open thread – March 11-12, 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. (Questions only please — no posts just to vent.)

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

{ 1,204 comments… read them below }

  1. Spearmint*

    I recently got into a debate with a friend about whether it’s ethical to embellish or stretch the truth about your experience on a resume. While he made it clear that he though straight up lying on a resume was unethical and also likely to backfire, he said it’s ok to write your resume to make your experience seem more impressive or lengthy than it actually is without actually writing anything that isn’t true. He gave an example from his own career, when he applied for his current position, which required experience working with a particular piece of technical software. He had training on that particular software, but he had only briefly used on the job on one or two occasions. So on his resume, he wrote “used Software to do x, y, z”, which is true, but implies that he used software regularly when he only used it a couple of times. He thinks he probably wouldn’t have gotten his current role if he had been more clear about his level of experience with this software on his resume, and he’s been in it for two years now. (For what it’s worth, he did say he’d be honest in an interview about the extent of his experienced if asked, but he wouldn’t go out of his way to bring it up)

    My instinct is that stretching the truth like this is deliberately misleading and so both unethical and unlikely to end well. I try to present my experience in the best light possible, but I tend to be pretty direct about how much experience I do and don’t have. But my friend is doing well on his career, and he said that most people stretch and bend the truth like this on their resumes and that it’s the only way to get hiring managers to take you seriously, especially when you’re looking to advance. And many other people in my personal life have told me similar things, all of whom are good people with successful careers. I’m starting to wonder if I’m hindering myself by not embellishing and stretching my experience on my resume.

    Do you think my friend is right? Where’s the line between ethically marketing yourself on your resume and lying?

    1. Janet Pinkerton*

      It doesn’t sound to me like he was lying or embellishing. He said he’d done XYZ, not that he was an expert in that software. He told the truth. It’s on the company to determine if his skills are sufficient.

      1. calonkat*

        This. My mother, I, and my daughter have all “used” Excel and Word for over 20 years each.
        My mother can open the programs, and in Word, can do basic formatting. In Excel, she prays she doesn’t break anything every single time she uses it (which she avoids as much as possible).
        I use Excel and Word every day at work, am proficient at basic t0 middling tasks in my opinion, am an expert beyond words in my co-worker’s opinions. I know how much each program can do, so I am aware of my knowledge limits (I’ve never messed much with Visual Basic for example).
        My daughter has qualified as an Excel expert and can make Excel sit up and roll over on command :) She writes scripts that pull data into Excel from other applications (not just spreadsheets), and considers it a rather limited program for data management. She is familiar with Word and can do basic formatting and knows how to google anything else.

        We’re all users with multiple years experience, but the hiring manager would definitely want to ask questions about how much we’d used each program based on the needs of the job.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          “Knows how to Google anything else” is a gigantic leap forward from many of my coworkers who use Excel on a daily if not hourly basis.

          And your daughter is correct about Excel’s suitableness for data management (or lack thereof).

          1. calonkat*

            hence the wide range of qualifications between us :) And why I know Excel can do so much more than what I need on a day to day basis (for which Excel works fine, but she deals with data orders of magnitude greater than I do (think 30k rows for me, 30 million rows for her)

            XKCD did a “Tech Support Cheat Sheet” that I printed out and put in the central area to encourage my co-workers to look for answers themselves before asking me about programs. I had a reputation for knowing how to do everything just because I’d click on options until I found something that looked right!

            1. Clisby*

              Yes, once there was a conversation here on AAM where a couple of people were surprised that computer programmers might not be proficient at Excel. I was like, I was a computer programmer for 27 years and there was never the slightest *need* to use Excel. It would have been useless for data analysis. I did use it from time to time in creating presentations because sometimes I found the layout easier than with Word, but that was it.

            2. CatMintCat*

              Willingness to “play” with software is very valuable, I find. Poke around, click buttons, see what happens. I’ve been doing that for forty years and never killed a computer yet.

              I find the younger people are less willing to experiment and more … I don’t know, rule bound when it comes to how software works?

              1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

                One job I had about 30 years ago made sure the computers for new users had several games and fun things on them so we’d get used to poking around on the computers without being intimidated. I thought it was a pretty smart thing to do.

                1. CatMintCat*

                  The old Wang word processor (yes, I am that old) had a lovely text based RPG on it. We spent a lot of lunch hours on that thing.

                2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                  Oh yes!
                  At [job 25 years ago], we made a Doom level out of our office building (having just moved we had nice CAD plans to work from) and pasted the headshots of all employees on monster templates, so at lunch you could go and shoot up your coworkers (or yourself, it was not that intelligent).
                  Nothing better than judiciously applying a chainsaw to some pixels on a screen to get any aggravation out of your system.

    2. Jean*

      IMO the line is objective truth. There’s nothing unethical, at least by that standard, about what your friend did. And honestly it really doesn’t even sound like an embellishment, just a statement of what he did. I recommend that you look over your resume with an eye toward possible changes you could make based on that.

    3. londonedit*

      I think if he’s used the software to do X, Y and Z then that’s not embellishing or stretching the truth – your CV is a marketing tool and it’s meant to show off your employment history and skills in their best light, so it makes sense to mention any useful things you have experience working with. If he’d said ‘Expert in Software X’ or ‘Regularly use Software X to do A B C’ where A B C are high-level things and actually he’s only used it a couple of times to do something basic, that would be lying/embellishing the truth, but it’s not a lie to say ‘Used Software to do X Y Z’ even if it has only been a few times. On my CV I have my IT skills listed as ‘Expert in using Blah Blah, proficient at Blah, additional experience working with Thing’ – I might not have used Thing for five years but it’s on my CV because I do have experience using it. In an interview I’d say ‘It’s been a few years since I used Thing regularly, but I’m confident I could easily get back into the swing of it if it was integral to the job’ but there’s no need to say that on your CV.

    4. darlingpants*

      I do more like your friend. If I’ve started being trained on something, especially if it’s something where I’ll need to be trained on how the new company does it specifically, I put the method/equipment/software in my “skills” section without differentiating between things where I’m truly an expert and things where I can follow instructions and come out with the finished product.

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I’m trying to envision a situation in which skill on that software is critical and yet does not come up sufficiently in the interview for the company to ascertain the depth of experience on that software.

      1. just a thought*

        I had this in working in large government projects. We needed a requirements management software at specific points in the program. It was a critical function with a software that was hard to use, but would only come up every few months

    6. Asenath*

      I think if you used the software a few times, and are willing to specify honestly how often in the interview, it’s probably OK to say you used it, since you actually did so. I’d generally avoid any stretching of the truth at all. I did so once, very early on, when I honestly thought taking a semester or two in a foreign language meant I had “some experience” with it, and it turned out the employer thought it meant “pretty fluent”. It was a student gig, and so allowances were made for my lack of experience in completing application forms, including placing me somewhere I didn’t really need the language instead of where I was supposed to work, but I was a LOT more careful afterwards.

    7. just a thought*

      I wouldn’t say “used Software to do x, y, z” is lying or implying he used it more than he had.
      If he can successfully use the software to do that task, does it *really* matter how often that task is done in his job?

      1. Spearmint*

        I don’t think it should matter, but many job ads will say the job requires “2 years of experience using Software” and it seems like many hiring managers do take years of experience seriously when hiring. So what he did was imply that using Software was a regular part of his previous job, when it wasn’t, and if his resume had said “used Software briefly on a couple of project”, the hiring manager would not have thought he was qualified.

        1. Littorally*

          If they take it seriously, then I’d say it’s their job to ask in an interview for additional detail.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Agreed. If I want experience in x and y, then I need to dive into that in the interview. If someone says they have used it but are not an expert, I’ll appreciate their honesty. A lot of job postings are wishlists, and it’s up to the hiring manager to know what’s a must have vs nice to have. Sometimes someone who has a vague idea but willing to learn is better than someone stuck in their ways.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Yep. What the friend is doing isn’t so much unethical as it is assuming the people interviewing will be bad interviewers.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Oops submit too soon. What I meant to say was, if they care about to what extent an applicant used the software, they should ask about that. If they don’t they’re either bad interviewers or it actually if enough for them if someone used it ever, not necessarily regularly or well. I’d expect the latter to be a less common scenario.

        2. Esmeralda*

          Or maybe this is one of those situations where you have most of the skills/experience desired, but not all of it. So it’s worth applying. Then it’s on the interviewer to probe for the actual extent of your skill/experience, and on you to probe for the actual need for X skill/experience, how much you’d have to use it etc.

        3. Emilia Bedelia*

          But what does “2 years of experience using software” actually mean? What are the actual skills that the candidate needs to be successful?
          To use Excel as an example: “5 years experience using Excel occasionally for basic functions like formatting a table”, “2 years experience using Excel weekly to use formulas and calculations”, “1 year experience using Excel daily to create a report with macros and pivot tables” are all very different levels of experience level/frequency of use. If the hiring manager needed someone to use formulas and do calculations, the 2 year and 1 year of experience people may actually be more qualified based on the job requirements than the 5 years of experience person.

          It sounds like your friend factually stated what they have used the software for, which frankly sounds more useful than asking for years of experience. If he is able to do the work successfully with the skills he has, he is de facto qualified.

        4. Cj*

          Well, he’s been at the job for two years, so apparently his experience in the software wasn’t an issue.

          In this case I don’t really think it was embellishing. The statement he made on his resume was truthful, and the interviewer could have dug into it further.

          My fear would be that if you actually do embellish extensively, to the point that is as basically a lie , and you get the job, then what? If you can’t perform the duties that you embellished, and the company obviously expects you to be able to, you’re not going to last long there, and I myself would be miserable anyway.

        5. JSPA*

          They write “years” on job descriptions because there’s no space to list the specific tasks and level of familiarity. Years are a very iffy stand-in for, “comfortable enough program Z to do task X.”

          Some people are competent to do task X with 2 years of experience; some are competent to do task X with 2 weeks experience; some will never get there, no matter how long the program is open and in front of their eyes.

          He’s giving them more information, not less, by delineating the level he can operate at. “Telling people what they actually need to know” isn’t a bad look, and it’s not a dodge.

          The same isn’t quite as true for something as complex as language, but even there, “lived in poland for 6 months as an exchange student” will get you a lot more ease with the language (but…maybe not as good a sense of formal speaking?) than two years of Polish in college.

          The point of both job ads and resumes is to find out if the person and the job are a fit; the checkboxes are only a tool (and not the best tool) to make that happen.

        6. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Years of experience do not say much about depth of experience or proficiency, especially for more complex software.
          I can honestly claim “10+ years of experience with SAP” as I have used it since 2010 to apply for vacation and look at my pay stubs, and swear at incomprehensible error messages. Any expertise beyond these functions? Zilch.
          On the other hand, I have worked a few weeks with some software and coworkers consider me an expert due to the intensity of it – including finding a bug, developing a fix and getting it accepted by the developers.

    8. Loulou*

      Ethics aside, the question I’d want to keep in mind is “if my interviewer asked me about my experience with X based on my resume, would they be surprised by my answer?” It sounds like in this case, your friend could have given a good answer about this tool and was in the clear.

      1. Purple Cat*

        if my interviewer asked me about my experience with X based on my resume, would they be surprised by my answer?

        I really like this framework as to when something is embellished too much or not. To me, it doesn’t seem like Spearmint’s friend is stretching it too far. They’ve used a software. They haven’t claimed to be an expert, or using it daily or anything else that isn’t true.

        1. Jellyfish*

          Agreed. Back in grad school, a professor told us never to lie, but to cast things in the best possible light. For example, the school offered three substantial grant awards for a very specific purpose. I applied and got one, which he encourage me to include on my CV. It wouldn’t be deceptive if I left out the fact that only three students total applied, so we all got the grants. I still went through the process and was deemed worthy of the money. My CV didn’t need to stress that the award wasn’t competitive that year.

          If companies want to demand unicorns, people are going to add some glitter.

          1. All the words*

            Well said. And especially important for those of us who tend to undervalue our own abilities and experiences.

    9. WomEngineer*

      I think it just has to capture what the job is and what you did for it. For the software example, it’s probably fine as long as “x, y, and z” are things he did for his job, not just training. (Idk how you’d list training on a resume)

      The other thing is you don’t want to overstate your role to the point you’re taking credit for someone else’s work (particularly if you’re a student)

    10. Generic Name*

      In general, in my experience, folks who have embellished their resumes are not the best candidates/workers. That said, I’m not sure if saying you’ve used a software counts as embellishing if you’ve actually used a software. If he had said or implied that he was an expert or even intermediate, then yea that would be embellishing. I’m wondering if you are doing the opposite on your resume. Like in the example of using a software, if you were familiar with a software and have used it a couple of times, are you not even putting it on your resume? Why not? Do you feel like you can’t claim credit for something unless you are advanced or an expert on it? Relatedly, are you only applying to jobs where you feel 100% confident in all the skills/areas on the job posting? Like if a job says “must have 5 years of Software X experience” and you’ve been using it for 4 years and 7 months. Would you pass up that job? You don’t have to lie and say you’ve used it for 5 plus years, but you can say “used software since 2017” or whatever.

      1. lunchtime caller*

        Right I had a similar question after reading this–is it that you consider anything more than, frankly, underselling yourself and putting a lot of disclaimers and caveats around your experience to be embellishing? Does it maybe hit too close to “bragging” in your mind, so you default to a tone that’s closer to “well I guess I’ve done a couple of things before, but I’m not sure I would say I did them well, and honestly they don’t even really count…”? Because this example just feels like telling the truth, just not with all the “I guess maybe I’m only okay” details you might want to add!

        1. Spearmint*

          I think this is probably correct. It feels… sales-y to not caveat my experience unless I’m *really* experienced in it.

          I also think, after reading these responses, that maybe I misinterpret job ads. When they say “2 years of experience in X”, I tend to interpret them as wanting in-depth experience in X where you used it regularly for 2 years, but I suppose that’s not the case unless they say so explicitly.

          1. Observer*

            It feels… sales-y to not caveat my experience unless I’m *really* experienced in it.

            And your resume is a sales document. There is nothing unethical about it.

            When they say “2 years of experience in X”, I tend to interpret them as wanting in-depth experience in X where you used it regularly for 2 years,

            Maybe. And maybe not. And maybe they want it, but it doesn’t matter, as long as you know it well enough to be able to pull it up and start being productive immediately, but they don’t know how to put that.

            1. another_scientist*

              totally this. It’s fair game to frame the truth in a flattering light. The interview process exists to get into specifics. In case this angle matters to you: It’s a sale both ways! And that’s not inherently dirty – just a matter of convincing the other side to choose you over other choices they have. You hope to be hired, and the employer hopes that you will work for them. They embellish as well, or why else does every job posting highlight ‘competitive pay and benefits’?

          2. JSPA*

            (Pace Jimi Hendrix) “Experience” isn’t a yes/no question.

            It’s not on the applicant to guess what the employer actually needs, and take themselves out of the running if they don’t measure up to that projection.

        2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Oh yes! We had an applicant some time ago for a developer position. She listed a specific software on her resume that we needed, just between Excel and PowerPoint or such. Google revealed she had been lead maintainer for it for years – now that’s understatement.

        3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Oh yes! We had an applicant some time ago for a developer position. She listed a specific software on her resume that we needed, just between Excel and PowerPoint or such. Google revealed she had been lead maintainer for it for years – now that’s understatement.

        4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Oh yes! We had an applicant some time ago for a developer position. She listed a specific software on her resume that we needed, just between Excel and PowerPoint or such. Google revealed she had been lead maintainer for it for years – now that’s understatement.

    11. Overeducated*

      I think the line depends a bit on the circumstances, especially technical stuff. For instance, in my line of work, GIS is very important but has gone from being a rare technical specialization to something anyone coming out of a grad program has to be able to use nowadays. When I have interviewed with older hiring managers, they’ve said they need someone who has “really strong GIS skills” and is a “GIS expert.” That’s never once been what they actually need, from my view, as someone who knows enough about GIS to consider an “expert” someone who does some really complex stuff involving programming. No, they need someone with pretty common GIS skills and comfort, who’s able to make maps, use jargon, and Google when they hit a roadblock. I wouldn’t define myself on a resume as an expert, but I also wouldn’t describe myself in an interview as someone with “basic skills” to someone who doesn’t have a clear idea of what either of those means. It’s not virtuous to make it sound like you don’t know what you’re doing when you do have the skills for the job!

      YMMV but in general, this has been my experience being the most technical person on a non-technical team, not just in terms of this specific example . Sometimes you have to serve as a bridge and not always assume the person you’re talking to has the same frame of reference you do. They may just want someone to say “your needs? Yes, I can take care of them for you. Easy.” And so that’s what I try to communicate.

      1. Silvercat*

        This has very much been my experience as well, doing admin and graphics work. A lot of non-technical people are afraid to mess around with the software and so if you are comfortable poking around until you find out where something is, you can look amazing.

      2. quill*

        Yeah, I was seeing it a lot in regards to, say, microsoft word / microsoft excel. Sometimes when people say expert they mean “can make the program fill in most of the data for you” and sometimes they mean “knows how to keep clicking through the ribbon until they can format something properly.”

      3. Arc is the worst*

        I’m in academia and currently have GIS as a major part of the courses that I teach. It’s been a big push from the department to have GIS based projects so that students can list ‘GIS experience’, even when the actual use in the coursework is really not enough for them to be able to do projects in any sort of job afterwards. For example, students are completing mapping projects which require them to be able to create and edit polygons/lines/points, but I’m providing them with .mxd files that have the topology and templates built in, and pre-building the layouts for export. The students certainly gain some skills that would be relevant, including some general troubleshooting, but not enough to do most basic GIS tasks.

        1. quill*

          I had to do a GIS course and eve though we had to import data, etc, I’m not sure that most of us ended up competent to do a basic GIS task that didn’t closely mirror the projects in the textbook. It was a very paint-by-numbers course.

          1. Arc is the worst*

            Yeah, this seems like a very common approach right now. Which is why I’m always honest with my students about their GIS knowledge from my courses in the vein of this thread. Like it’s ok for them to list that they can do the specific kind of mapping that we do in GIS, especially for jobs where that would be a minor component of the work, but that they would need more experience before listing GIS as a skill broadly. I try to point them to what I had looked for when hiring for environmental consultants (generally, basic data manipulation and cartography) vs. GIS interns/techs (fundamentals of data gathering and manipulation, projection, good cartography skills, and for techs ideally either advanced cartography skills, science specific data analysis, or backend coding skills). Helped to make sure that the students weren’t wasting their time applying to things that they are completely unqualified for.

    12. Littorally*

      To me, this is the sort of thing where there is a line, but it’s a highly situational one. What is a person representing, and how important is it to the job?

      I would not consider the example you gave to be across the line, although it’s coming right up to the edge of it. He did use the software, did use it to complete those specific tasks, and the entry doesn’t say anything about ‘daily’ or ‘habitually’ or anything of the sort. If it is an important distinction, it is up to the employer to ask in the interview. Otherwise, if they’re asking for experience in X, well – he has experience in X! They are not gonna have to train him on it from scratch!

    13. Order of the Banana*

      I’ve put similar things on my resume, where for example I’ve had to navigate Software X to look up information, but I’ve never been responsible for processing anything using Software X. I would say my experience with it is still higher than someone who’s never seen it before, so I’ll add it on. I obviously wouldn’t say that I’m an expert at it, or make it the focal point of that job, but it’d be there as a “I can operate at a beginner-to-moderate level on this software”.

      I also try to keep in mind that as someone who’s been socialized to downplay all her achievements, that I could probably benefit by using language that is slightly beyond my comfort zone to “show off” my abilities on a resume.

      1. Attractive Nuisance*

        Yes, same to both paragraphs. Plus, in my time in the workforce I’ve realized that I am very good at picking up new software quickly, probably better than most people, so I kind of give myself an extra boost for software skills in general.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I was thinking this too. I’ve occasionally put “familiar with” for software I use less frequently. Though in my line of work it’s useful to be a jack of all trades and it’s more important to be able to learn something quickly. For example, all professional video editing software has ways to bring in video clips, cut off parts you don’t want and add transitions. If I’ve used product x and your company uses product y, it’s generally transferable for the level of video editing software support I need to do. I’m also supporting several kinds of software like CAD, office, etc. and it’s nearly impossible to be an expert in all of them. I have the most expertise in frequently used apps, and learn everything else on the fly and lean on product vendors for backup when I get stuck.

          If I was going to apply for a targeted job as someone who only edits videos, I’d need to know the ins and outs of product y and more video production skills. So it depends on the job, too

    14. Rayray*

      I don’t like lying, but I do agree with your friend. Job hunting has become so insane and it feels like you have to have the absolute perfect resume to even get seen. I think he did what he had to which was to include his usage of that software to get the job.

    15. Cold Fish*

      I think unethical is probably a matter of degree. What your friend did may be stretching the truth because it implies a certain matter of proficiency he doesn’t have, but he does have familiarity with that software since he has used it on the job and would be able to again. Stretching the truth too far would be to say you speak Italian because you enjoy signing off with “Ciao”, a technically true statement because you did speak “a” Italian word but just because you know one word doesn’t mean you could hold a conversation, hence unethical.

    16. Prospect Gone Bad*

      TBH I have to hard disagree with most of the commenters here so far.

      This is definitely not cool and knows it at some level, which is why he even brought it up.

      If you’re hiring a nurse, it’s clear you want someone who did more than test a syringe on an orange.

      I do outsource work to coders and know enough to read their code but not write it myself. When I hire someone it’s clear I want experience handling various situations, not just someone who has opened the program once and will have to spend hours on google to figure out every little thing.

      1. londonedit*

        Maybe it’s an industry thing – as an example, I absolutely have ‘experience using InDesign’ on my CV because over the last 10 years I’ve had several jobs where I’ve used InDesign on a fairly regular basis. Not all the time, by any means, but for maybe two or three projects a year out of 12 or 14. Can I design a fully illustrated colour book from scratch using InDesign? No. But I can use it up to a level that most desk editors would be required to use it – which would be on-screen editing, inputting corrections, cutting back/expanding text to fit text boxes, adjusting leading/kerning, maybe having a poke around and seeing if I can do other things if they’re not critical? Yep, absolutely. I haven’t used InDesign for three years but if you gave me half an hour I’d be able to get back up to speed with it. So if a job advert said ‘must have experience with InDesign’ then I’d absolutely put ‘experience using InDesign for on-screen editing’ and that wouldn’t be stretching the truth at all.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        But isn’t that why you interview? If someone says they’ve used a language on their resume, I’m sure you don’t make assumptions about their skill level–you ask about their experience, and have them write some test code, and verify that they can do what you need. In friend’s case, if the hiring manager need someone who was an expert with this software, they should have probed and found out how much friend had actually used it. If friend has been in the job two years, his level of familiarity with it was probably fine.

      3. Tau*

        It’s interesting you mention this specifically with coders, because my experience has been that focusing primarily on experience with a language misses the point somewhat, especially if you’re hiring permanent employees and not contractors for short durations. Like, the critical skill you learn (and need) as a senior dev is how understanding how software architecture, programming languages and development processes work in general and how to teach yourself so you can quickly get up to speed with new technologies. I’d rather see a new coworker who’s never used our language before but is flexible, independent, and has a proven track record of understanding architecture and best practices and quickly getting up to speed with things, than someone with 10 years experience in the stuff who can’t think outside the own box or come up with independent solutions. And a good senior is apt to get up to speed quickly enough that I’ll happily take “used Java on and off three years ago”.

        Or maybe this is my frustration at rigid job requirements shining through, as someone whose CV is a Frankensteinian mess of different languages and platforms because I was always the first one to say “oh, no problem, I can learn that” when we had a gap somewhere.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          In this regard it’s also an integrity thing, sort of a “if you lied about that other thing how can I trust your judgement on other issues.” And if they aren’t lying but truly believe their experience is good, then I am not going to be able to trust their judgment in general because they lack awareness

          You are talking about someone senior getting up to speed quickly. That’s fine. Then you say “I never used python but taught myself SQL so am confident I can get up to speed.” Not “oh yeah I’m cool with python”

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Are you me? I have written code in 16 different languages – some at school, some for work, some for fun. I include some macro languages in this, because they actually have conditionals and loops and all that.

          The 16th language I learned last year, on the job, in about a month. Do I still look things up? Of course! When you have coded in 16 languages they all run together. I have to look up punctuation and syntax in all 16, including the two I’ve used the longest, because I don’t use them every week, much less every day.

          IMO, they don’t pay me for my memorization skills, they pay me for the ability to learn, synthesize, and problem solve. The programs and languages are just the tools I use. To me it’s like asking a carpenter how many years they have using a hammer, a circular saw and ten penny nails. They would look at the interviewer like they were nuts, and answer “I’ve built cabinets for ten year” or “I’ve framed roofs for six years”.

      4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        So many places use keyword-based applicant tracking systems that I think you should just put every single piece of software you have ever used on your resume.

        True story: I once interviewed for a government job that required InDesign. As it happened, I had a regular freelance gig laying out a magazine in InDesign, so I knew the program pretty well. Government departments move slowly and in mysterious ways. By the time they made a decision, they had also decided not to use InDesign for the project. And they hired me anyway!

      5. Observer*

        When I hire someone it’s clear I want experience handling various situations, not just someone who has opened the program once and will have to spend hours on google to figure out every little thing.

        Well, if you are making your needs clear and someone who has no experience claims to have it, then that’s a major issue. But what was described doesn’t come close to this.

        The OP says that the posting required experience working with a particular piece of technical software. There is no way to say that this clearly means someone who can use this software in multiple types of situations. If that’s what they wanted, they should have at least asked the guy in the interview about his experience level – he did say that if asked he’d explain. It’s not on him to bring it up.

    17. Silvercat*

      I’d say always present your skills and experience in the best possible light, without fabricating anything. And someone is generally fine saying they’re good at software a level higher than they think they actually are, because it’s easy to overestimate the baseline (for example – if you can do functions in Excel, but not like pivot tables, say you’re extremely good not just very good)

      The only exception to that would be if you have a hard time learning software or relearning stuff. If you can look it up and do it, go for it. I’m really good at picking up software so when I got a job offer doing advanced stuff for a piece of software I’d only done basic stuff with, I knew it wouldn’t be a problem for me.

      Especially if you’re a minority or a women, make your resume look as good as possible because most (allocishet) white men are going to be assumed to be more competent than they likely are.

    18. lisa*

      I’m curious why you think what your friend did is embellishing / stretching the truth? By your own account, he stated a fact. Putting yourself in the best light is how you get in the door for an interview. You wouldn’t say “delivered 5 late projects”, rather you would focus on those that were successful.

      When I was a recruiter, we would tell candidates to focus on the types of work they wanted to do more of and minimize or leave off the work they wanted to do less of. Why tell people you’re an expert at mail merge if that’s your version of hell? If that software was integral to the new position and he didn’t overstate his expertise, there’s nothing wrong with highlighting his use of it.

      There’s a difference between “embellishing and stretching” as you phrased it versus tailoring your resume to the specific job description.

    19. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not sure that’s the best example, as other have pointed out. It doesn’t say “used Software regularly to do x, y, and z.” And résumés are, by definition, marketing documents, so you are trying to highlight certain things over others. You wouldn’t put a bullet point that said “Accidentally destroyed servers and their backups, but I learned from the experience,” even if that’s what happened and even if you did learn from the experience.

      But, yeah, I get where you’re coming from, even if “used Software to do x, y, z” isn’t the best example. I know there are definitely people who use misleading language to make it seem as if they know stuff they don’t or have real experience with something they don’t. And, yeah, I think that’s unethical. Unfortunately, unless the employer finds out and fires the person, or unless the person stretching the truth also views it as unethical… it’s going to keep happening.

      That said, I don’t think employers are fighting over me, but I’ve generally been able to get a job… with just telling the truth about my qualifications. I highlight good things over bad things, but I don’t embellish or stretch the truth or give a false impression of my actual experiences.

    20. Anonymous Koala*

      I what your friend did is fine, in part because the onus of deciding whether the candidate is the right fit for the job is on the interviewer, based on the candidate’s resume AND interview. If this software was critical for the job, the resume might have gotten him in the door but the interviewer could have sussed out your friend’s experience in the first phone screen. It’s important not to lie or misrepresent yourself but I don’t think your friend is doing either; they’re factually stating that they used a software for C, Y, and Z. If they had extensive experience with the software, they would have said that on their resume. Your resume is a marketing document, not a comprehensive assessment of your skills.

      1. Heidi*

        It sounds like there’s a disconnect between what skills were necessary for hiring and what skills he actually needs to do the job. He said that he wouldn’t have been hired without experience in the software, but he seems to be functioning in the role with minimal experience with it. The actual level of skill that is needed for the role is something the company should be re-evaluating.

    21. BadApple*

      Your friend is right. If it’s not a core function of the job and it’s not a lie, then the interviewer has the power to probe about level experience if they wish. There is an insane power dynamic with jobs- especially in countries where medical coverage is linked to employment, and people have the prerogative to present information so that it suits their needs- as long as it’s honest.

      1. BadApple*

        My point was not very complete- if the power differential were more level then he would be obligated to be more forthcoming.

    22. Tau*

      Something I’ve noticed when working on my CV is that it’s… really easy to downplay or elide your accomplishments, simply because that’s what’s polite in almost every other situation, to the point where presenting your skills and experience in the best possible light can *feel* as though you’re stretching the truth. From the example you’ve shared, and the fact that the people you’ve said have advised this have solid careers, I wonder if that’s what’s going on here.

      1. Doug Judy*

        I struggle with this. Part of my job is writing up defects and user stories. If you look at our tool, I’ve written dozens of them ranging from mostly route data patches where the testing requirement are “cell X is now NULL” to one very complex user story that was a whole new business process. So I feel like I can’t say “writer over 50 defect and user stories resulting in X,” because only one had a true measurable impact and over 80% of them was just daily data clean up. But the data clean up one’s aren’t exciting so I dismiss the impact they had.

    23. Nonny*

      I think it depends on the difficulty of the software and the expectations of the job (if you can tell from the job description.)

      I’m a graphic designer and would say I’m an expert in the print software I use, but a beginner in the motion graphics software. The video software isn’t something you can just pick up in a weekend and doing even 2-3 projects would not make you an expert. Plus, motion design is very different from print design.

      BUT, I would feel comfortable saying what your friend did with something like PPT, because there are enough similarities between PPT and software I use, including my ability to design presentations. I would feel comfortable saying I had used various project management softwares because I’ve used several and found them all easy to master and I wouldn’t be applying for a job with project management as my main duty, so not knowing all tiny tricks shouldn’t be an issue and those are things I know how research and learn quickly on my own.

      1. Squeakrad*

        I also think it depends quite a bit on the nature of the role and the software I needed. For example I’m pretty expert with word but familiar with Excel. If I were looking for a job I’d probably say exactly that. Because I don’t want a job where advanced Excel skills would be needed.

        Because I find Excel and numbers difficult, I tend to weight it more heavily. So from find my viewpoint, F you need someone who really knows excel backwards and forwards and can do pivot tables, you really need to say you need somebody with advanced excel. But if you’re willing to interview me who says I have familiarity with Excel then it can’t be that important apart of the

    24. DentalPlanLisaNeedsBraces*

      I think there’s a difference between punching up the language a little and straight up lying. Basically, if you can justify why you described it that way, it’s fine.

    25. Not So NewReader*

      “he said it’s ok to write your resume to make your experience seem more impressive or lengthy than it actually is without actually writing anything that isn’t true.”

      But I don’t think he has done that here. He hasn’t made his experience seem more impressive or lengthy.

      Think about this example:

      I have tried to feed/take care of a baby bird.
      I took care of my sick cat.
      I helped my dog with a hematoma in his ear.

      Does this make me a veterinarian?
      Does it even make me a vet’s assistant?

      Suddenly that level of expectation changed, right? You did not jump to “Oh, NSNR is a vet or related professional!” At most you may have thought, “Gee, looks like NSNR isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and help a sick animal or needy animal.” And that latter statement is true, kind of. I know when a problem is too big for me and I pull in help asap. People never assume I will help them with their pet, they ASK. “My dog has X going on, do you have any ideas on that?”

      If you think of a resume as a list of experiences with varying levels of experience for each, how does that change your perception?

      When I supervised, I learned that if people can do X and they can do Y then they can probably learn Z. But I won’t figure that out if they don’t say they have done X and Y. I can ask them how much X or Y they have done just like people can ask me, “My dog is vomiting, have you ever dealt with that?”

      Potential employers have to know what types of thing we have done and have adapted to. I do know that on some applications it will ask how many years experience the applicant has doing X or Y. That question does have to be answered in the fairest manner possible. It sounds like your friend would have to say “less than one year [six months/whatever]”. The employer might be satisfied with that answer, who knows.

      I really thought your question was going to be more blatant than it was when I started reading. I had a relative who used to add a dollar to her pay rate when asked what she was paid at her old place. This was back in the 80s and relative was female in a male dominated arena. My relative would end up with a $2 per hour increase every time she changed jobs. (At a time where minimum wage was less than $3.) I understood why she was doing that [sexism, low income household, etc.] But I was still not comfortable with this technique and I did not do it myself. No one ever verified her old income and I still marvel at that. I knew my luck would go the opposite way.

    26. theletter*

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say what your friend is doing is not unethical. It’s really really not.

      – You ever hear the joke about the hiring manager who’s looking for a senior developer with 10 years of experience in a 5 year old software language? Because that’s very real. Technology changes very quickly. New technology comes out yearly, gets popular quickly, then pushed aside for the next big thing. This is not a game of ‘prove you’ve done heart surgery for at least 5 years before you operate on our children,’ it’s ‘have you done x,y,z with software, can articulate what the software does, and are confident enough to google the rest?’ That’s what smart hiring managers are asking for, because paying for more than that could mean hiring the person who wrote the software itself.

      – there’s been studies that show that men will often apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the required qualifications, while women often only apply for jobs that they meet 110% of the required qualifications. Those who put themselves out there with the confidence that they know enough and can figure out the rest as they go are rewarded. Those who hold out for a job they can do in their sleep miss out on a lot of opportunities.

      – The job ad is often out of date and incorrect, and the job requirements often change when the applicants show up. You can’t use gumption any more, but you can highlight the things you’ve done to get your foot in the door/past the HR filters, show that you’re a hard worker with a good heart and strong spirit, and then you’re on their go list.

      – You can always ask at the job interview if there’s certain tech skills you need to have before you start, then go learn about the tech skill before the next call. You can learn the basics of SQL for free, in a few hours if you have to.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Not only the whole not applying to stretch jobs thing, but not knowing their value when negotiating a salary. Women often have to learn how to sell themselves and be confident in their skills when it’s not a 100% match. I applied for a stretch role 12ish years ago and that set me up for a very different career than I first imagined, in a good way.

      2. Clisby*

        “You ever hear the joke about the hiring manager who’s looking for a senior developer with 10 years of experience in a 5 year old software language? Because that’s very real. Technology changes very quickly.”

        Yeah, that’s not even a joke. Years ago, my husband ran across a job description requiring 10 years’ experience in C++. When, literally, the only way someone could have had 10 years’ experience in C++ was to have worked side-by-side with Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs.

    27. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Yeah, I don’t think what your friend did was stretching the truth at all. Now if the employer listed that the position required someone with X years experience using software or had advanced skills using the software and he said he did when he only had basic training/experience then that would be stretching. And really if it’s that important to the employer they should be screening candidates and asking questions related to their experience and knowledge.

    28. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t think your friend is unethical. That being said, it’s maybe not the BEST idea to embellish too much either. If you feel that you need to pump up a little something to help get an interview, keep it to one thing. And if asked about it in an interview, be honest about how much experience you have.
      I find this often comes up with software, and then many jobs don’t really require all of it.

  2. Looking for something new*

    Hi AAM readers!

    I’m hoping to get some advice from people doing and/or hiring for remote positions, as someone who has never worked from home before but would dearly love to. I’m looking to make the switch probably sometime next year, and just starting to look at positions that could potentially be a match.

    I will likely have to switch industries, at least partially, to get a work from home job (currently work in hotels, so it’s tough to work from home) and I’m at a loss for what kinds of jobs to even look for. If these qualities fit the type of job you have or are hiring for, I’d love to hear more about it and what the qualifications are!

    – I can manage multiple projects in both the short and long term (currently my job involves planning/managing events with anywhere from a week to 18 months lead time, typically with multiple events occurring at once)
    – I’m very organized and good at managing my to do lists
    – I have great written communication skills, and throughout my career have made several comprehensive internal process documents—some of which are still in use in offices I left 5+ years ago
    – I have very strong attention to detail—to the point where I could be described as nitpicky
    – I am very personable but I can get flustered easily, especially on the phone—I highly prefer written communication
    – I have good technical skills—I pick up new software quickly and love teaching myself new ways to use things like Excel

    If these sound like skills I could translate to a job like yours (or one you’re hiring for) I’d love to hear about it!

    1. Spotted Elephant*

      Have you considered IRB work? (Institutional review board, reviewing human subjects research experiments for ethical considerations and compliance with federal regulations) There’s a lot to learn, but everything you’ve said works well in that type of position and a lot of IRBs have moved remote. (One can be too nitpicky, but you need to pay attention to details.)

        1. Santiago*

          I know my University has been filling positions pretty urgently in that field. Also- medical programs tend to have a lot of IRB support. Cheers~

      1. Nesprin*

        More generally, document management, compliance, quality control and oversight/safety would fit to a T. The first step in hazardous materials management is a 40 hour course for example.

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      Sounds like you’d do well in an entry level position at a mortgage company. Lots of remote opportunities.

        1. Bayta Darrell*

          It depends! There are a few different jobs you could go for. But all of them involve making sure all the right documents are there and assembled correctly. Just type the word “mortgage” into your favorite job search website and it should turn up a variety of options.

    3. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      Meeting planning! Look especially at non-profit associations; provided you don’t mind traveling to the event! Check ASAE and PCMA.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This, or marketing. That list sounds a lot like what our Marketing person does – identifying events, planning the booths/materials, running ads, managing our social media….

        1. KatieKat*

          Yes seconding this! Marketing operations or marketing events management sound like a great fit.

      2. Looking for something new*

        I’m already in events (from the venue side) and have been thinking about doing it from the other side, but part of what I’m trying to get away from is the long hours. I also don’t really have any marketing experience. I wouldn’t mind traveling to a few events a year, but I wouldn’t want to be doing it constantly, and I would prefer to work a max of 40 hours a week during normal times (currently averaging 45-55).

        1. Fran Fine*

          There are virtual event marketing roles out there – my company hires for them. The people doing these roles at my company manage and schedule online webinars (either live or on demand), and many companies are switching to remote events even now with COVID case counts going down in some areas because virtual events are cheaper to run.

    4. Rational Lemming*

      Proposals project management! This spans industries – I am in a healthcare related field, but know similar work happens in MANY industries (insurance, construction, medical, logistics, etc, etc). There is almost always a need for a central person to collect and collate all the different parts of the bid (submitted by SMEs) and make sure it’s submitted in the correct format ON TIME. There is usually a herding cats aspect, but the role is an essential one.

      1. Not Today, Friends*

        Seconding proposal management. It is basically herding cats while writing and editing. Your skill set looks like a great match, and the work is really industry agnostic since you’re largely relying on SMEs for the technical detail.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yup. I used to do proposals work in the transit and software industries. I had zero technical experience, but I did need to know how to translate the SMEs technical writing into plain language for non-tech people who would be reviewing the proposal responses.

    5. Nicki Name*

      How are you at meetings? Except for the getting flustered on the phone, I’d say you’d be a great fit to come to the tech world and be a project manager. It wouldn’t require adversarial phone calls (at least I hope not!), but it does seem to involve running a lot of meetings.

    6. pieces_of_flair*

      I’m at a university and we’re hiring for a research administrator job where these skills would be highly valued. Unfortunately our position isn’t fully remote, but the field might be a good fit!

    7. non-tech girl in a tech world*

      I work in the health tech/startup world and have been fully remote since 2019. I’d recommend looking for customer success roles at startups – they tend to have a lot of client facing roles that also involve analyzing/compiling data to share with clients. They are also separate from the engineering roles and don’t require a tech background! I think that working in hotels probably has a lot of the same relationship building/management skills that customer success teams use. LinkedIn is a great place to search for these type of roles.

      1. Fran Fine*

        She doesn’t like being on the phone, so I don’t think this type of role would be a fit. (All of the customer success employees at my company are constantly on calls.)

    8. Laney Boggs*

      Hmmm, a lot of CS jobs are moving to chat and email based contacts! At my company they even removed the phone number from the website.

      CSRs can handle multiple contacts at once and there’s a written record of what the customer was told.

      You may have some luck there.

    9. Anony*

      What about grant writing? Very deadline oriented, can be done remotely and requires attention to detail, but not much phone conversation.

    10. Potato Potato*

      I feel you on written communication vs phone calls. It’s rough.

      Check out digital agencies/marketing, if you haven’t already. I work at one, albeit on the production side, and it sounds like you might make a good project manager. Depending on the company, you might have to take client calls sometimes. For the most part, any call is a video call nowadays – I find those easier than phone calls, but your mileage may vary.

      Anyway, I know lots of other industries have project manager roles that might also align with your skills. It might be worth looking into those too. Good luck!

    11. Curmudgeon in California*

      Have you considered project management? There are some nice online courses in technical project management/PMP (project management professional, IIRC) that, along with your previous event planning and process document skills, would help you get your foot in the door.

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        Second this! I’ve been a project manager for many years and these are skills that greatly smooth the way to coming onboard as a project coordinator, then with experience, a PM. Every area of business benefits from project coordination, as companies have been ‘doing more with less’ they frequently don’t have enough middle management to oversee tasks, which turn into small projects.

    12. tech writer*

      Technical Writing sounds like it would be an excellent fit, especially with the written communication + technical skills of picking up new software. Basically all communication can happen over email/slack and of course, in the work that you’re doing as a writer.

    13. Dunkin Fiend*

      Medical communications. You sound just like me and I have thrived in this work. It’s also pretty much all remote and a hot market: once you’re in, you’ll be headhunted like crazy.

      1. Looking for something new*

        This sounds interesting! What does this entail exactly? I don’t think I’ve heard the term “medical communication” exactly.

        1. Dunkin Fiend*

          There are a few different directions you can go in terms of coordination/project management! It’s generally working with pharmaceutical/healthcare companies to get their data out there in some way. Link incoming!

  3. Conflict of Interest*

    Anyone else ever deal with an overbearing conflict of interest/non-compete policy? How did you work things out?

    I work in UX at a “big data” tech company. I’m relatively new, been there about 9 months. March is the change of the fiscal year, so we just went through all the usual EOY stuff like reviews, COL adjustments, and re-upping of industry compliance training. During our weekly 1-on-1, my boss reminded me to fill out the conflict of interest certification, and I joked “Sure, won’t be a problem unless you want to take credit for my best-selling novel”.

    Apparently I should have kept my big mouth shut, because this snowballed into a huge deal. I had to confirm that yes, I write and attempt to publish fiction (mostly sci-fi short stories) and TL;DR: it ended up that I was told that anything I create during my tenure with the company belongs to them. Doesn’t matter that I write during my own time, my creative efforts all belong to Company as long as I’m employed there.

    I’m not claiming to be a literary genius, but writing and submitting my work is my favorite hobby, and having to give it up has completely soured me on working here. I need to stay here a bit longer to stabilize my job history (been laid off several times in the recent past) but now I’m resentful and want out. Is there any way to get them to reconsider? Am I unreasonable, and this is just how things are?

    1. Jean*

      Their policy is prima facie absurd and would never hold up in court. Your creative writing isn’t even in the same wheelhouse as the work you do for that company, first of all. Even if it was, the company has a huge burden of proof if they decided to pursue legal action against you. Check with an attorney if you’re truly worried about it, but if it were me I would dismiss this as the ridiculousness that it is.

      1. Jean*

        Also, this probably goes without saying, but take this as a lesson to never, ever give your employee any information about yourself that isn’t strictly required for your employment there.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          Agree with Jean on both points—this is ridiculous. (If you baked banana bread in your spare time would that belong to the company?) Check in with an employment lawyer, who (I would imagine) would laugh this out of the room, and in the meantime, if you’re concerned, perhaps use a pseudonym?

          1. Fran Fine*

            All of this (especially about this being absurd).

            Your company doesn’t know what they’re talking about, OP, but a pseudonym is still a good idea for many reasons and is something you should consider.

      2. On Fire*

        I took a job with a non-compete agreement once. I had an attorney review it, and his advice was, “This is written so broadly that if you keep a journal during the time you work for them, and then publish it years after leaving them, it still belongs to them. Don’t sign it.” Of course it meant I had to leave the job (after just three days!), but it was worth it to me, and we were in a position where I could be unemployed for a short time.

        That’s a slightly different angle that this OP is looking at — a journal vs. a novel — but the workplace could potentially claim that a character or scene was based on something from OP’s time at the workplace.

        All that to say, OP, I don’t blame you and support the idea of leaving ASAP, because it’s highly possible there’s other unreasonableness under the surface.

        1. Cj*

          I had an attorney tell me that I should sign a really broad non-compete, because it was so broad that it would never hold up in court. I suppose if it came to it, it might cost attorney fees to get out of it, a lot of states have a pretty narrow definition of a hold up in a non-compete.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            That was bad legal advice for you but maybe good business advice for that lawyer.

    2. Student*

      Talk with a lawyer.

      Many non-competes for people under the C-level are not legally enforceable, though the company might send lawyers to try to scare you and make it cost you some money.

      IP, such as for your fiction, is a different matter that needs its own lawyer. Your best bet is to just not sign anything that allows the company control over all your IP. Hiring is tight enough that they probably won’t fire you over it when it’s IP unrelated to your actual job (you have less leeway if it’s IP closely related to your daily work). They can try to claim ownership of all your IP, but you have to allow it to happen by signing to that effect, and can probably get a job that doesn’t attempt such an unreasonable overreach on this point.

    3. ENFP in Texas*

      I’d ask the company to put in writing the scope of what they claim ownership of – things created in the course of employment should belong to the employer, but completely unrelated creative endeavors should not be considered the property of the employer.

      Get legal advice and get your rights documented in writing.

    4. Loredena*

      Talk to a lawyer. I’m reasonably certain that they cannot claim ownership of work down on your own time unrelated to your job. It’s worth an hour conversation and possibly an official letter to find out!

    5. Box of Kittens*

      Good lord. If you have a vegetable garden, would they lay claim to your tomatoes and stuff too? If you built a doghouse would they take it from your dog? I’m not a lawyer but this seems ridiculous.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is what I was going to say. So you cook homemade meals for your family. Does your employer own those meals? I embroider in my spare time. I gave my aunt a picture of a sheep for Christmas. Would she have to send it to the company if I leave?

      2. quill*

        I think this happens more to authors both because people assume that authors make more money they do on a book and want to grab a slice of that royalties pie (which is more of a personal sized tart) and because IP in publishing is essentially a bunch of concepts / ideas and the text to describe them, which can be reproduced indefinitely, rather than a singular unique item.

      3. A Simple Narwhal*

        I’m going to have a baby this year, should I worry about a Rumpelstiltskin situation?

    6. New Job So Much Better*

      It’s only there material if you write it on work time. Or maybe on your work laptop.

      1. Sloanicota*

        As a published writer I have definitely heard that you could be on the hook if the company can prove you wrote something on their time or on their devices, although I always thought it sounded unenforceable and weird for most jobs (maybe if your job is creative-writing-adjacent or you’re writing non-fiction related to your field?)

    7. Albeira Dawn*

      Consult an employment lawyer! Non-competes and similar policies are notoriously unenforceable in court, especially ones like this that restrict your activities that have nothing to do with your company.
      Your goal in consulting a lawyer is not necessarily to sue, but to understand what specific aspects of the policy are unreasonable, as well as concrete actions you can take.

      You’re not being unreasonable, your employer is being absolutely absurd. Like, if you submitted this letter to Alison there’d be a couple hundred comments just saying “WTF???”.

    8. sub rosa for this*

      No, this is not normal, and if this is how they interpret conflict of interest, you should probably run for the hills.

      Mind you, if you were publishing something that pertained to your work, that would be a different story – if you were spending all day coding in LLAMA and you spent the weekends writing a book on how to code in LLAMA, that would be a lot more murky.

      But I assure you, my tech company cares not at all about my werewolf po– erhmm, romance novels — that I write on the weekends. Other than that I don’t discuss them at work.

    9. Siege*

      Check with a lawyer but their compelling interest is that you could take sales from them and if they’re not in any kind of competitive industry there’s no way you can take sales from them. If you left and started your own big data company they have a case, but they’re not in publishing and the assertion is absurd. Your state or county bar association may be able to give you a free consult but that’s strictly to put your mind at rest.

    10. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Just so I’m clear, you are a write non-fiction copy for users to navigate around an app/program/similar, and the company wants to own your creative writing, done on your own time and on your own equipment?

      This sounds unreasonable in my mind, but there may be some grey areas as its not my industry by any means.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        *writer of

        Sheesh. The entire elven kingdom for an edit button. Pass the coffee please.

      2. quill*

        Even work for hire fiction writing doesn’t own the novel you’re working on on the side while employed by them.

    11. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Take it to a lawyer. As described and with the information you present, it sounds likely unenforceable. However, if you sign it and you are sued, it will cost you money and time to fight the lawsuit, even if you win in the end. It will cost less to hire a lawyer to review and negotiate it for you than it would cost to fight the lawsuit.

      1. Kay*

        The countersuit against the company for failure to pay for hours worked (being as I’m guessing they won’t be paying upfront for the LW’s time working on those novellas) might be the bigger money maker if they try anything..

    12. Generic Name*

      I wonder what would happen if you just refused to sign. I hear tons of places are hiring, especially tech companies. I bet another company would be happy to pay you more and not require an onerous noncompete.

    13. Murderbot*

      That is ridiculous! I’ve never heard of anything that broad being applied to an employee. Yes, anything you create at/for work or potentially things you create using work-owned tools/applications, but they don’t get to own all your creative thoughts! IANAL, so I’m hoping someone with legal knowledge will pipe up, but I am a journalist so I work in an industry where people publishing on the side is common and I’ve never heard of such a thing.

      1. Very Social*

        Can I just say how much I love you using this username in a comment about an employer overreaching?

    14. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      This is not how things are in most places, nor how they are supposed to be. You should be resentful.

      As to getting them to change? A sternly worded letter from a lawyer might. Make sure to review your employment contract with them, and don’t sign anything else without your own legal consultation.

      Also, name and shame them. Find a friendly person in an author advocacy group, or the press, and get their name out there as the exploitative jerks of an employer they are.

      1. Jshaden*

        Check the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) website, even if you aren’t a member they have lots of resources around this kind of stuff. They are currently very involved in the #Disneymustpay effort to get The Mouse to pay royalties to creators of IP it bought from other companies (tl;dr – Disney is claiming it bought the IP but not the contractual obligations for a whole bunch of things, which is not how that works).

        1. sub rosa for this*

          Absolutely seconding this! SFWA has tons of resources for helping all of us, published or no, who are doing F/SF writing!!!

    15. Shiba Dad*

      This sounds messed up. Talk to a lawyer.

      An anecdote regarding non-competes: I talked to a former coworker a couple weeks ago. At both OldJob and NewJob he is a service tech. He told me that OldJob tried to enforce a non-compete and failed. YMMV.

    16. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not a lawyer, but from everything I’ve heard, most non-compete agreements (yes, even if you sign them) are essentially illegal or non-enforceable.

      1. ShysterB*

        I am a lawyer (U.S.) and it is NOT correct that “most non-compete agreements … are essentially illegal or non-enforceable.” They aren’t necessarily favored by courts, and in some U.S. jurisdictions they generally aren’t (California), in many jurisdictions they aren’t enforceable for lower-level positions, but it’s dangerous for people to assume they generally aren’t enforceable anywhere. It’s very jurisdiction/position/person-dependent, but if an employee’s position involves the types of concerns that are protectable, and works in a jurisdiction that doesn’t bar them, it’s very very dangerous to just assume it won’t be enforceable.

        1. ShysterB*

          Oops, hit submit too soon. I’m not addressing the OP’s particular situation — issues of employer-ownership of employee-generated IP is a different area of law and doesn’t even require a non-compete. In this particular instance, the employer’s position sounds like bullshit, but the best I can do is to echo others’ advice that OP should consult their own counsel on it.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Ugh as a freelancer I was offered a bonkers non compete (basically saying I could never freelance for any “potential” client of the company – which is literally every job I might ever get) and sooo many people told me it was fine, probably just boilerplate and doesn’t apply to you, it’s unenforceable don’t worry about. But no way am I signing something I don’t agree with! I struck out the parts I had an issue with and returned it in a pile of other docs, and they either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

    17. quill*

      Pretty sure if your job description for them isn’t “sci fi author” and your work on the book/short story isn’t on the clock, their argument is ludicrous. But not only locate a lawyer, locate one that actually works with authors / artists and deals with intellectual property. People have extremely weird views about what they can claim is “their” intellectual property. (See: people keep trying to trademark common english words / word pairs in book titles.)

    18. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

      that doesn’t sound right or legal to me at all. please consult with a lawyer

    19. ArtK*

      Please consult with an employment lawyer, just to be safe. Non-compete policies are almost always unenforceable and their interpretation is way out of line with the strictest ones that I’ve ever seen. A written opinion from a lawyer is something you would want to keep in your back pocket in case they ever tried to enforce the policy. I wouldn’t stir up more trouble by presenting it now.

    20. A*

      That’s absurd. Every agreement along these lines I’ve had to sign has been specific to the type of work I’m producing on company time. I.E. If I design teapots for my employer, they own any teapots I design even if done on my own time. However if I was to start designing tea cups or mugs, they would not have claim to it.

    21. Green Goose*

      They also get claim to any children you have during your tenure too, right? That checks out.

    22. *daha**

      There might be something relevant over at Writer Beware, though mostly they talk about contracts offered to writers by publishers, agents, marketers, and the like.

    23. Curmudgeon in California*

      That’s ridiculous.

      That said, I’ve had to go ’round and ’round with various companies about my side work – I have a side business unrelated to my regular occupation, plus I try to contribute to open source, plus I write science fiction (no sales yet.) I have to remind them that stuff on my own time with my own resources is not theirs. Some companies try to claim my time 24×7, so that everything I create is theirs, and I will always push back on that. I’m an employee, not a slave. They don’t pay me enough to buy my time and creativity 24×7. They buy 40/168×100 percent of my time.

      If they keep trying to bulldoze you, you may need to talk to a lawyer about whether that kind of overreach is enforceable in your state. Also, if you signed an agreement assigning them all IP to everything created by you while employed by them you may need to either A) renegotiate that, B) get a lawyer to say that’s not enforceable, or C) find a less greedy gig.

    24. Anon attorney*

      You need a lawyer, but I would speak to an IP/copyright specialist rather than an employment lawyer. This, at least in my jurisdiction, is a copyright problem. It is a very common provision to have in a contract but it should be possible to negotiate an exception for this, which is clearly not work related.

    25. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Unless your job at the company is to write sci-fi stories then the conflict of interest thing does not count. I would get an employment lawyer to look at what you are signing right away! And if they won’t let you take it to look at it without signing that is a huge red flag.

      I doubt it would be enforceable. Are they saying that no one that works for them can have a side job because everything belongs to them? They do not own you.

      Please find out more about this. Maybe talk with HR because your boss sounds like an A** and probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about

    26. I Want to Break Free*

      Find your non-compete & the IP statement you signed and find an IP lawyer.

      Before I signed the paperwork for my new job, my IP lawyer told me that new company was being extremely agressive about IP ownership and we had to draft an addendum to the document as it was as crazy nuts as you are describing. It took 2-3 back and forths to get something we could both agree on, which my lawyer wasn’t completely happy with, but was good enough for any side projects I might do in the medium term.

    27. Chapka*

      This issue—the work for hire doctrine and the rules regarding ownership of employee copyrights—happens to be right in my wheelhouse, and the best advice I can give you is: NEVER take legal advice from a stranger on the Internet, including me. Talk to a real-life lawyer. IP is a specialized area, and work for hire is a specialized area within IP, so find someone who actually practices in the area. (Contacting an industry trade group, as others have suggested, is a good first step). Nobody on here can actually give you meaningful advice—for a start, because I don’t think you ever actually said what country you live in, much less what state if you’re in the US.

      If you do talk to a lawyer, don’t ask them who is legally in the right here. Ask what your options are and what your employer’s options are. Ask how much anything your lawyer advises will cost, how long it will take, and whether, even if you’re right, your employer can legally fire you anyway.

  4. Should I Apply?*

    How to talk about burnout with your manager? I’m pretty sure that I am in some stage of burnout. I dread going to work, and even thinking about work is enough to put me in a bad mood. I just feel exhausted, my attitude and behavior has changed enough that my co-workers have started to ask me if I’m ok.

    However, I don’t know what to say to my manger, I don’t know what to ask for or how to even approach the conversation. I have a pretty good relationship with my manager who I have worked for for years. I recently got a very good annual review, and was told that the promotion that I have asked for is “in the works”. My manager should want to help support me but mentally I keep going over all the negative possible outcomes.

    I am feeling very pessimistic, sure that the promotion will be “in the works” indefinitely, that my annual raise won’t even match inflation, let alone be competitive with the market.

    Have you talked to your manager about burnout? Did it do any good? Managers – if an employee told you they were feeling burned out, what would you do?

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I did once talk to a manager about burnout. It went exceptionally well. She basically told me to go home for that day. Then the next day, she told me to spend the day cleaning out my office and told me to throw stuff out and to reorganize my office (I had inherited a ton of stuff from the previous person). I shut the door (per her instructions) and just spent the entire day cleaning out my office. It is amazing how much that helped. I am not saying that something that simple will work for you. I am saying though, if you have a good relationship with your boss and your boss is reasonable, to go ahead and talk with your boss about it. I did and it worked out great for me.

      1. Camellia*

        “Then the next day, she told me to spend the day cleaning out my office…” gave me a nasty start, I thought she fired you!

          1. Mr. Cajun2core*

            I am sorry I wasn’t clear about that! “Declutter” would have been a better word.

    2. CatCat*

      What’s the source of the burnout? Is it something your manager can address? Is the source something you think your manager would be willing to address?

      1. CatCat*

        My own experiences: at an ex-job many years ago, a former manager talked to me when I was very clearly showing signs of burnout. We talked about my workload and job tasks in general. They did take some things off of my plate for a couple months and that did help some, but they were unfortunately not willing to address certain job task problems that were a major contributor. I only recovered when I left that job.

        Unfortunately, I am experiencing burnout now from a few sources at my current work, one of which is not fixable, others which are but they are unwilling to fix them. I have not expressly said I have burnout to my managers and its not as noticeable to them as my previous experience since we work in separate locations. I have articulated things that I want and things that are not working, but, as I mentioned, they are un willing to fix them. I’m in therapy and am planning some time off, but my ultimate goal is to leave.

        Not sure if this information is helpful to you, just sharing in case it is. Bottom line, burnout is the symptom and I don’t necessarily think it is helpful to say “I have burnout” versus something like “Working 12 hour days is unsustainable, what can we do?,” “I am interested in training on X because I am struggling with it, is that possible?”, or “I’d like to grow professionally in area Y, is that possible?”

      2. Should I Apply?*

        I think part of what I am struggling with as I don’t know what the exact source of the burn out is, and I don’t know what to ask for. Part of it is probably the project I am working on is a bit of a hot mess, however, this is the project that is supposed to “prove” that I am ready for the promotion. So I’m afraid if I ask to be taken off the project that the promotion “in work” won’t materialize. I also am underpaid compared to the local job market, and am hoping that the promotion will get me more in line.

        I’m not working crazy hours, I generally work 40 hrs a week, and part time isn’t really thing here, and even if I was moved to part time I don’t think anyone would respect that means I should be doing less work.
        I’ve thought about asking for unpaid time off, 3-6 months, but it isn’t common and we are very understaffed (just lost 4 people in the last month). So again I worry that even asking for it is going to be bad for my career.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          A couple ideas:

          Can you ask what success looks like on this project? Tell your boss you want to do a great job and ask her about how much you have to shoulder on this project. If you ask for more help is that a failure on your part?

          The thing I’d be dying to know is if ALL my projects will look like this once I am promoted. Then no-thanks. They can keep the promotion.

          Another thought, do you think this could be a test to see if you are capable of asking for help or if you are capable of delegating?

          Last thought. Can you be relieved of non-Big Project tasks so you can focus on Big Project?

    3. Order of the Banana*

      I actually had a conversation with my manager last month about burnout. Prior to our meeting, I wrote down two pages of things I wanted to touch on during the meeting (when the burnout started, what caused it, the way it’s impacting me, and what would fix it). It was tough for me to book that meeting because A Major Incident was what initially triggered my burnout, and even though a year had passed since the AMI, I was still suffering from the after-effects and it made me less capable of dealing with more minor issues that have arisen. I was worried that I’d come across as weak or unable to manage stress, but my manager’s reaction was actually along the lines of, “I’ve actually been noticing something wrong but every time I asked you, you said you were fine, so I’ve just been waiting for all of this to come out.”

      There was a limit to how much of my work structure could change since our department is already undergoing an org change so a lot of things are a waiting game until we see how the chips fall. However, my manager did get some extra vacation days added to my bucket, and advocated for a higher raise and bonus at year end. It wasn’t a perfect outcome–I would’ve much rather had permanent changes made to the workflow structure over financial compensation, but I’ll take it–but I know my manager forwarded my thoughts up to our director as well, who will be taking it into account while the org changes are happening. My position is filled with lots of “this is just the nature of the job” type of issues, but I’m fortunate in that I have a lot of people willing to fight back against that to make my team’s job a little easier.

    4. Wisteria*

      I guess the question is what outcome you are looking for. I needed a specific outcome for my burn out, which was reduced hours. I didn’t mention burn out to my manager, though, I just said I was going to move from full time to 32 hr/week and could he please point me to the correct way to file the change (and I worked at a company what was delighted to pay me less bc they were short on contracts anyway and also offered part time as part of their flex policy). If you don’t have an outcome in mind, I don’t think you are going to have a satisfying conversation with your manager.

      I had the burn out conversations with a therapist.

    5. Jane*

      Definitely talk to your manager! If they’re halfway decent they’ll want to know if you’re struggling and will do what they can to help.

      I’d say go in with specifics if you can – as it can often be much easier for managers to say yes to suggestions you make than to try to cook up solutions for you that you might or might not find beneficial (that being said, they might also have some suggestions for you; the likelihood is they’ll have some experience in this area, either from their management experience or their own burnout). So things along the lines of “I’m struggling with X. I think that Y would help. Can we try that/Do you have any suggestions?”

      It can be hard to think of what to ask for! But it’s worth putting that thought in to make sure you’re getting what you need, or at least putting it out there in clear terms that can’t be ignored. Do it away from your office if you can, maybe over coffee (I have most conversations like this with my manager and my team over coffee – makes things feel less intimidating somehow). If one of my team came to me about feeling burned out, my questions would be along the lines of: is there anything in particular at work that’s contributing to it? What is it about that thing that is causing you to feel this way (and therefore is there anything that we can change to address it)? What can you think of that would help address it? What can I do to support?

      Also – schedule a follow up conversation for a couple of weeks later to check in and see how things are working.

      I’m sorry you’re having a hard time at the moment! Really hope you’re feeling better soon.

    6. Sherm*

      I’m a manager with one (excellent) direct report, and I would definitely want to know if she was feeling burnout. She has a lot of projects, but none of them take up a lot of time. So I think it’s okay (and I have asked her), but if juggling all these projects is taxing to her, I’d hope she’d tell me. And we’re working remote, so I can’t pick up on cues that I might see if we pass each other in the hallway.

      As for what I’d do, I’d work with her to see what might help. I would not assume anything (for example, maybe she wouldn’t find a vacation to be very refreshing), but perhaps there’s a simple solution — say, she really dislikes doing X, but for me it’s a breeze, so I’ll take it over.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Juggling multiple projects is often more stressful than one giant project. It’s the context switching. So working on three 2-hour projects takes more time than one 6-hour project. And if you have little control over when you work on each project, that can add to the stress.

    7. cubone*

      my personal experience: on a managerial level (telling my manager), good. On an organizational level, less good.

      My manager was kind, sympathetic, understanding, asked all the right questions, encouraged and “empowered” me to do what I needed to do. But my organization had no policies or really any knowledge or skills to deal with what I needed to do. I needed time off, and less job responsibilities temporarily while recovering. The only option I had was take all my sick and vacation days at once, and HR was horribly unhelpful and uninformed. Our HR person literally told someone on another team I was on “stress leave” (which again, was not like “a thing” we had in a policy, so it doesn’t even make sense to call it that, and it sure wasn’t the term I used). They also sent emails to my personal email during that time. Also, they seemed to have no clue how to enact temporary “less job responsibilities” without just taking away most of my work and handing me random made up admin level tasks for the team. It was bizarre to say the least.

      A couple months after I returned, my employee told me they were burnt out and needed leave and frankly I felt much in the same position. I could tell them I supported them, appreciated their comfort sharing, would do everything in my power … and then advised them that our organization was not set up to help them in a meaningful way and helped outline steps for self-advocacy (and obviously I also advocated as much as I could for both that employee, and institutional change).

      That employee has contacted me since to thank me for validating and supporting them. Both of us left within weeks. Lol.

      In conclusion: assess what you know about your manager to determine if you trust them with this, but also take a good look at workplace policies and manuals. If anyone else there has told you explicitly they experienced burnout or went on a leave for it, consider asking their experience. Be prepared to do a lot of self-advocacy.

      1. Rainy*

        I think I’ve been basically on the edge of burnout for a couple of years, since shortly after I became the only person in my organization who does what I do. If I take time off, very little of what falls into my purview gets done, at all, organization wide. Some of the lower-level stuff can be done by others, but not as well, and everyone is aware of that so they don’t want to try at all, even at times where I could support them or look over their work. Which I’ve suggested, repeatedly.

        The volume of my work is such that I need support in a couple of areas–even two .5 FTE positions would help (can’t be one person unless they are a unicorn and I just don’t have confidence in finding a unicorn who’s willing to be shockingly underpaid)–but I was straight up told by my manager and their manager that in order to get even one additional person, I had to start something brand new, big, and super ambitious, do all the work myself for “at least a year”, and then dramatically announce that I couldn’t manage it, and at that point perhaps they’d consider giving me another person.

        I didn’t laugh in my boss’s face when they told me this, but I did say “Well, I guess it’ll just be me then”. My boss said “Well this seems like such a small sacrifice from you to make things better.” I said “I’m not going to do 150% of the work for a year in the hopes things will get better after that”, and that was the end of it.

        I’m looking to leave, now. I can’t handle much more of this.

      2. C.*

        Yes, this is the position I’m finding myself in. I feel like I can go to my manager and be candid about the burnout/exhaustion I’m feeling. And I’m certain they could find ways to alleviate it (at least somewhat.) The problem, however, is that the employer we work for is completely out of their league when it comes to dealing with employee burnout. They have dug their heads in the sand and do not want to hear it. Their attitude is what’s compounding the exhaustion for me and so many others, and I’m certain that the already high turnover their experiencing is only going to get worse over the next year.

    8. sunny*

      I read the Burnout Fix by Jacinta Jimenez recently and it had a lot of great tools about the different kinds of burnout. For me, upon reflection, my burnout was not simply “working too many hours” it was a mixture of being unrewarded, unsupported among others. The fixes for those are different than take a week or two off. I highly recommend reading some of her material to get some ideas of what might help. Best of luck, burnout isn’t easy. I’m still recovering. But good for you noticing it now!

      1. Should I apply?*

        Thanks for the recommendation, I will check it out. I am definitely struggling to think of what will help.

    9. geogal*

      I chatted with my interim manager (my original boss left– he was a placeholder until a new qualified senior engineer could be hired) about the burnout and what issues were causing it, but he was also stretched pretty thin managing his main team and my group (which was not his area of technical expertise). He never managed to do much more than provide a listening ear for my venting. It was great for a while, but eventually I escalated my concerns to his boss and I started to see the changes I needed.

      She totally understood the burnout and where it was coming from and immediately took action. She started managing my boss more and forcing him to spend more time managing my team and slacker co-worker who caused a lot of stress. She hired on some temp support work, she gave me detailed status updates on the hiring of a replacement for slacker-coworker, and forced some good meetings about redelegating a lot of the work that had fallen to me while the team was understaffed. We set up regular 2-week check-ins to chat about how it was going and it totally changed the course of my stress. She made it very clear that my boss needed to do more to support me instead of letting me shoulder the brunt of the work and that she needed to know if I was at risk of quitting so that she could figure out how to accommodate. My position has had a lot of turnover and stress leaves in the past that the company would like to improve on, so it’s a real KPI for upper management to retain me. She helped me see a lot of solutions I thought of as ‘not possible’ in my head or that my own boss wouldn’t implement. Discussing it totally helped in my situation.

    10. Quick Chat*

      Be proactive and don’t be afraid to escalate. I told my supervisor that I needed a change, and for 8 months he kept pushing me off for various reasons.

      Then he tore me apart at my annual review for “having a negative attitude”. I have met with his boss, our executive, and HR and no one will rescind the review or even help me. They claim it is personal drama between the two of us.

      So now I’m burnt out on the role, angry at the company, and have lost all confidence in my work and judgement.

      Don’t be me. Speak up and get the change you deserve.

  5. On the strugglebus*

    I am really struggling, y’all. I am working a job that I truly enjoy most of the time—hospitality sales/event management—but it is just not loving me back these days. The long hours and inflexibility are really getting to me, and I’m not sure what to do.

    I’m relatively certain most of my struggles are mental-health related (there’s some family drama that boiled up again recently that I’ve been dealing with) rather than specifically work-related, but that doesn’t make it any easier to manage. Work has also been extremely busy the past few weeks to where I’ve been overwhelmed nearly to the point of tears on a daily basis, but I’m still feeling the strain even when it’s slower this week.

    I have a couple days off next week and on one of them I will finally have a therapy appointment. I had been doing virtual therapy during covid but had to give it up once I started this job because my therapist is only available during the work day. I would really like to speak with my boss about the possibility of working from home one day a week or maybe every other week, which I think will do a lot to reduce my stress, and which will also allow me to more easily/unobtrusively have a regular virtual therapy appointment. (I can’t do this at work right now because I work in a shared space.)

    The trouble is that I feel like this will be asking a LOT, especially in such a historically inflexible industry, and that I will come across as tone-deaf by even making the request, especially since my coworkers all work essentially the same hours and are handling it fine. I am trying to balance this against the fact that I am a high performer and (I think) highly valued by management, but I am ALSO the newest member on the team (started July 2021). A third thing to balance this with is that my husband could easily support us both on his salary so I would be able to quit this job without much pain, and I’m relatively certain I could get a new job fairly quickly, but I also essentially promised my boss 2 years when she hired me (I’m a military spouse so 2 years is basically my max). Being a milspouse also means my job history is not the greatest in terms of lengths of stay, and I really wanted another solid two year stay on my resume after covid had me unemployed for 16 months.

    I know there are a lot of factors here but I would be so grateful if y’all could help me with a couple suggestions of how to say “this is what I feel like I need, and I’m willing to quit over it if I don’t get it” without coming across as an entitled millennial. I also want to make it clear that it’s not work specifically that is causing my mental health struggles, but that they are something I need to take care of before they begin truly impacting my work—maybe that’s a good way to frame it, like, I want to be my best self at work but in order to do that I need X.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be very appreciated. Thank you all!

    1. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      Would it be possible to step into a private area–a conference room, a manager’s office, etc–for a regular therapy session? To go out to your car? I know it’s not ideal to have to disclose that to a manager, but it might give you a little more flexibility without having to go the work from home route.

    2. Reba*

      First some thoughts on your mindset. Keep in mind that almost every industry is talking about remote work and flexible work, no one at your company should act surprised when employees raise it!

      Re: coworkers “handling it fine.” A of all, you don’t know that! B, that really doesn’t matter. Your convo with your manager will be about what *you* need to keep doing this job sustainably at your high level of performance. What your coworkers need or don’t need doesn’t really enter into it. I could imagine a boss saying no because what if everyone else wants it or something, but you can try to keep the discussion focused on your specific situation.

      Re: Promise to your boss. This doesn’t exist. Ditto job loving you back — you can be appreciated but a job cannot love you. A job will not put you first!

      Without going straight to an ultimatum, I think you can get some of this across by saying that this would help you keep up your high performance sustainably. I would not mention the words mental health but if you have an open and trusting relationship with your boss maybe “avoiding burnout” could be language to try. You could also say that you will be having regular medical appointments (again not mentioning mental health/therapy) and WFH on those days will minimize disruptions.

      Good luck!

    3. Attractive Nuisance*

      You don’t need to compare yourself with your coworkers – they’re not living your life, and you have no idea how fine they are, what they need, or what kind of behind-the-scenes support they have.
      One WFH day every week or two is not a big ask, and I don’t think you need to worry about coming across as tone-deaf.
      Think of it like a bargaining or negotiation. You have a product: your work. You are willing to continue to offer your product to your employer, but are only able to do so under certain terms. You’d like to work with them to understand whether those terms can be met. You aren’t asking for favors or being disloyal or anything. It’s just business.

    4. Calm Water*

      Book the therapy, maybe as close to the end of the work day as possible? Tell your boss you have a standing medical appointment and WFH would have less impact on work flow on that day. If not, go in a bit earlier and leave in the afternoon. You said the hours are inflexible but, especially if you are managing events, there are always going to be times you are unavailable to other clients. They don’t need to know why you are suddenly unable to respond after 3pm on Thursdays. And yes, tell your boss what you said at the end of your post. That you want to be proactive in handling this so you are able to honour your commitments to her and your coworkers. And that you like the work! It doesn’t sound like you are ready to quit so maybe leave that for a follow up conversation if your requests are not taken seriously or respected. Best of luck

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Smh. The long hours and inflexibility are the problems.
      I think all the therapy in the world is not going to make the job have less hours and be less rigid.

      I think that you have a job that is not sustainable for you and a lot of other rational people.

      For me, two things to lose a grip on are the phrases “I feel like” and threats to quit. So this leaves me with, “Boss the long hours here are not sustainable for me. What can be done to lighten my load so that I can work X hours as opposed to Y hours? What can be done here to change this, if anything?”
      Then listen. If he hems and haws and makes ridiculous statements then your answer is, “Nothing will change here.” That puts the ball in your court. You can do what you think is best- leaving, looking for a new job then leaving, or even just walking out the door. (I don’t recommend the latter but it can be a tension relief to fantasize about it.)

      1. On the strugglebus*

        Unfortunately these hours are common/expected in hospitality and I’m sure the hours themselves won’t change. Just want to spend some of those hours working from my couch instead of my desk with loud coworkers preventing me from actually getting work done. But I am an introvert in a field of extroverts and I don’t expect this to be taken to especially kindly/reasonably (I basically expect a response of, if you can’t handle being around people than you’re in the wrong job. Which of course misses the point entirely, but whatever.)

        The therapy isn’t because of the work problems specifically. The therapy is because of other problems I’m trying to deal with that work is exacerbating. I just want to be able to stick it out one more year before I have to move again, at which point I will be exclusively looking for remote jobs with fewer hours.

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          Just want to spend some of those hours working from my couch instead of my desk with loud coworkers preventing me from actually getting work done.

          It occurs to me that might be your best argument. “For some tasks I believe I could be more efficient working from home, because the quiet would help me to focus. Would it be possible to do one day a week WFH on a trial basis, and review after perhaps a month?”

          1. On the strugglebus*

            Yes, that’s an angle I’ve considered. The challenge for me is that my boss already knows that I work better when it’s quiet and sort of…makes fun of me for it? Like, maybe I’m over sensitive, especially recently, but she likes to make sarcastic-sounding comments when it’s quieter in the office about “how will you ever survive without all the noise”—usually I respond to this seriously with “I’ll actually be able to get work done!” And she laughs and walks away.

            She also said just this morning that she likes to put me on the spot in morning meetings (in which I’m usually pretty quiet because I’m a terrible morning person) because she knows I hate it, so I don’t expect a lot of sympathy from her in general.

        2. justabot*

          Don’t make this that you can’t handle being around people or even about being an introvert. Frame it as certain parts of your job require focus or time to make calls without interruption that would be more conducive to working from home 1-2 days a week. And that you enjoy being on site to meet with clients, touch base with other departments, logistics, meetings, etc. But that having one work from home admin day a week (or try for 2) would really help you manage your workload and stay on top of your inbox, which makes you more productive. My guess is you probably get a ton of emails. I would put the focus on those type of tasks that you need to stay on top of where a remote day without interruptions would significantly help you stay up to speed with the volume of work on your plate. I wouldn’t bring up mental health at all.

          If you really are ready to give notice if you don’t get this, then I guess the next step would be to come out and say that this is allowance is necessary in order for you to do this job at a high level. And that without it, you can no longer manage this many moving parts without having a day to manage your own time without interruptions. Force their hand. If you get it, great. If they don’t go for it, be prepared to walk away. But just make sure that you present it as they aren’t giving you the resources you need to continue to do this job at the highest level. (And not that you can’t keep up, are doing a crappy job now, etc.)

    6. MoMac*

      You could book therapy first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon and just tell you boss that you need that time off each week for an ongoing appointment. Also, if you want to, your therapist would likely write you a letter so that you can use that time for an accommodation at work.

    7. DryEraseAficionado*

      Mental health is health. You need some time/flexibility to deal with a health issue and you can approach it with your manager as such. The details aren’t the business of your coworkers or manager. Good luck!

    8. justabot*

      So I had a similar job to that, and one potential way to approach this is to request one day a week at home for your administration type tasks. Sales/Event management is really stressful because in my experience when I was on-site I was always caught up in logistics, planning, meetings, site tours of people who wanted to view the space, etc. And so many interruptions. I could never keep up with my inbox which was stressful in and of itself. I did request one-two days a week from home, which was granted and I framed it as being able to do my administrative work – contracts, reports, return phone calls, etc. It actually was very helpful. I did not get into any mental health issues, just that having at least one day a week devoted to admin work without interruptions helped my productivity. And have a few solutions ready. Examples of the type of tasks you would complete from home on those days. I can set (and turn off) my office line to ring on my cell phone. Can you do that?

      1. On the strugglebus*

        I think I can forward my office line to my cell, so that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The thing I’m worried about is getting a response like “yeah of course everyone would be more productive working from home but we work in a hotel so no remote work.” What kind of venue did you work in that they let you work from home? That’s pretty amazing.

        1. justabot*

          At the time I was the event manager for a vineyard – a lot of special events and guests booking the property for private events and weddings. I did need to be on site most of the time, but having that remote day to catch up on contracts and my email inbox which was never ending was super helpful and needed. It was a family owned business so they were pretty flexible. No real channels for approval. I just asked and they said no problem. I tried to keep the same day from home each week (like, “Tuesdays” were my work from home day) so it just became an established, given thing, instead of people being like, “Is she here today? But if I did have an event, then I usually flexed my WFH day to the day after which helped to have a recovery day built on. Those jobs where you always feel on call can turn to burnout so fast. I loved the people I worked for, but this type of job role was not for me.

    9. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Dear On the struggle bus – you only get one life. This really is, just a job. You are in such a good position (re partner’s income), you have the freedom to to step right back and say : this job does not suit me, and I am going to resign from it at the end of this week.
      And then you can leave the job and someone else will be employed in your place (probably) and they may even like it – but it isn’t a good fit for you, it is time to leave it.
      And then you give yourself three months to sleep, read, walk the dog etc while you have a good rest and get your health in order.
      AFTER the three months, then you can think about what might interest you, and value your talents, and how to find that job.
      So you are moving from the struggle bus to maybe the Catbus – and the catbus is always smiling.
      Best wishes to you from an internet stranger who is saying you have the excellent option of leaving this job, and restoring your health, and that this will be a very good choice to make.

  6. Academia amirite*

    I’m part of a faculty union in higher Ed but a fairly recent hire.
    It seems like the Dean for the school is known to beat micromanager with a lot of micro aggression (“oh that’s an interesting choice” when commenting on hair color or constantly talking about religion – this is a public institution). The upper management/hr/other faculty/provost definitely know that she is a problem with a lot of complaints against her. Is there anything I can do to get the staff working under her some relief? Is there any recourse? The associate dean is just as bad/useless.

    1. And so it goes*

      Having worked in higher ed for 30 years now, my experience says no. Admincritters are only fired for documented embezzlement or bringing a huge scandal upon the school. You have to hope she takes a job elsewhere and in the meantime, staff can try and transfer to another part of campus.

      I love a lot about working in higher ed but I’m not sure what it says when I think micromanaging and being inappropriate re religion don’t really rate so much as an eyebrow raise…

    2. anonnn*

      If it weren’t for the union, I would swear I once worked for your institution. Ugh. If you are in certain parts of the country in US, the religious talk is a fight against the entire culture.

      Document the bullying / micro aggressions for a bit, and take them to either ombudsperson, HR, Provost’s office, Title nine coordinator if that is appropriate, or ask your union rep for ideas.

    3. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I was once one of those employees working for an awful Dean. The only thing I can ask is that as much as possible stand up to her. Don’t be her puppet. Try and insulate the staff from her as much as possible. Stand up for the staff. Make sure the staff sees you doing this. Compliment the staff. If you can afford it, for holidays and other days buy the staff gift cards or other treats. Acknowledge (complain about) Dean’s faults to the staff. If you complain first, the staff will trust you more and feel more comfortable complaining to you. Make sure the staff know that they can trust you (see previous sentences) and know that they can come and b1tc4 to you if they need.

      The few faculty allies I had at my previous job made the job tolerable. I cannot imagine how bad it would have been without them.

      1. Nonny*

        Yeah, use your protected status as a faculty member to stand up for staff who have no protection. Make sure you do what they would like though so your actions don’t harm them further. You can also assist them in creating a staff union if there’s interest.

        You could also do a lot to help them out with other faculty. In my experience, most faculty were clueless about issues pertaining to staff and a lot were honestly awful to staff.

      2. Gracely*

        All of this. Do whatever you can to make Staff’s lives easier, because we do not have the same protections as Faculty.

        If the Dean has been in that position for awhile, I doubt there is much to be done unless the Provost and/or President of the university are going to do it (Ombuds is a good avenue for venting, but useless/toothless to actually make change in most cases).

        It’s not *impossible* to get a Dean to step down, but the only time I’ve seen it happen was when the Dean was new to the position AND to the university, and had been pretty egregiously terrible to staff AND disastrously incompetent with the budget for their school. And even then, they stayed on as faculty after stepping down (no one could understand why the hell they’d stick around after poisoning every one of their colleagues against them, but to my knowledge, they’re still there).

    4. ReligionAtWork*

      Constantly talking about religion at work is so weird to me because it’s not known how common and serious religious trauma can be, and having a person in a position of power over employees be the one who’s doing it is especially bad. Unfortunately, because it’s not well known, and is not taken seriously AT ALL by people who haven’t experienced it, I’ve found it absolutely impossible to push against because people think it’s just a weird quirk and wouldn’t land harder than a weird quirk even though it can literally cause rolling panic attacks for people who experienced it with their parents. I have literally not had one workplace in any industry, in any of the three countries I’ve worked in, respond appropriately to a person in power prodding others to talk about religion. I’d make sure that at least your junior employees know that this is NOT a workplace norm, and NOT something they should be expecting to deal with in the workplace because they might not have the experience to not absorb the message that this is just A Thing That Happens And Is Fine. But as far as working with the school, I’d be surprised if it was functioning well enough to tackle this based on what I’ve experienced working in higher ed, which can be full of people who love research but not teaching/administration but wound up here as the best viable career option with their interests/skillset (the number of people teaching who have no actual training in it, because they got a phD in a topic, is astounding to me. They don’t even get training through the school, just get foisted on paying students)

  7. ThatGirl*

    Top line tl;dr: why do job ads get posted as local when they’re not?

    The backstory: I’m a copywriter and while I’m happy in my job, I occasionally look at job ads to see what’s out there and just kinda keep up on trends. I get emails from Glassdoor on a semi-regular basis and have been getting a bunch recently encouraging me to apply for a job with Disney’s internal ad agency. I live near Chicago. The locations on these ads, from Glassdoor, are Chicago suburbs – close enough to home. But! When you click through to Disney’s hiring site, the actual job is in Celebration, FL. And there is NO mention of remote work — trust me, I scoured the ad. They all seem to be for the same position, but I’ve gotten emails mentioning multiple suburbs. So what gives, Glassdoor??? (And seriously, if anyone has any idea why this is happening, I would love to hear it.)

    1. Dutchie*

      I think this might be a Glassdoor specific thing. I once got emails from them for a position they told me was in my city and when I clicked on it, it turned out to not even be on the same continent.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It’s so annoying. I haven’t really used them for job searching anyway (just looking at company reviews) but come on.

      2. quill*

        Oh, I’ve gotten them from other job sites too. I think it’s just misleading advertising because some of these sites actually do earn money or get a higher ranking in google’s algorithm the more links that you click.

    2. Siege*

      Sounds like they’re spamming the system for clicks. No idea if that’s because they get a boost if people view the ad or if it’s because they think the job will be attractive enough people will want to relocate once they read more (or if FL/Disney are enough of a negative to turn people off – I certainly am not moving to FL any time soon as a queer person). I’ll be curious to see if anyone who knows can comment to that.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I mean, part of me thinks the job sounds awesome, but there is ZERO chance of me relocating to Florida – I am also queer and also I hate the humidity. I’m just annoyed that they’re misleading people.

    3. Maggie*

      Funny I live in Chicago too and have noticed jobs listed for here that are actually in Ohio or other places. They put that in the posting but not the title in my experience. I think they just want more candidates or more people to see the posting but idk if it even works because who is just randomly wanting to move to a totally random state?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I also get job emails from random recruiters for places all over the country, but that’s a little different, because I assume they are just spamming anyone with certain keywords in their resume.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, I get the worst low level computer spam. It’s all low level, onsite jobs in an area tangentially related to the one I’m in – think advertising a data entry job for $20/hour, onsite to someone who makes ~$70/hr doing DevOps remotely. They don’t even read your resume, they just spam you because they caught one keyword that is peripherally related – like knowing SQL means you are looking for data entry work? What’s worse is that my resume specifically says I’m looking for remote work and am not interested in relocation. It’s just a horrible waste of everybody’s time.

    4. Silvercat*

      I also suspect some cluelessness or desperation from the ad poster. I regularly get emails from recruiters for user interface creation jobs (not my field but related) in San Francisco (other end of the state – at least an 8 hour drive from me and NO way I can afford rent there)

      1. quill*

        I regularly got what I assume was keyword bots deciding that if you work in any STEM field, you’re qualified for any other one.

        My degree is in environmental science, all my jobs have been in chemistry / microbiology / QC.

        Indeed REALLY thought I was a licensed HVAC engineer a few years ago.

    5. Mockingjay*

      LinkedIn does the same thing. The algorithms pick up on keywords but don’t filter those very well.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I don’t know either! But I see the exact same job listing on LinkedIn for multiple locations as well.

  8. Jessica Ganschen*

    Question: how do I negotiate a salary when I’m not sure how to find equivalent positions to compare?

    My manager is working on getting an FTE position added to our team (currently he and his manager are pushing our needs up to my great-grandboss), with an eye toward me being moved into it with basically a cursory re-interview. I haven’t asked about title or salary since nothing has been determined by anybody yet. This is my first long-term office job, so I don’t even have a salary history to lean on as proof of what I should be earning. (Previously, I was in the Air Force and then a work study job at my community college, neither of which, obviously, have any room for salary negotiations.) My manager’s title is “Specialist – Project Coordinator” so I expect mine will be something like “Junior Project Coordinator”. However, a quick search of “Project Coordinator” on a few job sites turns up a wide variety of jobs that don’t necessarily do the same type or level of work that my manager and I do. I’ve also looked on Glassdoor to find the salaries of my manager’s peer’s direct reports, but again, I’m not sure how directly equivalent we would be considered or if a similar salary would be reasonable.

    1. Asenath*

      I’d be interested to find out. I spend years in a job with a very generic name and description, and whenever I tried finding out typical salaries, the results were all over the place, I suspect because the same term was used for jobs that included wildly varying responsibilities. When I had the chance to meet people in similar jobs at national conferences, there was still a wide range of salaries, and then you also had the complication of the jobs being in different locations with different costs of living.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Are they asking you your current salary (illegal to do in many places now) or expectations? Can you push back and just ask them the budgeted range for the position?

      1. Jessica Ganschen*

        My manager already knows my salary (I’m not coming in as a new employee, just moving from a temp position to FTE), and hasn’t yet asked about my expectations. I’m just trying to plan ahead for if/when they do.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Have you considered looking at your state’s labor market information? It is usually collected by your department of labor or equivalent, but it is federally required that all states collect and publish information on the job market within the state, including average wage by industry and subsection, which can help give you a starting point.

      Also, consider using the salary finder on the careeronestop website – link to follow in a response.

    4. dadidudo*

      If your company has H1B or greencard holders you can look up their salary information online via various sites by searching for h1b salary database

  9. Lets Eat*

    I am travelling for a conference in a few weeks. I had a baby 4 months ago and don’t want to be away from her yet and I’m still nursing. My partner is on his parental leave now and is going to travel with the baby. Normally my colleagues and I have one free night where there aren’t structure conference activities and we do a group dinner. Would it be weird to have my husband and child join? It’s not a work dinner in that there isn’t work talk, but socializing. Or would it be best to skip?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t bring an infant to a work dinner. Maybe you can join for pre-dinner drinks, or stay for an appetizer? Or meet your colleagues for dessert? Personally I think it’s important to join coworkers at events like this, bit it’s not critical, so of course you can skip– but if you do want to participate there are ways to do that without spending the entire evening with them.

    2. Formerly in HR*

      Could your husband and baby do something else during that time? Have their own dinner, enjoy a nap, do another thing? You still get to enjoy time with your colleagues, discussion can be on work or things everyone knows, there won’t be any stilted attempts at including spouse in conversations. Normally you would not have the spouse or baby when attending such an event, so they wouldn’t be attending – use the same principle to guide what to involve them in from the conference agenda.

    3. Betty*

      Wouldn’t be weird in my experience of conference dinners [science/academia], but maybe just ask when plans are starting to come together/someone is making reservations– “Percival is coming with me to Society for Llama Grooming this year so that he can help take care of baby Penelope; would it be cool if they came to dinner with us, or would it be better for me to just do something with them instead of joining the group?” (Also, I’m assuming that the baby is fairly chill and could hang out on a lap/in a carrier with minimal attention, and that you are going to low key places with medium to loud ambient noise– I’d advise against bringing a super high maintenance kiddo, or bringing any baby somewhere hushed. And maybe plan ahead that your spouse will take her outside/back to the hotel if there is a meltdown, and you’ll bring them a doggy bag?)

      1. Lets Eat*

        I’m in academia… it doesn’t seem weird to me, but the amount of responses to the contrary make me think best to just join for a bit without them.

      2. anonymath*

        As an academic, I’ve done this. Had a mellow baby. Beer gardens, casual places, totally fine. We’re all awkward people who have fun anyway. No problem.

        Ask a trusted colleague. All this “I wouldn’t want to hang out with a baby; husbands make conversation awkward; etc” commentary simply doesn’t apply to the fields of math I was in because no one was socially clueful enough to make it weird and if they were socially clueful then they were also not jerks, because a socially sophisticated jerk would’ve been run out of town.

        Now I’m in corporate and no way would I bring spouse & baby. My peers are suddenly socially sophisticated and have Opinions and Judgements about how things Should Be Done & what is Appropriate.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I would not bring them to the dinner unless it’s the usual practice for others to bring their spouses/partners to this event.

    5. Purple Cat*

      It certainly depends on your relationship with your colleagues – but it feels a little off to me to have your husband and child join. It’s still “work” socializing, and your husband (probably) doesn’t know your colleagues that well, and you’ll be distracted by the baby anyway. I would skip the dinner. Disclaimer: said as an introvert that is absolutely exhausted after being “on” all day for conferences and would take any reasonable excuse to skip even more togetherness.

    6. Sunshine*

      You could ask your team their preference. I completely understand where you are coming from. It’s hard to be away when you are a brand new mom. But I will say this. I have desperately missed the opportunity to go to conferences over the past two years because it’s an opportunity to take a break from being a mom. It’s nice to have the opportunity to eat a meal without small people making demands or needing to go potty. I love my kids but I’m a better mom when I take a break. And get to sleep through the night. So I would suggest if you have any colleagues who are also overwhelmed parents that you can be courteous of their need to unwind. Maybe state that you don’t want to impose on dinner and will make other plans. If all involved enthusiastically want you to bring the family, do it.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I wouldn’t ask them. Asking puts them in the position of having to be That Person who doesn’t want to hang out with a baby. Just plan for spouse and baby to do something else that evening.

        My parents used to be in academia and my siblings and I never went to things like this with them. Maybe times have changed since then but this would still feel off.

        1. Cj*

          I would be “that person” who didn’t want the baby there, but it would feel awkward to say so.

      2. Anony*

        It would be super awkward to be asked this question, want to say no, but feel like I couldn’t…

        1. Not a cat*

          Yep. I’ve been senior staff at 100s of these dinners. If a team member asked, I probably feel obligated to say yes, but I would be really unhappy about it. I’m in tech, BTW, if that’s useful.

      3. Everything Bagel*

        Is anyone actually going to say no though, even if that is their preference? Probably not because no one is going to want to be the one to say it even if all are thinking it.

    7. Bagpuss*

      I think it depends a lot on the group. I would be inclined to either go (if your husband is OK with spending that time alone) or alternatively say that due to infant, you’ll join them for drinks before / coffee after but won’t make it for the full meal.
      I think having him join if he’s the only spouse/partner would be odd, and adding a baby into the mix changes things again. I also think that if you suggest that he joins you it gets really awkward for anyone to say no to that,

      1. A*

        Agreed. I think having only one spouse join could be a bit awkward. It changes the dynamic. The rest of the group has shared experiences, and if I was in this situation I would feel like I’d need to cater the conversation towards the ‘outside’ individual so as not to be rude. But at least in my experience most off-the-clock meals with colleagues still includes a fair amount of work talk / venting / industry discussions etc. Even if spouse didn’t mind, I’d feel like it was excluding them and would feel the need to change my discussion topics.

    8. Generic Name*

      I think it depends on your industry and specific company. I work in a casual industry, and a lot of companies are very casual and focus on being family friendly. I was just at an open house work event, and two of the people at the company brought their spouses and toddlers. The invite specified it was “family friendly” which I noticed later. Another staff member’s dog was there too. :) So for my company, I don’t think it would be terribley outré, but if I worked for a place known to be formal and stuffy, it would not fly.

    9. ICodeForFood*

      Can you ask any of your colleagues (perhaps someone you know and trust) what they think of the idea, since they know the culture of your company/field?

      1. Calm Water*

        Agree! Because in some places it would be weird, in others no issue. But I think supporting families, especially women, maintain their connection to the workforce is so important and bringing the baby and husband to dinner is a small but important way of doing that.

    10. Policy Wonk*

      If anyone else is bringing a spouse it’s probably OK. I once attended a conference in a highly desirable vacation location and about half the team either came a few days early with spouse for a quick vacation or had spouse join and stay a few days after. So for the evening-before-the-conference dinner a number of spouses were there. But if yours is the only one, don’t bring them.

    11. By Golly*

      I think this depends wildly on the culture of your team and industry. I traveled with my partner and 4 month old for a week long conference and they joined for a few meals with my team, occasionally drove me and coworkers to and from places we needed to be, and came to the conference center for me to nurse because baby was finicky about bottles I had carefully pre-pumped and gotten through TSA, etc.. That baby is 10 years old now and her presence at that conference is still remembered as a highlight both by my team and other conference attendees (this is a group of 50-ish people I’ve been conferencing with for 13 years, so we’re pretty friendly). Also–if we’re going to build a culture where parenting and working is normal and supported, nursing moms need to be able to both be with their kids and work. Conferences are one of those things that really need to adapt to support families better. (I’ve heard some big ones have onsite childcare!! Amazing!) So if you’ve got the capital to spend on this, do it. (But also, you know yourself and your baby… I had a baby I knew I could just nurse to sleep at the table and enjoy a nice meal with my colleagues–or her dad would take her out and settle her. My 2nd child this would have not as worked as well)

      1. Not a cat*

        While I agree that companies need to be more family-friendly and need to support breastfeeding mothers, I don’t think the trip team dinner is the place to do it. What if other staff want to invite clients or potential strategic partners? I don’t see any way the dynamic wouldn’t be awkward.

        1. Lets Eat*

          It’s not that kind of dinner where strategic partners or clients (we don’t have any) would come or ever be invited.

    12. Dark Macadamia*

      Don’t bring a baby to a gathering meant for adults. It ruins it for you because you have to focus on the baby instead of socializing, and may annoy everyone else who wanted a nice evening together and now has to be polite about talking over/around assorted baby chaos.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Yep. I’m a parent, i love my kids – and treasure my limited time away from them at the rare conference.

    13. Maggie*

      I wouldn’t do it unless every person in the group is someone you are good friends with outside of work

    14. AcademiaNut*

      I would actually say that bringing a nursing 4 month old along would be minimally disruptive, but bringing your spouse along (unless others do so as well) would be kind of awkward. The kid isn’t going to be bored by work adjacent conversation, and and your coworkers aren’t going to feel the need to include them in the conversation.

    15. justabot*

      Don’t do this. Go to your work dinner with your work colleagues and don’t bring your family, unless other spouses/partners are going to be at the dinner too.

  10. Loulou*

    A few weeks ago a librarian posted about how their library was about to start handing out at-home COVID tests and asked about what issues others have run into with this program. If that person is reading, could they give us an update? What has it been like, how has the demand been, etc?

    1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Yes! All turned out okay. There has been hardly any demand for the tests (which is actually more bad news than good). No one has taken their test in the library. If there’s another surge at some point, we’ll see what happens, but for now it was much ado about nothing.

      1. Loulou*

        Thanks! Sorry I missed your original update but glad to hear the worst scenarios didn’t come true.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not the OP, but our library got in a bunch of tests and the stack is just sitting there. People can help themselves and very few do.

      1. someone*

        They had the USPS mail order kits and my state had/has some where you can request kits be mailed to you. I expect folks who want kits already got enough or don’t want to go somewhere in person to get them.

        1. someone*

          Hit submit too soon…
          Or not enough people knew they’re there.
          For the libraries where not many people showed up to pick up kits.

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      A much larger library system in our area got them but our system did not. We go so. many. calls. about them.
      People were not happy that we did not have them.

  11. Tophie Surner*

    I got notified that return to the office is happening next month. I’m a civil servant [I don’t want to say where I live or what level of government I am] and everyone who could work remotely has been doing so exclusively for the last 2 years. Now that’s over. No more working from home and it’s going back to like things were before in that we will no longer be able to look at emails, voicemails or do phone calls or anything else outside of the workplace. The line has been redrawn.

    I’m not happy about this. They aren’t entertaining any pushback. We have amazing job security, a great salary and benefits and a pension and vacation package. If anyone leaves there is a lineup of applicants to replace them. My division just had 2 openings and received hundreds of applications for both. They couldn’t even logistically interview everyone who was qualified. I’m not going to leave because I can’t get anything close to the perks I get here but I am still really bummed out.

    For anyone who has had to return to the office full time, how did you cope after working remotely the last 2 years?

    1. SansaStark*

      Great username!

      Full disclosure, I only went back part-time, but it was still a major shift. The first thing I’d recommend is just acknowledging that it’s going to be tough and be kind to yourself those first few weeks. Being in the office is exhausting so maybe expect that and plan accordingly. One thing that helped me was to make a mental list of all of the things that I was looking forward to. I missed some of my coworkers so I tried to focus on the things that I did like about being back in the office. Maybe you have a great sandwich shop nearby or you’ll get to finally meet that new hire who processed that urgent thing for you really quickly back in January. It might also help to identify what you are looking forward to the least and find a way to make that more bearable. A fun podcast for a rough commute, noise-cancelling headphones for a noisy background, or even some new stretchy and comfortable pants (ok, but honestly, those beautiful but stretchy pants were worth every penny and I regret nothing.) But really, just be kind to yourself in the transition.

    2. Gracely*

      I had to return after a year, not two, but here’s what I’d recommend:

      -Go slow with the socializing the first few days. It’ll take more out of you than you realize, and you might find yourself super overwhelmed all of a sudden.

      -Meal prepping. When I went back, I found myself eating way more take out because I was too tired to cook when I got home (I had been in a routine of taking time to cook a nice lunch, then eating leftovers for dinner). So you might want to re-evaluate what you buy at the grocery store and make sure you have easy-to-make meal options for yourself.

      -If there’s any way you can schedule yourself a couple of half days off over the first few weeks, that might help you from suddenly feeling burnt out by everything returning to the way it was before (I’d recommend easing back with hybrid work if possible, but it sounds like that’s not an option).

      -If you’ve put off doctor/dentist appointments, see if you can get those taken care of before you go back to the office.

      -If you have pets, start looking now at options for automatic feeders/dog walkers/etc. if you’re going to need them.

      -Check your mode of transit for your commute to work and make sure everything’s the way it should be (have bus/metro times changed, or are stations out of service that weren’t before? How are your car tires/lights/etc.?).

      1. Leela*

        the mealplanning was key for me! I fell into the same trap, and had been making some really good, healthy meals at home, and was bummed about the time and energy to keep doing it simply vanishing. Now I try to prep stuff on sundays (cut a bunch of veggies, cook/freeze meat, at least one grain) so I can just throw 3 things together with a fruit and have a pretty decent lunch.

        FWIW I found out that sauce really helps – the third day of chicken, rice and broccoli is much easier to deal with if you have wildly different flavors on it (use butter chicken sauce one day, a creamy salad dressing the next, then something with lots of spice etc) then switch to a different meat/grain/veggie the next week

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I got myself some special treats that are office only. Something to look forward too and stuff that was fun to pick out. Since I had to restock desk drawer gum etc I got multiple types, got a new organizer to admire on my desk, funky pushpins, a new travel mug, a new office plant. Upgraded my lunchbox tupperware. Stuff like that. Then my first week was each day something new bringing in with me, so looked forward to getting plant in office instead of dreading office that day.

    4. 1qtkat*

      I’m a state government employee and my agency forced everyone to be in the office 3x/week after Jan 1. What my office did which I think helped was phase everyone into the office over a couple months so we got used to coming into the office (example, 1st month we came into the office 1x/week, etc…). There were already rumors swirling in the agency about the return to office and that’s why we were able to adjust. We’re not exactly happy about it, but I’m glad it wasn’t so abrupt a change.

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      I took your question to mean how do you cope mentally, in terms of reframing your mindset toward the requirement to return. I’m in a similar situation, but I haven’t been given a return date and there is some uncertainty about how many days I will have to be in the office…..maybe every day, maybe just 2-3 days per week, but I am definitely feeling similarly….not thrilled.

      The way that I have found to reframe my thinking is to ask myself, had the pandemic never happened, would I be upset today or would I have hummed along with the status quo and been perfectly fine? I’ve also decided to focus on the positive aspects of returning to the office when I do go back….lunches with colleagues I’ve missed, more efficient communication with certain people, and opportunities to network that just didn’t really exist virtually.

      Obviously a pandemic did happen and for a lot of people they have decided they just can’t go back to in office work and want to be full time remote. If you aren’t willing to throw in the towel and quit your current gig (I’m certainly not quitting mine) then I would also suggest speaking with your union, if you have one, and seeing what the long term plans may be regarding remote work. They may be longer term plans on the horizon that just aren’t being shared right now.

      I can tell you that I am a Fed employee and this 2 years out of the office has made my agency very aware of how much they are paying for office space and the fact that it really isn’t necessary to have so much of it. A friend who deals with facilities/real estate told me they have been working on cost comparisons as early as a few months into the pandemic to find ways to decrease their office footprint and rent expense, so for my agency at least, I do think that changes will come eventually, albeit very slowly.

    6. Hatchet*

      I agree with the others in finding special work treats and other things to look forward to at work. I would also consider any other comforts that you can arrange to make your days in the office go better. (A preferred type of pen, a snack you like that makes your morning, etc.) Start a bag or box to collect these items between now and then so you’ll have them your first day back. Give yourself some time that first morning to set up your work space and get settled back into it. It took us all some time to adjust from full office to WFH two years ago…it’s going to take some time to adjust the other way, too. Remember that during those first few weeks back, small steps forward are still steps forward.

  12. bee*

    I’m on a hiring panel for the first time, and I feel a little at sea. Does anyone have any tips for first time interviewers? We have a pre-determined set of questions so I can’t ask my own— I guess I’d more like to know how to determine whether someone’s a good fit beyond just liking the general ~vibe~ of their answers.

    (Also could probably use some pre-advice for when we pick someone. I tend towards overempathizing and can already tell that I’m going to feel horribly guilty about rejecting a few of these people, and by the nature of the thing we can only pick one)

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I guess I’ll start.

      One thing to remember is that this is not a social occasion. In the begin I had loads of lovely conversations and then realized afterwards that the person still wasn’t a good fit. I had to differentiate between their being a nice person and their being good at this job.

      I also had to force myself to throw preconceived notions out the window. I think society has become more aware of unconscious bias in terms of race and gender, and those are still important to keep track of, but you may also have others that aren’t serving you. You need to be mentally prepared to consider candidates that at first glance don’t fit the bill, and think if you can make them work.

      Over sympathizing doesn’t help because a job isn’t a gift you give someone. If they aren’t a good fit they will be miserable.

      1. cubone*

        This is such a good point. I used to work for a boss who would sit on panels, chat up the candidate, be so overly casual and effusively welcoming. It definitely put candidates at ease, but it felt like I could physically SEE their hopes go up… then we would leave the room and boss would say “wow they gave a terrible interview/aren’t a good candidate.”

        Be polite, welcoming and kind but honestly be aware of consistency. Don’t let your desire to make someone feel comfortable (or your sympathy for the nightmare that is interviewing) inadvertently give off the wrong impression.

        1. Loulou*

          What do you mean by consistency? It sounds like you’re saying your boss was super nice to every candidate, weak or strong, which does seem consistent.

    2. DarthVelma*

      Oh wow, your question really takes me back to my first experience as an interviewer. And yes, I felt really weird about potentially holding other people’s future in my hands. I will say it did get easier over time for me. And it helped me then to talk about it with folks who had more experience doing interviews.

      The thing that really helped me with the actual interviews was that my agency had prompts about what should be included in a good answer to each of our canned questions. If your company/agency/etc doesn’t do that, you might want to consider talking with others on the interview team about what a good answer should look like. That makes it much easier to compare candidates.

    3. Albeira Dawn*

      Can you take the predetermined set of questions and the job description and brainstorm some bullet points in the candidate’s answer you’d be looking for?
      Example: The position is an estimator who meets with clients to assess their needs and provide a rough quote if the project is a suitable fit.
      Interview question: Tell me about a time you gave the wrong answer to a client or external party and how you resolved the situation.
      Your brainstormed list: (1) candidate took responsibility (2) determined why the answer was wrong and how to avoid making the same mistake (3) looped a supervisor or anyone else important into the situation (4) worked with the client to provide a correct answer and compensate for anything lost.

      Your list isn’t rigid, but more of a framework to start comparing candidates. Maybe Candidate A talked about doing (1), (2), and (4), but didn’t bring in a supervisor, which is important in the position you’re hiring for. Candidate B did (1), (2), (3), (4), and talked about documenting the error and sharing it with others who might make the same mistake.

      1. Esmeralda*

        We have a rubric to go with the require questions — so helpful. Excellent = abcxyz123, Good = abc123, Poor = a3

        Required questions: you can still ask follow ups. Ask for clarification on an answer, ask them to expand, ask them to give an example, repeat the part of the question they didn’t answer…

        Take notes.

        Manage your face — by this I mean, if you’re someone who shows every emotion on your face, work on controlling that and/or figure out a way to obscure your face somewhat (I sometimes steeple my hands and use them to obscure my mouth, that kind of thing). You don’t need to be completely impassive, but especially for a negative emotion, do what you can. (I have RBF when I’m listening intently, so the steepling thing, or consciously working on nodding, etc, because I know my face can make nervous people nervous-er, especially if I’m the committee chair or if the interviewee picks up that I may have a lot of sway)

    4. Apt Nickname*

      I just had my second time on the hiring committee and I was surprised by how easy it was to make a decision both times. However, we have a scoring system for each question so we have hard numbers rather than going with a feeling. This last time one candidate was the clear standout. However, my first time I had ranked candidate A as first and B as second but it was very close. The other two people had ranked B as first so we went with B and she was excellent. The nice thing about being in a committee is not having the whole burden on you. Also, the questions they ask you are a great way to differentiate the candidates. Everyone’s going to have the same sort of answer for “Why do you want to work here?”

    5. eggegg*

      Lean hard into behavioral questions and don’t be afraid to ask follow-ups! I start that section of the interview with a script that explains the pieces of a response you’re hoping to hear (situation/plan/action/result). A lot of folks know how to structure those answers but not everyone, so I think of laying out that structure clearly as an equity issue. Then I tell them I know interviews are stressful and that I’m more interested in how well they would do the job than in how well they interview, so please feel free to take as much time as they need to think of answer or let me know if they’d like to skip something and come back to it later.

      I also like to have them interview with the team at some point without me present. I lead that introduction with a script about how they should be interviewing us as much as we’re interviewing them because really we’re making a business decision about whether to work together! And I encourage them to ask my team questions about work culture to suss out whether it’s the best fit for them. So basically I’m just taking Alison’s advice about everything interview-related and saying the quiet parts out loud :)

    6. Another Michael*

      A rubric can be a tremendously helpful tool for both veteran and first time interviewers. As Albeira Dawn mentioned, identify the key skills and qualities you’re looking for in a candidate and seek out those in their answers. Answers that are higher scoring on the rubric shouldinclude demonstrated experience in those skills rather than answers that are conceptual or theorhetical. This will help you hone in on the things that are most important and also helps to eliminate bias.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        I’d also suggest asking a panelist with experience how they would use the rubric to help evaluate, before the first interview.

        1. Another Michael*

          Yes – a great point! Even better would be standardizing them across hiring for the organization/team!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Good fit: I think after you have done a couple interviews you will see enough differences in how people present that this will become clearer. It will make more sense what type of person to look for.

      Overempathizing. Keep repeating to yourself that it is not up to you to control how many are hired. They know that only one of them will be hired- it’s not a surprise or upset for them to find out others have applied. Your part in this is to represent your organizations needs/preferences and not your preferences. You are helping to decide for the organization not for you. If you could hire all the good ones you would- but you can’t.

      OTOH, you can remain kind and sincere. If you will be handling calls or emails from the applicants you can find out what you are supposed to tell them and frame it in the kindest way you can when you tell them.

    8. Leela*

      Remember that hiring for culture fit or “they’d fit in SO WELL here” is often mired in things like sexism, racism, ableism, etc, without anyone being aware of what’s going on. If you have an office full of people from a similar background (lots of dudes, mostly white, mostly from money and without disability affecting office norms), that’s probably who’s going to magically fit the culture well and will continue to do so until things change. Really try to focus on the job skills if you want diversity – plenty of people are perfectly personable but don’t act personable in the way that everyone else does and those people always seem to “just not be a good fit” with no clear reason why, and that kills a company’s diversity

  13. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I have an ask. I love the open threads but I find people are too vague in their comments for us to actually give useful advice. Usually after reading a letter or long comment, I still have little clue what level the person is at, how good they are at their job, or what type of industry it is. It’s really hard to then give advice, because then you can only rely on general principles to give rather vague advice.

    I have a decent amount of corporate experience over two decades but barely chime in because of this. I really need to know who I am responding to. Commenters will drop a few hints about what type of work they do, but to outsiders, sometimes the data points they put seem to contradict each other. For example they will say they are senior level but then mention doing routine tasks and not any features of senior level work. So then I am left thinking about whether the core issue is that the person isn’t very self-aware, or whether the issue is that they’re trying so hard to maintain anonymity that they are not giving us the correct impressions to work with.

    I was wondering if people give be more specific? I think there is a general concern that they will blow their anonymity, but this concern has been way overstated online.

    1. Paula*

      I know for a fact my old manager reads AAM and goes through the comments, I’ve seen her do it at work. So I don’t necessarily know if the anonymity concern is way overstated. I do think that people could afford to give a little more color sometimes though.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This. I know managers who read this site as well, so no, I would not advise people to give identifying information to sate other’s curiosity. If there’s context missing after someone comments, OPs who are generally interested in the advice/feedback will come back and correct the misinterpretation, so I don’t think it’s necessary.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is part of why we have a rule to take LW at their word, and I think that carries over into open threads. If there are specific followup aspects you need you can ask, but please don’t push people to share more than they’re comfortable with. Overstated or not, anonymity is a concern and we know of instances where LWs have been outed.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Agreed. Sometimes the questions are impossible. If you say you’re a “llama groomer” in a “chocolate teapot factory,” the answers to your question will be wildly different depending on your actual title and your industry.

    4. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      “They will say they are senior level but then mention doing routine tasks”
      I will respectfully offer that you are reading too much into a response.

      In addition to anonymity, I give general comments because I know that my situation in (large, West Coast US city, working a very specific type of job) isn’t going to directly apply 1:1 to someone who lives somewhere else, does something else, or isn’t a cis- het- middle-aged, middle class white dude. But we’re in this together to crowd source an answer.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I think we should modify our advice based on whatever differences there are though. I mean, there are some things I can forgive an entry level person doing that would be cardinal sins if someone with way more experience was doing them

        1. Attractive Nuisance*

          Well, you aren’t being asked to judge or forgive! Advice is advice, and if you need more context for your advice, you can ask.

        2. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

          I believe this is one of the (few) times when that onus is more incumbent on the reader than the writer.

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            Well, I mean, if someone wants to say they are llama groomer and they are really an electrician and the reader assumes they work in the office, then the advice will be bad for them. Not seeing how the onus should be on the reader to be psychic like that.

            I think some of y’all are making this more complicated than this needs to be. In no other situation in life would we speak in code and expect strangers to know what we are talking about.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              That’s patently false. Colloquial terminology is incredibly common – ever tried not to talk about body parts or sex around a child? As one example. Or worked in an industry with jargon? Also the internet has endless types of code and double speak.

              1. Prospect Gone Bad*

                I think it’s sort of funny that I’m getting so much feedback for simply asking that people get a little specific when they ask questions!

                But I don’t get your analogy at all or your point. Yeah, jargon exists. Yeah, in some other situations, coded language works. Yeah, colloquial terminology exists.

                but what does any of that have to do with my point? I feel like you’re throwing a bunch of unrelated things regarding language at me.

                I am not trying to dissect language, I just would like to be able to figure out if someone works on an oil rig or is coordinating charity galas attended by celebrities. If they are new or experienced. If they have a set routine or free reign. If they work completely alone or have to work in teams.

                None of that is about language. The person can used coded language and still convey this things. But many OPs aren’t even trying or getting too vague with the “llama groomer” stuff. Which doesn’t bother me per se, but all I’m saying is, if you’re an AR clerk in a manufacturing job, please know that that is generic enough that your cover is not blown!

                1. pivot*

                  I’m curious about what your goal is here. It isn’t like you’re speaking to a small group of 8 who can all decide they’ll start doing things a different way, its an anonymous site with thousands of commenters and new ones joining all the time. There’s no way to institute this kind of rule unless Alison decides to require it of people, which I would be surprised to see happen.

                2. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  “In no other situation in life would we speak in code and expect strangers to know what we are talking about.”

                3. Fikly*

                  Well, you asked a large group of commenters to change the fundamental way they do things, and ended by invalidating everyone’s concerns about anonymity.

                  So you started a big request by pissing everyone off. That’s not going to lead to lots of people being inclined to do what you want, regardless of whether or not you have a point.

                  Which you don’t, because you are in no position to evaluate what other people need to feel safe. Only they can do that.

                4. EventPlannerGal*


                  “you started a big request by pissing everyone off”

                  I don’t think they pissed everyone off. I think a small number of people who are taking their comment oddly personally are getting pissed off, which I find strange.

            2. Yorick*

              People can give details that are needed for the advice without giving details about themselves or their jobs. For example, if I were an electrician who did home repairs, I might say I’m a llama groomer who makes house calls.

              1. Loulou*

                I guess I wonder why you’d say that instead of saying something like “technician” or “contractor” or something like that. I do find sometimes the comments really go off the rails based on assumptions that could have been avoided with just a *little* more specificity.

        3. The Despot*

          I think you are asking for more stringency than what makes sense for the setup. The questions you’re asking are probably relevant for Alison sometimes–although I think she does a good job of sussing out those details and asking followups when she needs to–but in these open threads we’re strangers bouncing questions off other strangers whose backgrounds and expertise we know nothing about. It’s informal by design. If you feel you can’t answer a question without knowing more…you can just pass it by?

          1. Jean*

            “If you feel you can’t answer a question without knowing more…you can just pass it by?”

            Exactly. Don’t be that person who answers “I don’t know” to the Amazon questions. If you don’t know, don’t worry about it.

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              It’s actually the opposite. I don’t know what 1000 jobs they could be referring to when someone says “I work at a big company” so I de facto have to skip them.

              I know it’s the internet but come on, why is everyone looking for malintention when I am simply trying to actually understand letters?

              1. Jean*

                OK but where are you seeing anyone looking for malintention? If you don’t understand a LW, you can ask them for clarification or you can just skip it. That’s really all I’ve seen anyone say in response to your post.

                1. Prospect Gone Bad*

                  maybe malintention intention isn’t the word. But I feel like people are trying to make this controversial when it’s just a simple request. I’ve followed loads of websites and it’s a thing particular to AAM that people leave out too many details. I think some responses are trying to make it more deep than that.

                  And now I see a few “just ask” responses which are making me chuckle. So I should respond to half of the letters with the same questions?

    5. Generic Name*

      I hear you. For whatever reason, I have a hard time with even simple analogies. Extended ones just cause a brain short-circuit. Maybe I’m on the spectrum? My son is, so maybe?? The llama groomer/chocolate teapot analogies usually make me skip a question because it’s too confusing to me to parse out what the situation is. Anyway, I would have a much easier time answering a question if someone would just say, “I’m an accountant for a small family-owned company” or even just, “I work in a factory making widgets”. That seems fairly anonymous, to me. I guess it’s the main character syndrome that most people at least somewhat fall prey to. As in, it’s really easy to feel embarrassed when you have a stain on your shirt or you trip in public, but the reality is that most people are caught up in their own worlds (worrying about stains and tripping themselves) that they really aren’t paying that much attention to anyone but themselves.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I think equating it to main character syndrome is a little dismissive given the stakes some people could be facing if they were outed, which I really need to stress again has happened, regardless of how rare it is. People have different risk tolerances.

        1. Generic Name*

          My apologies. I did not mean to be dismissive of people’s concerns. I was trying to convey that there are so many people in the world that admitting that you have a particular type of job in a certain industry is likely to apply to dozens to thousands of people and is unlikely to be especially revealing, but it’s easy to feel that it might be. That’s all.

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            This is true. I admit there are indeed some niche jobs. But you can switch out a key detail to still convey the point while also maintaining anonymity. Like if you work for Anna Wintour say “I work in a high stress office in a sought after role with loads of deadlines, to develop an esteemed periodical in the business sphere.”

            1. Pocket Mouse*

              …But it’s unlikely all that detail is relevant to the question. The key pieces are probably about the setting (pace/stress/deadlines), or the industry (periodicals/writing content). In responding to questions, you likely just need to know that deadlines cannot be pushed back because of deliverables going public on a set schedule, or that the boss is notoriously tough to work for (and the reasons why), or that the work is related to topic X. It’s very unlikely you’d need to know all of that in order to give advice. You can ask for more detail if you think it’s really needed, or give the most broadly applicable advice you can think of and hedge it with “If your workplace is on the conservative side, like finance, …” or “…If you’re a contractor, the situation may be different.” Whatever fits!

          2. Chilipepper Attitude*

            I work in a city library. If I mention my age (which has been part of the reason I posted a question), and I mention one peculiarity of the library/city structure (which is also a big part of my questions), and then say coworker or manager did or responded x way (which is most of the reason I write in) – then I can be easily identified or my library system can be easily identified.

            It is just not worth it to me to be more specific.

            1. Calliope*

              I also have a job like that but I think the thing is, I will not try to get public anonymous help on things that could out me. I mean, I can say I’m an attorney and my boss is stealing my lunch, and I can get helpful advice on that level of specificity. But I couldn’t get very specific advice on very specific stuff using a llama groomer analogy because people won’t get it.

              I’m not personally bothered by the analogies but I also think sometimes not being specific does mean people here don’t get usable advice. Which is totally fine but it’s also fine for someone to point out the trade off.

          3. Esmeralda*

            A lot of folks post more than once. If you’re on here a lot, and you (by which I mean”I”) know colleagues read here, it’s reasonable to hide identifying info before you ask a risky question (risky if it could identify you).

            Look, I got a note in my personnel file for a social media comment I thought was anonymous. Not making that mistake again.

            Ask for clarification or scroll on by.

      2. MsM*

        Honestly, I think it’s more “main character syndrome” to expect the other person to provide you with all the details you’ve decided you need than to just look at what’s there, go “Okay, that doesn’t seem to align with my experience or anything I’m familiar with; maybe I’m not the right person to answer this,” and move on. Or ask a clarifying question, and if they don’t want to answer, then they don’t want to answer.

        1. Generic Name*

          Ha, maybe. :) I was providing my own similar experience to the OP as to why I too skip lots of questions. If I read a question that’s confusing to me, or doesn’t seem to have enough info, I move on. No harm no foul. Do I expect them to explain their situation to me perfectly? Absolutely not. I thought perhaps my perspective could help people who ask questions but get no to few answers and feel frustrated about that.

        2. Prospect Gone Bad*

          Can I ask, how do you know if you have experience or not to offer if someone is saying “I am a teapot maker?”
          I’m seeing a few responses like this and didn’t expect that at all. I am curious how people are gauging whether they have advice to offer when some OPs only say “I’m a llama groomer”

          1. ed sec exec*

            because you generally don’t need to know the specific job to answer the question. respectfully, have you ever been told you’re very literal in other areas of life or do you have trouble understanding other things that most others don’t seem to struggle with? your reactions here are confusing and most people aren’t struggling with what you say you are struggling with.

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              “ave you ever been told you’re very literal in other areas of life or do you have trouble understanding other things that most others don’t seem to struggle with”

              No! Why would you even think that. I’m finding it sort of hilarious as the days go on that people think this is some outrageous request.

              I’ve read Dear Prudence on and off and if someone wrote in “someone close to me is causing me a problem, let’s pretend their my llama groomer and when they did some teapot painting, I got mad and they said this is normal for teapot painting . Please help.”

              Would it mean I am neurodivergent when I can’t follow or offer advice? Why is it any different here?

              1. ed sec exec*

                because you are coming across as really rigid and uncomfortable with any ambiguity and you seem stymied by something that few others here experience as a problem. it’s an advice column with a one time per week opportunity to chat with other readers, it’s not anything more serious than that. if there’s not enough info to your liking to answer a question, who cares?

                and because as someone else pointed out it’s not something you can solve with a post like this anyway, it would have to come from alison. i don’t know what your intent was.

            2. Loulou*

              Other people here absolutely struggle with not knowing the actual details of an LW’s job though??? That’s one reason why so many comment sections veer off into speculation.

            3. EventPlannerGal*

              “you generally don’t need to know the specific job to answer the question”

              I’m sorry but this is just not true. I can think of many, many letters that have been posted with very vague details where the advice completely changes when the OP turns up to clarify what they actually do. For example, I can think of multiple letters from people asking about expectations around working hours that turned out after many comments to be from people working in investment banking, an industry with infamously long hours. Hundreds of comments giving advice based on assumptions that were completely useless!

              I’m really surprised at the pushback (and honestly the oddly personally-offended tone of a lot of the responses) this commenter is getting. I have always found that the letters and open-thread comments that I’ve found most interesting have been ones that give specifics – people are of course under no obligation to risk identifying themselves but I just don’t think that generic anonymity makes for very interesting reading. When it’s an industry that I’m familiar with I can give more specific advice, and when it’s an industry I know little about then I learn something. I guess that there seem to be some commenters who like the generic nature of some of the letters as it provides opportunities to spin “but what if the scenario is X, then maybe OP should do Y?” scenarios, but to channel Gino d’Acampo for a moment, if my grandmother had wheels then she would be a bike.

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                It really depends on the type of question, IMO. If it’s something like “my coworker keeps talking over me in meetings”, this is pretty universal and the differences in culture between different workplaces in the same field may be larger than the differences in culture between fields. If it’s something field-dependent (“I’m performing a financial statement audit and having the following issue…”), you’ll probably get better answers from a different venue anyway.

                1. EventPlannerGal*

                  “If it’s something field-dependent (“I’m performing a financial statement audit and having the following issue…”), you’ll probably get better answers from a different venue anyway.”

                  True, but I guess that strikes me as a huge waste of potential – it’s a work advice blog, so it doesn’t make sense to me that questions more specific than generic interpersonal conflicts shouldn’t be considered suitable for the venue. And that’s kind of a self-perpetuating issue, too – if everybody is disguising their industry-specific questions with tortured llama/teapot analogies then people with industry experience aren’t going to be able to give relevant advice. I suspect this is why there seems to be such an abundance of LWs and active commenters working in non-profits – I guess because of Alison’s background in non-profits people often seem to write in without disguising it, so you get a lot of commenters from that sector popping up to give advice, which in turn makes it a more attractive source of advice for non-profit workers.

      3. pieces_of_flair*

        Hmm, as someone who posted today as a llama groomer, I wasn’t so much worried about anonymity as I was about including unnecessary details that might confuse the issue. It doesn’t matter for the purposes of my question what my actual job is. If another commenter asked what my real job was, I would answer honestly. But I totally get why it’s frustrating when the details of the job do matter to the question. Because yeah, if I had to come up with some convoluted metaphor about different aspects of my job involving different llama body parts or whatever, I probably wouldn’t get useful answers to my question because no one would know what I was really talking about.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          But I am seeing that the details DO matter. For example earlier this week there was a letter about a field technician who was gruff and got fired then quickly rehired. The situation and answer is totally different depending on the role. In that case, the fact that it was culturally normal in that sort of environment to act a certain why is key to offering advice. If the person was in a more conservative white collar role, the answer would be different.

          1. twocents*

            I don’t know why you’re getting this absurd level of pushback, when, as in this example, it’s actually highly relevant to understand why someone wasn’t fired. My neighbor’s husband works in construction. The stuff he gets away with saying to his manager that I would be fired on the spot for makes the industry and role a huge difference.

            If the specifics of the situation are so uniquely identifiable that it’s impossible to request help without blowing your cover, then it’s probably not a question for this forum. Ask someone in real life who you don’t have to disguise what you’re really asking about.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              The pushback against the OP’s very reasonable ask is a big reason why this comments section ranges from helpful to hilarious.

      4. Fran Fine*

        The llama groomer/chocolate teapot analogies usually make me skip a question because it’s too confusing to me to parse out what the situation is.

        I’m not on the spectrum, and I hate these analogies as well for the same reason, so, like you, I usually skip them. That part I can agree the site could do with less of. It seems like Alison started doing this in the write ups to anonymize some of the letters, others caught on, and took it to the extreme because I never had a problem following along with the story when Alison did it. Everybody else just gets too cutesy with it and it’s annoying and confusing, but unfortunately, it’s such A Thing here now that I don’t ever see this changing.

    6. AnotherLibrarian*

      Here’s the thing though (and this may be only true for some of us, I don’t know), but in my very low population state there are literally only five people who do the same job I do. If I give my specific type of library work, along with the type of place I work, it would pretty easy to suss out who I am if you knew the state. Now, I don’t really mind, but occasionally I ask questions where I am concerned that staff and/or patrons have privacy. After all, privacy is a ethical obligation for librarians and in those cases I do change my username and go much more anonymous. Just because you think people are overly concerned with their anonymity, doesn’t mean people are. And sometimes the concern isn’t the anonymity of the poster, it is the anonymity of the other people involved who deserve more concern for their privacy, as they have not consented to be written about on the internet.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Right but you don’t need to mention your state, and in your case something like “highly specialized library work” would be more than enough. That’s already more specific than I am talking about. I am talking about cases where people barely mention anything about the field, or at most say “non-profit” without saying whether it’s a school or a charity.

        1. MsM*

          As someone who does work in nonprofits, I can tell you that whether it’s a school or a charity makes no difference to my job function, so I wouldn’t feel the need to specify unless it were somehow pertinent. I’m sure the same applies across any number of other jobs and industries: what you might consider vital to understanding the situation is not necessarily going to be true for everyone, and may not actually be helpful to the person asking if that extraneous bit of detail becomes the focus of the replies instead. Again, if you’re reading it and going “this sounds *seriously* different from how things are done in my field,” I think that’s probably enough of a sign on its own that it’s just not your question.

          1. Calliope*

            That might be true for some jobs but even in that particular example, schools and charities often operate very differently in a lot of ways. Like we’d probably be appalled at someone writing in and saying they could only use the bathroom every couple of hours but if it’s a kindergarten teacher it makes sense (to take an obvious over simplified example and no I’m not defending the practice of not giving teachers bathroom breaks). Not all questions are like that but some are and I see why folks sometimes get frustrated since we absolutely do have comments that totally change the context semi-regularly.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I just posted a comment about my library system and outing myself. I bet I would have a good idea about AnotherLibrarian if I knew their specific type of library work and that there were not a lot of them in that state. I don’t even need the state name.

    7. lost academic*

      I don’t think it’s contradictory to say you’re at a senior level and also do routine tasks. At every consulting firm I’ve been at, the most senior people, now including myself, have to do things that are a PITA and routine lower level stuff. There are places where that would just never be the case, but not where I have been. I agree that it can sometimes be hard to respond to comments on these threads but I also assume if you’re starting a discussion, you’ll be around to engage with the responses so there’s an opportunity to get clarification.

    8. A*

      In general I agree, and I’ve also stopped chiming in on most of the vague posts because more often than not the commenter will pop back in after a few hours and clarifies they work in academia or another industry that is known for having it’s own standards/norms.

      However, I need to gently push back on this part: ” For example they will say they are senior level but then mention doing routine tasks and not any features of senior level work.”

      I can’t speak for others, but in my case I am a senior level employee (it’s in my title, my compensation package is at the senior level etc. so this isn’t just ‘my interpretation’) but in addition to my higher level responsibilities I also handle my own admin work etc. It’s the norm in my industry. We have a few shared resource admins for some of the larger time sinks, but for the most part everyone handles their own stuff – including at the C-suite executive level. Just because I’m a senior level employee doesn’t mean I’m above spending 1-2 hours a week taking care of more basic tasks. I’d hate to think someone would be questioning my judgement and employment level just because I booked my own work trip or cut my own POs etc.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I’m not saying senior people don’t do low level work. But if they have two sentences to describe their position they’re sure not going to say “occasionally fill in processing paperwork, and approve time cards.” You’d usually leave that stuff out and only explain the core work of your job.

        1. Yorick*

          Unless those things are relevant for the question. That might be more relevant for the question than the person’s actual job title.

      2. Anon scientist*

        Heh. I am a director of X and I expected my name to show up in the local papers in the business news roundup of the local papers when I moved into this position, but I did not expect my photo to show up in a glossy (trade) magazine.

        So yes, I am a senior level employee. But it is also my job to Get Shit Done so the staff can do their own stuff, and I have the clout to make things happen, so the amount of administrative stuff I do to fix things is a Lot. Fixing root causes means I’m spending a lot of time with timesheets and invoices and who knows what else. If some annoying little thing is wasting an hour per week for 30 people, then it behooves me to get it fixed.

    9. kina lillet*

      I don’t disagree that vagueness or extended llama groomer euphemisms can make it difficult to say what’s going on, but I do think there’s no Extremely Clear end state. Some people simply won’t write particularly well. Some will know they need advice about something but go into detail about the wrong part of their story. Some aren’t very self-aware. But mostly, there’s so much variety that there will always be mismatches–even in my industry, software development, if I explicitly say “I’m a software developer,” there’s a huge variation in what that means depending on the product, the company, whether it’s B2B.

      Obviously it’s ok to have pet peeves about the forum; I’ve got my own. But I think it’s incumbent on the commenter to say, you know, “X and Y aren’t clear to me, but based on Z I’d give you this advice.”

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I think this is less a problem of too many unspecific metaphors – which I actually don’t think there are a ton in the open threads but I haven’t counted! – and more one of people not realising what information is important for them to include.

        There are questions where it’s relevant where exactly someone is located while in others that matters only vaguely while the typical working hours in their industry are pertinent, yet another question has nothing to do with industry norms at all and instead hinges on the fact that the writer is actually a moth in disguise whereas the next question can completely ignore everything about the person of the writer and the only thing that matters is that they work at a family business.

        But while some people are very good at sussing out what information they need to give for others to judge a situation adequately, some just aren’t, and no level of detail-inclusion or factual language is going to change that.

      2. Very Social*

        Yes, agreed. I think people give the information that they think is relevant and important to answer their question. They’re not always on target; it takes advice that’s also off-target or questions to work that out.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      That is what we do here- general principles.

      In your example here, with the senior level doing routine tasks it might be that they are using the routine task as an analogy of sorts. Or it could be that they are a big wig who actually empties their own trash can. This is why we have to take them at their word. It’s not up to us to find the flaws in their posts- it’s up to us to point out ideas that might work.

      A poster can come back and ask for an example or ask for a script. The poster can interact but only some do.

      I have seen posters say, “Okay I left out something that is important. I realized that by the advice that was given. If people knew xyz then they would not be offering this particular avenue as a solution.”

      It kind of feels like you want to nail down a very specific step by step guide and that is not doable here. For one thing- the amount of bits of info necessary for step by step action is mind boggling. But another problem is some companies could end up very “mad” at Alison as we are here because of her.

      Last. Impressions are all about where you are standing when you view an incident. If you are at the center and getting the brunt of the damage that is very different than if you are sitting 3 blocks over in a coffee shop. Impressions are just people’s opinions of what they think is going on. This is why posters will say, “check for this or check for that before proceeding”.

      Jobs are a lot like life. Our parents could not give us specific inch by inch instructions on how to live life. Same deal here.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      I know what you mean, but I do think advice request posters are trying to protect themselves. If I answer, I try to give context for my answer (industry/field/geography/whatever seems relevant) so that the poster can take my advice or leave it as they see fit.

    12. Koala dreams*

      Commenters give advice based on their individual experiences, and that way the comments as a whole give insight in how the situation would play out in different industries, locations and company cultures. As a reader, I find this to be a feature not a problem. It means the advice in the comments will not only be helpful to a single person (the letter writer) but be helpful to many types of readers. Of course, the downside is that the letter writer needs to take comments with a grain of salt, as many comments don’t apply to their specific situation.

    13. Generalist*

      I have had similar reactions to yours, Prospect. I think quite often it’s not even for anonymity but because people get a kick out of playing with the teapot and llama scenarios. I didn’t read your comment as any kind of attempt to impose a diktat, but as a reminder to those who seek advice that the level and volume of advice provided may vary depending how vague their description of their situation is. And yes, obviously people have the right to be oblique and in some circumstances there could be risks involved if they get extremely specific, so they will weigh them against the benefit of being less oblique. Seems very reasonable to me that you are reminding folks of that trade-off.

  14. Lemon*

    Two questions about leaving jobs:

    1. How honest should you be about why you’re leaving? In my case, I didn’t think that my bosses (who really wanted me to stay) could actually make the changes I needed and I didn’t want to jeopardize my relationship with them, so I kept it vague. I know I have no obligation to share the true reasons, but I really want them and the team to do well so I was wondering if I made the right decision to not be completely honest.

    2. My bosses told me they would love to have me back in the future, and it’s something I am open to considering if things align. How do I maintain the relationship with them in the meanwhile?

    Any thoughts, advice, or personal stories welcome!

    1. Gojira*

      You made the right decision. I know a lot of people wish that they could tell their bosses why they actually left in the hopes that it would better the company/team/etc. But ultimately, that kind of advice giving doesn’t usually get anywhere. It’s much more likely to hurt your relationship with your old boss. Especially if you didn’t think they were capable of making the changes you needed, there’s no good outcome to telling them.

      (I’m also hoping to see others’ advice for your second question… All my bosses until my current one have been pretty terrible, so I’ve been cutting off contact completely.)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Do you think the reasons you’re sharing them are things they will take into real consideration and actual work to addressing? My guess is probably not—otherwise, you would have shared those earlier, and they would have done something about those things, and you may not have left.

      That’s not always the case. But, yeah, generally if you’re leaving because of dissatisfaction (and not “a better opportunity came up” or “I have to move across the country for my spouse’s grad school”), you would have stayed if you believed you (or your management) could change the things that bothered you.

      If you don’t think sharing will change anything, don’t share. If they couldn’t change things when you were there, they won’t change things because you left.

      1. Lemon*

        I think it’s not really in their hands to change things even if they wanted to, and the powers that be deny that the firm (it’s a large company, roughly 10,000 employees) is paying much less than their competitors. I left because of a better opportunity, and that’s the reason I’ve shared officially, but I wouldn’t have applied for it right now if I were more fairly compensated as compared to my peers at other firms.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I think it’s not really in their hands to change things even if they wanted to, and the powers that be deny that the firm (it’s a large company, roughly 10,000 employees) is paying much less than their competitors.

          Yeah, so in that case, I wouldn’t share the reasons you’re leaving.

          The reason you shared (which is true but not the whole story) is good enough in this situation.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve always gone with “minimally”, but the places I’ve left were places that I knew weren’t going to change anything. They also weren’t ever going to get me back but there was nothing to be gained by saying that; it sounds like you , though, would actually consider it so consider your wording carefully.

    4. CheesePlease*

      I mean if they can’t make the changes, it’s ok to say that are leaving for a position that “provides flexibility and standards beyond what I foresee current company implementing in the next few years, given our current business model” if that is the case. If it’s more cultural, it’s a little trickier. I wasn’t completely honest with my former manager how much their management and business style made me very anxious and I could see the inefficiencies. I mainly focused on my benefits, flexibility, commute and alignment with personal goals.

    5. Leela*

      having worked in HR….specific, correct critiques almost never go anywhere. If they’re acted on EVER, it’s usually in the weakest way (giving management coaching to someone who really ought to be let go at this point, slaps on the wrist for show that change nothing but they won’t keep trying to change anything because they did the slap on the wrist so they did something, right? etc), and it killed me because this was sorely needed info for retention and business strategy but the companies never want to act on it. After all, the person with the complaint left! Nevermind that dozens to hundreds of current employees might feel the same way but 1) don’t feel safe enough to come forward while still working at said company or 2) see that HR does absolutely nothing when a leaving employee brings up the same issues so they feel it’s pointless to try, then issues fester and the best people leave. It’s demoralizing and exhausting but the deck is heavily stacked against you. I fantasize about what I’d say in my exit interview but honestly I probably won’t – my current boss, who is not the problem, will only get grilled for not having fixed these issues which are WAY above his rights/pay grade, and the actual problem person (our managing director) will likely never even hear it.

    6. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I left a job for a job that I will retire in (I’m that old). So I have no relationship to maintain at all. And I still did not say the real reason or fill out the “anonymous” employee survey that HR sent.

      Put yourself first. And if someday, you have a way to improve things that does not put you at risk, you can do that.

  15. anonon*

    How do you balance everything you need to do in a job search when you are completely burnt out? I have been looking for a new job and getting interviews. I used to always do very well in interviews but am finding that since the pandemic, I am just so exhausted from work, from parenting, from anxiety, and not thinking clearly when I am answering interview questions, having a hard time doing the follow-up steps like sending thank you letters, because I am just so tired and overwhlemed. My current job definitely contributes to the exhaustion and anxiety, and I feel like I’m stuck in this loop and kind of trapped. Any advice?

    1. Lucky*

      Sorry I don’t have more practical ideas to share – but, you just need to do it. The same way you find the energy to fix dinner and do the bedtime routine with your kids *because you have to* you need to put the same energy-of-necessity behind your job search so you can get out of your burn out. That means taking your energy away from something else, so let the laundry go unfolded, give yourself permission to suck at your job for a few weeks, cancel whatever you can that adds to your stress.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Also, is there another adult you could lean on (spouse, parents, sibs, close friends, parents of your kids’ friends)? Lucky is right, you have to get that energy from somewhere else. If you’re a single parent, could your kids go to friends’ houses one night a week for the next two months? If you’re not, could your spouse handle weeknight dinners?

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Make a physical kanban board. Tape it to the wall. To Do, In progress, Done. 3 columns. Get some post it notes. Stick each task in as small a step as possible on a post it. Add to wall. Move as you progress.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      In addition to the great advice above, can you possibly take some of your vacation or call in sick a couple of days, just to rest? Or take some half days to focus on the job search?
      Also, I strongly recommend taking some time off in between jobs once you land one, if you can afford to do so. You sound so very tired and I’m sorry!
      I hope you land a wonderful new job very soon. Good luck!

    4. Dragonfly7*

      I am fortunate to have sick time built up and am finally letting myself call in on days I am mildly not feeling well instead of dragging myself in to the office like I would have before. Is that an option for you?

  16. callmeheavenly*

    Does anyone have experience with Fred Pryor seminars – specifically if there is any value in their management training? I have been struggling with a direct report and am willing to admit the problem is partially me.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      When I was promoted to management, my manager included a 1-year unlimited Pryor subscription. I found the content pretty good, but biased toward corporate; good for most, but things in government are different in many ways.

      I didn’t get as much out of it as I probably could have, but that was on me not prioritizing it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I took an FP Microsoft Office seminar, but it was in 2000. I remember it being very basic.

      I’d look closely at the level of the seminar and its focus. Is there a specific thing you’re struggling with on which you need more insight? Or is it just managing in general? Also, I would see if there is anyone in your network or company who could offer some guidance.

      1. callmeheavenly*

        I was looking at “How to be an assertive manager” and “Criticism and discipline skills for managers and supervisors.”

        It’s a small local government office. I have myself never been actively managed beyond “here’s where you sit, good luck,” so I haven’t really had any role models. I’ve been in this position more than ten years, but my previous assistants who retired were comparatively low maintenance. I want this person to be successful but hit BEC point with her pretty early on (first mistake was not extending the probation period tbh). I am pretty much a conflict-avoidant introvert just to make it extra perfect.

        1. Grits McGee*

          If you end up not going with a seminar, I’ve found the book Crucial Conversations really helpful for interacting with cowers I’m at BEC-levels with. I’m also a government employee (though not a supervisor), and I found out about the book through an Office of Personnel Management training program.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      Short answer: I’d put them in the neutral to good category. Most of these types* of seminars offer nuggets of information that is useful, but they aren’t going to magically transform anyone. In other words they can be useful tools in an otherwise varied toolbox if that makes sense.

      *Fred Pryor has a pretty good reputation

      Longer answer:
      Since I don’t know the particular issue you’re trying to work through with the employee, let’s use time management for this response. You can send your DR to a seminar on the subject and they may pick up a few tips to help them, but you will still have to do your work to reinforce and set clear expectations. You will still have to oversee the completed work and timeliness, you will have to set clear deadlines, you will have to be available if there is a legitimate problem that needs your intervention, you will have to make sure they have the tools and training to do the job in a timely manner, etc. So as you mentioned that the problem is partially you, at the same time you are looking to develop your DR, you also need to be looking into what skills you need to improve on.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          lol… sorry I noticed that after I posted! (Insert wish #5837566994442 for an edit button) Most of it still stands, you will find things in the seminars to add to your manager toolbox, but it’s not going to be a magic wand :) You are still going to have to do the work behind it as above, but since it’s from the manager pov… I would include being willing and able to to have uncomfortable conversations. That one seems to be the biggest learning curve as a manager.

          Good luck, I hope you find some things to help with your situation. But also keep in mind, while you could be part of the problem with your DR, It could also be that you are not. So don’t be aware of the trap that “It must be me”, sometimes it is sometimes it’s not.

    4. Hearts & Minds*

      I’ve read quite a few management books. The one that helped me the most was “Radical Candor.” Not only did it give me tools to effectively communicate, it helped me to recognize & reframe my tendency to attribute motives and character flaws to some of the employees I was at BEC stage with.

      Also, the SCARF model is very useful in any type of person-to-person relationship.

      1. Hearts & Minds*

        p.s. to answer the question you actually asked, I’ve found most Fred Pryor seminars to be meh.

  17. Syl*

    I’ve applied to several jobs at this point, I feel like the majority of my interviews went very well and I was qualified. I’ve worked for 20 years now and have held a variety of positions.

    A lot of times I don’t hear anything back from employers, then I see the job is reposted one or two months later.

    Why is this? I feel like I never saw this when I was previously applying for jobs. I’m puzzled and I don’t know why they aren’t formally rejecting me when reposting jobs.

    1. Paula*

      It’s a crappy reality that a lot of companies nowadays don’t bother with rejections. I applied to 15 jobs my last time and I received one actual rejection.

    2. Karia*

      Yep. My last job hunt took a week and a half & I was communicated with respectfully throughout by the 3-4 places I applied to. This time – with more experience & skills, and applying to higher level positions – I’m on month 3, and being ghosted constantly.

      1. DinosaurWrangler*

        Wow! Unless you have a highly sought-after skill set, a week and a half job hunt is an outlier. Often it takes company that long to contact you after you send in your application.

        A few months is more normal. And having your applications vanish into the abyss is all too common. Even ghosting after multiple interviews. It’s really annoying.

        1. Karia*

          In retrospect, I was very lucky & had a contact who had worked at the company previously. Also it’s a fast paced industry. I appreciate you saying… all of that, basically, because it’s easy to start feeling very rejected and down hearted about it all.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Aside from the rejection issue, the constant reposting is weird. I see it a lot. They might be too picky. I’m pretty sure their entire candidate pool can’t be THAT bad. So it has to be a *them* thing.

      1. Sheldon Cooper*

        Sometimes the candidate pool really is that bad. I have an open position – I had 9 people in the pool, 5 were unqualified (think advertising for a bookkeeper with experience, and getting cashiers since they count change), 3 were rejected after phone screens (for glaring issues), and 1 had a scheduled in-person interview. If they don’t work out, I’m back to square one.

        1. SnowyRose*

          We’ve experienced something similar. I’ve had to repost some of my open positions a couple of times. The candidate pool has been a wild mix of way over qualified or completely unrelated backgrounds, and the vast majority do not include the required cover letter that might help make the connection. For example, I’m hiring a manager and I’m getting a ton of software and engineering project manager resumes. We’re a nonprofit that works with people, not systems.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Question: Does your job ad specify that a cover letter is required, or do you just assume they will “know”? Lots of places completely ignore a cover letter these days.

            1. SnowyRose*

              Not only does the job posting specify it, candidates have to check a box confirming they have submitted the cover letter as required.

        2. Fran Fine*

          My team is experiencing this same issue. The candidate pool really isn’t that good in our field for the particular level we’re hiring at right now (junior software comms).

      2. Cold Fish*

        I think too many companies are looking for not just a unicorn but a golden unicorn. Companies are too used to being able to be picky and feel like just reposting the position is the better option. In spite of employees being overworked, overwhelmed, and tired of doing the work of 3.

        I think the ghosting has always been an issue but more noticeable (and frankly rude) nowadays since a simple canned email is just so easy to send out.

        1. Syl*

          I feel like they want some golden unicorn too and it’s really frustrating.

          I think I’m a good fit, have 80% of the qualifications, and interview pretty well.

          It sucks to see the position reposted over and over again for months when I thought my interviews went well and I spent 5-8 hours per company on interviews.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Also apparently companies have to advertise open positions due to PPP loans, but actually don’t want to hire someone at all. Or, they have to post the position, but make the hiring criteria so tight that they “can’t find” the unicorn that will work for the low salary they offer, so they then bring in a H1 hire with a nominal resume for that low salary. This happens more than people want to admit in tech, and then the H1 person is screwed (because they are trapped at the company at a low salary), the people applying are screwed, and the company laughs its way to the bank.

        3. Karia*

          I wonder if some of these companies *had* a golden unicorn, who left because they were increasingly expected to juggle multiple skill sets and a high workload.

    4. madge*

      The employer could just be a mess. We’re going through this right now. We’ve been without 11+ key positions, including an exec assistant, for a full year. We had several promising candidates for the EA position, then a higher-up halted the search, no reason given. It was reposted once; same thing. Now it’s not even posted and no one will communicate about it. Our division has had several instances of this. We’re a decently-sized university, not a startup or dysfunctional family business. We’re semi-joking about pooling our money to hire our own EA…

      1. Enough*

        Could be a money issues related to Covid. My daughter works at a college and budgets are tight. If fact there were a handful of positions they weren’t going to fill in the Althetic Dept till someone gave them the money.

        1. JP in the heartland*

          No offense to your daughter, but it seems like there is always a way to find money for “athletic positions.” Or athletic facilities. Or any other athletic need (as long as it’s a popular men’s sport, that is. End of rant.

  18. Vermont Girl*

    I am about to start IVF and need to be home for the delivery of my very expensive ($4k-5k) prescription drugs next week. The package is uninsured and I’d have to pay to replace them if they are stolen/lost. My new boss just started remotely today. My old boss was cool with me working from home if the need arose. But I don’t to be like “I need to be home to sign for a package.” I know saying it’s a prescription would legitimize it, but I don’t want to share any medical info with my new boss. What should I say?

    1. Loulou*

      Wait, why don’t you want to just say “I need to be home to sign for a package?” That sounds fine to me, especially since your boss is WFH themselves.

        1. lost academic*

          yeah you’re overthinking it. I have to be at home to sign for wine deliveries, a couch, all sorts of stuff, but also anything that actually requires a signature because the shipper decided that. Missing a delivery like that can be a huge hassle and anyone who’s done it knows.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Unless you’re working a coverage job (and it sounds like you aren’t), there’s nothing wrong with saying you need to be home for a delivery. That’s a pretty normal thing.

    3. Wisteria*

      If you are ok with saying it’s a prescription but not what it is for, practice avoiding any follow up questions with, “Thanks for asking, it’s nothing serious.”

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      “I need to be home for a delivery.” That’s it. If they push for more you are allowed to lie here “oh an appliance/furniture/dryer duct/” Whatever,

    5. Purple Cat*

      “home for a delivery” is perfectly legit.
      I don’t like to lie and claim “sick” when I’m not because I think it’s bad karma, but you could claim “plumbers, or “let workers in” or other vague ‘house” issues as opposed to personal issues.

      Good luck on your journey!

    6. ABK*

      You could think of it as a medical appointment, and say that you need to be home for medical reasons that day.

    7. Loredena*

      I would just tell new boss you are expecting a signature required delivery on that day and plan to WFH. It’s super common!

      1. TiffIf*

        Yup! Before Covid, before WFH was common in my work, I told my boss that I needed to be home one day because I needed to sign for the delivery of my new TV. Any reasonable person should not have a problem with this or find it odd that someone needs to be home to sign for a delivery.

    8. noahwynn*

      I agree with others, say you need to work from home that day because there is a delivery you need to be present for.

      Alternatively, both UPS and FedEx allow you to reroute packages to a pickup location. There is a small Asian grocery store near me that is a pickup location. I’ve used it a few times when I’ve had expensive items shipped and I didn’t want them sitting on my front porch or for things that require a signature and it is difficult for me to be at home for.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve totally said, “I need a day to take care of some personal stuff that has to be done during business hours,” before. All kinds of things–banks, accountants, tax guys, post office, whatever–are really only open during regular weekday hours so it’s discreetly ambiguous.

    10. Haha Lala*

      When I need to work from home, I always go with “I have a contractor coming to my house. They’ll only need my attention for a few minutes, but there’s a wide window for when they might arrive.”
      “Contractor” can mean a lot of things, or you could go more open ended and say “worker.” And that wouldn’t be lying at all!

      FWIW, my boss likely wouldn’t be OK with “signing for a package” as a reason to WFH. He’d start suggesting other options for shipping, or having packages delivered to our office, etc…
      But he’s OK with the vague “need to meet a contractor”, so that’s what works for me.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s probably stuck in the moderation filter for some reason – Alison does her best to release those in a timely manner. The site used to show you when your comments were pending moderation, but now they just seem to disappear.

      1. Brit*

        This comment feature is so janky. Sometimes it posts immediately, other times it doesn’t post.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Alison isn’t necessarily glued to her computer approving every comment as it comes in

        2. kingdom*

          It’s a WordPress thing, if you put an e-mail address in the e-mail field it will display a message telling you your comment has gone to moderation (if it has). If you leave that field blank it won’t tell you.

    2. DarthVelma*

      Did you include a link…or possible a bad word? :-)

      That’s what usually gets me into the moderation queue.

      1. Cj*

        I have yet to see a word that doesn’t get through the moderation. Maybe the c-word would do it, but I’ve seen pretty much everything else. Including from Alison.

    3. Cat Mouse*

      On my phone I have to hit the submit button twice. For some reason the first tome doesn’t do anything, but the second time the page actually refreshes with the comment.

      I think the filter generally only applies to profanity?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m sure Alison doesn’t want us speculating too much, but I have definitely noticed a few other words (including some related to mental health) that seem to trigger the filter. They always get released, though!

    4. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Top two flags for moderation that I’ve run into:
      – I compose somewhere else then copy and paste into the comment box.
      – I include a URL.

    5. pieces_of_flair*

      Mine isn’t posting either. I’ve been trying since 11. I thought it might be because I had copied and pasted from Word, so I tried typing it in directly and it still doesn’t seem to be posting. No links or bad language or anything controversial. So weird.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yours, and a few others, went to the spam filter for some reason but they’re out now (I check there less frequently so there can be a longer wait when that happens. There are two filters, the moderation filter and the spam filter. Both of them occasionally wrongly snag things but I release them once I spot them.)

  19. TaxLady*

    I am a solo tax practitioner and every year tax season is very stressful and I think about doing something else, but this year I just can’t take it anymore, I need a new plan! The trouble is after being totally self-employed for 10 years, I don’t think I could handle having a regular job. I would love some ideas for a line of work I could be in where I could work from home, have flexible hours, preferably be an independent contractor, and earn enough that its fine to only work seasonally or part time. Trouble is my only hard skill is doing personal tax returns, I’m not even a CPA or EA. I have lots of soft skills like attention to detail, good with numbers, good at analyzing a situation and problem solving, but I have no idea how I would parlay that into a new line of work. I would be willing to do some education but at age 40 I can’t really start at the bottom with entry level pay. I’d be willing to earn less than I do now, but I can’t go back to making 25k like in my 20s. I feel trapped in an industry that’s sucking the life out of me. Suggestions?? Thank you!

    1. Bagpuss*

      would it be feasible to do some training while you are still working and perhaps transition gradually?
      I wonder whether something such as tax planning / estate planning / tax advice around divorce / marriage would be areas where you could add to your current skills then look to move to do more of that and less preparation of returns
      Or maybe look into things like book-keeping / payroll for smaller organisations who might not want to employ a full time payroll person, but are a size where the boss needs some help with those thing?

      I’m not in the US so I don’t know which of those things might require you to have additional formal qualifications, but they might be worth considering.

      1. TaxLady*

        I think I would be good at bookeeping/payroll especially if I found something part-time, but I have no experience in that are at all, it’s totally different from personal taxes. I could always take a bookeeping course, but I would need to find someone to train me to do it or take a chance on a person with no experience.

    2. I was told there would be llamas*

      Are you busy all year or do you work hard for a few months and then you are slow? If so, can you reduce the number of Jan – April clients you take and only take on others that will let you file an extension? Could you do a temp job so you can test out if you want to work for someone else? That way you’re only committing yourself for a short period of time. I don’t know where you are located but I’ve been seeing starting Accounting and Tax salaries around $50k…I know you are not just starting out so my point being, I highly doubt you need to be worried about going back to 25k!

      1. TaxLady*

        The latter, I work mostly during tax season. It’s not the overloading during tax season I hate, it’s the pressure of doing taxes at all out here on my own with no net, so spreading out the work wouldn’t really help. And every accountant position wants an actual accountant, which I am not, I have no credential, and I fear at a tax prep firm that would very much hurt my potential earnings. I might be willing to become an EA, but getting my CPA at this point in my life would be a bit much. I definitely could try to get a job in tax prep, but really I would like to consider other industries entirely, adjacent to taxes or otherwise.

        1. Retired (but not really)*

          Don’t know if any of my experience would be helpful for you or not as things have changed drastically since so much is done digitally online now.
          I never did anything related to taxes but I did do two different accounting type jobs at various times with no accounting training. One was AP/AR for a locally owned business which basically involved matching the payment to the invoice. The other was for a nonprofit which involved matching the donor and the recipient(s) of the donation. Now that everything is digital I don’t even know if a person actually has to be involved in the process or if the computer takes care of all of it online!
          Back when I started I filled out papers that went to keypunch then came back to us as tractor feed green bar paper printouts of any obvious errors to be corrected.
          20 years (and a family) later I was posting checks to invoices on a desktop computer. When I retired that business had just started accepting online orders. How times have changed in how we do things!

          Wishing you success in finding something you enjoy doing rather than doing taxes.

        2. I was told there would be llamas*

          I think you are selling yourself short. What do you consider “an actual accountant?” Do you have a college degree (in anything, not just accounting)? If you are looking for jobs and you see some you think you could do, I wouldn’t let “CPA preferred” deter you. Plenty of people in Accounting and Tax roles do not have their CPA license. You could use the cover letter to explain why the skills you learned in your business transfer over. As Retired mentions below, AP/AR jobs might work. Also, treasury, payroll, billing. I also wouldn’t let not having a college degree stop you if that’s an issue. Can’t hurt to apply to jobs and see if you get any interest!

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Do you want to get out of tax season specifically or accounting in general? If the first, then I’d recommend looking into some branches of accounting, especially bookkeeping or payroll. I have little doubt that you’d be able to get into free-lance bookkeeping and while you’d probably still have time crunches at year-end and tax time it wouldn’t have to be that exhaustive.

      If you feel done with accounting in general, maybe look into technical writing? It sounds like it might fit with what you’ve described as wanting

      1. TaxLady*

        Thank you for your thoughts! I have considered some type of bookeeping or payroll, do you have a sense of what sort of qualifications/experience is needed? Is there a job board specifically for that type of work? Not to pump you for specific information, but I always prefer to hear real people’s experience rather than google :)
        And I have never really considered technical writing, I assumed you needed to have some sort of technical expertise to do so. Do you have a sense of what it takes to enter that field?

    4. Kes*

      What others have said around accounting opportunities, also potentially data analysis based on what you said, although I’m not exactly in that field so I can’t speak to how easy it is to get into

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      The American Payroll Association has courses and certifications that may or may not mean something to employers. I have hired tons of payroll people during my career and only just hired folks with the right personality type who had done it before. It seems there are quite a few courses out there, from my cursory Google search.
      The thing about payroll is that it can be pretty relentless. Every week or every other week, no exceptions, no errors tolerated. But if you like that kind of routine, have great attention to detail and a strong desire for accuracy, with a “stay within the lines” type of personality, you would probably be REALLY good at it.
      You could maybe get experience via a temp accounting firm. I bet you could do it because companies are just dying for workers right now.
      Good luck!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Also, I would look for payroll jobs on Indeed or LinkedIn. That’s generally where they’re posted. Usually you won’t see jobs like that handled by recruiters.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          If you have any other questions about payroll or accounting jobs, please ask and I’ll do my best to get you a good answer!

          1. TaxLady*

            Thank you! I will obviously investigate this more, but my main questions would be, if I were a freelance/IC payroll person, what could I expect for an hourly or weekly rate and 2. Would I ever be able to take a vacation since payroll has to be done each week?

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              The pay would probably depend on your geography, I think. In looking at Indeed in my area, it looks like full time Payroll Specialists are getting between $60-70k/year.
              If you freelance, that could be tough since you have no backup. So maybe you only take on clients who do payroll every two weeks, so you could in theory take off every other week. If you go full time at a larger company, they would generally have several other payroll folks, possibly a huge payroll department, and you would have vacation coverage through that.
              If you go through a temp agency, like Robert Half or something (I’m not endorsing them, it’s the only name that came to mind just now), you could say that you’re available to work May 1 through July 31 and then you’re taking the month of August off, then back Sept 1. So they would plan their staffing accordingly.
              That being said, ANY job in accounting is driven by whatever the schedule is for the specific role. A/R needs to issue invoices timely and collect the money. A/P (side note:folks who are good at payroll also tend to be good at A/P. Same personality type) needs to process vendor invoices and pay them according to the terms. Everyone has to do their part in the monthly close process. You maybe could also look into A/P jobs since those MAY have more flexibility, company/industry dependent.

    6. Plain Jane*

      There are a lot of office manager/business operations type positions that are accounting adjacent and might work well for you. I worked for a local non-profit where I approved payroll, purchase orders, and invoices. I organized donations and grant funding. We had an actual accountant who did the literal cutting of checks, but I did the rest. This was pre-pandemic, but I could have done a lot of this job remotely. I find non-profits really struggle with this (and with the tax end of things!) so that might be a place where your skill set would really come in handy. I had zero accounting experience before this and sort of fell into it. I am finding more and more small businesses are outsourcing their *actual* accountant duties, but they still need someone to handle their cash flow.

  20. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

    Hi everyone! As my username says, I’m a librarian who is trying to get out of the library field. I posted here a few weeks ago asking for any options, and I got a lot of helpful ones! I’ve been applying for quality control and research analyst positions.

    And I have an interview for a research analyst position next week!

    The thing is, I don’t know how to prep for an interview that’s not in a library. It’s a phone interview and the (recruiter) person scheduling it says I should plan to talk for about 30 minutes. Problem is, I am not really a talker and when I’m nervous I talk fast…. If anyone has any specific tips on that, I welcome them.

    But mostly, thanks to you all for the lovely advice in my original post! Knowing that there are other options out there for me was a huge boost to my mentality, and I really appreciate it.

    1. Cat Mouse*

      What helps you calm down after you get nervous? Of you find soothing images helpful, you could look at those during the interview (not video, you want to be looking at the camera on those).

      I tend to talk fast in general so I have the words “Slow Down” written at the top of the notepad I take interview notes with. A friend swears by a mental peptalk about how you have this and your skills are great, I prefer taking 5 minutes and just focusing on deep breathing.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        thanks! I do try to tell myself that they want to interview me for a reason. luckily this is a phone interview so I can write little notes to myself.

    2. Attractive Nuisance*

      Practice talking before the interview! You can practice answering questions or literally just practice your “interview voice” by talking to yourself about whatever.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        I think part of my question is that I don’t know what questions they’re gonna ask, so it’s a little harder to prepare. like with libraries, I have a general idea of what questions they’ll ask, but this is a new/different field.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          Can you do an information interview with someone in the field to ask about typical questions?
          I was able to google and find lists of “research analyst interview questions.”

          I’ll post links in a reply.

          Good luck!

            1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

              Thank you so much! I didn’t have a chance to Google questions before posting this, I appreciate the links!

        2. Attractive Nuisance*

          Right – but you can practice talking in a slow, clear manner without knowing specific questions. Just talk to yourself about your job, or about your skills, or just about your favorite TV show.

          1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

            I did this last night and it was very helpful, so I’ll keep practicing! Mg cat is gonna learn all about greys anatomy haha.

    3. MB*

      I think they might mean that the conversation will last 30 minutes, not necessarily that you’ll have to talk that much! Phone screens usually have back and forth and hopefully a good amount of time of them explaining more details of the role.

      For phone interviews I keep a sticky note on my desk that just says Slow Down! Take your time, you’ve got this!!

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        oh god if I had to talk for 30 solid minutes….. nooooo. i’d talk a little about myself and then prob give theories on my favorite grey’s anatomy characters because i wouldn’t know what to say.

    4. non tech girl in a tech world*

      I’m a fast talker when I am nervous too! it helps me to practice out loud. so if I’m writing out some responses to general questions that interviewers might ask, I’ll read them out loud to my dog, and it helps me get a sense of how quick or slow my response is. good luck with your interview!

    5. JuniperGreen*

      Try recording yourself answering a few standard questions, and listen back. This feels awkward but I swear by it! It helps bring awareness to your pace and tone, and it is also very helpful to get more comfortable with key points you’d like to make during the real interview. The ideas is to give you confidence that you can say what you need to say in the time allotted, and give yourself permission to slow down.

      You can also practice paraphrasing a question, pausing to take a calm breath, and THEN answering.
      “OK, a time I was able to work with a quick deadline, let me think… [breath]… yes, let me tell you about …”
      You won’t actually need to answer each question like this, but it can help you get an idea for a pace that is thoughtful and not rushed.

      I missed your other post, but FWIW, I was part of an interview panel recently with some folks who were making changes from one field to another and I really valued the ones who spelled out their transferable skills for us. Like, “This role would be a very welcome change for me – I’ve valued my time as a librarian because it taught me XYZ, but I’m really excited about the chance to apply XYZ to this analyst role.”

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Thank you! I really like that last part, I’ll be sure to make a note and say it at the end if it doesn’t come up sooner.

        For me, I like librarianship and am not closing the door on it completely. But I want something that pays better, has better benefits, and I’m not a social worker and I don’t think it’s libraries job to uphold society. The pandemic only amplified that. Plus I want something with a little more “meat” to it, and now I feel like I just show people how to print stuff all day long. Which is great and I know that’s helpful,. but I want something more.

    6. cleo*

      I have a few phone interview prep rituals.
      1 – do my prep work ahead of time so that the night before and the day of I can focus on feeling calm and confident
      2 – a few minutes before the call, I think of a past interview that went really well and try to remember how that felt as vividly as I can
      3 – print out my resume, the job description and any notes I’ve made for myself so I have those on hand

      For any type of interview, I like to practice answering the “tell me about yourself” question and any likely “tell me about a time when” type questions.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        thanks! I’m glad I have a trello board for job hunting, I put all my application materials/job descriptions there, so it’s easy to keep track and print off. I’ll def be prepping later this weekend!

    7. 1qtkat*

      I’m a fast talker as well, especially when nervous. Preparation is key for me as in I review commonly asked interview questions and answers, and review what jobs I have had that might be relevant in terms of relatable skills to the job I’m applying for. Also just remind yourself to take a breath when talking. Give yourself a moment to pause and calm yourself when talking. You have a lot to say I know, but remember this is a conversation, not a timed test.

  21. Polity*

    I have a new colleague (same level, different area of the business) who has been with the company for about 6 months now and they are the worst in the world for not following instructions or guidance on how to do something, which is increasing my workload as I pick up their slack. At the beginning I didn’t mind (it takes us all some time to get into the swing of things) but pretty much every time I ask them to submit a report, which I do verbally and then with a follow up in writing about how to do it, they submit something that is in no way what I asked for and requires hours of my time to correct. I make myself available for queries, suggest we run through drafts before a deadline etc but no matter how much assistance I give it’s like in one ear and out the other. If she was one of my reports I’d actually be worried about her because I’ve never seen anything like it before! She’s the only person (new or old staff) that I have this issue with and it’s literally like she hears nothing and reads nothing when I provide templates, examples of how to do it and make myself available to help out so she can get things done. Grand boss dismisses it as just her taking time to adjust to the role – and maybe it is – but it is affecting me and her colleagues negatively because she never does what you ask when you ask her to. It’s total ‘lights are on but no one is home’ scenario. What’s a constructive way to try to resolve this? I’m conscious there’s a small chance it’s a cognitive issue.

    1. Asenath*

      I’d set an early deadline, and when I get it and it is wrong, instead of fixing it, I’d send it back to her for correction. Depending on how much support you think she might need, you could continue to send her directions, or even – once or twice – sit down with her and watch as she does it. Basically, give her an opportunity to learn while having her fix her own mistakes when needed. And if that doesn’t work, go back to the Grandboss with examples and data on how long all this is taking, efforts made to help her etc. You don’t want to throw her under the bus, but you also don’t want to take the blame when an important report is late because she needed to revise it several times to get it up to standard.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is probably the best strategy. If you can demonstrate that this is way outside the typical learning curve and isn’t getting better, that might help the Grandboss to see this isn’t just an adjustment period thing.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this. Do NOT continue fixing her issues. If you have to work with her for her to be able to do her own tasks, make sure you tell your manager every.single.time how much time it is taking you to do this, and therefore you’re not able to do your regular job.

    2. Jenna Webster*

      After 6 months, why do you have to fix her issues? Can’t you just send her the template and let her send the report in as is and let the people who are receiving the report deal with it? Alternatively, keep sending it back to her with noted changes and save your documentation so you can prove that is is a problem and that you are training and providing support and she is just not complying, for whatever reason.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Have you spoken to your own manager about this issue? I would frame it like, “My work requires me to request XYZ reports from Bleminda in order to complete $task. This has been causing me a lot of difficulty lately, because when she submits an XYZ report, it’s never done correctly, and I have to spend hours fixing it in order to be able to complete my own work. I’ve tried coaching her on this, and it hasn’t been helpful. I just don’t have the time to keep fixing her work or to continue coaching her. Can you help me find a solution to this?” If I were your manager and you told me this, I would have a word with Bleminda’s own direct manager, and be like, “hey, I know it takes time to learn stuff, but Bleminda’s performance is causing problems for my report.” And if I were Bleminda’s manager, I would take that SERIOUSLY, and try to determine if she really was coachable, or if she might not be a good fit for the role.

      1. Polity*

        Grandboss is both mine and her manager, which is why it’s frustrating that when I raise it with him he just shrugs it off saying she needs time to learn. He has the power to intervene as colleague’s manager but chooses not to.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Ah, I gotcha. I assumed that grandboss was your skip level, but that you and colleague each reported directly to different people, both of whom reported to grandboss.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Have you had a conversation with her about it?
      e.g say to her – I suggested we meet to look at the draft because the last report you did wasn’t hat was needed, so I wanted us to be able to review it to make sure that you were clear about what is needed / how to do it, early enough to make changes .
      Is it something where , instead of fixing it, you can return it to her to ask her to fix it?
      Can you stop suggesting and start setting those meetings/ e.g. instead of saying ‘can you do the ABC report’ say ‘Can you do a first draft t of the ABC report, you need to follow the template and to make sure x,y and z are included. I’ve set a meeting up on Friday to review the draft with you”

      Can you be cleaner with your boss about the extra time it is taking ? Or even let her fail – instead of correcting her, step away altogether – let her fo the report, and let it stand or fall on what she does, rather than getting involved at all (this may be coupled with just sending it back to her for revision / correction until it is right, if it needs to go through you before it can be completed. Or sending it to your boss and saying “Newbie prepared this report – it’s not right, she hasn’t done as requested and hasn’t followed the template. Fo you want me to fix it, in which case I will not be able to fo X, or will you address it with her? The deadline for this is [date] . Please let me know who I should pass X to if you want me to correct this report instead of doing X”

      At the moment, it sounds as though you are fixing her errors so there is not a visible problem to others.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      OMG send it back! Make her re-do it. She’s not going to change if messing up never causes problems for her.

    6. ArtK*

      By fixing her work over the last 6 months, you’ve taught her that she doesn’t have to do it herself. Just slap something together and submit it. She’s not improving because she has no consequences for her bad work.

      I agree with the advice here: 1) Set an earlier deadline; 2) Send the bad stuff back with “fix it by “; 3) Loop in your manager. Do not under any circumstances fix her work, or let your manager coerce you into doing that.

    7. *daha**

      Document everything. Say a lot of “This will take me 15 hours if I do it on my own or 20 hours if I use Sasha. If I can delegate to someone else instead it will only take me 10 hours and the other one 5 hours.”

    8. Training period is over*

      I’ve found managers like that WILL CONTINUE TO DO NOTHING UNTIL IT BECOMES THEIR PROBLEM. Document all time you spend sending things back to employee. Document all emails where she gets it wrong. CC your manager/grandboss on all these emails to employee. Send in the employee’s work to manager/Grandboss as is. Email manager & employee that you’re waiting on employee’s piece to be correct before you can move forward. Document how long the delay is expected to be. If manager balks just be very matter of fact that the training period is over and you’re working on your own tasks.

    9. MacGillicuddy*

      Some people aren’t good at processing verbal instructions. (I won’t go into whether this makes the person unfit for the job).

      One suggestion is instead of giving verbal instructions and following with email, make a numbered list of what she is supposed to do, print it, and have the list in front of you as you describe how to do the task. You might even have to point to each step as you do this.
      When you’re done, hand her the paper and say something like “here’s what you need to do, follow these steps”.
      If she getting stuck on the same tasks repeatedly, you might need to have her do the task while you watch, while calling attention to each step as needed.
      After you meet with her, send her the email with those same numbered steps in the content.

      If she calls with questions, ask her which step she’s stuck on. You might have to say things like “What steps have you done?”

      I’d also keep track of what she’s getting stuck on, to establish a pattern. If there’s no improvement you might have to talk with your manager about this. Having info on what you’ve tried and what did or didn’t work will be very useful for your manager.

    10. JessicaTate*

      As the boss in a similar situation right now, keep telling boss. I would say concretely describe the problems to the boss’s attention – as well as your efforts to correct and the impact it’s having on your work / work-flow. Maybe start by coming to the boss for advice on how to help her, because you’re seeing no improvement and XYZ you’ve tried doesn’t work. I had a high-performer recently let me in on some errors she was seeing and fixing from a low-performing 6-monther, and I could tell she felt like she was “throwing her colleague under the bus.” She was not. It was data I needed, and I would not have had it if high-performer just fixed everything quietly.

      It’s possible that your boss is a bad manager and conflict avoidant. In which case, you still need to make it their problem to have any hope of it being addressed. But if your boss isn’t in the muck of your day-to-day, it’s possible they aren’t getting the severity of the pattern, and legit thinks its a learning curve. Have you been super-clear with boss about the pattern? It’s not that she’s struggling, she’s doing wildly different things than what she’s asked on a consistent basis – not able to follow directions and/or to use support given AND not showing any improvement. That rings of a fundamental bad fit for the job, unless there is something really weird about your work… and even then, you say no one else has the problem, so I land on “bad fit” or “bad fit without significant training on whatever the underlying comprehension issue is.”

      Keep making it your/her manager’s problem.

    11. Free Meerkats*

      Stop doing her job for her. When she sends back inadequate material, send it right back to her with basic instructions. Whether you preface them with, “Like I told you last time…” is up to you. If she sends it with problems again, grab your red pen and bleed all over it.

      Keep copies of everything and loop in your boss, her boss, and the grandboss. Let her fail. That’s the only way the three ineffective managers are going to do anything. If their solution is for you to continue to do her job, tell them what you’re not going to get done because you’re doing her job for her.

  22. Paula*

    I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and have medical conditions that means I’m not eligible for medication. I took a lower-paying, lower-prestige job than my previous one so that I can focus on getting my personal life together and work fewer hours, but this job is driving me bonkers.

    I feel like my only two choices are to work at a job that’s technically “lower effort” and exhaust myself trying to force myself to do boring work (in the hopes that I might technically have time for a personal life), or to work at a more skilled/longer hour job so that I can stimulate my brain during the day (but I go home too tired to have hobbies or a dating life or energy to cook).

    Has anyone else ever dealt with this before? I feel at a loss…and yes I’m procrastinating on work to write this.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      There’s a middle ground, but you won’t know what that middle ground is until you have lived with your ADHD diagnosis for awhile, have coping mechanisms, and know your own limits and expectations around certain things.

      My job is more of the longer hours type, but not so much that I can’t take occasional time off or be home at a dinner-ish hour on a fairly regular basis. I also know that I do best in jobs where my day is a little unpredictable and I wear a lot of hats. And also that working remotely is NOT good for me. These are all things I’ve honed over time. I am also not medication-tolerant, so finding ways I can control my focus for short bursts has been essential. It’s a journey, there’s not an overnight solution. I think taking the lower effort job to get your ducks in a row was a good call. Long term it’s going to be a really personal arithmetic that you need to do to decide what works best. Hang in there.

      1. Paula*

        Thanks for your answer. One thing that you mentioned stuck out to me-we’re going back into the office very shortly and I’m wondering if that will make a difference for me, as I’ve been fully remote for two years. I had planned to ask for telework as an accommodation but I’m also thinking that being in the office could be good for me, at least part time. I’ve done the harder job in the office, but I’ve never tried doing the lower hour/easier job in the office so trying that will be interesting.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It might! Personally I find it very hard to focus in my home environment where I know distractions are very nearby. My brain reacts well to doing work in an office (she says while commenting on AAM all morning, I know I know) and I find having others around to work collaboratively with or bounce things off very stimulating.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I don’t know what you do, but is it something where the mostly-tedious stuff is what can be done from home, and what you can do in the office might be more varied and/or interesting? (I’m in archives and the little of it we can do from home is stuff like tagging photos, which is fine but mind-numbing. All the interesting work has to be done in the office where we have access to our materials.)

        3. Kari T*

          The structure of being at work 2-3 days a week for me is critical w my adhd. Absolutely critical.

          1. bee*

            Deeply same! Being full time remote can be a great accommodation for a lot of people, but it’s really awful for (my type of) ADHD. I’ve been hybrid for like a year and a half and I hope it continues forever — but if it doesn’t I’d much rather be fully back in the office than fully remote.

    2. bee*

      For me I think a lot of it has been un-learning what I’ve been told about prestige and effort, and figuring out what that means for me. Like, if your current job is exhausting then that’s a high effort job For You, even if traditionally it’s not considered one. I think you have to figure out what your strengths are, and where you thrive in a job, and not put weight on whether those are considered high status or not. For example, I’ve discovered that I really thrive in a reactive job environment — people bring things to me, and I do them. Any kind of job where you have to be constantly keeping yourself busy, or generating tons of new ideas or doing long term strategy is not going to be a good fit for me. And so that’s my criteria — there are jobs of all kinds of prestige/effort levels that it applies to, but that’s been how I sort out what might be a good fit for me vs. not so much.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “I think you have to figure out what your strengths are, and where you thrive in a job, and not put weight on whether those are considered high status or not.”

        x100000, this is something I still struggle with.

    3. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      There is a very personal balance to it, and unfortunately, I think on some level, you have to experiment and see what works for you. And, just for fun, it changes based on other life circumstances. Pandemic stress/anxiety have had a negative enough impact on my life that my solution (I freelance, and on good days, I can finish most of my workload in 4-ish hours, which is good, because it sometimes takes the other four of a traditional work day to beat my brain into submission) isn’t working as well as it used to, and I’m going to have to find a new way to balance if I don’t get the stress down soon.

      Experiment. See what you enjoy doing but that doesn’t drain you as much. For example, I’m a writer. I don’t (usually) find it super draining, so I still have energy to do other things; and I balance my workload in a way that prevents burnout by spreading it through the week (and frequently ignoring my best-laid plans because Life Happened). I guard my weekends furiously. Those are Not Work Days, because if they are work days, then Monday rolls around and I don’t want to work.

      I also fill my personal life with things and activities and pursuits that make my brain happy–lots of stimulation to help make up for the boring repetitive parts of work.

    4. OtterB*

      My daughter has ADHD. She also has other issues, so this may not apply, but she does much better with jobs that involve moving around and *doing* things rather than staying at a desk or work station. I think, in part, that it’s easier to stay on track when you’re working through a physical process and the next step is pretty obvious. I also think the physical movement in itself is helpful. Not necessarily something physically demanding, just something that involves getting up.

      1. Paula*

        Unfortunately I’m locked into my desk monkey job, at least for now, since I have so many years of schooling behind me.

        1. OtterB*

          Is there some way you can “gamify” your work tasks so you get that little hit of satisfaction from completing them?

    5. Karia*

      Yes, I can 100% relate. Also I find that a lot of technically ‘lower level’ jobs require minute attention to detail, organisation and repetition, none of which is helpful for ND people. I performed more poorly in a low level admin job (that I took to ‘destress’) than I have in any role before or since.

      I would suggest looking for roles that are flexible, varied, autonomous and allow for headphones etc. There’s a lot of chatter on TikTok about this.

    6. Metadata minion*

      Are you in a field where there’s a possibility of doing contract/freelance work that would let you frequently switch exactly what boring work you do so there’s an element of novelty and giving your brain something to do by learning new filing systems or whatever?

    7. ecnaseener*

      In my experience the boring jobs are no less exhausting. It takes energy to force an ADHD brain to focus on something it hates! So I vote for the work you can at least enjoy a reasonable amount.

    8. *daha**

      You said that you’re not eligible for medication, but I’m wondering if your doctors took the non-stimulant ADHD drugs into consideration. There are some cases where the stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin and amphetamine salts are ruled out, but the non-stimulants such as Intuniv or Strattera can be prescribed. Good luck! Here’s a link:

    9. bunniferous*

      This will vary re your personal preferences and whether or not you depend totally on your own income to support you right this minute-but it is my observation that the real estate field is both full of people with ADHD and that those same people do well with and enjoy it. The parts of the job that might be hard for someone with it? Can actually be outsourced these days. This might not help short term but it could be worth investigating.

  23. Rusty Shackelford*

    Did anyone see the article (scraped from Buzzfeed) about the young woman who whose boss “kept taking her work” so she added a watermark to her Powerpoint? I’ll post the link separately, but the article is called “This Woman’s Boss Kept Taking Her Work, So She Added A Hidden Signature To Her Presentation, And It’s Deliciously Petty” if you want to search for it. Basically, she did some research, presented it to her boss, found her boss was presenting it to others without mentioning her, and she felt she was being taken advantage of. She then added her signature to the presentation as a watermark in the background (so the boss was… downloading it each time?) and told her boss she felt she was “leveraging her manager performance.” She said “Although my manager once told me that I would rarely be the one presenting my work for the higher management, she never told me that they wouldn’t even bother to change anything in the presentation BUT MY NAME.”

    I thought the comments would be mostly “yeah, this is how it is,” and maybe point out that since she’s so young (I think she was 22 when this happened), she just didn’t have the experience to recognize what is simply business as usual. But after briefly skimming them, it seems most people agree with her.


    1. Purple Cat*

      It’s a catch-22. There’s a difference between senior leadership presenting the work of the team, and senior leadership completely ignoring the contributions of the team below them. With only one side of the story, it feels like the second one is what was happening.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Well, “most people agree with her” means “most readers of this article on Buzzfeed” …

      I suspect there’s a disconnect with the employee’s and boss’s expectations about what it means for her to prepare the presentation. Work isn’t school where you write a report and present it to the class. Work is where you do work, submit it to someone, and that’s it. I write sh-t all the time that goes out to clients or the court under another lawyer’s name, with only a few minor edits and no “credit” given to me.

      If the employee is worried that her contributions aren’t being recognized, then she needs to check in with her boss to get them both on the same page. But as I say, she may be mistaken as to how much any individual’s contribution is credited when the boss is doing the presentation.

      1. Anonymouse*

        I wrote my reply before I saw yours, but yes to all of the above. I think the legal field might be different, but I suspect the original letter writer just has skewed expectations about the function of her job. In many jobs your function is to support the person higher-up than you by gathering, analyzing, and placing information in a comprehensible package for the higher-up to do with it what they will. It might go into a report that an even higher-up person is putting together. It might go in a power point being presented to the Board of Directors by someone lateral to your manager, etc. but ultimately you may not get a writing credit for it and it’s not always going to be seen as appropriate to give you one.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Well, “most people agree with her” means “most readers of this article on Buzzfeed” …

        That’s why I wondered what the AAM crowd would think! :-)

        I just thought it was very naive. Sure, we want credit for our work. But in a lot of jobs (and I suspect her “incredibly strong insights” into market research is one of those jobs) you just don’t publish/present in your own name. You are always going to be The Research Department. (I’ll admit I was also swayed by her smug little Tik Tok video.)

      3. Peachtree*

        I have to agree, I don’t like the way she handled it. If you’ve created a slide pack, go ahead and add your name in the footer. If your boss wants you to take it out, well, then you can have a conversation about that at the time. Adding a watermark that can’t be removed just makes you look petty and like you don’t understand how an office works. I’m not surprised her boss reacted badly.

        I will say that my view on this is influenced by her TikTok channel – she has some videos up where she feels “super sad” about people who don’t work in their dream jobs because they have to pay the bills. I mean – don’t we all? We can’t all be social media content creators! Nothing wrong with taking a job for the money if that’s what you need to do. Not understanding this is an attitude that just sounds privileged.

    3. Anonymouse*

      I’m junior in-house counsel and I my perspective is colored by my experience. I constantly ghost-write presentations and work for my boss and other people at the company. My name does go on things like responses to demand letters and position statements to the EEOC, but I would say about half has someone else’s signature. If I suggested that someone else was “stealing” my work that would get shot down really quickly, since the expectation is that you get inter-departmental recognition rather than expecting your name on slides the CLO is presenting to the board, for instance.

    4. Angstrom*

      Depends on the importance? If my boss says “Can you put together a few slides I can use at the next quality meeting?”, and I do, I don’t expect to have my name on it or be mentioned unless someone asks. If there was a LOT of work involved, then I’d expect to be mentioned.

      I’m fortunate in that my team, including my boss and grandboss, is very good about giving credit where it is due.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t work in that field, but where I work the name of the person presenting is on the PowerPoint, not others including the people that contributed research. I also question the professionalism of someone who is “heartbroken” not to get credit for PowerPoint presentation.

      But it does sound like it’s worthy of a “Jane did this research” or even presenting it herself if she did ALL of the extensive research. So the boss may be stealing credit.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      If I see a presentation from a higher-up, I almost always assume their assistant or direct report did the vast majority (if not all) of the work to put that presentation (and all the data) together.

    7. Mockingjay*

      I’m a technical writer and have written hundreds of reports in my career. My name isn’t on any of them. The work I produce belongs to the company or the government agency of the contract I’m assigned to.

      Most of the time I’m fine with it – it’s simply how my industry works. The documents are a collaboration between me and technical staff, most of whom are very happy to proclaim my contributions.

      (I admit there are a few individuals I would cheerfully drop off a cliff, in assignments in which I ended up doing ALL the work, they still got their names on it and were praised for it, then strutted around like they did the whole thing.)

      TL;DR: your work belongs to the company, not you.

    8. A Feast of Fools*

      If the manager is passing off weeks’ worth of research — and the resulting important insights — as something they did themselves, then that’s sh*tty and the watermark is deserved.

      In my company, for the most part, managers who don’t lift up the people beneath them don’t last long. And managers who try to act like they’re doing all the work of the people below them reallllllly don’t last long. That’s seen as ineffective management. Like, why are we paying these other 1-3 people if you, Manager, are the only one doing any work?

    9. MissElizaTudor*

      It’s business as usual, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or should continue to be business as usual. A lot of people on AAM don’t like the more, let’s say, “creative” ways people push back on worker-unfriendly norms, like this, or when people submit invoices to potential employers for long interviews, but I like it.

      I think there’s value to it, even if it just helps highlight crappy practices, like doing an all-day interview that costs someone a day’s wages without any compensation. That’s normal, but it also hurts people, and it would be good if companies that could afford it decide to offer some form of payment for a day long interview. Not giving credit to someone who made the presentation you’re using, even if it’s just including their name in the slide, also kind of sucks.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Not giving credit to someone who made the presentation you’re using, even if it’s just including their name in the slide, also kind of sucks.

        Agreed very much.

    10. Anonymous Hippo*

      Yes, you create work that is used by the higher ups, often without you being part of it further. But taking your work and slapping their own name on it is not ok IMO. I always credit the work my reports pass up to me when I pass it on, and every boss I have had did the same. The managers “glory” is in managing a team that can create whatever it is the company needs, not to take credit for the work itself. Plus I have a deep personal issue with people who steal credit. I wouldn’t go the watermark route because really, not like you are going to use it to do a big gotcha if you aren’t even in the room, but I’d certainly change jobs.

  24. Kiwiapple*

    I have just found out I am pregnant and I am job hunting. How have others felt when job hunting and not telling future employers that they will be taking parental leave? At the moment I feel very disingenuous. I will be only eligible to take 6 months leave and not the full year others get where I’m living.

    I am an admin professional.

    1. anonnn*

      They do not need to know you are pregnant. It is not disingenuous, but survival. Pregnancy discrimination is real, and you should not tell them.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      It is absolutely not disingenuous. If it’s hard to stop feeling guilty about it, try framing it to yourself this way: you’re doing potential employers a favor by ensuring they don’t break the law by discriminating against you for your pregnancy.

    3. Purple Cat*

      It’s not disingenuous, but I totally understand why it feels that way.
      So try to reframe it in your head “It’s illegal for my pregnancy to impact their hiring decision, so I’m protecting them by not disclosing it”. You’re not hiding anything from them maliciously, you’re doing them a favor by not telling them.

    4. 1qtkat*

      First of all congrats! I interviewed while pregnant recently. I didn’t feel at all disingenuous about not telling them about my pregnancy during the interview stage even though I felt like crap from the nausea. Your pregnancy has no bearing on your candidacy and if revealed too early it can consciously or unconsciously bias the interviewer against your candidacy even though federal law does protect against pregnancy discrimination. What I did do was make sure to ask generally about leave, flexibility, and telework framed during the interview.
      I did mention the pregnancy when I got the tentative job offer (federal job) so it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to the new job that I’m going to be out on maternity leave soon after I start (and it would reflect badly on them if they suddenly pulled the tentative offer after the reveal). It also helped to learn more in depth about their leave, flexibility and telework policy from HR to see if the employer is the right fit.

    5. A*

      Please be gentle with yourself! You are not being disingenuous. I don’t have kids / am not pregnant – but I’ve had a few instances where as a hiring manager I’ve brought people on board only to find out after that they will be going on parental leave soon. Is it frustrating? Sure, because we need to sort out coverage and how it will impact the onboarding timeline – but it’s not a big deal. I’ve never once felt frustrated at the individual, my frustration is with the macro level and system injustices that cause women to need to hide such things (and unfortunately often with good reason). I get frustrated with the game, never the players!

  25. Gary Gary quite contrary*

    How do you handle an extroverted, boisterous co-worker when you are…not that? I graduated college in the spring 2020 and started a full-time job in September 2020. In the beginning I worked from home. Now with public health restrictions lifting in my province, we all have to go in to work one day each week to do the work that can’t be done at home. One of my co-workers who is not a manager but is senior to me is a very social, extroverted, boisterous person. He is in a really technical and niche role and his reputation is goes far out of our company. Everyone loves him and laudes him. He is an expert in his line of work. I don’t hate him personally or anything but I admit I’m both jealous and annoyed with him. I wish I could tell him to stay quiet but it would be rude and I would get in trouble with our boss if I did. I recognize this is a me problem. Our day is the office is scheduled by team so I’m not able to come in on a different day. I can’t wear headphones and there aren’t meetings or phone calls I can use as an excuse to get away. Our schedule coming in day is only for the work we can’t do at home so I’m expected to focus on that. I’m a wallflower; he’s a social butterfly and I need to get over this. Help!

    1. Colette*

      What is the behaviour that’s a problem? Is he bothering you to talk to him? Is he demanding you smile or otherwise participate? Or is he just being himself?

      1. Gary Gary quite contrary*

        He’s just being himself and it’s 100% a me problem. It’s a personality clash (wallflower vs social butterfly) and I need to tap down my annoyance at him. He’s not doing anything to me or anything I can go to my manager about. I am aware enough to know I would be side-eyed for complaining about my personal annoyance.

        1. MsM*

          Okay, but is “being himself” something like “carrying on loud conversations right by your desk”? Because you *can* go, “Hey, Gary, I’m sorry, but I really need to focus on this report. Mind taking your discussion over to Meeting Room A? I think it’s empty right now.” Or even, “Look, I know it’s not your style and I don’t want to make *you* uncomfortable in the name of making things better for me, but I really work best in a quiet environment. Anything we can do to meet in the middle on the days I’m here?” Gary may or may not be willing to be cooperative, but you can at least give it a shot.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      As we’ve returned to the office, a lot of people have mentioned how loud it is. Weirdly, it’s not that there are so many people (we get to choose our days in the office), but that voices really carry when there are so few people.

      Can you ask your manager to give a blanket reminder about not being a distraction?

      Is there a job-related reason you can’t wear headphones? If it’s just a policy for everyone, can you ask that it be changed to let people use them as long as they don’t interfere with job tasks. (My work life improved when oldjob updated their headphone policy.)

      I bought a little sign that attaches to my cube. You can flip it to indicate: In a Meeting, Our if Office, Please Knock, or Do Not Disturb. It looks very professional while also indicating my status.

      1. Gary Gary quite contrary*

        We aren’t allowed to wear headphones because the tasks we do aren’t conducive to them and would interfere.

        We don’t have individual cubicals or offices. The company leased a smaller space and gave up the old one in anticipation of the new way of working. It’s just an open office space. Even management don’t have an office. We aren’t meant to do meetings and private things when we come in. Those are saved for other days.

        He isn’t doing anything wrong or against the rules. Like I said, it’s a me problem. If I went to manager I would rightfully get side-eyed for complaining about someone who isn’t doing anything besides getting under my skin.

        1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

          It’s also your organization’s problem – they moved everyone to open concept which objectively sucks. I wonder if there’s a way to make a game of it to entertain YOURSELF. I feel you though, it sucks.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Ouch! This would be a deal-breaker for me. Sorry!

          I doubt you’re the only one who isn’t happy about this.

        3. Retired (but not really)*

          Just going to commiserate with you. I understand your frustration with Gary! Some people just radiate that energy and charisma and they are exhausting to be around. And as much as you need a bit of peace and quiet to function well they are just there being themselves and it diminishes your ability to perform your best. And an open office plan gives you no “insulation” from everything and everyone else. It’s a real shame that headphones aren’t a possibility. Here’s hoping that some of the other suggestions being offered will help you out.

        4. Esmeralda*

          One day a week. If it’s not getting in the way of working, you may just need to deal. I’m sympathetic, really! But for one day a week — eh.

          Take lunch away from Mr Jolly, go for a walk for your breaks.

        5. allathian*

          This would have me looking for a new job, honestly. I can’t imagine ever being able to actually work in an open office.

          Do you have to collaborate with him? If not, would it be possible to move to a desk that’s a bit further away from him. It wouldn’t eliminate the problem completely because that extrovert energy takes a lot of space, but it might help if you didn’t sit right next to them.

          I’m having a really hard time imagining what you’re expected to do during your in-office days, if you aren’t having meetings.

    3. Gojira*

      Give yourself a while to adjust. You’re moving to be in the office for what might be the first time, which can be a big change for an introvert (it really, really was for me). You might find that over time, trying to ignore him and distract yourself with work leads to him just becoming background noise. You might also see him get less boisterous over time, since right now, he’s an extrovert seeing his coworkers once a week after two years. Just try not to get too resentful of him. Remember that it’s normal to feel this way, that it’ll probably get easier over time, and that the problem probably isn’t with him specifically. It’s more likely to be about the changes to your working environment.

      (You do say you’re jealous. Anything specific you’re jealous of?)

      1. After 33 years ...*

        +1 Your co-worker may be going through adjustment as well, if they’re back to the office for the first time in a while.

      1. Minty fresh*

        OP specifically said in their post that they can’t wear headphones, so this is not a helpful comment.

    4. Anonosaurus*

      I really feel you on this. I am an introvert and quite a serious minded person and I work with a Gary. When you say that you’re jealous do you mean that you wish that you could be that easily social or that you are envious of his professional abilities? I often feel jealous of how easily my Gary gets along with the whole world. What I have done is kind of get Gary’s personality to work for me – I make a point of going to speak to him at the start and end of every day and having 5-10 minutes of conversation about work and whatever else. That makes me feel more involved in office life, connect me to other people that Gary knows and likes, and it also seems to take care of Gary’s need to interact with me, on my terms. Also, because Gary and I have a good relationship, if I need to tell him to can it now and again then he will without getting offended. I also think it’s important to retain some confidence in your own way of doing things. Guys like Gary are usually very popular and it feels like the office revolves around them but it’s worth remembering that there’s more than one way to go about your business. You bring something of value to the organisation as well as Gary. But I think that if you improve your own relationship with Gary then he will get on your nerves a lot less and he could also be quite a valuable office ally by the sounds of it.

    5. Hatchet*

      Can you find little ways to make your days in the office more reasonable? For instance, if Gary’s voice strikes a chord with you, can you sit a bit further away from him in the meetings? If there’s a group brainstorm session, can you take a short walk to think of some ideas on your own before bringing them back to the group? (I’ve had colleagues who when needing to take a restroom break, would go to one further away/in another building, just for a few extra minutes of getting away from a situation.)

      I’m introverted, and I am amazed at how easily some of my extroverted pals (professional and personal) can befriend strangers in a room in a matter of seconds. I’ll sometimes sit back and watch them do their magic… and take notes for when I need to be more extroverted. (Seriously, I’ve had moments when I’ve tried to channel the confidence of those friends.)
      As frustrated as you may be with this situation, are there tips you can learn from observing him or skills from interacting with him? Conversely, if you need to work on your more extroverted type skills, maybe Gary would be one to practice on?

      That being said, take strength in your introvertedness. Even though some people are drawn to Gary, there will be people/times who will be drawn to you and your non-boisterousness and your way of interacting with the group!

      1. allathian*

        Yes, and just to emphasize, introverted is not the same as socially awkward, and extroverted isn’t the same as a social butterfly. Extroverts with no social skills are easy to identify, they’re the ones who trample all over everyone else’s boundaries and refuse to take a hint that they should tone it down a bit. Extroverts who do have social skills and who value the skills that introverts bring to the table are much more willing to meet the introverts half way.

        I was both introverted and shy until I went to college. As an adult, I’m still fairly introverted, but not at all shy. I can fake the social butterfly thing very well when I need to, but after that I’m peopled out, and I need a lot of me-time to recover.

    6. Owler*

      Late to the party, but I’m going to jump in and take you for your word that you want to figure out a solution on your end. When I’ve reached a point with someone when their mere presence bugs me, I have to step outside of myself and retrain my emotions. So you can think of this as a research goal with these objectives: 1. Observe what bothers you, and then 2a. Retrain your reaction, and/or 2b. Learn from Gary.
      Lets say tomorrow you feel yourself getting annoyed; take a moment when you talk yourself through the feeling. “Oh geez. There’s Gary being all loud and effusive again.” See if you can nail down why it bothers you *specifically* in that moment. If it’s vague jealousy, train yourself to be ok with that feeling and see if over time you can lessen it by acknowledging it. If it’s jealousy that he is so different from you, see if there’s anything you can learn from how he is interacting with others. Maybe your annoyance means it’s time to stand up and move around a bit, or refocus on a different task. See if just by acknowledging your feelings you can guide yourself to a better place.

  26. Baeolophus bicolor*

    I would love to get advice on handling long-term burnout in my situation. I’ve tried all the usual things- I took three months off entirely, tried yoga and working out and dropping caffeine, therapy, mindfulness, anything you can find in an online help article I’ve tried.

    For context, I graduated last May with my masters after 7 years of being a full time student. I’d taken a few summers off to visit family, and I guess technically I started dealing with burnout 3 years ago. But it didn’t get horrible until the last year of grad school which was during the pandemic. All my coping strategies were no longer an option, and I had an injury that meant I couldn’t workout for 3 months. By the time I graduated I couldn’t focus on anything, including low effort video games, for longer than 15 minutes at a time, had constant brain fog, physical symptoms like GERD and headaches, etc. Is there anything else I can do other than wait it out? I had to get a job, and I thought it would get better, but it’s still very frequent brain fog and inability to focus for longer than an hour assuming I’ve had too much caffeine. I don’t want to mess up this job but I don’t know what to do to make it better.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Not even remotely a doctor, but — have you considered there might be something physical going on beyond burnout? Do you have a good doctor you could talk to? Just makes me wonder. I’d suggest a complete health screening if that’s possible.

      1. Baeolophus bicolor*

        Yeah I have- I’ve been trying to talk to doctors for years about fatigue and my burnout symptoms. I actually had my yearly physical this month. No one has ever been able to figure out something “wrong”, so I just take my vitamins and am working on the mental part. Unless you mean more screening than a yearly physical?

        1. ThatGirl*

          Well, I meant to start with a complete physical and then maybe expand to other screenings depending on the results — did that include bloodwork? Do you sleep well? Doctors don’t always take things like brain fog and fatigue seriously, especially if you are female-presenting. Don’t be afraid to keep pushing, if you have the mental and financial capacity for it. Vitamins and exercise and mental health care are all very important, don’t get me wrong! But the fact that you also have physical symptoms like GERD and headaches just makes me wonder. I hope you can get some answers and feel better.

          1. Dragonfly7*

            I will echo the bloodwork. Sometimes what is wrong doesn’t show up until they’ve tried testing just the right thing.

      2. Paris Geller*

        Yeah, I was going to say this. It’s not to say long-term burnout can’t have serious physical health impacts, because it absolutely can, but the way you’re describing this makes me think there might be something else going on, especially when you mention the brain fog and not being able to concentrate on even something like low-level video games.

      3. Sherm*

        Agreed. You describe being physically run down, but what do you think about your job? Your field? Is the pandemic still a cause of burnout for you, or do you have lingering burnout from the worst of the pandemic? It’s all worth reflecting on, but if you can’t come up with anything, that’s okay, too — it could be a useful point of information for those managing your health.

    2. Raboot*

      If you haven’t, this really sounds like something to mention to a doctor, and to a therapist. Not armchair diagnosing you with anything, just those sounds like concerning symptoms.

      1. JP in the heartland*

        Also not trying to armchair diagnose, but any chance you had Covid, and now have those long-term symptoms? It sounds a lot like what I’ve been fighting for the past year.

        1. Baeolophus bicolor*

          It’s possible, of course, I’ve gotten sick a few times since the pandemic hit but all my tests have come back negative. And given the last month and a half of my program I was working (well, trying to anyway) 12 hour days for a month and a half straight with no days off, I do think the burnout is a significant factor.

    3. Anon for This*

      So I’ve been going through something very similar for the last few years. I will say, I feel very much still in the middle of all of it, but I can share what I’ve done so far that has made me feel like the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together for my particular situation.

      I also tried to go to a GP, but she was very condescending and literally wouldn’t let me finish a single sentence when I kept trying to tell her about the impact of the fatigue/burnout on my life. She tested me for the most common causes of fatigue and then when that came back normal, said “So everything’s good! You’re doing great!” Lol. If only.

      I did go to a therapist, too, and for me, it was very helpful. She helped me stay focused / motivated in continuing to pursue the correct diagnosis, even when doctors were very condescending to me. I think getting a therapist who was a good fit for me, and also setting very clear, attainable goals at the start of therapy – to be more assertive with doctors and so on – made all the difference for me. I also went to a psychiatrist because I thought they would be able to run the necessary tests to figure out whether it was physical or mental, but unfortunately that wasn’t a good fit for me and it was the same rushed, condescending treatment as from the GP. However, if you found a good one, I think they are supposed to be doing that… And that’s why they have medical degrees…

      I also decided to just see the specialists I wanted to see without a referral from my GP (my insurance allows me to do that). I also want to find another GP, but it’s just not feasible right now. So I went to an allergist, because I suspected I have year-round allergies – and I was right! I’m allergic to basically everything indoors. So we’ll see if treatment for that makes a difference.

      On a non-medical practical note, I’ve switched to using the Pomodoro technique for work, to work around not being to focus for long periods of time. I also use extensive, thorough to-do lists documenting everything I do at work to keep me focused on completing the work and remind myself that it’s okay if I don’t focus for 8 hours straight – what’s important is that what needs to get done, gets done. I also asked for a different schedule which I thought would be helpful for me & luckily my request was granted.

      Apologies if this is too much like medical advice and I hope this was helpful. I’ve tried to extrapolate from my own specific experience but I’m not trying to diagnose you with my issues!

    4. Baeolophus bicolor*

      Thanks everyone! Looks like I will be talking to my doctor again to see if it might be medical.

    5. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi there, sleep disorders are worth looking at too, as their impact is widespread re fatigue, poor concentration, brain fog and so on. And there’s environmental factors you might not have looked at which have a low but persistent effect (mould, off-gassing from plastics etc). Oh and, it is possible to have a tooth infection which silently dumps crap into your bloodstream over time and for a long time and makes you feel bleak, without it causing pain. As I know to my personal, current cost.
      So, still lots of interesting research and more blood tests for you, I suspect! Best wishes to you for a satisfactory answer and treatment.

  27. TechGirlSupervisor*

    I have an upcoming technical interview with one of the major FAANG companies (senior software developer). It’s entirely remote and I know the pay will be better than anything local could dream of. The money would be a significant upgrade to my lifestyle and quite frankly more peace of mind on the economic front. I’m concerned that I would become addicted/dependent on the higher income, which would make it harder to leave if I had to one day. Additionally, I’m not sure how I feel about working for one of these major companies. You read/hear so many stories in the news and on social media, but it can’t all be bad, can it?

    I’m flattered to be interviewed at all and it may all be moot if I don’t make it past the initial screening interview but I’m curious what other people think.

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      My advice is to live off of the same money you are making now. Contribute the maximum to your retirement. Have things auto-deducted out of your paycheck. Pay off all bills (including mortgage) as quickly as possible. Do other investments for retirement. Make sure all financial transactions are set up automatically so that you don’t even see the extra money.

      1. Littorally*


        I just took a major raise and I’ve already gone in and adjusted my 401k withholding, automatic deposits to my IRA, etc, before the first paycheck hits. Can’t feel the pinch if you’ve never had different!

    2. Colette*

      So with the money, take everything above what you’re making now and throw it in savings. Build up an emergency fund, and, when you’re over your “piece of mind” limit, spend the extra on one-off purchases. (E.g. if your emergency fund needs to be $15,000, when you hit $30,000 you can take up to $15,000 out to buy a car/take a trip/etc – but your day to day lifestyle doesn’t change much or at all.)

      When you work for a big company, there’s not one experience, so ask questions about what it’s really like to work there in the interview.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        Ditto about the emergency fund. As I stated before, make sure the transaction is automatic so that you never “see” the money.

    3. Betty*

      In terms of the money, one suggestion is to split a direct deposit (or, failing that, set up an autotransfer the day after you’re paid) so that a large portion of the “extra” money is going to pay down debt/fund an IRA/a money market or other reasonably high-yield savings vehicle, so that you’re using it to build a financial cushion that leaves you ahead if/when you leave but is relatively “invisible” in terms of your lifestyle (i.e., you’re not buying a house/car where you need your larger salary to be able to make the payments).

    4. Can Can Cannot*

      I have been in a similar situation, with some significant increases in compensation. Also some significant decreases. The thing that I keep constant is my spending (not including taxes, which go up and down based on income). Despite the increases, my needs are pretty consistent and I rarely change my spending habits. Instead, any extra money, after paying taxes, is put into savings/investments. That gives me a lot of peace of mind, knowing that my savings would cover me if/when my income decreases.

      But it’s not just a matter of budgeting. It’s a mindset about how much you need to be happy, and whether spending/accumulating is a part of who you are. It’s probably easier to start down this path when you are not earning and spending a lot. But if you can do it, and stick to it, it makes dealing with variations in income a lot easier.

    5. Littorally*

      Do you have a solid sense of what your current monthly expenses are? If yes, you can set up your direct deposit so that the extra money gets shunted directly away into a secondary account and never touches the account you primarily spend out of. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend putting it all into retirement as that can be hard/annoying to get back if you miscalculate, but splitting it between retirement and an “out of sight, out of mind” savings account would be a solid plan. That way, you don’t “see” that you have extra to spend, but the money is there and working for you when a significant expense is coming up.

    6. LDN Layabout*

      I will be starting a new job, at a much higher salary (around 30% more), in April. My current plan is to spend the next year, at a minimum, living as if I’m on the same salary I am now to turbocharge my savings. It will literally be out of my hands since I’ll be setting up a direct deposit into a savings account to run a few days after pay day XD

      If you do end up at this job or somewhere similar, why not start off the same way? It will give you a chance to experience what the job is like and if you had it, you’ll have a savings buffer for starting your next job.

    7. Warrior Princess Xena*

      1. I would look up some financial management articles on Lifestyle Creep, which is the phenomenon you’re describing where your lifestyle grows with your income, but you can avoid it by putting most of your pay increase directly into a savings account.
      2. I highly doubt that those companies are ‘all bad’, but it depends on what sort of thing you’re worried about. Partly it’s that the media will almost invariably show you negative things, because that’s what sells. They won’t report on company X’s raise and equity policy, but they will make a big deal over job cuts. Partly once you have a company of a certain size you’re going to have a percent of managers, coworkers, etc that are mediocre to bad at their jobs. I strongly feel that that’s one of the realities of big groups of people – some of them will be jerks.

      That said, consider what you’re worried about specifically. Is it pay? Hours? Equity measures? Working conditions? Then ask about it at the interview.

    8. Decidedly Me*

      It’s not all bad. I don’t work for a FAANG, but know a lot of people that have/do, most of which are software devs – some like it, others don’t. A fair number have switched to other places over time, but have managed similar salaries, even better in a lot of cases, so don’t feel like you’re stuck.

      That said, don’t upgrade your lifestyle to the new salary (that’s true of any raise). You don’t have to not upgrade at all, but never live at the top of your income. Focus on savings first – emergency fund, 401k, and IRA. Excess aside from those should be saved/invested, too. Don’t just spend every excess dollar.

      Good luck!

    9. Should I apply?*

      I currently interview process for one of the FAANG companies, and have interviewed with two others. I totally get what you mean by impact of the potential salary, and I think others have good suggestions on ways to not go crazy.

      In the interview process I would really focus on understanding the work culture, the 1st two I interviewed with (A,A) I could tell that the work culture would not be a good fit for me. I didn’t go to the next level of interviews (one I declined to move forward, and the other 1st rejected me and then offered to interview me for a lower level which I declined). I think its easier to focus on how the company is a good fit for you before you have an offer with number in front of you.

      The one I currently am interviewing with doesn’t have a good reputation in the media, however, I have been really impressed with the description of work culture, and the people that I have interviewed with and there haven’t been any red flags in the interviews. While I certainly don’t agree with all of the companies activities and positions, it does seem like part of the negative press is just a “love to hate them” mentality. One of the interviewers told me, that the negative press was one of the worst things about their job.

      Ultimately its up to what is important to you. Plenty of people are happy working in industries that don’t have good reputations like oil & gas, tobacco companies, defense companies, big pharma.

    10. TechGirlSupervisor*

      Thanks for the great advice everyone. Part of my, hesitation, I guess I’ll call it, is that I just started a new position about 6 months ago and I really am enjoying it. It’s a new challenge and place to make a difference, but there is some fairly strong resistance to the changes I was specifically hired to implement. I can fight the good fight and I’m confident in my ability to get the work done as I have the support of my management and senior leadership, I’m just frustrated with a complete lack of support by some of the adjacent groups (I’m trying to give them some grace, but its hard when most of the time they seem to be pretending I don’t exist). At the same time, I know these types of things can occur anywhere, so am I an awful person for interviewing after just 6 months?

      I wasn’t actively looking for a new position and this isn’t the first time I’ve been asked to apply, just it was always for a position in Very Large (expensive) City I have zero interest in moving to, so I always politely declined. Now everything is remote and they’re fine with that. And the recruiter caught me after a stressful day at work, so I agreed to the initial phone screen. Now I have technical interview and typical for me, I’m considering all the what-ifs.

      I am concerned about the work-life balance. I’m pretty strict about not working more than 40 hours/week without a really good reason (and compensation, either time in lieu or money). I’ll make sure to ask about the real culture and expectations during the interview process. Again, thanks everyone.

      1. TiffIf*

        One caveat on this:
        It’s entirely remote and I know the pay will be better than anything local could dream of.

        This will definitely depend on the company but just be aware some companies will adjust the pay depending on the location of the remote worker; the advertised salary may be subject to adjustment for location. It still may be better than local pay but may not be what is actually advertised.

  28. C'mon*

    What interview questions can you ask a potential manager to identify if they easily get defensive and combative? Or signs you can look for?

    With both my previous and current jobs, both of my managers seemed wonderful during the interview process, but then their real selves came out, with my previous boss, “Karen”, it was around 6 months, with my current boss, “Fergus”, it recently came out after exactly 2 years. I can’t speak for other coworkers, but it seems that their rude behavior is directed at me. I’m starting to update my resume and passively looking for other jobs. However, I’m very nervous about getting another boss who acts like a bratty child and gets combative. I’ve put together a list of traits that apply to both of them, but I’m curious if anyone has advice on how to weed these types of potential managers out.

    – When I applied to both of these jobs, a previous boss knew Karen and a former colleague knew Fergus. Both people vouched for me, so I think Karen and Fergus had inflated opinions of me during the interview process? Both made it very clear they were so excited that I was interviewing, and I could tell I was probably going to get job offers. I don’t know if I’m articulating it well, but it seems almost like love bombing? Telling me right away how much of a rockstar I was, when I had JUST started at the job!
    – At the start of the jobs, I asked Karen and Fergus if I could have a written description of the positions, like the job descriptions or what was evaluated during performance reviews. Both kind of brushed that request off and didn’t give me anything. Granted, I didn’t push for it either
    – During the interview during some specific task oriented questions, I remember Fergus didn’t clearly answer them, and there were a few things Karen was like “we don’t really know right now”
    – Both of them had been with each company >6 years. Both started at the specialist level (a bit above entry level) and rose to the director level after multiple promotions over their time there. They each had the entry level jobs at 1 company (as in 1 previous job each) before moving to their respective companies. Meaning, they don’t have experience working at multiple companies
    – Both are controlling in different ways. Karen was a nitpicky micromanager, while Fergus is more hands-off but still controlling if that makes sense. He needs to be involved in every single major decision and every single call, rather than training us and offloading some of his responsibilities onto the team
    – This one is interesting. During the interview processes and during the jobs, both tried to come off as laid-back, jokey, wanting to be “friends” with their teams. Whereas with my favorite boss, she came off more serious and tough at the start, but she’s a fantastic leader who’s teams love her and stay with her

    I also want to know how they act if they are having a bad day or when they have a bad meeting with management, ex. do they take frustrations out on employees? How do they react after getting told “no”? Do they turn a blind eye to other employees not doing their jobs only to dump that extra work on me?

    Other background: We all work in the digital marketing industry. Karen’s defensiveness came from insecurity. Fergus is a lazy and clueless people manager, he has no idea about people’s actual workload and he’s conflict avoidant with the bad workers. 

    1. cubone*

      I have the same question (/similar experience) so I am interested in the responses you get! I haven’t actually done this in an interview, but something I am considering is how to ask questions that get at specifics vs general ideas (there was a good AAM post fairly recently about why “what’s your management style?” is a terrible question, for example).

      I think stuff that’s similar to the behavioural questions might be a good potential – eg. How would you deliver negative feedback to an employee? (Vs something like “what’s your approach to feedback?”). Again not sure myself yet. But I think as with good interviewees, the more someone can share pretty specific examples and not just general ideas is a green flag.

      1. Lucy Goosy*

        The problem I’ve had with “what’s your approach to feedback?” type questions is that it’s so easy for them to spew some horsesh** or they don’t realize they actually don’t have that approach at all

        1. cubone*

          oh, exactly. The answer people give to those questions is their IDEAL feedback approach or what they want to believe about themselves – not what they actually do.

          I actually wrote upthread to a different question about a boss who was terrible on hiring panels. The first time I heard a candidate asked her her approach to management, I literally feigned a cough to cover my impulse to guffaw at her answer.

    2. Wednesday*

      I’m also dealing with this, looking forward to other answers.

      Going forward I’m avoiding managers who have gone from a contributor role to a people manager role within that same company because they are bound to have boundary issues (no pun intended) and the roles on the team tend to overlap

      1. cubone*

        that’s an interesting note. I had probably the sole experience of a teammate who became the team lead and excelled at it, so I’m perhaps more open to this. But I would definitely be looking to see if they can acknowledge the potential boundary conflicts in a change like that and how they actually made sure to avoid it.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      One thing I’ve offered to folks interviewing with me whom I will manage is that they can speak with a former employee of mine for a managerial reference if they wish. I have two former employees who have both agreed to be these references and, of course, they are also welcome to speak to current employees, but sometimes I think people don’t want to ask current folks certain types of questions. I would not find this an odd thing for a candidate to ask for at the offer stage (which is usually when I mention it to folks.)

      When I read your interview experience, I see a lot of yellow flags (not red flags, but taken together some issues) particularly the lack of job descriptions and the lack of specific answers to task related questions. So, I think you should consider making sure to ask for those things as you interview. Other questions you might try are, “What do you consider to be most important things about a team?” “How do you assess the people who work for you?” “Can you tell me about a time you had a low performing staff member, how did you deal with it?” Those are all questions I’ve been asked by candidates and they all seemed 100% reasonable. And if someone balks at giving you a reference to their management style OR to some pressing questions about them as a manager, that’s good info for you to have about them.

      1. C'mon*

        What other yellow flags do you see in my interview experience? So I can know for next time. Is there a way to ask during the interview if you’ll be able to get a copy of the job description and the goals you are evaluated on while you are still interviewing?

        1. cubone*

          I think you should always, always have a copy of the job description for the interview! In my experience, some places have had a JD and then a truncated Job Posting, others the post IS the JD. I’ve tended to just ask “is there an expanded JD I can see, or is the posting the full JD?” – no idea if it’s standard, but I’ve found unionized environments often have a much more fulsome JD somewhere.

          The goals might be a bit harder; not everywhere will have very formalized set goals for every role (though if that matters to you, then it’s a great question to ask, and avoid employers who don’t). I’ve gotten good insight by asking:
          -how will you evaluate success in this role?
          -what does the successful candidate need to accomplish in their first 3 months? first year?
          -how does the company/the team/the manager set performance goals?
          -can you give me an example of the performance goals for previous people in this role?

    4. Karia*

      I would say… listen to your gut and don’t give the benefit of the doubt. I gave a company a second chance after they jerked me around and it turned out to be the worst mistake I’ve ever made career wise.

      Also listen to other people’s experiences, and look at turnover. If someone with an otherwise solid work history *hated* it, that’s telling. With turnover you may have to do detective work, because if you ask they might lie.

  29. To Fly or Not to Fly Fat?*

    My organization travels domestically and internationally a few times a year each year. I’ve traveled to these meetings before over the years but am now in a new role that I’m THE person who is supposed to go besides the Big Boss. I am traveling in a couple of weeks, a 2 hour flight away and I’m supposed to travel to Europe, which I’ve done before at this org, this summer. I do NOT want to travel b/c I am fat. That is not disparaging, it’s a fact. I am fine traveling domestically – I have coping mechanisms for 4 hour flights and less, it’s not a huge deal b/c it’s I don’t need two seats or How do I ask not to go to this? CAN I ask this? What do I say? I would feel okay in business class, but I didn’t budget for it, and our boss doesn’t travel biz class. It doesn’t feel right asking for that. Maybe I’m wrong?

    Here’s the rub: I WANT to go to the European meeting next year b/c it’s a shorter flight and it’s a place I love. I’d be willing to pay out of pocket for that biz class flight. Does that make me a jerk? And, honestly who knows if I’ll be around next year at the org or maybe things will change again. But looking for advice on how to approach this with my boss – we have a good relationship, but this is humiliating. My body has gone up and down over the years, my boss knows this is a “thing” for me and my comfort has varied a lot over the years. I am just at a loss.

    I hope this goes without saying, but I’m not looking for unsolicited advice on my body. Thank you.

    1. Asenath*

      I think if you’re willing to pay for an upgrade, you can ask about it. It’s not going to cost the company any more, and you can easily say (or let it be assumed) that you want the extra comfort because it’s a long trip (well, I know you say it’s a shorter one, but still, if you aren’t in Europe, it’s probably not THAT short). I don’t think a reasonable boss would be put off by that sort of request.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this. As a finance person in a company, I would never have an issue with this. Anyone can always upgrade their seat or other accommodations at their own expense or using their miles. No worries at all!

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      My wife is a woman of size and she often upgrades herself (out of her own pocket) to business class.

      1. Fat Flyer*

        This summer’s destination is not one I’m willing to pay for out of pocket though…but this helps, still. Thank you!

    3. Purple Cat*

      So it sounds like you have a position of importance if you are THE person that’s supposed to attend these meetings. That means your company should be willing and able to make sure you can comfortably attend – therefore ask for what you want which is business class. They may reject your initial request, and then you can offer to pay for the upgrade, but I wouldn’t propose that from the get-go.

      It seems like you have a slightly different issue though which is: you don’t want to go to Europe this summer, but you DO want to go next summer? That one’s a little harder to justify, but if you have a good working relationship with your boss – just bring it up. Maybe not so much focusing on you like next year’s location better, but “travel to Europe is a lot of strain, can I attend every OTHER year?”

      1. Fat Flyer*

        That last piece of advice is clutch: not every year b/c of my size and I’d need to pay for my own upgrade. So they can either decide to let me fly with the upgrade EVERY year that they cover, or don’t. THANK YOU!!!

        The other thing I haven’t said here is that I’m in my 40s and have been lucky enough to travel a lot. Now that I’m older and frankly, fatter, I’m more choosy with where I put my energy. I know this summer’s trip would just stress me out and I am just. Not. Interested. I already deal with anxiety and depression, I know it would be too hard for me.

        1. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

          If it’s just this summer’s trip that is stressful, you could also try mentioning that you’re unusually stressed/anxious/low energy this year, and that you’re not really up for international travel right now but will certainly be eager to go again next year.

          1. Fat Flyer*

            Oh there’s another trip next year to Africa. I’ve already planted the seed that I’m pretty unsure about that one. Thank you for this, though! Still helpful!

          2. Hatchet*

            THIS! I would think you’d be justified in making a comment along the lines of “I don’t feel comfortable traveling this summer due to [pick a reason… Covid concerns, location concerns, personal reasons, etc]”.

      2. londonedit*

        Or if the issue is the flight time, you could maybe say ‘I really struggle with flights over four hours, and I just don’t feel like I can do the flight to X. Next year’s conference will be no problem – I know that flight is only three and a half hours – but I really can’t manage a six-hour flight to X this year’.

      3. Frankie Bergstein*

        It sounds like this trip could be an amazing opportunity for someone new to the field – could it be something where you recommend someone junior to go as a career-building opportunity?

        1. Fat Flyer*

          Absolutely, Frankie. My coordinator is very interested, but slightly wary b/c they don’t want to get quarantined over there. I don’t blame them and I wouldn’t want to put them in that position. But in the future, yes!

    4. LDN Layabout*

      It does sound like you’re over flying internationally in general, if it doesn’t suit your own agenda. Were you aware of the need for travel when you got this position?

      Because if travel is part of the job, and it’s not something that you raised, especially as an internal applicant, I can see it being annoying for your boss if they’re counting on the person in your position taking on the traveling responsibilities.

      1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

        Good question – I’ve been at my org for over a decade and the org has changed a lot and I’ve been in the same main position and then last year was promoted to oversee an area that matched with my skillset and THAT position is expected for this travel. This also happened in the middle of the pandemic so travel wasn’t even on my mind – I should have considered that more carefully. Good context, thank you.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I definitely think it’s something you can address with your boss, since you’re obviously a long-term and valued employee, but also be prepared to compromise if they really do need someone to be doing this travel.

    5. No Tribble At All*

      There have been a few other letters about this — how to present it as a condition of you attending the conference “if you need me there, you’ll need to do X conditions for my travel” Hope they help!

    6. acmx*

      Are you in the US? Anytime I have had to travel internationally over 8 hours, I have always flown business class. Does your boss not travel biz class even int’l?

      I don’t know if this works for you, but don’t forget about premium economy.

  30. CJ*

    Looking for advice on how to make it through the next two months of work when I’m pregnant and burnt out…

    I could write a novel on all the details, but that pretty much sums it up. I have two more months before I go on maternity leave and my job is making me completely miserable. It’s a hard job at the best of times – high stress, tight deadlines, challenging subject matter – but in the past I’ve found it exciting and rewarding because I was part of a strong and supportive team…and right now I’m not. I don’t feel particularly supported by my boss or team, and don’t have trust that any of them would be helpful if I reached out.

    I have all the classic signs of burnout – anxiety, outsize frustration over small setbacks, lack of motivation, trouble sleeping – of course pregnancy fatigue and mood swings don’t help matters. The good news is that I’m fortunate enough to live in a country with extended parental leave and I just have two more months to stick it out and then I’m off for a year. I know two months is barely any time, it will fly by etc., but right right now, it feels more like two years. Does anyone have advice on how to make things feel a little more bearable until I can make my escape?

    It’s worth noting that the best thing for my career would be to stay at this job for another year or two after I come back from mat leave and I’ll very likely have the same manager when I return (yes, I will re-evaluate this plan if things are still so miserable when I come back). For that reason, I want to leave on a positive note, so as tempting as it is to just check out and do the bare minimum till I’m off, I’m trying to stay engaged and leave a good impression.

    1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      Do the bare minimum. It’s really okay! You are growing a human AND are burnt out. Look at it as taking care of yourself and your baby – work is work. They don’t take care of you, right? It’s really okay to do the bare minimum sometimes. I had a boss who told me early in my career that she knew people can’t give 100% 100% of the time, but as long as the average was good, she didn’t sweat it. You’ve probably banked a lot of good work, right?

    2. CheesePlease*

      As someone who was burning out pre-maternity leave recently, I really sympathize. ( I live in the US and ended up changing jobs 3 months after I returned to my previous job). Every day is eternal, you’re tired, you don’t want to do anything and everything is uncomfortable. HANG IN THERE!

      I would focus on transitioning work off your plate unto whoever will be covering your tasks, or simplifying your workload so it’s easier to transition. This could involve creating training documents for how to complete a process, a guide for who to contact on specific projects, organizing files on the network drive so they are easier to navigate for someone else, downloading emails to folders for others to reference . So it’s work, but easier “clerical” type work over the harder day to day stuff hopefully. It is still helpful to the company overall so nobody should think “wow CJ is a slacker” but rather “wow CJ took their job seriously enough to make sure it was done correctly during their leave”

    3. Massive Dynamic*

      Do the minimum and take short or rest days as needed. The last two months before birth can feel like years. Any chance you can go on leave earlier?

    4. eisa*

      This is going to depend on your country, but in some/most? of those with decent maternity leave also have decent regulations about sick leave. In which case, it will also not be too hard to find a doctor attesting that for your health and that of the baby, your maternity leave has to start right now.

    5. TessNYC*

      I was in the exact same position as you. When I was just venting to my ob gyn about how stressed out I was and how unsupported I was by everyone I worked with, he actually prescribed bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy!

    6. Macaroni Penguin*

      I’d probably get a callender and some stickers. (Something cheerful and super sparkly) . Mark each day passed with a sticker. Or make yourself an advent callender of chocolate! It’s a low key idea that solves nothing but hey…..
      Also, congratulations!

    7. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Do you have any time off (like sick time) you could use maybe every 2 weeks that you don’t need for your mat leave? So you can tell yourself, only working 4 days this week, etc? Can you work remote so you can be a little more separated from the workplace (if that is part of the issue). Or honestly keep telling yourself your almost done, because you are. It’s unlikely things will be exactly the same after your leave, and not sure if this is your first child, but having a kid truly changes everything, and you’ll likely be in a very different mindset a year from now.

      Best wishes on the rest of your pregnancy, and for an easy birth and recovery.

  31. Trying to Walk Away from Omelas*

    The question: Is it worth trying to address deeply rooted organizational issues if I’m hoping to leave soon?

    I’ve been with a small organization within higher education for quite a while, and while my coworkers and managers are great people (polite, great senses of humor, etc.) the organization is dysfunctional-going-on-toxic. We’ve lost multiple great people over the last two years, some as quickly as 3 months after starting, because of the structure and operations of our program, and while they’ve given feedback nothing has meaningfully changed. It’s a nasty combination of managing people into incompetence, then gaslighting them into thinking it’s their fault.

    I’m trying to find my way out, because this job has broken my desire to work with students, a career I thought I’d be in for the rest of my working life (I’m kinda grieving that, I will admit – higher ed folks might commiserate?). I want to try to address some of this atmosphere for the benefit of our organization, either now or at my exit, but I don’t know if it’s worth jeopardizing my reference when it hasn’t worked when others left. Do y’all think it’s worth trying?

    1. Siege*

      You want to leave, you know they’ve gotten the feedback before and have done nothing, and you’re worried feedback would jeopardize your reference. The only reason under those circumstances to say anything is because it would make you feel better. But they’re not receptive and there’s a risk to you. I say leave it; if any one of those components was different I wouldn’t say that, but unless you anticipate a long job search there’s nothing to gain by giving the feedback.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconded. They already know and decided that they don’t want to know and won’t do anything about it. It’s not worth the risk, and it likely won’t make any difference. Take care of yourself, and good luck getting out of there!

    2. Asenath*

      I suspect that if you’re on the way out the door in an organization that has a track record of ignoring feedback, there’s not much point in you trying to help them out. Good luck with your new life.

    3. kbeers0su*

      I agree with the other commenters here. I’m a recovering SA professional of 15+ years, and I’ve never found any good use to providing feedback at the four different universities I’ve worked for. I have a feeling that because universities are governed by Very Academic People who think they know everything, any problems that exist can’t possibly be because of them. You could find loads of similar comments to yours in the Ex Patriates of Student Affairs Facebook group…

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      Through a 30+ year career I have learned that the only people who can change an organization are those at the top and only if they came up with the idea and only if they really want everything to change (usually this epiphany only happens if the people at the top have been replaced). It sounds like you care more about fixing the organization than they do, and that’s not a position from which you can effect change. Let it go.

    5. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Save your breath to cool your porridge!

      What you might enjoy is to write a report on the organisation as if you were an outside consultant, listing all the changes and improvements you would recommend. You already have the ideas in your head, why not write them down? This report is just for you. Print it and put it in a file with your other paperwork etc from this job. One day you might use it in some way elsewhere, or at the very least look over it and think Yes, that place was hopeless. Good luck to you!

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      In a word, no. Don’t waste your time or energy. Just focus on getting out and healing from the toxic mess

  32. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Still working through health stuff. My boss asked if I could give some documentation but I’m not sure what would be required? Like I’ve gone to primary care for my many respiratory infections and the person who has the best history if my problems is the psych nurse but I’m avoiding disclosing that. What should I do? What do other unhealthy people do in this circumstance?

    1. ferrina*

      I haven’t gone through this myself, but something from a doctor saying that your “health condition” (shouldn’t need to say what) requires X accomodation. So if you have a mental health condition that has required days out, your doctor should be able to write something on official letter head that says “Stuckinacrazyjob has a health condition that has required frequent medical visits and will require ongoing weekly appointments with a medical professional.” A doctor won’t disclose your medical condition to a third party unless you give them permission

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Oh that’s cool. I usually can function but anything from a cold to covid causes my health to flare. Lol.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I asked my GP to write a letter attesting to my condition and the impact it was having on my ability to do my job. They wrote a vague one page letter that basically said, “Anotherlibrarian has been dianosgised with a medical condition that has the following work restrictions…. ” And that was that. It was super simple. But I did have a GP who was willing to do it, I don’t know how I would have done it if I hadn’t had a GP.

    3. Barb*

      For me the medical part was really easy. The NP wrote it in October when I told her I was worried about walking on snow and ice.

      I don’t think the HR person even read my doctor’s note, just checked off that I had one.

      I asked for (and received) an accommodation to WFH every day for the winter. The rule had been wfh only 1-2 days per week. I go back to that in May.

      My medical note said I was unable to walk long distances.
      My walk from the closest parking lot isn’t that far, but I’m in the northeast and there has been continuous snow since the beginning of January. I can’t walk on that.

      Good luck!

  33. BMaur*

    Does anyone have advice for managing remote temp workers?

    I occasionally have projects where we bring in temp workers for weeks or months at a time.  Unfortunately there’s often a person or two who doesn’t put any care into their work or won’t follow instructions and I have to have a serious talk with them and then let them go if they don’t show improvement, but for the most part the people we bring in do good work.  For the past couple of months I’ve been managing a fully remote project and it is difficult in ways I haven’t solved for yet.  Since most of these people haven’t met me in person and they set their own schedules (they are independent contractors) I get the sense from some of them that doing good work isn’t their priority.  I don’t think any of them are mindlessly pushing buttons for eight hours to seem busy and collect a paycheck, more like they only seem to hold a couple of instructions in their mind as they work despite us having a thorough protocol and frequently updated shared question and answer document.  I’ll send out reminders individually or for the group and the reminders will be acknowledged but not implemented (like, ‘if you do A and B, remember that you have to do C as well’).  We have group calls every other week so we can discuss the project and answer any questions, and I know these are all smart and relatively engaged people.  When I QC their work though it often feels like some of them are half-assing it in a way I don’t feel when the people I’m managing are on-site with me.

    One major difficulty is my team at work is very understaffed – we’ve gone from a team of four to a team of two, and the other team member has a baby at home.  Ideally I would send out an instruction/reminder email and then check in a day or two to make sure everyone is following instructions, but most weeks I don’t have time until Sundays to sit and review everyone’s work product.

    1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      Do you have a colleague you trust to help you look over stuff before you have time to do that?

      1. BMaur*

        Unfortunately not, we’re all swamped at the moment and I’m the only person at the company that manages this type of project (because of credentials as well as experience). When we get another person or two on board I’ll do my best to bring them in so they can help keep an eye on these things.

    2. ferrina*

      I’ve been managing a remote team for quite a few years. Here’s what I’ve found:
      -Set clear deadlines and check-in points. This lets them know exactly what you expect and when you expect it by (and always buffer leave time for revisions)
      -Check in when they are about a quarter of the way through. That way you can ensure they are going in the right direction, they are following instructions, etc. It allows you to course correct early rather than scrambling later. If you see someone really struggling, you can set more regular check-ins.
      -Delegate trainings. If you have an experienced staffer who is really good at X, have them train the temps in X (with you reviewing their materials). It gets you some more time in your day and gives your team more opportunities to take on more responsibility.
      -Call out people that are making errors. Set the bar and hold them to it- don’t be afraid to tell them it needs to improve. Clear and specific feedback on what you want will 1) improve communications and let them know where to focus and 2) clue them in that even if you aren’t in person, you are still closely watching their work (in case they thought that you weren’t).

      1. BMaur*

        Thanks very much! I’ll do my best to implement some or all of these as we have more remote projects.

  34. My username is required*

    I recently turned down two jobs – one has been reposted as they are still hiring from it and the other one came about as the team was restructuring and I was offered a different role than the one I interviewed for due to my background in that specific area. I am now regretting turning these roles down – has anyone ever asked for a role they turned down and how did that work out? I am an admin in higher ed usually.

    1. lisa*

      My philosophy is that it never hurts to ask, assuming all the conversations were professional. You can reach out and say “I see the position is open again and my situation has changed, so I’d love to have another conversation about it.”

      I am a boomerang employee – I left my job for a start up. got laid off, and returned to my previous employer. Definitely a good lesson in leaving jobs without burning bridges.

    2. Purple Cat*

      I think you need to be clear (with yourself, and ultimately with the companies) as to why you all of a sudden want these jobs that you turned down before. And if it’s a case of you had high standards and now you’re willing to settle, you’ll have to come up with something better to say to the hiring manager. If it’s “you thought the position had to much X and you wanted to do Y, but after more review you realize all the things you like about X” then that’s a better sell. As a hiring manager, I’d be slightly concerned at someone being wishy-washy before starting might not be a long-term prospect, but if I was really bummed at missing out on you, I’d be thrilled to have you reach out again.

  35. Jade*

    My staffer needs constant validation and it’s stressing me out. I’m not his boss- I’m just leading a project that he is a key member of at a very large organization. We are in crunch time now and he gets his feelings hurt all the time. For example- he has complained a lot about Publix speaking and last time it was required he whined about it endlessly. So another public speaking event is coming up and I asked if a junior member would like to speak instead and he got super offended. Agh! Also he has limited availability to work on the project so I’m looking to bring on another part timer to share the workload and now he’s whining about that and whether he’ll still be important.

    I am junior to him and younger and a woman and I am so tired of the emotional labor he demands. Any advice ?

    1. ferrina*

      I tend to only respond to business concerns. If it’s about feelings, I lose interest and continue talking about business. I also tend to be proactive about this by stating what I plan to do and why- so “I know Frank has limited availability, so Frank, let’s have you focus on creating the prototype design and I’ll bring in additional resources to work on the taglines.”
      If he whines, I’ll listen to alternate proposals, then make my decision and usually explain why.
      Sometimes I’ll even say “hey, I’d love to hear this, but I gotta run- can you send me an email about this?” (return labor to sender).

      You probably won’t get him to stop trying to use you for emotional labor, but you can get some control over how much emotional attention you’re willing to give him.

    2. Workerbee*

      To add to the advice: If you haven’t already, when you make decisions based on what he himself has said (or whined) and then he whines about those decisions, you can calmly state that “Staffer, you clearly expressed your dislike for public speaking, so I gave the opportunity to Other Person,” and then just shut down like a Grey Rock. You are not interested in further whining/explanations/but whyyyys on that topic.

      I had a whiner who actually lay in wait for me to pass his cube and then followed me around to complain about am assigned task (that fortunately was not dependent on him and could be given to someone eager for the experience). I turned, faced him, and said, “We will never have you do X again.”

      I never before saw someone enact the “rocked back on his heels” maneuver that I’ve read about so long, but boy was that satisfying to see.

    3. Wisteria*

      Lead positions do come with a certain amount of expected emotional labor bc leads set the tone for the team and mold them into a cohesive unit. What constitutes a “certain” amount is less clear, but it is greater than zero. You do need to address what he says, but you don’t have to keep dwelling on it.

      You don’t say whether you addressed rationales up front or not. Something like, “I want to take the load of Juan for all the public speaking and give Desdemona a chance to develop that skill at the upcoming Llama Tassle event,” and “We currently have more work than Juan and Desdemona have availability, so Tyrone is joining the effort. Let’s welcome Tyrone.” Then if Juan brings it up to you, you can respond once with “Juan, I did want to take into account that you have said you don’t like the public speaking events, so I am spreading that task around to others,” and “Juan, Tyrone’s inclusion is necessary for x and half of y, we still need you on z and the other half of y.”

      Forming a team is a skill just like Excel is a skill. Some people are better out of hte gate, but everyone can improve. On the other hand, maybe you just don’t like team leadership and should make a plan with your boss to hand off those duties.

  36. DG*

    How is everyone else’s companies responding to inflation? My company (professional services) just sent out a note reminding everyone to increase the rates we charge clients by ~10% or more to be in line with inflation.

    Raises this year for people remaining in their role averaged 3%. I got a promotion and my salary increase just barely covers inflation – I have more responsibility, work, stress, etc., but am effectively making the some salary I was 2-3 years ago. HR has been very clear that there will be no more salary adjustments until next year at the earliest.

    Price increases just feel like corporate greed at this point if employees aren’t going to see any of that increase in revenue trickle down to them.

    1. Maggie*

      By giving people 3% raises and phrasing them as merit increases. I don’t know anyone who isn’t job searching or planning on resigning after bonuses are paid.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      We haven’t done price increases yet, but we’re starting everyone at a 4% COL raise and merit raises will be added on top of that. As we do a lot of billable work that will probably lead to price increases in 2023 but we haven’t addressed that aspect yet.

    3. Imprudence*

      You are probably right.
      But here in the UK fuel prices have doubled, food prices are up 10%, salaries 4%. So some of my work’s charges will be going up by more than salaries to cover those additional costs. It depends what proportion of the cost of your service is salary whether that’s fair or not.

    4. AdequateArchaeologist*

      My industry is basically ignoring inflation, then can’t figure out why they can’t find field techs. Except California; apparently they’re so desperate for tech’s they’re bumping pay higher than industry standard, but still not high enough for California COL. A lot of places are relaxing their requirements even (which in some ways makes me side eye them), but still have no luck. People are done being over-educated/underpaid and only being used as temp workers. Color me surprised.

      My boss was complaining about how no one wants to do camping projects when they give us the same amount of per diem as they would in a hotel (note that for the camping projects you have to supply basically all your own gear in addition to food; the company supplies a big cooking stove and pays the campground fee but that’s it). Literally every other company either refuses camping projects if at all possible (my husband’s company) or gives double per diem. For some reason my boss just flat out refused to match other companies? It was really weird how much she dug in her heels. Finally convinced her to up it from $59 to around $75, but still not where it should be.

      1. DG*

        Yes, all our direct competitors have significantly increased base salaries to keep up with inflation and remain competitive. Meanwhile, every VP at my company is somehow bewildered that people are leaving left and right and no one’s accepting our lowball offers. (I would prefer to leave my current industry entirely, otherwise I’d be jumping ship to a competitor ASAP.)

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      They didn’t call it a COL raise, but we got an 8% raise across the board separate from the normal merit/promotion cycle.

      1. Anon scientist*

        Ours wasn’t that high (2-6% with the higher % for lower-paid staff) but we did the same thing. Aaand then tried to use it to argue for lower regular annual raises when that came around. Those of us who set pay raises were mostly able to push back but we definitely had a couple of 0% raises after the market adjustment.

    6. it's me*

      Previously I’d gotten 3% COL; this year it was 6%, so mostly on track with COL, but they always call it merit increases.

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

      As someone living in a country with 40%-ish inflation per year (prices rise for the most ridiculous of reasons, I swear) we have COL raises twice a year, and even then sometimes it’s not enough.

  37. Wednesday*

    This just happened this morning and I’m completely bewildered by it. We have a small kitchen area in our office and I went back to make coffee. A long-time coworker who I am very work-friendly with was washing out a bowl that apparently had soup or oatmeal in it. There was a sponge in the sink but she was using her hand (with soap) to wash her bowl. All the chunks and stuff from the bowl were just falling onto the sponge (we do have a garbage disposal.) When she was done, she used a bowlful of water to rinse out the sink and whatever came off the sponge came off, but a lot stuck. I jokingly stated, “You know, most people use a sponge to actually clean their dishes, not just to sop up the yuck afterwards.”

    She grimaced and said in a blunt tone, “I don’t touch sponges.” I said something to the affect of not needing to dump your stuff all over it, and she again bluntly said, “Then whoever left it in the sink should have put it on the sponge caddy where it belongs.” With that she left the kitchen.

    The tone wasn’t that she was offended by my statement, but just a plain matter of fact response. But what is the etiquette here? Does personal “I don’t touch sponges” override shared kitchen courtesy? I’m not taking it farther with her, but I’m just curious and again, bewildered by the whole exchange.

    1. Order of the Banana*

      I think in an ideal world, employees would be mindful of shared appliances and utensils, but my office experience has been that sponges usually get left wherever the last person who used them put them. Everyone at the office thinks that sponges are icky, especially if it’s cold and slimy. I think at most, people would use their hands to direct some of the running water onto the sponge, but I don’t know anyone who would pick it up and actually clean off food particles.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      No, that’s not okay. I don’t use the communal sponge to wash my dishes (I use paper towels), but I also wouldn’t dump my nasty stuff on it. She could have used her bowl to scoot it over to the side.

    3. Siege*

      Probably people shouldn’t go out of their way to make the situation worse. If she couldn’t use the edge of the bowl or another utensil to move the sponge or re-angle the faucet, she made the situation worse. To me, fine, if you don’t want to touch a sponge I’m not going to tell you how to live your life but she violated kitchen etiquette by creating a mess someone else has to clean up when there are at least two practical solutions and possibly many more depending on things like whether your company stocks gloves of any kind. Making things worse is typically the opposite of etiquette (unless it is evenly worse for everyone).

    4. GoryDetails*

      Sponges can be quite gross! I know I’d rather use my hand to wash my own dishes than to pick up a common-use sponge. (I’d assume the sponge was used for cleaning spills on the countertop rather than for dishes, fwiw.)

      If the sponge were lying in the sink I’d set it on the drainboard before I started washing my own items; I wouldn’t want to make things worse, sponge-wise! (If it were an especially, obviously grotty sponge, I might use a washable implement or disposable paper towel to fish it out of the sink, but it wouldn’t bother me to just grab a corner and put it out of the way.)

        1. 2QS*

          Yep, I almost always wash dishes just with my hands, or possibly a stiff-bristled brush. I am indeed a bit of a germaphobe, but sponges make me shudder; I can’t see them as anything but bacteria factories. I never buy them, and I don’t use the ones at work unless I absolutely can’t help it.

    5. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      First up: Respectfully, you may be projecting your expectations onto other people. Just because you use it for dishes only and not sinks does not mean that others don’t.

      Speaking for myself, I can’t speak to the dumping stuff on the sponge, but I usually always use my hand in a communal kitchen because I am particularly sensitive to the scent they give off when they go “off” – I can smell it on my hands after multiple washings.

    6. Raboot*

      I don’t really see the big deal with her food ending up on the sponge. It would do that too if she actually used the sponge. Also, I’m not sure what is bewildering about the situation. Your description that you said your first line “jokingly” (but it’s not a joke and you meant it) and describing both of her responses as “blunt” make me wonder if you’re not just reading too much into everyone’s tones? Sounds like this was a pretty normal interaction.

      1. ThatGirl*

        The problem is she didn’t move it out of the way or rinse it off. If you’re using the sponge to clean your stuff, presumably you’d rinse and squeeze it out a few times? It’s not the end of the world but it does seem a bit inconsiderate.

        1. Raboot*

          Agreed, but the line was “sop up the yuck” which is pretty dramatic. The “yuck” would be getting “sopped up” anyway. This is maybe a little inconsiderate in not washing it off but it feels like OP is kind of overreacting to “food touching sponge”

      2. WellRed*

        But presumably anyone getting food all over sponge would then rinse and wring the sponge. She should have been more mindful of that.

      3. Yorick*

        Well, maybe not. I always rinse the dish, then wash it with a sponge, and then rinse off the sponge. So it wouldn’t get as much food on it as it would if I just dumped everything over it when it was sitting in the sink.

        I understand not wanting to use the sponge but she should’ve moved it over.

    7. LDN Layabout*

      The etiquette is, unless a colleague is doing something wildly out of line, is to not critique them under the guise of ‘joking’.

    8. Wisteria*

      You were a little passive aggressive here. Your desired outcome was that she should not leave the sponge covered in food, but nothing in what you said conveyed that. To be clear, even if you had been direct and said, “Hey, could you rinse the off the sponge? It looks like some of the stuff you rinsed out of your bowl is still on it,” she would not have.

      I had more to say, but just now I am reading the direct statement I wrote and wondering whether self-appointed sponge police is really right role for you to take. Let this one go, and also learn to be direct in the first place.

  38. Order of the Banana*

    If anyone works in a Compensation role (or any role where they are responsible for determining pay scales in a company), I’d love your insight! I’m in HR so I’m privy to the pay range for different roles at our company; I took a look at what the pay range is expected to be for someone at my level and I was surprised (but also not really) to see that the midpoint of my range was several thousand dollars higher than what I think anyone on my team (with a wide range of experience) is getting paid. There are people who are in roles one level above mine who are probably being paid at my level’s midpoint.

    I might be going on a lateral transfer soon, and I wanted to negotiate a rate that’s closer to the midpoint of my range. My logic is that if you set the midpoint of a specific level, then you should actually be willing to pay employees that rate (assuming that their experience is in line). However, I also know that HR is a pretty underpaid industry as a whole unless you’re getting up to a senior executive level.

    If anyone has tips on how I can navigate this conversation, it’d be much appreciated!

    1. valkyrie*

      Does your company know you have access to salary information? Assuming so, you could be more direct about it “due to X role, I know the range for Y position is A to B so I would like to make something around Z”.

      Depending on what you do, could might also be uniquely positioned to advocate for more salary transparency – posting ranges on job boards when hiring, and making sure that staff has access to information about salary for their jobs, bonuses, raises, etc.

      1. Order of the Banana*

        Yes they do! They gave out the document to our team because we sometimes have to field questions from employees about these salary ranges.

        I would really love to be able to say “The midpoint is Y, so I’d like something in that area”, but without knowing how these salary ranges are built out, I worry that I’ll appear out of touch for asking for such a large increase in salary, and that they’ll just turn me down with reasons that I can’t verify.

        Another concern I have is that they’ll say that we are already getting paid very well compared to the market rate. However (and I don’t know if it’s justified to feel this way), I think that HR is just underpaid overall so it’s hard to accept market comparison as a reason for why we are paid the way we are.

        1. Love Dies*

          I feel like HR leadership tries to have it both ways–they give HR members the information and tools to address employee questions about pay ranges and salary equity, but kind of expect HR members themselves to not use that information in their own negotiations (maybe just my impression).

          If you’ve been granted access to salary range information, I don’t see why you can’t use that data in negotiating salary. “This is what the market is paying, so can I get closer to the midpoint for the market?”

          I would just be careful in your wording to distinguish between a negotiation for your own salary and a proposal for a new project to reevaluate everyone’s salaries. If your boss gets mixed messages there it could be easier to muddy the waters on when you should get an answer and what that answer is.

    2. Formerly in HR*

      Technically, the mid-point range is supposed to reflect the fact that the incumbent is fully versed in the role and has the ‘MUST’ skills. In reality, most companies start people at the minimum of the range and, even with internal promotions or pay increases, they might never reach the mid-point.
      This might also be a matter of what is the fair market salary for the new role – if it aligns with the range, or the mid-point, you could phrase your request around that (and not the fact you know what the range is, or you’ve seen it and picked a figure of it).

  39. pieces_of_flair*

    I need to update my resume for a professional development program I’m applying to. My recent job history is somewhat convoluted. I started a Llama Groomer position in 2016, and in 2019 I transferred to another department within my organization and became a Senior Llama Care Specialist. In 2021, I moved back to my former department as a Senior Llama Groomer. My problem is that my duties/accomplishments as Llama Groomer and Senior Llama Groomer are the same. One thought is to list them like this:
    Senior Llama Groomer, 2021-present
    Llama Groomer, 2016-2019
    -Accomplishment 1
    -Accomplishment 2
    -Accomplishment 3

    Senior Llama Care Specialist, 2019-2021
    -Accomplishment 1
    -Accomplishment 2
    -Accomplishment 3

    However, I’m not sure about doing it that way since I had the Senior Llama Care Specialist position between the two Llama Groomer positions and it might be weird/confusing to have a non-chronological resume. I also worry the career progression wouldn’t be as clear. Does anyone have advice? It would be difficult to come up with separate accomplishments under Llama Groomer and Senior Llama Groomer, but maybe that’s the best option?

    I apologize if this is a duplicate comment, but it doesn’t look like it went through the first time I tried to post.

    1. Emm*

      Are your responsibilities as a Llama Groomer and Senior Llama Groomer really exactly the same? I would find a way to differentiate them in your accomplishments in order to demonstrate clearly that you’ve moved up to a senior position and what that entails, and then present all of your positions chronologically. It is a little confusing the way you’ve organized it here.

      1. pieces_of_flair*

        Thanks. I agree it’s confusing. Unfortunately my duties as Llama Groomer and Senior Llama Groomer really are the same, so it will take some braining to figure out how to break them down separately.

    2. Fabulous*

      Your duties might be the same, but your accomplishments will be different. Try thinking of them on a timeline rather than accumulative.

  40. PuzzledAndHurt*

    I recently got blindsided with some information at my performance review. In it, my boss had written that I “lack finesse” and can come across as aggressive. That I can have a forceful demeanor.
    I have never had this feedback before.
    I asked for specific examples for these- she could not give any. She told me she observed me in multiple meetings and that i speak up when i have something to contribute or when i ask a technical question. Which I thought was a good thing. I asked her if there was a pattern of this behavior, she said no.
    And then she told me I was improving this year already and gave an example. I was surprised because I hadn’t known there was anything to improve upon till this meeting!
    I met with an HR rep and told her that these terms are gendered and look sexist and that I wasn’t informed timely of any issue so I could address promptly or even give any mitigating information. HR replied that she didn’t view those terms as sexist and it sounded like I need to have better communication with my boss.

    I agreed but how could I ask for better communication when I wasn’t aware of any perceived issues? And the timing!
    I’m not sure what to do now – this feedback affected my compensation (lowering) and will be a part of my permanent record. And I still don’t know what I did that was so “wrong” and her example of what I did “right” was just bizarre (I sent a chat msg to someone in another office asking him to look into something).
    Are those terms sexist? What about not telling me at the time there was an issue (the performance review covers last calendar year and our meeting was at the start of March)? Or who made it? I am the only woman in the office at the worker bee level. I work in IT.

    1. Siege*

      My experience has been that at least two managers put that kind of unprovable feedback in at review time to justify a layoff. Even if that isn’t the case you’re not going to get more from someone so unreasonable they can’t give you examples and keep the feedback anyway to create negative consequences for you – you didn’t get a deserved raise! Are you in a position to start looking elsewhere?

      And yes, I’m also suspicious you got classically gendered feedback as the only woman at your level in your office. Even in IT, that’s unusual enough for a gender mix that it’s intentional.

      1. PuzzledAndHurt*

        Thank you for the validation. HR really made me question myself, because after some thought I realized that a man would never be “aggressive” — he’d be “forthcoming” and a “go-getter.”
        I hope there’s no layoff — we’re already understaffed!

        And yes, I began the process of finding another job before I had this feedback, as I don’t like being overworked.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I’m glad that you are looking. Even if there is too much work, your boss could be trying to move you out. That happened to me, and my boss was a woman.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I agree with Siege, and this has also been my experience and my observation. It sounds to me like they are trumping up things in order to justify not giving you the raise you deserve, and (I hope I’m wrong about this) possibly showing you out the door in the future.

        Although I could well be wrong, I do disagree about the terms being gendered and sexist because I’ve seen situations where similar language was used to oust men from positions and the men involved struck me as being very sensitive, considerate and professional (very definitely not jerks).

    2. Purple Cat*

      I don’t think “lacking finesse” is necessarily gendered (although has it ever been used to describe a man? probably not.) “Aggressive” absolutely gets applied to women more than men. It’s a good thing when men do it. Failure of your manager to provide specific examples is awful. And nothing should be a surprise on an annual review, it should all be covered in the moment (both good and bad).

      Realistically – attacking the “Gendered” aspect of the comments won’t get you anywhere at your company, so focus on what HR said about “needing better communication with your boss”. That is absolutely true, so ask what HR and your boss are going to do to improve the feedback loop.

      1. PuzzledAndHurt*

        Very good point — HR had implied that it was up to me to improve it, but it needs to be a group effort!

      2. londonedit*

        My dad (who is in his 70s) still likes to quote the school report he got when he was about 13 that simply stated ‘Lacks finesse’.

        But overall the stuff about you being ‘aggressive’ but your boss not being able to give any concrete examples really does scream gendered to me. I agree though that it doesn’t sound like HR are going to be interested in that side of it, so I’d definitely focus on getting a clear picture of how you can better communicate with your boss/how your boss can better deliver feedback.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Yes, those terms are sexist. Caroline Criado-Perez has a whole chapter about this in her book “Invisible Women.”

      And your boss really did it wrong by not bringing up these alleged missteps when they actually happened.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think this is absolutely gendered, but also done in a way that’s hard to prove. Also, those examples are nonsense. It sounds to me like your manager was looking for something negative to put on a review. I worked somewhere that management would do this. The ideal was a bell curve, so only one or two employees would get top marks, & others would often get really weird feedback. (Including telling excellent employees that they couldn’t get top marks, because when they did excellent work, the were just meeting expectations. Only people who had areas to work on could truly exceed expectations, because not as much was expected of them).

      1. it's me*

        “It sounds to me like your manager was looking for something negative to put on a review.” That’s what I was thinking.

        1. PuzzledAndHurt*

          That’s a bummer to think about; I thought she and I had a good thing going til this whole thing!

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            Well, I could imagine a situation where it might not be personal. E.g. maybe she’s been told she has to always include something negative “for the employee to work on in future”. It’s probably one of those situations where you have to go by what else you know of her, to assess whether that could be plausible.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Can I ask, did this actually impact your rating, or did they show up in your review as “helpful” suggestions? I think that colors our response. Everyone is assuming the worst but there is a 30% chance that the manager isn’t great at managing and just stockpiles grievances but still thinks you’re good overall. We did reviews recently and I realized I hadn’t addressed a bunch of stuff during that process (of course I addressed them in pre-review reviews first)

      1. PuzzledAndHurt*

        She told me it affected my rating, as they affected the “competencies” aspect of it.

    6. RetailIsDetail*

      Ugh. The feedback you received would have upset me, too. Particularly the idea that if women are assertive it’s aggressive (when men exhibiting the exact same behavior are labeled “strong and confident”)

      Here are a few questions that might help reframe this performance review, in other words… how much of it might be a “boss” problem and how much might be a “you” problem:

      – Could this criticism have originated from someone other than Boss? Can you think of a coworker or another manager who might have complained about you being too “aggressive” – someone who might have felt insulted or threatened by your “lack of finesse” in meetings?
      – Does Boss struggle to articulate “constructive criticism” usually? Is she generally successful or unsuccessful at offering useful examples?
      – Where would you say that Boss falls on the “poor – average – good – above average” spectrum of holding performance reviews? Would you describe the feedback she usually gives as helpful and actionable?
      – Does Boss typically give feedback in a timely fashion? Does she tend to “save it up” for the yearly review?
      – Might Boss have been pressured by higher ups not to give out too many high marks (so is she consciously downgrading her direct reports)?
      – Do you have (or would you like to set up) a weekly or biweekly one-on-one with Boss, to address your performance more regularly? What other concrete steps could you take to improve communication with Boss?

      On a personal note, I’m a manager and I’ve sat in on performance reviews (3 month and 1 year reviews) for years, and the MISUNDERSTANDINGS that can occur because of poor communication on the part of management are UNBELIEVABLE. It takes a lot of effort, thought, and tact to give a successful review. Don’t take management’s mistakes personally!

      Best wishes from a internet stranger!

      IME issues are often brought

      1. PuzzledAndHurt*

        Yes, I was wondering if the feedback came from my coworkers — there’s 3 of them, all men. I work great with two of them, the other… has ignored a task from me (I am a senior and he was a junior), has complained about what I’ve asked him to do, and has violated some work policies (I know because I saw his username come up in some technical queries about said violations).
        But I sure wish it had been addressed promptly — if not by them, then by manager instead of waiting 3 months to tell me about it. I can’t recall any incident happening, and as I said before, I’ve never gotten this feedback before, and if it’s legit, I would like to work on it. But I need something to work with.

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          Yeah, I could well imagine that “lacking finesse” could be code for “a man was grumpy, and someone with finesse would have done the emotional labour &/or magic to ensure that he wasn’t upset by having to take orders from a woman”

      2. PuzzledAndHurt*

        This is my first year with this company, and boss is new to management, so first review. I thought we were communicating great — we had weekly 1-1 sessions, she was open to me asking for help/questions at any time (which I did when needed), she was not micromanaging, which I really appreciated.
        Then this.

        I didn’t mention this before, but at the end of our performance talk she told me she’d see my “smiling face” later that week. She took the statement back, but it bothers me that it even appeared at all. You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube…

    7. Roscoe da Cat*

      Yeah, the comment about being aggressive because you talk in meetings is definitely gendered – especially when the only examples she gives are ones where you had something valuable to say.

      It is a real issue and I am not sure how to get around it. I once was giving it and told him it was gendered. He apparently went home and complained to his wife who also told him it was gendered and he backed off

      1. PuzzledAndHurt*

        I think she had meant for my speaking up at certain times as a counterpoint, which is still puzzling. If all you can say is counter to what you had written in my review, then why is it there?

    8. Quick Chat*

      I had a very similar experience this year. My supervisor was visibly upset when I mentioned applying for an open role at the level above him and he has taken every opportunity since then to trash me. I’m so sorry that it is happening to you too. Some people suck.

  41. Leave Advice*

    Can we talk about taking some time off for mental health reasons… without actually telling your job that you’re taking the time off for mental health reasons? I would like to take a couple weeks to recover from some severe burnout and basically get to a place where I can keep it together enough to not just quit outright. My therapist is on board with this; the organization I work for is decent overall, but my boss is a jerk and I simply cannot imagine bringing this up with him or honestly even having him know about it.

    Is it worth it to go through HR and get approval for a more formal leave? Or should I just burn my vacation time to avoid dealing with… all of this? I’m typically pretty open about stuff (not in a weird unprofessional way or anything, I’m just not a particularly private person) so just disappearing for a while would probably raise more questions/speculation than I’m comfortable with. And it’s pretty unusual for people at my job to take off more than a week at a time unless they are going on a honeymoon or something similarly exciting.

    My 95-year-old grandmother is currently in hospice (but stable and feeling pretty good, all things considered) and has told all her grandkids that they can use her health as an excuse to get out of work, so that is an option too, LOL. But I just don’t even know where to start.

    What have you done in similar circumstances?

    1. Sunny*

      I think I’d go the HR route only because if you’re burnt out now, you are going to want your vacation time later!

    2. Thursday Next*

      Go through your HR to take a medical leave of absence. Your therapist can provide the supporting documentation to HR (or the company that manages those benefits) without disclosing anything at all to your manager. They can specify when you’d return to work, etc.

    3. CatMintCat*

      Try and get some sort of medical leave of absence if you can. No point burning your holidays if you don’t have to.

      I like your grandmother.

  42. Academic Librarian too*

    Capacity and not my circus etc.
    A colleague who I work closely with was venting about their entire staff just not working. Their five reports felt very free in sharing in one-on-ones that they just were not capable of the their basic job tasks at this time. There are many good reasons including mental health issues, COVID related realities, AND no discernible consequences for not doing the tasks of the positions.
    (and haven’t been for six months to a year)
    As a close reader of AAM, I think this is a manager problem not a staffing issue.
    I have been super tired about hearing about these issues over the past six months as one of his reports lack of engagement in her job severely impacts my position.
    I offered to sit down with this manager to simply go over the Department staffing and job descriptions and what exactly they needed to do to achieve department goals. Then they can go to the dean to make a plan for restructuring etc.
    The manager said yes.
    On reflection- not my circus, not my monkeys, right?
    Truly, I have enough on my plate and cannot really a spare 2 hours for someone else’s managerial issues.
    May I just tell them that on reflection I cannot help?
    Or because I made the commitment, do this one thing then distance myself from the situation?

    1. t-vex*

      Definitely not your circus or monkeys but you DID offer, so I think one meeting is justified. More than that is too much – it’s her job after all, not yours

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I probably would try to do SOMETHING, since you did offer. Could you possibly send him a one-pager describing the kind of approach that you had planned on taking when you looked at the staffing and job descriptions, so he can do it himself? You could tell him, “hey listen, on reflection, I don’t really have room on my calendar for a two-hour meeting right now, but this should help you do the same thing I was going to do.”

  43. Betty*

    In terms of the money, one suggestion is to split a direct deposit (or, failing that, set up an autotransfer the day after you’re paid) so that a large portion of the “extra” money is going to pay down debt/fund an IRA/a money market or other reasonably high-yield savings vehicle, so that you’re using it to build a financial cushion that leaves you ahead if/when you leave but is relatively “invisible” in terms of your lifestyle (i.e., you’re not buying a house/car where you need your larger salary to be able to make the payments).

    1. Betty*

      Apologies, that somehow posted to the main thread as well as the reply to TechGirlSupervisor that it was supposed to be!!!

  44. Seal*

    I’m a finalist for a position at a place that does off-list reference checks. They’re upfront about this, but don’t tell you in advance who they’ll be contacting. I intentionally didn’t list one of my recent previous bosses as a reference because we did not have a good working relationship. Among other things, my former boss was verbally abusive towards his highest performers (including me) publicly and privately, played favorites, did end runs around me with my staff, intentionally withheld information from me, and was openly misogynistic and subtly racist. They were also very bad at their job and because they didn’t understand the work their staff did always assumed we were doing something wrong and didn’t hesitate to say so, generally in public. It was a relief to leave that place. Understandably, I’m concerned that the place I’m interviewing with now will contact my former boss as an off-list reference and that they will undoubtedly trash me. My regular references will all speak well of me, as will any other off-list references they contact. Is there anything I can do to proactively address what will undoubtedly be a bad reference from a terrible boss or do I just need to cross my fingers and hope my other references will cancel this on out?

    1. Alice*

      Can you just tell them what you told us, slimmed down? You’re not necessarily saying “do not talk to him” but “this is the context for what you will hear from him.” But this suggestion is not coming from practical experience…. Good luck

  45. Albeira Dawn*

    Folks in STEM, especially engineers: what are your favorite resources on professional ethics and responsibilities?

    1. AFac*

      I am STEM, but not engineering.

      If you want illustrations of what not to do (or FAFO consequences), Retraction Watch is useful. But they deal with academic issues (papers, grants) and generally not applied ethics (e.g. professional licensing standards).

    2. OtterB*

      Not an engineer myself, but my husband is. He would start with information from the relevant professional organization for the discipline, or for the state professional engineer licensing group.

  46. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Need to check with you what my gut is telling me. Was it a mistake to interview with this company? I just had a weird interview for a company where the recruiter demanded I tell her what I know about the company and job. Fun way to start a conversation! Then when I asked about the budget for the role, she said it’s confidential, even within the company. Yikes. I checked Glassdoor reviews, and one was tilted “you’ll either love it or think it’s a cult.” I think I’m leaning into the cult bucket. I don’t even think it was good interview practice, I felt attacked the whole time like I had to defend myself for wanting to leave my current job. It was strange!

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      I’ve often been asked “so what do you know about the company” as part of an interview, but never demanded.
      Some of the other bits are certainly a little “off.”
      But at the end of the day: trust your gut.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Interviewing is not a mistake. Interviewing is a chance for both sides to get information.

      You have that information now, and I would say run.

      1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        Haha thanks! Yes, I’m thinking run, too. If they want to move forward, I’ll politely decline. I adjusted my schedule for the time to work so I am feeling grumpy about that.

    3. Spotted Elephant*

      I had an interview like this once too. The first question was something like “What do you think we do here?” It was for an internship and they picked apart my word choice and not aligning exactly, which I thought was weird for an internship. (They were flavor consultants so I said “help companies flavor their tea so it tastes better” when I should have said “conduct flavor evaluations and make taste recommendations.”)

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I like your phrasing much better than theirs. It talks to everyone, not just the few insiders.

  47. Sunny*

    My job has a slow period for the foreseeable future. Like, end of the year foreseeable. I’ve been trying to stay busy (and reduced my hours to part time for a month) but a lot of my projects involve waiting on very busy people to meet with me so I regularly have days of downtime. When I offered up some of my time to help others, I was given very entry level work like taking notes in meetings for people who were more junior than I am — and even that only filled a fraction of my already short days.

    I’ve considered working on outside (someone related but not exactly my job) personal projects during my day but I find it hard to focus when I know I might be called away any second to deal with an actual work problem or meeting. Anyone have tips on how to deal with this? Either on what you have done in this situation or how you’ve been able to focus on non-work stuff during work hours.

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      My job is feast or famine, too.
      When I’ve already done as much as I can do to help others, I approached my boss and asked about taking Lynda (now linked-in learning) classes at my desk with headphones. Many public libraries offer free access, so you sign in with your library card. He was fine with it and I’ve improved my software skills.

    2. OTGW*

      Honestly, I think just making peace with it. I did my classwork at my jobs when I was in school, and was often interrupted to help patrons. It was annoying, but I was at work and had a talk with myself like “hey, this is gonna happen and yes sometimes you can be annoyed* but you have to put your job first.” And, idk, it worked.

      Or maybe starting small with like, short webinars or something. Get used to it, and then start on more time-consuming stuff.

      *i was often working on essays and sometimes when i really got in the grove, i’d get interrupted and lose my thought. it was annoying, but that’s the price to pay, y’know?

  48. Looking for Words*

    I’m trying to find a non-awful expression that has the same sort of meaning as “he said, she said”. Basically, something that expresses that two or more parties are describing the same incident but with discrepancies, which comes up a lot at my job. I’d like to find an expression to replace it with entirely, both in a professional setting and in personal conversations. I described something as a “they said-they said situation” in a conversation and the other person got what I meant but we didn’t think people would always get it, and it still calls back to the original phrase. Any ideas?

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      “each had their own perspective”
      “back and forth disagreement”
      “conflicting viewpoints”

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I had to look that up, but yeah, that is a great one. But other people might have to look it up as well.

      1. MsM*

        Or just “conflicting accounts,” if the differences in question are more facts than opinions.

    2. lisa*

      Would they get a Rashomon reference? That everyone experienced the event from their own point of view?

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        These days, people would more likely get “Usual Suspects” or “Gone Girl.”
        Rashomon is epic and yet, remarkably niche.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I’m used to people understanding what a Rashomon scenario is, despite most of them not having seen the film or necessarily know it is a film.

        2. PollyQ*

          I wouldn’t use any of these. Some people would get them, certainly, but many wouldn’t have the faintest idea what you mean.

      2. Esmeralda*

        I wouldn’t use Rashomon, since a fair number won’t get it, and those who do may be put off (murder, rape — just not a good allusion to use).

    3. Bagpuss*

      It’s one person’s word against the other?
      There are significant differences in how the event/incident was perceived?

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Not being up on movie and popular culture, I like either “different perspectives” or “conflicting viewpoints”

    4. Cocafonix*

      Well, you could always go with “alternative facts” but that might not land as well as … just about anything else.

  49. Treetop*

    My coworker “Minerva” snapped at me because she’s on deadline for a report. She started out asking me a question about an order. I answered her and provided the appropriate documentation. Apparently, there’s a form to be filled out and I didn’t do it because I wasn’t aware that it even existed. I asked if she wanted me to complete anything and she said no. Minerva then questioned me on something else. I provided the forms and I said that it was completed and signed off on another form. “WHERE’S THAT?” Minerva lashed out at me. I provided the form and said if she wanted to discuss things, to let me know.

    Then either Minerva was upset or something happened because Minerva left the room and the manager “Liz” went looking for Minerva. They then went to my manager John and asked him if it was okay if I helped. (That’s what he told me- maybe they were upset with me, who knows? Or Minerva thought that I wasn’t helping her?)

    John said to help Minerva- I already offered my help! If she won’t accept it, what else can I do? I feel like I’m the one being blamed even though she snapped at me! I feel like she cried to get her way and now I’m in trouble.

    Any ideas on what’s going on/what I should do? Am I the one that should be in trouble?

    1. t-vex*

      What’s going on is Minerva got a talking-to for being snappish, she told them she was overwhelmed, they asked you to help lighten the load. It probably wouldn’t hurt to ask Minerva one more time what you can help with. (And be specific, like can I file those for you, or write the copy for the flyer etc.)

  50. Moonlight*

    I’m in grad school. I graduate in a few months and I want to figure a few things out

    1) I plan to start a business but I don’t have a business background – think lawyer, dentist, therapist, the kinds of jobs where it’s pretty typical to have your own practice. Is there a practice way to learn the ropes without spending money I don’t have? For example, it will not be in the budget to hire a business manager/consultant, and I will have minimal access to a lawyer and accountant early on too, also due to financial limitations. So I need to figure out how to do this without costing me thousands of dollars that I don’t have

    2) I am also applying for jobs just in case. I always thought I’d work for someone else at first, so I’m not totally scrapping this. Prior to grad school, I worked several “I need to pay the bills” kinds of job (admin work and retail mostly). It was good work but not something I was personally happy to do forever – I found admins work particularly satisfying because I was previously pretty antagonistic toward it and came to realize it could be quite enjoyable and it makes me appreciative of the admin work I have to do in my new career. Any ways, I don’t know if I should just dump all that stuff from my resume. It was work from only 2 to 3 years ago but it’s not relevant and I feel like my grad work + year long internship and my side hustle is what people really care about. It breaks a couple resume conventions either way (keep things within 5 years and don’t have large gaps in your resume but also don’t keep things that are irrelevant). For example, by dumping that work I have about a 5 year gap between undergrad and grad school. I could keep it all in an “additional work” section near the bottom just so people can see that I was, in fact, working, but that takes up precious space where I could focus on continuing education emphasizing my speciality instead. Is there a right/wrong thing to do here?

    1. Alice*

      Sometimes public libraries or local governments have “entrepreneurship support” programs. Maybe you could get high-quality, low-cost advice there?

      1. WellRed*

        Yes or the Small business administration or maybe there’s a local network. In my area there was a group with retired execs who provided guidance mentoring etc. also is there an association related to your field (yes, yes there is). They often have resources and training.

    2. DinosaurWrangler*

      If you’re going to start a business where you provide professional services, you probably want to form an LLC or similar so that the business expenses (and liabilities) are separate from your personal life and any property or assets you own.

    3. tab*

      If you’re in the US, I highly recommend the SBDC in your area. They were very helpful (and it’s free) when I started my consulting business.

    4. J*

      Definitely look to local libraries (they often recruit professionals to present) but also look for SBA, SBDC, SCORE and local women’s business centers for mentoring. I am ending my 8 year career in helping to mentor small businesses/startups (moving back to working for one) and honestly sometimes the mentor is really what you need. SCORE can have some older mentors but given your type of industry, I’d bet there’d be some strong overlap. I generally recommend taking classes on something for starting up (aka getting the legal entity formed, your tech setup, things like accounting/bookkeeping, insurance) but once you launch, checking in with a SCORE mentor. the SBA has an online Ascent program that can be taken at your convenience and works as a double check on your checklist items. My local Women’s Business Center is awesome and has classes, mentoring, but some of those tend to focus more on business development marketing or long-term training programs. I’ve seen some great success stories but sometimes I think they are too early stage on the mentoring front, hence my recommendation for SCORE. My actual best tip too is to watch online for small business panels and attend some in person networking. I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has a Venture Cafe which is great for small business networking and coworking spaces host panels all the time. I’ve learned more from some of them than classes I’ve taken, just listening to them talk about mistakes they’ve made.

      As for the resume, I tend to bundle my work as “Legal Experience” and then a section with maybe 1-3 bullet points per job that’s “Additional Experience” just to show a continuity of work. Some jobs I can tell won’t care so I leave that off. The more rigid an industry (aka government and nonprofit) the more they wanted all those details but my current job literally didn’t care and I am distant enough to drop dates on my education so I ditched anything that pre-dates my industry switch, so that’s something you can work towards.

  51. Hospital Receptionist*

    Follow up question from the one I posted last week! The tl;dr is that I’ve been a receptionist in a hospital for a year and I really like my job, but I don’t feel like there’s a lot of room for growth/pay increases as a receptionist. I want to explore other healthcare jobs (both clinical and non-clinical) to see if there’s a better fit for me, but I don’t know where to start finding accurate information about things like required experience, typical duties, pay expectations, etc. for different roles. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy replied with some very helpful information about their career path including stuff about community college classes, so I’ve spent some time this week researching my local colleges’ healthcare degree and certificate programs. Many of them have introductory sessions I can attend that promise to tell me more about the programs and careers they lead to, which sounds good but I’m nervous that I don’t have the skills to critically evaluate what these sessions tell me.

    To understand my background: I went to college at a very well-regarded private liberal arts school for a specialized “underwater basket weaving”-type degree. Throughout my college education administrators and professors gave me a picture of what my career opportunities and pay would be like as an underwater basket weaver that, frankly, was extremely optimistic compared to the realities of the job market I encountered after graduation. I can only speculate where the disconnect came from, but the ultimate outcome is that post-graduation I felt mislead and unprepared career-wise.

    I am open to going back to college for another degree or certificate if it helps me further my career goals, but I’m afraid of being burned again. I worry that the information I’ll be given in these introductory sessions won’t be accurate to the reality of the job market again, and I’ll sink more time and money into degrees/certificates that employers don’t value or that won’t provide me with a better income.

    So, my question is: does anyone have any tips on how to critically evaluate career information coming from college websites and info sessions for accuracy, especially in the healthcare field? And are their colleges, programs, individuals, or other information sources I can “trust” more than others?

    1. Alice* — the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections.
      Healthcare is a growing field but definitely factcheck admissions staff claims. You are already working in a hospital — I bet you have friends and acquaintances who can give you the inside scoop on whether claims are accurate. Good luck!

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I’m not in the medical field, but if you know anyone in your hospital’s HR, go and ask them what they look for when they are hiring. Do they prefer specific schools or degrees? Look at job postings – what are they asking for? And if you see something in your hospital that you think would be a good career, ask the people doing that job for their opinion. I would trust someone actually working in the field over a college admissions or career office.

      1. Belle of the Midwest*

        I work in higher education in a career services capacity and this is always what I recommend–talk to people working in the job you would like to do. Generally, any changes in the field are happening before they are being published or presented, and you get cutting-edge information. I teach a career development class and they have to do informational interviews with at least one person. It nearly always gets rated as one of the most valuable lessons of the semester. People love to talk about their jobs–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m glad it was helpful!

      If you can figure out who to contact, something you might try is reaching out to your hospital’s HIM department – an administrative coordinator, if they have one, and if not, you could try a coding, billing or compliance manager, we’re generally happy to redirect people if we need to – and tell them you’re curious about the quality of some of the education programs around your area, does your hospital’s HIM department take on interns/externs (honestly I’ve never quite figured out the difference) from local programs, and if so, would they be willing to share what institutions they work with for interns/externs?

      If I as a coding manager got an email like that, I’d list off a couple in the area that I’m familiar with and haven’t heard anything bad about, I might give you my personal opinion on the ones I have personal experience with (WGU do not recommend, ITCC yes :P ), and then I would redirect you to the coordinator who handles the arrangements with our students 3-4 times a year because she deals with more of the different programs and their requirements than I do. As a bonus for you, she would also be the one who could possibly get you involved with demos that our various departments do – officially they’re for students, but if we have internal folks who have specifically requested information about a HIM career and can make arrangements with their current manager, we’re happy to have them sit in as well.

      1. Hospital Receptionist*

        Thank you! The idea of reaching out to people who deal with hiring/students to get their temperature on local programs is a really good one.

        Here’s another question you might have some insight to–the best perk of my current job is how flexible it is schedule-wise. While most of receptionist/clerk/secretary/lower-level admin type positions in my hospital system are 5x8s, there’s also some 4x10s, 3x12s, part-time and PRN ones; and there are day/evening/night shifts. When poking around our open positions, I get the sense if I tried to climb the admin ladder into either a management or another more specialized role, my varied schedule options will mostly disappear. But if I was in a clinical role, like a nurse or patient care tech, I’d retain them. Does this sound right to you?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          That depends on your system of course, but in mine — I as a manager am 100% remote, but largely restricted to a M-F first shift schedule. (Which is my preference, I’m a 7-4 gal so I haven’t asked about flexibility, but in general the people I work with at my level and above are M-F first shift.) My team, however, is 100% remote with almost complete flexibility — officially, the base schedule is 8 hours a day M-F, but unless you’re on a corrective action, you can do those eight hours whenever you want 24/7, you can flex them around and do as few as 4 or as many as 10 on any given day (more than 10 is not allowed, and fewer than 4 formally requires a PTO request, though you can still make up the hours sometime during the week and cancel out the PTO if you want to), pretty much whatever your manager is okay with goes. I okay pretty much any flexing as long as they’re hitting 40 hours by the end of the week, not going over the ten a day cap, and clocking either work hours or PTO on at least 5 days of the week. (The only restriction that I know of is that we’re not allowed to let people do 4×10 for more than one week at a time. I have no idea why that is, but it’s a big bugaboo for someone way up the food chain than me.)

          So personally, I think that my team gets a LOT more flexibility than our clinical folks do, between the 24/7 flexibility and the remote part. :) But I can’t say that’s necessarily the case for all hospitals.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My team leads have more flexibility than I do, but not quite as much as my team members – They’re salaried and do 40 hour weeks with pretty much no overtime ever needed, I ask them to keep the majority of their hours between 6am-6pm M-F most of the time, and if they need to shift on a situational basis just let me know. (But they both prefer the M-F first shift too.)

            When I was a TL before moving into full management, I had a week where my niece was coming to visit and I didn’t want to burn a whole week of PTO when she was going to sleep til noon anyway, so I talked to my manager and for that week I worked 3a-11a, for example. It worked great, my niece got up right after I finished work every day :P

        2. Squidhead*

          I’m not Red Reader (who very often gives excellent advice) but I am a former-underwater-basket-weaver turned nurse. At my hospital you are correct: direct patient-care positions probably offer more varied schedules than administrative positions. Some people like 3x12s and some don’t, but that’s certainly not the schedule that the managers work. My nurse manager works 5×8 and is exempt so when things go crazy, she’s just there longer. (I also make more money than she does, between OT and shift differential.)

          The nursing recruitment office at my institution gives out salary bands to prospective hires, but we are State employees so there is *no* leeway on salary offers. The helpful part of this is that every job in the salary grade gets paid the same (plus shift differential, if applicable). The hard part is there’s no such thing as merit pay for these positions: the salary is based on relevant education, licensure, and experience. If your hospital is like mine, you might be able to search for these documents internally (ours aren’t secret, but I think they are only available internally).

  52. Standing Desk*

    Hello standing (or convertible) desk havers! Tips and tricks for use? How much of the time do you stand vs sit. How often do you change between the two. Do you move when standing (rock side to side, flex knees, etc.)? How long did it take you to get used to it? What parts of your body took the longest to get used to it? I got a convertible over the holidays, and haven’t found the rhythm yet. I am probably standing for too much time in one go and then my legs hurt, and so