open thread – February 25-26, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions 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 take your questions to other readers.

A new rule I’m trying out this week: Questions only this week (no posts just relaying work stories). I want to see if that makes these threads any easier to navigate, since they often get quite long.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,363 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I posted this above but want to make sure people see the new request that I’m trying out this week: Please use this post to ask questions, start discussions, or seek advice, but not to just relay stories about your workplace. They get so crowded as it is that I’m hoping that might make them more useful and easier to navigate for people.

  2. Assorted Ability*

    Anyone have any experience with The Mom Project? Looking to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m not a mom but I signed up with them a few years ago when I was job searching. They seem to focus on remote, part time and contract jobs; I did get one interview that went well enough, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. Anyway they seem legit.

    2. Event Planner*

      I used them for some freelance projects when they were first starting out and had a good experience. The main project I did through them was covering a maternity leave at a company that treated me very well and from which I developed some good professional relationships. I also felt that I got a lot of hands on check ins from the Mom Project itself, though this was 5-6 years ago, so that may have changed.

      It did confuse people that I myself was not a mom, just a young woman using the platform to source freelance projects. No one seemed to have a problem with that though.

    3. Drowning in work*

      I am working on adding pregnancy loss language to our leave policies and I think the mom project has great resources to model from!

    4. Ingrid*

      I’ve used them. I’ve had very positive experiences: lots of check-ins from The Mom Project, no ghosting, lots of great flexible companies (many with really positive and inclusive company goals). It was nice to know I was interviewing with places that were actively seeking out parents. I ended up finding my job through another means, but would still recommend.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I looked there in my last round of job hunting, so 2018 or 19?. Didn’t find anything quite suited to my needs, but they seemed to have a lot of good solid steady stuff from known companies, not fly by night.

    6. M*

      I looked into them when I was returning to work. I think they’re great at advertising, bad at executing. I kept getting recommendations way outside my skillset/expertise/interest. I know some people have success but I was unimpressed.

      1. Squidlet*

        Perhaps they’re better with certain industries or types of roles? That could explain the disparate experiences.

    7. Camolita*

      I *just* got a job through them! Woot! After working a high stress corporate job for years and then owning a business for 5 years, I was looking for something fully remote and part time to balance family commitments. However, while they had plenty of part- time jobs, they also had a lot of full time options – at least in the field I transitioned to (accounting). They had jobs at all levels from an entry level bookkeeper to a high level corporate CFO. Many were remote or hybrid. Lots of interesting companies represented… and they ALL listed the salary! The company I’m working for now has made a number of hires through the mom project, so they are apparently pretty happy with the process as well. Best of luck on your job search!

  3. Millie Mayhem*

    I could really use some advice regarding a unique position I currently find myself in.

    My husband and I relocated to a new city a little over three years ago. I’ve been with the same boss almost the entire time, and even left our first organization to go with her to a new organization about a year and a half ago. Our working relationship isn’t perfect, but overall she’s a great boss and we work together extremely well. I feel like I have learned and grown a lot over the past few years, and I’m grateful to her for the opportunities she has given me.
    Last year was a particularly rough year for my husband and me. We had two back-to-back miscarriages, with the second one being particularly traumatic. Although we’ve healed and processed those experiences as well as we could, we’re now seeing my father-in-law exhibit some early stage dementia/alzheimer’s symptoms. My husband loves his father, and I love him too, so this is really hard to see. We want to be able to spend more time with him, which has been difficult since we live about four hours away.

    My husband and I have reached a point where we feel it’s time for us to move back to our hometown so we can be closer to my in laws and our good friends. My husband works remotely now so a move won’t be a problem for him. Unfortunately, my line of work won’t allow me to go fully remote, so I’ll need to find a new job. I’ve been looking in our hometown and have had a couple of promising interviews for a position I’m really interested in, but I still have another round of interviews to go before a decision is made.

    I’ve been thinking about telling my boss that we are planning to relocate soon, even before I get a job. I realize this is risky, but my boss and I really do have a good relationship, and she is aware of all the hardships my husband and I have gone through. I believe she would understand and be supportive. I also want to give her as much notice as possible so that I can hopefully help find and train my replacement. We are already short-staffed as it is and are currently working to fill a couple of positions, and I would hate to leave her in a bad place.

    To further complicate matters, I just heard from my boss this morning that she is thinking of hiring a former employee/friend of hers to fill one of our open positions. We both worked with this woman at our previous organization, and while I like her well enough as a person, I didn’t think she was a great employee. I felt like she slacked off and got away with a lot because she and my boss were such good friends. I also think this position she is considering is a terrible fit for her. It involves a lot of personality management, and this woman is very direct and does not have the greatest people skills.

    I guess I’m coming here today with the following questions:

    1) Should I tell my boss that I am planning to relocate before I have a firm offer in hand? I know this is often discouraged, but I know her and trust her and don’t think she would retaliate or “screw me over” in any way.

    2) Should I be candid with my boss about my concerns regarding hiring her friend? I know I was not the only one who felt this way, but I know this is a very tricky, somewhat personal situation. My boss has hired a GREAT team at my current workplace, and I honestly am worried this woman could come in and negatively affect that. But at the same time, if I’m planning on leaving, it’s not my problem – right? I just really struggle with adopting this mindset.

    Thanks in advance if you made it this far. I would really appreciate an outside perspective on how I should go about navigating both of these situations!

    1. Unfettered scientist*

      1) no, what purpose would that possibly serve? There’s no action spurred by that information that doesn’t also harm you.

      2) I wouldn’t unless you have specific consequences of the persons poor performance that you think your boss doesn’t know but should.

      1. RedinSC*

        Re: 1, I disagree with this. She’s got a good relationship, it would be nice for the boss to know. I’m a boss (ha!) and I really appreciated my employee telling me she was heading to graduate school in the late summer. So now part of the time she’s still with me we can work on the SOPs needed and then have time to hire someone in in order for her to help train the new person too.

        I guess the only caveat I have is if there is absolutely no end date in sight, then I would wait at least until there’s a firm-ish date to be leaving, but with a solid relationship like they have, a heads up isn’t a bad thing.

    2. ariel*

      If I were in your situation, I think I would mention to my boss that you and your husband were thinking about it, but make it sound super-vague and far off. I hate the idea of springing my leaving on my boss: like you, we have a good relationship and I want to give them time to build some workarounds if my place were vacant. But I also don’t want to talk about it a bunch, and who knows how long relocation may take.

      As for two: this is tough. If you think your boss would be receptive to the feedback and you could couch it gently, maybe? But I personally don’t think I would know how to say, “we both worked with this person before and I did not enjoy it, nor do I think your idea of them in this job is correct” without cracking some eggs.

    3. Lurkyloo*

      First: I’m so very sorry you’re going through all of those tough experiences. Virtual stranger hug if you want it.
      To answer your second question: I’d recommend feedback on the potential hire only if you’re asked. If you’re not asked, it becomes a ‘not my rodeo’ situation. It sucks because you see a great team that may end up being uprooted a bit, but if you’re already planning to move on it’s not up to you. And as well, it’s been a few years, the person may have changed and grown.
      First question: If you’re prepared to be pushed out early, tell your boss. That way you’re ready either way. You could use the terminology you shared, about helping to fill your position. Be aware that you might get a ‘thanks, I’ve got it, buh-bye!’ If you aren’t able to be financially/emotionally stable without the role, hold on until your two week notice.
      Best of luck and take care of yourself.

    4. Purt's Peas*

      1. No way. It’s not even about retaliation, necessarily–just about consequences. “Not sure about Millie Mayhem’s timeline, I should give X big project to someone else so there’s an easier handoff.” I also just left a job where I knew I was leaving my boss in the lurch a bit. But it’s not about them, and honestly, telling her early won’t actually help her that much.

      2. I might say, “I really love our team and the way you’ve built it. I wanted to mention while I personally like so-and-so, my perception of her as a peer was that she wasn’t quite at the standards we’ve set on our current team.”

    5. HA2HA2*

      2. Definitely tell your boss. This is the sort of thing she’d love to know before hiring someone. It might not be your problem AFTER you leave, but you’re still here, so for the time being you should continue working as normal (including giving valuable feedback on prospective candidates).

      1. eh… professionally, there is probably very little benefit to you from telling her. What would you want her to do with this information that would help you? I suppose you could, if you have a good relationship and trust her, but it’s certainly a risk, at least a small one. I supposed if you want to, just be clear with yourself about what you’re expecting out of that conversation – what would you ask her to do with that information, and is it worth that risk?

      1. Cj*

        I disagree on the OP second question. If only the OP had worked with the person in question, then I would say definitely tell the boss. But not only did the boss also work with her, they are friends. Stay out of it.

    6. Inigo Montoya.*

      For #1, it depends on the relationship you have with your boss. If it is a good one, go to her and say that due to family issues, you may need to move back to your home town to take care of a family member in the near/medium future and if there is any way you could be remote or partly remote (or if there is another opening at the organization that would allow this). This gives her the chance to try and keep you and if you later resign and move, it won’t be a shock.
      Again, this is dependant on your relationship.
      For #2, leave it alone unless your boss asks your opinion.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I actually did tell a boss that I trusted that I was going to be looking for work, let him know ahead of time. In that _one_ case, there were no bad repercussions. But I really like Inigo Montoya’s direction.

      2. Kathenus*

        You summed up my feelings as well – if you have a strong enough relationship/trust then yes on the heads up; no on the feedback unless specifically asked (and then I’d really think about how you think she’d take it and decide how honest to/not to be). Sorry for everything you’re enduring, best of luck.

      3. Storm in a teacup*

        I totally agree. Also would your boss have contacts / networks they can link you into in your home town? Sometimes it may seem far away but you’ll be surprised who knows who.

        To add, I had a report from a few years ago who was relocating to another country in Europe. He told us upfront and it meant we were able to plan for a big project timeline to be adjusted to enable him to complete it before his move (and therefore be an author on the ensuing publication).

    7. Artemesia*

      Don’t tell. There are only potential down sides for you — no upsides. If you can give a month’s notice, you might do that if you think she would be decent about it. But if not — if you need to start the new job in two weeks — just do that.

      Let her hire whomever she wants. She knows this person’s work; she worked with her — she should know her work ethic. If this was a former employee at a different place that only you had worked with, maybe share your concerns. But SHE worked with her. It is on her.

    8. Tricksie*

      I think you know your boss best, and you should trust your instincts. I’m personally rarely comfortable disclosing a job search until I actually know I’m going to leave, BUT that could be because I’m soured on my whole institution and I think it would change the way they work with me.

      And I think if you have concrete issues with past job performance with that person, you should share, but not if it’s an overall feeling.

    9. WellRed*

      I’d consider telling her once you have your timeline set (after all, I assume you’ll move regardless of lining up a new job). I mean, don’t tell her a year in advance, of course.
      Did she ask your opinion on the hiring? If no, leave it.

    10. Cold Fish*

      I think I’ll be in the minority but
      1) Why not? It is not uncommon for someone to move for a spouses job without another job lined up. To me this is a very similar situation. Very easy and understandable to explain a small time gap in your resume as “you relocated to help care for ailing in-laws”.
      2) If you can approach diplomatically, again I ask why not? Maybe be a little vague and indirect might work best here. “I like X a lot but she is very direct. Do you think she’ll do well with all the personality types she’ll have to deal with in that position?” (I tend to be pretty direct myself and don’t really relate to the “yes man” mind set so people tend to quickly learn not to ask me a question if they don’t want an honest answer.)

    11. Nope, not today*

      If you have a good relationship with your boss and know she isnt vindictive or likely to push you out quickly, I think telling her you are making plans to leave is fine – or just saying you are beginning to think about it, no decisions have been finalized yet, it might be awhile before you actually relocate. I did this with a job when I was pregnant and moving out of state (decided to move and then three days later I found out I was pregnant…. not the best timing!). My boss was great, they had time to recruit and interview and not be rushed, they hired someone and I trained her. They never asked me to leave, but it did get to a point where the new hire was doing all the work and I was feeling very redundant so I left of my own accord – but was seven months pregnant by that point and had to leave soon anyway (pregnancy complications meaning I didnt want to be traveling long distances closer to my due date). So I wasnt pushed out exactly, but they knew I was leaving for about five months before I left. With all that said – it depends on your timeline I think. If you feel like you will move regardless of a job offer, then consider the timing. Will you move within a month if you get the offer? Will you move within 6 months regardless of having a new job? If you get pushed out now and have no job for a few months will that be financially detrimental to you? Personally, I’d lean towards telling her if you know you’ll be leaving in a few months regardless – consider it a long notice without a firm end date. I.e., ‘we are moving sometime in the next six months, so my last day may be sooner but most likely by September’ type of thing.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Think very carefully here.

      “Boss I will probably be leaving in the near future. Oh, btw, your friend sucks as a cohort.”
      It is possible that you could suddenly be seen as difficult and contrary.
      I would pick one and let the other go.

      While I do understand that you will be much more diplomatic than what I have shown here, the messages could possibly boil down to “g’bye and ditch your friend, okay?” in her mind.

      Once you leave you have no horse in this race. It does not matter what the boss does or does not do. It’s too risky that the last two jobs could be ruined if this goes the wrong way. Keep everything pleasant and wrap it up.

      I understand you care for this boss/company/cohorts and what their future holds concerns you on some level. But I know first hand this type of thing can dilute our energy and focus on our own situation. If you are leaving the company the time to be concerned about who she hires is also over. This leaves you free to do what you need to do at your own pacing.

      1. KateM*

        I was thinking similarly, that these two things BOTH should not be told – at most one of them. Maybe that would help OP, if they tried to choose, which one they’d rather tell?

    13. HR in the City*

      In my personal opinion, I think that if you feel comfortable doing it than tell your boss about the plans to relocated. If its going to happen then why not give a heads up. In regards to the friend I think you just need to keep that to yourself. I am unfortunately in a situation where my boss hired her friend and it is really not great but the boss keeps defending and covering for her. No matter what I say it won’t be taken serious so I just keep my mouth shut. It is up to other employees to let your boss know if things aren’t going great with this employee. Now if you think it will make a difference to your boss than you could just lay it out as you have for us but in my experience I don’t think it will matter if they are friends.

    14. Bagpuss*

      1) – I think this is definitely a ‘know your boss’ but I would be inclined to raise it only as “My husband and I are looking into moving back to [hometown] for family reasons, would there be any opportunity to transition to a fully remote position if/when that happens?” – have that as an initial conversation saying that you are considering the move. That would let you get a feel for her reaction, and give her the chance to consider whether remote working would be a possibility (assuming that you would want to work remotely for her, rather than for someone local, if those turn out to be your options)

      2) I would be cautious – but you could raise it If you think you can do so without it causing any issues between you and the boss. – maybe saying something like “I really liked [name] as a person, but I’m not sure if she would be the best fit for the team, especially in a role that needs a lot of good communication and people skills.

      However, I think in both cases it depends on how confident you are that you can raise the issues without repercussions, and perhaps also on how firm your plans are and what your time line for the move is. If it is a short timeline, then mention both as the worst case scenario is that she is unhappy and you end up leaving more quickly than planned.

      If your timeline is longer, or not yet certain, then I wouldn’t mention 1 at all, but it would be more relevant to raise 2 as you are likely to have to work with this person yourself.

      has your boss asked for any input on 2?

      1. Squeakrad*

        I like this response – suss out with the possibilities are, make it seem like it’s an if and not definite, and you will get a much better feel of how your boss will respond when you actually need to move.
        Like many others I don’t see any positive store giving your boss and ask you a heads up. Even with a good relationship , you don’t know how they are likely to respond, if she shows the poor judgment of hiring a friend who is not on the caliber of the other employees I would be suspicious about her reaction.

    15. Anonymous Koala*

      I would only bring up relocation if you think there’s any chance your boss will let you go 100% remote when you move. With the market being what it is right now, you boss might prefer to keep you remote rather than loose you entirely.

      1. Cj*

        I took her statement about her line of work not allowing her to be fully remote to mean the job itself can’t be done entirely remotely, not that the company won’t let her.

    16. Insert Clever Name Here*

      It sounds like your move is definitely happening, so my advice is based on that assumption. They are also tied:
      1) Yes, tell her. You trust her, and since you are definitely leaving the “hmm, maybe won’t give this big project to Millie” concern is moot.

      2) Yes, bring it up. Cold Fish’s suggestion on how to bring this up is good — focus on the potential impacts to work, not the perception that Old Coworker can slack off because of her relationship with Boss. Give your boss the information and let her use it how she will.

      I know people are always like “you’re leaving, who cares who she hires?” in situations like this and I understand to a degree but that, especially when you’re talking about a boss and other coworkers you enjoy, feels a little bit to me like leaving my trash on the bench at the park — who cares, I’m leaving so the trash won’t bother me!

    17. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      While I get where you’re coming from, and how workplace relationships can develop into true friendships, I would wait on telling your boss until your have an offer in hand. Also, I would save any comments on the possible new hire unless you’re actually involved with the hiring or something like that. Again, I know where you’re coming from. But if you took a step back, this is a work relationship. And the best way to not risk burning bridges, and have a smooth notice period once you do leave for your move, is to keep things neutral. So sorry about the multiple losses. My miscarriages were YEARS ago and it still feels like yesterday sometime. Thinking about you, and wishing you good luck on your move!

    18. Lady Danbury*

      1. I wouldn’t say anything unless you’re 100% ok with losing your job early. Your stated purpose (planning for your replacement) requires your boss to share the news with her management. Even if you’re 100% confident that your boss won’t screw you over, can you say the same about her boss? Her boss’ boss? It doesn’t have to be about retaliation, any company is expected to do what’s best for them. If they can find a replacement quickly, they may feel that letting you go earlier than you intend to leave may be what’s best for them.

      2. Are you presenting new information that your boss either isn’t or couldn’t have been aware of? If your boss was willfully blind or allowing her friend to slack off, she probably knows what the friend is like on at least some level and is still considering hiring her. If she’s that biased towards her friend, it’s unlikely that anything you say would change her mind and is far more likely to have a negative impact on your relationship.

    19. Sherm*

      #1) I once told a boss I was looking before quitting, and it really sucked. It’s like telling your romantic partner “I’m going to break up with you, but not just yet.” Even if your romantic partner is the most understanding person in the world, it will change the plans you make, what you talk about. If you’re leaving soon regardless and can put up with, say, 3 months of suck, then maybe tell her. Otherwise, I’d just give the 2 weeks notice, which is widely considered courteous.

      #2) I would not say anything unless you know something that the boss doesn’t know, and it would make a big difference — for example, “Jane was known to put the TPS reports in the shredder rather than filing them away.”

    20. RagingADHD*

      Definitely yes to 2. Your candor will serve your whole team’s interests.

      In your position, with the relationship you describe and your husband’s job situation being stable, I would probably say yes, speak up early. Even if she jumps ugly unexpectedly, you have little to lose. If your situation were more precarious, probably not.

    21. Budgie Buddy*

      Rather than focusing on telling your boss, why not devote some time into creating detailed documentation you can hand off to a replacement and a comprehensive job description that can be used for hiring?

      That way when you do inform your boss of the move you can immediately present useful information that will help the handover go smoothly.

      I recently handed off some of my duties to a new hire and it was helpful to have a “For Dummies” document on how to do those tasks ready to go. Also when one of my coworkers left last year, I made sure to grab her and have her go over the job description I was posting because she knew best what skills to look for.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. Do this, leave your side of the street clean, and give a standard amount of notice (2-3 weeks). Otherwise it will just interject a whole lot of weird before things are final and if anything changes in your plans in a month or so, you won’t be stuck with a deadline you now can’t meet.

    22. Zennish*

      I wouldn’t mention leaving until I had a firm quit date in mind, if it were me. Even if you have a good relationship with your boss, once you say something you give up the ability to manage your own exit timeline. What if the boss hires a replacement, and then can’t keep you both on the payroll as long as you’re banking on, etc.? Anything could go wrong if you say something, while there is very little benefit.

    23. Working Hypothesis*

      1. At most, perhaps tell her that you’re thinking about it but haven’t made any firm decisions yet. The fact is that if you do tell your boss this, the benefits will be 100% to your boss — even if she manages somehow to handle it so that it does no harm whatsoever to you, it won’t be actively *good* for you. At best, it won’t do you any damage. And it could do you a lot of damage, even if the boss isn’t angry or retaliatory… it might make the relationship weird or awkward; it might put her in a position where she has to protect the company by adapting your position in a way you didn’t enjoy; it might do all sorts of things. I’m reminded of the old football coach’s line about the forward pass (in an era when it wasn’t used often): “There are only three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad.”

      2. First of all, I agree fully with everyone who says don’t tell your boss BOTH of these things. Not even vaguely. At most, pick one. You’re going to be using a LOT of political capital on either one of them, and frankly there’s virtually nobody who has enough to get away with both successfully. If you were one of those few, you would know it. So you need to save your capital for one or the other at most.

      Second of all, since this person is your boss’ good friend, I would stick to expressing concerns that don’t directly criticize the friend. Fortunately, you have some! You can stick heavily to “Not a good fit for this position,” and explain what concerns you about that lack of fit, without ever saying our even hinting that you don’t think highly of the friend in question. She’s just not right for this position, and here’s why.

      That still holds some risks, but if you’re willing to go out on a limb somewhat, that’s the way I would go about it. Try to stick as closely to hard fact as possible, rather than opinion or prediction (“Anya is an experienced llama handler, but she has never done tail-braiding, and tail-braiding is more than 30% of what we need from this position,” rather than “Anya is irritating and doesn’t work hard; the team will have to pick up the load for her,” for example.) But concentrate on the ways Anya doesn’t fit well with the specifics of the position, rather than on what’s wrong with her. You might get away with it. It does run the risk that your boss will find a different position for her friend later… but you’ll be moving; by then it won’t be your problem. (Yes, I know you care anyway, but there’s a point past which you’ll have to disengage from that, if your boss is determined enough to hire her friend no matter what. Count on being elsewhere to give you the detachment you will need.)

    24. Gordy*

      As a boss who was once told my employee was planning on leaving and was genuinely supportive, as he was well overqualified for his job, I would say don’t tell her. Merely on a cost/benefit basis, this has the potential to cost you a great deal, and the benefits of telling are probably minor. Even after I was told, the only things I really could do for him was offer to review his application materials and be a reference.

      Also, stay right out of the other thing unless asked specifically. That also has the potential to cost you a lot, and with you looking to leave soon anyway, the benefits will be minor.

    25. Kay*

      1: I agree with all the others saying tell your boss only if you can afford to be let go. If you want to prepare her for the news you might be able to make some small talk about how it would be nicer to be closer to Hometown so you can see FIL more often, FIL is getting worse, etc. Then when the offer comes you can say you were offered an opportunity that makes sense for you to take.

      2: Can you say something lighthearted like “Huh, I would never have imagined her in a role like that” and see how your boss responds? That plants the seed and if your boss wants legitimate feedback she can follow up and you can point out that the roles seems like it would require lots of accountability, a softer touch, etc., but if she gets defensive or huffy you can back out with something like “oh I just meant I had imagined a bubbly cheerleader for when thinking of (insert job title) thats all”.

    26. Jess*

      Ugh. I hate to be this person, but my boss (who I had worked with for years and with whom I had a great relationship) jettisoned me three days after I told her I MIGHT need more flexibility in scheduling a few months in the future. Don’t EVER show your plans at work. I learned that the hard way.

    27. Public Sector Manager*

      For #1, I wouldn’t say anything. While your boss may not do anything with the information and can start putting out feelers to replace you, unless your boss is the CEO, your company may use that information against you. Or your boss may be put under presser to trim costs, and your boss cuts your job because there is no other choice. Unless it benefits you, I wouldn’t say anything.

      As for #2, I agree with everyone above that you shouldn’t address the issue. If this future coworker is one of your boss’s buds, then either (1) the boss knows they stink as an employee and the boss doesn’t care or (2) the boss is blinded by their friendship.

      Best of luck on your job hunt!

    28. Squirrel Nutkin*

      From my experience, no. Even a boss who adores you may accidentally get in the way of your job search. I had one who ASSUMED that I was immediately following my partner to a new state when HE got a job there and scuttled a dream job opportunity for me in my then-state by telling that to the folks who called for a reference. I would absolutely have stayed in my then-state for a couple of years to try out dream job and just been long-distance with my partner, but she just blithely told them I’d be moving soon, so no dream job offer for me! I play my cards closer to the vest ever since.

    29. Manchmal*

      The answer is simply, no and no. This is a working relationship, not a friendship and not a family relationship. For you to tell your boss about your plans, or to criticize her very good friend–there is very little upside, and a whole lot of downside. Best case scenario, all the benefit accrues to not-you. Worst case, you get pushed out early, or you leave under a cloud, or you’ve made two enemies in boss and her friend. No one can fault you for giving the standard notice, and no one can fault you on not weighing in on a future employee that would start after you are gone.

  4. Miss. Bianca*

    I posted a few weeks ago how my manager gave me “exceeded expectations” across everything for my performance review, but seemed surprised when I asked about a promotion, gave vague non-answers about promotion criteria and didn’t say what I needed to do to move up. Well I have an update! Oh boy!

    After I posted in the open thread, I went back and asked for a clear promotion plan. Again he gave vague answers and his body language showed he was annoyed lol. But…he said he would talk to his boss about putting together plans and criteria on how to advance. The next week I asked him about it and he said they discussed putting something together…but again no clear specifics or feedback.

    Well…this past week during our 1:1, he told me how he actually did all of my team’s performance reviews wrong. He gave EVERYONE “exceeded expectations” across EVERYTHING, and HR kicked them back telling him he couldn’t do that; giving someone that rating would mean that person is ready to be promoted. Then he said when he got them back…he GAVE EVERYONE “MEETING EXPECTATIONS”. Essentially confirming my thoughts he is not taking this seriously and putting no thought into this.

    I was absolutely speechless, I just kind of smiled and nodded. I’m floored at the lack of critical thinking by him, he’s at the Senior Director level! 

    At the end of this month, I’m supposed to be getting another project that comes out to a little under $1 million/month in budget, on top of what I’m already doing. Next week when I meet with him, I’m going to ask him to provide me with reasons and examples for giving me a rating of “meeting expectations”, then going through all the extra tasks and responsibilities I’ve taken on over the past year. Honestly I’m expecting another bs answer from him, so I’m planning on telling him “frankly, if I’m meeting expectations, why should I take on this additional project of managing almost $1 million in extra budget a month? Clearly, if I’m only meeting expectations I’m technically not ready to handle this”. He’s going to try and pawn it off on me though. I’m going to put together some scripts and try to anticipate what he’s going to say. 

    Any advice on this?

    Original Post (Feb 4/5 OT):
    I’ve been at my current marketing job for two years, manage the largest portfolio of budget among my team and my boss has told me numerous times I’m “the best teapot product marketing manager” on the team. We just had our annual reviews where my boss was happy with my performance and gave me “exceeded expectations” across everything.
    I told him I want to move up to a “senior teapot product marketing manager” level and if that’s something he sees happening this review round. He paused and went “ummmmmmm…let’s see how you do against your SMART goals this year”.
    I’m infuriated that he gave such a lukewarm and flippant response after I’ve worked my butt off the past two years; he seemed almost surprised I even asked him this. I previously asked him what the difference was between a regular teapot product marketing manager vs. the senior level, and he told me it was a different pay bracket. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in more responsibility or strategy, I would pretty much be doing the same thing I am now. Even the SMART goals we talked about me achieving are basically continuing what I am doing.
    What’s more, there is an open rec for a senior level marketing manager for a different type of product. For that specific open position, even with the senior title, I would still be managing more budget and the higher priority products even with a lower title.
    It’s weird to me that I keep having to ask a ton of questions about this and he’s giving me vague answers and not elaborating on them. He’s the director of our department and I don’t understand why he doesn’t just say, “the difference between the regular manager vs. the senior level is X, Y, Z, in order to get there you need to work on A,B,C”. Maybe he just doesn’t know or fully understand it? But then why wouldn’t he try to find out? If you’re giving out “exceeds expectations” on reviews, you need to realize that people are going to want to be promoted.
    I wanted to get other takes on this. I think next week I’m going to ask him more why that other position gets the senior title when it’s less spend and less of a priority. Then in six months I’ll push for a promotion against my SMART goals, if that doesn’t work then push again in a year. The thing is, I really like my job and salary and would like to stay at the company for at least 5 or 6 years.

    1. MsM*

      I mean, you can try asking him to justify his feedback point by point, but I think it’s pretty clear how that’s going to work out: more vague non-answers followed by zero action. And I don’t think I’d approach the new project from a “well, why should I take this on if I’m not exceeding expectations?” perspective so much as “this strikes me as promotion-level work, and I’d like to revisit our conversation about the timeline/expectations there.” But ultimately, I think you’re either going to have to go to his boss and/or HR about your concerns with the evaluation process (preferably with some of your colleagues who are also getting screwed over by his approach), or start looking elsewhere. And ultimately, it’s probably going to have to be the latter, because it really sounds like no one here is invested in helping people succeed.

      1. Miss. Bianca*

        I’m still going to ask him for examples and reasoning, all other job’s I’ve had the manager goes through and explains why they gave a certain rating.

      2. Cold Fish*

        I agree coming at this from a “if I’m not exceeding expectations” stance is probably not the correct argument. I think the “this strikes me as promotion-level work” is a much stronger argument.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          Agree. If I were assigning a big project to an employee who truly just meets expectations, I might be giving them an opportunity to step up and take their performance to the next level. In that case, it wouldn’t reflect well on the employee if they pushed back because they’re not already exceeding expectations.

          1. Miss. Bianca*

            True, but in this case I think this is him being lazy (again) and giving me all the work (again). Otherwise, why wouldn’t he say this or give an actual answer for promotion criteria?

            1. KateM*

              It’s the difference between pouting “if you say I’m so bad why do you even want me” and agreeably smiling “hello, looks like you think I am promotion-worthy after all, don’t you”. The first probably will make your boss think you are the problem, the second may scare him out of lazyness at least a little bit.

              1. Miss. Bianca*

                Hmm, maybe something like “you want me to manage an extra $1 million in budget a month, that seems like that is promotion-level work. How am I being rewarded for this extra responsibility?”

            2. Lady Danbury*

              I’m not saying that the case in your situation. I’m just agreeing that “promotion level position” is much stronger positioning.

      3. NoviceManagerGuy*

        I agree, your grandboss needs to know this happened. If she doesn’t care, then you know the score. If she does, that will help you.

    2. Imaginary Number*

      Is self-rating not part of the process? If it’s not, could you present him with a self rating? I think that might help direct the conversation and force him to explain why either a) he doesn’t agree with your self assessment or b) explain why your self-rating is focusing on the wrong things.

    3. Artemesia*

      He has made it clear that you have no path upward and he is not going to value your work. You should be looking for a new job that will give you this stretch and not mentioning it until you are ready to move on. Keep your head down; do good work; eventually give two weeks notice. There is no point in hammering away at the reviews.

    4. Sunflower*

      In a lot of health workplaces, it’s normal for you to be given projects above your work level to ‘challenge’ you and see if you can do the job above before formally being promoted. Unfortunately, in a lot of unhealthy workplaces, that same excuse is used to give you more senior work and pay you less with no intention of using any of the success metrics to actually promote you. I had the same thing happen to me whereas I was told I wasn’t ready to be promoted yet was given the biggest project of anyone on our team. When I asked ‘are you telling me that someone at my (more junior) level should be doing a project like this?’ and my manager tried to turn it around asking if I felt I was unqualified or not able to do it (trying to make me doubt my abilities maybe?)

      So definitely expect that to be the given reason. I’d focus on trying to pushback due to work load- and hate to say it but giving yourself time to start looking for a new job. Your manager may be a nice guy but he’ s clueless how to do his job and he’s never going to fight for your team which is half the battle when working for a promotion.

        1. Purely Allegorical*

          Why 3 years? That seems like a fairly arbitrary time-mark, especially when you’re miserable. It also means you lose out on a year of a very worker-friendly job market, and a year of a better salary.

          1. Miss. Bianca*

            I’ve had 3 jobs where I’ve stayed at for 2 years, the rest under that. I look like a job hopper.

            1. MsM*

              Not necessarily. If you’ve gained skills and responsibility in all those roles before hitting a ceiling beyond which you couldn’t advance, then all you need to say if pressed on it is that you’re looking for a place that will nurture and support your growth as you build something lasting. And if there have been external factors, like moves you had to make for personal reasons, it’s even less of an issue.

            2. KSinHE*

              I don’t think 2 years make you look like a job hopper. When I am looking at resumes, only multiple positions under a year would raise red flags. There are often good reasons to go after 2 years, it’s not an insignificant amount of time.

            3. Zennish*

              FWIW, when I’m looking at resumes two years doesn’t look that odd to me, unless you’ve been like a senior manager at a bunch of different places for two years. (That sometimes means someone is consistently wreaking havoc, then leaving to avoid the consequences.) One three year stint wouldn’t jump out as significantly different, either.

            4. Kay*

              Have you been promoted at this new job at all? If I were hiring I wouldn’t see 2 years as an issue, at least start looking and if you find something better you can evaluate then if you want to take it. One job with 3 years over the rest with 2 is not going to make that much of a difference if I were reviewing a resume.

        2. Workerbee*

          Frankly, I’d start job searching and applying now, not after another year. Not only because it can take awhile anyway to find a good match, but because it might not! Your resume and cover letter will burst at the seams with all the examples you have of working above and beyond your level. Unless you’re looking at being vested, and even then…this guy and it sounds like the entire company has shown you they are not INvested in you. Treat yourself better than they are.

    5. Super Duper Anon*

      What all this is saying to me is that your manager is clearly terrible at managing people and helping them advance. Giving everyone exceeds expectations for the entire team for every metric is basically a shrugging of shoulders and a “well the work output is fine so everyone is doing well”. Being told that they can’t do that by HR and just bumping everyone down a level is just a s lazy. Giving non-answers on how to advance is also lazy. I would just assume that he will forever be terrible at this, his boss does not seem to care either, and go from there.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        . . . assuming he actually did that and didn’t just say he did that so he’d have a cover story for changing OP’s ratings. I could totally see him telling her he messed up so he’d have an excuse to downgrade her and undercut the promotion discussion.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      This guy is either putting no thought into managing or you really are doing well but he wants to keep getting exceeds-expectations work out of you without you expecting anything from the company in return. You don’t really have a way forward here unless you magically get a new and much better manager.

    7. gsa*

      Without all the information, the best I can to do is assume that you are currently working as a teapot maker level 2 think you should be promoted to a teapot maker level 3.

      With that, compare yourself to other people you do the same job as you and figure out if you are doing projects that are the most complicated with the highest budget. If there’s anybody above you, but is not doing as much work, volume and budget wise then there’s a case for your promotion.

      Alison,

      Good idea. I hope it takes.

    8. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think it might be time to have a meeting with HR and/or your boss’s boss.

      From HR’s perspective, it may look like they flagged his error with the performance evaluations and he fixed it, done and done. But they may not be aware that his “fix” didn’t actually fix anything. The purpose of employee performance evaluations is for you to know where you stand with the organization, and for the organization to know when you’re ready to take on more responsibility and more complicated work. By refusing to properly assess your work performance, your boss is failing you, your coworkers who report to him and are receiving similar levels of disregard, and your company as a whole.

      So, go to HR or your grandboss. Let them know how long you’ve been doing this back and forth with your boss about a promotion and that he’s not giving you any actionable information about what you should be doing to earn it.

    9. anonymath*

      Rather than “leave your job” or “work with your senior director more”, I’ll ask — what other allies might you have in the company? Could you make a lateral move or jump within the company? Could you argue you need to move under another senior director? This dude is definitely a rock in your river, but there may be ways around him.

      Did you ever talk with folks around the open rec you mentioned in the first letter? Can you consider making the move and asking for more responsibility with it and more salary??!!

      1. Miss. Bianca*

        So there an actually another open rec for a position right under him, who I would be reporting to (director level). I can wait for that, I don’t know how long it would take though to fill it. But ideally that could help.

        With the open rec I mentioned in my first letter, I asked him about it, that role was (1) being a people manager and (2) building out that specific channel. But kind of bs honestly…

        1. Miss. Bianca*

          Whoops, posted too soon. He acknowledge that even building that channel, I would in my current position, still be managing more spend, thus his lazy bs

    10. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      It will not hurt to take a look around and see what else is out there, perhaps at one level up from where you are now.

    11. Aggretsuko*

      This sounds exactly like my job, where you either get “meets expectations” only, or you get “doesn’t meet expectations” for some answers and “exceeds expectations” for others…so that they all average out to “meets expectations,” so that nobody can ever get promoted.

    12. 15 Pieces of Flair*

      Show your manager the open req for the senior level role and ask him to help you understand why that role merits the higher level. Use that as the jumping off point to ask again what you would need to deliver to be promoted in the next cycle. Then ask what else beyond your control may impact your ability to move up.

      Organization level performance and priorities can create, change, or limit opportunities. I have a team member who was promoted at the beginning of the month and is hoping to be promoted again in 6 months. Her ability to be promoted will depend not only on her execution against the plan we developed but also on the company’s performance the next 2 quarters and how her case for a promotion compares against others in the department if opportunities are limited. A good manager (which you don’t seem to have) can articulate why they can’t guarantee a promotion while describing what you can do to maximize your chances.

      1. 15 Pieces of Flair*

        Disregard the point about the other position. I see you’ve already asked about it.

        Have the broader conversation about opportunities and what impacts them though. If you can get your manager talking, you might learn there are a lot of factors in play that have little to nothing to do with you personally.

  5. Parsley*

    My daughter is a high school sophomore strongly considering going into engineering. (She’s also a devoted reader of AAM!) As she looks at potential schools, I’m wondering if any engineers out there could help guide us in a few questions.

    First, how important is it to go to an engineering school for undergrad? She’s interested in smaller schools if possible, and I’m wondering if something like a Physics degree from a really good liberal arts college would work for getting into engineering Masters programs.

    Second, if she does go to an engineering school, how important is a big name? We’ve always talked about college in the context of being conscious of the price tag and not coming out with debt, which would mean a state school or a mid-tier school that would give academic scholarship help. If she got into a school like Carnegie Mellon or Cornell, would the increased prestige be likely to come with a commensurate salary increase to pay off student loans?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. OyHiOh*

      One of my siblings did their undergrade in engineering, at a small state school that is known for its engineering programs. As in, when I mentioned my sibling to a friend who works on the national organization that accredits engineering programs, she knew the school and its reputation immediately and favorably. My sibling went on to do Masters and Ph.D work at private institutions and worked at a sufficiently high level to pay off their student loans in under 10 years.

      Philosophically, I’m not a fan of specializing super early in one’s college. I don’t know what pluses or minuses there are to taking a strong physics major in college and then an engineering Masters, but there are state schools with really strong undergrad engineering programs, if she wants to go that route for her bachelor’s

    2. ThatGirl*

      I have a few vague ideas, my brother in law is an electrical engineer. So… what kind of engineer does she want to be? Because she may not need a masters degree. A lot of the answers depend on her end goal. Where she goes to school should probably correlate with the region she wants to live in, at least at first, and should be strong in the program she wants. That matters more than a name.

    3. alt ac*

      Hi! Non-engineer here, but I teach (not engineering) at a no-name public institution with an excellent, highly rated engineering program. We also have a grad engineering program that attracts students from across the globe – and in my position, I have worked closely with the college. All that to say, in engineering I think the program may be more important than the institution. Our students do some impressive undergrad research and go on to get incredibly lucrative positions, so I don’t necessarily think a $$$$/prestigious institution would be that much better unless she wants to explicitly focus on research (again, though, our program gets a lot of funding for research).

      Re: your other question, internships are a big deal for our engineering students and can help push them into great grad programs, so it’s at least something to consider and talk to schools about. And that leads me to my other point, visit schools! Talk to their faculty, and ask them these questions.

      1. alt ac*

        I would also see if her preferred schools have a student chapter of Society of Women Engineers. These programs can be isolating for young women, and having others who understand your position can help a lot.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Seconding the advice to look for a school with a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter! My school’s SWE chapter was very helpful to me during undergrad.

      2. Grits McGee*

        The point about internships is a really good one- are the schools your daughter are looking at in a location where there are opportunities to get experience outside of her school? I went to a liberal arts school in a rural area, and while the school itself was a great fit for me, I had to use my summers to travel to other states for internships and work experience in my field (unpaid, of course). I had the resources to make it work, and I’m sure that it’s different for engineering, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

        1. Clisby*

          An internship in engineering (or computer science, for that matter) should be paid. If it’s unpaid, I would immediately think that was suspect.

    4. Jim Bob*

      Mechanical engineer here.

      An engineering degree from an ABET-accredited program is an absolute requirement to be taken seriously in the field. That said, a big name is not a requirement; a good GPA at a state school or smaller school with a reasonably good reputation would be fine. There are plenty of accredited smaller programs.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I have two degrees in environmental science (not engineering!) and I am an environmental engineer working in regulatory compliance. Hubs is a design/application engineer and has talked about engineering vs. engineering tech degrees and what those can lead you to.

          This really depends on what she wants to *do* with that engineering degree. Engineering is a very broad field.

        2. Rocket Surgeon*

          Jim Bob is correct. If OP’s daughter is going to earn an engineering degree, the program should be ABET-accredited. OP best of luck to her! Engineering is a great profession.

      1. Rocket Surgeon*

        Jim Bob is correct. If OP’s daughter is going to earn an engineering degree, the program should be ABET-accredited. OP best of luck to her! Engineering is a great profession.

    5. Kat*

      Hi Parsley. I work in a recruiting firm and one of our practices is Engineering. It hasn’t mattered very much to our clients where an engineer goes to college. An ABET-accredited engineering program is critical, for sure, but unless your daughter is admitted to an Ivy League/”New Ivy” program like MIT or RPI (with huge name recognition, in other words), she will probably do just really well at a state school or smaller private college.

      Of course, if she can get into MIT and you guys can swing it, financially, that’s going to be an outstanding mark on her resume.

      But more critically, after college most of our engineers focus on earning their professional engineer (PE) certification, which is a highly desired feature our clients look for. This takes four years of work experience and licensure examination to earn and will set her above her peers, even from big name schools, who do not go on to earn their PE.

      For an example, my firm is in New England, and several of our clients are in the region (though we have clients nationwide). Several state schools in the area including University of Maine at Orono and University of New Hampshire have excellent engineering programs with a much lower cost associated than programs like MIT. We recently placed a candidate who had graduated from UMaine Orono over someone who graduated from RPI, simply because the person from UMaine Orono had achieved their PE. Neither of these candidates had a Master’s or advanced degree. So, you can see, that’s something to consider.

      There’s also LOTS of different kinds of engineering out there – civil, mechanical, electrical, nuclear – and different programs will offer more or less of these options so your daughter should consider what kind of engineer she wants to be when she is done with school.

      I hope this helps a little!

      1. Kat*

        I should add to the “simply because” comment – obviously that candidate was a great fit for the job, but them having earned their PE over the other finalist from RPI is what sealed the deal for the hiring manager :)

      2. Jim Bob*

        Parsley,

        PE licensure is definitely something for your daughter to look into if she’s interested or n engineering, and is one of the reasons why the ABET accreditation is critical. The licensure process is much harder (or impossible, depending on the state) if you don’t have an accredited degree.

        1. Wildcat*

          It’s a really hard exam but it can open a lot of doors too.

          If I had to do it over I would have done Chem-E instead of Chem. I did not feel that degree was very practical at all. I ended up going to law school.

          1. Foolish Fox*

            I did Chem-E and ended up in law school. Because I discovered I hated being an engineer. Now I’m a patent attorney. Never know where life will take you. :)

        2. Imaginary Number*

          PE only matters for specific engineering fields. I’m a mechanical engineer and the only thing a PE is good for around here is forcing you to get a bunch of continuing education credits.

          1. Jim Bob*

            Depends specifically what you do, too. I’m also an ME, and I’ve worked in industries where it’s useless and industries where it’s basically required.

        3. The Engineer*

          A degree from an ABET accredited institution is absolutely a requirement for a PE license. Which you will need in fields where you market engineering services to the general public. Civil Engineering is one of those fields. Many (most perhaps) other engineering disciplines do not so it isn’t a big deal in those fields.

          Engineering is very much a ‘get it done’ field. Those who can, will do well even without all the educational bells and whistles.

          A Bachelors degree is all that is needed in Civil E. Only firms that are extremely specialized will seek a Masters or PHD degree.

          1. Rocket Surgeon*

            Grad engineering degrees are not required in many jobs. However my federal government employer paid for my elective master’s and doctorate.

    6. AnonEngineer*

      From my limited experience: the engineering undergrad degree is potentially important because a good program will expose her to industry-standard tools and practices that a pure science degree may not. A prestigious school is much, much less important. Many state universities have excellent engineering programs, and the single most marketable thing you can do as an early-career engineer is acquire experience in the form of projects and internships. That matters much more than school name.

      (Caveat – a lot of engineering advice will be affected by what kind of engineering she’s interested in. Mechanical engineering is a very different field from software engineering.)

    7. Darlingpants*

      My experience: Undergrad engineering major (from Cornell actually) with a PhD in an engineering field

      As long as she’s taken the necessary prereqs (which it helps to major in something STEM, but she could also double major or minor) she should be able to get into an engineering master’s program. But, BIG caveat: Master’s programs are not necessarily a good idea. They are hard to get funding for, so a lot of the time the students are paying another two years of tuition *without* any financial aid (and federal loans are smaller in amount and less generous in terms) and end up with pretty similar jobs as people who went into the workforce straight out of undergrad (basically they both have “two years of experience”).

      I would make sure that the schools she’s applying to have a good reputation for engineering, but a lot of state schools have excellent engineering programs (UMass Lowell has the best polymers program in the country). If she knows she wants to move away and work in a big tech center like SF or Austin then the name brand school might help, but if she wants to stay in state and your state universities have a good reputation then the people hiring nearby will know that and she should be fine.

      What I will say the name brand of Cornell helped with was getting access to research programs and internships during undergrad (and a little bit getting into grad school). I had a 3.4 and when I did summer programs and grad school with people from state schools they all had 4.0’s or similar.

      1. Darlingpants*

        Oh another point: Schools like Ivy’s/Stanford/MIT have big enough financial aid budgets that going there actually cost my family about the same as going to a state school would have.

        1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

          Came here to say this – and in my experience, this goes for smaller, less well known liberal arts colleges as well! When I was college searching, the state schools actually offered me the least amount of financial aid, whereas the private colleges had more to give students in terms of scholarships and grants. State schools do not always equal cheaper.

      2. Albeira Dawn*

        Oh, you reminded me — in Engineering, there are usually two types of master’s programs: a professional track, and an academic track.

        The professional track is usually part-time, in the evenings, for students who have full-time jobs in the industry. The classes are focused on applications of theory. These are the ones that have little funding available, if at all. It’s pretty common for a student’s employer to cover some of the tuition in exchange for an agreement to continue working at that company for a certain amount of time.

        The academic track is more research-focused, with classes on theory and usually a thesis. These are more likely to have funding, but still not a ton. And they’re less focused on improving your expertise in an industry and more on preparing you for academic research.

        Both types can be ABET-accredited and count towards licensure, but not all of them are. Another thing for your daughter to consider!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          In Engineering, going directly from a BEng to a Masters isn’t necessarily useful – you’re increasing your academic qualifications, but demonstrating your practical job skills, which are what matter the most for employment and career development.

          I’d advise your daughter doing some research into what *type* of engineering she is interested in – mechanical, computer, electrical, civil? Look at schools with good, solid decent sized programs and proper accreditation, but don’t limit yourself to engineer only schools (quite frankly, having some arts students around can make for a pleasanter and more balanced undergrad experience, particularly for women). Actively look for internships and summer positions, which, as someone said above, should be paid for engineering. After graduating, work, look for professional certification as appropriate, and build work experience. Think about grad programs as needed, not as a default.

      3. Artemesia*

        This. Masters degree programs are cash cows for universities and rarely is good financial aid provided. If she wants to be an engineer she should go to a good undergrad engineering program. She can get a masters once she is an engineer and working if she thinks it would be useful to her, but a good undergrad program is the entry to employment. Often employers view a masters degree by someone who has not yet worked in a field as just costly for them and useless to them. You may actually exclude yourself from entry level jobs with it. I have worked with capstone field based projects for an engineering school and a good engineering program will have significant field placements/internships to give students a leg up on employment.

        If she gets a ways into an engineering program and decides it isn’t for her, she can transfer into liberal arts and do a STEM degree.

      4. random fellow alum*

        Actually, as a non-engineering science major who also went to Cornell, I would recommend that her daughter major in engineering. My major had a lot of the same classes as the Chem-E’s, but they also took a lot of classes that we didn’t take, and had resources to help find engineering internships and co-op placements and stuff. I feel like she’d just be setting herself up for struggle, having to catch up on all the engineering specific stuff in grad school. Also, there were plenty of students who were able to get engineering jobs just with their undergrad degree.

        And finally and most importantly, if she turns out to not like engineering after all, I feel like it’s much better to find that out in undergrad than grad school.

        (Oh, and I agree that it’s not at all necessary to go to a “name-brand school.” Wherever has a decent reputation and a good financial aid package is fine. But on the other hand, Ivies can be pretty generous with need-based aid, so if that’s what she wants, don’t write it off without actually running the numbers.)

    8. Go Engineering*

      I am a Ph.D woman chemical engineer with 30 years working in R&D. I think a state school with a strong engineering program would be a good option. You do not need to go to MIT, Cornell, etc. She should try to get involved in undergraduate research opportunities if possible. Also if she is a strong student, there may be scholarship opportunities as a woman. I think it would be best to major in engineering undergrad not just get a Masters. Engineering is a different mindset then general hard sciences–much more geared toward problem solving.

    9. Albeira Dawn*

      Hi! Civil engineer here, formerly a college tour guide who talked to students like your daughter all the time.

      (1) It partially depends on which specific field she wants to go into. For fields like Civil, where probably 85% of jobs in the industry will want you to pursue professional licensure (as a Professional Engineer), your life will be so much easier if you get an engineering degree from an ABET-accredited program and can start that licensure path as soon as you graduate. I believe if you get something like a Physics undergrad degree, the easiest path to licensure is getting an ABET-accredited master’s. And many master’s programs are open to those without engineering undergrads. But then, of course, if she finds out she doesn’t want to go to grad school straight after undergrad, the path becomes thornier.
      I’d suggest finding a small school that offers both engineering and other programs — somewhere like Rose-Hulman, maybe. That way she can get the engineering degree, but the school is small and if it turns out she doesn’t like engineering, she’ll have other options at the same institution. Somewhere like Olin, where the curriculum is highly customizable, might also be a good option, but they’re focused solely on engineering.

      (2) Again, it depends! If she wants to pursue academic research or big, flashy projects, it might be easier to go to a name-brand school. If she’s more interested in bread-and-butter industry projects, pretty much any accredited school will do. I’m not sure about specific numbers, but personally, since they range so widely, I wouldn’t make a decision based on projected starting salaries. Instead, look at what kind of projects the students work on during their education and where they’re employed after. Can she see herself doing those things? Is she excited about those opportunities?

      *Disclaimer that this is my personal experience in civil engineering and is less applicable to, say, electrical engineering!

      1. As per Elaine*

        I will note that I know several people who went to Olin and loved it — I have the impression that it has a liberal arts feels with an engineering focus and a lot of hands-on opportunities. I’d say it’s probably at least worth looking at to see if it interests you.

    10. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Engineer here.

      Physics undergrad to Engineering masters is not really a valid path for most universities, unless the physics degree is specialized in something like electro-optics, and the engineering masters is specialized in the same thing. And it’s not likely that she knows enough at this point to be able to pick out a speciality like that. And I wouldn’t recommend planning on getting a masters to anyone who’s still in high school. I ended up staying at my undergrad institution for an extra year and a summer to get a masters, but I didn’t decide to do that until November of my senior year. A BS in engineering is all you need to start your career – and many employers who want MS engineers offer tuition reimbursement; better to get a job and then have your company pay for the masters with part-time grad school.

      As to big name schools. It’s possible to go to CMU, etc., get connected to a well-known professor, get snapped up by a hot startup, and make lots of money. But it’s not anywhere near guaranteed – and that’s more likely to happen in computer science or an engineering program that’s heavily connected to CS like advanced robotics, machine vision, etc. But it’s totally a crap-shoot.

      Most ordinary engineering schools do a fine job of graduating students who are able to land comfortable jobs. Have her look into co-op education; after your freshman year, you alternate one semester in school and one semester in private employment – these are employers who know they are getting apprentice engineers, and the work you do complements the course schedule. It ends up being a 5 year program, and co-op earnings pay for much of your costs. The University of Cincinnati pioneered this but it’s present in many engineering schools today.

      1. Rocket Surgeon*

        Agree that co-op program is an excellent way to get practical experience to complement the academic training! It may also be a foot in the door to a full time job. I’ve been with my co-op employer for over 35 years now.

    11. fueled by coffee*

      I’m not an engineer, so I can’t speak to name recognition of schools or physics degrees, but some liberal arts colleges have programs with nearby larger universities to allow students to get an engineering degree, which might be an option worth looking into. For example, Haverford has a 4+1 program with Penn and Wellesley has a dual-degree program with MIT (I know these are both very selective schools — I only know they exist because my college boyfriend’s sister was applying to them at the time).

      Re sticker price: with private universities like Carnegie Mellon and Cornell, it’s worth looking into what financial aid she would be eligible for, which will obviously depend on your family’s financial situation. While selective private universities are less likely to offer academic/merit scholarships, many offer more need-based aid than public universities or schools with smaller endowments. The private university I attended, for example, gave me a partial need-based scholarship that brought the cost down to be about the same as I would have paid for full tuition at my state flagship school. The cost of college in the US is bananas, but if your daughter’s grades are competitive for schools like Cornell, I’d look into what the actual cost would be before discounting it.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Thinking about this a little more, it’s also worth noting that the dual programs I mentioned above do involve a separate application process, so if she’s 100% sure she wants to do engineering, she might want to apply directly to a school with an engineering program. But if she’s also set on liberal arts, it’s an option.

    12. Wildcat*

      I’m a lab science major married to an engineer with a PhD.

      If she wants to do engineering, she really needs to do engineering as an undergrad. I did chemistry as an undergrad and it did not translate well to Chem-E for jobs, even though I took some of the same classes. I ended up feeling a bit stuck and pivoted out of the field entirely.

      For engineering if you want to do a masters degree you can often get an employer to pay for the degree. My spouse also got his PhD paid for, though that’s a bit rarer.

      As for prestige and jobs, it really really depends. A lot has more to do with the prestige of the individual program and the professor you work with. For engineering you really also want to be getting actual experience as an undergrad to help you get a job. Schools with Co-op programs are good for this.

      However, I’d also caution to pick a school that’s well rounded. At my school tons of people quit engineering freshman year because the first year of brutal. So make sure the school also has what she might want outside of engineering.

    13. Generic Name*

      I’m a scientist, but I work at a company/industry with tons of engineers. Here are my thoughts: get her involved in “women/girls in STEM/engineering” organizations. They are great at mentoring, and there’s stuff aimed at high school girls considering engineering. Engineers are highly in demand, and while engineering-focused schools do have more prestige, state schools with solid engineering programs are highly-regarded as well. Of the two prestigious schools you’ve mentioned….they’re not really known for engineering, so unless there’s some compelling reason to attend like a huge scholarship or every member of your family has attended, I don’t know that those schools would be demonstrably more beneficial for her to attend than other schools. Here are the schools that have more “cachet” in terms of engineering that I regularly hear about: MIT, CO School of Mines, various State “Tech” or “A&M schools.

    14. irene adler*

      Might seek out professional organizations pertaining to the type of engineering your daughter is interested in (electrical, chemical, civil, biomedical, Quality, etc.). Hopefully there will be a local chapter you can contact. THEY will know the job market and what it takes to get the job. And, they will know what not to do as well.
      (some professional organizations offer mentoring and others even have student branches in many universities. Ask about these.)
      Ask THEM what is the best avenue to getting the job in the industry she wants to work in. Ask them how important the institution name is to the degree (and at each level: BS, MS, Ph.D.).

      My take: it is the skills that matter most. Not so much where the degree came from. Sure, it must be from an accredited institution. Some institutions do have highly reputable engineering programs. Might verify if that is for undergrad degrees or just for graduate degrees.
      Check into scholarships at the private institutions. You might be pleasantly surprised at what is available via that route.

      1. Albeira Dawn*

        Good point about the professional organizations. There are some focused on the engineering disciplines (American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Electrical Engineering, and American Institute of Chemical Engineering are the ones that spring to mind) and some focused on identities (National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, Society of Hispanic Engineering Professionals, Out in STEM). Both types are helpful in different ways and both offer outreach and mentoring programs.

        1. Beehoppy*

          The American Society of Civil Engineers provides a lot of resources and support for students. If she is interested in civil engineering I highly recommend joining her school’s ASCE student chapter.

      2. Person of Interest*

        I definitely encourage your daughter to seek out the professional orgs that are specifically for women in engineering – it’s tough out there and these can be enormously helpful in helping women navigate the field.

    15. Tricksie*

      I would focus on schools that are ABET accredited, regardless of if the school is known as a huge engineering place. Smaller places can be great, but that accreditation really matters.

    16. Ruby*

      To add to the others, if I were her I would not plan to go directly into a Master’s degree. She can get a great job with an engineering undergrad degree, and employers will likely pay for the Master’s if she wants to get one later.

      An undergrad degree with some internships will get her a job much easier than a Master’s.

      1. Gracely*

        This! I’m not an engineer, but nearly half of my college friends were (and their fields include nuclear, aerospace, wireless/software, and civil engineering), and that’s what they did. Co-ops and/or internships are the routes they took to get experience prior to graduating, and they all got jobs with companies that have been happy to pay for their master’s/additional education/etc.
        You *can* go into engineering with a non-engineering bachelor’s, but if she knows that’s what she wants, she will give herself a leg up by doing a bachelors in engineering at a school with a good program. And it’s much better to let your employer pay for your Master’s than fund it yourself.

    17. bee*

      Not an engineer but to your second question: I went to a Big Name and it was actually my cheapest option by far, including state schools. Most places have an estimated cost calculator on their website, and it might be worth doing a few— in my experience, mid-tier privates tended to be by far the most expensive, because they don’t have the kind of endowment that makes good financial aid a possibility.

    18. Hlao-roo*

      Hello from an engineer! These are great things to think about. I went to a state school with an engineering program with a good local reputation, but certainly not national name recognition. So my answers are based on that background.

      I can’t speak to a physics degree from a liberal arts school, but I know that the physics program (in the College of Sciences) at my state school was much more difficult than the engineering programs. I knew a few students who switched from physics to mechanical engineering and a few who switched from physics to a liberal arts major. I have also met a few engineers in the workforce who have physics undergrad degrees, so there definitely is a pathway from a physics major to an engineering job.

      My recommendation to anyone interested in/currently studying engineering is to get a job right after undergrad. Only go to grad school if/when she really wants to study a specific aspect of engineering further, or she needs a higher degree to advance in her chosen field. Also, most engineering companies pay for master’s degrees, so a good rule of thumb in engineering is “don’t go to grad school unless someone else is paying.”

      For your last question, as far as I know a big name can be a small boost in getting your first job out of school, just in terms of a hiring manager being slightly more likely to interview you. But I would not expect that to translate to a higher salary. Going to a state school and/or a school where she can get a good scholarship and graduate with little-to-no debt will set her up much better for the future than taking out loans to go to a “big name” school. (Again, this is my experience graduating with no debt from a state school.) I don’t know where any of my current coworkers went to school because once you’re in the workforce it’s generally not important.

      Good luck to your daughter!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Oof, sorry for the italics fail. Copying and pasting most of my previous reply so it’s easier to read:

        I can’t speak to a physics degree from a liberal arts school, but I know that the physics program (in the College of Sciences) at my state school was much more difficult than the engineering programs. I knew a few students who switched from physics to mechanical engineering and a few who switched from physics to a liberal arts major. I have also met a few engineers in the workforce who have physics undergrad degrees, so there definitely is a pathway from a physics major to an engineering job.

        My recommendation to anyone interested in/currently studying engineering is to get a job right after undergrad. Only go to grad school if/when she really wants to study a specific aspect of engineering further, or she needs a higher degree to advance in her chosen field. Also, most engineering companies pay for master’s degrees, so a good rule of thumb in engineering is “don’t go to grad school unless someone else is paying.”

        For your last question, as far as I know a big name can be a small boost in getting your first job out of school, just in terms of a hiring manager being slightly more likely to interview you. But I would not expect that to translate to a higher salary. Going to a state school and/or a school where she can get a good scholarship and graduate with little-to-no debt will set her up much better for the future than taking out loans to go to a “big name” school. (Again, this is my experience graduating with no debt from a state school.) I don’t know where any of my current coworkers went to school because once you’re in the workforce it’s generally not important.

        Good luck to your daughter!

    19. Jortina*

      Do not worry about an engineering school, but do get a bachelors in engineering. You really don’t need a masters for many engineering jobs. MH with a bachelors in mechanical engineering from a state school made the exact same starting salary as someone from a private fancy engineering school and he got a fantastic education.

    20. MsM*

      Not an engineer, but related to/friends with several, so…

      – Your daughter doesn’t need to go to an “engineering school,” but she should be in an engineering program, or at least be taking plenty of engineering classes. Physics is theoretical; engineering is applied. You need the former principles for the latter, but it alone won’t give you the practical skills or training.

      – Yes, top schools are going to open certain doors and be able to facilitate connections a lot more easily than other places. But lots of state schools have excellent, well-respected engineering programs with strong alumni networks of their own, so the real concern there is finding one that can give her the small school experience she’s looking for. If she has a pretty good idea of what she wants to specialize in, she can also look and see if there are places that might not otherwise be on her radar that have managed to build a strong program in that one area. And if there’s a particular company or geographic region she’s targeting, she can see whether there are co-op programs or a strong internship pipeline between the nearby schools and local employers.

    21. Landscape Arch LS*

      Many liberal arts schools offer a 4+1 or 3+2 option, where they have a partnership with another institution. See Haverford/Bryn Mawr + UPenn, for example. Smith College, my alma mater, offers an engineering degree on campus. Disclosure…I am a landscape architect, not an engineer…

      1. No name yet*

        I was also going to mention Smith College, if she’s at all interested in an all-women’s college that has an engineering program. The college as a whole also recently changed their financial aid packages to not having any loans. (Not an engineer at all, so I don’t know how the program is considered)

        Good luck to her!

    22. Enough*

      No the prestige will not result in increased salary. At best it might get her into the door. Doing Physics first would work but she has to make sure that the courses she takes will give her the foundation for the masters. Also what branch of engineering does she want to go into? Physics may be part of a Civil Engineering curriculum but is not a critical part. But if money is a concern planning on 6 years of schooling instead of 4 seems counterproductive. Also if she really wants to be an engineer what would she do with a Physics degree if she doesn’t go to graduate school? There is nothing wrong with state schools. My husband, my son and I all have Civil Engineering degrees from Va Tech. It’s what you do with your education not where you got it from that makes the difference. Also there are private colleges with engineering programs that you could look into.

    23. The teapots are on fire*

      My fiancé actually did this. It was a handicap at the particular grad school he attended, (which was dysfunctional in a few ways), but he feels he is able to think more systemically as a result of his liberal arts degree, and I don’t think he regrets it. He was able to solve a few problems his engineering classmates couldn’t, but this was rare. The combination of physics and engineering seems to work well in aerospace. I think it would be wise to contact the particular grad schools she’s interested in and ask how physics undergrads do there and if they recommend additional prerequisites for physics majors.

      In Silicon Valley, big names seem to matter at the big-name companies.

    24. Ferret*

      Former Civil Engineer here…. I’m in a different country so I can’t answer your questions directly but I can say that my experience is that one of the most important things she should be looking for is links with industry. Is there an industry/internment part of the degree? Does the research involve working on real problems and collaborating with engineering companies that are actually using it?

      Having said that as much as I liked my degree I am no longer an Engineer and it seems like half my colleagues are frustrated former engineers and I know plenty of other people who have gone on to do all sorts of other careers so she will have a lot of opportunities. In the UK you can’t really transfer between physics and engineering in the way you are talking about (as far as I know) so it doesn’t sound like a great idea to me but the US is so different at university that may not be helpful

    25. Smaller potatoes*

      Mechanical engineer here. Would definitely recommend engineering undergrad. Most engineering jobs out there want an undergrad and don’t care much either way about graduate degrees. I did a Masters to help boost my credentials as an engineering consultant, but almost none of my colleagues have graduate degrees. (As a rare female in my field the I felt the extra credentials would help people hear me over the gender bias)
      In Canada (where I am) an engineering undergrad is essential to being able to even call yourself an engineer. Legally, a person needs a Professional Engineer designation (P.E. in the U.S.) to use the title engineer. In grad school the masters candidates without engineering undergrads received a different degree without engineering in the title even though we were literally were in the same program.

    26. Marie*

      Not an engineer, but married to one and lives in a city full of them. (Many different fields as well; software, computer, electrical, mechanical, etc.)

      Undergrad at a state college in engineering is absolutely feasible for a successful career. I have many friends that work for NASA, the FBI, and other big name government contractors. (DoD is big here.) Nearly all of them went to the same state university, and none of them have masters degrees yet.

      Please look at a state college that has a good undergrad program in the engineering field she wants to do, rather than looking for an unrelated degree from a big name college. It will save you both lots of headache and unnecessary work later.

    27. just a thought*

      I studied electrical engineering and now work in an engineering management field.

      My two cents.

      1. Get an actual engineering degree, preferably from an ABET accredited institution.
      You *might* be able to show the physics degree is similar but that varies based on how much the program/employer is willing to look into it. A lot of the government jobs I worked at early in my career and my grad school program had to show you took certain classes if you didn’t have an engineering degree, but most of the time the employers wouldn’t bother and just take someone with the ABET degree. Why risk it?
      My grad school program is less technical and more about engineering management, but it’s similar. You have to do a lot of work to prove your work and education is equivalent if you don’t have the ABET accredited degree.

      2. I would say a big name doesn’t matter. I went to a prestigious school and I don’t think it ever helped me.

      1. just a thought*

        Also, I would suggest if she wants a Masters instead of a PhD, to wait. Currently my job is paying for my Masters degree. I also did not stick to my original plan after I graduated, so I’m glad I waited.

    28. Falling Diphthong*

      The reputation of the specific program is more important than the reputation of the school at large–my youngest’s engineering program at a state school was listed in several top 10 lists for that field. The program’s reputation should also correlate to things like how good the department is at putting kids in the way of good internships and post-grad opportunities. He started planning on just a 4 year degree, and is considering a masters if he decides to go into one specific subfield where he’s learned that’s the norm.

      Physics from a small school: Oldest entered university not knowing what she wanted and chose someplace good across fields that interested her, landing in physics. The small school and department were great for her getting to do research even as a freshman. But that’s specific to her school, not generic to all small schools.

      For someone choosing a school, I’d be most concerned with options–she’s going to be learning both the engineering topics but also what things she does or doesn’t like about them. Considering different branching paths as she gains more information is good, and ideally she’s at a school with more than one path. I’d look for somewhere good in her specific engineering interest and a few other programs (other engineering, physics, math).

    29. Lora*

      There are non-expensive Big Names in engineering you may not think of as Big Names, but they are definitely a big deal to us: University of Delaware has a famously good chemical engineering school with many internships and collaborations with DuPont/Dow. Northeastern has an excellent co-op program that produces really amazing graduates who never have trouble getting a job, we love hiring Northeastern STEM grads. MIT and Caltech will of course open doors anywhere you go, but also for programming, coding and automation there’s Harvey Mudd which has an amazing program. UC Berkley, UIllinois Urbana-Champaign, Texas A&M all have excellent engineering programs in particular and aren’t “big name” (big price tag) schools but are routinely ranked above the Ivy League for engineering. And no, my MIT and CMU alumni colleagues don’t make any more than I do (small private school which had a lot of research / internship opportunities). The Ivy and near-Ivy thing really appeals to a specific subset of people: Startup executives looking to hire someone who will look impressive to investors and some very specific companies like Bose. Other people are far more interested in what you have done and what you’ve accomplished.

      Fair warning: you have to look REALLY closely at the program itself and what type of things are routinely part of the program. You don’t want a program where you’re expected to do internships or find co-op positions on the side in addition to regular coursework without much management from the university, you want a program where those things are normal, integrated parts of the curricula. When universities just have “here take these classes and oh by the way internships are really important too so you should try to get one or something” attitudes, that is not a good program. Even when students are able to get internships or research opportunities in programs like that, they tend to be extremely limited in scope and doing very low level work, and the bulk of the research work goes to the professor’s grad students and postdocs. A good co-op program treats students as real full time employees doing entry level work and has strong ties to industry, usually with a job posting type interface organized by the university.

      I would actually caution her against University of Pennsylvania, which while technically an Ivy tends to churn out graduates who are book-smart and look good on paper but without much practical experience, and it’s the co-ops, industry internships and practical experiences that really make or break the program quality.

      1. Delaware Anon*

        Go Blue Hens! Co-sign that the University of Delaware’s chemical engineering program is well established and should definitely be on the list of schools to consider.

        Re: University of Pennsylvania, I understand that’s it’s a good option for a small number of very specific areas of engineering. I want to say biological sciences and medicine? For broader employment opportunities, a person might better consider Penn’s red-headed stepchild across the street, Drexel University. They have a co-op program, and they offer some cross-disciplinary degrees with the business school. Check the costs, though; Drexel is a private school so I’d do the math on its tuition versus out-of-state tuition at a state school like Delaware.

    30. TotesMaGoats*

      Higher Ed Admin here.
      What kind of engineering does she want to do?
      What kind of undergrad experience would she do best in?
      That’s where you start. Ultimately, it doesn’t actually matter. My husband went to a small private school for his EE degree. Then did a double master’s from Hopkins. So…

      The key things I would look for would be the types/amounts of math in the undergrad program and asking where their alumni go to.

      This may sound like heresy but it doesn’t matter if you go to a big name/big price tag school hoping that will open doors if you don’t actually use the resources to open those doors. Go for the best program (outcomes data) for the lowest price. The kicker for her might be the type of engineering she wants to do. Mechanical. Civil. Electrical. Computer. There are a lot.

    31. bunniferous*

      It’s not a small school but check out NC State for engineering. I say that because it’s not only a great school for engineering but for STEM in general. And NC is a great place to be in general!

      They did (and I assume still do) have co-op programs with companies such as DuPont where a student can work for a semester, do class for a semester-it takes a little longer to graduate but you have experience in the field (a friend of mine who did this had a job waiting after graduation as well.

    32. Amy*

      My experience: BS in Electrical Engineering from a small state school (known for engineering, but not in any way one of the Big Ones), MS in Electrical Engineering from one of the Big Ones, Systems Engineering certificate from The Biggest One. I’ve worked in the field for almost 14 years and have been a hiring manager for 7 of those at a very large global company. (And I’m a woman.)

      – I’m immediately wary of the idea that she will go straight into an engineering masters program. While she might be able to gain admittance, a masters is certainly not required in many disciplines and can be seen as a drawback by some employers, especially for entry level positions. One of the bigger debates among undergraduate seniors who want to pursue a masters is whether to continue straight on into a MS program or to work in industry while getting it. There are benefits and drawbacks to both ways, but it’s a decision I’d try to put off, especially if you’re not yet in college.
      – If you don’t have an accredited engineering degree, it is a serious detriment to working as an engineer. I’ve been in situations where I’ve only been able to hire people with Physics degrees as contractors because they don’t have the word “engineering” in their degree. I’d strongly suggest going to a school with an engineering program. If she wants a liberal arts college, maybe something like Bradley would be a fit?
      – The name isn’t important. It needs to be accredited and you should look at opportunities for undergraduate research, design teams, and which companies recruit at their school (google “School name career fair” and look at the attendees). I strongly believe that she would be much better served getting out of school with a low amount of debt than with a prestigious degree.

      If there are additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! Engineering has been an amazing career for me and I love to help others get started on their path.

    33. River Otter*

      I am a real, live physics major who has been employed as an engineer for well over a decade.All this stuff about ABET accreditation is only half true. If she does go to an engineering program, it absolutely needs to be ABET accredited.
      However, since I work as an engineer, I can tell you that you don’t need to get an engineering degree to get hired at an engineering company. As I said, I was a physics major, and I have personally met math majors and astronomy majors employed at my companies. The thing that will be important for her is not just the major, but also the internship and co-op experiences that she can find.
      I really encourage you to look into private colleges even though they are expensive. Those private schools frequently offer really good aid packages, so they are worth a look. Don’t reject them out of hand based on cost.
      She should also not think about going directly from a bachelors degree to a masters degree if her goal is salary. Instead, she should think about going from a bachelors degree into a job that has educational benefits and getting a masters degree that way. The opportunity cost and the increased tuition costs of doing a masters degree really make it a losing proposition if salary is the only thing you’re considering. If she wants to keep on in graduate school after her BS because she loves it, that is a whole different value proposition. If that is the case, I encourage her to do a PhD not a masters. It is still a losing bet from a salary standpoint, but from a passion standpoint, a PhD cannot be beat.

      1. Rocket Surgeon*

        While you may be in an engineering role now, a physics BS is quite different from an engineering BS. Not to say your learning is better or worse, just different.

    34. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Not an engineer (although I did get about halfway through an ME degree before admitting I couldn’t hack fluids & thermo), but there are a lot of engineers in my family. I’m pretty sure every single one of them went to a state school for undergrad. Most of them just have their bachelor’s degree. For them, the biggest factor in getting their first post-college job was what kind of co-op experience they had. The ones who had co-op jobs had a much easier time of it than the ones who didn’t. (Also, in an engineering program, it’s almost always going to be a co-op, not an internship. It’s also going to be paid.)

      For grad school, one cousin did a combined BS/MS program, but I’m not sure he gained much over his sibling who did just the BS (same school, both in Electrical Engineering). There are a couple who have Ph.D’s, all of whom had very specific goals which required that degree. And my brother is still prouder of his PE than his Ph.D.

      One of my cousins did a double major in Physics and Electrical Engineering for her undergrad. I had a friend who was a double major in Theater and Comp.Sci. I’ve got another friend who did a dual degree and ended up with a BA from one university and a BS from the second (dual-degree meaning it was a combined program that would lead to a degree at each university). So getting an engineering degree doesn’t mean needing to avoid the liberal arts courses.

    35. Loulie*

      I have an MS in chemistry and my husband has a BS in a specialty engineering field. I also teach college level chemistry.
      Engineers who are not interested in academics don’t seem to benefit from a master’s or doctorate. My husband did go on to PE but it was not a requirement for his job, he just wanted the credential and could convince his employer to pay for it. You can work successfully as an engineer as long as you pass the EIT (engineer in training exam), and the PE is very discipline dependent. He could have had a great career without the PE, but it depends on the discipline.
      I needed the MS because it was a significant income bump over the BS, even in a STEM field. And even so, I still didn’t make as much as a BS chemE who had the exact same job title and responsibilities. (Then I went to academics and make essentially no money, but that’s a whole separate story.)
      As a STEM field instructor, I would say that first year is critical. Many students are in denial about what it will take to succeed in college and even more in denial about the requirements of a highly technical field like engineering. For years, I’ve been finding that most undergrad students have an extremely weak background in math, and unless they are willing to put in the effort to catch up, they also can’t succeed in a physical science or in engineering. Engineering is definitely not happening for most of the students who end up in our remedial math or even college algebra, they get too far behind those with a strong math background too fast.
      I attended a big state school that made it very difficult to transfer into the engineering program if you didn’t start off in it (why I didn’t switch to chemE); now I teach at a very small private school that has a program to minor in a science or math and transfer to a larger engineering school, so that is a good way to go if you aren’t certain what you want to do. And the type of engineering you want to do could end up mattering tremendously if women are under represented. You might face lots of competition for funding as a woman in civil engineering, but in fields like mining engineering women are so rare that in my day they would actually pay all your costs and give you a stipend to study it.

      1. Lora*

        ^What Loulie said about math^ This is so important. Math through calculus in high school is the bare minimum. And it’s very true that engineering programs require you to put your head down and work. Partying? You’re carrying 20+ credits of extremely tough classes and doing research projects and coding bootcamps on the side, when do you have time to party?

        The other thing is, STEM classes all tend to have some type of first or second year “washout” class where you either do well in it or don’t, and if you don’t, you have to figure out something else to do with your life. Organic chemistry, Thermo, and DiffEq tend to be the “look to your left, look to your right, one of you won’t be here next year” classes. These are not nurturing, challenging young minds type of classes; as a rule, they are very difficult for anyone who isn’t really strong in math and physics coming in.

        1. Rocket Surgeon*

          Really? I “only “ finished pre-calc in high school, and started with calc l as a freshman at university. This was their bog-standard maths track at a top-5 engineering university in the US.

      2. Sea Anemone*

        “Engineers who are not interested in academics don’t seem to benefit from a master’s or doctorate. ”

        I need to disagree with this. Every place I’ve worked has valued PhD holders. It’s not about what you got your PhD in, it’s about the critical reasoning and project execution skills that you gain during a PhD program. I can’t speak specifically to chemistry vs chem E (which are very different disciplines, despite the similarity in name. Chem E doesn’t actually use very much chemistry), but for EE, Physics, and ME degrees, there was always a higher job title than with a BS because the degree program counts as work experience. Now, pay bands for job titles tend to overlap, so an engineer II might be paid the same or less than an engineer I depending on the specifics of their experience, but if someone with a Master’s was hired at engineer I instead of engineer II, I would be asking very hard questions about how they count years of experience and I would recommend taking a different offer, if that’s an option.

      3. Wildcat*

        My spouse has a PhD and it did help with a promotion at hos job. Plus he can now judge at ISEF which he totally loves.

    36. Engineer with Breast Cancer*

      As you probably have realized from reading the thread, it really depends on what type of engineering she wants to go into. I’m a computer/electrical engineer in tech, so a physics degree can translate to an master program in my field, but that’s probably not true for every engineering field. My field doesn’t value the PE designation as much, but for power engineering it’s critical.
      If she does go into computer engineering as undergraduate, though, the schools in this list would be a high mark, although going to a small school isn’t exactly a limiter:
      https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/engineering-doctorate-computer

    37. Two Dog Night*

      I don’t know how common this is, but my husband spent three years at a small liberal arts college majoring in physics, then transferred to a large state school for two years. He ended up with a BA in physics from school 1 and a BS in engineering from school 2… and this seems to have worked out quite well. He’s never felt the need for a master’s degree, but he’s also well into his career, so things may be different now.

      Not sure where you live, but there are a lot of state schools with excellent engineering programs–I don’t think a private school would be that much of an advantage. In the midwest, for example, an engineering degree from Purdue opens a whole lot of doors. My husband works with engineers from several Big Ten schools, which makes football season interesting. :-)

    38. Anonymous Koala*

      I graduated almost 10 years ago from one of those big name engineering schools, and mentor a lot of students thinking about engineering. Before applying to schools, I suggest your daughter think about:

      1) the kind of engineering she wants to do, and what she wants to do with that degree. Both should partially determine the school she goes to, as not all engineering schools offer the same opportunities in all sub-specialities. Biomedical engineering is completely different from civil engineering, which is completely different from software engineering, etc. A physics degree is also an entirely different animal from engineering.
      2) think about after-graduation plans now. Does she want to work as an engineer, do research as an engineer, or do something else entirely? For students who want to join the engineering work force right away, joining an undergraduate ABET accredited program in engineering is a must. Those students should also consider schools with strong co-op programs so they can get some work experience right away. For students who want to go into R&D or academia, a strong research program and undergraduate research culture are really important.

      In general, I don’t think top schools = top salaries. Work experience while in school is a better determinative of high salaries after school. The best way to determine earning potentials after a certain degree is to call the alumni office or career center and ask for placement statistics. Those offices should be able to tell you which companies hire their grads, what they do to help placement, and (sometimes) what salaries those grads were offered.

    39. I exist*

      not much help as a non-engineer in a family with several engineers… one (electrical) engineer got a (mostly) unrelated associates degree at a community college out of HS and a few years later transferred some credits and got a BS from a private non-Ivy university- possible because spouse worked there and got free tuition and been working successfully in engineering for the 25+ years since. Things may have changed, but cost wise there is always the option of getting at least some classes at a community college and transferring. I believe there are also respected state engineering programs, at least in this state.
      I believe this engineer has masters+ level knowledge (based on comparison to older PhD engineer in same specialty) but has not pursued a degree for various reasons. I don’t think it has caused many barriers in career, but was not considered qualified to teach at a local community college. My point is the same as others- an advanced degree is likely not needed immediately and could be started later, potentially with extra funding.

    40. I am way too young for this*

      I’m a mechanical engineering professor at a small private liberal arts college and all of my graduated students have gotten decent jobs before they finish school. To quote the president of the university at which I got my Ph.D., “it’s not where you go to school, but how you go to school that matters.” I got my undergrad at an institution that wasn’t even ABET accredited (do not recommend this), and still have a masters and a Ph.D. from two different well-known state schools, and have done research with national labs, etc. If she works hard, the where will not matter nearly as much as *what* she does while she’s there.

    41. No Tribble At All*

      Absolutely engineering in undergrad as opposed to physics. While the fundamentals may be the same, a good engineering program will have more internship opportunities, career advice, tie-in with industries, labs, research teams, and hands-on experience. Physics is more theoretical and abstract, and despite how unlikely it is, physics resources will encourage you to become an academic researcher.

    42. JustaTech*

      If your daughter wants engineering, liberal arts and a small school can I recommend my undergrad, Harvey Mudd College?
      Fantastic engineering program (I was a biology major), very small, very strong liberal arts requirement, and while the tuition looks mind-boggling there is a lot of financial aid.

      And a lot of the engineering professors are women.
      (Based on the experience of my friends in engineering you don’t need a Masters or PhD to get a good job and do cool work that pays really well.)

    43. JimmyJab*

      I went to a medium undergrad with an engineering school. I wound up a lawyer, but my peers mostly all went straight to work from undergrad and many have amazing careers. If she wants to do engineering I suggest an engineering undergrad program, not just physics or similar. Not saying physics undergrad degrees can’t land you an engineering job, but an engineering degree will be more accepted at the start of her career.

    44. tea time*

      Physicist, working at an engineering company. I’d strongly suggest engineering as an undergraduate – there’s a legal, licensing component to being an engineer that you must have an undergraduate for. You can do a master’s afterwards, or not. If taking on big loans is a problem, is there some sort of co-op program she can do: it’s work placement for a year, or every other term.

      1. River Otter*

        “there’s a legal, licensing component to being an engineer that you must have an undergraduate for.”

        Not universally true in the US! This would be the professional engineer (PE) in the US. For Job related roles, a PE is necessary. But there are way more job related roles for which a PE is not necessary! For example, literally none of my jobs have required me to be a PE which is good because I am not. And while I certainly have not done a comprehensive study of the subject, I can say from experience that PEs have been rare at all of my jobs. In the US, absolutely do not let the need for licensure being a thing that drives you into an engineering degree rather than a physics degree.

    45. Trout 'Waver*

      As someone who hires engineers, the name on the degree matters a lot. A recognizable name is very important, but the truly big name ones don’t matter as much. A solid name means direct hire. A less desirable name means temp-to-hire starting through contract organizations. Entry level engineers need a lot of training, so big salaries are a couple years down the road from graduating and not right around the corner. Unless you land a really prestigious internship.

      Carnegie Mellon, CalTech, and MIT are great schools, but there aren’t too many students that come out of their programs. And many who do go on to higher education. VaTech, Purdue, GaTech, Texas A&M, etc all graduate lots of engineers, and those students have excellent job prospects, especially regionally.

      Also, masters programs are pretty worthless. Either BS or PhD. She should be picking schools where she has opportunities to do internships, work in research labs, and do senior design projects. These opportunities are scarce at small liberal arts colleges. A 3.0 GPA BS engineer from Georgia Tech with 2 years of interning at a local factory is always going to get hired before a 4.0 GPA BA physics major with only a senior design project.

    46. CheeryO*

      Replying as an environmental engineer in case that’s a potential interest since I haven’t seen that discipline explicitly mentioned:
      – She would absolutely want to get a B.S. in engineering from an ABET-accredited school. She’d be eligible for the P.E. much earlier, which is critical to earning potential. Even if that’s not a concern, I know one person who pivoted from physics into an engineering M.S. program, and she really struggled with the coursework. It’s not really akin to something like pre-med or pre-law, IMO. The foundational courses are crucial, and the curriculum builds on itself in a pretty rigid way, so the earlier she decides on a specific field, the better off she’ll be.
      – I went to a state school with good engineering programs and have never felt held back by it. I work in the public sector, and we hire tons of state school grads. Anecdotally, I’ve been promoted over a coworker who went to Cornell but isn’t a great communicator and doesn’t do great with some of the day-to-day technical stuff.
      – I stayed for my Master’s and am still paying the opportunity cost. I would strongly recommend against it unless it’s a major personal goal or she’s considering staying in academia. My M.S. was paid for (no one should pay for an advanced degree in engineering), but delaying my career by two years only cost me valuable real-world experience. I didn’t get higher-paying offers because of the Master’s, and I didn’t learn anything that has helped me in my career. I did get one year toward my P.E. with the Master’s, but that’s likely state-dependent.

    47. MaureenSmith*

      Canadian here with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering. No, I never pursued my Professional Engineering license.

      The university / marks only matter to get a co-op or internship and maybe the first job. After that, it’s irrelevant. One caveat, make sure the Engineering program is accredited so that your daughter has the option to get her license in the future.

      Short list the schools that have the general type of engineering she’s interested in. Then look at the campus and city vs expenses. Doesn’t matter how ‘good’ the program is if you hate living there. I ended up going to my second choice of university, best decision ever as the campus/city were more enjoyable than my first choice.

      Be prepared to change focus. More than half my incoming Engineering cohort left Engineering. Plus some changed streams (easy to do, the first year curriculum is the same across most disciplines for a reason) Some to other degrees, some to trade schools, some dropped out. Engineering may or may not be what you think it is. After the first semester, encourage your daughter to have a long talk with someone. What is does she like? Are there any struggles? This could be someone in her program, in the family, campus counselling, etc.

      Good luck to her! Engineering is an awesome program where you learn valuable problem solving skills that can be applied to almost any job or life experience later.

    48. Haha Lala*

      Another female (structural) engineer chiming in here.

      Since she’s only sophomore now, the best thing she can do now is take the most math & physics classes she can in high school, or even start getting college credit through AP classes or community college classes. That will put her in the best footing for any engineering discipline.
      She can also start narrowing down the type of engineering she likes. Maybe looks for STEM camps/weekends to get a feel for what’s involved in the different disciplines?

      ‘Name brand’ doesn’t matter, it’s more important to find a school she likes and feels comfortable at. Certain schools specialize in certain types of engineering, so she’d need to keep that in mind. I went to a “midwest Ivy”, and I work with other engineers with degrees from the same school, other comparable school, bigger state schools, state tech schools, etc. The more prestigious schools don’t come with a salary bump, but a masters degree would get a salary bump.
      Most of the engineers I work with had little loan debt, and were able to pay them off fairly quickly.
      I had a generous financial aid package from a ‘prestigious’ school, so I was able to graduate with the equivalent of one years tuition in loads, and I was able to pay them off within 5 years of graduation.
      (I also have a fiend, with the same degree, who took out more in loans, but then sold his soul and worked in oil fields for a year and paid off all his debt!)

      I’d also recommend that she keeps her options open when she starts college. A lot of engineering paths (civil, mechanical, bio mechanical, etc) all have similar core requirements for math and sciences. It’d be easy enough to switch between those in the first few years, as she learns more about each discipline and the classes she likes.
      I started college undecided, but STEM leaning. I took an intro to engineering course my first year and officially declared my major partway through my second year, and I was right on track with the rest of my peers.

      I now work with several engineers that did a dual degree program — where they got an undergrad degree in physics/math/similar from a smaller (cheaper) college in 3 years, then transferred and got an engineering degree in 2 years from the more prestigious (expensive) school.

      For my field (structural) all of the engineers have BS in civil engineer, and the majority of us have MS in civil/structural. We wouldn’t hire anyone as an engineer without an engineering degree, and you need that degree in order to test for a PE/SE license, which is also expected in our field. Not all engineering disciplines are the same, so it really depends on the type of engineering she likes.

    49. Kesnit*

      I got a BS in ChemE over 20 years ago, but ended up going into the service and never used my engineering degree. So I cannot speak to what job hunting is like for engineering majors today. I can, however, give thoughts on “college as an engineer.”

      In the end of the day, the school that is best for your daughter is the one where she is happiest. It doesn’t do her any good to start at MIT if she hates every minute of it and hates the weather in Cambridge. I went to a medium-sized state school that is located in a very rural part of the state. I was accepted to schools in or near large cities, but decided that that environment wasn’t for me. It had a strong co-op program (very important, because I didn’t decide to go into the military until I was half-way through), and my friends all had good jobs when we graduated – because all of us had co-op-ed.

      Personally, I would recommend a medium-sized school over a small liberal arts, simply because the larger school is more likely to have a wide range of opportunities for activities and groups outside the purely academic. Because yes, students are in college to get an education. But there is no way to focus on academics 24/7/365. Finding groups that she enjoys being with that do not take away from academics are a good way to de-stress.

    50. CatLady*

      Hey – (former) Software Engineer who graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering here (and now have an MBA). I would argue that it is very important if she’s interesting in engineering she go to engineering school. Why?:
      * She will learn the specialized critical, practical thinking needed as an engineer
      * She will be able to explore what types of engineering she might want to do
      * Being a Physicist (or other straight scientist) is very different from being an Engineer. In Engineering school she’ll get a ton of Physics, and Chemistry, and other sciences basics before starting to specialize.

      I went to a top level, non-IVY league University with a very good engineering program. The University name was of minimal use but the experience I gained through its CO-OP program (a paid internship that is woven into the overall curriculum) was invaluable. I graduated understanding what it takes to work in the real world and because it was a fundamental part of the University’s curriculum I got the opportunities to try different companies (and gain experience with interviewing) and engineering types.

      Good luck to your daughter and I welcome her to STEM.

    51. PizzaCat*

      I haven’t yet seen anyone yet say this, but if you decide to go the physics route, make sure you do your research! As you look at Physics programs, make sure you understand what the professors’ areas of interest are and what upper level classes look like. I started my undergrad studying Physics, but almost all of my professors were researching either in the areas of astronomy or particle physics, neither of which I had any interest in. Your daughter will likely want to do some research or have some sort of internship during her time in undergrad, and what her professors are interested in will partially determine what opportunities are presented to her.
      I also second people saying to ask about SWE chapters, or even ask point blank how many women are involved in the program. I had so many bad experiences in the Physics department at my school with sexism, misogyny, or just general exclusion based on my gender both with professors and peers.
      All that being said, I started out as a Physics major but ended up a math teacher, so a liberal arts college is a good choice in terms of having the safety net of being able to change majors without needing to transfer schools.

    52. Nesprin*

      My BS/MS/PhD are all in engineering, all from huge state schools (UC’s). I’ve done some of the work towards a PE (the standard certificate that allows you to sign documents), but not all, because I ended up in research.

      Why is she thinking to get an Engineering MS instead of a BS? The beauty of engineering is it’s one of the few professional disciplines that only requires a BS. That said, most colleges have some sort of engineering programs unless she’s at a tiny-tiny school. Worth asking what the EIT (PE prelim) pass rate is, what the accreditations are etc.

      Almost always not going into debt >> going into debt. I might expect a small salary bump from a bigger school but I doubt the prestige would be worth the cash unless it’s Harvard vs. .

    53. Academic Anon*

      One thing to look for is what support the university offers incoming students. The transition from high school to college can be rough for some students, so having a group of people taking the same classes who are focused on studying can help. My large state school has a learning living community for women engineers, so they have people studying around them and there are activities associated with the community that can help them both academically and professionally.

      For funding, you have to look at the whole budget. Many private schools will offer you scholarships and financial support, some even getting you close to the costs for public schools. In-state is normally a better package, despite the cratering of state support for universities (*Moi? bitter?*). Also, take into account room and board, especially if your student will be living off-campus for part of the time. The housing crunch is also squeezing college towns and it especially bad surrounding universities in large cities such as Boston.

      Other things to ask about are: internship opportunities, co-op opportunities, undergraduate research opportunities, career fairs and job placement rates. And it might be tougher to hear, but ask about drop-out rates. Liking engineering in high school is different from taking differential equations. *shudder*

    54. calacademic*

      Hi! I was a physics major at a small liberal-arts school, went to graduate school in physics at a university that has been name-dropped in the comments already, and now work as a engineer at a different famous university that has also been name-dropped in the comments. There are MANY MANY MANY paths to get from A to B. There are upsides to being at a small liberal-arts school. There are downsides. Same with big schools. What is her current (high) school like? What does she think about the overall culture of her choices? What, if any, other interests does she have? (I got to do a lot more music and travel as an undergrad at my school than I would have done at a massive school, for instance.) Good luck! It will all work out in the end! :)

    55. Mudder*

      Just a plug for my Alma Mater, Harvey Mudd College which is a small, stem-focused school. It’s not well known, but generally is highly rated. (I personally did computer science, and I got a great education there.)

      1. CheerfulGinger*

        But so expensive! Not worth the debt compared to a state school with a solid, ABET accredited program

      2. JustaTech*

        Hey there fellow Mudder!

        Yes, all private schools are going to be expensive, but private schools also offer more financial aid than a lot of state schools. And not just loans, there are grants, scholarships and work-study jobs.

    56. Parsley*

      Oh my goodness! Thank you so much to all who are weighing in here! My daughter and I are taking many, many notes. Since some people have been talking about localities and specific schools, I thought I’d mention that we’re in the DC area, in Virginia. This means that Virginia Tech is an option for in state tuition. If anyone specifically knows that program and has thoughts there, we’d love to hear them. It’s a larger school than she’s been hoping for, but it definitely seems to have great resources.

      1. Beehoppy*

        If your daughter is interested in Civil Engineering – have her e-mail student @ asce.org and I may be able to put her directly in touch with some students or grads.

    57. Morag*

      Female physics PhD with undergrad degrees in physics and mechanical engineering. I’m also currently a manager who hires a wide range of technical staff. Echoing a lot of what’s already been said, if she wants to be an engineer, go to a school that has a good, ABET-accredited program in the kind of engineering she’s interested in. A good state school can provide a solid credential. The big-name schools can be great, but can also be real pressure cookers. Physics is a good liberal arts degree, but doesn’t teach you how to be an engineer. There would be a lot of coursework to make up before starting an engineering graduate program.

      More important than where she gets her degree is getting some real world experience while in school. Co-op programs or summer internships or working in a professor’s lab during the school year can all help. When I’m looking a resume, even if it is entry-level, I want to see something that says you’ve had to translate what you’ve learned into the real world. Engineering and other technical fields are good in that there are opportunities for reasonably well-paid summer jobs for students.

    58. Qwerty*

      My advice I always give is to weigh (1) how good is a school in the specific degree(s) that you are interested (2) how does it work into your affordability plan (3) does the school have alternatives if you realize primary degree isn’t working for you or have interests to fill your electives with.

      When evaluating “how good” look, don’t look at prestige. Look at accreditation, ranking, courses required/offered. Try to visit and talk with student groups to figure out how you’d fit in – a school that is great for person A may not suit person B which is totally valid.

      I did go to a top 10 engineering a college at a big name university however it was partly because it was <2hrs from my parents house so I could visit often and pay in-state tuition, and got a lot of advantages due to how good the program was. There was a heavy focus on fundamentals and practical application (For example, before using the standard programming libraries, we'd first have to program them ourselves to understand how it works under the hood, then get to use the neat shortcuts). While it didn't result in flashy things, grads usually got really good jobs. I managed to score a big name internship as a freshman back when it was unusual for juniors to get internships.

      Prestige universities don't mean good quality teaching, or they are only good in a few areas. The companies I work for stopped searching for interns or college grad from the typical Prestigious Branded Universities because they often taught pure theory in my field.

      Fitting in and being well rounded really helps. I really loved a small engineering college that had a great tiny program for the niche that I wanted, but I realized that I would feel stifled with only engineering classes as options (ended taking a variety of LSA electives as my "fun" non-tech classes), be stuck in a not great city, and realized the campus life was mostly frats because there was nothing to do outside of class

    59. ArawanVenus*

      I’m not an engineer but I did go the route of a small private liberal arts school for undergrad and large public school for a masters degree. I loved getting both experiences and don’t regret anything about my choices but seven years of higher education is a lot of debt to take on. Engineering (depending of the specialty) generally pays better than architecture (my field) but it’s worth considering if the extra loans are worth it especially when most engineering jobs don’t require a masters degree.

      That being said I would take into consideration that your daughter may change her mind about engineering once she’s in school so choosing a university that would allow her the chance to explore other majors too is always a good idea. I would also look at the reputation of the engineering department rather than the school’s name. Tons of lesser known schools have excellent programs and their grads can be just as competitive as someone who went to MIT.

    60. Cascadia*

      Hello! My husband is an electrical engineer and has his PE – he has a great job in the energy distribution field of engineering and does a lot of hiring, especially of entry-level engineers. He has an undergrad degree in engineering from a state school that has a solid engineering program and is known for it. I remember asking him about getting a masters degree, but he said it’s not really done in his field unless you want to go into academia. He was able to get a job right out of college, and has worked his way up at three different companies over the past 12 years. He started the process to get his PE right away after graduating, and that has GREATLY aided him in his career progression. He got work opportunities and salary increases that his fellow engineers are not eligible for due to having his PE. His company is also constantly hiring and looking for new talent – anyone coming in with a PE is a highly competitive and sought-after candidate as they need PEs to sign off on drawings and designs.

      As far as hiring goes, almost everyone he hires has an engineering undergrad degree. His company doesn’t look for and doesn’t care about having a masters degree, and it certainly won’t give you a boost towards getting hired there. They also don’t care about ‘big name’ brand recognition schools. If anything, they know the reputation of the engineering programs at various schools – an engineer from a large nationally-recognized state school with a fabulous engineering program may do far better than someone with an engineering degree from an ivy that’s not necessarily known for that.

      I’d recommend your daughter choose a college/university that has a robust engineering major, as well as other options. State schools are great for this, as they have so many majors to choose from. Well in many professions your undergraduate degree doesn’t really matter, it seems to matter a lot more in engineering – at least, depending on the type of engineering. I’d aim for something that will give her lots of options to choose from! I know for my husband as an electrical engineer, he still had to take classes in all sorts of other types of engineering, which greatly aided him in both narrowing down his preferred field, and with his FE and PE exams (which test you on ALL types of engineering, not just your subject matter expertise).

    61. Anon scientist*

      I was just talking to a forlorn physics student at a jobs fair who’s not getting any interest at all, while the engineering students in the engineering disciplines I work with (civil, environmental, geotechnical) have firms fighting each other for new grads. I felt bad for the kid, but in my particular discipline (environmental science) I have no use for someone with a “pure math/science” degree. I’d take a bio, chem, geo grad if I can’t get an engineer.

    62. McS*

      I have a physics undergrad degree (from MIT, which is a big name) and when I applied to engineering PhD programs, I heard literally “you’ll be fine, the physics students are always smarter.” I also just hired an engineer right out of school and another with just a few years of experience. I would say I don’t notice the difference between say MIT and UCSD on a resume. I am more interested in research or internship experience that might be relevant. But a weaker school would be a flag. I am hiring for relatively broad roles that require initiative and on the job learning more than top level modeling or analytical skills off the bat. I hire PhD holders for those.

    63. womp womp*

      I’m a woman who did an undergrad at one of the few SLACs that offer engineering degrees, graduated ~2010. I work for a big Silicon Valley co now (as an EE).

      In general, for engineers, I think college –> job as test engineer –> job as design/whatever engineer is a great career arc that a lot of people overlook. The right test engineer job can get you into design or whatever you’re really interested in faster than a graduate degree. Generally, these jobs aren’t all that hard to get, but it helps if you take programming classes in college or teach yourself how to do that. Really any language is OK, but C++ is dominant in (at least electronic) test and it’s relatively easy to learn other languages from there. Look for smaller-mid-sized companies, or large ones that tout opportunities for growth.

      If you do go the SLAC route, and don’t want to do test engineering, you have to go to grad school. I’d recommend a PhD over an MS because usually you don’t have to pay for a PhD at all (you get a stipend) and your advisor will help you find a good job after. Look for a prof with a pretty high profile in the field you want to go into and contact them directly with your CV and a polite note stating your interest. Polite but direct – say you want to join their group, don’t assume they’ll be open to that at this stage in the conversation. At highly regarded state schools, if you have a good GPA from a decent SLAC, they will almost certainly interview you as long as you do this. There is a general application process, and don’t miss dates for that, but the most effective way to secure a spot is to contact whoever you want to work with directly. Make sure they have a reasonable grad rate (~5y time to completion) and a rational approach to sending students to industry vs. academia as the next step (a Univ of Utah prof who only produces postdocs is to be avoided, but one who sends half their students to Intel is a great choice).

      For the SLAC–>PhD route in particular, also look for REUs as an undergrad. These are usually paid summer internships (if it’s not paid, it might be a scam). As a SLAC student, your recommendation letters will be a lot better than everyone else’s, so even if your GPA is meh, you are far more likely to get a position. Some REU programs weed out all freshmen/sophs, don’t get discouraged if you get rejected a lot at first. If you’re successful in a particular lab as an REU student, that can also be a great way to land a PhD position either with that prof or one of their colleagues.

      As a woman, I cannot recommend hyper-liberal schools, whether SLAC or big name U, enough. As a frosh engineering student, I didn’t have a ton of self-confidence and was often intimidated by my peers (even though a lot of them turned out to be way less competent than me). But I didn’t encounter anyone who openly questioned my place to be in engineering when I was an undergrad at all, so I was able to build confidence based entirely on my own performance in classes (I wouldn’t walk on a bridge I designed, but I’d trust my life to one of my circuits). I absolutely did encounter people who reflexively questioned my right to be here in my CA job and at my CA grad school – the longer you can delay interacting with that, the better off you will be. A mediocre blue SLAC will put you in a better long-term place than a top-level red engineering school.

    64. eminem*

      Liberal arts university Clark has a deal with Columbia University where you can do half and half, liberal arts experience at Clark and engineering at Columbia. However there is a really strict sequence of classes you need to take so there’s not as much flexibility as the usual liberal arts education. I don’t really see the point of it but it’s a thing you can do.

    65. Cohort 1*

      15/16 years old is very young. She may very well be set on being an engineer of some sort and just motor right on through to that end and be very happy when she is awarded a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a Specialization in Renewable Energy and Environmental Flows. Alternately she may discover llama grooming in her freshman year and change course altogether. Given that people here are saying that many schools have solid engineering programs, be sure to look first at those, but choose one that also will expose her to llama grooming, archeology, global health, marine biology, statistics, and Cognitive Science with Specialization in Machine Learning and Neural Computation. A university introduces kids to things they never even thought of before they got there and can set them on a whole new course.

    66. Spcepickle*

      Female civil engineer here who hires lots of people!
      1) Totally depends on what type of engineer she wants to be, want to come design roads with me you really need a civil engineering degree and to either have or be in your way to a PE license.
      I have a friend who designs the black boxes that keep helicopters up, has a physics degree.
      I also use to work with a women who has an MBA and did project management for my engineer firm.

      2) A masters degree is not critical for most working engineers, so I would start with an undergrad degree and only peruse a masters if it seemed really fun and she got funded (look at American association of university women they give nice scholarships for women engineers) or an employer paid for it (all the ones I have had offer tuition reimbursement).

      That said, many schools don’t have you declare a major right away and you can try the different types of engineering (I switched from aeronautical to civil in college, sooooo much happier).
      I would not worry about a name brand school, state schools will get you a job just as well and after your first job nobody cares where you went to school. I would prioritise internships and a co-op, so much easier to get a job with work experience.

      Lastly look at the professional engineer societies in town. American society of civil engineers most likely meets once a month in your area (so does SWE, and the electrical, structural, and environmental engineers) go to their meetings, I promise they would be THRILLED to visit with a high school student.

  6. Indigo64*

    One of my coworkers is Russian. In light of current events, I want to check in on her (we are all working remotely). She’s lived in the US for 10 years and married an American, but she speaks fondly about her childhood in Moscow and visiting family in Russia. What do I say? “Sorry your homeland is controlled by an oppressive dictator with no regard for human life…”

    1. ariel*

      “I’ve been thinking of you lately, how are you doing with everything in the news? If you want to chat next week, let me know and I’ll find a time to catch up.”

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, something like this sounds best. It doesn’t make any assumptions about your coworker’s views on the situation–just that the situation overall is stressful and clearly must be on her mind.

      2. UK Mommy*

        I haven’t had a performance review / appraisal since I returned to work after having my first baby in Feb 2020, nor even a 121, despite moving from working full-time to three days a week with a job share partner working the other two. Prior to having my daughter I had made it clear that I was interested in leadership training, & this is still the case, but I’m not being given any opportunity to raise this, or even to discuss how the new job share arrangement is working (pretty well actually, by all accounts). Any advice? I feel like having a baby has just removed any interest in how I’m doing at work from my managers, & that my aspirations are no longer cared for because I have young children…

    2. Attractive Nuisance*

      I would not mention the situation and just say “Hi, how are you? Thinking of you” or something like that. I appreciated a friend who checked in like that when I was the one affected by current events. It acknowledged that they were thinking of me (which I really needed to hear) without assuming anything about my feelings (which were complicated and not necessarily in line with what my friend would have guessed). It also didn’t make me feel like I’d been put on the spot to explain my feelings or their context.

    3. Purt's Peas*

      What about, “The news has been awful lately, so I wanted to check in. If you need any extra flexibility, etc, from me, let me know.” What would you have wanted to hear on Jan 6?

      1. Cj*

        Unless you have discussed such things, you can’t assume your Russian coworker is against the invasion of Ukraine, just like you can’t assume everybody in the US was against what happened on January 6th.

        1. allathian*

          Agreed, but not all Russians support Putin’s actions. I’m in Finland, and we have a 1,000 mile border with Russia. Russians are the biggest foreign minority here, and many of them are vehemently anti-Putin. Some of them left Russia because they don’t like the politics there. Many of them have reported an increase in anti-Russian prejudices. The biggest anti-war demonstration here so far was hosted by Russians who were angry about the war.

        2. Disco Janet*

          That’s pretty common sense – I doubt anyone needs to be informed of this as obviously people rarely 100% agree on politics and government. But if someone has a problem with news that involves innocent people dying referred to as ‘awful’, that is on them.

    4. Kat*

      I have a similar situation except my coworker/friend is Romanian with Ukranian friends and relatives. I just sent her a message telling her I was thinking of her and if she wanted to talk I’d be happy to be an ear for her.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I had a similar experience last year with my Indian coworkers when India was being walloped with delta covid. I found it was received well to gently ask how they were doing and how their families were doing, and then giving them space to say that there were not, in fact, doing fine.

    6. K*

      Please do that! just say something.
      I am Russian currently living in the UK, on skilled worker visa. My coworkers do not care, and didn’t even acknowledge the situation. I have to just carry on and work as if nothing happened while I am just dying inside.
      Also saying something along the lines of “it is not your fault” will be helpful. Many Russians feel deeply ashamed now, even though they didn’t vote for our current goverment and don’t support their atrocious actions.
      And there is real fear that it will affect our immigration status and we will have to go back to our terrible country.

      1. On Fire*

        I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. Besides the embarrassment you mentioned, and the fear about your immigration status, I imagine you’re also concerned about friends and family back in Russia. This is not your fault, and I’ve watched in deep admiration as Russian (including those IN Russia, who can face dire consequences) have protested over the past couple of days. My husband visited Russia years ago, and he loved the people he met. Please have a virtual hug if you want it.

        1. K*

          Thank you, On Fire! I sppreciate your kind words.
          My friends and family in Russia are physically safe, it is not like somebody is going to bomb Moscow or St.Petersburg. But there are travel bans, and I am not sure I will ever be able to see them again. I think it is a part of government’s plan, to prevent talanted people from leaving the country. “Brain leakage” was huge in recent years.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I was planning on having my mom visiting me in the US for the first time ever (I’ve been living here for 20 years), before she got too old. I don’t think it will ever happen now.
            I may have to start sending her money, unless money transfers between private persons will fall under sanctions too, because I don’t think she can deal with yet another severe economic crisis.
            Physically, my family is safe, they are spread between Moscow and Novosibirsk, but emotionally and financially?

            1. K*

              Yes, this. At least send her money while you still can.
              I am thinking where to go if UK home office denies my visa extension. Definitely not back to Russia.

        2. That-ptsd-chick*

          Sorry you’re going through this K. In my experience, it’s often that people have good intentions but don’t know what to say. I’m a queer person in Aus – there’s often hate crimes, hateful laws, or massacres in other parts of the world which just take their toll. One thing I appreciate from my colleagues is more the act of saying something, anything at all, rather than just being ‘business as usual’ when things really, really aren’t business as usual for me. Some stuff that’s been good in the past is ‘i saw X in the news, and wanted to reach out but didn’t know how to do it without making you uncomfortable’, or ‘i saw X in the news, and just wanted you to know I’m around for a chat or a proofread or whatever else I can do.’

      2. Gnome*

        I’m sorry your coworkers haven’t reached out. Hopefully it’s not that they don’t care but that they don’t think of you as “K, who is Russian” but just as K.

      3. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I’m sorry, K. It’s hard when people like you get lumped in with atrocious things the leader(s) of their country do, and other people in general are not great at remembering there are people in that country just as horrified as the rest of us. Hopefully your coworkers are being silent just out of fear of saying the wrong thing, not lack of caring or concern for you.

        And I know you said it yourself, but I’m going to say it to you as well: this is not your fault.

      4. Onwards and Upwards*

        Sorry this is happening to you, K. I have found it moving to see (in the news and on twitter) the protests from within Russia and from Russian people around the world. Hopefully many will see this footage (it seems to be v accessible and spreading fast). Very best of luck with what you’re going through.

    7. Spalva*

      I live in Latvia and I work at an international company and have colleagues in India. The last two days they have been worried for us, who are working in Latvia, and asking how we are doing. I think it’s nice of them. We tell them that we’re doing fine, nothing is happening here. (But of course we can’t help but worry if we might be next on Putin’s list so this situation is very upsetting. We even had a work meeting cancelled yesterday because nobody thought we would come up with any good ideas in this situation.)

    8. Sarra N. Dipity*

      Offer something concrete, if you can. “I’m happy to take notes in XYZ meeting for you if you need a break” or something like that. People who are affected by tragedies are often not able to come up with something specific when told “let me know if I can do anything…”.

    9. Chirpy*

      When I (American) was living in Spain in the early 2000s during an escalation of the Iraq War that sparked a lot of backlash in Spain, I appreciated my Spanish friends saying “we’re not mad at you, we’re mad at our government for siding with your government”. They also made sure I knew when and where the protests would be, so I could avoid the area. (Because it only takes one idiot in a crowd to make things go bad.)

      For a coworker I’d probably just ask how they’re doing, and let them know you’re willing to listen if they want to talk.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      Ask her how is she doing.
      Please, please, please, do not ask for her opinions on thongs that are happening, things she is not involved at, and had no control over. Questions like these always feel like interrogation, and always put people on defensive.

    11. KSinHE*

      When Covid first hit and there was the initial spike in harassment and violence against people of Asian decent (which is of course ongoing) I made sure to check in on my friends from China that were living in the U.S. Essentially, I just let them know that with everything happening I wanted them to know I was thinking of them and cared about them. This was before it really spread within the U.S. and so I also let them know that I hoped their families back home were well and I would be keeping them in my thoughts. Everyone is going to react differently, but my goal was to share that in a difficult situation I wanted them to know I cared about them.

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

      As someone of Baltic descent (who lives at the other corner of the world), I’ve been trying to avoid news for the past week. This is not the way I wanted my grandpa’s country to be mentioned on local tv…

      1. Attractive Nuisance*

        I feel you. My grandparents/great-grandparents were European refugees, and I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve found myself thinking about them this week and how intense my own feelings have been. I’m not Ukrainian, and they weren’t Ukrainian, so it feels weird that I’m reacting so strongly. But I am.

  7. Albeira Dawn*

    Performance reviews! They’re coming up in my company, starting next week, and this is my first office job after graduation. Thanks to Alison’s advice, I’m super excited rather than nervous. I have a list of projects I’ve worked on, the skills I gained, the deliverables I’ve produced, my goals for the next year, and a general idea of what direction I’d like my career to head.

    Any further advice?

    1. Bluesboy*

      It’s been a while since I’ve had a performance review, but one question I’ve had come up a few times is where I think I need to improve.

      I think it’s worth giving that a little thought pre-review, because otherwise you find yourself sitting there going “err…I’m not very good at X”. Much better if you’re prepared, because you can say not only “I think I need to improve my skills in X”, but also add “and so I’m doing courses/paying attention to how colleagues do it to learn from them/have asked Jenny to mentor me/etc”.

      Good luck!

      1. Nicki Name*

        There’s usually some kind of question about areas for improvement, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be something you’re bad at. If there’s a new tool or process you want to learn about, a certification you want to work toward, or some way of increasing your knowledge about the industry, those are all valid answers.

    2. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Yes, can you also show the business impact form what you delivered? I.e. delivering project x enabled the sales org to unlock $xxx in add’l sales, or because you ensured project y met industry standards/compliance requirements/whatever, it unlocked sales opportunities to these highly regulated industries. Also, HOW did you do the work? I.e. were you collaborative, or did you leave a minefield in your wake. Did you establish effective working relationships? Hope this helps!

    3. Lady Danbury*

      Brag file! Ideally, you have a folder where you’ve kept track of positive feedback received from coworkers, managers, clients, etc. If you haven’t kept track, hopefully you can find some examples in your email that you can share with your manager.

      1. Abc123*

        +1 for a brag file, or even seek out written feedback from teams you’ve worked with (especially if your boss is less familiar with those workstreams). I encourage the people I manage to do this in the months preceding annual review, and it’s so helpful for me to tell my manager “hey it’s not just me saying my direct report is great, here’s some thoughts from other departments”. It’s been very effective in getting some key staff promoted.

    4. Katie*

      Numbers numbers numbers. It’s good to state what you did but how is that better than expected? Stats can give you that. What were your areas of impact?
      For areas of improvement, frame it more as areas that you would like to develop. So you want to take on a leadership roles? Do you want learn a certain program, etc.

    5. Gordy*

      As a boss I like my employees to think about how I can support them better. I generally will go through “Start, Stop, Continue” with them… i.e. what do you need me to start doing, what do you want me to stop doing and what do you want me to continue to do that will help you meet goals/expectations.

  8. Unfettered scientist*

    So I’m a postdoc (science) and I’m thinking of pivoting into industry but the pay bands for most jobs are incredibly wide (60,000-140,000). Any ideas for how to figure out what a reasonable starting salary is? I’m in a major metro area and biotech/pharma hub.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Analytics can be the same way. From what I’ve learned, recruiters think about that range in years of experience. Right out of school would be on the $60K side and ten years of increasing responsibility would be the $140K side.

    2. Darlingpants*

      I’ve only been able to get good information (and “good” is relative. The different companies do actually pay differently enough for a $40k salary band) by making friends in the industry and flat out asking.

      But also your grad school career center should have a survey of salaries from everyone in your program (who filled out the survey) and their salary/geographic location. Mine was like 6 numbers in 5 places, so not that useful, but at least I knew it was accurate.

    3. Generic Name*

      Scientist here, working at a consulting firm. We often post positions with huge pay bands to account for different years of experience. So $60,000 might be entry level 0-1 year experience and $140,000 might be for someone with 20 years’ experience. And by “experience” I mean working in industry. I know that folks can spend many years in an academic environment, but industry really doesn’t see those years as equivalent experience as working in industry, fair or not.

    4. MooMooCow45*

      This is tough question! My instinct is to ask closer to the higher end of the salary range and see how things go in interviews/the offer itself. This way if they offer you something close to the higher end of the spectrum, you’ll be set.

      Another option – this is the cheatcode route – Public Universities, State institutions and government institutions post their salaries publicly. I would find someone with similar credentials to you, similar to a job you would be qualified for/interested in applying to. Then look up that person’s salary. Government jobs tend to be on the lower-medium end of the spectrum, so this will let you better gauge a reasonable salary.

      Best of luck in your search and congrats on being a post-doc! That’s awesome!

    5. SportyYoda*

      PhD candidate in a similar boat! I have no idea if BeyondTheProfessoirate has any upcoming webinars, but she’ll give advice about transitioning from academia to other jobs on a regular basis. Some of it boils down to “use our paid service!”, but some of it is helpful.
      I will admit… it’s weird being halfway between “entry level” and “mid level”; not totally experienced but not quite “properly trained”… I’ll have no idea what all I actually qualify for on a semi regular basis.

    6. JustaTech*

      Since you’re a post-doc (thus have a PhD) you’re going to be on the higher end, speaking as someone in the industry in a biotech/pharma hub (but without a PhD).

      As for places to ask, I’d try your alumni association (but only for your department), any local industry associations (like Women in Biotech), and Glassdoor.

      Whatever you do, don’t compare to academic salaries or use that as a “reasonable” baseline – academia catastrophically underpays (especially post-docs).
      Biotech, especially the cell therapy companies, are pretty desperate for staff, so they’re going to be offering big bucks.

      Good luck!

      1. PostalMixup*

        Agree with this. Also note that pay can vary company-by-company. I’m in a metro with ag, pharma, and life sciences companies, as well as smaller biotech, and even at the big companies, a Senior Scientist level position for a PhD with postdoc experience can range $75-$100.

        Do you know anyone working at these potential employers? They’ll be the best source for what you can expect from their particular companies.

    7. Snake Plant*

      I second asking any friends or family who are working in biotech/pharma, since they will obviously know real numbers! Also, I’m assuming that you are just looking at the area that you are near, but make sure that your search isn’t capturing salaries from other areas. This can happen for enormous companies that are headquartered in one area, but have multiple locations, and if some salaries are from Florida while some are in San Francisco of course you will have astronomically different numbers.
      I also wonder if the big pay band you are seeing is because your salary search is encompassing some lower-level positions as well. For some reason companies refer to a bachelors/masters level position as a Scientist, while for others that is reserved for PhDs. Very annoying.

    8. River Otter*

      You need to look at both the job title/job grade and the pay band. You are right that pay bands can be very wide, and that is true even for a given job grade. A PhD will be worth about six years of work experience, and the post doc will be worth an equal number of work experience. So for a given target employer, try to determine what the job title is for eight years of work experience, and expect to be in the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of that pay band.
      For example, if the job title is senior scientist II and the pay band for a senior scientist II is 70,000 to 130,000, you should expect an offer for between 90 and 100,000.

    9. K*

      Ask people who already work in industry! I can’t tell about the US, but in the UK salaries for scientists in the industry are way lower.
      Also iirc there were regular pharma salary surveys at the Derek Lowe’s blog “in the pipeline”.

    10. HR Exec Popping In*

      The mid-point of a salary range is designed to be where someone who is fully functioning at a high level with a few years experience in that role.

    11. samecoin*

      what field? my wife is STEM/Biotech and has worked in industry and academia. she has a masters so i have a pretty good idea of what the industry rate in a major metro area in the US is for “minimal” Advanced degree

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        I have a PhD in bio, wet work for phd but I’m fully computational now. My post doc is at a research institute so not fully academic or industry.

    12. Storm in a teacup*

      It will also depend on what you’re hoping to pivot into? Are you looking at going into development or research roles or transitioning into a medical or commercial role?

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        Dev/research side. Looking for SME:individual contributor roles in computational biology (a specific subset)

    13. Med Chemist*

      Starting salaries for a bench chemist at one of the bigger pharma companies with a phd is 115-120k at the moment. Smaller biotechs pay a bit less but the big players are all pretty consistent. San Francisco commands a bit more. There are a lot of chemistry jobs right now – it’s a good market.

      Source: Am a med chemist and on hiring committees.

    14. Managing to Get By*

      My organization has very wide salary bands also. The actual pay is close to the middle of the band, clustered around the midpoint. For example, if the band was 75,000 to 125,000, the midpoint is 100,000. We have to get executive level approval to pay below .9 and above 1.1, so in the above example most people would be clustered between 90k and 110k. We hire in at .9 to .95, maybe higher if we have a candidate with experience but we’re mostly hiring entry level. If someone has been in the position for many years they’ll be at 1.04 to 1.08.

      I have no idea why the bands are so wide when we are not allowed to use the upper or lower ends. The salary band for our entry level positions, where we usually hire, run from about 45k to over 75k. It really frustrates me when the recruiter gives the salary band info to a candidate. I am all for transparency, but we’re not going to be able to get approval to hire someone in at 65k let alone 75k so why disclose the full band when it’s not actually used? I asked the recruiter to give out the actual amount we pay, we have a set rate for entry level people right out of college, or even a small band around that amount, but got a lot of pushback.

  9. an inquiry*

    I’m curious to what you would do as far as a resume. I love my company but due to a personal situation I’ve come to realize I need to switch. My resume is a long story that I haven’t seen addressed on AAM. Hang in there with me.

    In 2008 during the recession I was laid off from Company A. I’m fortunate to live near a big city so even during hard times you could still find something to pay the bills. I signed up with a placement agency (Company B) that specialized in a niche I work in. For anonymity let’s say I’m a painter. I’ve painted buildings to personalized protraits – I’ve done it all. For simplicity in my story let’s call any temporary or consulting work, assignments.

    I had a great experience. I was able to get health benefits through Company B. While I had a few job opportunities along the way, but I liked the flexability being a temp on assignments offered. I stayed with Company B for a few years. In 2011 Company B had formed a partnership with Company C, my then-current assignment. Company C was a company that produced teapots and needed a painter. When I interviewed Company C (a temp assignment to perm position) explained that they would soon be splitting the company in two: Companies C and D since they had grown so much. I worked for Company C for 6 months and was permanently sent to company D after, which was now considered a subcompany of C.

    Company D was unique. They hired company B to help get set up the structure. Basically Company D was set up as consulting firm that went around to different companies (assignments) that dealt with all things teapots. I was hired to paint teapot displays and repair teapots whose paint has chipped. (I know I’m stretching things with this anonymity). My consulting assignments were anywhere from 3 months to 1 ½ years.

    In 2018 I was hired by Company E a client/ assignment of Company D (all done legally nothing malicious). Client E was a teapot distribution company as their lead painter. I was not a temp/ consulting/ going on assignments but a full time permanent employee in one location. I’m at a point now that I’m ready to move on from painting and teapot industries. I’m burnt out and have a family situation making it a good time to move on.

    As you can see, I’ve not really had to create a resume since 2008 as I was always hired from an existing employer. The thing is if you looked at my career at a top level view, I’ve theoretically been a temp/ consultant for 10 years straight for 2-3 different companies depending on how you count C+D splitting. In that 10 year period I’ve worked for 15 assignment companies. Most of my assignments were almost 1 ½ years but a few well known name dropping companies had me for 3 month assignments in between. In addition I picked up new skills along over the years, but most of my assignments had about 50% of the same job description – in every situation I had to analyze materials needed, primers, type of paint, environmental concerns. I’ve found ways to organize and streamline things, but my “new skills” came after the groundwork (50%) was done.

    I don’t even know how to put this all consolidated on a one page resume. I feel like I need a hybrid tradition and by skills resume. How does the below look? Any Suggestions?

    Company E (2018 – present)
    • Accomplishment 1
    • Accomplishment 2
    • Accomplishment 3

    Consultant / Temp Painter – Company B (2008-2011); Company C/D (2011-2018)
    • Assigned to work with companies xxx, xxx, xxx
    • Skill set 1
    o Accomplishment 1
    o Accomplishment 2
    • Skill set 2
    o Accomplishment 1
    o Accomplishment 2
    • Skill set 3
    o Accomplishment 1
    o Accomplishment 2

    Company A (2000-2008)
    • Accomplishment 1
    • Accomplishment 2
    • Accomplishment 3

    1. Ozzie*

      I swapped industries around 8 years ago, so things may have changed since then (and I haven’t seriously job hunted in nearly 6 years), so things may have changed a bit, but I previously worked a combination of stable jobs and contract work. When I was putting my outside-industry resume together to make the change, I divided my work experience into two sections. The first, was my “normal job” section, which looked like the type of thing you see in a “how to build a resume” section. Title, company, Dates of Employment on one line, then accomplishments at that job bullet pointed below. Under that, I had an “additional experience” section that was basically a single line for each contract that said job position, place of employment/project (if it wasn’t for a company), and time frame. This didn’t include any specific accomplishments (since the contracts were pretty self-explanatory within the industry), but did show work I had done, and more importantly, for an outside-industry resume, filled and employment gaps that appeared in the “normal” section.

      That being said, I don’t know that that type of format works for what you do, but I never got any questions about why it was laid out that way. People generally understood the difference, and it usually led to conversations about the different work I had done. So the combination resume did work for me (as I successfully changed industries).

      I think that your proposed layout would work, though I have to ask – is it necessary to lay out what skills you used at what job and when? It may be industry standard (because I’ve learned that can change things a LOT), but you may be able to be more economical with your space by simply working the utilized skill sets into the accomplishments for each position. (if fitting all relevant information on one page is a concern especially) You can also tailor what skills you put on display specifically around the jobs you’re applying to. If it’s unlikely that X or Y will ever come up at New Company, you can minimize the inclusion of them on your resume, and really focus on when you used A and B, since those are what New Company really need. While it’s useful to have an all-around resume, being able to tailor it a bit to each jo (to highlight the most important things to that company) can help you out as well so they can see that you will be an excellent hire for specifically what they are looking for.

      I don’t know if this is still a thing on resumes, but I have a “Skills” section that I used to note skills relevant to the job, especially if going through a robo-recruiter. I could complain about them as a system all day, but that doesn’t make them not used, and sometimes you have to configure your resume around what they’re looking for just so that you don’t get auto-sorted out. (though that seems like a thing you would be dealing with, since you work in a more niche industry and have for quite awhile)

      1. an inquiry*

        Thank you so much for your reply! The reason I put a skills section under the temp/ consulting work is maybe the incorrect wording. Basically I was trying to combined 10 years of work based on a broader task/ skill/ “subject”

    2. WellRed*

      There’s a little much going on here but for starters, if you get hired as an employee by a company, use that as your start date. If you work as a temp all that time, that is the employer you list. I don’t think you need to list every single company, maybe just several key companies. Apologies if I misread and curious what others say

      1. Gnome*

        I’ve seen that for consultants… Like Consultant 1999-2001. And then a bullet might name drop a client or two.

    3. Person of Interest*

      Agreeing with Ozzie – only flesh out the sections that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

    4. Gnome*

      Given your level of experience, you can safely use two pages, if that helps (read it elsewhere on AAM archives yesterday).

    5. Sea Anemone*

      I would change that middle part to:

      Company D (2011-2018) Consultant / Temp Painter (this would be whereever you put job titles – same line, new line, whatever)
      • Company XXX
      o Accomplishment 1
      o Accomplishment 2
      • Company YYY
      o Accomplishment 1
      o Accomplishment 2

      Company C (2011-2018) Consultant / Temp Painter (this would be whereever you put job titles – same line, new line, whatever)
      • Company QQQ
      o Accomplishment 1
      o Accomplishment 2
      • Company RRR
      o Accomplishment 1
      o Accomplishment 2

      Company B (2008-2011) Consultant / Temp Painter
      • Company ZZZ
      o Accomplishment 1
      o Accomplishment 2
      • Company WWW
      o Accomplishment 1
      o Accomplishment 2

      With skills, take a “show, don’t tell” approach. Write your accomplishments so they use your skills:
      Scrum Master for year-long llama upgrade project delivering 40 llama 2.0 models in six months,
      the accomplishment is delivering upgraded llamas, the skill set is scrum mastering.

    6. Sea Anemone*

      “depending on how you count C+D splitting”

      Whoops, I blew right by this part. This would change that line to something like
      Company D (2011-2018) Consultant / Temp Painter
      (was Company C 2011-2013)

    7. Lady Danbury*

      As previously mentioned, I would put the consulting company as your employer and would separate out Company B vs Company C/D. I would also use the wording “key clients include XYZ”, instead of “assigned to work with…” You should also double check any confidentiality agreements that you signed to ensure that you are allowed to share company names, let alone specific assignments with those clients. I would focus more on the companies where you had longer/more meaningful assignments versus the big names. If an interviewer asks you about your time with a specific client, you want to be able to share something impressive that you did. Depending on your employment status, I might actually leave C off your resume altogether. Did C actually hire you independently of B or were you always a temp through B while you were working at C?

      Other than that, it should follow the normal resume format where you show rather than tell what you did in those roles. That may include a combination of accomplishments or responsibilities but I don’t think that having a skillset for each role is necessary. If anything, I’d put those in a summary or separate key skills section where you edit the highlighted skills based on the job that you’re applying to. Not separating out assignments by client also reduces the risk of you creating any confidentiality issues. It would probably help to google consulting/consultant resumes for examples.

      TLDR:
      Company E (2018 – present)
      • Accomplishment/responsibility 1, etc.

      Consultant – Company C/D (2011-2018)
      • Key clients xxx, xxx, xxx
      o Accomplishment 1, etc.

      Consultant – Company B (2008-2011)*
      • Key clients xxx, xxx, xxx
      o Accomplishment 1, etc

      Company A (2000-2008)
      • Accomplishment 1, etc.

      *If health benefits were provided, consultant is probably a more accurate description than just a temp.

    8. Purple Cat*

      Seconding that you can definitely spread out to 2 pages.
      I agree with focusing on Temp Company as the main heading, but then including the major companies you were assigned to underneath it. Think of your resume as your highlight reel too. What are the BIGGEST things you accomplished at each assignment and list those. I would focus on the new skills you’ve developed because it should be fairly obvious that with your experience the basics were well covered. And discuss that in your cover letter – something about building on a strong foundation of x, y, z skills and then expanding your skillset by working with a variety of firms…

  10. TV Researcher*

    Starting a new job on Monday after being a freelance contractor for a year after a layoff from a position I’d had for 9 years. So, it’s been a decade since I had a first day of work. What are your best pieces of advice? Questions to ask? Etc.

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Expect to find the first day and week tiring, and keep your focus on understanding the big picture of culture, roles and responsibilities for your department and company. Ask a lot of questions along the lines of “who is the best person to speak to if I have a concern with X?” Finding your feet is as much about knowing who is who as it is about figuring out your computer passwords and all that classic first day stuff.

      The key is that when you have all those early stage questions you know who to talk to if you don’t want to bug your boss – where is the photocopier and so on.

      Focus on small accomplishments so you feel you have a few wins under your belt.

    2. Ozzie*

      The most important thing about starting a new job to remember, to me, is that no one expects you to know things. You’re new, and everyone knows that. It’s ok to say “I don’t know” and then learn. And to ask where the bathroom is, or to forget a door code. No one is judging you! So don’t feel like you’re unprepared or will never get it or anything. Everyone has been there with every new job, and everyone understands.

    3. Grits McGee*

      Bring a couple Cliff Bars or something small and room temperature that you can substitute for lunch! I didn’t get a lunch break on my first day at my current job due to onboarding snafus and had to snarf a couple down running from one meeting to another. Plus, you don’t have to worry what the refrigerator/kitchen set will be, or wonder if you’re going to be taken out for lunch on your first day.

    4. the cat's ass*

      Congratulations!
      I have a lucky pair of earrings for this sort of thing!
      Comfortable biz outfit.
      Fully charged phone.
      Power bars for lunch/break
      Figuring out where the nearest bathroom is.
      Notebook to jot things down even tho they’ll be second nature in a few months.
      Good luck!

    5. newbie*

      Congrats on the new job! I just started a new role last week and I’ve found it really helpful to take notes, to ask my manager to arrange intros with folks I need to meet (our company is fully remote) and to ask a lot of questions during training sessions.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      With any new job I have asked questions about what is under my watch and what I need to pass on to a different person such as a boss or other department. This includes Qs about the limits of authority for my given position. The way I handle the questions is by asking in the moment with specific examples. What triggers my asking is if something seems very unusual in relationship to what I have already learned about the job.

    7. Midwest Manager*

      Congrats on the new job!
      Be sure to bring a filled water bottle. You’ll be talking a LOT to many new people on the first day.
      Wear something comfortable, but within dress code standard for your org.
      A notebook/pen to keep track of all the information getting thrown at you
      Pay close attention to the HR person when they go over benefits enrollment deadlines, payroll information, and other relevant details. These are likely to be the most important takeaways from your first day.

      Good luck, and have fun!

    8. BookJunkie315*

      Carry a notepad and pen with you to write down as much as possible! Especially important to note is which person to go to for what, processes, and who to contact for questions or assistance. Bring protein bars and an apple or other easy to eat fruit/vegetable in case your meeting/training schedule does not allow for breaks. Be friendly and ask questions. Good luck!

  11. Tricksie*

    Current job: Fine. No potential for advancement. Kind of bored. Overall negative workplace, but have some decent people around me. Lack of appreciation, lack of forward movement, not great boss.

    New job offer: Pretty exciting opportunities, lots of potential for advancement. New boss seems dynamic, is already strategizing with me and LISTENING to my input and thoughts. BUT involves more driving, about 4 hours a week extra driving. And is a lateral salary move, actually $2k less than current job (with opportunity to make an extra $16k with a side thing they offer, but then that’s some extra time). Would mean 2 nights/week of not being home, BUT they pay for that. Workplace is thriving and growing, progressive.

    …Would it be stupid to take the new job? Since it’s not a raise? Any thoughts?

    1. Clicky*

      I think you should go for it! You described the new offer with more detail and positive adjectives than your current job and you sound like you’re into it. Life’s too short to be stuck at a stagnant place that doesn’t appreciate you.

    2. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      I am in a similar stagnant job situation with no advancement opportunities. If I had your opportunity, I would seriously consider taking it to sharpen professional skills, grow my network, and have advancement opportunities. I wonder if a higher pay could be negotiated (I know AAM had tips on this).

    3. CatCat*

      No, it would not be stupid. It sounds like you are stagnating where you are and excited about this new opportunity. Why not see if you can negotiate so the offer is higher on pay?

    4. Tricksie*

      This is the pay ceiling they can offer right now, unfortunately. I’m working on other things they may be able to offer instead of pay…but I am honestly a bit worried about the pay, too.

      1. WellRed*

        If you are worried about money I wouldn’t take it because the side opp sounds iffy (and possibly sketchy).

        1. Tricksie*

          It’s not sketchy–this is all related to a university position and it is adjuncting at a high pay rate…

      2. Aggretsuko*

        Especially since it sounds like you’ll be paying a LOT more in gas, even if you weren’t getting a pay cut.

      3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I’d have a hard look at your finances. Would the $2k (and higher commuting costs like gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, etc.) make a dent or is your salary at a point where it is more about keeping score?
        What are the benefits, PTO etc. like?
        And very important: Talk with your family how being away from home more affects them (unless you are living alone or with roommates that don’t get a say, even then it may affect scheduling chores).
        If after that exercise the new job still looks the better option, go fir it – otherwise keep looking, it’s not that these two are your only options.

      4. DJ Abbott*

        Sorry, I don’t know anything about academia. But generally, is the pay at market value for the position? If it’s below market value, that means they don’t like to pay and might give very small or no raises.
        Would you still want the job if that was the case? If you had to move on in a year or two?

    5. Green great dragon*

      How does new job compare to other options out there? Current job doesn’t seem the right answer, but there are more than two jobs in the world.

      Does potential for advancement mean you might be back up to current pay levels in a year, or 5 years, or only if you shine? Do you have 4 spare hours a week? Are any of the new job downsides negotiable, like remote work to get commute time back?

    6. dresscode*

      To me, this very much depends on your current life circumstances. For me, 4 hours extra driving a week with overnight stays would be a no-go, because I have a small child and a husband that travels. If I were single, probably yes. If I was just married, maybe, depending on the travel aspect.

    7. Ama*

      One other thing to think about is, would taking the new job (even if you only stay for a few years) position you better for the kind of career/job you want down the line? It sounds like you could advance internally at the new job, which is great, but could just getting a couple of years experience there, even if you don’t advance, make it easier to get a job you really want?

      I’ve made a lateral move in my career and I’m thinking about making another one (I am this time willing to take a little less than I currently make for the right opportunity) — and in both it cases, it was because I wanted to shift the kind of work I was doing and it was more valuable to me to move to a position where I could do that work and be in the sector I wanted to be in then to advance financially.

    8. ecnaseener*

      As a thought experiment, how would you feel if it turns out all these elements that sound great are actually just okay? The boss is on their best behavior right now but turns out to be middle-of-the-road, the opportunities don’t materialize, etc. And you’re driving 4 extra hours a week with 2 nights away from home. Will it still be better than your current situation?

      I don’t know the answer and I’m not saying this is what WILL happen, it’s just worth considering — the cons of this new job are probably exactly as they appear, the pros sound a little fuzzier.

    9. wannabe leslie knope*

      I recently left a job where I felt similar to your description of your current job, and finances were my number one priority. The fact that I already had a job helped me to be confident in waiting for the right opportunity, not just taking the first offer because I wanted to leave. It took me about 4 months, but I really love my new role and company. Also you mentioned this offer includes more driving – that also includes more gas which is really expensive right now, and more wear & tear on your vehicle, so that new role might actually cost you more. There are a lot of opportunities out there right now, and you can find one that is exciting AND pays you more.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Four hours per week in bad weather is more like eight hours per week. Can you wfh? Can you wfh often?

      Do you like driving? How’s your car? Do you think you can ride-share?

    11. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      What are your other commitments? If you also have say young children or pets, or other commitments where being unavailable multiple nights/week would create a stressful situation, I would say no and keep looking. But if you’re wondering what your sub-conscious is saying, your enthusiasm about the new role does come through in your writing :) So seems like you’ve already decided, but also really think about the change to your schedule and if that would cause more trouble than it’s worth.

    12. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      That would be tempting for me although the biggest drawback would not be the pay cut but the extra half hour each way for a commute and the two nights/week away from home (Is that overnight on call? Travel?)

      That commute add-on shaves off an hour of your non-work day. Yeah, you can fill it with podcasts (or other stuff if you’re not driving) but that’s a big consideration. Case in point: my old job was an hour each way. New job is 20 minutes each way. It would take a substantial increase to get me to go back to that commute.

    13. Picard*

      option 1 sounds like youre already mentally checked out
      option 2 sounds like a step backwards – 4+ more hours driving is not small AND less money? NOPE.
      I would be looking for option 3.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I think it matters what stage of life you’re in, and what your other obligations are. Are you caregiving kids or a dependent adult? Are you in a relationship, and if so, how much do you and your partner collaborate on lifestyle & money decisions? How far from retirement are you?

      If the extra commute isn’t going to screw up a major piece of your life, you can handle the salary cut temporarily, and you have the prospect of working there long enough to see substantial growth, then go for it.

    15. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I am not sold on the new job. Clearly you are not excited in your current job, but as for the new job, you only know the positive sales pitch they want you to hear, and things like “potential for advancement” and “seems dynamic” could be smoke and mirrors. You also say the new place is “thriving and growing, progressive”… is that a fact, an assumption or part of their sales pitch? Have you spoken with anyone who holds a similar position at this new company about what it is like to work there? They are offering less salary, a longer commute–that’s reality. Are they offering you a higher title at least?

  12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I am having the BEST end to my work week. Yesterday, I shook our HR until the promotion I’ve been trying to finalize for one of my team members for a month fell out, including the huge raise I was trying to get for them because HR lowballed them when they started and they’ve been behind the eight ball ever since. Then I got to offer them the promotion, which they accepted.

    This morning, I got to not only announce that promotion to my team (who was all very excited for the team member in question), but also share with them that our org is giving all team members at their level bonuses – amount depending on their longevity with the org, but almost all of my team was in the four-digits bucket. There were happy tears – some of them mine.

    AND THEN someone handed me pancakes for breakfast. BEST DAY.

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      I now have a work appropriate expression for a wonderful day: “A raise… and pancakes.”

  13. Esmeralda*

    Interview next week for a lateral position. It’s in my same office. Any advice on interviewing with coworkers?

    1. Dragonfly7*

      Don’t assume they know what you do, how you achieve your successes, etc. (Even my supervisor only has a vague idea on some of mine because she is very hands-off.) Provide context for why you do things the way you do. Explain everything just as thoroughly as you would during an interview for an outside position.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        Even when they do know what you do, pretend they don’t. It’s the biggest mistake people in my office make when going for a promotion (our lateral moves are informal and require no formal interview). They will say, “well, you and I working on that issue for X” and then they give zero detail. Of course, had they given the necessary detail, then would have the promotion in hand.

        So absolutely go into the interview like you’re talking to a stranger.

    2. Leilah*

      If the interviews are with multiple co-workers at a time, try to remember not to get too insider-baseball, because you don’t want some members in the interview team to feel alienated. Dress up as professionally as you can, to me that really helps me get in “super professional” mode instead of buddy mode.

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

      If there are any professional skills you have that aren’t a part of your current position, that your coworkers wouldn’t know about, bring that to their attention. If you belong to any professional organizations or are taking any professional development classes, highlight that too. They may already know (or not — people get focused on their own stuff), but reminding them during the interview is important.

    4. TradeMark*

      Interviewing with people you know is so tough! I’ve done it a number of times for promotions in my current organization. My advice is to not assume that they know what you do and how well you do it. In that kind of situation, there can be a temptation to figure that folks should already know this impressive thing you did, or the way you manage the llama grooming process, but you kind of have to assume they don’t. In other words, mostly treat it like another job interview. Mostly :)

    5. SansaStark*

      I’ve done a bunch of these, too, and I agree with the other commenters saying not to assume that coworkers will remember what you did, even big accomplishments. I like to acknowledge the working relationship that we have while also providing context that they may not have or remember. So I would maybe start a few answers with something like, “You might remember the Llama Grooming Project that we started in 2019 to achieve ABC….”

    6. Gnome*

      From the you interviewing them side (interviews are two ways, right?) think about what purpose each coworker has in the interview and ask them questions relevant to how things would change. E.g. Fergus, I know you’ve been involved in Teapot advertising for the department, would we be working closely together on the new accounts? Esmeralda, how do you see this position interacting with your own?

      Of course, if you would be supervising any of them, you can ask about how their past manager has supported them successfully. If you will be in an adjacent group, you can ask about how the successful candidate would help the groups work together or what kids if issues they see there, etc.

      Don’t go into the weeds, but you can use your knowledge to ask questions that can both highlight your strengths and help you determine if you want the job.

    7. Workerbee*

      You can relax a bit since you know the people somewhat and can speak intelligently as to work protocols and culture, but otherwise treat it as an interview with strangers in a strange place. Application filled out, resume up to date, good personal presentation, etc.

      Good luck!

    8. Policy Wonk*

      Prepare as if you don’t know them. I’ve seen people totally bomb interviews like this because they didn’t think they needed to prepare. Don’t assume they know about your work and your accomplishments, and be ready to explain them. Be prepared for the snarky co-worker to ask a gotcha question and don’t react. About the only difference in an interview like this and one for a new company is that you don’t need to spell out common acronyms used in your work place.

    9. JustJess*

      As an internal candidate you likely have more information and have been able to talk to people internally about the role. Even if you think you know the answer already, still ask questions. When interviewing internal candidates I often found they asked fewer (sometimes zero) questions and seemed less engaged than external ones, which didn’t help their candidacy for positions where I was hiring externally as well.

    10. Mint Kat*

      Imagine there’s an extra person sitting just out of sight who doesn’t know anything about you and needs to be told things your other interviewers May know. Answer as if you’re talking to that person!

  14. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    Does anyone have any suggestions of when to tell one’s boss they are looking for another job? I am hoping to change fields in academia (think clerical to student affairs) and am currently in a graduate program. Since I am over halfway through the program, I am applying for jobs.

    I was told in the past not to say anything unless I have an interview lined up. However, my boss once said that he would want to know if one of the people he manages was looking for another job. I am hesitant to tell him too soon because of our power difference.

    In general, he is hands off and does not meet with me regularly. I dislike this about him but hope this will help me fly under the radar.

    1. Name (Required)*

      Every boss would like to know that someone they manages is looking for a new job, but it is NOT in your best interest to tell him anything until you actually have a firm, non-contingent, written offer and are giving notice.

    2. Whynot*

      Wait. You have the ability to stay easily under the radar and as Alison frequently says, you don’t want to put yourself in a position to be pushed out before you’re ready to move on or be passed over for opportunities because “they’re leaving anyway”. Boss wanting to know vs you having job security until you’ve got an offer in hand? No contest.

    3. ariel*

      I think the next time you meet, you can mention that you are looking forward to finishing up your degree. If he picks up on that and asks about your plans, great, if not, I would coast. Sure, bosses want to know but… if he can’t read the writing on the wall that you’re getting a masters and would move on or asking about your plans in your role, that’s on him!

    4. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      Thanks everyone! I will continue to stay under the radar for now (especially since I am getting my graduate degree part-time through tuition remission connected to my job). Being pushed out would be terrible!

      Here’s hoping 2022 will be the year I (and everyone else in my shoes) gets a new job!

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      If he knows about your masters program and how much time you have left in it, he has at least as much information about your career plans as he can reasonably expect. If he’s surprised when you give notice, that’s on him.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      I agree that the general rule is: don’t tell your manager you’re job hunting until you have an offer you are planning to accept/have accepted. Your boss may want to know when you start interviewing, but that’s not your problem.
      It’s almost certainly because it’s easier for them to plan for your departure and not because they want to figure out how to keep you. It doesn’t sound like this boss is too invested in you or your career if he’s that hands off, so I don’t see any upside to telling him until you are ready to leave.

    7. Bagpuss*

      He may wat to know but that doesn’t mean that it is in *your* interests for him to know.
      If he perceives you as having one foot out of the door he may be les likely to offer you opportunities , chances to progress / stretch yourself .
      Also , he’s hand off and not checking in with you regularly.
      What (if any) benefit would there be to telling him?

      If there is a genuine benefit to you – for example, if he has a track record of actively supporting staff to move on, pro-actively recommending them etc, then sure, tell him. Otherwise – probably best to wait.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Hmm. You raise a good point here that I hadn’t considered. It doesn’t sound like Amerikanka’s boss is the supportive type, but it IS good to think about the fact that a truly supportive boss might actually be helpful in a job search. Heck, my boss is probably that kind–I can imagine them going, “Oh, you’re applying for the Director of Llama Care position at Llamas R Us? That would be a great step for you. I know their Head of Ungulates–that’s who you’d be reporting to. Let me send them a recommendation!”

    8. HR Exec Popping In*

      Do you want him to know? And if so, why? If it is just because you think he would want to know, well that isn’t a good reason. If your boss was awesome and would support you in your job search that would be a good reason. If you wanted your boss to do something to keep you that might be a good reason. This doesn’t sound like that is the case so I would not recommend telling him.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      The best time to tell your boss you’re looking for a new job is after you have accepted an offer.
      I ADORE my boss. They are amazing, I don’t think they would ever try to push me out early or hold it against me if they knew I was looking for a new job. But still, there is nothing for me to gain in telling them if I look for a new job before I actually HAVE a new job. Now, because I am fond of my current job and appreciate my boss, if I WERE to accept an offer elsewhere, I would try to negotiate for a start date more than two weeks in the future, in order to give me time to wrap things up at my current job and help my boss and my team to prepare for a transition. But that’s about it.

  15. H*

    After getting a tenative offer and going through a security background, I got an email yesterday about asking me to start a job on March 14…they said if I needed a later date they would come back to me with some options. I emailed them within 30 minutes because I need a little more time to give notice and I would like at least a few days off but now haven’t heard anything via email in nearly 24 hours…should I call and ask about later options? They mentioned it in an email saying they could likely accomodate a later start date. I just though March 14th was SUPER tight and they wanted to be confirm a start date before giving me the final offer and I wouldn’t be able to give notice without that really?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      They are prob figuring out when the next onboarding is. If it’s a bigger company, they likely have formal onboarding processes. They may only have one a month.
      Or your new manager may be on vacation later in March so they are sorting out schedules. I wouldn’t be worried, it just takes some time to work out the details.

    2. 1qtkat*

      I would give it a few days. Sounds like an offer from a government agency and they can move rather slowly on their end since they have to involve a lot of different people in a decision.

    3. justanobody*

      Hey H, you don’t yet have an offer in writing that you and the new employer have agreed to. You’re right; definitely don’t give notice to your current employer. Lot’s of companies take longer than 24 hours to respond, so I wouldn’t be nervous about that.

      1. calonkat*

        Seconding justanobody, until you have an offer in writing, you’ve got nothing. My daughter had this sort of situation and it turned out while they offered her a job in person and text (she was interning for the company), when it came time to put it in writing they didn’t have a job to offer her. Which we found out when getting her a non-college apartment in that city.

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I would wait a few days and check in again. And I’d clarify that you’d need X days from the *formal* offer :)

    5. LawBee*

      You can 100% ask for a) a firm offer before giving notice and b) to delay the start date. For the firm offer, you can even tell them that you can’t give notice at your old job before you have a firm offer in writing with all the details – it’s a very reasonable request. And they’ve already said they’re flexible on the start date so that’s not even something you need to worry about. But yeah – it sounds like onboarding /training schedules. Congratulations on the (hopeful) new job!

      1. usernames anonymous*

        Yes – don’t resign until you have the confirmed offer from the new company. And also check that you have cleared any requirements such as medical or background checks. They may want you to start asap but you never know what can come up. I’ve had candidates delayed for a couple of months because something was flagged during those checks – they eventually cleared but it does happen.

  16. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Hello team awesome! I’m doing some light training sessions at work with our team members who are either new to working for a big corporate company (media agency fyi) or just new to working in offices/in first jobs, and my first few sessions will be on the care and maintenance of Outlook inboxes/calendars, on time keeping and prioritizing, on presentations (on one PowerPoint, another on presenting in general- voice, tone, audience, etc). Anyone have any killer tips in these areas? I have several from my own perspective but want to be well rounded.

    1. Albeira Dawn*

      Embrace folders in Outlook!
      If your company has job numbers or another way to identify different projects, always always always include that in the subject line of any emails you send related to that project!
      Keep a list or spreadsheet of the people you work on projects with, internal or external, their contact info, and anything important to remember about them!
      If you’re not sure what to prioritize, make a draft of a list and go over it with your supervisor!

    2. annon*

      If you have access, linkedinlearning has some videos on what to do in your first 90 days in a job. Those are helpful.

    3. Camellia*

      Be sure and tell them your company’s culture regarding how quickly emails are answered. In my current company, emails are treated like instant messages – you are expected to respond quickly, within 2 to 5 minutes most of the time. That is different from any other company for which I have worked so I always mention it to new people, otherwise co-workers start to complain that “so-and-so never answers their email”. Or, if your company is okay with ‘answer within 24 hours’ or whatever the culture is, please share that.

    4. Green great dragon*

      Some new-to-work people need to hear that I am asking them things in order to find the answers, not to test their knowledge. They should definitely not give me the answer they think is true in the expectation that I will tell them whether it’s right or not. This was a painful lesson for both me and new starter.
      Just saying they are responsible for their own prioritisation and to do lists, and should write things down. It is up to them to tell me if they are overloaded or likely to miss a deadline.
      Powerpoint tip – use the title to give the main message of the slide. ‘Llama grooming instructions 1’ or ‘how to tie up a llama’ wastes space, time and attention, ‘Tying up your llama prevents inappropriate browsing’ followed by the key llama tying up points is better.

    5. Ama*

      I have actually found the color categories in Outlook crucial to the management of both my inbox and my calendar — my categories match up with my folders, and I have as many rules set up to auto assign categories as I can get to work so sorting is really easy (for example, I have a filter for each department here and auto assign emails from my coworkers in those departments to the appropriate category for their department).

      Easy sort filters are something a lot of people don’t know about but which are really great — I have one set up for all the random industry newsletters I receive, which can be useful to read at times but which tend to clog up my inbox, that way it puts them all in one location and I can delete them all at once (especially when I come back from vacation, I’m not going to spend time catching up on newsletters so getting them out of the inbox so I can see the real emails I received while out is very useful).

      Reminders are also a great way for me to deal with emails that I need to respond to but which I have to go look up some information, or which I need to follow up on if I don’t receive a response in a certain amount of time.

    6. Leilah*

      The biggest issue we have that gets missed with new hires is the email retention policy (30 days) and the best way to get around it — dumping your sent and deleted folder into an Archive folder monthly.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        ^I use a rule for this (all sent items immediately copy to an archive folder) so I don’t need to do it manually at all (and all inbox items are moved to a Processed folder by me, unless they were already filtered to another folder or deleted because I don’t need them). Saved my bacon on more than one occasion!

    7. Nessun*

      Using the conditional formatting to highlight certain people’s email. I have a lot of email every day, but there’s one Big Boss who requires immediate responses or immediate action on his stuff, so seeing it in my inbox is very important. I use conditional formatting to make his email one font point bigger, and in a different colour, so I always see it as soon as I view my inbox. For a while, I had a second boss who could be rather eccentric, and knowing she’d emailed as soon as I saw it was good, even if I didn’t need to action anything, so she was a different colour again.

      I love using categories, to sort work, create to-do lists, and because I can fold up the categories I don’t immediately need to view. Sometimes a large inbox can be unwieldy or stressful to look at, so if I can collapse a category to make things tidier it helps my headspace.

      Also second/third people who mentioned folders – having folders for various projects or staff is very helpful, and keeps me organized. I frequently get asked to look at something they already sent, and keeping it in a folder moves it out of my inbox but also files it appropriately where I can easily locate it.

    8. Gordy*

      In Outlook calendar… How to use the scheduler function. I live by my calendar and it’s always jammed, and having to have back and forth with someone over when I’m available kills my life. Set up a meeting, check in the scheduler and see where I have a gap.

      For PowerPoint presentations…
      1. Don’t write what you plan to say. The PowerPoint slide needs to add to your presentation, not BE your presentation.

      2. Embrace white/blank space in the slides. A busy slide is going to take all of your audience’s attention and they’re going to miss what you are saying.

      3. When presenting, don’t talk at the slides. Face and talk to the people.

      1. allathian*

        The best thing about doing presentations on Zoom or Teams is that you can look at the slides.

        That said, the slides should emphasize key points rather than be the whole presentation. When you’re doing online presentations/webinars, the temptation to fill up your slides is even greater, because most people will be looking at them on their computer screen rather than a TV or projector in a conference room, so you can get away with a smaller font, at least technically.

        If you’re used to presenting in person, the first time you’re talking to the void where you can’t see most of your audience on camera is going to feel weird.

    9. Attractive Nuisance*

      Presenting tips!
      1. Speak in full sentences that end in a pause. Many people string their sentences together with filler words or just with more extensions of their thoughts. This can make it difficult for the audience to follow the line of reasoning. Pausing between sentences can also help prevent the speaker from talking too fast.
      2. Rehearse your presentation. I give short presentations (5-10 minutes) so I try to rehearse them five or ten times – which only takes an hour. Rehearsing the presentation helps you figure out the right phrasing, identify missing pieces of information, and familiarize yourself with the material. When you are rehearsing, try to think of it as an improv exercise, not a memorization exercise.
      3. When you talk about your work, you are likely to come up with some new realizations about it. This is another reason why it’s important to rehearse! You want the new ideas to come before the presentation, not during it. If you do get a breakthrough in the middle of a presentation, file it away for later and continue on with what you’ve planned to say.
      4. Structure your presentation the same way you would structure an essay. Thesis statement at the front. Then supporting evidence. Then repeat the thesis statement. For some reason people often have the impulse to present in chronological order, where they spend 20 minutes explaining the work they did and then end with their main point. Never do this.

    10. knitcrazybooknut*

      One of my Outlook hacks is to edit any emails that may be about something, but don’t include the text that I would immediately search for.

      As an example, I spent an hour searching for an email about our “wifi” when the sender had instead used the term “wireless”.

      So I edited the email to include the words “wifi router hot spot internet” and anything else that I might have searched on that wasn’t included.

  17. Let me clear my schedule for you*

    Our annual performance reviews are coming up in the next week. With this, we get our bonus and raise information. Usually the raises are COLA only, not really a raise per se. In November, my company announced that all employees will start at $15 but I’ve worked my way up from the bottom, starting at about $11/hr 13 years ago. I’ve only really received two raises that entire time. How do negotiate a raise that puts me in a fair market range for my job? I’m definitely more than a little miffed that there were no raises for long-term employees. My company is a Fortune 500 so I’d also be dealing with a lot of middle managers and corporate red tape. Thanks!

    1. justanobody*

      Do some research to see what compensation is provided to similar positions with similar longevity in your area and take that info to your boss when you ask for a raise.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      For a while now it has seemed to me that there is no advantage to staying with a company as new hires are paid more and more but long term employees remain the same. Ask them what they are doing to encourage longer term people to stay put when those people can get paid more for a starting rate at another company.

      Decades ago, I worked at a place where the new hire made about 50 cents less an hour than people like me who had been there 10 years. Loyalty was not valued.

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Ayup. My current employer was advertising for “Llama trainers with five years experience. $25/hour to start.” This was fine until they told the current llama trainers, who have been with the company for five years, and who make less than $25/hour, who will be training them.

      2. Let me clear my schedule for you*

        “Ask them what they are doing to encourage longer term people to stay put” I like that. Thank you!

    3. Midwest Manager*

      Put together a list of your accomplishments, gather data on the current market rate in your field/area of expertise based on current job postings, and mentally prepare yourself to hear “nope.” Read Alison’s tips on how to negotiate a raise or job offer. Have a Plan B ready to go if your request is declined.

      As a Fortune 500 org, they likely have set pay bands, department budgets, and detailed HR practices for handling this sort of thing. There may even be information on the process in the Employee Handbook.

      Good luck!

    4. DJ Abbott*

      The same thing had happened at the grocery store I worked in. My city raised its minimum wage and the store decided to pay all employees that same wage without paying long-term employees more. This tanked morale and two of the long-term associates I worked with left. None of the ones I talked to were happy.
      My only advice is be prepared to hear no, and it might be time to look for a better job.

  18. CatCat*

    If a job posts a range that’s pretty broad (like a $30k-40k difference between the bottom and the top), but you’d ONLY be interested in the job at or near the top of the range (and you are well above the minimum qualifications for the position), is there a way to politely include that information in the cover letter so as not to waste anyone’s time?

    1. I was told there would be llamas*

      I wonder this too…seems like this would be a good one for Alison. I saw a job with a range of like $110k – $170k…how is that supposed to be helpful?!

    2. Another person again*

      I have not found one – I tell them when they call me for screening or to set up an interview. They generally expect that if you are well qualified you will be looking toward the top of the range, not the bottom.

    3. CatCat*

      My experience in my current round of interviews is that there haven’t been phone screenings.

      I am not asking about how to raise this in phone screenings.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Speaking for my company (a public utility), make sure that if there’s a spot on the application to include the salary you’re looking for that you hit at the top of the advertised range. But then again, we 1) don’t post salary ranges in external job postings, 2) don’t discuss salary ranges in interviews with external candidates, and 3) still ask for salary history on applications…so.

        (I am aware how absolutely horrible 1-3 are and don’t have power to change that)

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Then maybe as part of the back-and-forth when setting and confirming an interview time? I agree with others it doesn’t belong in a cover letter, and with you(/everyone) that it’d be nice and efficient to make sure everyone’s on the same page before a full-on interview.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I think the cover letter’s a bit early to say that sort of thing, but you can definitely bring it up in the first phone screen.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      You should cover that in a phone screen. They will likely ask your compensation requirements to ensure that you could be a viable candidate. I wouldn’t put it in a cover letter. You want them to look at your resume and start thinking of you as a strong candidate first.

    6. CatCat*

      Sounds like “bring it up in the phone screen” is the only advice. Which doesn’t help me if there aren’t phone screens, which they’re haven’t been with the last 5 organizations I have interviewed with (and where this became a deal breaker at an advanced stage… turns out the top of the range wasn’t even genuinely on the table).

      I’m about to chuck it in the f*ck it bucket, put it in some cover letters anyway, and see what happens.

      1. Panda (she/her)*

        Saw this after my response below. If you really feel it’s important to raise, then I would ask it in your first interview – something like “I wanted to confirm your salary range – the posting indicated a range of $X to $X, is that still the case?” You could also add “just so you’re aware, I would be looking for the top end of that range. Given that, does it make sense to continue talking?”

      2. Kay*

        I would raise it when the interview is scheduled then. As in something like “Just to be transparent, I would be looking for the top range of the listed salary in order to move forward. Considering this, do you think it makes sense to continue with the interview?”.

        As I see it, you have 3 options if there aren’t phone interviews – put it in the cover letter, which I don’t recommend, and possibly turn off a few employers, bring it up when an interview is scheduled knowing that there isn’t much to go on for either side and isn’t ideal, or discuss it in your first interview.

    7. Panda (she/her)*

      I would not add it to a cover letter, that has too much risk of turning them off. I really don’t think it’s worth raising at all – your salary expectations are within their stated range, and your qualifications are above their minimum. You will likely want to negotiate the final offer anyways, and they won’t know you well enough in the initial interviews to know whether they are willing to offer YOU the top range (and you already know they are willing to go that high for the position). I realize that means you potentially spend a lot of time on an application + preparing for interview(s) only to potentially not have the job work out, but that’s a risk you take every time you apply for a job. I think it’s only worth raising if your minimum salary is above their stated range.

    8. LawBee*

      I wouldn’t put it in the cover letter if it’s a job you really want. I think a stronger play would be to sell yourself as worthy of the high salary in your letter and resume by highlighting why you clearly deserve the higher pay, and then after they have contacted you, let them know your salary preferences. Maybe in the mythical phone screen (idk if those happen in your field, but it doesn’t sound like it from your comments). Maybe in the call when they want to schedule your interview. Maybe in the interview. Who knows what the hiring process is.

      Pay ranges exist for a reason, for whatever that reason may be, and if you’re qualified for the higher pay and show it in the cover letter/resume, then you can discuss it at the next step. Putting it in the cover letter may knock you out of the running before the race even starts. But ymmv.

    9. Dragon*

      Are the job’s minimum qualifications in line with the top salary range? If not, I wouldn’t even apply because it’s clear the employer’s trying to get top talent for bottom dollar.

      In my field, anyone offering top or near-top dollar should also require at least five years’ experience.

  19. Anon, But Only On Rotating Schedule*

    Regular going anon for this one since it’s out of my usual range. (In my normal comments here, I try to be more positive.)

    Vent, vent, vent. Due to chronic severe anxiety, I can’t handle social jobs that involve dealing with people in real time, like talking to them in-person or on the phone. Yet I have been stuck in a receptionist job for three months because I needed work and no one wanted to hire me for anything else. I’m in a busy international corporation, working normal office hours. M-F, 8-5 with no lunch or bathroom breaks (I eat snacks off and on at the desk between calls/tasks/guests. Have to arrange with at least four other people to cover phones and door for a simple 5-minute bathroom trip, but we’re so overworked I frequently can’t find the people to do that all day and just “hold it” for the full 9 hours, sometimes 10 if I have to wait till I get home because someone made the work bathrooms nasty). I deal with literally hundreds of people in person and on the phone each day, and my physical and mental health are already taking a big hit. I’m in my 40s and have dealt with a lot of health issues that have worn me down; I can’t just recover with a day or two off and one full night of solid sleep like I could in my 20s!

    I’m already looking to bail. Which I know is a bad look after three months (and I was largely out of work for thirteen years[!] before that due to then-undiagnosed and thus untreated medical ailments), but I simply cannot keep this up for very long. (Plus, as I get older, I have less and less patience for wasting my remaining lifespan in circumstances that are toxic for me.) It’s not a case of just needing to adjust to the work. I’ve been doing (and hating) these reception/admin assistant jobs off and on for thirty years whenever I couldn’t find work I was more suited to. I am just never going to be the type of person who’s mentally and emotionally good at this kind of “social activity” work. What I AM good at is clerical work that involves writing, editing, proofreading, data entry, research, transcribing…the “boring” stuff where you work on your own. I love it.

    I’m trying to find something that’s fully remote (no car at the moment, and have you seen prices for even used vehicles lately?!), preferably where I’m not expected to be on the phone all day. But it is a slog when everything seems to be either a scam or legit-but-still-ripoff sites amounting to pay that’s pennies per hour. Doesn’t help that it’s been so many years since I last job-searched, the ways and places you find jobs have completely changed. (I discovered this job through word-of-mouth from someone I know who already worked at the company.)

    I’m actually an extreme night owl who’s reaaaaally hoping to find night-shift work. I also don’t mind working weekends or multiple jobs because aside from the rare geek convention or family reunion—both of which I’m currently avoiding for obvious pandemic reasons—I have no social life…and prefer it that way, haha. I’m friendly and believe it’s important to be kind and sensitive, but I think we’ve established pretty well that I’m not social. (I’ve never met my best friends IRL or even spoken to them on the phone or voice chat, one of whom I’ve known since the 1990s. My ideal Friday night involves ordering in sushi, playing video games by myself, and reading/writing fanfic and roleplay posts all evening.) I’ve always heard these “nonstandard shift“ jobs are hard to get people to apply for because they want to work days, but now I can’t seem to find many of these jobs, period, unless they’re for positions wildly out of my skillset and qualifications, like night nurses. I keep hearing it’s a job seeker’s market right now, but the kinds of jobs I’m looking for don’t seem to be included in that statement. Though, I could just be looking in the places and in the wrong ways, given I’m out of practice with current job hunting methods.

    Not giving up, but not feeling particularly optimistic right now. It’s more difficult because *I* know I’m a hard worker if I’m in a job that’s the right fit for me (and still work hard, but struggle and make stupid anxiety-triggered mistakes in the “wrong” jobs), but my gap-filled job history on my resume doesn’t reflect that. So grateful for a place to vent here. I hope others are having better luck in their searches!

    1. Candle Knight*

      I have the strangest feeling I know what roleplay posts here means, because that is also my very consuming hobby! I wish you luck—finding those kinds of jobs can be so hard but they’re such a godsend for the folks who would really excel at them, and it sounds like you would! If we are in the same hobby, maybe we’ll cross paths one day.

      1. Candle Knight*

        And also seconding what the person below me said—just because you can hold it doesn’t mean you should!! Nothing about what your workplace is expecting of you right now is reasonable. Escalate that stuff, even if it makes you anxious! I struggle with boundaries and feeling like I can’t advocate for myself at work as well, but you are absolutely worth more than this situation and you deserve not to be horribly uncomfortable.

    2. Green great dragon*

      So you know this, but 10 hours without bathroom breaks is in no way reasonable. Getting out is the right answer, and I’m sorry I can’t help there, but know you are entitled to say to people that you *need* that 5 mins, however busy they are (I bet they’re managing to get to the bathroom) and if they do anything but agree immediately then it rises to something your manager should be getting involved with.

      I really hope that you have colleagues/managers with enough decency to deal if you make it clear you need it.

    3. allieoops*

      I’m sorry that you are going through this.

      One suggestion that might make your workday better is to take your breaks regardless of whether you have coverage or not. They should do this to you, but by actually taking your breaks you put the problem of coverage back on them, where it belongs. I would email your boss and say (but in a prettier way): I’ve not been taking bathroom breaks since you all can’t get your #%@ together and I will start doing so today. I will do zyx (give 15 min notice, turn on voicemail, whatever is reasonable) and then leave for my break.

      This at least will get you bathroom breaks and lunch.

      Please tell me that you have not been marking a lunch break on your timesheet if you don’t get one…

      good luck, this sounds awful.

    4. sushi*

      I’ve worked for fully remote companies for the past few years, and I’ve had the best luck finding those roles on linkedin. search for “health tech or “health tech company” or “health tech startup” – they often have clerical and data roles especially related to medical records if you have any of that experience. not sure about the night shift options though – I’ve never looked for that specifically. you might have to wade through a lot of listings as those are kind of generic terms. also, sushi is my ideal Friday night too!

    5. Anon for this*

      Have you thought about technical writing? My current job is basically that — it’s very solitary, other than when I’m checking with people on drafts, and it requires extreme attention to detail. My particular technical writing right now requires very odd hours (working with overseas clients), but the company provides extreme flexibility with our schedules in order to help us out. It’s also fully remote and we have team members all over the world.

      Technical writing also tends to pay pretty well because no one wants to do it. Lol. Current salary is 115K.

      1. Anon, But Only On Rotating Schedule*

        I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I wanted to give you a direct reply this time to thank you again for your suggestion! I’ve been diving head-first into researching technical writing the past few days and really loving what I’ve learned. I also discovered that my best friend used to do medical technical writing and can give me some pointers (though not any actual job leads, as she left for early retirement long ago).

        Turns out, I actually have a lot of technical writing-adjacent experience due to having done so much writing work in my lifetime. It’s looking like what I know could transition into TW more easily than I’d thought. Just gotta find those leads!

        (Plus, it would be very nice to actually make livable income as an author. I love writing fiction and essays, but the pay is dismal unless you score a film-media adaptation deal. And even then, I know a lot of big-name bestselling authors who still work full-time day jobs because their royalties and adaptation rights sales don’t pay the rent….)

    6. Anon, But Only On Rotating Schedule*

      Hi, everyone! I wasn’t expecting my post to get much attention since it’s just a complaints comment. Since I know we have nesting limits, I’ll compile my replies into one to avoid hitting it.

      @Candle Knight
      We might do similar types of roleplay! My groups approach RP writing like a series of collaborative novels, with the occasional die roll to preserve the kind of surprises you get in tabletop RPG’s. (Most recently: my main OC in a fantasy/science fiction group was *supposed* to be part of a posse infiltrating an enemy fortress…but a bad roll of the dice ended up with them getting captured by another player’s enemy character in a hilarious manner, and they’re now seething in an arena-type prison, failing all escape attempts and awaiting rescue while fighting hungry slug monsters that have Nic Cage’s face for some reason, haha.) We also RP in an MMO we all play that caters to roleplayers, where we try to factor in what happens to our OC’s during dungeon crawls as part of the ongoing story. Though this frequently turns out to just be us dancing in our underwear in town because we got tired of the dungeon bosses repeatedly wiping the floor with us.

      Thank you for the well-wishes! I struggle with my anxiety every shift, but sometimes I just get fed up and do what I want for my own health, consequences be cursed.

      @Green great dragon and @allieoops
      I really appreciate the confirmation that I’m not being unreasonable in just wanting to get to the darn bathroom for a few minutes a day. It’s not even that people just don’t care; it’s that they’re also so overworked that they will get wrapped up in something they can’t get away from, or just forget when I’ve asked for help. (That last DOES annoy me, because my health is no less important than theirs, but I remind myself there’s no malice in it.) I will confess: sometimes, if it looks like no one’s gonna help, I’ll be “naughty.” I’ll turn the phone ringers down to the lowest volume level so hopefully no one can hear them, write up a sign on the front counter that says “Back in [ten minutes from current time]” and just go to the bathroom, screw the phones and guests.

      I did know I got no lunch break since one of the first things I was told on my first day was that I’d need to pack food I could eat without leaving the desk. I made sure I’m hourly, so I’m getting paid for the nine hours a day I’m on shift. The difficulty in getting to the bathroom was a surprise, though. I was not expecting it to be harder than getting a hall pass in grade school! (And that’s kinda what it feels like, honestly, having to hunt down people to “get permission.”)

      My position falls under HR, so they know about the problem, but everything is so broken, overworked, and understaffed around here, no one has the time, energy, or in some cases, the knowledge of how to work out a better system where people’s needs can be filled while also preventing delays because someone’s not at their desk for a few minutes.

      @sushi:
      Thank you so much for the suggestion–I’m still learning what to search for. Hope you get some Friday night sushi the next time you want it!

      @Anon for this:
      I’m definitely going to look into this, now that you bring it up! I’ve thought before it sounded like something I’d be good at. But the actual job descriptions are often vague enough that I wasn’t sure what I’d be getting into/if I qualified at all/if I needed special education for the duties involved before I even applied.

      1. allieoops*

        Fantastic, I am glad you take some breaks and encourage you to take more. If they are that disorganized, and you hate the job anyway, what’s the harm? What are they going to do? Fire you from a job you don’t want for going to the bathroom when they haven’t given you breaks since you started?

        1. WellRed*

          Co-signed. Do what you gotta do. OP are you in the US? Make sure the company isn’t violating labor laws in terms of hours worked as well as overtime.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          Document the situation as much as possible in case they do fire you, you’ll have something to show the unemployment compensation people

          1. Anon, But Only On Rotating Schedule*

            Oh, this is a good suggestion! I do know the company is not a stranger to wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Frankly, if you bailed after three months and someone asked you why in an interview, saying “the work was causing me health problems, and I decided it wasn’t sustainable for me to continue in that position as a result” would be MORE than reasonable.

    8. Bridget*

      Do you live in an area with hotels close by? Night audit might be an option for you. It’s a sort of combo front desk/accounting position, so there would still be some social interaction, but much less than during daytime hours (typically night audit shifts are 11pm-7am I think). Your responsibilities are essentially to “balance the house” each night and make sure everything is turned over for the next day. Depending on the hotel there may be other duties like making coffee and setting out a continental breakfast, light housekeeping like folding towels and stuff, delivering amenities to guests if they request them, etc. It is definitely difficult to fill positions like this so if that sounds at all like something you might like to try, I’d reach out to local hotels to see if they’re hiring for night audit!

    9. Anon, But Only On Rotating Schedule*

      @allieoops:
      “If they are that disorganized, and you hate the job anyway, what’s the harm? What are they going to do? Fire you from a job you don’t want for going to the bathroom when they haven’t given you breaks since you started?”

      I need you to know I “legit LOL’ed IRL” because this is *exactly* the path my thoughts have taken on more than one occasion when talking about this job!

      @WellRed:
      I’m pretty sure I looked this up earlier, and I didn’t qualify for overtime pay. But I am also exhausted and might not be remembering correctly. It’s definitely something I’ll look into again, though!

      @WantonSeedStitch & @Cj:
      It’s good to know that I’m not being dramatic! Too many people just shrug when I talk about work and say, “Life sucks, get used to it.” (Like what I’ve already gone through in my life *didn’t* suck.)

      @Bridget:
      Thanks for the suggestion! It’s something I never would have thought of for myself.

    10. Anon, But Only On Rotating Schedule*

      Thanks again to everyone! I hope I didn’t miss anyone in my replies. I’m a bit rushed all the time these days!

      I just wanted to say how great you all are in your comments. I HAD an actual question in my original post, but I wrote it at home and saved it to a flash drive to post from work (I’m always at work when the open thread pops). Apparently I flash-saved the older version of my post, from before I figured out exactly how to word the question part, so I failed to notice my query didn’t make it into my final post. But your replies were so sharp, they not only showed me the question I was going to ask originally wasn’t the question I *should* be asking, but you also offered up multiple solutions that would be much more helpful for me. Thank you, all!

  20. Use the f=ma, Luke*

    I’m a middle school science teacher, and just curious about exploring other job options. I know teachers are leaving in droves, but where are they going (job wise)? I’ve tried to do some looking, but I’m not sure what search terms to even use. Variations on “education” just get me long lists of open teaching jobs. Any suggestions of paths to pursue, places to look, or search terms to try? Thank you!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve seen many teachers work in the outreach side of Non-Profits. They have classes and seminars to teach groups about their Non-Profit’s cause.

    2. PivotPivot*

      Try looking for instructional design. I am an Instructional Design Specialist and many of my colleagues were teachers, including myself. Good luck.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        This is what I came to say. Lots of companies are looking for people with strong instructional design experience.

        1. Onwards and Upwards*

          Interesting. Do you mind me asking what part of the world you’re talking about here? I’m in the UK and wondering if it’s a growing profession here…

          1. HR Exec Popping In*

            I’m US based. Look for jobs in Learning & Development or something similar. They will typically request candidates with instructional design.

    3. Nom*

      Are you interested is working for state or local government? Often there are roles focused on education policy and regulation where having real life experience in the classroom would be an asset. For government jobs, I’d look directly on their jobs pages for posted openings. Usually you can set up a keyword-based email alert.

    4. FOIler*

      You could look into the museum industry in Education/Programming/Interpretation/Volunteer Coordinator jobs, more specifically at science museums/education centres because of your background as a science teacher. One of my friends worked as an Educator at a children’s science museum while he was doing his teaching degree and enjoyed it. I’ve worked Interpretation jobs for a few years and it’s not the best pay (often not full-time either), but if you can be the Programming Coordinator or equivalent, it can be a fulfilling career.

    5. Annabel Lee*

      Hey there, I’m a former teacher, tech specialist, turned freelance tech trainer looking to pivot into something full time. I’m looking for Edtech related positions because of my particular career history, but I started following #teachertransition on LinkedIn and it’s brought a lot of posts in my feed that have been helpful and just brought a lot of information I didn’t know about. It could be a good starting place. A lot of people are looking for Instructional design or customer support related roles in Edtech companies, but there seem to be a lot of “coaches” specifically focused on helping teachers identify and market their transferable skills.

    6. Loulie*

      Depending on when and where you got your degree, some states required a fair amount of graduate study in your discipline to teach in upper grades. With enough graduate hours directly in your subject, you can teach at the college level, which is much different than dealing with middle schoolers though I wouldn’t always call it teaching “adults”. Usually if you got your MS in your science, you will have the minimum hours to teach college. If you got your MS in education, you still might be able to teach at technical or community college level and they tend to be just as desperate for science instructors as K12.
      I’m teaching college level science with my MS right now, I was looking at teaching high school under our state’s emergency certification system but college suits me much better.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Do you have a science degree? The government is always looking for scientists and experts. Given your background in education, have you considered education policy? The government is also always looking for people with a variety of backgrounds for all kinds of things that you many not have considered. Check out USAJobs, see what they have, set up a profile to alert you to announcements of interest.

      Good luck!

    8. J.B.*

      Our state university had a hiring freeze though most of 2020 and 2021. We have a lot of permanent positions going out there especially in research administration and some course design/canvas.

    9. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      I was a school behavior analyst, I had a temporary contract that didn’t get renewed at the end of the 2019-20 SY and I was totally burnt out anyway so it was a relief. A friend worked for the department of health and told me they were hiring tons of temporary contractors to staff the COVID response. I talked in my interview about my experience with and love for data and somehow ended up the lead epidemiologist for the team responsible for making sure all lab result data from all over the state is being completely and accurately reported to us, and that that data is accurately and completely added to our database. Also, it turns out I’m really good at this work. I hate the pandemic but am really enjoying this new path.

      My manager was a high school math teacher for many years who decided not to return for the 2020-21 school year due to concerns over how her private school employer was handling staff safety concerns. And actually, she heard about the position from one of her former teacher colleagues who is working for the response as a data analyst.

      I am not sure how or if this helps you, but there are still lots of public health openings!

    10. Edu.edu*

      If you are into the arts, a lot of arts nonprofits have educational departments that is NOT in the classroom. There’s tons of Program Management type positions and similar admin roles. If you are managing a program, you probably won’t be in the classroom, but instead are looking to hire Teaching Artists who would be doing the in-class stuff.

      Unfortunately they might not pay as well, though.

    11. Anon for this*

      My company has hired a couple of teachers in the past year. We are a consulting company that does implementations of a specific software as well as the proprietary software add-ons that we develop. We hired them to do the add-on implementations.
      Clearly these ex-teachers (in the sciences) have no experience with software implementations, but we have had really good luck with these hires because we have an extensive, collaborative 90 day onboarding plan that includes lots of shadowing and other various types of training.
      So I think you need to do a wide open search in your geography (or remote) and then really read the job descriptions to start to get an idea of what these jobs actually do. Then you’ll be able to see if it’s something #1 you would like to do and #2 be good at
      Hope this helps!

  21. Antiwork Subreddit*

    There’s a new post on the antiwork subreddit that’s received quite a bit of attention. Someone is sending invoices to companies that have “wasted their time” interviewing them and not hiring them. Thousands of comments in support of this, what makes them think this is okay? They will likely be blacklisted from ever being able to work at that company.

    If you’d like to check it out, google the following: “antiwork subreddit “started sending out invoices to every company that wastes my time in an interview”” and you will find it. It’s the first thing on google search that comes up.

    1. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

      Oh, I saw that! I think that subreddit has a lot of good points, but that post missed the mark. Maybe if there was a specific situation that went along with it (e.g. the letter writer who traveled for an interview that was scheduled by mistake and the company didn’t acknowledge how they were in the wrong), but overall it just seemed overly antagonistic. There is no company will actually pay that and there is a large chance of just becoming known as the jerk who sends invoices after interviews. Do some companies deserve it? Sure. But it will mostly just hurt the interviewee and most people aren’t taking interviews just to “waste people’s time”; they also have work they would rather be doing.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Depends on how the company and the interview went. I’ve been tempted to do the same with the bait-and-switch interviews where I apply for one thing and end up interviewing for a considerably crappier role instead. I’d never want to work with those companies anyway.

      That said, it doesn’t really accomplish anything. And I’ve always felt like if you’re going to waste your time and energy on getting upset, it had better at least have a chance of accomplishing something.

    3. Beka Cooper*

      I saw that too, and just rolled my eyes. I think it’s funny to say it as a joke, but I have a hard time believing someone would actually do it. I agree that there are interview processes that I’ve heard of lately that sound absurd, like seven interviews, and all kinds of homework projects, and then you hear of companies just using the work the candidates did during their interview and they never intended to hire them. I think in one of those situations I’d be tempted, but I also don’t think there’d be any point.

      1. Em from CT*

        I’d suggest maybe skipping the ad hominem attacks?

        (To be clear, I have no skin in the game re: r/antiwork, so I’m not here to either support or oppose the post in question. But this forum is usually pretty good at debating the substance of the issues rather than the character of the posters, and I for one find that really valuable.)

        1. Winter's Gale*

          I’d suggest maybe skipping the holier-than-thou lectures!

          Most people in this forum have learned how to scroll.

    4. SureFine*

      a) I would take anything I see on reddit with a tremendous grain of salt.

      b) If someone actually does this, presumably they are OK with never working for the company, since they think the company mistreated them.

      c) I doubt it would ever change anything.

    5. carrot*

      I was actually going to write a question asking everyone what they thought about that subreddit in general! I feel like they sometimes have good advice relating to improving workplace conditions and offering advice but it also seems to me like a lot of complaining and out of touch ideologies… this seems to be more in that latter category

      1. Doug Judy*

        Yeah it’s really unrealistic in most things. Yes, capitalism is bad and evil. Most people agree there. But expecting things like a nation wide strike or everyone stop paying all their bills is just…more harmful to their objective than they realize. Because most progressives do not think that way and have good realistic ideas. But we all get lumped in with the most extreme of their ideas.

    6. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      This is one of those esprit d’escallier things where we wish someone (else) would do it.
      For me, I remember a recent news article about a person who would send bogus invoices to Remarkably Large Corporations with poor communications and a high threshhold of what constitutes “budget dust.” If AP pays everything under a certain dollar value, it was amazing to see how much they would get paid.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Oof! That’s a pretty tone deaf thing to do regarding regular interviews.

      Granted, there are some egregious exceptions, such as excessive or expensive interview travel or being expected to do interview “projects” that involve days of work (that basically end up being freelance work), or catering a company party as a employment test, but I like to think those are rare.

      I do wish more employers would acknowledge that the candidate may actually be taking unpaid time off work to be there though, and treat them respectfully so as to make the most of the allotted time. Some positions just have way too many interviews and they’re probably not all necessary!

    8. Purple Cat*

      I haven’t seen that thread although I enjoy the chuckle that subreddit provides.
      It seems like something the LW the other day “it’s illegal to not hire an OBVIOUSLY qualified candidate” would do.

    9. rear mech*

      eh, as someone who processes invoices for several businesses where the managers are all known personalities… I doubt there would be consequences other than us laughing (in sympathy if interviewed with lazy, smarmy manager A, or laughing at them for being doofuses if the interviewed with sensible, kind, on-top-of-it manager B & C, or “lol you might have missed out” if they interviewed with grumpy-but-fair manager D). No chance they would actually get blacklisted unless the invoices contained abusive language or threats. Over the top people can shine in a lot of roles if they are smart and hardworking.

  22. Murphy*

    I’m at a department of 2 dozen in a large university. Our org structure is one director with two ADs. The director left a a while ago but we’re getting ready to schedule interviews. One of the ADs left in November (also getting ready to schedule interviews) and the other just put in his notice. So we have three director level positions empty.

    How much could this scare off a potential director? I’m worried that they will be concerned about why so many high level people are leaving (as they should be, frankly) and I’m not sure there’s a good answer to provide them.

    1. Leilah*

      I honestly think it would scare people off not necessarily because of the exodus, but because they know they will step in and immediately be incredibly short staffed and have to be building departmental leadership from the ground up. That’s a big job.

      1. Afac*

        On the other hand, some new brooms like to sweep clean and choose their own people for the AD jobs. There’s a reason many associate/assistant level directors also leave when a big boss leaves at universities. Sort of how when a new head coach gets hired at a sportsball team, they generally hire an all-new coaching staff.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Write a script of what you will say. Your first paragraph is a good start. Some people may not dig deeper upon hearing just what is in your paragraph.

      I also think write out an answer to this question: “Why would *I* take this job when it seems like everyone is fleeing the place?” Think about why you are still there and some of the reasons your cohorts stay on.

  23. Large Hippo*

    Looking for advice – in 2021 I started a job that I knew immediately was a bad fit. I was lucky enough to have another opportunity to go to. I was there for 2 weeks and made more than $600 and had taxes taken out but haven’t received a W2. They are not responding to my emails asking for it and I have no paystubs cus they never gave them to me, just the direct deposit amounts. I did fill out the required documentation to get paid and have taxes taken out. I don’t know what to do!

    1. Name (Required)*

      Have you tried calling them? I would try that as a last resort and then call the IRS.

      4. Contact the IRS

      If you find yourself deep into February without your W-2, it’s time to get the IRS involved. If your efforts to get a copy from your employer have proved fruitless, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040. During that call you’ll need:

      Your name, address, phone number and Social Security number.

      Your employer’s name, address and phone number.

      The dates you worked for the employer.

      An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld last year. Your last pay stub of the tax year should have these amounts.

      With this information, the IRS will contact your workplace about the missing tax document.

      1. Cj*

        When you call this (or any) IRS number, you will no doubt have to punch about 12 different selections on a phone tree. Then you will be on hold for an hour or two. Then you will get a message that says to “due to high call volume we are unable to take your call at this time”, and then you will be hung up on.

        There is a substitute form W2 that you can fill out yourself in order to file your taxes if you don’t get one from your employer, but in order to do that you would need to have your pay stubs to complete it properly.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Pretty sure there’s guidance on the IRS website for exactly this situation. It may even be in FAQ form like “I worked on a job and had taxes withheld but didn’t get a W-2”

    3. Jaid*

      Call the IRS and ask them to send a 0063c letter to the employer for them to send you the W-2.

      You can also look for Form 4852 on IRS.gov and send that with proof of wages and withholding, if available, (such as payroll receipts or pay stubs) to your return, estimating your income and withholding tax as accurately as possible.

    4. Sarra N. Dipity*

      If you’re in a place where you want to file your taxes ASAP, the 1040 does have a provision for entering approximate taxes withheld when you didn’t received a W2. So in conjunction with that and contacting the IRS to have them reach out to the former company, you should probably be ok. You may have to file an amended 1040 once you receive your W2 information.
      [caveat: not a tax professional, just a compulsive answerer who tries to help]

    5. Not So NewReader*

      At one time, I thought companies did not have to send out W-2s for less than $800 (???).

      I think i would try to figure out what the tax is on that amount and use that as a basis for deciding how hard I would pursue this matter. Maybe you can use your paystub/direct deposit stub instead?

      1. Cj*

        They have to send W-2s no matter how small the amount. If you are a 1099 recipient instead of a W-2 employee, they need to send you one if it is $600 or more.

      2. Large Hippo*

        It was also more than $800. As for how hard I want to pursue this matter, I really don’t want to get into trouble with the IRS because a former shady employer didn’t send my W2 and is ignoring my direct request for it! I’m not sure how to proceed when they hold all the power/information as the employer.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Email the Department of Labor, tell the DOL that you don’t want to get in trouble with the IRS because Shady Company did not send you tax info. Let the DOL handle it.

  24. Cranky Chemist*

    I should find out in the next week or two if I’m getting promoted. If not, I think I’m fed up enough to put my foot down and threaten to leave. They screwed themselves over by not hiring someone else earlier, and I’m sick of doing the work of two people while still in an “entry level” role. They will most likely panic and give me what I ask since I’m one of two people at the entire company who knows how to do what I do, and the other person is my manager who is far too busy dealing with higher level stuff to do lab work.

    Anyway, does anyone have a reliable source to show my manager what my salary should be? I’ve looked at some general salary sites that are supposed give salary specific to your location and they say I should be making $10k more than the raise I was going to ask for, so I’m not sure how reliable that info is.

    1. I was told there would be llamas*

      Have you tried looking at open jobs to see what ranges they are showing (assuming they show anything?). I have had some luck with that…I am looking at the remote jobs so some of the companies advertising remote jobs show the salary range due to the Colorado law (other companies seem to just be ignoring that law). I haven’t taken it to my boss yet but I’m coming to the conclusion that myself and one of my direct reports are not being paid market.

    2. Generic Name*

      I wouldn’t threaten to leave, I’d actually leave. And I second the advice to look at job postings in Colorado.

    3. Parenthesis Dude*

      It’s pretty difficult to determine exact pay for positions.

      For example, people doing roughly my job can make anywhere between x and 2x, where your actual pay depends on your skills and experience. Some places do try to lowball you, but other places are willing to pay top dollar to get the best people while other places are willing to settle for good enough. Some roles don’t require someone senior, while other roles cost $50,000 just for the equipment/access before salary.

      Interviewing with many places helps you get an idea of what is out there.

    4. Panda (she/her)*

      Can you look up salaries for similar positions at either your company or similar companies on Glassdoor? I am in a niche industry that has substantially higher wages than most similar job titles (think analyst, consultant, etc.) and find that a general title search doesn’t help much, but looking up those job titles at similar companies gives me a much better idea.
      If you have a network of peers or more senior people in your field, sometimes you can ask them too – but read the room here as not everyone is comfortable talking about salary.

    5. Public Sector Manager*

      I’m in the public sector and in most states, the salary information for public sector jobs is public and on an agency’s website. So if your private sector position has a public sector equivalent, then that’s a first step.

      You will need to do some math though. At my agency, pension, healthcare, PTO, etc., costs the agency 60% of pay. So if new company offers no pension, cruddy healthcare, and the like, then ideally, that private company should be paying close to 160% of what the public sector job is. But if they have great healthcare, great PTO, robust 401(k) matching, maybe even a small pension, then you move closer to what the public sector job pays.

      It won’t be exact, but you can ballpark it because you can focus on public employee jobs in the area you want to work. Looking at salary bands in California and Colorado won’t help you if you’re looking for jobs in Des Moines.

      Good luck to you!

  25. Sunflower*

    Does anyone use a resume with sections? This millennial is wondering if Gen Z is finally taking hold and I need to reformat my resume.
    My resume is formatted that I have my contact info at the very top a short section that goes all the way across horizontally with key skills, technical expertise, etc. Then my experience is listed straight down chronically below.

    My friend is job searching and someone told her the new resumes have colors and sections. I’ve always been told to avoid them like the plague and when I’ve read those, while they may be aesthetically pleasing, they feel very hard to scan quickly.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Your resume sounds like a standard format and I don’t see any reason to change it.

      When I’ve heard about (and used, in the past) different sections, it was mostly for early-career and changing-career reasons. In and just after college, I had my contact info, a skills section, a “relevant work experience” section with internships in my field, and an “other work experience” section with my high school jobs (think retail/camp counselor/restaurant type jobs). The relevant/other sections can also be useful to people who have worked different types of jobs and want to put more relevant but further back chronologically jobs closer to the top of their resume.

      Did your friend’s contact share what sections people where using on their resumes?

    2. Soup of the Day*

      I’m sure part of this depends on your industry, but I used Canva to make my resume – they have a lot of templates, ranging from very colorful to much more simple. Mine is mostly white with some colorful accents and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it during interviews. I think it’s helped my resume stand out, but I work in a creative industry so it’s probably more welcome.

      I think you’ve touched on the key point – the colors should never be distracting or make it hard to read. No one will hold it against you if you have a simple, black and white resume, because the content is what’s important. But if you go too far in the other direction and have a resume that’s a mess of colors, you could put some people off, for sure.

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      I’m a millennial who has always used sections. My name is at the top with relevant contact info directly beneath. In the smaller, lefthand column I have Capabilities, Volunteer Experience, and Education. Then in the larger, middle column is my actual relevant work history. I’ve mostly relied on type changes rather than color to denote section differences.

    4. Dragonfly7*

      I use your format with sections. Summary highlighting required amounts of education, experience, and skills, Relevant Experience, and Education. Maybe a skills section that focuses on tech skills if appropriate.
      The system my org uses converts all resumes, letters, etc. to pdf, and we print them out in black and white. The colors wouldn’t make a difference for us, and might even make it more difficult to read.

    5. Mercie*

      By sections are you talking about stuff like listing work experience and education separately? I’m Gen Z and was taught that was the standard format (contact info at top, work history listed chronologically, then education) for resumes by Gen X parents.

    6. ecnaseener*

      Are you talking about headings that just break up the page into horizontal sections, or like boxy vertical sections? I think the former make it easier to scan, the latter make it harder.

    7. dresscode*

      I manage the applicant tracking system for several jobs openings right now. Only the most entry-level, least experienced applicants have colorful resumes like you are referencing. The mid-level and higher definitely don’t have that.

      One thing I am seeing more of is 3+ page resumes for longer-careered folks. We are hiring a VP of advancement and many have no less than 2 pages of resume, but usually closer to 3 or 4. More than 3 gets a side-eye from my boss, though. Someone had a 9 page resume!

    8. Important Moi*

      I am hoping someone with HR experience answers this. Is there a change to what a “current” resume looks like?

      Norms change and some of us who practice older norms don’t notice the changes soon enough.

    9. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I was recently on an interview panel and one of the candidates did the boxy, sectioned resume and it was a pain to read (I’m 36, so Oregon Trail Millennial, haha).

      Also, please put your work experience at the top — it’s annoying to scroll past your education, proficiency at Outlook, and volunteer stuff to get to the experience.

    10. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Ok, for the record: Gen X writer with graphic design leanings.
      My current resume has headers, but I suppose some would call them sections: Contact, Work History, Education, Skills. And yes, the headers are colored (I even use program icons in the skills section).

    11. HR Exec Popping In*

      Make your resume easy to understand. I wouldn’t recommend a gimmick if it is hard to follow. When I’m hiring I am looking at hundreds of resume so each one only gets a few minutes. If I can’t follow it I am skipping it.

    12. Lady Danbury*

      I’m an elder millennial whose resume has always had sections (experience, education, licences, etc.), with horizontal lines (basic black lines, nothing fancy) to separate the sections. I wouldn’t do any fancy colors (and I believe that Alison has advised against using them) unless that’s standard in your industry.

    13. Esmeralda*

      What everyone else said…
      And–
      Colors: remember that folks may print out your resume and they are very unlikely to print it in color (it’s more expensive). Print it out b/w yourseldf to make sure it looks good.

    14. Sunflower*

      Thanks all! For sections, I was referring to boxes scattered across page (ie the page looks more like a PPT slide). My resume has ‘headings’ to separate Skills, Experience, Education but definitely reads like straight up and down.

      Sounds like traditional resumes haven’t been placed in the same category as ‘just knock on the door and ask if they’re hiring’ just yet :)

      1. A Wall*

        Think of allllll the different crappy “new standard” resume formats you’ve ever heard pitched in your lifetime, and add color blocking right onto that pile in the wastebasket.

      2. Squeakrad*

        That’s a pretty standard word template for resumes, and there are a lot of things wrong with it. First of all it makes your name in much fart larger font than the rest of the résumé which is not a good luck. And if you haven’t worked long enough to want to provide a summary, you have to edit that box out. I think there are formats that have sections that look pretty decent, but the ones I’ve seen actually don’t.

  26. Peachtree*

    Hi y’all! I’m working for a government department in the UK (think: civil service roles, similar to the US federal government) but I really do not enjoy it. It’s been 18 months and I just do not gel with being in a slow-moving bureaucracy, where I have very little impact or responsibilities. I’m still early in my career and my work pattern so far has been relatively consistent (first job 18 months, second 2.5 years, third 3 years) so I’m not too worried about moving. This government job was an attempted career change – I had a really bad experience with a bullying boss, and we lost work due to Covid shutdowns – but it’s good experience that will help me in my old sector. I’m working with two recruiters to look to go back into that career.

    I have two problems at the moment: firstly, I’m working with a specialist recruiter, who was helping me last time when I was leaving Old Job. I’m being put forward for a role in a company that I applied to through the recruiter before getting New Job, and I’m worried that I’ll feel pressured to take it by the recruiter if I’m successful. I feel like I led her on last time by going for the interview then taking the New Job instead, and now wanting to go back to the same company. How do I make sure I don’t commit too soon? I get a lot of anxiety about this! And how do I manage working with two recruiters without playing them off against each other in a way that negatively affects me? Should I be honest that I’m in the running for multiple jobs?

    Secondly, I will be taking a £5-£9k pay cut (or a 10%-18% pay cut) to take a new role. This isn’t entirely unexpected as my partner and I are planning to leave London this year, and I’d lose my London weighting bonus if I did. But mentally how do I overcome my nerves about this? Any advice? If it helps, we have such long notice periods – mine is 3 months so I’ll have a ton of time to save before that happens, and we are moving in together which is saving money too. I think it’s worth it to be back in a career that really excites me, but it feels quite daunting …!

    Any thoughts or encouragement or critiques welcome!

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Work out what your budget is going to be in the new location (if you’re not fully sure of location think of the bigger cities in that area – e.g. Manchester/Liverpool for north west, Bath/Bristol for south west) and look at what you’re getting at that smaller salary vs. your London weighting adjusted one.

      Realistically, you’re still likely to be coming out way ahead on budget unless you’re looking at an expensive commute or luxury accommodation. London weighting is a nice extra but once you hit 40-50k it’s a very much diminishing % of your pay vs. at lower level jobs.

      1. Peachtree*

        Thanks – that is a great suggestion. Will be getting on RightMove today to check out the renting prices!

        And agreed on the London weighting diminishing over time – ours is a % of salary up to a certain salary, which I’m now at. So while I would continue to get pay rises if I stayed in this organisation, over time they would be a smaller increase as my weighting won’t increase too. So getting out of the system now shouldn’t hurt me too much …

    2. ecnaseener*

      You’re not leading anyone on by going on interviews! “That sounds interesting, I’d like to hear more about it” can be your mantra. If it’ll make you feel better, you can mention that you’re also looking into some other jobs separately.

      1. Peachtree*

        Thanks for the reassurance! I struggle with anxiety (is it obvious?!) so comments like this are very soothing :)

    3. Bagpuss*

      Attending an interview is not leafing someone on – remind yourself that interviews are a two way process, and that if you are in a position of having more than one offer you can only pick one, that’s life.
      FWIW, as an employer, if I offer you a job and you turn it down to accept something else, I’m disappointed but it won’t put me off interviewing you or offering you a job if you apply again in future. If you *accept* an offer and then change your mind and go elsewhere, it’s probably not going to rule you out from further consideration (unless you just don’t show up on day one, or something like that) but it may mean I am a bit more cautious in future.

      For recruiters / agencies, they aren’t (normally) ‘heling’ you – they are trying to get you placed so they get paid – and if you don’t accept the offer they set up they probably have other candidates for the same role.

      Regarding the drop in salary – do a budget – as you say, you are looking at things which should reduce your outgoings . If you have a look on the Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert forums, there is lots of good advice – you may find the debt sub-forum particularly useful, there is lots of advise about budgeting / avoiding debt, as well as people looking for help with managing debt – they have a template ‘statement of affairs’ which while originally designed for people who need to think about what they can realistically offer to clear debts, can also be helpful in identifying what you are spending, where you can make savings etc.(and if you are brave enough to post yours, people will make suggestions about where you can save, if you need to)

      Where you plan to move to will also make a big difference. However, I would have thought that merging two households into one ought to allow you to save £5K-£10K – I would guess that you are each paying that in rent in London already.

    4. Storm in a teacup*

      Don’t feel guilty about ‘leading on’ the recruiter. You’re allowed to apply for a job and then decide it’s not for you – it’s a two-way process. It’s also good to remember it’s her job to find candidates and not every one she works with will get an offer or even accept. It’s a standard part of her role.

      As a Londoner I can relate to the pain of losing your London weighting but I think some other big cities also have a weighting. Also if you are moving somewhere outside of the south east the cost of living may well be a lot lower, especially rents. I always felt my old job London weighting was not enough to cover the disparity in living costs.
      Martin Lewis’ website has a good budget planner so it may be useful to work out what a 10-18k reduction would mean in real terms. If you’re dropping a tax band that may also mean your take home pay isn’t as badly affected as you may imagine

    5. Lady Danbury*

      Any good recruiter will expect that candidates are applying on their own and/or working with other recruiters and that you will ultimately make the decision that is right for you. Unless you’ve signed some sort of exclusivity clause, recruiters are retained by the company and therefore have an interest in filling those roles. This may sometimes be counter to your own interest if something else is a better fit for you, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve lead anyone on. At the end of the day, both the interviewer and the interviewee should be evaluating each other to decide if it’s the right match.

  27. Disengaged*

    Anyone got any good scripts to address my bosses micromanagement? A few team members have not been performing but that has resulted in micromanagement of us all. I’m targeting promotion and need examples of working at the higher level but currently not allowed to do basic elements of the job without a thorough discussion and agreement which takes days for what should be a ten second thing. I’ve gone from loving my job and being hungry to progress to struggling to get out of bed. Currently thinking along the lines of “if I was in your shoes I’d probably be feeling like the trust between you and the team had been broken and I’m getting that impression-is there something we can do as a group to help rebuild that and work better moving forwards?”.

    For various reasons that I won’t go into- the timing of this conversation would be very appropriate so this isn’t an “out of the blue” thing to raise, though I doubt they realise the micromanagement they’re enforcing

    1. ecnaseener*

      I would actually not try to speak on behalf of the group — you know there are some in the group who might need micromanaging, so don’t get stuck arguing a losing point.

      Speak for yourself: “I know there have been some problems lately that could’ve been avoided if you were looped in sooner, and I’ve noticed you being a little more hands-on since then. I hope I haven’t done anything to make you lose confidence in my work – I was under the impression that I was working really well independently at XYZ. Would you be comfortable letting me have that independence back?”

      Probably other commenters can improve on that script!

    2. Important Moi*

      Since you’re targeting a promotion:
      If you receive this promotion would you still have to interact with your current boss? That affects any advice anyone could give you. Can you provide that?

    3. Kathenus*

      Agree 100% with ecnaseener. If you represent the group you may also be reinforcing bosses tactics. Boss micromanaging the group to deal with individual performance issues; you representing the group instead of focusing on your specific situation/performance and the micromanagement as it relates to you.

      Can you find specific examples of micromanaging that affect you? Something like “Boss – in the past you relied upon me to meet deadlines and come to you if I had questions about an assignment. Recently you’ve been asking for status reports daily and giving reminders for things I’m already doing (or whatever is a good example). Do you have any concerns with my recent performance that we can address, in case there’s something you’d like me to change? I’d be interested in hearing about any improvements you would like to see from me if needed, and hopefully get back to where you’re comfortable with my working more independently as in the past”. Obviously tweak the wording to your situation.

    4. Nesprin*

      I’d try pulling. You talk about “team” and might be worth refocusing on “I”
      “I’ve noticed that you’ve been very hands on in the past few weeks. Are you worried about how I’m performing? I find usually do better when given clear deadlines and the freedom to get work done and would prefer to just check in in format X”

  28. Internal Schminternal*

    Any tips on writing a cover letter for an internal position? (There are a number of interested and qualified folks who already work here, so they are running it like an external application process to ensure fairness.)

    1. This is My Happy Face*

      I would focus on what skills you’ve developed at current position that you’d be bringing into new position and why you are interested in moving into new position. Think of this as your moment to spell out why you want the job and why you should get it. It’s also a good chance to bring up something that would necessarily show up on your resume, like a behind-the-scenes problem you solved or a big project that you contributed to. Good luck!

  29. Amber Rose*

    I had my second ever employee performance review on the date of my seventh anniversary at this job. It was long, and nerve-wracking, and overall very positive. I got a very small raise, a very large bonus (even with the agonizingly brutal 30% tax rate, omg) and apparently when we’re done shuffling everyone around April/May-ish, I’ll have an office instead of a cube. Which is cool.

    The CEO was in on my review and he said something along the lines of the company is losing out on making the best use of my skills in leadership. Which is… flattering but confusing? I have no problem stepping up into a leadership role if that’s where I’m needed, but I have no idea what that’s supposed to look like. And he’s made it clear multiple times that it’s not really up to him what I do in future, that’s all on my manager. So on the one hand he seems to have some idea of what he wants me to do, but on the other hand he refuses to offer any input at all on what he’s thinking.

    Am I supposed to be proactively suggesting things? But again, I really have no idea what this would look like! I’m not really inherently creative. I’m good at working off existing frameworks and less good at coming up with new ones.

    1. Sarra N. Dipity*

      I’d definitely set up a 1:1 with your current manager to talk about this. Before that, think about where you really want your career to go. Do you want to manage a team? Move up higher as an individual contributor? Cross-train with another department?
      In your meeting, I’d ask about their opinion on what the CEO said (if you got a written review as well as the meeting, check to see if there’s any specific wording in it that supports/contradicts what the CEO said as well – get clarity there!). Share what you’d like your path to be in the company. Tell your manager that you’d like help/support planning what your steps are to get there, and executing those steps. And good luck – it really does help to be on the radar (positively of course) of folks multiple levels above you! Sounds like you’re positioned really well.

  30. Lizy*

    Interviewing questions for a fully-remote position – what do you wish was asked or addressed, either as an interviewee or interviewer? Or what do you think would be good things to ask or address, either as an interviewee or interviewer?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been on both sides of that table – I would say you want to be sure to ask what they provide (equipment, supplies, reimbursement for internet, etc) and what they require for your workspace – our remote work policy requires wired internet to the work computer, verification of a renters/homeowners insurance policy that will cover the work equipment, a fire extinguisher in the room, and that the employee not be the caregiver for a child under 12 while on the clock – some places require a door and/or lock on the workspace as well. (Most of that, except the insurance policy, falls under the heading of “we don’t actually verify any of this so if we can’t *tell* you’re breaking the rules, you can probably get away with it.”)

      If it’s important to you, you might also want to ask about schedule flexibility – can you work 4a-8a and 4p-8p if that’s what takes your fancy, or do they still want you on an 8 hour day during banker’s hours? Similarly, are they going to expect that since you’re arm’s length away from your work computer, that you’ll be available at all hours and checking email on weekends and such?

    2. Elle Woods*

      I recently interviewed for a fully remote position and one topic that came up was what tech I’d need to do my job (computer, monitors, cords, VPN, etc.) as well as tech support (such as, who do I call if I need tech help?).

      1. Violet*

        I worked a remote position last year and when I couldn’t figure something out on the Mac they were going to send me to the Apple store (I am in a big city) for support.

        Fortunately, a co-worker noticed my comments on Slack and had the solution.

        I now realize that my supervisor’s suggestion may not have been the best tech support. It never occurred to me to ask about this in the interview process, though.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Tech resources in general and phones specifically — are they going to provide a company phone or a software telephone, or are you expected to use your personal phone? (Or does everyone just use teams calls and your role doesn’t involve any external calls?)

    4. Sarra N. Dipity*

      Did they have fully remote positions before 2020?
      Do they have people working in-person currently?
      If so, what’s the approximate ratio for remote/hybrid/in-person?
      Do they have any plans to change to enforced hybrid or in-person at some time?
      How is communication between remote employees? What platform(s)?
      Will you be expected to travel for training? For meeting co-workers for any reason? How often and where to?

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      Find out their core hours. If the company, or their primary client, is based in one time zone and you live in a very different time zone, find out how that is to be managed. I took a remote job with an East Coast company, so now I’m logging on before 7:30 am and it does not make my night owl soul happy – I struggle to go to bed before midnight, and end up needing naps to patch my sleep.

      Yes, tech and benefits (like a stipend for fast internet) are essential too, but the thing that affects you most is hours.

      Also find out if they have the nasty one bucket of PTO or separate sick time and vacation time. Coming from a university job, the reduction in total PTO by the single bucket method is excruciating. I’m old enough to actually need two weeks of sick time for medical stuff and two weeks of vacation for my sanity. A four hour dentist appointment is not a vacation or even a break, no matter how you call it “PTO”. If you have to work closely with other folks in different time zones, taking time out from the middle of the day is hard to make up even as a WFH person.

      Also, find out if they have any background/clearance stuff going on before you start.

  31. Anonymous Hippo*

    Y’all’ve seen me posting before about the issue at my job, and how I tried several lateral moves to try and get out of some of the problems. Well, the second try fell through, so I gave my notice on Wednesday. A long notice, because I’m just doing my own thing for a while to decompress, so I’ll be here until April 15th.

    Any tips on maintaining motivation and working through this transition period?

    1. ariel*

      I’m good with a list, so I’d make one listing everything I’d like to leave for a predecessor, or things to close out, and maybe also restaurants to try in the area if you’re not going to be often in that area of town again (if you’re working in person). So my time had structure but also some room to deal with things that cropped up. Not sure if that makes sense for your work, but maybe?

        1. Anonymous Hippo*

          Lol, I like the way you think, but the reason I’ve given long notice is to help them out, so taking PTO kind of defeats that, and they will pay it out to me, and having that cash will be helpful in the transition period.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        Yeah, I have tons of things to do, it more of a motivation to do them. But I think you are right that the very first thing has to be a list. Then once I have a better idea of what I have to pass on I can parcel out my time.

  32. Hilda*

    Hi commenters! I’m really struggling with job creep and have no idea how to combat it while also trying to address my increasing exhaustion/anxiety and finding a job elsewhere (I suspect I would have to leave my field, which is a bigger hurdle than just finding a different position).

    About 8 years ago, I started my job with pretty well defined parameters, but in the intervening years my team has grown. I supervise projects for three people where it used to be 1, and I’m about to pick up a 4th. Additionally, I’ve had to personally train those folks in the job that we do because they are wonderful but – didn’t have the right training and it somehow never worked out for them to get outside professional development, though there was some talk of it. So I’ve become much more of a supervisor than I was with no compensation (likely no hope there, we are literally never given the opportunity to negotiate our salaries). I’ve had conversations with my boss about prioritizing the work coming to me in the past and it helped some, but they also say things like “It’s all a priority, haha,” “this is job security!” or point out that I’m not the only overworked person in our department which is – not comforting, as you can imagine

    I like my work a lot, but the fast-moving river of a job I signed up for has become Class V rapids, it feels like. Any suggestions for navigating this besides get the eff out?

    1. Sarra N. Dipity*

      You can try to re-negotiate your salary outside of a promotion cycle. Set up a meeting with the folks who have the power to submit a salary change. Come prepared with what your job duties started at (after your training period was over) and what they are now, and what employees in your region are paid for the work you do (Glassdoor is good for this, as is searching job postings in Colorado or the public sector [both are supposed to post either the exact salary ranges or at least what salary tier the position is, which may mean you get to do a little extra research]).

      If they won’t consider a raise at that point, probably time to leave. :(

    2. Panda (she/her)*

      If the “what would you like me to prioritize” conversation hasn’t landed you anywhere, then I would suggest taking the initiative to determine what your boundaries are (how much, if any, OT are you willing to work? When are you unavailable?) then identify what you feel you can get done in that amount of time. Send your manager an email that says something along the lines of “I don’t have time to do everything, so I’ve identified the following as priorities, and here is the list of everything I won’t have time for. Please let me know if you would like me to re-prioritize anything.”
      This puts the ball in their court (if they don’t respond, you proceed as you outlined) but also gives them the opportunity to comment if something really is a higher priority. But then comes the really important step: DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR BOUNDARIES. If you don’t have time for things, THEY DON’T HAPPEN. You may very well end up in an awkward conversation with your manager when these things truly don’t get done (because it sounds like you’ve just been doing them anyways up until now), but that’s when you point to the email that outlined your plan.
      There is a risk that holding these boundaries results in you eventually losing your job or not getting put up for promotion, or getting other perks…but if the alternative is leaving your job anyways, it might be worth a try first.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        This is really the key to prioritization: you have to be prepared to let things fall through. If your boss says “They’re all priorities,” your answer needs to be, “Then you will need to hire somebody else for some of them, because I do not have enough time to do them all. Right now, I am prioritizing X, Y and Z, which means that P, D and Q are NOT GOING TO GET DONE. If you want me to rearrange that so that P, D or Q gets done, I will need to drop X, Y or Z. Tell me which three to keep on the schedule — but there is only room for three.”

  33. Anonymous Mongoose*

    Anyone have advice for how to write a comment/rebuttal on your annual review?

    I just had my annual review this week, and it was okay but not great. My supervisor forgot to mention some of the projects I worked on and a couple accolades I received. It also heavily focused on criticisms I had never heard before, either under this supervisor or elsewhere, which were surprises to me. I had the opportunity to clarify some of the confusing parts with them, and expressed dismay that I hadn’t heard the constructive feedback earlier so I could have worked on it before my review.

    My overall rating was good, and I got a decent raise to my salary, so it’s not a crisis. But I have the opportunity to respond in a written comment on the review and I would like to do so, but I’ve never done this. I also don’t want my supervisor to feel like I have thrown them under the bus, and I don’t want to come across as defensive or like I let my emotions get in the way of taking feedback.

    Right now, I’m planning to write something similar to “I’m grateful for the feedback, some of this was a surprise and I wish I had known about it before my review, and I’m going to work on the points in the coming year.” Obviously more polished in the wording.

    Any thoughts? Has anyone written one of these, or see one? I’ve never been in this position before.

    1. athiker10*

      I wasn’t quite in this position, but I had to ask for a score to be raised on mine. I stayed very factual and matter of fact. I think language like you used is good. Maybe “I’d like to have [accolades/projects] included in the my review documentation. While I had not heard of the feedback in this review prior to the time, I’m creating a plan to improve on the feedback provided in the coming year”

    2. cubone*

      maybe I’m just bitter and jaded lol, but in most of my experiences I don’t know if those comment sections really hold much value or are used in meaningful ways. Unless your supervisor seems like someone who really desires (and acts on) your feedback for them (in which case I think they might’ve said something like “please let me know in this section ways I can improve”), then I think it’s often just a spot to make people feel like they’ve had a chance to acknowledge the review. That being said, your comment seems pretty innocuous and not passive aggressive to me, so I don’t think there’s any harm. I just don’t know that it will result in your supervisor actually raising their feedback earlier next time (if they haven’t demonstrated that they are interested in getting feedback and approving themselves, or if you’re certain the reviews are used for 360 type evaluations by their manager, which seems unlikely).

      However, it does sound like you acknowledged it directly to your supervisor already, right (“expressed dismay”)? How did they respond? If I’m getting that right and they actually acknowledged it then as a valid point, I’d be tempted to say something like: “I’m grateful for the feedback and I appreciated our discussion about ways to raise it before the review process in the future so I can make ongoing adjustments”. Or something.

    3. Kathenus*

      I’d think of your feedback in two parts – adding accomplishments that weren’t included and acknowledging the constructive feedback while also noting a preference to hear it in real time. Your first draft quote was:

      “I’m grateful for the feedback, some of this was a surprise and I wish I had known about it before my review, and I’m going to work on the points in the coming year.”

      Maybe something like “I’m grateful for the feedback and will take it to heart to continue to work on improving in the coming year. I’d appreciate if we could also have conversations in real-time throughout the year on any topics like this so that I can learn about and address them when they occur, which will help me to build better work habits all year not just at the annual review.”

    4. Purely Allegorical*

      I have done this before. First, I would change your wording slightly to be more direct. Something more like “I would like to note that the areas where we discussed problems and poor performance (or whatever it was) was the first time I had heard that feedback, and is not consistent with the feedback I’ve received to date. I will be sure to set up regular check-in with my manager so that any future issues can be brought to me immediately so that I can work on them.”

      Second, as someone else noted, these comment sections don’t carry much weight. The more important thing is to have this conversation with your manager, verbally. Set up those regular check-ins. And if you don’t trust your manager, get a new one. (I had to.)

    5. Girasol*

      I was unaware that my behavior X was an issue. Now that I know about it I will make an immediate effort to correct it. I am disappointed that my work on project X, where I achieved results Y, was not considered an important part of my contribution this year, but I’ll aim to turn in a better performance in the next year.

    6. Anon for This*

      Where I work we call this the “Suicide Box.” Not career enhancing to use it. Ask for advice from someone else who has been in your office for a long time and can tell you how this would be perceived. I don’t think it would be a problem to write something positive about how you enjoyed the challenges of [highlight some of the projects you worked on that were not included], particularly when x recognized my efforts/success on [project]. But I would avoid taking on your boss’ criticisms as it never seems to come off well. YMMV.

    7. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I would (before commenting) email your supervisor about either a) setting up recurring 1x1s if that’s not something you already have or b) specifically asking that 1x1s include feedback on how you’re doing in the criticized areas. Then in your comment, I’d say:

      “While the feedback on X and Y came as a surprise, I appreciate the opportunity to address them and will be doing (things) and regularly checking on progress in 1x1s as mentioned in my email.

      In addition to the (previously mentioned accomplishment) and (previously mentioned accomplishment), I am particularly proud of some other items that came to mind following our conversation: (unmentioned accomplishments, accolades, other things done well).”

      I wouldn’t think of this box so much as a place to let your boss know what you want, but more of a record of 1) the feedback being a surprise, 2) you taking action on the feedback, and 3) including things that got missed (which you would probably have done even if you weren’t blindsided by feedback!).

      I’m sorry that happened — that’s really frustrating.

    8. Camelid coordinator*

      I am wondering about the part where your supervisor forgot to mention something. Is there a way to avoid that next year? I wonder if you could send them a list of highlights and accomplishments. Where I work including that information on the form is partially the employee’s responsibility.

      1. Clisby*

        That was the case where I worked before retiring. The employee wrote the first draft of the review and then forwarded it to the supervisor. The final review was a combination of input from the employee, supervisor, and any co-workers the supervisor might have contacted (it was common for supervisors to do this.)

      2. Anonymous Mongoose*

        At my workplace, we write our self review first, then submit it, our supervisor reads it and uses that to write our review. I listed all these things in my self review. I’m not sure why they didn’t make it into my supervisors review.

    9. Public Sector Manager*

      I’ve been managing my team since 2010, and to echo some of the advice above, absolutely keep it factual. When I’ve had people write a response in the past, they will say things like “I work really hard and deserve a better rating.” Not only is that entirely subjective, but working hard does not translate to working effectively. So pointing out specifics is step one.

      One downside I noticed is that you said there were negative comments in your review and those weren’t discussed with you before hand. This is usually the sign of a terrible boss or an inexperienced boss. For me, any negative comment that appears in a performance review has definitely been discussed before with the employee. The only advice I have here is to see if they’ve counseled you on the issue but now it’s more specific. So if your boss has counseled you on attention to detail, and the performance review points out errors for Client A that cost your company money, there isn’t going to be a lot of traction arguing that the prior counseling wasn’t specific enough. However, if there was zero counseling or counseling on another issues, then I would point out the negative comment was never discussed with you beforehand.

      Company culture is another issue. Some companies look down on comments and it impacts future raises. Other companies don’t even bother to read them. If your company is the former, then use some caution.

      Finally, I wouldn’t expect a bigger raise out of it. Everyone’s raise has already been calculated in the budget. If changing your ratings would get you a bigger raise and if your department has the money for the raise, a good boss is going to make sure you can get the raise you earned. But the money might not be there either–it might be committed to other employees. So don’t go into it hoping you’ll get a better raise. If you do get a raise, it will be a nice perk.

      1. Anonymous Mongoose*

        Whoa yah, I would not expect this to change my raise. That’s not even factoring into my response. I’m pretty happy with the raise I was given, and I think it’s on the mark with the overall rating I got and the work I did.

      2. Dragon*

        I think surprise negative comments in a review are often because the boss doesn’t want a direct confrontation with the employee. Not because it could turn ugly, but because it could give the employee an opening to mention things s/he doesn’t like about the boss.

        I subtly made it clear to one boss that I wasn’t a pseudo-personal assistant. That may be why she said some things on my review instead of directly to me.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      You have a great start here.

      “I’d like it to be noted that I worked on x, y and z projects and received [awards, public thanks, whatever]”

      “I was disappointed to see A, B and C were noted as problems and this is the first I have heard of it. Going forward I would appreciate being told in the moment rather than waiting for my annual review. I strive to be a good employee and I want my efforts to mean something. I cannot truly meet these goals if I am not told how to change and improve what I am doing.”

      Don’t worry about throwing your boss under the bus. Your boss had absolutely no problem blindsiding you. Present yourself in writing as a reasonable person who is open to improvement where ever necessary. I would definitely do this without a second thought. And I actually have done it. The key here is that a reasonable person wants to know how to improve so they can do their best possible every day. You have done nothing wrong, do not cover for this boss. This boss is not covering for you.

  34. Elle Woods*

    Question about PIPs: How specific should they be?

    Neighbor was recently put on one at work and from the paper copy she showed me, it’s rather vague (ex: better communication, no dates given, no mention of how progress will be evaluated). In listening to she talks about her job–and especially how she talks about her manager–I have no doubt that a PIP is warranted; I’m actually quite surprised she hasn’t been fired. I’ve never been put on PIP before and have been freelancing quite a few years so I’m out of touch with how these things work.

    1. cubone*

      depends on the practices of the organization and the skill level of the manager. I think most AAM readers would probably be in agreement that a PIP needs to be specific for it to be effective. So either their workplace is not so great, and/or…. they’re not really all that invested or hopeful in her making the changes and this is just for show. Sorry to your neighbour.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If the PIP is vague I wonder if it’s just a formality and they’re planning to fire her.

      But generally speaking yes, PIPs should include SMART goals and have a timeline for re-evaluation.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Sadly, I agree here. I’d prepare yourself Elle for a conversation with your neighbor where they express they’ve recently been let go.

    3. Accountant*

      IME they should be specific. But also IME, it’s irrelevant – everyone I’ve ever known who’s been put on a PIP is fired, no matter how well they do on the goals. If she’s asking for advice, mine would be to cut her losses and just find another job.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, IME a PIP is just an invitation to find another job, the bus wheels are coming for you. It’s especially true if the goals are vague or frankly impossible. They never seem to be done with the employee in mind, but rather as a paper gathering exercise before termination.

    4. Canicas*

      It should be specific otherwise, how is she going to know what she needs to improve? I was placed on a PIP, I was having a rough time and honestly I am surprised that I wasn’t fired, I really fell off the rails but my manager really wanted me to succeed, I met with her weekly to make sure I was on track, it was hard but after three months I was taken off PIP, she said I was the only one that she has placed on PIP that has ever gotten off it.

  35. Doug Judy*

    I posted last week about leaving a great team and job I like for something else because of my husband’s health issues. I was in the process of interviewing for a job for much higher pay but was nervous about leaving a place I’m happy at for one that might pay more but I’d be miserable.

    I had an interview earlier this week with the person who’d be my manager. It went very well. They were very easy going and down to earth and before I could even ask about work/life balance they said they had no expectations of working more than 40ish hours, meet your deadlines and objectives and then enjoy your life, and to fit your work around your life, not for your life around your work. That combined with monthly company wide mental health days off, it seems like this would be so helpful dealing with my husband’s health. The job itself sounds like a really good fit for me too. It’s something I’m interested in personally and skills wise I have all the things they said were nice to haves. It’s also all the parts of my current job I enjoy, without the parts that I don’t. We even bonded about our bad fit jobs we hated from day one, which were coincidentally in the same industry, which we both left. I have a test case to present Monday as a final interview to a panel. I feel good about it and we’ll see what happens.

    I’m still having some feelings about leaving though. Doing something that only benefits myself and causes pain for others isn’t how I typically behave. I have coworkers that are also dealing some major life changes too and adding increased work to them doesn’t feel great. But in this case I have to do what’s best for me. There’s some opportunities for me at my current job and we’re in the process of being acquired by a much larger company that is expanding. So there could be something else…eventually. But doing some digging, the income potential just isn’t there and time off and other benefits wouldn’t come close to this new job. I’ll be happy to stay if don’t get the job but I’m no longer worried that leaving would be the wrong decision.

    Interview is Monday, husband’s surgery is Wednesday. It’s potentially a life changing week all around.

    1. Not A Manager*

      “Doing something that only benefits myself and causes pain for others isn’t how I typically behave.” This is something that greatly benefits your husband. If he’s ill, then you need to do everything feasible to make your life easier so you can support him.

    2. AnonAnon*

      Sorry to hear about your husband’s health issues.
      You’re right that you have to do what’s best for you. As for “doing something that only benefit you and cause pain for others,” I’m not so sure that’s the most beneficial way to view the situation?

      I gathered from your post that you’re an empathetic, thoughtful, and considerate person, and you’re worried for your coworkers. Perhaps a different way to think about it is your leaving creates an opportunity for other talented people to apply for your vacant position so they can advance in their careers. There are other people out there looking to leave a bad job, and your vacant position is the golden opportunity for them to join this great team. Perhaps the new hire would bring great new ideas to the table, and the team would be strengthened by new blood coming in. The increased workload for your team will only be temporary, and I wouldn’t recommend focusing on that.

      1. Doug Judy*

        This is a good way to frame it. It’s a small but vital team and we have a great leader. There’s no real opportunities for people to join. And while I’m good at my job part of it involves working with software developers/SDLC testing, writing technical requirements. I’m learning but to really excel I need to be better at it, but it’s not my natural talent and I know I’ll never enjoy that part. And our current team works because my coworker is amazing at it but she’s not good at the part of my job I excel at. But maybe they’ll find someone great at both!

    3. Generic Name*

      Don’t light yourself on fire to keep others warm. If you leaving your company will *harm* your coworkers, that’s not a you problem, that’s a management problem.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Best wishes on your upcoming interview, and your husband’s surgery. If it helps frame leaving, think of what you would tell one of your coworkers in the same situation. I bet you would tell them to do what is best for them and their health/life, so apply that perspective to your current situation. If you were my coworker, I would be happy for you if this new position works out for you.

    5. Lady Danbury*

      “Doing something that only benefits myself and causes pain for others isn’t how I typically behave.” This should never be a consideration when deciding whether to stay at a job. As others have mentioned, if you leaving creates that much of an issue for your coworkers, it means that your company has dropped the ball, not you. Sometimes we take the “don’t be selfish” message too far and interpret it as you should be selfless. It’s completely ok to put yourself first sometimes, both personally and professionally. You can’t pour out of an empty vessel. Sending good thoughts for your husband’s health challenges and finding the right role!

      Side note, I love your name. Brooklyn 99 is def a fav!

    6. Molly*

      I think you need to look at the situation differently.
      Leaving a job for a better one is not “causing pain to others”. People leave jobs for a variety of reasons, and the people at the old job have to adjust.How difficult that adjustment is depends greatly on the management at the old job.
      This can be inconvenient, but I would NEVER describe leaving a job as”something that causes pain for my old coworkers “
      But if an old job had bad management and everything that goes with it, typically the negatives are not the fault of the person leaving.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Thoughts and prayers for you and your hubby if you want them.

      I hope you can let us know how things are going for you.

  36. Syl*

    I *really* need some advice on a job interview situation!

    I recently got offered a job I wanted. The offer came in 10K below what I expected. I countered and they raised the salary by 3K. I need to answer whether I want this job or not in the next two days. The salary is about 52K. There is no opportunity for promotions and no bonuses at all. I can’t get a raise until maybe 2024 in this position.

    I have three scheduled second-round interviews for the next two weeks. I also have another offer that is supposed to come in the next couple of days that would be WFH and eliminate my two hours of commuting per day. All of these positions would pay more than the current offer and have opportunities for raises and bonuses.

    I feel like I’m gambling here. I only have ONE offer on the table and it’s not bad, but I think I could do better. 52K is an abysmal salary for what I do. I feel really attracted to the actual work, but I feel like I’m selling myself short by accepting such a sh*t salary.

    Please, I need some advice. I don’t have anyone IRL to talk to about this and it’s making me really anxious!! Thanks!

      1. Syl*

        I currently have a job and it’s toxic so I’m desperate to leave. I’m not starving, I can probably ask for one more day to think things over.

        Even if I have one more day to think things over I’m not sure what I want to do.

    1. Doug Judy*

      Do you need to take a job now? I’d wait if you have a job now or can afford to wait. This doesn’t seem like something you’d like for long

      1. Syl*

        I don’t *need* to take this now, but I’ve been trying to get out of my current position for about 3 months with no success.

        1. Doug Judy*

          3 months may seem like a long time in a toxic job but trust me, you do not want to settle just because you’re wanting to leave now. The one doesn’t seem like a good fit and you have other things in the works. I’d tell them sorry you cannot take the job at that salary and focus on the better opportunities.

        2. ariel*

          I agree with Doug Judy! Short term pain for long term pay off, don’t let these prospective employers take money out of your future.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      I think you answered your question – 52k is an abysmal salary. You’d be taking a position where you’d be underpaid and have zero mobility.

      Unless there is some kind of circumstance where you financially must have a paycheck right this second, why would you take a job you’ve described that way?

      1. Syl*

        My current job is toxic and I’m trying to leave. I currently make 37K so this would be a good step up. I’m not starving on the street but I’m definitely struggling.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          So you’d be leaving one toxic job for a job that’s toxic in another way – being underpaid for the work you do will bother you even if its slightly less toxic. Companies that do not pay market salary aren’t generally known for their great work culture either. Taking a job that sucks to get a way from another job that sucks more, is still working a job that sucks.

          1. Syl*

            That makes sense. I think even if I accept and like the work and my coworkers…it’s just going to be very demotivating to know there’s no potential for growth.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I agree – this is only the first offer, and you have a potential better offer coming in a few days with additional interviews that could also lead to something better.

        The salary is a step up from your current role, but you already feel it’s a lowball offer compared to what you’re worth AND there’s no room to change that for another few years minimum. I’m sure it’s tempting but you should definitely see if they’ll give you a week to consider (while you wait on the better potential offer).

        Good luck! I hope the better offer comes quickly!

    3. Sherm*

      If you’re doing fine financially, I’d forget about the current offer where you’d be vastly underpaid. And if you really need to start bringing in money, I’d at least wait until you hear about this other offer that is supposed to come in a couple days. If it indeed arrives within that time, you’re still ahead of the first company’s “deadline.” But if not — you can explain to the second company that you have an offer where they’re waiting for your response, and if there’s anyway they can expedite the process. I’d do my best to keep the second offer from slipping away!

    4. AndersonDarling*

      If the company is lowballing you, then you will be working with other people that were desperate for work and had to accept their own lowball offer. The last “Lowball” company I worked for had a workforce of narcissists, con artists, and people that lied on their resumes. It was a toxic, toxic vat of corruption.
      You may be desperate enough that you have to take the job, and I understand the need, but be ready to continue your search while you are working. This will likely be a pit stop to another job.

    5. Another person again*

      How are the benefits, are they spectacular enough to make up for the low salary? I always consider both as a package when I get an offer.

      I wrestled with this recently myself – in a job I hated, but the lowball offer plus the bad benefits were not enough to make me jump. I kept my scheduled interviews and got a better offer the following week.

      I’d turn this down and keep interviewing unless something else about this job is really great – your skills are obviously in demand.

        1. Another person again*

          It might help if you can attach a dollar amount to how much you value keeping your current insurance and how much you pay for it. And also things like paid leave time and retirement contributions.

          In my case, those things were very valuable to me, so when I got a lower than expected offer that did not include good benefits, I ended up turning it down after doing the math. Even though it technically paid more than the job I was leaving, it evened out when I saw I would be getting half as much paid leave time and paying a much higher cost for health insurance.

          It was hard to turn down that offer but it ended in me getting a better offer including the benefits I wanted. So look at the whole picture when you are comparing your opportunities. You are getting multiple second interviews so you have options!

        2. DinosaurWrangler*

          Ask for details on the health insurance. Even though it’s the same insurance, every company negotiates differently with insurance. So what you pay monthly, cost of copays, etc can be vastly different.
          Also asking for those details might buy you some time while they get back to you with the info

    6. New teacher*

      It sounds like you have options. You may not like your current role, but you’re apparently good enough at it to be attractive enough to 4 potential employers. I don’t think you should take this one. You say the pay is abysmal for the work you do. If everyone is paid like that, isn’t it going to be full of people who couldn’t get better offers? And if everyone else is paid fairly, why are they trying to lowball you?

      If you give up this position and don’t get the others, what’s the worst case scenario? Can you plan for it? For example, promise to leave within 2 months regardless of whether you have a new offer or not? You mention making 37k at your current role, which is low enough that in the midst of this pandemic labour shortage I think you could likely find temporary work to tide you over while you keep looking. On the other hand, you’re looking at a pay increase of something like 40%. Would you be happy to take the 52k job, stay until 2024, and then hunt for a better one? Just because you say yes now doesn’t mean you’re saying yes forever. This job is marginally better than your current one. Let it be a stepping stone to an ever better one a couple years down the line.

      1. Syl*

        “If everyone is paid like that, isn’t it going to be full of people who couldn’t get better offers? And if everyone else is paid fairly, why are they trying to lowball you?”

        This is in academia. I don’t work with anyone else who holds my current title, it is all professors and students.

        “If you give up this position and don’t get the others, what’s the worst case scenario? Can you plan for it? For example, promise to leave within 2 months regardless of whether you have a new offer or not? ”

        I can’t leave my current job without something else lined up. It’s just not financially doable for me. There’s not a lot of temporary work in my field and there are honestly a lot of jobs I just can’t physically do due to a disability.

        “Would you be happy to take the 52k job, stay until 2024, and then hunt for a better one? Just because you say yes now doesn’t mean you’re saying yes forever. ”

        Maybe? It’s hard to say what would make me happy at the moment. I feel like I need at least 60K in my new position to feel like I’ve accomplished something.

        1. New teacher*

          If you weren’t in such a desperate situation with your current job I would say you should wait— this was only the first offer, you have other potential options in the works, 3 months is actually quite short for a job search, and you’re attractive enough that you’re getting multiple interviews and offers, so you would likely get more in the future.

          But if none of these leads pan out and you have to keep searching for another 3-6 months, are you going to be able to hold on at your current job? I get the impulse to want to hit a certain income, but just the fact that you’d be making more money at a presumably better workplace would put you in the right position, financially and emotionally, to move on in a year or 2.

          It’s a tough risk/reward calculation, and unfortunately no one can do the math except you. The only thing I would say is that you can reach out to the company that said an offer is forthcoming and tell them that you got another offer that you have to respond to soon but would prefer to work for them, so would it be possible for them to send you an offer quickly? You might even contact all the companies you’re interviewing and say the same. They may not be willing to expedite the interview and hiring process for you, but they might be!

    7. Anon for No Reason*

      I was in this position a year ago. Similar salaries. I had been underpaid for a long time. The new job also had great benefits. I didn’t see any real red flags, just they didn’t seem as considerate of my time during the interview process and wanted several hours of interviews which I negotiated down. So I thought I was good.

      It did not go well. The benefits *were* great! I got so caught up on my healthcare appointments. But it didn’t make up for the job itself. If I had known, I would have stayed a bit longer at ToxicJob. But honestly? The market is better this year. I only had one offer last year and took it. It was a reasonable decision.

      You have four entities replying to your application materials. You can find a better match. You are worth more and worth room for growth at a new job.

    8. Purely Allegorical*

      Don’t take this first job. It sounds like a poor fit right off the bat, and you’ve already got a couple other interviews/opportunities in the mix. Just because someone offers you a job doesn’t mean you have to take it.

    9. Parenthesis Dude*

      You can always accept the offer, go on the interviews, and then back out of the offer if something comes through. You’ll burn a bridge, but may be worth it.

    10. LawBee*

      Oh man, don’t settle. They’re pressuring you maybe because they have to fill the job that fast but also maybe because they know they’re coming in under range and are hoping you respond exactly the way you are, and they get a panic-acceptance. Hold tight and trust your gut, because it doesn’t sound like you want this job for this pay.

    11. RagingADHD*

      In your position, I would let it go. If they are lowballing that badly, the job will likely still be there if the others fall through, or come open again quickly.

    12. Lady Danbury*

      I would let the potential offer company know that you have another offer on the table and ask if there’s any way that they could accelerate their timeline. They may or may not be able to speed things up, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Unless you’re completely desperate, I wouldn’t take this job offer. There doesn’t seem to be much of an upside other than it’s not you’re current job.

    13. Syl*

      Just heard back from the other company — they need to wait several weeks to make a hire for some reason.

      I’m in agony and I don’t know what to do here. I have one offer on the table only, and the potential for more. If I apply for jobs really steadily I generally get asked to do an interview 1-3 times/week. So it’s not like there’s ZERO chance I will get another offer.

      I feel like if the answer isn’t HELL YES then I need to reject the offer. But it’s just work, do I need to be excited about it? The type of job I actually *want* to do doesn’t exist in my location.

      Thanks for the advice everyone, I truly appreciate it. I don’t know what to do still but I will figure it out.

  37. healthcare admin*

    currently very resentful about my current position and looking for some perspectives!

    in july i took a temp job at a local hospital group doing an admin task onsite. my projected end date was november. i ended up not actually working on the project i was hired to and instead took over for another temp who was in turn taking over for another temp at a different onsite job at another location. this went on til about october/november, when another temp quit without notice and i took over *her* job (she left because the company was dragging their feet on hiring her permanently and she got fed up and moved states to be with family). i am now primarily doing this job and doing the other two tasks when i have time for them (which is infrequently, and other people can work on one task but only i can do the other, and that other is piling up a ton).

    the temp agency’s period for being hired on permanently without paying a huge fee was six months, which i am fully past now. my onsite boss is really clear that i am a huge rockstar and she wants me at the company permanently, but can only direct me to apply externally for the different positions open at the department, and gave me a strong personal recommendation to the respective managers. i was completely ignored for these positions, no interviews, no rejections, no communication whatsoever.

    my boss said she cannot hire me for my current position because of some restructuring – basically, right now i am part of a sort of factory line type set up, where one person does one task, i do the next, and another person does the third, all building on each other. sometime in the nebulous future they’re moving the task for most locations to be an all-in-one position. only most, as several locations in the hospital group are too small for a dedicated person for this task, and the other two tasks i do still need to be done on a recurring basis. but apparently the higher ups are refusing to hire anyone for anything other than the all-in-one. (the rest of the people on my team, who are moving to all-in-ones, find this UTTERLY RIDICULOUS, but it’s out of their hands.) also, the all-in-one positions are already filled.

    i am. Very Burnt Out. because i’m a temp, i get no actual PTO, just sick time, which i end up using as soon as it accrues because i’m exhausted but can’t actually take any personal days. i also have a freelance art business on the side, where i haven’t had to turn people away, but i have had to delay projects with flexible clients because i just only have so much energy, and i got the capability to make my own wares to sell via a functioning studio back in november but haven’t been able to find the time to actually do that (i’ve just been paying the rent anyway because it’s extremely difficult to find space for that sort of thing).

    i don’t have a timeline for when they’re going to officially eliminate my position. i don’t even know if there is one, because they still need someone for the other two tasks even if everything else is moving to an all-in-one. but it’s absolutely ridiculous to keep me here as a temp indefinitely. i’ve done the math and i have about four months saved up that i could do with absolutely zero additional work/sales (including covering studio rent/supplies for the side stuff).

    advice?? people in similar situations?? i’m soooo tired and i’m kinda to the point of also flouncing like the other temp i took over for. freelance art is not a hugely stable thing in general but i have been getting somewhat consistent work for about a year without doing *any* sort of hustling, and having a studio is also another revenue stream once i can actually utilize it.