just say so and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. Stop setting up meetings to “collaborate” because you think you need to trick me into doing it for you while we’re sitting there.”

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Its 2022 can we maybe NOT insinuate that a woman got her (director level) position due to Daddy or due to who she slept with?

      (If you read my response up that way about a coworker and the vaccine mandate, yeah, its the same guy. He’s a toxic glassbowl in general.)

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        People are so eager to say a woman slept her way into a job without addressing the fact that this means a man would only hire/promote a woman he was sleeping with.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          And FWIW, I believe this says FAR more about the person with the power of authority than the person who has to make a choice about it.

    3. Sylvan*

      My department is not your break room. Stop coming over here to have personal phone conversations!

      Yes, it’s quiet here. It’s quiet because we’re working and we like quiet. Go away!

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “It’s pointless to discuss this off-the-cuff in a standup meeting without having stuff written down for the rest of us. Otherwise we’re just going to sit here on mute while the two of you argue, and there will never be a decision.”

      1. The Kirribilli Side-eye*

        Oh my goodness, I think I’ve been subconsciously having that thought for about a year but never actually put it into words! Thank you!

    5. londonedit*

      If I send you something to work on, with a detailed brief and deadline, I’d prefer it if you didn’t ignore my emails for two weeks before sending the work back to my boss instead of to me. Did my boss send you the brief? No. Does my boss know anything about what I asked you to do? No.

    6. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “I understand that this is not fundamentally a priority for you but I need to make decisions that impact literally everyone else so if you could just respond to your effing email….”

    7. Littorally*

      “Hi [Name]! :) Thanks so much for reaching out for absolutely no reason :) Sending me more pointless introduction emails will definitely let me get to your request sooner :) I’ve got loads of downtime in my current role and this isn’t wasting my time at all :) I have no other stakeholders and no other priorities than your request :)
      Emailing me literally within half an hour of your request landing in my queue, when our SLA is 2 business days, is a totally reasonable and proportionate thing to do :))))))”

    8. Cookies For Breakfast*

      This week, it’s the various bullet points I could have sent to the HR person who asked for “a brief outline” of my reason for leaving, which will be “shared with the leadership team”.

      I have a list and it’s the opposite of brief. So I sent a short note about having found a new job that lines up with my career goals, and wanting to learn skills X, Y, Z, which my current role doesn’t focus on.

      The part about working in a department that was never set up for success or supported by the rest of the business? There’s nothing I haven’t already said to my line manager, and even my manager’s manager, during my years here. The leadership team couldn’t care less. The occasions to make changes they’ve let pass by are too many to count. The hours to my last day, on the other hand…

    9. CreepyPaper*

      You’ve been in this job eight months. I’ve been in it eight years. I know I have to click ‘submit’ when I’ve filled in my export paperwork. I get that you’re eager and trying to impress Boss but for the love of Pete stop telling me how to do my job. I BLOODY KNOW.

      1. Ama*

        Oh, funny, I have the opposite one:

        “I’ve been here nine years, I do not expect you in month seven to know everything I know, but I also can’t spend hours of my day reassuring you every time I have to correct you.”

      2. jumped all the sharks*

        As the creepy boyfriend of a mysteriously promoted asst. dean looms over my shoulder, pointing to the keyboard saying “now press enter” when I am trying to demonstrate a workflow he knows nothing about.
        Go mansplain your way into a promotion and gtfo of my space.

    10. Attractive Nuisance*

      Stop saying “said.” You don’t need to say that you added said data to said file on said computer. The word “the” exists for a reason.

      (Is this one too specific? It’s just driving me insane!!!)

    11. Free Meerkats*

      Congratulations! You made an actual decision without 13 different questions salted heavily with TLAs and unrelated observations. And, DAYUM! It was the correct decision!

    12. Llellayena*

      If you’re not sure how to do something, ASK! Don’t guess and then not tell me so I find it the day we have to issue it and have to delay while I re-do it correctly!

    13. Jessica Ganschen*

      If you don’t give me an address, the document will not get sent out. I am neither a mind reader nor a wizard, and I don’t have time to chase down you and every single other person who needs documents mailed out but failed to provide a specific place to send them.

    14. TiredEmployee*

      “I’m not trying to be territorial when I tell you it makes more sense for me to do a thing for you! It’s literally your third week, you’re not very experienced with this skill, our systems are NOT easy to navigate, and it’s barely within your job role. I’ll happily show you exactly what I did and why it works that way, but please just let me spend ten minutes doing the thing so you don’t have to waste a day trying to work it out on your with only half the required knowledge!”

    15. Lifelong student*

      “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” I have used this many times!

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Words to live by. Had a project for a client who sent me a file I requested at least a week earlier…the day before they wanted their project live, so now it will (hopefully) go live two business days late. I can’t care more about your project than you do.

    16. Nessun*

      Stop getting defensive in a group call, especially when you have completely misunderstood my comments and others on the same call, at your level, understood me just fine. No one’s telling you to change your process, or push back on a client, or getting angry about the federally-mandated deadline! My group would just like your group to fill in the existing documentation THAT THEY ALREADY USE in one further column they’re currently leaving blank. It would help us a LOT, and it’s info you’d have when you initially filled in the document. I’m not asking you to reinvent the whole process or contact the government to change their requirements! Just fill in the spreadsheet!!!

    17. Ashloo*

      Why do we send over a draft version if you’re just going to wait hours after the final version is out to make “urgent” changes? Thanks for interrupting multiple evenings this week with this bs, and deciding that not getting an instant response after hours warranted cc’ing and calling up the chain. Jfc

      1. Not a cat*

        Hey Mr. VP, It would be nice if you sent me a first draft of the 16-page whitepaper (that has to be live on the website at 6 AM today) before 2 AM last night. Oh and I don’t make “edits that suck.” That’s your buddy/favorite/pet who can’t write, who makes those craptastic contributions. Also, wine-fueled work isn’t easy to fix. ( It took me an hour and a half to get through the first page. It was one long sentence)

    18. Lyudie*

      Oooh I was hoping this would return. I have one or two from this week for sure.

      “How does it happen that a feature is ready and released to customers before other people on the same product (at a high level! not just us peons!) had no idea this was even coming? I KNOW there are a billion meetings but why did this never come up in anyone’s status, ever?”

      “I’m over it, I’m done, time to go walk into the ocean” (I very nearly said this to my manager but held my tongue. She would have just laughed her ass off)

      1. Legally Bored*

        I regularly tell my boss I’m going to backflip into the sun for everything from a mild inconvenience to an actual crisis.

      2. Academic Promotion Hell take 2*

        Two weeks ago I told my director that I was “all out of fucks” Today I put in for a vacation.

    19. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      “YOU are a degreed engineer. I am a guy with a BA in English.
      I should not have to argue with you that – no really – they built this wrong and it won’t work.
      Also, after you blow me off AND the machine is proven to be built wrong, perhaps more than a grudging “you were right.”
      May I suggest, “You were right and you saved the company several thousand dollars, thank you.”?

    20. Coffee Bean*

      Did you even read the question someone e-mailed to you before coming to me asking for a response to the question??

      No, I can’t explain what I think the person who e-mailed you means. My crystal ball is in for repairs. Did you try asking the person for clarification?

    21. Lady Alys*

      No, you do not send the login ID and password to our office Zoom account to your meeting attendees. That is now how they join your meeting.

      (How does a person not know this after two years?)

      1. Academic Promotion Hell take 2*

        Wait! I was in a meeting today with a tenured professor who didn’t know how to “raise his hand” It took all my self control not to blurt out, hey what have you been doing for the last two years!

    22. Mother of Corgis*

      Nowhere in my job description does it list “must have psychic/mind reading abilities.” Believe me, I checked. How about you just keep me in the loop?

      I left you a voicemail on why I was calling you! Why don’t you listen to the voicemail instead of calling me and asking why I called you?

    23. Hey anonynonny*

      I know none of us want to go back to the office. But we need to talk to management about it instead of just not showing up.

        1. Whatchagonnado*

          Introduce them to my boss who once showed up at my desk after I had changed a ticket to one day further out (at her boss’s request): “OMG I’m in the wrong province He’s gonna be SOOO MAD!” Yes, yes I know that…my bigger question is, how did you get ON THE PLANE??! (We have never figured it out. He was annoyed, but he got over it. He married her, after all.)

    24. Anonymous technical writer*

      I will not audit your website.
      We use doc#s as filenames because that number is tracked in the manufacturing database.
      Stop changing the filenames PDFs if you think it is too hard to keep a PDF library in sync with current revisions.

    25. WellRed*

      Well I actually did say something! We have a coworker who overshares regularly and seems to think our weekly staff meeting is an opportunity to provide updates on himself. Lately it’s been about his aging parents (I do sympathize, they are having multiple issues). He launched in this week, again, with personal and slightly gross medical info about parents and I asked if we could pleases not go into the gory details (or something in that vein). Boy was he surprised. Not my best moment but zero regrets.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Having been on the receiving end of some of those TMI meeting moments, I think your moment was stellar.

    26. AgencyLife*

      “The reason I gave notice to you today, boss, is because this entire agency operates with a level of mediocrity I’ve never before seen.”

      And then: “Why, yes, your boss — the CEO of our parent company — did indeed ask me to come work directly for him once he found out I gave notice, because at least *he* recognizes excellence when he sees it.”

    27. Dragonfly7*

      Coworker of 8 years, why are you suddenly telling the new hire I’m training to do something different, automatically interjecting your opinion and/or escalating questions to the manager when a customer asks me for help, and monitoring my actions even during the times you aren’t assigned to my area?
      (My suspicion is that my manager asked them to monitor me and report back because of some action I’m doing wrong but haven’t been told about yet. My manager hates confrontation and previously asked me to do the same to a different coworker rather than actually talk to them.)

    28. FridayAngerrrr*

      “Not sure why I have to be here at 8am for an empty building while my male coworkers can roll in whenever they feel like it.”
      “People are trying to work together to make things better; it’s not a personal affront to you.”

    29. Mimmy*

      – Why are you going into every nitty-gritty detail? Even worse, you are so. slow. when you give your report!! You do realize that there are about 10 of us who still have to give our report, right?! Don’t think that the lead person isn’t going to tell you to wrap it up!

      – Yes, I do use auto-captions during Zoom meeting, but they don’t help when you keep interrupting and talking over each other! One. At. An. Effing. Time.

    30. Anon for this!*

      Can you just review the spreadsheet of YOUR projects and note which ones are complete and send it back to me instead of making me sit on a zoom call for half an hour and listen to you talk about

    31. JelloStapler*

      YES!! I was hoping this came back. Not always teammates, sometimes clients.

      Get over it – it happened years ago and constantly venting about it makes you look bitter.
      Thanks for that really, I’m so glad we’re that important to you.
      How did that work out for you?

    32. Database Developer Dude*

      I can’t share any of the things I’ve wanted to say to coworkers this week here. Alison prefers we not use those types of words here.

    33. ShysterB*

      “That thing you just asked me to send to you? It was the attachment to the email you’re responding to from 10 minutes ago.”

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        How about that thing you asked me to send to you last Thursday and that I SENT TO YOU LAST THURSDAY and now you’re asking me on Tuesday for it?
        Don’t think I’m being snarky when I just resend the Thursday email, dude.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I actually DID reply to this out loud with “please check page 8 and 9 and let me know if that isn’t sufficient”. (Spoiler: it was, they just didn’t read past page 4.)

    34. Asenath*

      No, you did not RSVP to me about that meeting, and that’s why you didn’t get an agenda, and if we still served food, why there wouldn’t be enough to go around. No, it does not count if you told my boss/some random person who was also invited/everyone getting coffee one morning two weeks ago/your spouse that you were going. RSVP to the person who sent you the invitation!

    35. Xena*

      To a client: “For the love of our collective sanity, if you’re going to upload 80+ documents to the portal that we need to use, could you take the 30 seconds to name them something roughly equal to what they actually are and can you not nest them inside a folder that is inside a second folder with a completely different name and purpose?”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m still sorting out overlapping project folders delivered to us like that from a vendor. To clarify, the projects didn’t overlap–just the nested folders & zip files sent back at different times.

    36. Anonosaurus*

      “Please can you perform your RAT before you come into the office without a mask on? Thanks!”

    37. new worker bee*

      “Stop trying to get Jane in trouble for giving me her work to do when the only reason you want her to stop is so you can give me YOUR work to do.”

    38. RagingADHD*

      Listen, I addressed the issue directly with the client because he asked me a direct question.

      And the reason he asked me was because Betty for some unknown reason cc’ed me on that email and told him the whole thing was my idea when it most certainly was not.

      And then she left his question hanging without a reply all damn day.

      If I’m supposed to let Betty handle client interactions, then she needs to

      a) actually freaking handle it, and

      b) keep my name out of her mouth.

    39. Academic Promotion Hell take 2*

      Dude- the Promotional committee overwhelmingly voted no on your promotion to Full. The blame for this lays squarely at your feet. You ignored my advice, whined for 3 and half months, ignored the good orderly direction of coaches who were assigned by HR, and this was all reflected in your dossier. I’m just plain tired.
      And I swear if you have the nerve to say to me “how hard you worked for this” I may puke in your vicinity.

    40. The Dude Abides*

      1-Yes, I too would like to return to remote work 1-2 days a week, but how about we clean up the god damn backlog that was on the department’s plate before I left (mid-April), was still there when I came back, and is nowhere near caught up? Your productivity has fallen off a cliff, and I have an empty cubicle with thousands of reports going back to 2020 to prove it.

      PS Get ready to have your ass chewed out when the audit findings get presented.

      2-Dude, I don’t expect you or anyone else to match my output, but you better get ready for the handoff once I get shit caught up. You only got promoted because no one else within the agency was interested, and the new person has been running circles around you. Start pulling your own god damn weight.

    41. Just delurking to say...*

      1. For the love of god, Check. Your. Work. So that I don’t have spend HOURS flagging your mistakes … checking your revision … flagging the mistakes you missed despite them bring flagged in bright yellow, fixed incompletely, fixed incorrectly, or somehow introduced while fixing other mistakes … checking the revision of the revision … flagging MORE mistakes … checking the revision of the revision of the revision … and STILL. FINDING. MISTAKES.

      2. THIS is why there is no manual for this process – I have no time to write one because so much of MY time gets consumed by YOUR mistakes.

    42. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      “Why do you give every email the subject line ‘hello’? Have you ever considered making the subject line something related to the body of your email?”

    43. Sparkly Librarian*

      “Please, tell me more about how effective communication and the ability to have difficult conversations are necessary skills for a manager.”

      “Can we just do this the easy way and be DONE on schedule? Or do you have to rehash every item that was ever on the list, and bring in a few that never were, just for funsies?”

  36. LlamaPro*

    I was contacted by an HR recruiter to follow up with me about a role. They let me know I didn’t meet a requirement for the role but they would keep me in mind for future roles. When I checked my records they had followed up on the wrong position. I was qualified for what I applied for but they had slipped on the title (a role they were hiring for) – think llama services director vs llama support director.
    Can I follow up on this or should I write this one off?

    1. Imaginary Number*

      I would! I think it would be relatively simple to ask for clarification on the qualifications they’re looking for and specifically copy-paste the listed requirements for the role you actually applied for.

  37. Violet*

    Why do employers seem reluctant to put the word ‘hybrid’ in their job descriptions? When looking for remote work, it’s becoming hard to decipher if a job is remote, hybrid, or onsite. I do end up writing to employers to ask, but wish it was clear in the description.

    1. OyHiOh*

      My suspicion is that some employers are using the hybrid term to lure people into applying, when the position is much less flexible than they want applicants to assume.

      On the other hand, my organization is using “hybrid” in a job posting to mean: A successful candidate will either live in the region we serve, or be able to relocate to the region we serve; and also, will have flexibility to work a combination of remote WFH days, in office days, and out on worksite days. A few people have emailed with questions about what hybrid means in our case, and I’ve been more than happy to explain what we mean.

      1. Violet*

        Thanks! I just got off a phone screen for a role that turned out to be hybrid, but it was nowhere in the job description, nor was the salary.

        I’m not sure if it’s a match, but I did the phone screen because they asked, I loved the company on paper (and it seems they are a great place), but also just to get this kind of crucial information.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      My guess is because if they put it in writing, it will be harder for them to change it later. They may be considering the job hybrid /now/ but in 2 years want to be able to re-evaluate without as much pushback that having it written down in the job desccription would create.

      1. Violet*

        I guess. But things always change. And you still have to have some sort of opening offer of where the location even is. Some put remote, when they really want someone to come into the office a few times a week.

        If I keep getting interviews, I’ll ask my questions there, but seems might be a waste of time if we aren’t on the same page location-wise. For those that seem out-of-state, I’ve just been emailing and they later amend the description.

    3. 867-5309*

      “Hybrid” is so open to interpretation so perhaps they don’t want to be held to someone’s individual definition of what that means.

      1. Violet*

        I guess. Things are still as in flux as they’ve been, it seems. And there is no standard definition of things at the moment.

        Good to know!

  38. Ipana*

    I don’t want to stereotype anyone, but it is seeming more and more likely that one of my direct reports has a learning disability, more specifically some issues with executive function. They’re disorganized, have poor attention to detail, difficulty following complicated instructions, and challenges applying learned skills to different activities. These issues always existed to a degree, but initially I thought it was the learning curve of my organization, which is large and diverse. And then about a year after they arrived the pandemic hit and some of the issues were postponed because the work we did wasn’t quite so involved and to be honest, there are some things they do well. But now that we’ve resumed some semblance of normal, the issues are becoming a problem and it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage them. I’ve talked with HR and there are steps we’re taking to address the issue before we move ahead with a PIP.

    But, I haven’t mentioned to them or HR this feeling I have. For one, they haven’t said they have a learning disability or any other disability. They haven’t asked for any accommodations or preferences (I have tried doing things verbally, in writing, verbally and then summarizing in writing and vice versa- none of it works well). And the thought of even broaching the subject (with them or HR) without any hint or suggestion from them makes me sweat and feel generally icky. But, I would almost welcome it, if that were the case, because I would be better able to help them succeed. As it is, things continue to get worse and if they don’t start improving, they will be put on PIP to address whether the situation can be improved.

    I’m just wondering if anyone has dealt with this kind of situation before. I could use a little comraderie as I’m feeling a little alone in all this and guilty about making a bad hire. (because although they might be good at some things, the issues are pretty significant)

    1. Leilah*

      I have not dealt with this, but I have been (and sometimes still am) that employee. I have even given some direct talks in my org about being autistic and ADHD. My number one thing I want people to now: you don’t have to have a diagnosis, or even suspect a diagnosis strongly, to check out strategies for ADHD/autistic people and see if they might work for you.

      These types of strategies are often VERY different from classic organization strategies. Many of us just leaned into those classic strategies and it made things worse. Finding out there are radically different ways to approach these problems was huge for us. Since this person is your direct report, look into these types of strategies (even if they sound to you like you would hate them) and give them or suggest them to your direct report. I assume you are already working with them on how to do better? Just frame it as, “This strategy hasn’t been working, maybe you could try this other strategy my sister said help her.” Or whatever other reasoning seems right for you.

      Finally, be sure you aren’t stigmatizing or penalizing them for using these strategies as long as they get the work done adequately. For example, I really, really need to do my focused projects outside normal work hours so I don’t get interrupted. I know my bosses would prefer I didn’t do that, since they don’t want it to seem like we are working long hours. But I *need* this – I get things done faster this way, and more importantly I reduce the number of errors precipitously if I don’t get interrupted.

      1. RagingADHD*

        OP, just to emphasize, here, though: when you offer a strategy or try something, do *not* connect it to a diagnosis or disability in any way.

        Just, “hey, how about trying this to see if it helps?”

    2. Former Llama Herder*

      I haven’t dealt with a similar sitaution, so I’ll certainly defer to those with more expertise, but my gut says to keep your suspicions to yourself. You can still point out the things you’re noticing in a direct, compassionate way and ask the employee if they have any ideas on what supports would help them, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to speculate. Keeping it focused on how the issue is presenting itself still allows you to offer supports that address the issues without getting into personal/medical terroritory. (Because my background is in education, the example that comes to mind is offering flexible seating or small group testing to a student I don’t suspect has a learning disability, but is struggling to stay focused on longer problems in a math test.)

      Also, I don’t see any reason to feel bad. This sounds like the type of skill defecit that doesn’t make itself apparent in interviews. As long as you’re working to fix the problem, that’s really all you can do!

    3. Short Librarian*

      Unless you are their doctor, you should not be making any diagnosis. If the employee hasn’t disclosed a disability to HR, there is no accommodation to be made. Although a (hypothetical) diagnosis would provide context for the employee’s failures, ultimately, they are not doing the job to the level for which they were hired. Try to remove this consideration from your dealings with the employee. Offer them the same resources any employee is eligible to receive – if there’s an EAP, share info about it. Be clear with them about your expectations and have measurable goals for them to achieve. If they are unable to meet these goals, this may not be a good job for them.

    4. BRR*

      I have ADHD* and I think you shouldn’t say anything at all. Not your circus not your monkeys. Just do what any manager should do in this situation: be very clear on what needs to improve, ask the employee what they need and do your best to meet their needs, and provide resources that the employee can utilize (which if you have an EAP I think it’s fine to say something like “A reminder that we have an EAP available”).

      And if turns out to be a bad hire, don’t feel guilty. It’s a natural feeling to have but it happens. And I say that as having been the bad hire before. I was obviously upset at being fired. My manager was upset that she had to fire me (she tried her best to hide it because she was a great manager who knew that it wasn’t about her but I appreciated that she was human about it). But hiring isn’t perfect.

      *It really bugs me as someone with ADHD that people always suspect these types of behaviors are a medical condition. Because it implies that the only possible explanation is a medical condition and damages my credibility because of how it correlates a condition and these negative characteristics.

    5. What She Said*

      Kind of been in a similar situation, with a co-worker, not a direct report. Experiencing some of the same things always willing to step in help, great at some things, but mostly so disorganized, constantly asking to repeat questions, constantly asking me to translate an email from our shared boss (no language issues involved), got so bad I honestly have no idea how they slipped past their probation period. (Covid might have helped here.) I offered and asked for other ways to teach/train them on stuff and nothing stuck. The eventually left on their own due to personal reasons. I know if they had not my boss was ready to move forward with PIP types of interventions.

      All this to say, there is nothing you can do unless they ask for accommodations. It’s on them and you need to treat as not being well suited for the job until you hear otherwise.

  39. TruckerTrouble*

    What would you do if you found out a colleague had donated to the Canadian truck blockade? I don’t work closely with this person but she (1) donated using her full name and her work email address; and (2) works as an (non-medical) administrator for a clinical science department. Is this an HR situation or is this a ‘you’re going to have to learn to work with people you disagree with’ situation? I feel that her medicine-adjacent position makes me angrier about it than if she was in another position.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      Leave it alone. Firmly believe this falls in the camp of ‘you’re going to have to learn to work with people you disagree with.’ Forget you ever learned this detail.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        This may depend on your company’s overall strategy for avoidance of “that’s a poor look”. We’re frequently reminded that we are not to wear company branded swag or utilize company vehicles in anything politically related.

        For your own sake, I’d mentally file it pretty far down in the bin so I didn’t dwell on it. I know I’ve had to learn how to work alongside someone who doesn’t believe some of my relatives are worthy of basic human rights before.

      2. SnappinTerrapin*

        Agree. Neither her political opinion nor your company’s response to it are your concern.

        Deal with them on a professional level, so you can both focus on work at work.

    2. Nessun*

      Seconding leave it alone. I personally despise the trucker blockade and I’ve been very vocal in my social media – but at work, I’m not going to discuss it. People get to donate where they wish – though I really hope that money all gets refunded and not sent on. Keep good mental health resources to deal with your emotions about the issues, and enjoy the (hopefully) long weekend away from her if you can.

    3. Squid*

      I think it’s largely the latter; however, if you feel that it is worth reporting, do so via an ethics line or similarly anonymous method.

    4. Former Hominid*

      I’d pass it on to HR casually as a “heads up, X donated to those truckers, found out by accident when they spread that list around, she used her work email so I figured you might want to know- please leave my name out of this” That would be basic due diligence since if she used her full name and WORK email this could come back to bite the company if in a few weeks people start protesting the folks who funded this madness. Be dispassionate but alarmed for the company’s reputation is the attitude I’d take. ‘you’re going to have to learn to work with people you disagree with’ is for me an attitude for coworkers who prefer miracle whip over actual mayo, not folks funding a white supremacist caravan.

    5. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      1 – definitely not an HR issue.
      2 – I am the lone liberal in a sea of red hat/2A conservatives. If I went to HR for every single issue, I may as well just move my desk. Pick your battles.

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

      IMO you should contact HR anonymously. If they used their personal info I wouldn’t, but by using a work related email some people can read it as an endorsement of sorts. HR should, at least, be aware.

    7. I AM Sparkling }:(*

      Not an HR matter; they won’t care what she did with her own money on her own time. It might even backfire on you by making you look like a tattletale or a troublemaker.

      I’ve got a coworker who thinks the Jan 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol was “awesome” and they had every right to be there because it’s “the peoples’ house.” Another 100% believes that Kamala Harris is planning to have Joe Biden assassinated so that she can become president, Nancy Pelosi become vice president, and then “we’ll have TWO OF THOSE in control!” (I’m a woman and a Democrat.)

      If it helps, you can cuss them out mentally inside your own head all you want, as long as you deal with them professionally at work.

      1. pancakes*

        Making a point of donating to a political cause with her work email account and full name isn’t quite “on her own time.” If she wanted to take care not to give the impression that their employer endorses her views she would’ve used her own email account. What your colleagues are saying maybe feels equivalent politically, but it doesn’t sound like they’re posting these sentiments online in a way that can be tied to your employer? Many employers do in fact have a policy about this sort of thing. It isn’t clear whether this commenter’s employer is one of them, but if so they presumably would want to know about the donation.

    8. philmar*

      Feel free to hate her in private, and speak to her coldly and only as necessary, but there’s nothing you can actually do.

    9. Jax*

      Not an HR situation. Change the cause and ask yourself if you’re still angry. If not, then you’re reacting to the politics, not the use of company email.

    10. Macaroni Penguin*

      Silently judge them and don’t offer cookies.*

      *If a situation arises where there are cookies.

    11. Anony*

      Not at all an HR situation. No one should be fired or reprimanded for their political beliefs. Using her work email wasn’t a great idea, but no reasonable person would think that means the company endorses her personal donation. Flip the situation- in a red state/conservative company and a coworker donates to a pro-choice organization; would you be OK with someone going to HR to report it? Hopefully not…

  40. Jana*

    So, I generally like my company, but I feel like I’m in a rut and am not sure how to get out of it. I’ve been there a few years and, although I’ve gotten promotions, my actual work hasn’t changed much at all. I’m not getting the chance to do the things I want to do and grow in, plus I’m given priorities that just aren’t in my area or even my job description. Kind of like I’m a teapot designer and my work ends up being teapot manufacturing and promotion. Even when there are projects that I could contribute to in my area, I end up not having the time because of these other tasks. I’ve been told that they want me to have more teapot design work, but it doesn’t materialize. My boss seems happy that I’m taking care of things and she doesn’t give me the impression that she has much concern about my advancement–she mostly just emphasizes how busy she is and seems to be focused on how I can help her “put out fires”.

    1. Anonymouse*

      Last year I was feeling rather stagnant but I liked my work and I liked my product so I applied for an internal transfer that allowed me to turn my 8 years of experience with the product into a definite advantage in a new role. I was QA on software–I know the software inside and out, I know its capabilities and functions, I know the setup parameters, I know the APIs, etc. I moved into a role that means I interact directly with new clients licensing our software–the title is “integration manager” but it is basically post-sales advanced support. I get to use all the skills and knowledge I acquired as a QA, I still get to do a lot of the same things I enjoyed in QA (troubleshooting technical issues! solving problems creatively!) while also expanding my skillset in other areas.

  41. Nebula*

    Has anyone ever moved for a job and had to pay an exorbitant amount to break a lease? Was it worth it in the ending? I just signed a new lease that costs 5 months’ rent to break (is that exorbitant?) The thing is I’ve been actively trying to get a internal transfer to another city for a while. I haven’t seen the details of my company’s relocation package for a few years but I don’t think the lump sum would be enough to cover 5 months.
    When you guys move for a job do you end up just losing a bunch of money? What is normal?

    1. I was told there would be llamas*

      I recall paying 2 months rent twice to break leases but 5 is crazy…look into if that’s even legal in your area.

      1. Nebula*

        It’s 2 months required notice + 2 months’ rent + 1 months’ worth of discounts that I’d have to pay back.
        Assuming that I lived there for a month into the notice period, it’d be more like 4 months.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Ooof, 5 months rent to break a lease is pretty bad. I’ve usually seen 2 months. If the job is far enough away (I’ve seen typically 50 miles) they’ll sometimes pay some removing costs?

      I’ve usually lost *some* money just due to the hassle of moving.

      1. Nebula*

        Technically no, but you can transfer the lease to someone else for a fee. I guess I’m just pessimistic about being able to find a subletter. There’s tons of vacant apartments in my area.
        I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch, though.
        Mostly trying to get a sense of what is normal. My previous lease was just 2 months with no notice period required.

        1. Becky*

          Technically no, but you can transfer the lease to someone else for a fee. I guess I’m just pessimistic about being able to find a subletter. There’s tons of vacant apartments in my area.

          Wow, where do you live! I want to live there. Everywhere in my area (and many areas of the entire country) is experiencing a housing shortage–anything remotely affordable is being snatched up quickly, driving prices up further.

            1. Nebula*

              Thanks for pointing this out…. it’s good to get a reality check that I am lucky. I’m in a mid-COL city. There’s a lot of new construction and no one wants to move in January so a lot of buildings are offering big bonuses for signing a lease :-D I definitely would not be able to afford an equivalent place in LA or NYC.

    3. Kathenus*

      Yes, I was in this position once. I had just signed a new lease when a job that had been a career goal of mine (niche role in niche industry) got posted and I was offered it. My choices were paying to break my lease (I think it was three months rent) or paying until the rented the apartment again. I chose breaking the lease since the worst case the other way was paying around 10 months rent. I had to borrow money to do it, but in my case it was definitely worth it to take the new job. Sucked though.

    4. Coenobita*

      When I was in a similar position, I negotiated for additional relocation money from my employer. But they really wanted to fill the position internally – it was a “please, we need volunteers to transfer to City X” situation. I basically said I would love to do it, and I could either move now if they helped buy out my lease, or in five months if not. So it might be worth seeing if the timing is more flexible than the money, from your employer’s perspective.

    5. 867-5309*

      Are you in the U.S.? Many states have laws that it is not more than two months to break a lease. That is absurd.

      Can you negotiate for the company to cover half of it as part of your comp package?

      1. Nebula*

        It’s a two-month notice period plus a fee of two months plus paying back a discount I got, so technically not a 5 month fee!

        But this isn’t even a real problem yet. I might not even get the new job

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I would actually check the local laws in your area (maybe consult with a property lawyer, or community rental group), to see if this is genuinely legal. I’ve only ever seen two months notice *or* two months rent to move out right away, not both.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          Seconding checking the laws in your area. I was involved in housing rights activism in my big city and there were several organizations that help renters with laws and things. They are probably similar organizations near you.
          For an area that’s struggling to get renters, your landlord seems very strict. I have to wonder if it’s legal and how greedy they are.

  42. Ali + Nino*

    Looking for advice and comments from fellow professional writers (or those who used to write professionally)!
    I currently write for a publication in a niche industry – there are very few positions out there doing exactly what I do. I love the day-to-day work, the content, and enjoy my team. The flexibility (part-time hours) and WFH set-up are absolutely necessary for me right now. But I’m looking ahead to a few years from now, when I’ll likely be able to work full-time again, and I want to make more money and have good benefits (currently an independent contractor).
    The way I see it, my two options are to either 1) continue writing but move to a more lucrative industry, or 2) stay in the industry but shift to project management, which seems like a necessary first step to higher-level work (and pay). I’m skeptical of moving into project management having seen colleagues in the field burn out quickly – lots of work and stress for mediocre pay – and because I enjoy writing much more.
    So writers: What would you do, or what have you done? Those who have shifted industries – how did you decide where to go, how did you prepare, and how did it work out? Were you able to get a GOOD salary and benefits? Those who stayed in their industry but changed roles – was it worth it? Do you enjoy your work? Any surprises?

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      I can only answer bits of your questions, but here it goes:
      For me, writing is the skill. I knew nothing about llamas before I started my current job, but my job is to talk to SMEs and transmogrify their tribal knowledge into words. So, speaking for myself, I switched industries but kept the same (basic) job. I didn’t decide where to go, it was the job that was available in my line of work that was hiring. To date, it’s been a significant raise but significantly worse PTO. So I count it as a win and have been getting ready to stick my toe back in the market (now that I’ve been here 5 years).
      Good luck!

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Thanks! Definitely relevant and similar in the sense that I speak with a lot of SMEs, as it were, and present their knowledge to non-SMEs. Glad to hear this translated into a good raise, if not benefits :/ Best of luck with your job search!

    2. Anny*

      I agree with the other commenter re: writing being the skill and transferrable. I often find that, when places are looking for strong writers, they acknowledge this upfront and emphasize learning the subject matter on the job. That said, not all places are like that and I do notice an increase in employers assuming that writers should more or less be project managers who also write (which, in my experience, is often a tall order).

      My advice would be to look at the responsibilities of the role more than how your experience lines up with the topic area. You can really use your cover letter to address how your experience is relevant. I know I look for roles that emphasize the writing opportunities more than roles that have project management functions, even if they’re related to a topic area that interests me a bit more. Granted, this is all assuming that you have a stronger preference for writing work than for staying in a particular industry.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Thanks for sharing your experience. Looking for roles emphasizing writing versus other skills and addressing relevant experience in cover letter is great advice. I think ultimately I will be happier writing than doing something else in my industry, but I need to sit with it for a while.
        Re: employers assuming writers should be PMs who write…seems to be a trend of dumping too many responsibilities on one person, not adequately compensating them, and then being dissatisfied when they are unable to do the impossible. But I digress…

    3. WellRed*

      I’m a writer for a niche pub in a specific industry. I talk to a lot if SMEs but do not have their skills to move into a different role because I am a writer. I suppose it depends on the industry?

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Definitely industry dependent. Project managing for this industry is something a new grad could start doing (albeit at the associate level), I’m not lacking training/knowledge needed for many roles.

    4. NancyDrew*

      Not sure why you’d consider a project management role — there’s not a ton of writing involved there. What about corporate communications? Lots of writing, lots of strategy, a bit of PM…

      (I’ve been in corp comm my whole career and am a writer on the side!)

      1. Ali + Nino*

        In my industry, a PM role is basically how you get in the door to anything and everything else (that might sound more interesting), so I was wondering if I could grin and bear it in order to somehow reach that threshold. I don’t know anything about corporate communications – any resources I could check out to learn more? How’s the $ and benefits?

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I am a writer who got a corporate communications job last year. I was hired to start a monthly department newsletter for an F100 company. I was paid $67K, which I learned is less than the company pays new communications people just out of college. (I have more than 20 years experience and have an MBA.)

          Benefits were only OK – they would only give me entry-level vacation and the health insurance and dental insurance were not inexpensive and not particularly good. (However, they were better than the ACA plans I have now.) The company also offered a 401K match and a pension.

          Yes a pension.

          My job ended up being more project management than writing. That is, it was more about getting other people – over whom I had no authority at all – to do the things they needed to do than it was about writing. I did not enjoy that part at all – I just want to write.

          And that, dear reader, is why I quit after only six months.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            PS Feel free to find me on facebook or twitter for a more detailed conversation. I am happy to share more information! I’d just rather not put some things in writing.

              1. Texan In Exile*

                Facebook is @Texan.In.Exile

                Twitter is @TexanExiled

                (I guess I could have told you these in the original post!)

          2. WellRed*

            Oh ugh. I was wondering if I should look at corporate comma. I can’t stay where I am forever, especially at what they pay me.

  43. Hamster Wheel*

    Looking for feedback on how my workplace is handling trying to fix a toxic/negative/gossipy environment. According to management, it doesn’t matter if this kind of behavior goes underground (I.e. it’s fine if small numbers of staff want to continue with these behaviors as long as they do it in private and not in front of others). To me that sounds counterproductive at best. At worst it sounds like ‘out of sight, out of mind’, which I don’t really understand how that stance will improve the atmosphere at work. I’ve basically been told that I shouldn’t worry about it if it’s not being done in front of me and that people’s behavior will damage their credibility. I’ve looked at a bunch of articles online that all include the recommendation that management have direct one on one conversations with people even suspected of contributing to gossip (this does not even seem to be on the table at my job). Anyone have any insights into the process of improving a workplace atmosphere and stopping these types of behavior (particularly anyone in management with experience with this types of situation)?

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Did you company actually say they don’t care if the behavior goes underground? The only way to stop a gossipy environment is for a manager to have a had stance prohibiting it and directly address it each and every time they are aware of it. The reality you can’t stop people from having private conversations with friends. But if it is obvious to the manager or the manager suspects that the behavior is continuing to happen they need to address it.

      1. Hamster Wheel*

        Our manager said that, yes. The organization itself made every staff member sign a paper about two years ago stating that they would not participate in certain behavior in the workplace, including gossip. To give some more background/context, recently management said that minor things should be worked out among staff first before being brought to management’s attention (basically don’t tattle). During this same conversation management also said that staff shouldn’t be participating in gossiping or general unproductive negativity. However, after certain people acted like they’re all on board with this, they engaged in this type of behavior right next to me. I was disgusted by this (mostly because one of the two people who were part of the gossip exchange had been causing problems on a fairly regular basis, including slamming the staff door several times on their way out of the building when they didn’t get their way about something one day). When management saw me looking upset later, they asked me what was wrong so I told them about the gossip conversation I had overheard. They were both not happy to hear that after these staff playing up how on board they were with culture changes but both managers responses were ‘go talk to these people and tell them how you feel about witnessing the conversation’. Which is when I mentioned that I felt that would just drive the behavior underground, which is when I was told that that doesn’t matter, as long as the behavior stays private (which what I mentioned in my original post). I don’t know if the managers responses are due to having just said they won’t interfere with issues between staff unless necessary or because I was the only who witnessed the conversation (to their credit, neither manger doubted what I had witnessed, although considering both of the staff involved in the gossip have a history of behavior problems that shouldn’t be surprising….)

    2. Coffee Bean*

      While I agree with “it will damage their credibility”, it will also damage the credibility of your department, not just a couple of individuals. I would recommend addressing it with the specific offenders. Let them know that discretion is valued by the company. Demonstrating a lack of discretion by gossiping is not a valued behavior, and it could hold them back from advancing within the organization.

      I am sure there is a better way to say this. . .but I think bottom line, gossiping and speculation are raraely, if ever, helpful.

  44. Tired Accountant*

    Any suggestions in the job search for moving out of public accounting? I have a great boss and coworkers, and decent flexibility outside of tax season, I’m just…done. It’s a small firm, so there really isn’t much room for advancement other than partner, which isn’t really something I think I want. I’ve been here a little over three years (this is my fourth tax season). It’s my first job out of school for accounting, but it’s my second degree (first was education), so I have a few years of work experience as well.

    I also don’t have a ton of references other than my current boss, who is great, and I think would be supportive if he knew I wanted to leave public. (There is actually reference in our handbook about supporting employees who want to move to private). I had a small internship in school, but my supervisor has since retired and I don’t have her contact information. My principal from when I was teaching passed away a few years ago, and I substitute taught for a while but don’t really have any references from that.

    1. I was told there would be llamas*

      I was in public accounting for 9 years before I got laid off in 2009…I had wanted to leave for many years before that but inertia took over…of course I was disappointed to be laid off but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise! One thing that came up when I interviewed for an industry job is that the role I was interviewing for was more diverse than my public accounting job…meaning I would be responsible for a bunch of taxes I had no experience in (mostly sales tax) but I was encouraged to apply anyway b/c I did have knowledge in the things that were more important to the employer (corporate return prep and ASC 740)…I got the job and was able to learn the sales tax easily on the job…so my suggestion is, don’t avoid applying for jobs just b/c they list a few things you may not have done…just be upfront about it and they can decide what is most important.

    2. Merci Dee*

      I worked in public accounting for a couple of years right after I got out of college, but got laid off from that job. Then I worked in governmental accounting for several years, and got laid off when everything went sideways in 2008. I’ve been doing accounting in a manufacturing setting for almost 12 years now, and have really enjoyed it. A lot of that has to do with having great bosses and wonderful co-workers, which I’m really thankful for. But just as much has to do with the environment I’m in — I come in at 8:00, leave at 5:00, and never have to work overtime or carry a lot of stress home with me. I’m kind of like I Was Told There Would Be Llamas, in that I was assigned some work with sales/use tax a couple of months after I started and just picked it up on the job. Now sales/use tax is about 45% my job, fixed asset management is another 45%, and various special projects and a regular rotation of federal reporting packages makes up the remaining 10%. There’s a lot of repetition in the work I do (monthly use tax filings, monthly reports for closing, quarterly reports for the government, etc.), but there’s also a lot of new and different situations that I run across while doing these familiar tasks that I don’t feel bored with the job.

    3. Lifelong student*

      There are so many places for a qualified accountant to go! I was in public for 4 years, moved to Director of Finance for a non-profit, to VP of Finance at another non-profit, to teaching tax and accounting at 2 universities. Use your network in your local accounting association, the contacts you have made with businesses over the years, and your academic connections. There are also government jobs- check the Civil Service web pages.

    4. Tired Accountant*

      I suppose I should mention that I do have my CPA and this is my second year managing a satellite office. It’s just me there (with some clerical help twice a week), and only full-time during tax season, but it’s definitely the most advancement I’ll have unless I become partner.

      The thing about working for a small firm is you do a little bit of everything. So while I would say various tax returns are the things I’m best at, I also do some payroll, sales tax, and a few audit/review engagements a year.

      I’m definitely hoping for something with a better schedule (and I know I don’t work nearly as much during tax season as some of the bigger firms). I sometimes tend to underplay what I’ve actually accomplished, so I’m trying to make sure that when I’m looking for new jobs, I’m keeping in mind what I’ve done and what experience I can draw on for new things.

    5. Leilah*

      This is a super common move to make. Just look for accounting jobs in government or private industry.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is a relatively easy transition and you have many options. I was not tax, but audit in public, full disclosure. You might want to do a little browsing through tax-related (Tax Accountant and Tax Analyst come to mind) jobs on Indeed and see what you come up with and how you feel about them. There are many tax jobs in companies that can be pretty interesting and have regular hours. You can move up the food chain if you want to. If you have any sales and use tax experience, there are a TON of jobs, both public and private, that you may find interesting, that also have a career path. SALT pays really well too.
      Good luck! Hope to see you in the Good News Friday soon!

      1. Tired Accountant*

        Thanks! I’m fine with doing sales tax (I file for a few clients), but I would be OK if I never saw anything payroll related ever again (other than my own check!). I’m working on revamping my resume right now, but will really start looking toward the end/after tax season.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          OMG! Then go for SALT jobs please! So many firms, both public and private in my area (New England) are hiring like crazy for SALT jobs. And going to a bigger public firm just for SALT could be great too, just sayin’. And everyone is paying top dollar for this.
          You are in the catbird seat, my dear. GO FOR IT!

    7. Butters*

      Think really hard about whether or not you want to stay in tax. This is the perfect time to move to accounting if you think you might want to do that. It’s nearly impossible to leave tax one you’ve done it for a while and accounting has so many options while tax is a specialty.

      With that being said, I left public accounting after 3 busy seasons for a tax analyst role and 10 years later I’m looking for senior manager or director roles (for 3x what I was paid in my first job). In my experience industry promotes quickly and exposes you to a lot of different areas of tax. But if you see yourself as a partner in public accounting there is going to be a shortage soon as a ton of CPAs are nearing retirement age. For what it’s worth, my husband is a partner at a national firm (not big 4) and makes significantly more than the tax leadership at my current employer.

  45. Person from the Resume*

    This is a weird time of year. I live in New Orleans and Mardi Gras is 11 days away. My personal life is busy with parades and parade prep and planning for the days when you have to plan normal activities around parades even if you’re not going to. (Can’t go grocery shopping if the parade passes by the grocery store or blocks your route to the store.) New Orleans is closed on Mardi Gras day, but I have already put in my PTO for it because I work from home on a virtual team. We don’t get a holiday for Mardi Gras and I’m trying to take care of everything that needs to taken care of at work while I’m busy and stressed about how busy I am. Basically it’s like its the Thanksgiving or Christmas season for me and only me while for the rest of my team it’s business as usual. And that’s extra stressful because around Thanksgiving and Christmas it’s expected to be slow and it’s known that everyone is off at least some of the same few days.

    I know two people who took off starting the Wednesday before Mardi Gras and while I think a whole week is bit much, but I am starting to get it. Juggling work and the unusually busy personal life is hard.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      I used to live somewhere that had celebrated a non-Christmas/Thanksgiving holiday significantly. I always took that day off plus at least one or two other days off (sometime just half days) to get everything prepped.

    2. Tris Prior*

      I am moving to New Orleans in a couple of weeks (after Mardi Gras) and will be a remote worker, and I had wondered how this was going to go! Like you, it’ll be just another day/season for the rest of my team, while I will want to participate in carnival and not work. Note to self, take some PTO.

    3. Lady Danbury*

      It’s not reasonable to expect that work slow times will coincide with personal busy times, so if you need more time, take it. That’s exactly what PTO is for. I’ve worked on a remote team where I had a big local holiday that was different from the rest of the team, so I always took PTO during those times.

    4. Anon for this!*

      Oh gosh. Totally off topic, but I went to college in New Orleans ages ago and this post just made me miss that wonderful town so, so much

  46. AnonforToday*

    Tl;dr: should I tell my managers that I’m leaving because of wfh situation?

    I know I’m going to be very unpopular on here for this opinion, but I hate working from home. I really, really do. When I took a job mid-pandemic, I was promised that when things go back to “normal”, my team would revert to 2 days in the office, 3 days at home, which sounded amazing to me. But since we have been able to do so, I have going in to the office around once or twice a week, and none of my colleagues ever come in! I am the only once who seems to want to come into the office at all. I completely understand that my colleagues have different preferences and tolerances for risk, and in addition, a lot of them have kids so working from home makes that a lot easier. I don’t have any illusions that any of them will be coming into the office on a regular basis any time soon, even if the magic wand was waved, and covid disappeared.

    I’ve got a new job at another company that is a step up in title and responsibility (which I was looking for anyway) but also seems to have more of an office culture which I was looking for. At the moment, I’ve just been telling people I’m leaving for the new opportunity but I’m wondering if I should raise the fact that I was looking for a little bit more in-person time with (and support from) my team. It hasn’t helped that my team are not very social people in general, so 90% of anything more on the personal side (weekly 121s, skip level catch ups, etc) are cancelled in favour of other meetings.

    I don’t necessarily want my colleagues to change (bit late now!), but I am concerned that they will sell the role as a hybrid to my replacement rather than what it is, 100% wfh or alone in the office. Is it worth bringing up at all, or will it cause more trouble than it’s worth? I’m sure that many people would be thrilled with this situation, but some people are like me too!

    1. quill*

      I mean, technically it’s a hybrid. It’s just that nobody else’s job in your team is, in practice, a hybrid, or they’re only in on days you are not.

      That said, if you’re leaving on good terms there’s probably no harm in bringing up that during your interview process you realized that it would help future candidates to know whether a hybrid schedule puts your team together in the office, or if it’s just a schedule where you come in once a week to use the printer and scanner. (This last bit, adjust based on job specifics / how well you know people.)

      1. Dragonfly7*

        I’ll echo making it clear to future candidates what the in office vs out of office time looks like. The more clearly the expectations are presented up front (working hours, location and travel, duties, working in a team vs independently) the more likely I am to apply to a position.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        Completely agree. I classify remote vs hybrid based on the time that I spend in office, not based on others’ time in office. The issue is that you expected a certain amount of collaboration while in office, based on the information that they provided, which didn’t play out. It’s entirely possible that they weren’t intentionally misleading you, but changes in terms of variants and other extenuating circumstances changed people’s willingness to return to the office. I would recommend that they give a more accurate picture of the level of in office collaboration, not focus on whether or not the role should be classified as hybrid.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It sounds like this may just be a culture fit issue – and that’s okay! My office is pretty eager to get back in person, and if someone said they needed to find some place that let them work 100% remote I would not be upset about that. People have learned a lot about themselves during the last two years. You can definitely flag it, but do so with the framing that this might be a culture thing they want to be transparent about in the future. Because that’s really all it is, it doesn’t really sound like anyone did anything wrong here.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      Yes, you should. Your company needs to know that the environment isn’t a fit for you. It may not be a fit for others. You would be giving them the gift of information. How they choose to use that information is their choice. And that doesn’t necessarily mean requiring people to come to the office. It could be creating an office environment where more people want to go into the office. Or doing other things that encourage more collaboration and socialization. Whatever. But I recommend telling them.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Why would you criticize your team on your way out the door? Because that’s what this would sound like. I think it’s more trouble than it’s worth and would stick to leaving for the opportunity.

      1. Loulou*

        This doesn’t sound like criticizing the team to me at all! OP explained things pretty clearly here and I think if they said the same in an exit interview it would be fine. There may not be a solution for the company except making it clearer that the “hybrid” part may not look like what candidates expect, but that’s okay.

    5. What She Said*

      I think this is a case of you leaving for a great opportunity and leave at that. It’s kind you want to worry about your replacement but you really don’t need to nor should you. This place is clearly a culture mismatch and I feel saying so is more likely to cause some hurt feelings with nothing to gain from either side. Stick with your “great opportunity” and leave the rest out.

    6. PassThePeasPlease*

      I’d keep it to only that you’re leaving for another opportunity since that is true. Mentioning the WFH piece likely won’t impact any real change and you even potentially run the risk of higher ups hearing it and making the arrangement less flexible for your remaining coworkers (like mandatory 2 days in or something like that). I wouldn’t want that to be my legacy as I was moving on to a better fit for my preferences.

    7. RagingADHD*

      It’s fine to say that you want a job with more in-person engagement. That’s a perfectly fine thing to self-select about, and it’s nothing against your team that it doesn’t work for you.

      Part of what’s going on in the job market is that people are sorting themselves into those who prefer WFH looking for that type of job, and those who prefer WIO finding those.

      You’re not just taking a new job that fits you better. You’re also making space for someone else who would prefer that setup. It will be helpful for management to know, so they know who to look for and how to describe the situation to new candidates.

  47. Saffie_Girl*

    I’ve been out of the interviewing scene for a while, and am wonders if this was a normal interview question. I had an interview this week where I was asked for a significant learning from my time in college. I’m in my 40s and my initial thought was that was that college was over 2 decades ago, and seems like ancient history. My resume only goes back 15 years as that is the relevant work history, and my degrees are listed but without dates. I figured something out without highlighting how long ago it was, but am curious, have others gotten questions like this recently?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      No, that’s odd, maybe a clue that the role is a bit junior or geared to someone with less work experience?

    2. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      The only time I remember being asked in an interview about what I learned in college was when I was actually IN college and interviewing for internships & volunteer roles. I have been on the interviewer side where we have asked new grads about college projects ONLY because they had listed the relevant projects on their resumes and didn’t have much work history. I think it’s very odd to ask someone with years of professional experience about what they learned in college.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think it’s an odd question. I know my boss has some Opinions on how long someone’s college experience stays relevant, so maybe they were searching for something like that? But I can only guess. You’re right that it’s strange.

    4. ThatGirl*

      When I was looking for a new job in late 2020, I got a call from a recruiter for a large company around here, and they seemed VERY interested in my college experience. Similar to you I am 40 and at that point was 17 years past graduation. But GlassDoor revealed them seem very interested in “names” – and my college while small has a good reputation in the Midwest so I can only assume it was in that vein. I still found it pretty bizarre.

    5. Kathenus*

      To me it’s odd in that it asked you to go back for one from college. We sometimes use a similar question, but it’s more tailored to the person – and usually it’s framed more like ‘what’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past year’. For younger candidates who may be less experienced in interviewing I’ll sometimes specify it could be from school, a job, or maybe even something else in their life. So the question doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to me but asking you to pull one from college does, unless this is academia and they are looking to see a formative college experience that might lead to something related to that role you could replicate for current students .

    6. irene adler*

      It could be that have to ask exactly the same questions of every candidate. AND, someone drafted this question expecting some candidates to be fresh out of college without a wealth of work experience to draw from. Now why they thought this – can’t say. “We covered all the bases?”

    7. Ama*

      I have looked at a couple job postings lately from places that seem to be hiring their first full time permanent employees after years of relying on student interns (or maybe just not having hired a full time employee in a while), and it has been pretty clear that no one went back through their online application to readjust (one, for example, asked me to list the coursework I’d taken relevant to the job — like you I’ve been out of college for twenty years).

      I haven’t had that experience in an interview recently, though.

    8. cookie monster*

      I had a really weird interview where I was asked for a high and low point from college, first job out of college, grad school, etc . . . It was very formulaic so maybe there is somewhere recommending this. I thought it was absolutely ineffective and also invasive – the “worst time” for me in college was when I was depressed!

    9. Saffie_Girl*

      Thanks all – this is a newer organization and is just starting to onboard staff, so sounds like they may not have figured out how to best interview yet.

    10. Nunnuyur Biznis*

      Whenever I got questions about college (I’m more than 20 years working and my college grad date is not on my resume) I’m always suspicious that they’re trying to find out how old I am.

  48. Drowning in dishes*

    This post has a lot of context, sorry! I’m a dishwasher at my first restaurant job (but definitely not anywhere close to my first job). Basically, my schedule changed with no warning and I want to address how long the changes are gonna last, and ideally the lack of communication. I know the restaurant industry is a little different, so if anyone who has worked in one could give specific wording (I’ll be doing this via message), please let me know!

    In the fall I got a job as a dishwasher/busser. The way our (or at least my) scheduling currently works is that I put in my availability for the month (which is based on the hours at my other job), and then we get our specific schedule for the next week the Tuesday or Wednesday before. If we want time off, we can only submit it a few weeks before.

    I recently learned from a barista that a couple dishwashers quit, which is why my schedule, which had been very consistent since I started, is suddenly so weird (we’re also slower so my hours have also been cut in addition to somewhat changed, but nobody has confirmed that’s why they’re suddenly shorter?). That same day, one of the managers let me know that they were trying to hire more dishwashers, but as far as I know, they haven’t hired anyone yet.

    Anyway, I don’t mind working the occasional night or weekend, but I do mind the lack of communication. For the most part, I think everyone else has pretty consistent schedules, but I don’t think any “department” is as short-staffed as dish.

    How can I ask how long this schedule inconsistency is going to last? This lack of communication is also something I’d like to address, but I don’t know if I can do that. Tbh I’m really trying to avoid burnout, but I also don’t like feeling like I have to be “on call” all the time because I might have to work a weekend in the future.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      It’s very reasonable to communicate your needs around scheduling notice to whoever your manager is. Possible script: “Hi, I need to know my schedule at the beginning of each month so I can balance this job with my other job. Is that something you can do on a regular basis?”
      If they can’t respect that, then believe me, there’s a lot more restaurants out there who need dishwashers! Especially dishwashers who sound as diligent, conscientious, and reliable as you!!

      1. Drowning in dishes*

        I would LOVE that, but I don’t think they’d change how they do scheduling. That’s the routine that was mentioned when I was hired, that they do week to week. I let them know my schedule at the beginning of the month, but I might try only giving my availability a couple weeks at a time.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The easy short-term answer to this is just to change your availability. Of course that means that you might get a lot fewer hours. So you have to decide if 8 hours/week on a “regular” schedule is better for you overall than 12 hours/week with an unpredictable schedule including weekends. And if you restrict your availability when the business is crunched, they aren’t going to look favorably on the future.

      (I know I just argued myself out of my answer above.)

      Management is probably too busy trying to juggle everything, and they don’t think that they need to communicate strategic decision-making processes to bussers and dishwashers. But if you can buttonhole one of them for 3 minutes, you can just ask things like “So how’s it going with hiring more dishwashers? Should I be expecting that shifts are going to be in flux for the long haul? Do you want me to talk to my friends about applying?”

      Show that you are aware of the overall business situation and aren’t just complaining about your small piece of it, and you’re more likely to get a positive reaction. I’ve hired kitchen staffers and bar backs, and was always grateful when they chimed in and did more than just follow orders.

      1. Drowning in dishes*

        I for sure don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I mean, I guess I am in a way? I more want to know how this unpredictability is gonna last.

        I did ask one of the supervisors (not managers, has nothing to do with the hiring process) if they hired any more bussers, and she said they had a couple interviews this weekend. I asked how interviews from a couple weeks ago went, and got a vague answer, so I don’t think they hired either of them.

        Basically, if I know my schedule is going to be weird for only a couple more weeks, that’s a lot better than just having said unpredictability up in the air for an undefined amount of time. So, if things are up in the air, I might change my availability slightly for March. At this point, the weekends bother me more (previous jobs had me working almost every Saturday and quite a few Sundays, so it’s really nice to have my weekends back, really helps the burnout). I might have a little less open availability for them going forward.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          If I’m reading this right, they are short-handed, but they have cut your hours AND ignored your other obligations and changed your (reduced) schedule to conflict with obligations they knew in advance.

          If so, it doesn’t look good. That would imply that they don’t know what they need, and don’t care how it affects you.

          Don’t be shocked if the new hires get the shifts you want.

          1. Drowning in dishes*

            Technically they haven’t (yet) interfered with my other job, which is the most important thing. I think because o literally plug my availability into the system and I’m assuming if they tried to schedule me for a time I’m not free, the system wouldn’t let them.

            But yes, they have cut my hours (even though we’re short staffed????) and haven’t said anything. I think it’s probably just really bad timing with that and people leaving but still. Nobody has really said anything to me about any of it.

            Most of the people they hire as dishwashers are in high school, so usually they get the nights. But because the nights are usually shorter shifts, they get the weekends to make up. Which is totally fine with me.

            Anyway, I did end up saying something. No clue when anyone will read it, but I don’t like feeling that I’m supposed to be “on call” (if I’m not at my other job). I also don’t appreciate the lack of communication, that’s really my big thing. If my boss had said why my schedule was suddenly changing, that would have been different. I’d still be a little annoyed, but at least I’d know right away.

  49. Fluff*

    Has anyone made a drastic career change for a higher paycheck? My current job in marketing makes 50k and I feel even if I change jobs every few years, I won’t reach my goal of 100k until later in life than I want.

    My friend is going to pilot school. It costs 100k for just one year of being a student and 2 years of teaching but then she’s a pilot. People around me make a lot in tech so I could get a second bachelors degree in something related. I don’t need to like my job. I don’t like my job now. I just want to be able to live comfortably.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I’ve seen people do science research –> Data science (so for example, some theoretical physics research pivot to logistics analysis). Interesting that you’re considering a pilot as a high salary job! They’re typically not ranked well in cost-to-work-life-balance.

      1. Edgytraveler*

        It’s a great time to be a pilot. There’s a huge shortage. The major airlines are hiring like crazy and pay VERY well.

    2. CompAnalyst*

      I did. I went from being on the path towards teaching English to being a compensation analyst. I got an MBA in HR.

      I’m like you – I didn’t need to like my job. I need to like my job environment, but not my job. I work so I can live the lifestyle I want to.

    3. Ali + Nino*

      Ha, see my question above re: writers pivoting to other industries. Great minds think alike. Good luck!

    4. Mantis Tobaggan, MD*

      Just want to pipe in because my partner is an early-career pilot: it’s true that some pilots make a lot of money, but most don’t and in any case it would take many years for someone to acquire the experience to get the higher-paying level (caveat: I’m in Canada, it could be totally different in the US I guess). Air traffic control is a lucrative option within aviation.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        It’s not. Early career airline pilots are flying for the regionals with poor working conditions and not very good pay.

      2. Fluff*

        Not sure if it makes a difference but she’s in Jet Blue’s program so she’ll be guaranteed a job with them after graduation. We do both assume she will make $$$ though but maybe it’s different for everyone.

    5. La Donna*

      There are plenty of jobs that pay 100k and don’t require decades of experience. I started making 52k in my second job out of college at age 26. 8 years later (current), I make 101k. I’ve been at 3 different companies in the 8 years.

      Another friend of mine is 32, and she makes 100k, working for a well known nonprofit that pays very well.

      Any people manager at the company I work at will make ~100k, and I assume it’s similar for most Fortune 100 companies.

      1. Fluff*

        Honestly, that gives me hope. I’m 28 right now and in entry level so it feels kinda hopeless getting to the salary I need to buy a house and possibly have kids in time. Maybe I’ll take some classes to grow skills in marketing.

        1. La Donna*

          I would definitely search for companies that are known to pay well. Glassdoor is a good start, and depending on your experience, someone with 4-5 general analytics experience (analytics not meaning coding or any type of SQL/Python/etc., but able to work with data, excel, contracting, marketing, etc.) pay about 70-80k.

          Here are companies that I know pay well:

          Boston Scientific

          Good luck!!

        2. Teal Fish*

          I work in marketing and there are several ways to get to $100K within a few years. It depends on what part of marketing you’re in now and what you’re good at/interested in. I’d recommend joining some marketing Slack groups and asking around to learn more about different career paths. Depending on your specialty area, I’ve had good experiences in Traffic Think Tank, All In, Product Marketing Alliance, Women in Tech SEO, and RevGenius.

    6. Anhaga*

      Have you thought about adding some skills to complement and boost you in your current field? One of my colleagues was hired as a marketing person, but she’s been shifted over more to creating company-branded content (not advertising, but customer support content) and because of the field we’re in, has had to learn how to make digital content accessible so that it can be accessed by people using assistive tech like screen readers. Simply learning document accessibility like that has given her a whole new skillset that is *hugely* in demand. As for me, I changed to web accessibility from teaching college-level English and writing, and in this, my third year in the field, my salary has almost doubled from what it was when I was teaching. The skills weren’t hard to learn, and there are lots of resources out there.

  50. DownandDepressed*

    I just need some encouraging comments.

    I applied for but did not get the department director job where I work. The person who has been hired has hit all the “new director” no-nos – assuming no one knows what they’re doing, tacking on additional work to someone’s job without evaluating the current workload, assuming we’re being purposefully inefficient without asking why we do things a certain way, group punishments for assumed shortcomings, barreling in to “correct” our processes and not wanting to discuss it and screwing things up, assuming that overloaded employees begging for relief or saying they can’t take on more work are not invested in their jobs and accusing an employee who left because of some of these things of being a bitter ex-employee when she mentioned it in an exit interview.

    The employees in this department trust me and have been coming to me to beg for help. I intervene where I can, but I also don’t know how far to push it and I don’t want it to look like I am interfering because I didn’t get the job. And the times I have intervened I have been professionally belittled and brushed off.

    I have been job hunting and although I get a lot of interest, I haven’t gotten any bites. I feel like I’m failing. I’m failing professionally, I’m failing the employees here, I’m failing to advocate. It’s such a stressful environment right now.

    1. Kathenus*

      I’m sorry, that sounds terrible. The one thing I’d suggest is not being the point person for all of the complaints any longer. The big bosses need to hear it from a variety of people directly, not once through an intermediary. And since you were a candidate for the job you may also not be taken as seriously if someone perceives any ‘sour grapes’ in your comments (this would be wrong, but also very common). Let people hear multiple (valid) complaints about new director from as many who have them as possible, and you might be more likely to be taken seriously about the problems.

    2. Ama*

      None of this is your fault, it is the fault of your senior management who clearly made a bad hire and now aren’t stepping in to fix it.

      I would honestly tell the other employees that they should take their issues to senior management because, as you wrote, when the comments only come from you it just looks like you are upset because you didn’t get the job. If you have someone in senior management or HR that you trust, you might have a sidebar with them about how poor morale is due to the new director, but just once, and then I think you’ve done all you can do.

      I’m having a lot of trouble in my job hunt as well, and I think it’s important to remember that for all the talk about it being a job seeker’s market, every time Alison puts up a post about what people are actually seeing there are a ton of sectors and geographic areas where that’s just not that true, because so many people are looking.

    3. The Assistant*

      Hey, you’re not failing. Something is failing here, but not you. You are doing the best you can.

      I agree with not being the point person for venting. People often don’t realize that the person listening commiserates but has feelings of their own to sort through. Just listen and nod and move on to what you have to do that day.

      If you are getting a lot of interest, your application materials are good. You just want to find the right role. I do see a lot of roles now in my field but not necessarily a lot of director roles. So wait it out for the right role for you. It takes a bit of shift to not think daily about where you’re at but I found it helpful to focus on the new job even if it didn’t exist yet.

    4. DinosaurWrangler*

      When you say you’re getting “a lot of interest but no bites” what does that mean? Are you getting interviews?

      If you’re not getting interviews, I suggest checking Alison’s job search advice, taking a look at your resume with a critical eye, etc.

      Sadly, I think your new director. isn’t going to change. Maybe just keeping your head down while you put more into your job search. You’ve got an ideal answer to the “why are you leaving your job” question ( little opportunity for advancement, ready for new challenges, without complaining about your current workplace).

      Unless you’re already in a management position, I’m not sure you can do much to help the other employees, other than commiserate. You are NOT failing, you’re dealing with an Evil Pointy-Haired Director. And unless people start leaving in droves, nothing will change. And even if people do leave, the folks above the EP-HD might not care or won’t notice.

      So take Alison’s advice, and good luck on your job hunt.

  51. Mid*

    Has anyone taken a Leave of Absence from their job for mental health? How did you afford it?


    More info: my company is small (less than 10 people), so no FMLA, and no state paid medical leave either. Me taking a break would drastically impact the company, because we’re short staffed already.

    But, my medical team is very concerned about my mental health, and they want me to take at least a month off to try and recover from the burn out I’m dealing with (and the negative impacts from the burnout on the rest of my mental and physical health.) I’ve been doing pretty okay at masking how bad the symptoms are at work, so I’m also worried that they won’t believe that I need this LOA or that I’m faking it/weak/whatever else my boomer parents keep saying about me. My work performance has been slipping a bit, but I’ve been managing to show up mostly on time, mostly bathed and well groomed, so it’s not super obvious that I’m on the verge of a very bad and scary mental health episode.

    I have 2 weeks (10 days) of PTO and 7 days of sick leave left for the year, plus the federal government mandates 48 hours of sick time currently. However, I’m also concerned that if I use all my PTO for a medical leave, I’ll end up burnt out again by the end of the year.

    I might be able to qualify for short term disability, but it honestly would be luck of the draw on who reviews my case. My doctors would support my claim, but it’s also difficult because they want me to take a leave now, before I end up worse (hospitalization level worse), so it’s more like a leave to prevent disability.

    So, I’m really concerned about losing my job (and therefore my health insurance), about leaving just to come back to an even more overwhelming workload (which is what happened when I took a week’s vacation—it ended up being more stressful than just not taking a break at all), and not being able to afford the reduction in pay (assuming I even keep my job.) But I also know I really need to take a break before I end up even worse off.

    1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      I did. I used up my remaining PTO and then maybe took a few days unpaid – I forget exactly, this was about 5 years ago.

      I do recommend taking the leave. I needed it. Coming back is tough, though. My employer was very compassionate at the time – and I was NOT keeping my mental health issues very under wraps at work – but after a month or so back, it was like, ok, so you’re better now right? Nope, could not get caught up, my workload was still too high, and in actuality the role still just wasn’t a good fit for me. I ended up staying for another year after that LOA, but really shouldn’t have. that’s just my situation, though.

      1. Mid*

        That’s also one of my worries–I’ll take an LOA, come back, and still not be better. (Mostly because we NEED to hire at least one more person to help with my workload, if not two people, and if that doesn’t change, I’m going to keep burning out.) There are a lot of pros to staying in my workplace, and I honestly don’t have the capacity to even look at other jobs at this point anyway.

        But I’m glad you did it too, and it wasn’t a total disaster at least. That helps to hear.

    2. Bluebelle*

      I am so sorry you are struggling. Take your PTO and sick leave and during that time apply for Short Term Disability. I haven’t done it, but I contacted the person in benefits to ask what the steps were. I was able to take my full PTO and got on medication and was able to avoid it, but I knew it was an option.
      Good luck and I wish you all the best.

      1. Mid*

        I know the general process for applying, and I’d have to work with my state government rather than with my company for STD.

        Thank you! I appreciate the response.

    3. Mid*

      Well, I have an unexpected update. I was called into a meeting with my boss and a partner (I work in the legal field) about a missed meeting, which became a discussion about my workload and my bosses’ workload, and how desperately we need to hire another person. The partners at the firm know in general, and have said they’re “working on it” but it’s very much not a priority to them. In this discussion with Boss and Partner, I laid out exactly how overworked I was, how much OT I’ve been doing, how behind I am in all of my work, and how the only way to get these issues resolved was hiring another person, period. I also got permission to do as much OT as needed to try and get back on top of my workload, which isn’t helpful but is somewhat helpful, in that it got them to acknowledge that there aren’t enough hours in the week to get everything done. My boss explained to Partner that she’s been working every single weekend, at least 6 full days a week, often 7 days.

      So, that’s finally more clear to The Partners at least. We’ve been saying it, but I don’t think the total extent to which we were overwhelmed had really sunk in.

      After that meeting, I asked to speak with Boss alone, and I explained that my doctors want me to take an LOA, and that I wasn’t in a place to do that quite yet, but it was a possibility. She was very understanding and said I don’t need to worry about PTO, my job security, etc. We would find a way to make it work. Especially since the reason I need the leave is this job. So, that was a good thing to hear. I’m still worried about how it will impact me in the long run at this firm, but I feel a little better. I’m going to work this weekend on writing out a list of job duties, working on prioritizing them, and then being more aggressive about bouncing everything that isn’t on The List Of Mid’s Duties to my boss or back to the attorney to deal with it because they are grown adults who can figure shit out sometimes and I’m not their babysitter.

      So, I’m feeling a little better overall, still really worried about everything, but at least now I’m not worried about how I’m going to pay my bills.

      1. What She Said*

        Here’s the thing, the head boss(es) won’t make it a priority until it affects them. Meaning they need to see and feel the issues, not just be told about them. You NEED this leave. You clearly have your boss’s support. So call out sick, no prep, just call in sick, then send in a letter from your doc that you’re unable to return to work until x date. I can promise you if you keep pushing to your absolute breaking point, the recovery will be much longer. Good luck and wishing you well!

        1. Mid*

          This is a very good point. Thank you. I feel bad because my boss is a good person/I don’t like “failing”/I was socialized from a young age to be a people pleaser/Catholic guilt/Midwest nice/a million other excuses, but you’re very right that I need to take a break before I actually break, and my company needs to feel the consequences for not properly staffing us.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I would take the break, and during the break prepare to set limits when you come back. So take a month off and do no work, and then when you come back make it clear that you will, say, not work weekends and have to leave by 6pm every night. And stick to it. Let things fail if necessary, but prioritize your health over your employer’s success.

            Right now, you’re literally working yourself into a state of collapse to keep on top of things, but that’s shielding management from having to do anything urgent about the situation, because the work is getting done. If you work yourself into long term disability, they’ll have a short term problem, hire someone to replace you and move on – you’ll be the one bearing the life altering consequences.

    4. Not Today*

      As someone who has had to do this multiple times, take the time you need. As for how to do it, one time, I moved back in with my parents. Luckily for me, my Boomer parents started educating themselves when my older brother had a psychotic break, and by the time I had my worst depressive episodes they were teaching classes on mental illness for other families. Another time I got a seasonal retail job to make ends closer to meeting. Not that retail can’t be stressful. But it’s the kind that’s much easier to put away when off the clock. Ultimately, my advice is to do WHATEVER you need to for your health, even if it changes your job or your life. I had to make some drastic changes to mine, but those are some of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Good luck! We’re all pulling for ya! Oh and I paid a zillion dollars to COBRA to keep my insurance (and necessary medication) flowing.

      1. Mid*

        Thank you. Heading home is on my list of considerations, though the area my parents live is not great for resources, and I’d lose my community and my medical providers. I hope you’re doing better now!

  52. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

    I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place…

    I’m being made redundant from my company after 15 years, due to a significant reduction in our team – 75% cut. I’ve secured a secondment until September, which is great, and gives me the opportunity to learn some slightly different skills to boost my CV.

    But when do I begin the job hunt proper? If I leave before September then there is a chance than I won’t get my redundancy payout as it’s at managers discretion, but if it wasn’t for the redundancy I wouldn’t be leaving so I don’t want to walk away without the payout. I also don’t want to leave the secondment mid-way through and let them down.

    I’ve already had some approaches via Linked In but I’m thinking of changing my profile not to say available for work at the moment. Three month notice period in my industry is standard, but I don’t think many companies will wait six months for me.

    I change my mind on what to do about every other day…

    1. Bluebelle*

      I would start looking 4 months out from your end date. The hiring process can take a full month, then you can give the 3 months notice. Good luck and get that payout!

    2. junior*

      I would definitely start job hunting now. You might run into a few awkward situations, but I think the right job would be willing to wait for you. Also, if it were me, knowing that I had 5+ months would make me more likely to turn down offers that I wasn’t sure about.
      Best of luck!

      1. junior*

        Oh shoot, and I forgot to add – job searching takes so much longer when you already have a job. At least this has been my case.

        1. MacGillicuddy*

          But you’re more likely to get hired if you still have a job than if you’re unemployed.

          Start job hunting now. First get your resume updated and improved if needed. Alison has great advice on this.

          When you’re still working you don’t have that panic of OMG I’m unemployed and the money is going to run out.
          And you can be more discerning, because you won’t feel like you have to take an offer because you’re desperate.
          And it’s useful to get in some practice interviews (or calm them non-critical interviews, meaning “they called me for an interview, I’m not sure I want to work for them but I guess I’ll go hear what they have to say”. Especially if it has been 15 years since you’ve job hunted.

          1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

            This is an excellent point. I’ve interviewed once in 15 years and the thought of doing it again fills me with fear!

    3. BRR*

      It depends on how much the redundancy payout is. Because to me, at a certain point getting a long-term job lined up will be better than the payout.

      Also don’t feel bad about leaving mid-way through your secondment. You have to look out for you first. You wouldn’t have to leave if they didn’t make your position redundant.

      1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        It’s essentially a year’s salary, which is why I don’t want to walk away! If it was a couple of thousand then that would be different, but I’ve been there so long that it works out at pretty much a years salary.

        I don’t think there is such a thing as a signing bonus in the UK.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          Given how much money is at stake, I would base my timing on the current market for the type of roles that you’re looking at. I would start putting feelers now to get an idea of what types of jobs are out there, how many interviews you get and how long the process takes to get an offer. I’ve heard of job searches moving as quickly as a few weeks to as long as years. Once you have a better idea of what the market, you can adjust your timing accordingly.

  53. Sigrid*

    A small victory: there was a contract snafu at work (I’m in medicine, where contracts are the norm), and my employer came very close to claiming they couldn’t pay me for time worked. Fortunately, I have been an AAM reader for over a decade, and a very firmly worded email citing the relevant employment law led to them reversing course without my even having to get a lawyer involved.

    (For the record, I have a new job starting next academic year. This is only one of many issues at my current employer.)

  54. Trivia Newton-John*

    Still looking for a new job (the one that seemed perfect for me ghosted me after Thanksgiving. The position is still up on their website) but I would love advice on this:
    Should I look for a new job if I have booked a vacation in 4 months, or should I put it on hold and wait until I get back from vacation?

    1. fueled by coffee*

      I’d keep searching. If they have policies around e.g. not taking PTO during your first 6 months or whatever, you can always try to negotiate for time off for the planned vacation if you get an offer. If they won’t give it to you (or they do something like offering it to you unpaid and that’s not in your budget), you can always turn down the offer.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work it can often take 4 months to complete the hiring process, and longer if the person hired needs a security clearance. I’d be searching, but be prepared to negotiate for the time off as part of accepting the job if things happen quickly.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh no, just keep looking! And if your vacation falls in the middle of whatever or when they want you to start, just include that in the start date discussions and interview timing discussions

    4. DinosaurWrangler*

      Alison says to bring up the vacation after you get a job by offer (ajon offer in writing, not verbal). Tell them you have a pre-booked trip from dateX to dateY and ask if that could be accommodated ( take as unpaid, delay start date, etc)

      It can take 4 months to job hunt.

    5. Lady Danbury*

      Keep searching. It’s completely normal to have vacation booked while searching for a new job. If you receive an offer before the vacation, you can either delay your start date until after the vacation or let them know that you have vacation planned after they make the offer.

  55. urguncle*

    From earlier this week, I posted on “our new team lead is horrible and keeps sharing private details about us with our colleagues” and said I would tell the lurid story (hopefully without identifying details) here:
    I came into the company as a Llama Groomer in 2019 and things seemed pretty normal for awhile. I made it clear in my interviews that although I had experience in Llama Grooming, I wanted to join a company where I saw growth for myself and I would be working to prove myself as more than a Groomer.

    I saw my boss as kind of prickly and odd, but a lot of bosses are odd. Early 2020, the company announced a new department, Advanced Llama Services. There were a few possible, but not guaranteed, titles that I thought looked really interesting and aligned more with my interests. I expressed this to our HR team and was met with a VERY harsh private word from my boss that I should NEVER contact HR about something like that without her approval and I should have gone to her first so she could tell me to focus on the work that I was hired to do.

    One thing I always do at a company is branch out and make connections to other departments. I’ve found that I get better projects this way, I genuinely enjoy my job more and I can get more done for the llamas this way. This infuriated my boss and I started to feel more pressure. When I got the flu in February 2020, I was out for almost an entire week. This was unacceptable as I was working with someone else on a webinar and was unable to get it done beforehand. She also changed the scope of the webinar days before I left and was angry that I had not worked on it more. I was very sick, to be clear, going to urgent care multiple times to get x-rays on my lungs to make sure that I didn’t develop pneumonia because of another condition. The day that I came back into the office, she yelled at me in a conference room and was outwardly hostile to me that I didn’t have the lung capacity to deliver the webinar.

    This wouldn’t be the last time she raised her voice to me, and after the final time, I went to HR and my grandboss a few months after she started. I had felt isolated for a long time and nothing really happened until mid-2021 when I found out from other colleagues that she had done similar things to almost everyone: kept people from going above her head for things and then punished them, created fake PIPs by exaggerating details, burying her own liability for issues and outright lying about her reports to management. This had happened to the entire Grooming department and although some people had escaped it, she would also create these fake PIPs to get people to stop moving off the team.

    Mid year she was removed from managing groomers, but the damage had been done and any time that she had to work with someone, there was manipulation and animosity. At this point, all of the llama groomers knew what her tactics were and were reporting to the grandboss. Finally, after basically codifying rumors as “fun facts” to share with the company, she was asked to resign.

    We are not entirely out of the woods as there are professional courtesies extended to her that keep her attached to the company for awhile longer, but she’s no longer able to harm the company, outside of yoking us to a vendor that no one wants to use because it’s associated with her.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I made a note to come look for this story. Thank you for following up. Comparing it to the letter the other day, Kate is an amateur. She’s so artless and egocentric, sure that nobody would compare notes, that everyone knows she’s deserving, that she’s “telling it like it is.” Your boss is/was a malicious loon who manipulated, lied and punished people. She is professional level movie villain.
      What jumped out to me most, is how she kept her staff cut off from other groups. I was pretty shy about going outside my group. Once I made connections with other people, volunteered for interdepartmental projects, my boss literally and figuratively patted me on the back. It went into my annual review. It was three sentences about initiative and growth and proactivity.
      And upper management let this go? My manager states our success gives her success, not our labor gives her credit/reward.
      Your ex-boss is a sick individual.

      1. urguncle*

        I don’t know if my complaint to HR/Grandboss was the catalyzing move, but I’m glad I recognized her use of the tactics that my manipulative mother would use on me. I managed to get reassigned to the Advanced Llama Services team, purely on accident and to none of the roles that I had initially expressed interest in, but I’m super happy in my current role and with my current boss.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That is Friday good news in itself. And sorry about all your experiences with manipulation. Best of luck to you in the future!

        2. ShinyPenny*

          Just wanted to say, that’s some awesome next-level adulting: being able to identify and protect yourself from an authority figure, who’s toxic tactics echo your toxic parent’s historical game plan. That situation can be so devastating if you are not able to recognize the “echo.” Gold star to you! And very happy to hear you are in a better situation now.
          (Also, why does it take so long for the awful ones to get fired?)

  56. Meow*

    Ever since we started working from home back in March 2020, it’s like all my coworkers just completely gave up on communication, collaboration, and helping each other. It was already kinda getting that way but the pandemic seemed to really exacerbate it and make everyone only care about themselves.

    I actually tried talking to my boss about it the other day, but it kind of got derailed for a bigger issue (“I wanted to talk to you about something, I’ve been working on X problem and have been struggling to find anyone to help me with it, I’ve asked for help multiple times, but-” “I didn’t know X was a problem! You’re right, we better fix it!”)

    I like the work I do and the work-life balance for this job but I don’t think I can deal with this anymore. My husband and my boss both keep saying I just need to be more assertive, but I’m exhausted from having to be assertive all the time, and I’m pretty sure at this point no one likes me very well either. I just don’t know what more I can do.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      All I can say is that there are better companies out there. I’m sorry that your group is like this and that your leadership is “Wow, problem. Ain’t that something?”
      This is not normal.
      There are groups that are more collaborative and I hope you think seriously about finding one and then do.
      Good luck.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say exactly this. Look for a better job with more normal people. Normal this isn’t!

    2. Coenobita*

      Oh, mega solidarity!! The last time I asked my boss for advice (in a “different stakeholders have opposing views on how we should do X and I don’t want to burn bridges” type situation) he straight-up told me to “get over it.” I don’t know what else to do besides try to find the energy (somewhere) to apply to other jobs.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        With all due respect to your boss (which is none) dafuq does “get over it even” mean?

      2. Pretend You’re An Anthropologist*

        Your boss has no tact, but maybe try this:

        Next time put all the stakeholders in a room, present the issues, possible solutions and results, then sit back and let them duke it out.

        Don’t worry about burning bridges. Either the stakeholders will come to a compromise, or somebody won’t like the final decision. But it’s not your personal fault. Anybody who holds it against you is a dingbat. Just keep thinking of them that way and don’t take it personally.

  57. AE*

    When I use the search this question comes up in the past with the answer that it’s fine to do, but I’m wondering about applying for an internal job with my work email listed on the application/as my contact?

    For context specifically, since I know there are a lot of people in my field here: I’m an academic librarian. Currently I’m in a staff position at my library and am applying for a faculty position. We have a weird system here where some librarians are staff and some are faculty; my current position requires an MLS and has basically the experience requirements and many of the same duties as the position I’m applying for. I have the support of many of my colleagues for getting the faculty position, which of course pays more and is tenure-track. It was my boss’s position and I worked as her right hand for many years before she left.

    However, the hiring decision is ultimately up to the library director, who is prickly and overly formal with processes. She makes a big deal about job titles and doing things according proper procedures and is sort of an academic elitist (I once had a colleague move from a staff to a faculty position within the library and she told him to “stop talking to the staff so much” after his promotion). I’m not sure if being internal will help me much with her, despite the support of my colleagues. And I’m worried she’ll view it as inappropriate for me to use my work email in the application, even though basically everyone, including her, knows I’m applying for the job. I think it’s dumb to not use my work email for this, but I worried she might hold it against me.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Hmm, I’d say totally fine to use your work email for academic libraries and internal positions. Has the director said anything specific about the email? If she’s mentioned it, I’d just roll my eyes and use a personal email. Is there anyone who works closer to her or has been on committees with her that you can ask?

      1. AE*

        She is quite awkward interpersonally and I don’t think would ever bring up something like that about hiring. Our whole library is only about 25 faculty/staff and we all work with her regularly so I’m not sure that anyone would have a better sense than anyone else.

        I do have quite a few colleagues who have changed positions within the library the past few years so I could ask what they did when they applied. I’m betting they used a personal email because the whole culture here never treats internal candidates any differently during hiring or really even acknowledges that they’re internal. (Like, we still do a staff meet-and-greet and go around the table and introduce ourselves to internal candidates as part of interview days.) But I don’t think there’s anything WRONG with using an internal email…

      2. Loulou*

        At my library you HAVE to use your library email for internal promotions or transfers (so you’d have to create a new account, not use the one you used to apply to your first job). This is laid out in our intranet, but if you work somewhere where it’s not I would just ask HR how to handle this.

        That said, OP, from your other comments it sounds like this environment is pretty unusual so I’m not sure how helpful our comments will be. I like your idea to talk to other colleagues who have changed jobs internally.

    2. Kathenus*

      On the overall topic of work email for an internal job, that’s always been perfectly fine everywhere I’ve worked. BUT, and this is important, if you do that please check your email regularly including on your days off. It is so frustrating for someone to give you a contact method and then not check it regularly, and I have had that with people who use work email addresses occasionally.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      To apply for another job in your company, does your immediate supervisor have to sign off on it?
      I would ask HR for your internal process. That should make everyone happy and take some stress out of your life.
      My company has a written procedure that HR will explain.
      In my company (and one years before this), you fill out a form, your boss signs it, you add it to the packet with the cover letter and resume and off it goes to HR. All correspondence thereafter was through work email/work phone. Interviews scheduled, follow up calls…nobody had to pretend it wasn’t happening or that it wasn’t a normal part of business.

      1. AE*

        Yeah, I work in academia and I (sort of) explained above that’s not how things work here, at least on my campus. There’s no separate process for internal candidates and we’re treated the same way as anyone else. I wish there was a process more like what you describe, but it’s not how things are in my setting.

        This is for the position left vacant by my supervisor, so there wouldn’t be anyone to approve it anyway; while the position is vacant my interim supervisor is the library director, who will be making the hiring decision. It’s all very incestuous which is why it’s absurd to treat it with such formality, but such is academia.

        One of my colleagues, who had chaired multiple search committees where candidates pulled out late in the process due to salary, once asked our university’s president and a VP in a meeting why we don’t include salary ranges on our job ads (they literally just all list “depends on qualifications” for the salary). They looked at my colleague like she had 2 heads and sputtered some answer that made it sound like they had never heard of such a crazy idea. So that’s the sort of environment I’m in.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Sorry I hadn’t fully read/comprehended. Now I’ve fully read and don’t comprehend a dang thing about your institution.
          They think this is a game? Like the ghosts of the crusading Knights Templar announcing “Only the penitent shall pass!”
          Well, I imagine a lot of candidates ARE sorry they ever met these people!

          1. AE*

            Yeah, perplexed responses like this are pretty typical when folks from outside academia encounter our norms when it comes to hiring, and many other things. It’s not great.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      It is 100% normal and really expected to use your work email for an internal job application.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I agree.

        But this may be one of those situations where doing what is normal is taken the wrong way. Then again, AE’s director may take it wrong if she tries to avoid that risk by using her personal email.

        I’m getting a headache from trying to figure out the what-ifs. Like trying to figure out which T/F test questions are trick questions, and which ones I saw an exception the teacher wasn’t thinking of.

        As Kathenus said, it’s important to be reachable by the mode of contact given in the application. That factor would nudge me toward the work email, since a nit-picky director could be annoyed about EA checking her personal email at work.

        1. AE*

          “I’m getting a headache from trying to figure out the what-ifs”

          This perfectly describes my day-to-day dealing with this person…

    5. Manchmal*

      If you think your boss would have a problem with using your work email, is there any downside from using a gmail or something? If you don’t have to use your work email because of the system, then just use another one. No one will be confused about who you are because of the email address.

  58. Elenna*

    Not sure if this is a work question, it involves work but it’s mostly a hardware/IT question. Feel free to tell me to repost on a weekend thread.

    So far, I’ve been having my work laptop and personal laptop on separate desks. However, I’ve now acquired a second monitor and separate keyboard for my work laptop. (We’ll be moving to hybrid work in the long term, so I expect to need a home workstation for a while.) Ideally, I’d like to be able to use those with my personal laptop as well. I’ve already messed up one mouse’s USB by unplugging and replugging it every day as I moved it back and forth, so I’m looking for a solution with a minimum of unplugging. There’s probably some obvious hardware solution to this, I just have no idea where to start looking…

    1. urguncle*

      USB Hubs are helpful for this. I got one because of Mac’s insistence on USB-C connectors. But if you have multiple things plugged into a hub, there’s a single thing that you’re plugging/unplugging constantly. Targus and Anker are good brands to start with.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are things called “KVM modules” (KVM = keyboard, video, mouse). They are often used in data centers and rooms with rack-mounted computers. The KVM is a small box that generally costs in the $30-$80 range. You connect a bunch of computers to the KVM, and then a single mouse/keyboard/monitor can be switched between them.

      Whether you can do this with your particular machines, and support multiple monitors for each, is hard to say without details. But your IT department might have suggestions, and you can usually find them in places like Best Buy, Office Depot, and independent computer shops.

      1. Lyudie*

        FWIW I have had bad luck with my last couple of KVMs, both from iogear IIRC. They conked out pretty quickly. They don’t seem to be as popular these days and I had a hard time finding any that weren’t the big expensive ones used for servers and such. My husband says there is software that does this too, but you might not be allowed to install it on a work computer.

        This might not apply to you but as a PSA, Corsair keyboards do not play well with KVMs. Mine just did not work at all, and Corsair’s response was we don’t test that, we don’t support that, go to the KVM manufacturer (they were not able to help either).

      2. Can Can Cannot*

        I use a KVM to share my monitor/mouse/keyboard between my work laptop and my home desktop. Works seamlessly — I love it. I just I have a Trendnet TK-207K, which costs about $25 at Amazon. The one I have is VGA rather than HDMI for the monitor, but there are HDMI versions available (but are a bit more expensive).

      3. Fanny Price*

        I have an ABLEWE KVM that I bought on Amazon and use to switch between my home desktop and my work laptop for my second monitor and external keyboard/mouse. It didn’t have quite enough ports for my setup so I also have a small USB hub plugged in on the keyboard input side. It works great for me. I’ve only had it for six months, so I guess I can’t vouch for lifetime yet, but it does everything I need it to.

    3. Kay*

      I tackled this problem early on! My solution was to build a set of shelves that live below my desk. My work & personal laptops both live there. I connected the monitor’s HDMI cable to one computer, and its VGA cable to the other computer. I change the monitor display by selecting a different input. (There are ways to do this with an HDMI splitter too if you want.)

      Then I hooked up the monitor, mouse, printer, and webcam USB cables to something called a USB switch. Basically, I click the button on it and everything changes from one computer to the other. It’s not perfect but it has made a huge difference for me.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a Logitech MX Keys keyboard and a Logitech MX Ergo trackball, each of which connects wirelessly to multiple computers (via either bluetooth or USB doohickey; the keyboard can connect to up to 3 devices including tablets/phones, and the trackball can do two) and has a button on it to switch it. So I can (and regularly do) have the keyboard pointing at one computer and the mouse pointing at the other. If you don’t want to put the computers on the same desk, something like this is a pretty good option, since both devices are wireless — you just push the button on the device itself to switch it over. I have a USB doohickey in my personal computer (Logitech does the unifying doohickey so both devices connect to the same one) and connect them by bluetooth to my work one, but you could do two Bluetooths or two USBs as well. Logitech has a few different device options that will connect to multiple computers/devices like this.

  59. Friday Anon*

    Are unscheduled phone interviews a thing now? I’m absolutely miserable in my job and am looking for a new one. Found a place I would love to join, and HR contacted me for an interview. However, my contact seems to want to just call me without setting up a scheduled day/time. I work full-time and have meetings and things to do, so we’ve played phone tag a couple of times because I missed 2 calls from her. In her last voicemail, she said she would call me today but wouldn’t specify a time (and I had told her I would love to speak with her about the position). This seems really inconsiderate and a waste of her time and mine. How hard is it to block out 30 minutes on the calendar and call candidates at the appointed time?

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      It’s so annoying! It happened to me too (with a job a friend referred me for, no less), and once the HR person finally agreed to set a specific date and time…they didn’t call. Ever again.

      For what it’s worth:

      – I’ve done lots of phone interviews over the past months, and all were pre-scheduled and came with calendar invites. The case above was the only exception.
      – I used to work for a company that did unscheduled phone interviews. That was so long ago, I started to think it may well be an outdated practice. Also, knowing what I know about that workplace now, it was a red flag for both a bad hiring process, and little respect for people’s time.

    2. TigerFan13*

      I had a similar situation at a previous job. I had gone through the first round of interviews with my immediate supervisor, and the next step was to be a phone interview with the General Manager of the company. I indicated I would be available any time after 3pm on XYZ days since I was still working full time at my current job. GM calls me at 1:30pm, and later immediate supervisor told me he knew that would happen because GM “just does what he wants sometimes”. I was young and took the job because I was really excited about the position, but dealing with GM was a pain the whole 4 years I was there. I would caution you not to move forward with anyone who doesn’t value your time/schedule, as this could foreshadow how you will be treated as an employee the entire time you are at the job.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      The prospective employer is giving you lots of information about themselves and their company. I’m not sure what, exactly. Something along the lines of: They think that hiring is not a big deal, the phone call is just a formality. They think that you are at their beck and call, that you’d jump at the chance for this opportunity.
      Or something else.
      But nothing good.

  60. Meep*

    Follow-up post.

    A little backstory: My former manager is, frankly, evil. There is no way to sugar-coat that. Back in November, I filed a sexual harassment complaint about something relatively mild (for her) where she was constantly accusing me of being pregnant anytime I took sick time and would follow it up by threatening to have me fired if I was on top of going out of her way to try and be a jerk anytime I took PTO. It bled into the fact she would also threaten to have me fired if I didn’t help her come up with ideas to present to her boss (never asking, always threatening) and that I was concerned that the company could potentially be hit with a lawsuit as she frequently broke employment law. Nothing was done, but she did stop harassing me.

    In late January, she decided it would be a good idea to start up again. She tried to spread a rumor that I was slandering a coworker using an email as proof. The email in question was me telling her that he was competent after SHE publically said he wasn’t (cause of projection all around). I filed another complaint because well… retaliation. Bossman decided that it STILL wasn’t enough so I quit at the beginning of this month. I cited my reasoning and expressed concern. I pointed out that everyone she has managed has either been fired for “performance issues” after she publicly disparaged their protected class (chronic medical issue, non-binary, transperson taking time off to transition) or quit out of frustration (me and another employee who also went coco for cocoa puffs).

    Bossman begged me not to and finally decided to hire outside help. I had an HR rep/employment lawyer contact me last night to schedule a meeting to discuss. I still have low hopes of her being fired or repremanded as others in the past have expressed surprise she hasn’t been fired prior (before any of this came out), but it is something.

    1. Meep*

      For the record, this is a small sampling of all the BS. And no, I don’t believe professional training/coaching will help. Just like I don’t believe intensive therapy (which she clearly needs) would help either. :/

      This woman is in denial that she does anything wrong.

    2. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Wait, is the employment lawyer working for your company? If so, DON’T TALK TO THEM! Get your own lawyer!!! The pregnancy thing, paired with HR’s inaction, is probably grounds for a lawsuit, and you need your own lawyer at the table during this discussion! Any employment lawyer will give you a free consultation, start making calls now!

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        Agree 100%. Do not to to their lawyer until you have talked to your lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, tell them that you can’t speak with them until you have had a chance to speak with an attorney.

        They are not looking to make this better. They are using their lawyer to protect themselves from you. One way they will protect themselves is to dig up dirt on you and find ways to make you look unreliable or untruthful.

        1. Meep*

          I am not too, too worried simply because it is a small field where everybody knows everyone. The owner has a rep for being flakey and unreliable. The woman in question has a reputation… for well being unpleasant. Absolutely no one who matters likes her. Even outside of Industry (think insurance, web dev, etc) have a lot of contempt for her and have even blackballed her. I have faith anyone who isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid (aka anyone not straight out of college) will take one look at the situation and believe me over here.

          The owner, unfortunately, was gaslit the same as me into believing he needed her to be successful. She seemed to have done a number on him during the start of the pandemic that left him in a depressive state while painting her as the savior. He just hasn’t woken up quite yet.

          I plan to stick to at least the illegal talking points, because the rest of it is bonkers. (Think telling complete strangers that her adoptive daughter is probably an “alkie-baby” and calling her pizza-face.)

        2. I support you*

          +1 100% agree. Get a good lawyer that will help you, especially one who specializes in employment law, discrimination, and retaliation. Make sure that you document everything that has happened.

      2. Meep*

        She is hired as a Senior HR Consultant who also happens to be an employment lawyer. I admit I did threaten to file an EEOC complaint to see if they thought it was actually sexual harassment or not. I trust the owner to not do anything legally. He is just strangely indebted to her to the point he has blinders.

  61. LizB*

    This week I was on a call with me, a coworker, a vendor rep, and, and someone from our parent company (let’s call her Jane)… and I had been warned in advance that Jane was abrasive, but wow. She’s not just abrasive, she’s straight up rude! For no reason! I’ve read on here about people with zero soft skills, but this is the clearest example I’ve seen in the wild. I’m assuming she’s absolutely brilliant in her area of expertise, because she’s certainly not a fun person to have on the team. Wowza.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yikes! Don’t you just hate that? How did she get into this position by being this way? I for one cannot fathom having someone even remotely like this on my team. Why? What can possibly override this overwhelmingly negative stain on the company’s reputation by her being there?? So many questions, so little time.
      You have 100% of my sympathies and I sincerely hope someone normal at your parent company puts an end to this ridiculousness!

  62. anon for this one!*

    Ethics reality check please! I work for a large public organization. My branch (Dept A) receives funding requests from non-profits, evaluates them, and ultimately makes awards of $1M+. Another branch (Dept B) deals with real estate transactions. We operate very independently but share a board. So Dept A is currently evaluating a funding request from a non-profit that is hoping to acquire a large chunk of property from the parent organization, via Dept B. I am manager of the funding group, and I call up my counterpart in Dept B, their real estate manager, to ask how that negotiation is proceeding. They say, I’m not handling that directly, for the details I have to call in my two consultants working on it. These consultants are Robin, a former Dept B employee/now retired annuitant, and Chris, a former Dept A very senior employee/consultant. Chris holds existing consulting contracts with Dept A (with a different group than my funding group), apparently Dept B, and also I just heard Dept C, yet another branch that operates autonomously. And… Chris is chair of the board of the non-profit hoping to acquire the building. I never worked with Chris but they have reached out a few times to me over the past 18 months to ask about funding opportunities for this non-profit. Chris and Robin are negotiating the real estate transaction, representing our parent organization, with the non-profit that Chris chairs. Robin and Chris have known each other for years and obviously enjoy working together, and their contract manager obviously is not interested in making her life more difficult by getting Chris off the project. AITA for saying I feel uncomfortable discussing this project in detail with Chris at meetings of our parent organization? I did so in a meeting yesterday, and Robin reluctantly told Chris to get off the zoom. I have tried to have a substantial discussion about this with my boss, who knows Chris personally, and they just shake their head and say “it doesn’t look good”. AGREED, but what do I DO?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Something similar happened in the city I live in a few years ago. After the news got out, the city manager was fired/forced to resign, and there was an overreaction amendment to the city charter.

      Somebody ought to be recusing themselves from this. The fact that everyone just shakes their heads and says “woe is us” is not a good sign at all. So if you have an inspector general, ombudsman, or ethics hotline available, use it!

    2. LizB*

      Is there some kind of ombudsman or ethics hotline you have access to? Someone higher up needs to step in and make Chris do the right thing and step back from this deal.

    3. anon for this one!*

      The parent org does not have an ethics hotline, despite being quite a large org (10,000 employees).

    4. What She Said*

      Do you have to take this project? Would it be possible for you to refuse to work on it if Chris is involved? Is there any blowback on you if this comes to light? I think the answer to that last bit is where you need to really think about what to do. Sure you can report him but you still have to deal with him in the meantime. If your boss or someone higher insists you move forward then I’d want that in writing with you also stating why you are strongly suggesting you either bow out or ask that Chris bow out before moving ahead. You need to cover your own behind in this situation.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        The project funding application still has to be dealt with, whether it’s by me or one of my subordinates, or my boss for that matter. We can’t just bow out as a department. I feel like Dept B needs to clean up their mess but I am the only one who acknowledges how messy the mess is!

  63. Construction Safety*

    So, we ROFed one of two accounting admins two weeks ago. ROFed when it could have been a termination. But, whatever. Side point: in 4 years here, never had a convo about a raise of COLA or review with them.

    I think they have phoned interviewed 2-3 possible replacements & may have been horrified with salary &/or hybrid WFH expectations.

    Today the other admin turned in their 2 week notice. The defining event was that she asked about a raise after being here a year. 6 weeks later, had not heard back. Went to the head person, asked again. The next day got a 2 page missive listing all the things they had done wrong in the last ~year. Never had a convo about it prior to the letter.

    So, they got a nice raise, a promo & MUCH better bennies. Good for them.

    1. Midwest Manager*

      “Reduction of Force” = downsize/layoff

      Though if they’re looking for a replacement, that seems contradictory

  64. Purple Penguin*

    How are job seekers answering “why do you want to work here?” these days?

    This topic has been discussed on Ask a Manager before but I wonder if the tone and content of the answers has changed since the start of the pandemic and/or the great resignation.

    I feel like this question being asked by an employer assumes that good jobs are in short supply and that there is a vast power difference between employer and employee, when both of those things are not necessarily true.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think even pre-COVID that was an awkward question, and unless it was your dream job or something you needed to translate it in your head to “what piqued your interest enough to interview for the job.” I don’t see that changing.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      Jobs are not in short supply right now. It seems like everyone is hiring and has vacancies as lots of people are moving around. Anyway, this question is a softball question and gives the candidate an opportunity to talk about why they like the company/industry/work.

      Frankly if someone doesn’t have any reason for wanting to work for you it would be a red flag that they didn’t bother to look into the company or the job.

    3. Teal Fish*

      Many, many interviewers like to start the interview with 1-2 warm-up/softball questions. The idea is to give the candidate an opportunity to talk about a “safe” topic and relax. Plus even if jobs aren’t in short supply, I want to know why you applied to this particular job and not the similar one at the next company over. You are overthinking it and putting a bit of an adversarial spin on it.

    4. Loulou*

      I feel like this should actually be easier to answer in the current environment! “Why do you want this job [and not one of the many other jobs that are open right now]” is a different question than “why do you want this job [the only job in your field that opened this month]”

  65. PreggoFish*

    I’m 23 weeks pregnant and am currently interviewing for jobs. I have heeded the advice on the site and kept my pregnancy private during interviews. Given that I’m farther along in my pregnancy, when would it be best to bring this up to a new employer? Do I disclose the pregnancy when I receive an offer or wait until after I have accepted an offer? If I should wait until after accepting, how can I ask about how parental leave is handled without throwing up red flags?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Congratulations on the impending baby!
      I am not an attorney, so take this simply as an opinion of a hiring manager. I know I cannot discriminate against someone who’s pregnant, nor do I want to. I also want to hire someone who will be as helpful as possible as soon as possible. If I make you an offer when you’re 24 weeks and you start at 26 weeks, is 10-14 weeks enough time on the job for you to be helpful to the organization, and feel good about your position while you are out on maternity leave? Or will you still feel in training mode and nervous about the job being a good fit, so much to learn, etc.? How much maternity leave are you hoping to take? (And how will you cover it, if you are in the US with its lousy coverage) How much schedule flexibility will you want/need when you return from maternity leave? These answers will vary by individual, as well as how urgent they are. Ask about parental benefits and leave whenever you want, if it’s a major factor for you. To me personally, I don’t think it matters when you disclose that you are pregnant since it’s illegal to discriminate on that basis whenever it comes up; however you might look at it as a medical condition that doesn’t make sense to raise in, say a first interview or a panel interview, but would in a second interview with your potential boss.