open thread – March 18-19, 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.

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

{ 1,141 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Note that I’ve removed the “questions only” rule that I was experimenting with the past couple of weeks. Work stories are once again fine!

  2. Wen*

    How to ask to take on a totally new role or responsibility outside the scope of my job at work? My new workplace has made it clear they are very open to new ideas and changing procedures, systems, ways of doing things, etc. I’m taking a course in data privacy with aims to move into that field because it’s growing in demand, as opposed to my current job which has layoffs and outsourcing. (I got a new job late last year because my contract at my previous company wasn’t renewed and others were laid off.) I also notice my new organization doesn’t have a very established privacy practice, so I’d like to contribute to that. How would I approach my organization about new duties/opportunities, or should I just look for a privacy role elsewhere like my original plan? (My original plan would require taking a paycut as I’d be entering into a new field without previous experience, just a certificate/training.)

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I’d approach your manager, and literally lay out what you did here: “I noticed we have a lack in the field of privacy practices, and I’m really enthusiastic about it, as well as taking a course right now. Can I work on improving us in that area?”

      Problem is, you’re more than likely going to see them want you to do it in addition to your other responsibilities, instead of in replacement of. To get buy in, it can be helpful to set it up as a mini-internship sort of thing – plan a specific time that you’ll be working on things, get them to sign off on that, and have deliverables and an end date all defined at, or very close to, the beginning.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Good idea! Pitch it as a limited term “pilot project” (probably a silly quibble on my part, I wouldn’t call it an internship), while expressing interest in seeing if there’s a path to make it a role, hybrid with your current one or a new role entirely.

    2. ThinkQuicker*

      I did this at my current job. I started by having general discussions with co-workers about our current policies/procedures and where this was acting as a block rather than a help. I didn’t frame this as “I’m taking charge of the project and I’m collating feedback”, I just brought it up in conversation naturally when it became relevant. For example, a colleague and I were trying to on-board a new client and were both griping that the current system was labour-intensive and had too many moving parts. I asked her how she would do it if she was running things and the conversation went from there.

      Once I had an idea of what problems we were all facing and where I thought I could help, I spoke to a director I worked closely with. I framed the conversation as a) I like working here and want us to success, b) these current processes seem to be making people less efficient and that has an impact on the business, c) I think I could help by doing [x, y, z], d) is that something the business is interested in? If so, it’s a project I’d like to move forward with.

      This wasn’t something we’d ever had anyone working on before so I would have been on my own with that project. The director in question was receptive but it took another 2 years to get the rest of management on board. In the meantime, I kept building my skills and when I had quarterly/yearly appraisals working in at least 1 target which was geared towards that new work rather than my current responsibilities. By the time management were ready to appointment someone to do the work everyone knew it was something I was interested in and they decided to take a chance on me. It panned out – I’m really good at this work and I’m thriving in the new role.

      tldr: test the waters with your current employer – no harm in asking – but be prepared for things to move slowly and it may be that you do ultimately need to look elsewhere.

      Good luck!

    3. ArtK*

      It may help to do some research on the consequences of *not* preserving data privacy. A few years ago, a UCLA study found that the average cost of a data breach is $3.5M, including remediating the issues, public relations, lawsuits, etc. If you’re in the EU or do business there, there are very strict laws around privacy as well. Use that stuff in your pitch.

    4. Cranky Lady*

      I’m doing something similar related to digital accessibility which is tangential to my job (but outside of my scope to lead). I put it in my professional development plan at the beginning of the year. I showed my boss how it tied into corporate priorities and initiatives. Also think about who the other stakeholders you will need to engage are because that will affect how much you can actually accomplish. Good luck!

    5. Sunny*

      I’m doing something similar right now (not the same fields, but trying to take on a new role at my job that I have training but no work experience in). I just went to my boss and was very clear about what kind of roles I wanted to try and move into in the next years, what responsibilities I’d want, and how that might differ from the path she was expecting. It went well and she is trying to help me move into something now :) It helped that I had already done some work in this field while at this job so it wasn’t completely out of the blue.

      Worst case is she’d have said nothing would come up and then I’d have been happy to stay at the job while I looked for something new. But just like you, I’d rather stay where I am to avoid the pay cut and because I like where I am right now.

  3. ThatGirl*

    Here’s a very timely question for you all… I’ve worked in a variety of marketing-related roles over the last 15 years, but all writing and editing related, so I call myself a copywriter for simplicity.

    I’m not looking for a new job, but you know, I keep my eyes open. I got an email from a recruiter from a healthcare app startup last week. I read through it and it was mostly corporate gibberish with no clear indication of what the job actually IS – I have no idea what a “marketing growth manager” does. And I don’t particularly want to work for a startup. So I ignored it.

    She emailed me again just a few minutes ago asking again to connect next week! I feel like I should email her back, but should I say anything beyond the very standard “thanks but no thanks”?

    1. 867-5309*

      This sound like a demand generation role – paid media to drive leads/downloads. When I’m hiring a growth marketer that is the job.

      1. ThatGirl*

        ah, that makes sense – I just wish it were clear in the job description! While I’ve written my share of paid media posts, the logistics behind it are unfamiliar to me, and I definitely don’t think I have the skills they’re looking for. Even if the company interested me in the first place.

        1. 867-5309*

          Yeah, I would be looking for someone who can drive the performance – not creative side. That said, it’s a start-up and depending on if they have a senior marketer in place already or not, it’s likely they aren’t quite sure what they need.

    2. 867-5309*

      I think you can reply ‘thanks but I’m not looking’ or be more specific, “My experience is more on the writing and editorial side of marketing, like copy and ghost writing, so this role does not match my skillset.” If you’re interested in the company itself, you could always add, “Please keep me in mind if something similar to my background opens on the team.”

      1. ThatGirl*

        I mostly do, especially third party recruiters, but this one seems to work for the actual company so it feels *slightly* ruder to me. Maybe I’m just too Midwestern though.

        1. Raboot*

          It’s definitely up to you, but I do ignore plenty of in house recruiters as well :) Most of them don’t send more than 3 messages, so replying after the 2nd and then they maybe respond doesn’t save much on my end compared to ignoring a 3rd. But there’s of course nothing wrong with a polite response if it feels right to you.

    3. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      In my experience “Thank you, but I’m not currently looking for a job” is fine. If you don’t reply they’ll keep reaching out.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah. I just don’t quite understand why someone looked at my LinkedIn or whatever and thought “oh, she looks like she knows about paid media and lead generation!”

        1. Momma Bear*

          Because they’re looking under all rocks. It’s OK to say thanks but not looking/interested.

    4. ArtK*

      I always reply “thanks, but no thanks.” Most recruiters respect that. Ignoring some will just mean more e-mails until they finally give up.

  4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m back with musings. It’s hard to capture what you’ve achieved at work when you don’t have ..achievements? Mostly I’ve achieved ” gotten through the day ” or ” my paperwork is on time mostly ” . Working itself is such a struggle I can’t really put any achievements on my resume.

    I think its odd our work system centers around the idea of the excellent employee when most of us are average and things would be better if we shaped work around ” ok folks will go in, do average work for 40 hours” rather than praying for the unicorn.

    1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

      I have traditionally worked in jobs where there isn’t a lot of a “achievement” so I’ve listed my job duties as well as a very few smatterings of “achievements” that I’ve had over the course of those jobs in my resume. So far, I’ve been hired at 5 different places and comments I’ve received about my resume never mention that (usually it’s a formatting issue or a confusion over job titles if I’ve been promoted within an organization). It does kind of help to think of projects you’ve contributed to or lead as achievements instead of just your day to day duties. As an example, one organization I worked for was audited by multiple government agencies. My day to day job helped prepare the organization for the yearly audits AND I worked on the actual audit prep (didn’t lead it, but did most of the heavy lifting in my division). I counted both things as achievements as something like, “The five years I was in this position, the yearly audits resulted in our organization being awarded the best scores of the region.” 100% my efforts, though not as project lead and my daily work, contributed to that- we could have still done well without my prep, but it would have taken a lot more time and effort in the long run.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Can you quantify stuff? Like, “completed an average of X llama reports per week with high level of detail?”

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        It’s hard to quantify the core stuff which is like sitting with kids in a hard situation and hashing things out and maybe it’s not solved but they feel lighter. Or maybe I’ll say ” hey kids been struggling” and point an adult to a way of helping. And to be quite honest most of the time I’m just struggling to make it through the day. My reports are terrible!

        1. Double A*

          That IS an accomplishment. The results for the kids aren’t quantifiable, but you can include quantifiable aspects of it like the number of kids you see on a daily or weekly basis. For instance you could say something along these lines, very much customized to your setting:

          -Established trusting relationships with (Xish number) of students/clients and provided a collaborative, safe environment to support them in developing coping skills for difficult situations.
          -Taught students skills such as [reframing negative thoughts; perspective-taking; calming strategies; etc.]

          A cover letter would really bring these skills to life, by sharing an example of the impact your interventions had for a specific kid. (E.g. “Prior to our weekly meetings, this student was having verbal outbursts in the classroom daily. After four weeks of meetings where we worked on XYZ, he began to ABC and was able to use appropriate strategies to take a break, re-center, and return to the classroom without distrupting the learning of others.”)

          I do a lot of this type of work in my job; I think it’s the most important work I do and you can absolutely find ways to put it on your resume.

        2. my experience*

          Something like this, maybe?: “Consistently built relationships with students who were hard to reach” “Able to connect with students in an emotionally charged state, and teachers reported increased focus afterwards in students I worked with”.

          I really like Alison’s advice which is to think about a bad temp doing your job… what’s the difference between you and them? If your work is about connection, connection is an accomplishment!

          1. Momma Bear*

            And if you can apply anything to an IEP or 504 support or goal, do that as well. “Worked with x child for x time on y goal. At the end of the marking period, child had made x% progress toward that goal.”

            Being able to build connections with kids so they trust you is HUGE. Don’t downplay that.

        3. Margaretmary*

          I’m in a different country where it seems like our job applications work somewhat differently, but I wonder if you could also include something like “advised teachers/parents/whatever adults it is you are working on strategies such as (whatever it was) to support young people” or “supported teachers/parents/whoever by advising on issues such as…”

    3. Elsa*

      As a hiring manager, I am impressed with specific accomplishments but I mostly want to know if you have the experience needed for the role to which you are applying. So your resume could be essentially your job description in a more scannable format.

    4. Fabulous*

      I had this issue for a couple of my old jobs. I essentially just quantified my duties:

      • Oversaw reception for a high-activity financial services office with up to 45 appointments and approximately 50 phone calls and walk-ins daily.
      • Managed reports tracking collection rates and rolling debt of approximately 1,500 weekly returned checks from over 130 nationwide stores.
      • Maintained the calendar and client database for over 300 active clients while implementing marketing campaigns, facilitating prospecting and networking endeavors, and administering social media profiles.

    5. SansaStark*

      I had this issue, too, and while my resume was still fairly task-focused, I tried to ask myself how my bullet point about this task would differ from someone who wasn’t good at it. Reframing the work into ‘why am I better at this than someone who just started 3 minutes ago’ really helped the way I thought/wrote about what I did.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea I’m not good at my job ( or any job) but I can explain it to the newbs so they are comfortable enough to get good at it.

        1. SansaStark*

          It took me years to find a job/industry that I both enjoy and am good at. Good luck in your job search!

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        As someone who started counting down the hours to the weekend sometime yesterday, I’m with you both. Just wanted to throw another voice to the, “You aren’t alone in this boat,” crowd.

  5. a question*

    I have a personal question that needs a professional business resource.

    A little backstory…..Despite my aunts and uncles on my dad’s large family all being close in age, all of the cousins have a wide age range. Between the oldest and youngest is almost 30 years! We are now at a point where the youngest is late teens/ early twenties (being general for anonymity). We all always got along, but it took a while for us all to be able to have “meat and potato” conversations. Sadly in addition to an age gap, we also geographically live all over the world.

    As silly as this sounds our cousin group, the great debaters, one of the things that brought us closer together was talking/ debating about what’s going on in the news. Certain topics are off limits (we’d like to keep talking to one another!) but we have had many texting and zoom debates about human interest stories, court cases, business decisions, criminal trials, celebrity announcements, music/movies/sporting events. Our discussions are nothing more than a conversation you would have with an old friend.

    Does anyone know of a good legal? resource to find out in laymen terms if appeals have been filed, court decisions, updates etc? We’ve had a lot discussions about topics where a business decision was made via a court ruling. The news outlets always says we are waiting to hear about an appeal, but no amount of internet sleuthing has found us updates. Some things that were discussed should of had a “next step” by now. We’re just a curious bunch… and maybe a little nosy for the final outcome after all of us trying to prove our point….. especially since I’m right most of the time ;-)

    Like I said this was something that brought our wide age range of cousins to have discussions that eventually lead to more personal talks. It was our “common ground”.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      In my field, when we are doing our version of due diligence on a company (or individual), this situation comes up a lot. We’ve actually been wondering this ourselves. We hypothesize that there might be such resources out there, but they are likely to be paid resources.

      1. a question*

        It’s mind boggling! There are two court cases involving business decisions that happened in the past 5 and 8 years that were big topics for us. It’s frustrating to not have an update or find out what the final result was, what the company decided to do. Again this is for a personal conversation so it’s not an urgent matter but we’re still curious none the less.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Keep in mind that settlement agreements are often confidential. You might be able to find a joint motion for dismissal that denotes a settlement, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find out the terms of the settlement. It stifles the conclusion for folks following along in the press, but that’s part of why Companies may choose to settle…

        2. Claire*

          Have you checked the federal PACER system? It’s where all the docket documents are filed and final case dispositions etc. You have to register to make a search and they charge you if you do a lot of searches (I’ve never searched enough to be charged).

          1. a question*

            How interesting! I’d love to hear more about this. I posted a few weeks ago. While I love my company and view it as my forever company (I work in finance)… if I ever had to switch jobs I think I would go into fundraising.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              Finance is an excellent background for prospect research, as one of the things we do is to evaluate a person’s giving capacity/wealth. Being able to read SEC filings or know how VC compensation works, for example, is extremely helpful. The Wikipedia article on it has a decent overview, and also some good links to check out.

      2. Calliope*

        Yeah, Lexus can do this as can Westlaw if you have someone who knows how to use them. Both are expensive.

        1. Berlin Berlin*

          If someone in the poster’s family is currently a student (even if not a law student) they may be able to access Westlaw through their university library

    2. Anonymous in case my cousins are reading this*

      At first I thought you might be one of my cousins! But one of my sibs works for the federal courts and knows how to find that stuff, so we usually get that kind of info…

      I’d say to contact a reference librarian, and if you can contact one at a large university that’s even better. Check out your state’s university system, pick one of the institutions, then go to the library website. Many will have an online chat / ask a librarian tool that you can access. They can point you in the right direction.

      1. a question*

        Anonymous – our group always takes “honorary cousins”. I will try the local librarian as a start. I “live” in a library so I’m surprised it didn’t occur to me to check with reference. Thanks.

    3. pancakes*

      Have you tried Google Scholar? I’ll link to it in a separate reply.

      If you are looking for state court decisions, most if not all state court websites will have a search function, but these really vary in quality.

    4. RecoveringSWO*

      If your younger cousins are in college, it would be worth having them ask their university librarian. They might have access to paid resources that can be easier to navigate (westlaw, nexis, etc).

      If you’re looking for info regarding cases that are being petitioned for the Supreme Court, SCOTUSBLOG has a great round up of filing information on every case page that it puts out.

    5. Midwestern Scientist*

      Not in laymens terms, but in the US most (all?, not sure) states have their own case management system that you can search (usually by case number, litigant name, year filed, etc). Can usually be found on the state’s courts.gov type page

      1. Kesnit*

        I came here to say this.
        Appeals courts in my state have Web pages where you can search for the case and find the status. The decisions aren’t available, but you can see the status and outcome.

    6. Nell*

      I’m not a lawyer, but my work requires looking them up sometimes- mostly criminal ones. For US cases, I recommend PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), though it only applies to federal cases. It’s run by the US federal courts. There are also US State attorney offices that track what goes through their offices (which is again, federal cases even though it doesn’t sound like it). The DC one is fairly relevant right now, though that might not be good for family discussions. Basically any court you see mentioned in a news article for the case (ex: X Company is being sued by Y company in Z city) should have its own records. However, they might not be online. You can also check out states’ attorney generals’ offices for resources. This one is actually for each of the fifty states.

      Lawfare Blog covers a number of US and international cases that don’t get much depth in coverage by the media. It’s run by law experts, so they also talk about some of the legal reasoning behind the case. Your milage may vary, as it’s run by Brookings, a liberal think tank in DC, but people I know use it regardless of political ideology.

      The Hague Court, run by the UN (best known for trying war crime cases) also has a relatively easy website to use (for the UN, it’s amazingly intuitive- this is not a high bar).

      Are there any countries in particular y’all would like to know more about?

    7. New Lawyer*

      Also, be aware that appeals can be dropped. Like the article may say that “we’re waiting to hear about an appeal,” but it’s not uncommon for one or both of the parties to decide an appeal isn’t worth the time or expense and just accept the lower court’s decision. You wouldn’t hear an update about that because it’s not really newsworthy.

    8. Clisby*

      If you can tell which court an issue is in, you might be able to get more information by logging into its website. This is just a local example, but I live in Charleston, SC. The county court system has a lot of information online, so I can see who’s been sued, what documents have been filed, whether something’s been appealed and where, … If it’s a criminal case, and there’s an indication it might be appealed, I can check the websites for the state Appeals Court and the state Supreme Court. Somebody below mentioned scotusblog.com, which is great for figuring out what’s going on at the US Supreme Court.

    9. LadyByTheLake*

      I am a lawyer — the gold standard is Lexis or Westlaw, but they are very expensive and sometimes require specialized knowledge to use effectively. As pointed out by others, cases can be settled before an appeal is completed, and sometimes when a case is appealed, the lower court decision is affirmed with only one sentence — there’s no published opinion. I agree that if you know the court where the appeal was being decided, you can often go to that specific court site and many of them have public databases. If the case is of particular public interest (which it must be if you are talking about it), bloggers or commentators that are following the case can be the best resource. For public interest cases @Popehat @Questauthority and @akivacohen on Twitter are all excellent resources (and funny)

  6. Golden*

    Happy Match Day to medical students! I’m not nor have ever been a medical student, but every year I see a handful of LinkedIn and reddit posts by people who didn’t match, or are disappointed with their match. For those that don’t know (from my understanding as an outsider so please correct me if I’m wrong!) Match Day is when medical students find out if and where they received a resident or fellowship position to continue their medical training.

    I read that last year and this year were especially brutal – has that been your experience? What causes someone not to match, and what do the schools do about it, especially if there’s quite a few? Is there much you can do career-wise with an MD/DO but without training as a resident or fellow?

    1. Doctor is In*

      MD here from many moons ago. We all met up in an auditorium to get letters way back when. Those who had not matched were notified in advance, and the administrators started making phone calls to try to find them a place that had unfilled spots.
      A niece recently graduated, and they all found out at the same time via email. The student ranks the programs they want in order of preference, and the programs rank students in their order of preference, so the student gets the program they ranked highest that wanted them. It is an anxiety producing time!

      1. Artemesia*

        so exactly like sorority rush? My niece and her husband both matched at the same place — I wonder if they have a procedure for two moving together like that or they were just lucky.

        1. ErgoBun*

          Couple matching is something that some residency programs have available as a built-in feature if the students ask for it. It’s such a common thing that programs have worked it in to their processes so they can attract the residents they want.

    2. ErgoBun*

      I work for a medical-related organization but am not an MD/DO. Still, I’ve been working in this org during over 20 Match Days so I have a bit of experience!

      When someone doesn’t match it’s because they did not rank any schools on their list which also ranked that student. So they either listed programs that did not feel they were a good fit, or they only listed programs with very limited positions available. Some of the underlying reasons for that can be that there are simply more students trying to match than there are positions available in that specialty’s programs. Also, at least in my organization’s specialty, students research and interview at many, many more programs than they used to, meaning that their limited list and the programs’ limited lists are even more widely varied.

      If a student doesn’t match at all, usually their med school will work on helping them find a program somewhere with available spots. Or they could try another year to match into a different speciality’s program that may have less competition (I don’t know how often this happens).

      It’s definitely a stressful time because this selection process defines the next 3-4 years of your life, your training, and will be the starting block for your medical career. It’s a whole lot!

    3. HannahS*

      Having flashbacks to my match day…ugh what a day. I didn’t do badly (matched to my second choice) but I still had SO MANY FEELINGS. It was kind of awful and overwhelming.

      I can’t speak to this or last year, but there’s an element of randomness to what’s difficult or easy to match to. The year before mine, my specialty had spots left open after both iterations; in my year there were no spots after the first iteration. (The match is actually run twice in Canada; once that everyone hears about and then quietly again about a month later for the unmatched students and any open spots.) Then my specialty returned to its usual competitiveness. There few enough students and spots that if 15 students in the country decide they want to be pediatricians (or whatever) it seriously changes the competitiveness of the specialty.

      I knew many students who went unmatched, for many different reasons:

      One tried for neurosurgery (a competitive specialty); she matched in the second iteration to a remote program.

      One had initially wanted to be orthopedic surgeon, but late in medical switched to wanting psychiatry (so like…the opposite); he went unmatched probably because he didn’t have as much experience in psychiatry compared to the people he was competing against. I believe he matched to family medicine in the second iteration. He may have later transferred into psychiatry.

      One was a student with multiple strikes of unprofessional behaviour in his transcript; he had harrassed and sexually harassed a number of other students (including yours truly) as well as not shown up for entire rotations. He applied to the least competitive specialty and after several years has still not matched. Good riddance.

      Another went to medical school at an American school in the Caribbean and there’s an unfortunate stigma against people who do that. She matched to her desired specialty in the US after three tries.

      It feels terrible not to match. Schools offer a program where they will reach out to unmatched student 24 hours before the match is released to let them know that they didn’t match. This way they are able to offer, frankly, suicide prevention support. After the first match, they work with unmatched students to redo their applications and apply do any open spots for the second match, which are often but not always in Family Medicine.

      To answer your last question, in Canada there is no way for a medical school grad to practice medicine without completing a residency. A generation ago, you could complete an internship year and be considered a General Practitioner but that option was eliminated.

      1. JelloStapler*

        I have to say it is good to hear that the unprofessional student did not get a match.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        My cousin went through it last year and he said it was way worse than when his sister went through it two year’s prior. 2019 Match was 92% first round match and 2021 was 64% (I believe that is specific to his school).

      3. Nat*

        Thank you for this detailed reply – very interesting stuff to this outsider! What does a med student do if they don’t match while waiting for the next opportunity? Can they do some sort of internship for the year to gain experience? Would they get paid? I imagine the stress of delaying a whole year is immense, with all those student loans weighing you down.

        1. HannahS*

          Typically they either do research or do more rotations in their desired specialty to build their resume and get strong reference letters (or both.) No pay, though.

    4. anooon*

      Happy Match Day! I was just watching the live stream of ours. Our match rate is 97-100% so I can’t quite speak to how that would be routinely handled aside from what Doctor is In said. I’ve known of two students who chose to go into research but they were on MD-PhD track. Prior to the pandemic, I wouldn’t have thought med school could get much more brutal for our students but our curriculum introduces students to patient care earlier than the norm and they didn’t get their full experience. Between that and having virtual/hybrid education, graduations, and Match ceremonies for the past two years, it’s been inspiring and heartbreaking to watch them.

    5. Art3mis*

      A friend of mine is an administrative assistant at a med school. She says match day is the WORST because now all the prima donnas are emotional too. (her words) But she posted earlier this week that yeah, they find out ahead of time if someone didn’t match and reach out to them, try to find them something else, or at the very least, so that they aren’t there when everyone else is finding out and celebrating and they aren’t. I think you can be a MD/DO without a residency, but you wouldn’t be “board certified” which can be an obstacle.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        That seems uncharitable. Finding out that you haven’t obtained something that you’ve spent years of your life and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars working towards is the epitome of emotional high stakes.

      2. Lina*

        Yes, a friend of mine graduated from medical school but did not match for residency. He is still entitled to the MD and title “doctor”, and he’s worked in a variety of settings where medical expertise is valuable but you are not seeing patients, e.g. medical insurance prior authorizations.

    6. Nightengale*

      I didn’t match (2007), got put into this thing called “the scramble” where you spend a day calling/being called by the programs with open spots and beg, basically. To make matters better, the computer system we all needed to send each other stuff went down the day of the scramble. Finally I talked to a program director who, in the pleasantry of “how are you” told me “not great, I got pulled out of [patient care activity] this morning to find out I had 2 unmatched spots.” And the next week was flying out to a state I had never been before to meet people and try to pull together the next 3 years of my life.

      I think I didn’t match because I had a number of disability related challenges in medical school that were not well accommodated, and which were reflected on my transcript and letters of reference. Partly my grades were affected, and partly my tendency to advocate for myself was not taken well by the school. To add to this, I went to residency interviews with a visible disability. Which several programs asked me about.

      You know how generally it isn’t recommended to discuss disability/accommodations until after you get the job offer? The Match system doesn’t work like that. You interview at a bunch of places and then you get, at most, one offer, which you have to accept. There is no “discuss after the offer” option. I don’t necessarily have a better idea how to get medical students to residency programs but I am very worried about the ableism in The Match. Now I work in a field where my disabilities largely either don’t matter or are a benefit as I work with kids with similar disabilities. . .

  7. NoLongerCollegeSenior*

    This may be very specific and of course there are a lot of factors that go into it, but for anyone in the northeast USA in the finance/accounting sector, how much of a pay increase is normal when moving to a new job? I am at my first job out of school and making in the low 60,000s. Would a 10k, 15k, or even 20k increase be possible at the next job? Thank you all for your advice.

    1. 867-5309*

      I’m not directly in your field but many of the financial companies in the Northeast are starting salaries at $100k to get candidates. There were several articles on it earlier this week or last, so maybe those would be a helpful reference.

    2. Jean*

      Have you looked at job postings in your area to get an idea of salaries in your desired field? I’m not sure AAM is the best place to find this type of info.

    3. Littorally*

      $10k I would consider a minimum, $15k seems like a solid bump, and $20k is likely to be a pretty big promotion in responsibilities/work level. It also depends what area of finance you’re in — if you’re a relationship manager or financial advisor, for example, I’d consider a $20k bump more achievable, whereas if you’re in an ops or controls area (I’m in controls), it’s a bigger jump at your current salary level.

    4. Elsa*

      Most places these days are not going to ask for a salary history. So, I would look more at sites like Glassdoor to see if a position you want is market rate or higher. I have had parallel moves that essentially paid the same and promotions that were a 40-50% pay increase. You should get paid fairly for the job you are doing, not in comparison to previous jobs.

    5. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      I’m in the midwest and have worked in accounting/finance (or related) for my whole career. Average for new grads in finance and accounting is 62-65k here. With a year or two experience, I’d think you could get a 10-15k increase.

    6. Alldogsarepuppies*

      I asked my boyfriend who is a finance/accounting recruiter in the north east. He said “In this market, hell yeah. I’ve gotten people from 60s to 80s”

    7. CorpFin*

      I’m 6 years in finance/accounting within a fortune 500, but not in the northeast. I started entry level at about 60k, was promoted with 10% increase after first year, but two later promotions were ~25%. In this market and coming from a lower entry salary, 10-20k sounds pretty reasonable.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      How long have you been at your job? What kind of job is it? If you are a Financial Analyst, my answer will be different than if you are an A/P Clerk.
      Have your responsibilities grown while you have been there?

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      In general, yes. Region, role, and years experience will make an impact (i.e. if you are moving from Boston proper to a more rural area you might have a pay cut in line with COL since starting salary is going to be higher in larger cities vs suburban areas) but overall you should be able to anticipate and negotiate for at least $10k as long as you aren’t moving every 1-2 years.

      I’m in the Midwest, accountant with a BBA with an emphasis in accounting, no advance degree or CPA/CMA.
      Promotions within the same job are usually significantly lower (current +X% with X usually capped by internal BS), but every one of my new company job changes has come with a minimum $10k increase.
      You first move might be right around $10k as long as you are between 2-5 years out from graduation, but once you get past the 7-year experience mark, you can get into the larger jumps as you are generally brought in as a Senior.

    10. Chaordic One*

      I’ve always heard that, as a rule of thumb, anytime you were changing jobs you should get at least a 10% raise. Of course if you are underpaid and deserve more ask for it and look at the advice Alison has offered on this site and in her book.

    11. Orange You Glad*

      It varies a lot among jobs, companies, industries, and locations. It’s possible, but hard to say without specifics.

  8. Golden*

    Happy Match Day to medical students! I’m not nor have ever been a medical student, but every year this day I see a handful of LinkedIn posts by people who didn’t match, or are disappointed with their match. For those that don’t know (from my understanding as an outsider so please correct me if I’m wrong!) Match Day is when medical students find out if and where they received a resident or fellowship position to continue their medical training.

    I read that last year and this year were especially brutal – has that been your experience? What causes someone not to match, and what do the schools do about it, especially if there’s quite a few? Is there much you can do career-wise with an MD/DO but without training as a resident or fellow?

    1. MB*

      If you don’t match, you can often still find residency placement through a program that pairs unmatched applicants with residency programs that have unfilled spots. And you can apply again the following year.

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

      Research. They can go into medical fields that don’t have patient interactions. But yes, it’s very devastating to not match.

      There is a secondary match system, or they can join the military (although they usually do that at the beginning of their med school) and be commissioned as an officer.

    3. Jay*

      I typed out a long response which posted as its own thing because I apparently flunked nesting. It is a really awful process.

    4. Definitely Not a Med Student*

      My understanding is that they know if they matched at the beginning of the week but it’s not until today that they find out the where. So people already know if they didn’t and were able to apply for those unfilled spots.

      1. Elsa*

        Yes, a lot of scrambling has happened between schools, students and residency programs this week!

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      Part of the change is that interviews were virtual so people could apply to a lot more programs. Some of the reasons for not matching are: getting your heart set on a competitive specialty; not applying to enough programs; being unrealistic about your likelihood of matching and not applying to less popular specialties in less popular communities.

  9. NOT a llama wrangler*

    This may have come up before – sorry I don’t read every week- but I have always been curious…

    does anyone here have a job that actually works directly with the care/grooming of llamas (any zoologists out there?) or does anyone actually take part in the design/painting process for teapots?

    1. midwest mom*

      Ha, I love this question! I wasn’t a llama groomer myself, but I did work at a large zoo for five years where some of my coworkers were literally llama groomers (and llama feeders, trainers, etc – plus worked with a number of other farm animals.)

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I don’t, but there is a woman in my town who has an alpaca farm. In addition to agrotourism, she sells alpaca fiber-related items. She does in fact have employees who groom and care for the alpacas!

      1. Coenobita*

        One of my high school friends lived on an alpaca farm! My mom and I would frequently “stop by to say hi” to him/his parents but really it was just an excuse to pet their alpacas.

        Also, where I live now, there is actually someone who will bring alpacas to your house for your birthday or whatever. You sign up online, pay like $40, and alpacas show up at your door at the appointed time. The alpacas are super friendly and apparently really enjoy going for rides, so I guess it’s nice enrichment for them and some easy cash for the farm owner.

        1. londonedit*

          Pre-Covid we got my mum an alpaca day for her birthday at a local alpaca farm. She and her best friend went to the farm and they got to take the alpacas for a walk, feed them and generally hang out with them for a while, and then they had tea and cakes afterwards.

          1. Bucky Barnes*

            I want to do this so much. I’ve just spent the last few minutes googling in my area.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          There’s a place that does this in my area too! More general “petting farm” type parties where different price points are like, 2 bunnies and a chicken or you can spring for a goat, sheep, and mini horse etc. They specifically advertise “pig n sip” parties where you can play with piglets while drinking wine lol

        3. Momma Bear*

          Someone local to me now offers goat visits. I’ll be honest that I want visiting goats for my birthday…..

        4. noncommital pseudonym*

          My campus brings them in once or twice during finals week, as a de-stress. They also bring in dogs. I’ve thought of training my dog for that – he’s an attention hound, and would LOVE it.

    3. haurane*

      Ooh love this question.
      The psychiatric hospital I was patient at had a couple of Alpacas for (mostly) exposure therapy for OCD patients. I didn’t get to work with them but from what I heard from a co-patient they’re quite friendly and chill animals (once you get over the yuk factor of working with animals)

      1. CatPrance*

        The “yuk factor”??

        Critters are great! Okay, well, pigs are kind of smelly but they can’t help that, and alpacas are really sweet. They’re calm and affectionate, plus all that fluffy hair means they’re so-o-o soft.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I know there a couple of women on You Tube who are sheep/llama/alpaca shearers and groomers. I find the videos very relaxing.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      I love this question! I did just learn about Berserk Llama Syndrome yesterday, and if there ARE llama handlers lurking, I would love to hear more about it.

    6. Animal worker*

      I’m in the zoo field on the animal side of things, have been for 30+ years. I’ve never groomed a llama in my job but have worked places that have them (and/or alpacas) so have gotten to be around them a bit here and there.

    7. This Old House*

      It just occurred to me that somewhere out there is someone who really wants to know what it takes to get into llama grooming, and whose online searches for the topic will lead them to have the best resume of all the entry-level llama groomers but no useful industry information whatsoever.

    8. calonkat*

      Not me, but two friends are professional potters and do make teapots. Mugs and plates (renfest/SCA type) are the mainstay of their income thought.

      1. Retired (but not really)*

        I have an adorable teapot made by the White Wizard, a long time Renfaire artist. He also happens to live about a mile down the street from me.

    9. RabbitRabbit*

      Related, I woke up this morning to find a column on Facebook (from SciBabe) about “berserk llama syndrome” (aka aberrant behavior syndrome) – basically a llama that is too imprinted on humans to the point where they try to become territorial vs humans and may violently attack with little warning. So yeah, that’s a thing.

    10. The Prettiest Curse*

      No llama grooming here, but there was an amusing work/AAM collision for me a few weeks ago. One of the talks on my weekly events list was a scientist who was studying something to do with camelid cells and the poster was a photo of him with a llama (or possibly an alpaca.)

    11. Nonny*

      My partner used to work for a person who was starting her own lifestyle company, including fine China (which turns out is a very difficult industry to get started in!)

      He didn’t literally paint the tea pots, but he designed the patterns that went on them which were then printed as decals and applied to bisque ware, then glazed and fired. I believe the decal application and glazing was done by hand, so there were tea pot painters somewhere in the world!

      I want to know if there are any rice sculptors!

  10. Jade*

    Ok! Going into year three of pandemic, my beautiful couture aspiring closet just fills me with dread. I refuse to wear bras anymore or uncomfortable shoes or anything that digs into my belly. I’m looking for work friendly clothing and shoe brands that prioritize comfort while still looking decently professional. We might have to start going back to the office and I just refuse to be physically uncomfortable again. Nooooo

    1. BalanceofThemis*

      Look at the maternity section in clothing stores. Clothes in that section tend to be made of softer materials. You will also find lots of elastic wristbands. And the styles are very close to regular work clothes.

      I’ve never been pregnant, but have several “maternity” pieces.

        1. Chaordic One*

          I’m glad you’re open to the idea. (I recently made the same suggestion to a friend looking for comfortable clothes and she was horribly insulted.)

      1. I can’t think of a clever name*

        I agree with midwest mom. I love Athleta. I’ve worn their “city pants” to work (when I was in a business casual office) with comfortable flats (Rothy’s) and a sweater. They are so comfortable and cute.

        1. Jean*

          YESSSS. Rothys are a game changer for cute, comfortable, business appropriate flats. I’m obsessed.

          1. Sue*

            I live in Cole Hahn shoes. Look good and feel like tennis shoes. I need good arch support and they are great for that.
            Also, got my daughter some (don’t know what they’re called) Everlane sock boots and she says they’re extremely comfortable and she gets lots of compliments, even random on the street ones.

          2. Everything Bagel*

            Wow, I’ve never heard of this brand, but they look like a good choice. Can anyone say if any of the Styles would accommodate an orthotic? I’d like to put these on my list for next time I’m need of new work shoes.

      2. Reba*

        Agree, I think the non-athletic clothes at Athleta are underrated!

        I feel like I’m seeing a lot of styles out there of trousers in “work” fabrics but with stretch waistbands. The formal jogger if you will.

      3. Alexandra*

        I own multiple colors in one of their jumpsuits and regularly wear it to the office with a blazer. It looks best on me with heels but you can get around that. Soft waist, stretchy but professional, great pockets. Bonus: they make true tall sizes. Seriously, so hard to come by. I believe they also are adding sizes to better match the plus size market as well, although I’m not sure if it’s for all the clothes yet. They never #%^# have good sales though

      4. Bucky Barnes*

        Thanks for this tip! I’m going to check them out on a break. I also have worn Duluth’s Noga pants and/or Namastash pants.

    2. TwistedLion*

      Betabrand makes yoga dress pants and they are all stretchy, look nice and feel great. I will say they are pricy but the material is thick so I feel like its an investment. I live in them now. I will say Im 5’4 and the short petite is the right size for my height.

      1. SansaStark*

        Thirding! Keep an eye out for their sales. I’ve gotten two pairs at 50% off which makes them a little more affordable.

    3. Nea*

      I’m always going to recommend Eshakti(dot com) for anyone interested in comfortable, flattering party or professional dresses. Pay the surcharge to give them your measurements and they will tailor exactly for you as you are – in addition to adjusting hemlines, necklines, and sleeve length for free.

      I also recommend going to eshakti for one classic dress as one’s “interview suit” if you’re not the pantsuit type. Throw a jacket over a classic dress – mine is a black v-neck with elbow sleeves ending just below the knee – and you look professional and polished.

        1. AcademiaAnonymous*

          Thank you for the typo! I had a great time envisioning elbow sleeves going all the way down to someone’s knees! My first laugh of the day :-)

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          Thanks for the clarification so we didn’t all have to try to figure out where your elbows were :)

      1. calonkat*

        I love this company. The vast majority of the clothes I’ve gotten fit well, are well made, the fabric is holding up, and they are comfortable. The ones that haven’t fit well have been my fault for ordering the wrong size, or not realizing how deep a neckline would be on my “tracts of land”.

        Pockets on most things that are a useable size!

        They make a pair of pants with a wide elastic waistband that is hands down the most comfortable work pants I’ve ever owned. And I’ve gotten compliments on how they look!

      2. just another bureaucrat*

        YUP. This is my entire wardrobe at this point. It’s just so much easier for me. I’m really tall and not super comfortable with shorter or tighter wear so this lets me pick things that are long enough for me and don’t end up being too short for the office because I’m 6 inches taller than the “tall” expects you to be. It’s so comfortable as well.

      3. Katie*

        My favorite site to buy dresses! Wearing one from there now.
        I love maxi dresses in general. Both comfortable and professional looking.

    4. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      Girl, I feel you! I have found Rothy’s to be very comfortable, and being able to throw the shoes and the insoles into the washing machine as needed means they look good and don’t get stinky. They’re spendy compared to Payless, but I’ve been picking a pair or two up here and there and just using pay in four, and now I’ve got some good neutral comfy flats and a few pairs in “pop” colors. The round toe is comfier than the pointed toe. I also got some cute Chelsea boots from them during a sale.

      As far as clothes go, I’ve had a big shift to office appropriate knitwear–nice ponte knit pencil skirts, pull on dresses, and flared knit skirts with elastic waistbands that fit at the natural waist. I also have some great flared skater dresses in what I can only term as “office appropriate thick spandex” that I pair with cardigans, and some pretty awesome spandex-y wrap dresses that are very office-y but are also secret pajamas. Embrace knits and stretch fabric! As long as it isn’t too thin or super tight it can look really great at the office but still be really comfortable.

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        Oh, I’ve had a lot of luck trolling the Elhoffer site for their daily special sale piece and picking up some of their Essential dresses and skirts when they go on sale–I get a LOT of compliments on those at work, and they’re easily the most comfortable things I own.

      2. Jay*

        Agree with knitwear. Loft has a lot of this kind of thing and they have good sales. I love their “floaty” dresses – cute and comfy and work well with leggings and boots. I have a pair of black pants from J Jill that look very office-y and feel like PJs.

      3. CTT*

        A note on the Rothy’s: if you try them and they feel a little tight, they will NOT break in over time. They are extremely unyielding shoes (which is why I ended up buying their tote bag – unyielding is not a quality I want in my shoes but is one that I want in my purses!)

        1. ThatGirl*

          (Same goes for Allbirds; I am between a 9 and 9 1/2 and should have sized up for those, but I thought they might stretch out a bit as I wore them. Not really.)

        2. BlueSwimmer*

          Also a Rothy’s fan here. The round toe flats fit true to size for me but size up for the pointe flats. I love my round toe flats but know that they aren’t a supportive shoe if that’s what you are looking for.

    5. OtterB*

      I go for elastic waistbands too. I’m in plus-size clothing so I don’t know what’s available in general, but I like Lands End sport knit pattern pants. The solid seem more casual, though I do wear them to work, but the patterns are things like pin stripes, glen plaid, etc. Very comfortable and look nice with a solid top and a cardigan or blazer.

      I also like Ulla Popken, especially the matte knit. Pants in a couple of styles are either black or navy, and then there are a variety of tunic tops in different prints. Comfortable and professional looking.

      I can’t help with shoes. I have foot problems that mean I’ve thrown in the towel and am almost 100% wearing Brooks sneakers with custom orthotics. My nod to business wear was getting a pair of solid black Brooks Adrenaline.

    6. Alice*

      I’ve started forgoing the bra when I go out and the world is still turning. Amazing, I should have done this years ago. I still don’t feel comfortable going into the office bra-less, but I’ve discovered that sports bras are much, much more comfortable and I have smaller boobs so there’s hardly any outward difference (but a big difference in comfort). Of course it depends, but I’m putting this here since for me it was a revelation that I could wear sport bras for non sport activities.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I’ve been skipping the bra everywhere too, but my office sometimes requires fancy clothes where sports bras are noticeable. One thing I did recently was go to a fancy bra shop and get properly fitted for a bra – not just sizing but styles, strap hooks, etc. It’s not something I would normally have spent so much on, but it has made a world of difference to my comfort and confidence in work clothes.

      2. AnonPi*

        Yup I went to sports bras w/ no underwire and I will never go back to wearing any bra with a wire!

        1. AnonPi*

          Although i do wish more sports bras were available in skin tone or white colors. When I’m just out and about I don’t really care who can see I have a black bra on under my shirt, but at work I prefer it not to be noticeable and end up wearing tank tops or camis underneath.

      3. AlabamaAnonymous*

        I haven’t worn a bra since March 2020! I didn’t worry about it all when my job was all WFH. Now that I’m back in the office 3 days a week, I bought several camis with built in shelf bras and just wear those. That’s enough to prevent serious jiggle. And I usually wear at least two layers on top of the cami (shirt and cardigan) so I’m well covered up. I do still own one bra, in case of emergency.

      4. Jessica Ganschen*

        Same here! I bought a couple multi-packs of black, white, and beige bralettes at the beginning of the pandemic, and they’re spectacular. They don’t actively restrain quite as much as a sports bra would, but that’s generally not relevant in the office anyway.

      5. Orange You Glad*

        I recommend the Truekind Daily Comfort Wireless bra. It was a game-changer. It feels like a sports bra but supports like a regular bra. I’ve bought that brand’s sports bras in the past but I like the daily comfort one better and just use it for everything – active or not.

      6. Lady Danbury*

        I bought an entire wardrobe of wirefree comfort bras. My favs are warners easy does it bra, hanes t-shirt wireless bra, bali desire lace wirefree bra and hanes comfortflex wirefree bra. Such a gamechanger!

      7. Dragon*

        Or try Sassybax bras. They’re not cheap, but they’re sports bra-styled and smooth out back bulge.

    7. Anon (and on and on)*

      I’ve found that my regular business casual brands of Ann Taylor and Banana Republic have adapted to the post-pandemic style of being more comfortable! The trick is to look for pants and skirts with elastic waistbands, pull-on tops in stretchy styles (NO button-ups for me, please) and flats, flats, flats for days! I’m still wearing bras but only ones without underwires and have been getting more bralettes than structured cups. For bras, I go to a great boutique and have them fit me and invest in 2-3 good ones that I hand wash, and it’s worth the money over crappy ill-fitting ones. There are a lot more comfortable options floating around now vs. pre-pandemic!

      1. RSTchick*

        I recently bought some tops/dresses from Ann Taylor, and they are very comfy. I was pleasantly surprised.

    8. Kes*

      I’ve personally always gone for ankle boots over heels and clothing with some stretch in it where possible. I’ve also heard about a number of more comfortable flats brands like Sketchers and Rothys but I haven’t tried them myself. Admittedly my office is on the more casual side which makes this easier

    9. InsufficientlySubordinate*

      I get Duluth’s NoGa black pants with the looser fit legs and find they can pass as regular pants if you wear longer shirts or jackets.

    10. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I love Wit and Wisdom for business casual, they have a stretchy waste band. Also consider Stitch Fix to find new brands. I have had good luck with them.

    11. Damn it, Hardison!*

      J Crew Factory has a three types of pants that have soft waistbands – the Holland pant, the Jamie pant. and the Pintuck Sweatpants, which are more like ponte knit than sweatpants and would be fine for casual offices.

    12. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’ve opted out of underwires pretty much forever at this point. And I am a very busty person, so it’s doable. There are some REALLY nice wire free bras out there at this point. Depending on your bodytype, bra-lettes are also an option. Those are home-wear only for me, but they would definitely work for someone with less going on up there than I have lol.

      As I plus size person, I use lane bryant for my bras (i’d love more options tbh, if anyone has any), but a quick google for wireless or wire-free bras should get you a ton of options.

      1. Alexandra*

        Ooooh as someone who wishes to opt out of wires but has a small ribcage to big chest ratio, I’m interested in your brand options! Where have you been having success? I feel like I either wear my one, perfect, discontinues bravissimo brand t-shirt bra, or a series of freya ones that start out fine and end the day pinchy

        1. Chirpy*

          I almost exclusively wear Glamorize bras – they have a sports bra that looks nice enough to be an “everyday bra” without wires. Great for large cup/small band size. I can’t remember what the actual bra style is called, but T9 Sports used to sell it as the “Hallelujah Bra” (I get them elsewhere now because I found a cheaper place with more sizes).

      2. onyxzinnia*

        I always thought wire-free bras would never be an option for me as I am also very busty but I recently got the Jacqueline non-wired bra by Fantasie and it’s been a game changer. Cute and holds everything together. Bravissimo has been the best for bras for larger cup sizes, they seem to have a number of wire free bra options.

    13. Admin of Sys*

      I’m fond of Chico’s travelers brand stuff – I started wearing it for, well, travel – because it wont wrinkle – but i also just find it comfy.

    14. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      My work uniform was mainly Loft or Ann Taylor slacks (because they had curvy cuts which fit me better) in soft materials with a little stretch, a shell and a sweater or jacket or sweater-jacket. I wore a lot of loafer-style sneakers or flats with good cushioning –there are some brands that aim for comfort, you can just search “comfort” on Zappos and get a sense. Clark’s Cloudsteppers comes to mind, or Sofft.

    15. History Chick*

      I am on a mission to find a comfortable bra and I have tried the following so far in case my research is helpful for you! I want something lightly padded, with adjustable straps, and is kind of sports bra-y feeling without the racerback. I am a 32C in case that helps in the level of support needed:

      Here are my top 3 that I’ve tried:
      -Newai Barely Zero Spaghetti Strap Wireless
      -True&Company Everybody Lift Wireless @ Target
      -Aerie Seamless Padded Bralette

      Here are others I’ve tried:
      -Nordstrom Bonded Wireless Bralette (would be a fav but there is a really itchy seam)
      -Jockey Eco Seamfree Rib Molded Cup (not terrible, but I want to take it off at the end of the day)
      -Wearlively Bralette the stripe mesh (I think I’m just over clasp enclosures in the back)
      -Uniqlo Airism Relaxed Wireless Bra (doesn’t have adjustable straps so it doesn’t work for me plus even though it’s “Airism” it makes my boobs sweat)
      -Kinx Padded V Neck Bra (the sizing was just off – I tried 3 sizes – for me but the customer service @ Knix is top rate!)
      -Natori Limitless Anywhere Wirefree Bra (I thought this would be the one but it is by far the least uncomfortable)

      May the fortune that I’ve spent on finding a comfortable bra be of assistance to you! (And I also recommend Athleta. I’ve convinced myself that some of the joggers I own will be okay if paired with the correct top and comfortable flats)

      1. pancakes*

        Cora Harrington (@ lingerieaddict on Twitter and @ dot com) makes bra recommendations. I’ll definitely browse her site next time I’m shopping for new ones.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I just found the Simply Perfect by Warner’s longline convertable wire-free at Target to be a perfect fit for me. I hate wire bras and the fact that as I gained weight and increased bras size it is so hard to find non-wired bras, but this one has a comfortable but sturdy band.

        Target is a good place to try. Changing rooms at Target has been closed so I purchased 4 bras, returned 3 and then purchased 3 bras and returned 2. I came out with 1 work bra and 1 only around the house comfy bra from True&Company.

    16. Susie*

      Universal Standard
      Ministry of Supply

      shoes:
      Rothys, especially the Merino. I find them very comfortable. But if you need it, you can remove the insole and replace it with something more supportive.

      My workplace is on the casual side of things and my uniform is an A-line jersey dress, leggings, and Rothy’s. I just got a couple of pairs of trousers from Universal Supply that I’m looking forward to incorporating to switch things up a little.

    17. LC*

      For shoes, I like Nisolo, Blondo, and Dankso. They’re all somewhere between fairly to extremely comfortable and fairly to extremely pretty and/or professional. Not, like, courtroom professional, but plenty professional for most offices.

      Nisolo are the nicest looking (the Huarache sandal and the Everyday sneaker are my faves, along with an Oxford style that I don’t see on the website anymore) and Dansko are the most comfortable, but they’re all definitely in the same spectrum. Some (all?) of Blondo shoes are waterproof too, their ankle boots were a godsend when I walked to work (PNW so often fairly wet, rarely enough to make rainboots and a second pair of shoes worth it).

      I also second the recommendation for knitwear, and I’m making note of the other recommendations for when they start requiring us (sigh) to come in a couple times a week.

    18. Metadata minion*

      If you like dresses, knit dresses can look very fancy while still being structurally a couple tailoring tucks away from a nightgown.

    19. Emma*

      I have several pants from Universal Standard which are very comfortable and work appropriate. Brand is just a bit spendy but totally worth it imo and they offer a massive size range (00-40).

      For shoes I alternate between a pair of Sofft loafers and Clark’s ankle boots, both extremely basic but comfortable enough to wear all day and do a medium amount of walking (especially the boots).

      1. Emma*

        Oh and bras! I bought 3 from Cuup of the Scoop style, which is underwire but very comfortable and without padding, so I almost forget I’m wearing them but they offer just enough support/coverage for the office. With a really thin shirt there’s sometimes a hint of nip but I either wear a different bra or just say f it ‍♀️

    20. The Lion's Roar*

      MIA’s Kerri flats are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn to the office. I was worried about breaking my feet back into the rub and pinch of professional shoes again after two years and these were a godsend. Unfortunately my feet are on the larger side (I’m normally a 10, in these I’m an 11) and it’s proven difficult to find them that big online, but I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled.

    21. StellaBella*

      I just ordered from Zalando (not sure they are in your area?) 3 work dresses from Vero Moda that are cotton jersey, black, and pullover style, like literally a nicer long t shirt. I love them. Also, I wear a lot of leggings and long sweaters. In summer I will wear more dresses that are simple and flowy. Agree on comfort. Also agree on shoes etc. Good luck.

    22. 1qtkat*

      Comfort has always been central to my wardrobe. Athleta’s Santorini dresses are a staple for me – stretchy and comfortable. I also like Banana Republic and haunting the sales at White House Black Market (can be hit or miss sometimes, but I can usually find some nice individual items)

    23. Person from the Resume*

      Clarks flats shoes are great with jeans or work pants. Cute and comfortable.

      They almost make me wish that due to temperature, I don’t wear shorts 9 months out of the year. Not to work; I now WFH. But we have 6 months of a burning hot and humid summer around here.

    24. Workerbee*

      Yes! I stopped wearing bras for several years before the pandemic, and I also can no longer bear anything that fits too closely to my abdomen/belly for health reasons. Additionally, my footwear has less than 1″ heels (I may still have one or two that is 1″, but I have been scuffing around with no shoes for so long with WFH that I get as flat as I can with shoes these days).
      Add on that I am finding the more synthetic materials make my skin feel creepy, and this has reduced my wardrobe some for when I have to drag myself into my business-professional workplace.

      I’ve found that many brands and styles structure their tops with the assumption that you’ll be wearing a bra, and that depending on the weather or indoor temperature, one can’t always rely on a sweater, sleeved cardigan, or blazer, or do much with layers. With pants, I want to stick as close to my comfy yoga pants as possible.

      The world still being what it is where breast-shaped breasts with *gasp* nipples are looked on with fear and cupidity, I opt for some measure of camouflage/concealment while aiming for ultimate comfort:
      -Tops that are sometimes called “popover” tops, where you have a stretchy cami as the bottom layer and a floaty, often handkerchief-shaped layer on top.
      -Button-downs with patterns instead of solid colors work, though black can work, too. It depends on the fit.
      -I also have a couple long-line sleeveless cardigans that act as vests. These work even with short-sleeve shirts.
      -Pants: Athleta, Lands’ End, Talbots all make pants, whether new or ‘vintage’ if you go on Poshmark/eBay, that masquerade as office appropriate pants. I go for bootcut/straight-leg generally, so they look less like athletic wear, though I have also worn thick fleece leggings under dresses with boots. White House Black Market also has/had a ponte style of pants, complete with zip, button-closure, and belt loops, that somehow does not impinge on my skin at all. I will never let them go, probably.
      -Skirts: Lot of trial and error here as I discovered even the so-called elastic stretchy waistbands can be too snappishly tight on me. My solution was to go up from my normal size just so the waistband would rest comfortably.
      -Footwear: I search by heel size (and width) on Zappos, and occasionally on Auditions Shoes, to find flat/flattish boots and ankle boots. I wear either with skirts and dresses in winter. In less inclement weather, I have sandals and Mary Jane styles.

      The list may sound formidable but once you start honing what you’re looking for, it gets easier both to discard and to find options.

    25. Laura H.*

      JBU makes a “Crimson” shoe that zips closed and is comfy that I wear for my retail gig or when I want to look a bit nicer.

      Also- loose tops that layer well and elastic waistband skirts are my faves.

  11. KatRaven*

    About two weeks ago, I applied for a summer job. The online application asked for specific availability, which I filled in to the best of my present knowledge. This week, I have learned that my summer class schedule will change, so I can actually work more days than I initially indicated, which I would imagine would help me increase my chances to be called for an interview.

    The problem is that I don’t know how to let the potential employer know about my change in schedule. They specifically ask for no phone calls, and as the application was online, I don’t have an email or a particular individual to contact. Should I submit a second application indicating that it is the second because the hours have changed, just let it go and hope they call anyway so I can tell them that I have more availability, or is there another option that I may be overlooking? Thank you for any advice!

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Wait until they reach out to you, and mention you have more availability if you get an interview.

    2. Jade*

      I say it depends on how much more availability you have than when you submitted. If it’s just a day or two I really wouldn’t sweat it.

      If it’s more than that, I think you could probably call. NOT for an annoying “did you get my application” thing, but just to say you wanted to update your availability.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, this is one of the few situation where a follow up call makes sense. Because you do have a genuine change that is reasonable to communicate.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          I agree. Every summer job I’ve had prioritized availability. I would call to update the schedule. If this job has a physical location and the application system is run by corporate headquarters, I would find the number for the location and call them specifically.

  12. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

    Hi!

    I had an interview yesterday for a research analyst position (at a law firm), and am moving onto the next round!

    Which means they’ll send me an email for a zoom interview and sample internet research project, which I’m assuming will be fairly quick (they’re not asking me to use specific databases which they know most people don’t have access to)? And if they send it to me over the weekend, hopefully it’s okay if I don’t do it until Monday? I’m trying to set boundaries…

    Anyway, thanks to everyone for the interview tips last week! The interview went great and I wasn’t as nervous, although the recruiter did forget to write down my original time and we had to reschedule, so that wasn’t great (I really hate doing interviews). It really helped that at the beginning of the call the recruiter was like “and we’re going to talk about this and this and then this.”

    I don’t know what questions to ask them for round two, which will be a zoom call with the hiring manager. But I did a lot of prep work for this, which I’m assuming will come in handy for the next round (the first round was me talking about my jobs and her telling me more specifics about the position).

    Even if I don’t get this position, and I’m really trying not to get my hopes up because this would be perfect location and job wise, just having, like, concrete proof in getting this interview that this might be a career option for me is doing wonders for my mental health. :’) for so long I thought I didn’t have any options other than libraries, but I am so happy I have some.

    1. Renee Remains the Same*

      I am a research nerd with an MLIS, working at a Library but not a librarian. Very much contemplating how I can land a job looking for things that other people want. Interviews are like blind dates, which have never made me nervous… If they go well, you’re pleasantly surprised and if they don’t, you dodged a bullet. Either way, you win by putting yourself out there. So I wish you much luck and congratulations on getting the interview!

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        I too have an MLIS and have in the past had job titles with “librarian” in the title, although my job in a library now does not have the title. So, I leaned into the research experience that I have – I leaned in with my cover letter and I plan on leaning in with the next interview. Even though I don’t have access to the databases the company uses, I have experience. I also talked about my customer service experience and how I am easily adaptable.

        I like that analogy re: interviews being like blind dates! I do think with me and interviews, the unknown is what gets me nervous. Like, I know my experience and what I can bring to the table, but I don’t always know what exactly they’re going to ask. Which is probably why the phone interview went so well, because right away, she said what we’d be talking about and I wasn’t nervous.

        Wishing you luck, too!

    2. Peachtree*

      I don’t know if it’s just me, but your comment about doing the work on Monday makes me think that you’re planning to complete the hiring task during your current job’s work day. Is that right? I personally wouldn’t do that, as you’re being paid to do the current job, not to spend their time (money) on trying to leave … YMMV.

      In general with tasks, they will usually give you a deadline – and they won’t know/care when you do it before then. Assuming the task/deadline is reasonable (i.e., it’s not suddenly due in 4 hours and the task is a reasonable length for the role) then I would avoid pushing back unless you have an emergency. For example, if you were sent the task on a Thursday, Monday afternoon would be a reasonable turnaround time, and I would be a bit annoyed if I sent someone a task with four days notice and they said “I don’t want to do this at the weekend so I’ll send it late”. If they said “I had a family emergency so I couldn’t complete it” then that would be more understandable.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        I would never do a task for another job at a job I’m working at. I don’t currently work full-time (or, more accurately, a 9-5), so I could work on the task after work. Obviously if they give me a specific deadline, I’d honor that and not turn in anything late. I was more asking if they didn’t give me any type of a deadline, but I have to assume they will.

        But I don’t think wanting to keep the weekend work-free is unreasonable. Working at various part-time jobs in my career, I haven’t always had full weekends free, so now that I have most of them available, I do try to keep them relatively relaxing. I know there are going to be exceptions, and I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.

        1. Peachtree*

          I’m sorry, your earlier comment was confusing to me – it sounded like you didn’t want to complete the task in your own time at all, which was a little strange to me. It’s entirely reasonable to want to keep weekends free, but, as above, if they give you a reasonable deadline and it falls after a weekend, they would probably want you to honour the deadline. You’d then need to decide if it was worth it, I guess.

          FWIW, they will almost 100% give you a firm deadline rather than something open-ended, so it’s unlikely to be a real issue.

          1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to be unclear.

            Thank you! I’m assuming, now, that this aspect of my question is a moo point, because they’d probably give a firm deadline. :) I’m not saying I’ll never work an unscheduled weekend again (aka one that I don’t know about well in advance), but I’d like to limit last-minute weekend work if I can. We’ll see if that would be an issue in this position, should I be lucky enough to get an offer (or anything with this title/in this field, if I don’t).

            1. Haha Lala*

              If they don’t give you a firm deadline, you can respond back to let them know you received the sample project, and then set your own deadline “I’ll have it back to you by Monday night.”
              That makes your schedule clear to them, and gives them a chance to let you know if they actually need it returned earlier.

              1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

                Thank you! Unfortunately I didn’t see this comment before getting the skills and interview invites. The interview is early next week, so I’ll have it done (probably) Sunday or definitely by Monday night. All they said was to have it done prior to the interview, but didn’t get more specific than that.

    3. Madeleine Matilda*

      Alison has several posts here on AAM with suggested interview questions. If you use the blog search feature you will find them and can see which ones make sense for your upcoming interview. I recommend the posts 10 questions you should ask your manager and A great question to ask your interviewer.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Thank you! I’ll for sure use the search feature and look up the posts you suggested. :D

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m sure some of these come from AMA, others are adapted from other sources, but when I was seriously job hunting a few years ago, these were the questions I still have in my drive folder labeled Questions and I know I asked them a lot:
      What would you describe as the most important goals of this position?
      How will you measure the success of the person in this position?
      What are some of the challenges you’d expect the person in this position to face?
      Thinking back to different people you’ve seen do this work previously here or at other places, what differentiates those who were good from those who were really great at it? (My slightly altered version of the “perfect question.”)
      Can you describe which job duties you would expect to take up the most of this person’s time? (I find this more effective than “typical day” types of questions.)
      What’s your timeline for next steps?
      What are you hoping this person will accomplish in their first year?
      What do you like about working here? (Also: What do you consider the strengths of the organization?)
      What would you consider to be the greatest challenges facing the organization at this time? (And listen to see if anything they have said before seems to point to a plan to solve any of these challenges, because this can be illuminating.)
      (If the position is new, ie: Hasn’t been filled before) In adding this role to the organization, what are you hoping the person in the role will accomplish?

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Thanks so much! I obviously can and will go through the search feature and find questions to ask, but I more wanted to hear what worked for people, so I’m glad I got several good ones to ask! :)

  13. Sariel*

    I’m wondering about microaggressions — and looking for thought/opinions. As a manager, I have sought out training on several topics, including learning about microaggressions, allyship at work, etc. With my previous team, we also went through webinars and had discussions together on these types of topics and people on the team felt it was helpful. However, I had a team member who did not work out (had been spoken to several times, met with about improvement, and then ultimately did not make it through their probation period). When this team member left, they were very angry and accused me, my other manager, and the entire team of regularly engaging in microaggressions towards them (although they never said anything about this before . . . apparently to anyone). So now, I am really trying to be aware both of my own actions and those of my new team.

    My question is this: are all comments about appearance or communication style potentially microaggressions? I have a team member who will routinely comment on things like how I dress, the color of my hair when I changed it to a different tone, communication styles of myself and other team members and other things. All in a tone that comes across as disapproving (one of my colleagues mentioned it comes across like “Mom tone” – as in “Is that what you’re wearing ?” – and I think some readers may know what this sounds like). I don’t appreciate the comments, but I don’t know if they constitute microaggressions or just comments that rub people the wrong way. Any thoughts or advice on this?

    1. ecnaseener*

      If the comments are rubbing you the wrong way *because of your lifelong experience as a member of a marginalized group,* then yeah that can be called a microaggression. Can I ask why the label matters so much in this case though? You’re allowed to be peeved by simple rudeness, whether or not there’s subtle bigotry behind it.

        1. Observer*

          I agree with this 100%. In fact, I would say that the OP is not just “allowed”, but if they are a manager, they SHOULD shut it down.

    2. Littorally*

      The line between “annoying comment” and “microaggression” is very fine, and tends to have to do more with how much the trait being remarked upon corresponds to a marginalized identity/status vs the actual content of the comment itself.

      So — potentially microaggressions? Possible. For yourself as the speaker, it’s definitely worth examining those type of comments internally before you say them and asking yourself — does this have to do with someone’s race? Their disability status? Gender? Body type/shape? Nationality? Perceived health? Religion? Something else probably best left well alone?

      But when it comes to this other person who is making comments — well, the goal is to get them to stop, right? I don’t see why you couldn’t just call out the tone directly, without making it an issue of micoaggression versus just being a jerk. If I’m reading correctly, it sounds like this person may be your report? You’ve got plenty of standing to say ‘hey, you need to cut it out with talking to people like that. You’re coming across as very judgmental and disapproving, and it’s not appropriate in a work environment.’

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Shut it down. It doesn’t help to label it racist or sexist; label it ‘inappropriate’ and ‘disapproving tone’ and shut it down.

    3. Observer*

      I think we get a little too hung up on the terminology.

      If something is rude, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a “microaggression” or “just plain rude”. I mean, legally it might, but not in the sense of whether it should be OK. However, anything that is rude DOES have the potential to be a microaggression – and to slide right over into full on aggression. So, it’s a good idea to put a stop to that.

      Which is to say, if you are being rubbed the wrong way by the comments on your clothes because the person making them sounds like they are passing judgement, that needs to stop. Because it’s rude and no one should have to accept rude treatment as a condition of employment. AND it also has the potential to really get you in trouble with people who are going to get “extra” levels of this garbage because it’s extremely likely that those people are also going to be the ones who are in otherwise marginalized groups.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If the HR perspective is helpful at all – microaggressions are a thing to give trainings on because of the impact they have on marginalized identities and the likelihood non-marginalized identities either aren’t familiar with the concept or aren’t thinking about it as actively as they should. So it’s great that you’re thinking about it.

      However when it comes to *corrective* action – it really doesn’t matter much if it’s a microaggression. Like it matters in the meta sense and it matters if it’s part of a pattern of behavior, but in terms of just telling someone to quit commenting on people’s bodies or mind their tone because they aren’t conveying what they think they are, that’s a thing regardless. It doesn’t have to be a microaggression to be a behavior that should be corrected.

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I personally think virtually all comments on appearance are inappropriate in the workplace (I’d make an exception for eg saying someone looks sharp for a special event/court appearance type of thing and managers addressing significant dress code issues with a thousand caveats) and people should always err on the side of not. Certainly, random co-worker negative comments on anything appearance-related should be shut down. I think they can also be microaggressions (because women are more likely to have their clothes policed, Black folks more likely to get hair comments, etc) but don’t need to be microaggressions to be shut down.

      1. callmeheavenly*

        We do not have an official dress code, but one of my (white, European-heritage) direct reports has a loose interpretation of business casual that is just…not great, like, short and tight to the point that it’s negatively affecting others’ perception of her professional judgment and more importantly her ability to sit down without flashing someone, or literally looks like she’s cosplaying a cheerleader or a pinup girl. Jeans and hoodies every day would be 100% acceptable, it’s not a formal environment by any means, but…I cannot let her come in looking like Halloween forever. She does not take subtle suggestion or constructive criticism well and will probably holler harassment, but there’s a line between quirky and inappropriate to the workplace.

    6. Manchmal*

      I don’t think that microaggressions are always rude or judgmental in the way that those comments you describe are. Someone could ask in a very chipper voice, “Oh, and where are you from?” but if they do it at the wrong time or in a context that makes the question very othering, I would count that as a microaggression. Even statements that are positive on their face can be microaggressions in certain contexts.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Absolutely this. As a Black woman, excessive positive comments on my hair definitely feel like microaggressions. In a past job, I almost always wore my natural hair in 2 styles (down and curly or in a bun). One of the rare times I did something different, one of my white coworkers complimented me by saying that I was always doing something different with my hair. Except I wasn’t, it was those same 2 styles the vast majority of the time. It felt very othering.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      I would be surprised if your team member comments on what men are wearing or their communication style, particularly given the reported, disapproving “mom tone”. You need to shut it down.

      Honestly, I disagree with the comments that say it doesn’t matter if it’s microaggression, it’s just rude so shut it down. Yes, if someone is just rude you need to shut them down. But a lot of people are prickly, and we can tell when this is their (rude) personality. I’ve worked with a lot of people like that over the years.

      Microaggression is different and more serious. When the “rude person” only has particular targets it crosses a line – it is even more important to point out the pattern and tell RP that it needs to stop, and if it doesn’t stop they are putting their job in jeopardy. And then document the conversation (and subsequent ones, because there will be more.) People like this are toxic and frequently have allies that will support their little campaigns to undermine those who are different, be they female or BIPOC. Having felt plenty of slights (and worse) over the course of my career, I speak from experience. (What, I didn’t mean any harm! They can’t take a joke! They’re too sensitive!)

      There are times when we say things we didn’t realize were microaggressions, which is why we all need the training you reference, and I would recommend you arrange that for your team. But in the meantime tell “mom” to be professional in the office, and take her disapproving schtick elsewhere.

      1. ecnaseener*

        My understanding of the term microagression is that it’s really only for small, micro-level things – if someone’s deliberately targeting a person and trying to undermine them, that’s full on aggression. Full on bigotry too, if applicable.

    8. sb51*

      Is it possible the team member who didn’t work out phrased it that way *because* you had discussed it and they knew it was something you were trying to avoid? I.e. they didn’t really think the things were microaggressions but were trying to make you feel bad.

      Whether or not the team member making the disapproving-y comments is actually committing any microaggressions, it still sounds like something to say something about.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      “I don’t know if they constitute microaggressions or just comments that rub people the wrong way.” Microaggressions are specifically about discrimination toward marginalized communities, so that’s the deciding factor on whether something “counts” as one – which doesn’t necessarily change how you would address the behavior.

      “(although they never said anything about this before . . . apparently to anyone).” I don’t know what the issues with the employee were but definitely don’t use this as a reason to question if their complaint was sincere.

    10. Margaretmary*

      I don’t know if they count as microaggressions, but unless the team member is in a position of authority and is correcting people who have broken the dress code, disapproving comments about what people are wearing are definitely rude and inappropriate and not just comments that rub people up the wrong way (and even if they ARE a manager enforcing the dress code, it seems like a pretty passive-aggressive way of doing it: “is that what you’re wearing?” rather than “we don’t allow x”) but there might not be much you can do about that whereas if you are their manager, you could probably speak to them about making personal comments.

  14. OTGW*

    Anyone have experience working in the warehouse? Pros and cons?

    There’s a job that would be pretty nice for me—it’s essentially shelving and retrieving books and materials, so not like crazy UPS heavy lifting or whatever. The pay is :/ but it’s FT so it’s not the worst plus!!! Benefits of which I have exactly zero (0) of. And I’d have a set schedule and steady days off!! Wild!! I currently work 2 PT jobs and I am exhausted. But everyone says warehouses are bad and I feel conflicted.

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      My only warehouse experience was from 20+ years ago. It is my understanding that job tempo and work speed/accuracy pressures have drastically increased in that time. This plus the horror stories one sees in the news can be the source of the “warehouse = bad” vibe. Just… take your brain with you. Be careful and avoid getting sucked into the “push extra hard, take chances, and walk it off” mentality that can become literally toxic.

    2. Terrible as the Dawn*

      My “warehouse” job wasn’t strictly warehouse–it was warehouse/inventory for a big box retail store–but I loved it. I’m a very organized person who used to alphabetize my bookshelves for fun, so I found shipping and receiving to be very peaceful, and I used to LOVE doing inventory reconciliation. I also appreciated being up and moving around and have never minded a bit of lifting and carrying.

      I will also add that having a set schedule is EXCELLENT. If you can afford comfortable, sturdy footwear and are able-bodied, I think you should go for it!

    3. Resident Catholicville, USA*

      I’ve never worked in a warehouse, so I can’t speak to that specifically, but what I can say is that what is a nightmare for one person might not be for another or at a different time in your life. If the benefits/situation are positive over what you’re currently working, then it might work out better for you. If you hear horror stories about that particular warehouse and the conditions, it might not be in your best interest. So, weigh the pros and cons over your current situation, make a back up plan if you do switch and it doesn’t work out, and then go from there.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My first job out of college could have been described similarly, but it was not a big company warehouse job. I restocked a small tech company’s product documentation after their move–everything from producing it on the photocopier & stocking the shelves to assembling ship kits. It was a very social environment, and for me a good reset after a very insular academic environment. There’s something very satisfying about receiving a list of concrete tasks and going home at the end of the day knowing you have done them all.

    5. J*

      I worked in a different kind of warehouse, basically one that had equipment out that needed to be programmed and then packages that needed to be stocked that went out with the equipment and all done at regular intervals. Sometimes things were broken and needed to be fixed, we needed to be experts at the equipment, sometimes it was very slow. The worst was the building had weather issues and it might leak/flood/be so hot I got dehydrated because the water area was far away. But most of the time I could wear headphones, work independently and feel like I always had tangible evidence of the work I completed. I kind of loved it but it was a short-term project so I would either have to find another location or only work seasonally and I couldn’t sustain that. I’m fantastic at a desk job but this one was lower stress than I expected. Knowing how the work comes down the pipeline, how its assigned, and what you can bring with you into a warehouse (like if no headphones, I would have hated it) all really help. And if you do decide to go for it, the most stressful part was actually on my body, so I ended up getting really good shoes and eventually carried a water bottle strapped to me.

    6. Chirpy*

      I’d take a full time warehouse job over two part-time jobs, most of the time. My one caveat would be if it was Amazon, they’re known to be terrible. But other places may not be so bad. One of my friends enjoys it because whatever other issues the job has, he doesn’t have to work with the public at all and he likes the schedule.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes, plus benefits. This sounds like a step up from 2 PT jobs.

        One caveat try to discern weight of what you’ll be moving/lifting and figure out if you believe your body can handle it. Books seem reasonably lightweight.

        I think part of the problem with Amazon is the speed they expect their employees to work / no time for breaks. I’d check glassdoor or try to get insight into that as well, but i don;t think warehouse is inherently bad.

    7. Hillary*

      Honestly, I miss my warehouse days (although I almost never picked orders). Time flies because you’re busy, you barely have to talk to anyone, and you can see what you accomplish each day.

      The places that give it a bad rap are the ones like amazon where metrics are pushed above everything else. If you’re worried about that ask about metrics and safety during your interview. It depends on large the company is, but if it’s a big one everyone should be wearing safety shoes. If there are forklifts there should be designated walking paths taped on the floors and everyone should be wearing high vis shirts/vests. Do the shipping stations have fatigue mats? If the facility has been fined for violations it usually shows up in google searches.

      All of that said, UPS is probably actually better. They do a lot to limit heavy packages in their network and they have more equipment for safety. In general big companies have to care about safety more because it’s a numbers game – the more people/transactions the more likely they are to have an accident, which means safety becomes more important.

      1. Hillary*

        Search OSHA Severe Injury Reports if you want to see data – for 2020 (last available) there were four warehouse employers over .2 reportable injuries per employee in a warehouse setting. Reportable means missed hours or saw a doctor.

        Amazon was the worst at 0.39 injuries per employee. Interestingly and unexpectedly to me, Walmart had 0.06 injuries per employee over the same time frame.

  15. Mrs. Hoover*

    I’ve been working with one of my staffers to improve his performance. It’s not going very well and I’ve had initial conversations with HR about next steps. I’ll be having a counseling session with him in the near future. But, during our regular meeting last week we were addressing a specific area of improvement. I mentioned that while I felt my direct report understood the directions I gave, that I wasn’t always sure that he understood why I was giving him the direction, even when I explain it to him. His response was interesting in that he said he listens to everything I say and thinks about how to improve all the time. But that’s not what my concern is and I told him as much. And when I provided him with an example, he skipped over the specifics and focused on validating why he did something the way he did – but the way he did it was unnecessary and if he listened to what I was telling him and tried to understand the reasons behind it, he would have understood why it was unnecessary.

    After I tried to clarify, he stared at me like I was kicking a dog, so I decided not to fight him on it since it’s part of the larger conversation we’ll be having. Still it does not make me hopeful for that conversation and I am dreading it.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      So . . . he doesn’t actually listen to everything you say?

      I don’t see how you can work with this guy. I mean, it sounds like you’re giving him a very fair chance to improve but it’s not sinking in.

    2. Kathenus*

      I think this current situation may give you the best example to address the core problem directly. You need him to listen to and follow directions, not try to justify why he did or wants to do it another way.

      And since you’re having a conversation, using direct and even blunt language about exactly what you need to see from him to succeed/stay in the job is actually the nicest thing you can do for him, kicked-dog face response from him or not. Maybe one way to frame it is that you need him to change his behavior and follow directions, period. Then add that you want to also offer him information on the reasons for it so he understands, but whether he understands/agrees with the reasons or not, that doesn’t change the fundamental issue that you need him to follow directions. Being crystal clear on it will be the fairest thing for him, and then you can see if he can follow your directions to, you know, follow your directions. Good luck!

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      Maybe some training on active listening would be helpful? Also, personally I am much better at understanding logic and reasoning when instructions are written down than I am when someone gives me oral instructions (especially when I can’t see their face, like over the phone). My boss likes oral instructions, so I usually take notes during meetings and email summaries to my boss afterwards to be sure I understand what’s been asked of me. Maybe you could ask him to do something similar?

      1. Mrs. Hoover*

        I hear that, I am much better with written instructions too… but, he has never expressed a preference and I have asked if he would prefer things in writing or verbally, he had no preference. I’ve tried giving directions (and the reasons why) in writing, verbally, both verbally and then in writing… nothing seems to stick. Recently, we went through creating a document that was supposed to help support him on a project. And not a complicated project either. It’s pretty standard and one he has experience with before. The document was solely for his benefit. And I made him manage putting it together rather than giving explicit A, B, C, directions – because I wanted him to understand everything that was in there and why. It took two weeks of us going back and forth and yet, one of the tasks in that document is what he said he didn’t understand.

    4. Mrs. Hoover*

      Thank you both! I did clarify in the meeting that I didn’t think he was ignoring the directions I gave him, but that I wasn’t seeing improvements reflected in his work moving forward, which indicates he doesn’t understand the reasons behind the directions and is just parroting back what he’s done in the past without considering why. At which point he told me that some of the processes I was asking him to work on were new for him, so he didn’t know what to do. But, that also wasn’t the issue. Because I’ve told him dozens of times that he should always be comfortable asking questions and at one point even directed him to ask one of our senior staffers or my boss if he wasn’t comfortable asking me. (He said he was comfortable) But, he didn’t tell me he didn’t understand the direction when we initially discussed it. And only said he didn’t understand it when I called him out on it. I told him that he should know and understand the directions for every project he works on and if he doesn’t he needs to ask me. And then… kicked dog.

      1. River Otter*

        You will be more successful if you learn to push past the kicked dog look. He gets to have emotions about what you’re telling him. That doesn’t mean you have to stop saying what you were saying if he needs to hear it. This is a “you having a reaction” problem, not a “him having an expression“ problem.

        1. Mrs. Hoover*

          I have pushed past the kicked dog look. The issue with the kicked dog look is that he also stops participating in the conversation. So it becomes unproductive. Some days I continue making my point and other days I just don’t have time or the ability to keep a one-sided conversation going.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      We have a saying where I work, “Some people listen. Most just wait to talk again.” Sounds like that’s what you’ve got here. When you meet with him, I think you need to ask him to explain back to you what you just told him. And follow-up with an e-mail.

      And then, unfortunately, let him go because it doesn’t look like he is going to improve. I’m sorry.

    6. Generic Name*

      I wonder if it would be simpler for you to evaluate his performance if you basically ignore what he says he will do or what he understands. Sure, have a big picture conversation with him, and let him make “yeah, I understand, I’ll do better” or whatever noises. Ignore what he says and watch what he does. Really, it doesn’t matter if he completely internalizes and understands your rationale and your way of thinking when you give him instructions. He just needs to follow instructions. If you say, “I need you to print this file, 3-hole punch it, and put it in a chartreuse binder by 5 PM on Friday” and if he does anything other than literally just that, then there’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if he thinks teal is the optimal binder color, or personally thinks you should comb-bind the document; you didn’t ask for his opinion on the process. You asked him to complete a task following a set of instructions.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      From what you have here a key point I see is what is he trying to improve?

      I’d bet my last chocolate donut that he is trying to improve the system, NOT his own work.

      It could be that you are just using to many words and he is latching on to random words. Be brief and to the point.

      “Here’s your work back to be redone. You did X and I asked for Y. Your work will not be accepted until it is done in Y manner that I asked for.”

      Some people can get locked into trying to improve things and not realize that improvements are not part of the job.

      If he starts in on “but my way is better”, remind him that is not what he was asked. He is now being asked to do his work again in the manner the company* needs him to do the work. Tell him failure to do so will result in (write up, PIP, dimissal, whatever). Ask him if he can do work as described. (*I like to use “company” and not refer to myself. If I said “the way *I* need you to do it” it became a personal thing – where they could argue with me. No. This is not up for debate. This is what the company wants all of us to do.)

      I think your dread levels will go down when you build a plan of what to do when he refuses to do his work correctly. Will you call HR or your boss, will you write him up for insubordination or will you put him on a PIP? Have a plan ready for when he refuses to do his job for the umpteenth time.

      One thing I learned to do was compare how long it took to onboard other people. If a person was taking much longer that other people, then I knew it was not me and it was okay to plan a time line of how much longer I would play this game.

      I had a person who did 6 gizmos a day. Other people were easily doing 300. “I’m working! I’m working!” No you are staring off into space. Finally I landed on, “Figure out what you are going to do to get your productivity up to around 300 per day. (Notice I asked this person to get into a range with what others were doing, not actually do 300.) I thought Daydreamer would break in two, trying to figure out how to even do 20 units per day. It was actually sad to watch the struggle (known drug habit). Daydreamer finally quit because of the “pressure”.

      Of the many mistakes I made in this story, came from a place of trying to help. One day I decided to point out that she was daydreaming and losing time. “NO I am NOT.” This is how I landed on going by results. Trying to get her to correct the problem the way I would — i.e. quit wasting time– only brought on more arguing. At the end of each day we looked at productivity levels together. I have no doubt this was Not Fun for her.

      Try to think about the fact that we cannot help people who do not want help. Just because I was their supervisor did not mean I had to save them from their own failings. Meanwhile it is unfair to the rest of the crew that this person be allowed to carry on in such a manner.

      1. Mrs. Hoover*

        Without getting too in-depth at risk of anyone from where I work reading this (*you never know!) He complicates every assignment he works on – either by thinking too little about what he needs or doing the exact opposite and including everything. There is no middle ground. But, you’re right – I probably do talk too much, because he’s clearly not processing the information well. We did onboard someone last year who has been great, but that’s only one person, so I’m not sure that’s enough of a sample size.

        But, we’re working on a project now that we’ve already had some issues with. So, I’ll try to implement a simpler directive and see if that helps the situation. Though, if I’m honest, I don’t think it will. It’s like asking someone to draw Spiderman. He’ll draw the spidersuit orange, because he couldn’t find a picture of Spiderman to confirm the color. He’ll draw him in pencil because no one told him it should be in color. He won’t add the spider lines because no one told him how to do those, or he’ll draw the cartoon on yellow construction paper because he couldn’t find drawing paper.

        And yet he will never ask someone for a picture of Spiderman or how to draw spider lines or where the drawing paper is. He either assumes he knows the answer or that I should have told him the answer. (Which is all to provide some validation for why I talk so much because I never know what I’m going to get if I don’t)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          A sample size of one is something you can work with. Take that person’s progress, pad it by maybe a month just to try to be fair. Then see where that puts you. For example. Sue was doing A, B and C by month 4. Bob is coming into month 6 shortly and he cannot do A nor B. He has only partially mastered C.

          In thinking about it this way, the comparison shows Bob lagging way behind Sue and that is after allowing Bob an extra month.

          You have an added wrinkle here with the fact that he does not ask questions. Tell him he MUST ask questions as that is part of the job. It’s a requirement.

          I have zero tolerance for anyone who requires me to read their mind. Just a pet peeve. So I’d have to hold myself back here and say “I expect an immediate change starting today that you ask more questions about the tasks you are doing.” I’d wait for him to say, “Well you should have told me!”. And then I would say, “I try to explain things well. If a person does not ask questions there is nothing I can do for that person. It’s a two way street. If a person refuses to ask questions then this will impact their ability to remain working here.”

          This is pure BS— very few people are able to retain any job without asking questions. You may even go as far as saying, “This is a basic skill that is required in most jobs.”

          I am kind of chuckling at my own setting. When my previous boss hired me, she instructed me as needed and then waited quietly to see what questions I came up with. I know from supervising you can tell how much an employee has dug into their work by the types of questions they ask. Well I must have rocked the questions because my boss’ confidence in my grew substantially. For my own part in this, I have never had a job where the questions never, ever stop. But now I have such a job. I felt kind of silly at first, but my boss said, “Your ability to keep doing this job is based on knowing when to ask questions.” And this is so true for our work. I got very comfy with asking questions.

          1. Mrs. Hoover*

            Our newer hire is doing great. I already trust them to handle things that I wouldn’t give my other staffer.

            But, he is aware that he should and can ask questions. I know this because I’ve told him excessively I needed him to ask questions. I told him if he wasn’t sure about something he should ask questions. I told him if he wasn’t comfortable asking me questions he could ask other team members or even my boss. He told me he was comfortable asking questions and he does ask questions, but … they’re not the right questions.

            Sticking with the Spiderman theme – He might ask who keeps the drawing supplies, but won’t think to ask about what supplies he should get. So he’ll come back with construction paper because the office manager (who is not associated with the project) told him it’s good paper. Or he’ll use yellow paint because he couldn’t find red. The thing is that he has drawn things before, so he should be able to navigate some of this with less confusion. The issue is that I think in previous jobs people handed him everything he needed and he would just draw. I need someone who knows what paper to use or what colors to use … or ask if they’re not sure.

          2. Mrs. Hoover*

            Also thank you for the friendly, advisable ear. I appreciate hearing your experience on the issue.

  16. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

    Stopping in to share: I GOT A NEW JOB! And also to share one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received:

    When negotiating salary, ask for as much as you can say without laughing.

    I used that as a guide when I applied for the new job. I practiced working my way up to the point I was asking for what would be a 25% raise from my current job. The new place didn’t even blink. I was in utter shock. I would’ve taken the job if it was flat pay from my current place (which, while not a hell mouth, might be a hell nostril).
    So now, all I have to do is finish the background check and (frustratingly) pass the pee test, and we’re on!

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Oh believe me. Part of me is waiting for the next all-call from Alison for “hell mouth experiences.”

    1. ArtK*

      When I got my very first job (we rode dinosaurs for our commute), I named a number and they said “yes” so fast that I knew I had blown it. Took me several years to catch up. Good for you for getting what you wanted!

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        You got me beat – I had one of those foot powered cars – bought it second hand off some guy named Flintstone. And thanks!

  17. Should I apply?*

    Yellow flag? I have a job offer for a role that sounds interesting and the compensation is great. I asked to talk to the hiring manager again after I got the offer, who was friendly but had difficulty clearly answering the questions that I asked. Which I thought were pretty standard questions, tell me more about the role, the team, your management style etc.. I didn’t get the sense that he was hiding anything, just that he hadn’t really thought about it. Or is just a poor communicator.

    This is a new role, so that might be contributing. How concerned should I be? Any suggestions on how get a better sense of the manager?

    1. KatRaven*

      I would be a little concerned. Is the hiring manager the same person that would be your manager? If not, that could be why they were unable to address management style, but also not being able to discuss the team, and especially the role, is concerning. The new role factor could make it more difficult to define, but I would hesitate to take a role that wasn’t defined yet since I would worry that it could end up becoming something completely different than what you wanted/expected, or something that continues to change or evolve for months, which could cause a lot of frustration. However, if you would be able to help define the role as the first person to fill it, that could be worth accepting.

      1. *daha**

        FWIW, Alison has defined hiring manager as the person who will be your direct manager if you are hired. It is apparently a standard term.

          1. pinot*

            … it is pretty universal? You hear people use it wrong but that is the most commonly used definition of it.

    2. Celebrator!*

      I’m guessing it being a new role contributes. I think other things to consider are 1- how performance is measured at this place and 2- how much appetite you personally have for forging a path vs doing a tried-and-true thing.

    3. ecnaseener*

      I agree, yellow. Even if he’s just a poor communicator, that’s going to be a pain. But probably one you could live with.

    4. anonymous73*

      If I’m right in assuming the new role you speak of is the hiring manager (and not your potential one), and this will be your direct manager, I’d be more than a little concerned. Yes there is a learning curve when moving into a management position, but those seem like pretty simple and standard questions that someone should be able to answer. And if new to the role, they could easily explain how they’ve started to handle management tasks and what they’ve observed so far. Friendly is good, but no amount of friendliness can make up for an incompetent manager.

    5. WellRed*

      I’m leaning in a different direction: I feel like these were questions to ask in the interview not at the job offer. Maybe he was caught unaware? Or am I misunderstanding the timeline?

    6. Be kind, rewind*

      I’d be very concerned about taking a position that’s anew role when the manager can’t articulate clear information about it. This could indicate they haven’t really thought it out well, and you’ll have unclear duties and expectations.

      And this should have been some of the first information you got during the interview, so that’s a second strike. Was the interview just people/the manager firing questions at you?

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This. Even when I’ve been hiring for a new position, I have thought out exactly what I want from the role. Of course that may change once someone actually starts doing the work, but he should have a good idea about what the expected role is and how performance will be measured. Otherwise, you should expect scope creep, changing goalposts and no way of measuring if you’re doing the job well because nobody knows what the job should be.

  18. Amber Rose*

    We’re trying to hire through a recruiter and I’m frustrated. She went after three people who already have jobs, who scheduled interviews and then withdrew because they… have jobs. That they like. She says nobody is applying but I call BS on that! I think she’s just being too picky. I learned this job with zero prior experience. We don’t need someone knowledgeable, we need someone with decent studying skills.

    My coworker finally hired someone using her services but it took three months and I am not going to burn out if it takes that long, I’m going to flame out. I’ll go out in a furious blaze and get myself blacklisted from the whole industry at this level of exhaustion and aggravation.

    Should I sneak a job ad up myself just to see what kind of hits we get?

      1. noahwynn*

        I don’t know about Amber Rose but I was forced to use an outside recruiter for the last role I was hiring for because our HR team didn’t have resources available to recruit.

    1. I was told there would be llamas*

      It probably depends on what your contract with her says…you might have to pay her fee even if you find a person…I don’t know…just throwing that out there. But a job I am looking at is currently listed by the company itself and 2 recruiters, lol…at least that I’ve seen so far…maybe there’s more!

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      It sounds like she doesn’t really understand what you’re looking for in a candidate. If you primarily want someone who can self-learn, maybe talk to her about adjusting her pool for more new grads, and non-traditional candidates?

    3. Sunflower*

      The second sentence is a bit confusing to me? As someone with a job, I wouldn’t reply to a recruiter’s message and then schedule an interview and then cancel because…I have a job? It’s pretty common to hunt folks who are already in positions vs unemployed though.

      Is it possible there’s some reason people are withdrawing or not interested after they speak to her and she isn’t telling you? It’s also possible maybe the ad is coming off wrong so I would look at that first.

      Not sure if this is within guidelines but can you just ask her to send you all the resumes that come in so you can basically do the recruiting yourself since you’re forced to use her?

    4. WellRed*

      Does the job pay well with benefits? Although if that’s the issue the recruiter should say so,

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      This could be a few things. Depending on this recruiter’s job load, while the position is your top priority, it may be the recruiter’s 8th or 9th priority which means the recruiter won’t be spending much (if any time) on your opening outside of posting a job ad.

      It’s also worth visiting how competitive your compensation is relative to the market.

      Honestly, a 90 day hiring timeline is fairly standard. Especially once your factor in a couple of interviews, any onboarding/background check/drug screening plus a candidate giving a 2 week notice with their employer.

    6. Little Miss Sunshine*

      Post the opening on every social media platform you use (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok) and see what happens. My company’s recreuiters are also slammed but many of us are actively recruiting via social media, alumni networks, and professional associations which has helped a lot.

  19. a small frog*

    i interviewed for a job last week (full-time, kind of a stretch for me, yay!) and i don’t know whether i’m just having nerves or what but i’m wondering if i should want it more. it’s adjacent to the kind of work i want to do and would have benefits, etc, but going into full-time work would be a BIG adjustment for me (thanks pandemic) and it would definitely mean a loss of much of my current free time that i’ve gotten used to. Sometimes I catch myself hoping for a rejection just to take away the burden of choice on my end. Also, I’d feel guilty leaving my current job, which is just 15 hrs a week as a library page but i like the work and my coworkers. Would I look bad after just being here a couple months, or is this the sort of job that people understand as more temporary than others? I’ve never had to make these sorts of decisions before, since i graduated right at the start of the pandemic and we all know what it’s been like since.

    1. OTGW*

      Do not feel guilty!!! You owe them nothing!! Pages are generally either a) students doing it for the money or b) an older person needing something to do. They also get paid crap money, and you need the benefits.

      I say this as someone who has felt bad about looking for FT at a circ job I like but a girl’s gotta eat lmao.

    2. Alice*

      Any part time job is temporary and people will expect you to leave for a full time job with benefits. Totally normal. I think your co-workers at the library will be thrilled for you.

      1. Loulou*

        Seconding this — whenever a page gets a FT library job everyone tends to be thrilled for them.

    3. The Smiling Pug*

      A small frog, I’ve been where you are now. I went back to a part-time job that I’d held throughout college in my hometown. I liked the work, but it just wasn’t feasible long-term. I found a full-time job, which is what I’m currently working at. The worry about staying only a few months is normal, but no one expects you to stay at this part-time gig forever. It’s ok to be nervous because it happens to everyone, especially when starting a new job during these crazy times.

    4. Metadata minion*

      Another librarian here saying don’t worry about it! Sure, we like to get someone for at least a year or so, but this is absolutely a high-turnover position and I guarantee people will understand you jumping on a full-time position unless you work with jerks.

  20. TotesMaGoats*

    Thanks for everyone’s advice on whether or not to tell my boss about my interview. I did not tell them. I had the interview this week. It was a long day with only 30 minutes for lunch…which they did not pay for. This was one red flag among several. In my field, it’s very normal to provide lunch for a candidate when you are there for the bulk of the day. The other red flags included some of the worst faculty vs staff animosity I’ve ever seen. And I thought I’d seen the worst. Plus it seems like existing conflict has not been dealt with at all. I’ve learned a lot of lessons about that kind of environment. I did send my thank you notes including the amin person who helped me a ton.

    Obviously, I shouldn’t assume they’d offer the job but any advice on how to turn it down if they do offer it? I still need to work with this unit. I can’t burn bridges.

    1. Alice*

      It’s like the meme of the toddler running around the corner, then running away again.
      Do you have to give them a reason, or could you just say “Thanks for the offer; I will not accept the position but I want to express my gratitude to everyone involved in the process” and fill out a paragraph with positive waffle about the process? With respect to the admin person it’s not even waffle, it would be sincere.

    2. Nea*

      “Thank you so much for considering me! Unfortunately, between the interview and now my circumstances have changed and I am unable to take your generous offer.”

      DO NOT justify/argue/defend/explain the circumstances that changed. Just emphasize “thank you” and “grateful,” and “no thank you.”

      1. Squid*

        I would take out “between the interview and now” and just leave it at either “my circumstances have changed, and” or just “I am unable to accept” and then be quiet.

    3. Muddlewitch*

      I can’taccept because [personal reason they can’t argue with] and IF you feel confident, point out the elephant in the room. They know it’s there, they might be surprised other people picked up on it.

    4. Sunny*

      Usually I just say “Thanks so much for the offer! This opportunity sounds very exciting and I loved learning more about the job in the interview process. After taking some time to think about it, I’ve realized that it’s best for me to stay in my current position. Again, thank you for your time and best of luck with the process!”

      Or something like that :)

    5. *daha**

      Why wait? If you know you wouldn’t accept, email or phone now to withdraw your candidacy for the job. “I recognize this would not be a successful match.” You’ll save them from checking references or wasting time in discussions, and give them the opportunity to pursue other candidates immediately.

  21. Bronze Medalist*

    A win for this week: paying attention to red flags during an interview.

    For context, I currently work for a very dysfunctional company. Admittedly, I did not do a good enough job vetting the role and company, and Ive been reflecting and trying to avoid it for my next role.

    I am interviewing with a few different companies right now. One company, Corp A, has been around for several years and quite large; however, this team is somewhat new (2 years). Red flags: “start-up mentality,” lots of turnover on the broader team, and “wearing many hats.” All of these flags were raised during my current job’s interview process and ignored them.

    I removed myself from the application process earlier today. Thank you to AAM and its readers for helping me to better see the red flags!

  22. marchy madness*

    An ex-colleague who works at a facility owned by a multi-national corporation had a job opening that he knew I would be perfect for and his management had me come in and interview. I didn’t tank it, but I didn’t excel either – call it a B-. I’m expecting a rejection letter, as the VP told my friend that I was great and the company needed to bring me on board, but not in this role.
    My problem is that during all this, their HR, in a word: sucked. I was dealing with their “Talent Acquisition Team” based in another city. They didn’t reply to emails. They confused the interview times. They don’t know anything about the industry and are very inexperienced in general. My biggest gripe was that, two days before my interview, I asked for a job description so I could prepare. I was referred to the website, where I found that all 8 company postings for management positions had the exact same job description, from low-level management to director level, and it was so generic it could be for any position from managing a Pizza Hut to oversight of constructing a fusion reactor. When I wrote back to ask for a detailed job description, I never got a reply.
    When I get my rejection letter, how can I reply to the cc’d VP that I probably would have performed better had I been provided a job description instead of going in blind? When they asked about my experience with X, I could have said I had no direct experience, but I know about Y & Z in relation to X, instead of just saying I have never done X. And also, how can I communicate to them that their hiring practices in general are awful and off-putting, all without sabotaging any future opportunities with the company?

    1. Gracely*

      I think you don’t reply directly, but you let your friend know all of the issues so they can communicate them to the right people. Any direct reply with all of that info/complaints is just going to sound like sour grapes for being rejected.

    2. Madeleine Matilda*

      Generally you wouldn’t necessarily provide that type of feedback. But since you were referred you could mention the issues to your ex-colleague. Also it isn’t that unusual to have HR not be experts in every job at a company.

    3. Squid*

      I am not sure that you can. If you want to stay in good standing, I would keep my mouth shut and just come up with some strategies for dealing with incompetent TA next time a role of interest comes up. Saying something like that in response to a rejection letter would likely come off as you seeming sour or like a “poor loser” because of said rejection.

    4. BRR*

      I’d just tell your ex-colleague. They’re in a much better position to give this type of feedback. Even thought you’re 100% right, the message won’t be received as effectively from the rejected candidate.

    5. Mrs. D*

      “Talent Acquisition Team” sounds like it could be a group that has no connection to HR. It could be a team within the company, or the recruiting services they hired. Unless they specifically said they were HR, I wouldn’t make that assumption. If they are, in fact, part of the company itself, well they are showing you very clearly who they are. They aren’t responding to your inquiries, they can’t keep the interview times straight, and they have no information on the position you’re hiring for. If it were me, I would turn them down even if they offered the job.

      I wouldn’t make a very big stink about this. You’re from outside the company, so your words would likely have no impact. The red flags say a lot about how they handle things. If you feel like you need to say something, I would say something like “Thank you for considering me for this position. I wish I had been able to learn a little more about the role during the interviewing process. Good luck with filling the job!” Anything more than that would make you look like an applicant who is responding negatively because of the rejection. It’s always better to be the bigger person and be as professionally courteous as possible, even if you didn’t get the same treatment.

      1. Peter*

        I’m in the UK, but our internal talent acquisition team has a reputation as being for those people who couldn’t cope with working on commission as external recruiters.
        I always assume that I need to get to the hiring manager before I’ll find someone who knows anything about the actual job.

    6. All Het Up About It*

      Agree with all above that I don’t think you can do what you want AND not burn that bridge. Also, I would strongly advise against using the language “I probably would have performed better had I been provided a job description instead of going in blind.” That comes off really hostile and sour grape feeling. And after all the person they did hire didn’t have the information either. They liked you. They were impressed by you. Don’t make them change their minds.

      But a much more casual conversation with your ex-colleague is a much better way to go here than reaching out to the VP who might or might not be cc’d on the rejection letter.

    7. PassThePeasPlease*

      You can provide the feedback but sadly if the company is that bad (or even kinda bad) they are unlikely to care/change anything.

    8. marchy madness*

      Thanks for all the feedback. I will take the advice to heart and take the high road. My OP was getting long, but I maybe should have mentioned that interviewed for a lower level position at the same company last year – they loved me and made an offer, but I had to decline, as we couldn’t make the money right. Anyway, thanks and have a great weekend.

  23. Khs245*

    How many questions should one plan to ask during a first interview? A second (if the second is usually the final)?
    I know the thought is to ask what you need to know, but it does seem like there is a sweet spot that isn’t too few questions and doesn’t prolong the interview another half hour with too many.
    3? 5?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I try to have 3-5 questions ready, but often some of them get answered during the course of the interview. Also keep in mind that first interviews are often (not always) HR screeners, and they don’t know as much about the actual job in many cases. So those questions should be geared more toward the company in general.

    2. irene adler*

      Quality over quantity.
      Have ready 6-10 questions in case they answer some of your questions during the course of the interview. That way you are not caught short with nothing to ask.

    3. Esmeralda*

      I have a LOT of questions prepared. But I rank them, and I note which ones are better to ask at a screening interview, the search comm interview, the meeting the team/s interview, the meeting the hiring manager interview.

      If the encounter gets prolonged? Well, if I need those questions answered, I will ask them. Obviously not a couple dozen questions. But it’s an inter-view. They need to be willing to answer my questions.

      Pet peeve: interviewers who leave little time for me to ask my questions. Well, that’s a piece of info too.

    4. ferrina*

      3-5 is usually a good amount, but it’s so situational. Ideally the interview will feel like a conversation and you’ll find yourself asking questions as part of that- if you get to the end and have asked all your questions, it’s fine to say “We’ve actually talked about everything I had questions on. Thank you!” If you haven’t had a chance to ask questions, pick your top 3 to ask (with a couple follow ups if needed). You definitely want to keep an eye on time and the interviewer’s demeanor- often I can only spend 5 minutes after the allotted interview time to ask questions.

    5. MacGillicuddy*

      This reply is a combination of what questions to ask, and red flags.

      If I’m interviewing with multiple people (one at a time, not panel interviews) I usually ask the same question to see how the answers differ. Sometimes I also ask the hiring manager the same question.

      At one interview, after I’d talked with 4 coworker types, I met with the boss & asked “for project assignments, how much collaboration vs independent work is done? And how does information transfer happen?”
      The boss in an annoyed (and somewhat snotty) voice replied “Well! I would have expected you to ask that of the people you just met with.”

      My BS meter started clanging in the red zone, so I said very sweetly “Of course I asked them, but I’ve found it’s always informative to get multiple people’s take on the same question.”

      As soon as I got home I sent my “Thank you, but I’ve decided not to go forward with the position. Good luck in your search” email.

  24. Laney Boggs*

    Okay, I’m a young woman job searching. I’m naturally pretty quiet and a listener (with new people, ha ha) and I’m sure I can come off as “meek.”

    But yesterday is the second time I’ve been interviewed by a man and hes just steamrolled the hell out of me? Anyone else have this experience?

    A woman began the interview, then invited a gentleman on. While we waited for him, she asked me a couple questions about my experience and interest in this position.

    He logs on and A) insults my experience B) talks to the lady like I’m not there (“Send her this, I want her to know what she’s getting into, she she she”) C) says I may not be a good fit since I don’t have a science background (the posting literally said “English degree. Science background not required. We want you for editing”). I have no idea what this position is about, no idea who either of them is (did I speak with HR & the CEO? direct managers? A recruiter and manager?), no idea about the culture.

    The whole thing was a disaster. My last phone interview with a man seemed to go about the same (“you don’t have the experience we’re looking for so I don’t know if this would work out” ok… why did you call me then?) And I actually cried after that one. Is this just me? Am I having a run of bad luck? It never seems to go this bad with female interviewers.

    1. Should I apply?*

      I totally get why you are upset, if someone insulted my experience I would also be mad /sad. It sounds like you have just been unlucky with a couple jerk interviewers. I have been interviewed by plenty of men (I am a women) and have never had an experience like this. I guess the silver lining is that they showed their behavior during the interview and not after you accepted the job.

    2. MsM*

      This guy sounds like a special brand of terrible, and I think in some respects you’re lucky to have gotten the warning about what working with him would be like, instead of getting lulled into a false sense of security by his colleague.

      1. Laney Boggs*

        Yeah, absolutely. The interview scheduling was a bit weird so I was already on guard, but this sealed it

    3. Laney Boggs*

      To the “you don’t have a science background” point, I don’t know that they wrote/read their own listing tbf.

      I also asked about where it said “Primarily M-F but since it’s deadline driven, weekends as required” and they were both like oh no no no nobody ever needs to stay on weekends! Like… okay…

    4. irene adler*

      It’s on them- not you.

      At least you are finding out what these men are like BEFORE you take the job and not afterwards. If a company is okay with overbearing approaches to women, then I’d say you dodged a bullet. Especially if the woman just obeyed this guy’s instructions and did nothing to cut him off.

      And yeah, I’ve had some difficult interviews with male hiring managers. After the “tell me about yourself” question, one man went off on a tangent. He spent several minutes denigrating Millennials (let me spare you the details). Nothing about the position, what he was looking for, etc. I said nothing about being a Millennial (or any other generation) so I don’t know why he felt this was germane.
      Then he ended the interview.

      Never heard from him again.

      There are other jobs out there. Life is too short to think I missed out on a good opportunity.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I am a man and have had A and C quite a few times. Yes it’s a mystery why people do it. In fact that is the reason for my user name and why I sought out AAM. I had a prospect that started off great and went to crap as it progressed with a little bit of A and C.

      B sticks out to me as problematic, though there is the chance that he could’ve been training someone how to hire, in which case he should have said all of these things before. So B is problematic either way. Even if it’s not sexism (and I am not making a judgment call on that and nor do I want to), it’s horrible for to be discussing this stuff in front of a candidate.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I wanted to add that as someone who is middle aged, these are the type of situations you learn how to handle better as you get older. So don’t beat yourself up or be depressed, it is a learning experience. Now next time it happens you will probably find yourself pushing back with so much less thought. This applies to job hunting but life situations in general. Now that you’ve experienced this, you’re going to find the “hello I am here” or “can I asked what interested you about my resume if it clearly isn’t what you are looking for” comments flying out of your mouth.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Agreed! I can be very quiet around new people, & it was worse when I was younger. You learn to deal. (It helps to have some female role models to channel in these situations.) But it’s not you, it’s them.

        2. DinosaurWrangler*

          Work on your body language. Sit up straight, look ‘em in the eye, and think to yourself “I see your bullshit, you aren’t fooling me!”
          You’d be surprised how this works.

          It’s sort of the teacher affect, where students somehow know you’re not to be messed with.

          And it’s also useful to develop an opinion toward people like that as “you’re an arrogant sexist SOB”. If they go on at length, a well-placed “Excuse me but I need to interrupt you for a moment. Am I interviewing for the job I think I am? You appear to be talking about requirements that are very different from the job description.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            This +1000! And I’d like to add to everyone else saying “THIS IS NOT YOU” You dodged a bullet, they showed you (or at least he did) who they are. Nuff said

            Interestingly, I just was interviewing an external accounting firm (to work for my company) and one of the partners did almost the exact same thing. It was breathtakingly awful but super funny at the same time. Obviously we’re going with someone else. These kind of folks can’t get out of their own way!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My guess would be you are an average person having an average life, this should not mean you come off as meek.

      I think that the people in the interview come off as AHs.

      You are not without recourse here.
      Next time you hit something like this you can:
      — refuse a second interview
      –if you get stuck in a second interview with the same misery as the first, you can say, “I am withdrawing my application, thank you for your time.
      –if you get stuck in a first interview like this one here, you can say “I am withdrawing my application, thank you for your time.”

      You don’t have to explain to them that people think job ads are accurate and that is why they chose to apply. They should know that by now.
      You don’t have to explain why you are withdrawing. You can simply say, “It’s not a good fit for me” or “this is not what I understood the job to be”. If they say, “but-but-but” you can simply repeat, “I am withdrawing my application, thank you for your time.”

      One thing to hang on to, when you interview people are on their best behavior. If this was the best these two can do then this workplace is h3ll on earth. Get a large dish of ice cream, big bowl of popcorn or whatever and congratulate yourself for not accepting this crap in your life.

      It’s okay to refuse to accept behaviors that are unacceptable.

    7. Stoppin' by to chat*

      It sounds like the issue is with the interviewers and you’re taking it personally, when it’s really about them. I would take some time to really dig into your value (even therapy if possible), and come up with some mantras. Like it’s them, not me, etc. It’s okay to speak up and clarify anything you’re not getting from an interview. It’s okay to decide an interview didn’t go well since the interviewers were not prepared (I wouldn’t want to work with the guy you described that talked about you as if you weren’t there…that’s obnoxious!) You are a person deserving of respect, and it’s okay to acknowledge that your gut instincts are okay and not a reflection of your “meekness”

  25. Nusuth*

    Need to vent/ask advice about an (admittedly tiny) thing that is annoying me at work – we have an intern who is generally great but keeps referring to me (an entry level but key employee on a pretty flat team) as his peer. Specifically, I am the primary editor on our most common product, with our supervisor being the final okay – but I have authority to assign rewrites, make changes, etc. After my edit, he always sends it to my boss and says “LW has peer-reviewed.” I’m not his peer!! I don’t think it’s genuine confusion or malice – he’s in grad school so I think it’s academic language seeping in. Ultimately it’s a small detail, but I think my anxieties about my position in the workplace (I’m the only woman besides our boss, and younger than everyone except for this intern, who is my age) so it is genuinely irksome that it doesn’t occur to him that this is minimizing my position. I shouldn’t say something, right?? I’m pretty sure it would come across as a weirdly inconsequential power trip but….ugh. There’s also been situations where he’s clearly seen my edits as suggestions, rather than required changes, which I’ve clarified. I’m also waiting for my review to bring up with my boss a lot of ways that my role/authority need to be formalized with a promotion for clarity, so my logical brain is thinking I should just bookmark this as an annoying example of the chain of command on these projects being unclear. But this is annoying, right???

    1. yala*

      Does he refer to you as a peer outside of that context? If not, it might be easier just to ask him not to refer to an item you’ve checked over as “peer-reviewed” because that term means something specific and it’s not what you have done in this case.

      Just as saying “LW has spellchecked” this wouldn’t be appropriate. It’s a different thing.

      1. Nusuth*

        He doesn’t, and I agree that it would be easy for him to just use a different term, but I worry that asking at all would be weirdly power-trippy when in reality, everyone on the email chain knows that I’m his editor and above the chain of command. There’s no official term for our editing process, or one that everyone uses, so I can’t be like “just so you know, it’s called “X” not peer reviewing.” I just worry that whatever script I come up with to say something would come off as micromanaging/hoarding authority when in reality, probably no one else on the email chain is reading into it.

        1. Gracely*

          Tell him to just say “reviewed” because “peer-review” is a specific thing with a specific context that doesn’t apply here.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep. Treat it as using correct terminology. Refuse to personalize it. “Intern, the correct term to use is “review”. A ‘peer-review’ means something else in our setting and is an incorrect use of that term here in this workplace.”

            The sooner you say something the easier it will be. If this type of thing goes on and on it can get to be a big deal inside our own heads and it does not need to be a big deal. This is an intern, they are there for instruction, so just instruct.

          2. Cj*

            I’m in an industry that actually has peer reviews, and the waythe intern is using it is not what it means.

        2. Observer*

          Gracely is correct – he’s using the term incorrectly, and he should know better. I don’t know what his future plans are, but it some places this would make him look pretty bad because even if you were his peer in the workplace, what you are doing is NOT “peer review” as it’s formally used. ESPECIALLY not how it’s used in academic circles.

          The issue where he thinks that your edits are suggestions that he is free to disregard is different. And also something you can bring up, but I think it’s a separate issue.

          1. Loulou*

            He’s not necessarily using the term incorrectly– I’m sure plenty of workplaces, schools, etc. use it informally to mean something other than the process academic journal articles go through. The question is if this is how the term is used at OP’s workplace or not.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Sounds like it’s simply not used at all! Nysuth, feel free to let the intern know this term is just not used at your company.

            2. Mockingjay*

              We refer to it as technical or peer review – when someone in the same role (junior or senior doesn’t matter) reviews and critiques. If you don’t agree with suggestions or edits, you have to justify why you don’t want to change it, but most review comments are expected to be incorporated, whether technical or editorial.

            3. Kay*

              I worked across a number of industry and I’ve only seen “peer reviewed” in, well, actual peer reviewed situations where the definition applies!

              The word is reviewed as Gracely noted.

              1. Loulou*

                Okay, but nevertheless, there are indeed workplaces that use “peer reviewed” in the sense OP’s intern does. Correctness is sort of beside the point — if people in this workplace use the term this way, OP does not have standing to object on the grounds that they’re not technically peers, but if they don’t, OP can offer a polite correction.

        3. This Old House*

          It doesn’t need a specific other term. Couldn’t you just say, “what I do is editing. Peer review is a very specific process that we’re not involved in”? He’s an intern, he’s supposed to be learning, and it would be a kindness not to let him keep misusing the term. Don’t make it about your role in relation to him, just an informational heads up that this editing is not the same as the peer review process for publishing.

        4. Loulou*

          I think your instincts here are correct! I would not say anything about it UNLESS the phrase “peer review” sounds off on general in your workplace. Then you can let him know that, specifically, but the focus there would not be on how you’re not peers.

        5. Student*

          If it helps for the ego side – in academia, peer-review isn’t done by your work peers. So the term doesn’t mean what you are taking from it even in its natural academic environment. Nobody lets grad students do a peer review; all of their work must be peer-reviewed by somebody in the field who is more experienced. The bar isn’t super high, but it’s above this intern and he probably knows that.

          My recommendation is to second the commenter who said to tell the intern whatever the correct term is in your org. Just a matter-of-fact lexicon correction, don’t get into the power dynamics part you’re worried about unless he calls you a “peer” in other contexts than this.

      2. Reba*

        Yeah, I agree that “peer review” is probably not that significant. It’s classroom lingo, like he just thinks that’s what it’s called when someone reads over your work before you hand it in.

        That being said, if the editing/accepting changes is an ongoing issue, you should talk about that! You could mention it in that context, as it’s related to something he needs to understand about how work products aren’t your authored work in the same way a school paper is, where you can take suggestions but it’s ultimately your call what gets submitted.

        “This is such a small thing, but you often say I ‘peer-review’ your work, and I wonder if that is related to the confusion we talked about regarding required changes that I ask for and how reviews/approvals work.” OTOH if he has improved on this I might let it go due to risk of seeming overly focused on status. IDK.

        Alternatively ITA with Yala that it’s in-bounds to mention that it is school lingo that most people (I think?) don’t use in the work context.

        1. Nusuth*

          I’ve read everyone’s replies (thank you!!), and the gist – that it’s not necessarily wrong for every workplace, but it is for ours, so I should mention it but without making it a thing – makes total sense. Thanks for the sanity check! In addition, your point about the difference between academic work and professional work here makes so much sense and really clarified the problem I’m having with him and another coworker (who is a recent grad school grad at my level who ALSO sometimes ignores my edits). Still a problem – but a useful lens to see how they’re seeing it. Thanks!!

    2. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      I think it would be a favor to him as an intern learning about professional life to point out that “peer-reviewed” has a specific academic meaning and doesn’t apply in this case, but definitely leave out the part about it minimizing your position, because that’s a reach and will just make you look less authoritative – I definitely wouldn’t bring it up to your boss. The part about seeing your edits as suggestions is more important, and is worth a clarifying conversation with him and your boss.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      If he’s in grad school, I think your intuition that he might be using “peer review” in the academic sense is correct. With academic papers, your “peer reviewers” may be higher in the hierarchy than you are (i.e., full professors providing reviews for graduate students’ work), so it might not come across as weird to him. To be fair, I think this is a little bizarre (I would never refer to anything other than the review process on academic papers as ‘peer review’ rather than ‘Nusuth edited/provided feedback/etc.’), but I can see where it comes from.

      But like yala said, it’s totally fine to just ask that he use a different term to refer to this process.

    4. Esmeralda*

      Peer-reviewed does not mean you’re a peer, I don’t think that’s what the intern is saying and it’s not something to worry about.

      I’ve had work peer-reviewed by people several layers up. No one thinks we are peers.

      I’d just advise him in a friendly way that “peer review” comes off a little weird in your office/your industry as it’s a term from academia and they should say something like “Nusuth has edited it” or “Nusuth looked it over” . This way you are getting them to stop it AND you’re doing it in a “I’m sharing my experience as a professional with you” kind of way.

      1. Loulou*

        Yes to all this. If you don’t use the term in your workplace, let him know. If you do use it and your issue is the word “peer,” then you NEED to let it go. Appearing to care too much about things like this will actually make you seem younger and less experienced.

      2. Nusuth*

        Thanks – this makes sense and is what I’m gonna do next time he uses the term. Thank you!

    5. Baeolophus bicolor*

      Given that he’s an intern, you’re entry level, y’all are roughly the same age, and he is in grad school, I think he is using “peer-review” because that is the academic term for having someone who is roughly your position review your work- but I don’t think that’s actually the right term! Your edits aren’t suggestions and you have rewrite assigning power. You are relatively a professor, not a peer. I think it’s worth taking him aside/sending him a Slack or whatever y’all use the next time he refers to it as a peer review to say something along the lines of “Hey, you’ve referred to my reviews as peer reviews a few times now. That’s not actually accurate. [optional explanatory sentence about how your duties mean you have final say.] please refer to it as “reviewed” going forward.”

      1. Parakeet*

        Professors peer review the work of grad students all the time. Grad students, being junior researchers, are mostly not experienced enough to be reviewers. It does not mean “something grad students do for grad students and professors do for professors,” it’s a process that research professionals, which both professors and grad students are, undergo as part of their professional work. And it isn’t about suggestions – if the peer reviewers don’t like your work and you don’t make most of the rewrites they want, you don’t get published in that journal.

        The intern isn’t using the term properly and should be given a heads up, but the status objection to it is entirely out of place.

      2. I.*

        Peer review among actual peers is what you do in high school, not academia. Peer review among academics is experts reviewing the work of slightly less experts, all the way down the chain.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think you might care too much about status. I know, sounds harsh, let me explain.

      You technically aren’t not peers. You don’t manage them. They are entry level and you are pretty close to it.

      This situation where people misgauge your status level comes up throughout your career. Some person will have a Director title but then you realize they are actually pretty green and have no reports. Someone else may be a senior level individual contributor but have much more clout than the director.

      What I found after mentally torturing myself over the years about this stuff is that this is one of the areas where focusing on yourself is really really important.

      You’re in a no win situation. Either you feel devalued, or look petty discussing this. Seriously – no one older in senior level roles cares about the difference between you two, but pointing it out makes you look insecure. If you really want to differentiate yourself from interns, do it naturally. Become such a good individual contributor that no one in their right mind would ever lump you in the same pool. And if they do, laughing it up actually tends to make you look higher status. It’s a counterintuitive but I’ve been there before. If someone gets their feathers ruffled at this, it gives it credence. If you laugh it off it makes others question why they’d even entertain the idea

    7. Haha Lala*

      Ugh, I feel for you! A lot of women (myself included!) have had to fight tooth and nail for every bit of experience and seniority, so we’re rightly offended and defensive when we get ‘demoted’ but a less experience man, even if it’s unintentional. You have every right to be annoyed with the intern calling you a peer.

      But, like others have said, it’s a no win situation. If you tell the intern to use different language or mention it to your supervisor, you might look too concerned with the semantics, and make it harder for them to take you seriously. Also,most people in your office likely don’t notice what he’s saying, and if they do it’s weird it reflect poorly on the intern, not you. Unless you make a big deal of it…

      I think your best option would be to talk with your boss and clarify what sort of authority/supervision you have over the intern. You don’t talk about being called a peer, but if you’re clear on your role and the intern’s role, you won’t need to be as self conscious with being call his peer.

      And if you want, when he says you “peer-reviewed” something, you can nod and respond with “yes, I reviewed it.” Subtle works in your favor here.

      1. Parakeet*

        The phrase “peer reviewed” isn’t a demotion, just an incorrect use of jargon between fields. Senior scholars peer review grad students’ papers all the time. Trying to make this into a gendered slight is silly and would be obviously such to anyone who knows what the peer review process is. And honestly, I (not a man) would not catch on to your wording suggestion, if I were in the intern’s place, since “review” is common shorthand for “peer review” in academic research.

        OP, just tell the intern that “peer review” isn’t the term in this context and to say “edited” instead, and leave the meaning that your status anxiety is causing you to project onto the terminology, out of it.

    8. Koala dreams*

      It would be silly to complain that he uses “peer-reviewed” wrong because of the hierarchy, as the phrase “peer-reviewed” doesn’t imply anything about workplace hierarchy. However, it would be nice to tell him the correct phrase in your industry (edit?), and point out that peer-review is a different thing. Part of being an intern is to learn the norms of the workplace, including the professional jargon. And part of your job as an employee working with an intern is to help out. It would only take you a little effort but could mean a lot to the intern.

      I’m not sure what the chain of command being unclear even means in this context. Usually any employee can offer small corrections and useful tips like this to interns.

    9. anonymous73*

      Just because you have different roles and you have more responsibilities doesn’t mean you aren’t peers. I would call a team mate a peer regardless of their job role. You’re not a manager, it’s not a personal attack and you don’t mention that it’s said in a condescending manner. You need to let it go.

  26. Watry*

    Mostly just getting this off my chest:

    Just got out of an interview for a promotion. I think my coworker might actually be favored, but it’s hard to tell since I’m on the autism spectrum. If I don’t get it, I’m gone, though I’ll take the opportunity to be picky. $15 an hour is not worth this.

    Honestly, social difficulties are miserable, and I cannot find a job that doesn’t require you go into management to advance.

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Flat structures in the levels below management seem to be much favored these days, whether because there are cost savings in having fewer clear cut Assistant Job Title/Associate Job Title/Senior Job Title” or as a reaction to overly hierarchical workplaces or a combo of both. It’s SO frustrating that corporate types don’t seem to realize how demoralizing it can be to high performers to be spinning their wheels for years at a time because there isn’t a logical intermediate step for them, or a way to grow professionally without taking on managerial responsibilities.

      In order to advance I had to leave my previous job, though in the end it was for a management role and I know that’s not what Watry wants. I would have stayed for less than what I gained by leaving. I would have preferred to have some time to get used to more responsibility without taking on direct reports at the same time. very annoying.

      Commiserations Watry! hope you find something externally that’s a good fit if this doesn’t work out.

    2. irene adler*

      I have found that large companies (biotech industry) offer advancement avenues via non-supervisory roles for those who wish to advance but not manage.

      1. Watry*

        Yeah, I’ve noticed that it’s mostly tech companies. There aren’t that many where I am, and I don’t have the qualifications anyway.

      2. Clisby*

        I retired about 6 years ago, but that was definitely the case in my company. There was a whole promotional path for people who wanted to be SMEs. They sometimes ended up as team leads, but didn’t have to go into management if they didn’t want to.

  27. Ann O*

    My employee suffers from anxiety and IBS, both of which are acerbated by stress. This results in frequent unplanned absences and extra WFH days. Normally this isn’t a huge deal; our small team can juggle schedules to cover Pat’s customer appointments. But when we have big projects and events, Pat gets stressed and can’t work. I can’t count on him when I need him the most. I want to give him all the flexibility he needs, but it’s hurting the rest of the team and our ability to serve our customers. I’ve already requested temp help or extra resources but was rejected. I’m a new manager here, and would love advice on how to navigate this.

    1. Squid*

      Are working on those projects/events a significant and critical part of the role? If so, Pat may need to transition to another role.

    2. Madeleine Matilda*

      You are offering Pat reasonable accommodations for his anxiety and IBS. Reasonable accommodations have to be things which allow Pat to do his job. So if he can do some things on WFH and with flexibility for sick days that is great. But if meeting with customers or working at events are essential parts of the job and leaving you shorthanded, then the accommodations are not working.

      Determining accommodations is an interactive process between you and Pat with HR support. You might want to talk with your HR first, but a conversation with Pat is likely necessary to determine if there are other things that can be done to meet his needs so he can do his job. If Pat can’t do the primary work of this job even with accommodations, can you shift around duties between your team members or are there other positions at your workplace for Pat that might be better suited, less stressful, more flexible with WFH, require less in-person customer and event interaction?

    3. Joielle*

      My spouse dealt with something like this, but as the employee with a chronic illness exacerbated by stress. I don’t have a lot of concrete advice – he ultimately left the job that was impacting his health and found something that suits him much better (and pays 30% more, so win-win). But I will say that in his case, his boss’ reaction to the situation made it all a lot worse than it had to be. She didn’t seem to believe that his medical absences were legitimate (or maybe thought that he should have just “toughed it out” more, which was not possible), so she spent a lot of time micromanaging him when he was working. So then, not only was he doing his stressful job, he was also spending hours each week meeting with his boss who was being kind of a jerk about the whole thing, which made it harder to keep up with his work, which stressed him out more, which made him sicker…. and it really spiraled out of control.

      So I guess my advice is to not let your own reaction to the situation be a thing that adds to his stress. And if there’s any opportunity to have Pat transfer to a different position that’s better suited for him, that would probably be the best long-term solution.

    4. anonymous73*

      You’ve been more than accommodating, and now it’s Pat’s job to figure out a way to better deal with their stress and anxiety. Whether that’s therapy or medication or anything in between, that’s not on you to determine. If it’s affecting their ability to do their job on a regular basis, something needs to change.

      1. A Wall*

        That’s not really how it works. Being chronically ill, especially illness triggered by stress, is not something you can just fix right up by putting in effort and seeing a doctor. Folks with chronic flaring illnesses like this spend a huge portion of their entire life trying and trying and trying to feel better and function better because they want their lives to be better, but it is a constant uphill battle and most people are not winning it most of the time. “Now it’s Pat’s job” implies that Pat is only having symptoms because he is not doing what he’s supposed to do, which is BS.

        You can talk about whether this job is a good fit for Pat, but it is absolutely not reasonable to say that someone who is symptomatically ill is only that way because they have not tried hard enough to be well.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      The job sounds like a bad fit for Pat. A reasonable accomidation is not simply being unable to work on big projects and events (when part of the role) because of stress.

      I don’t find my job stressful or anxiety inducing enough that it impacts my physical health; and people wouldn’t describe my role as stress free. I don’t know if Pat’s job is inherently stressful which makes it a bad fit for someone who physically can’t work when stressed or if he’s just extra anxious, but there may not be a reasonable accomidation for him there.

  28. Celebrator!*

    What’s the best way to celebrate a member of your team (a direct report) shipping a big project? (Obviously, raise or bonus and that will happen, but I’m thinking more immediate.) Flowers, food, booze, etc? Curious what people think :)

    1. Alice*

      I love that there are some fields where a raise or bonus is obvious and expected :)
      Since it’s an individual whom you want to celebrate, I think that tailoring the reward to the individual would be great. I don’t know how much you know about their preferences but such tailoring would 1 be really thoughtful and 2 avoid problems like giving booze to an observant Mormon, etc.

    2. OTGW*

      If time off is not an option lol then food is usually pretty great. I’d love getting life a restaurant gift card or a dozen donuts just for me.

      1. Celebrator!*

        we have unlimited PTO (and mean it—the report is launching her thing next week but has been out all this week :) )

        1. Anonymous Koala*

          Just saw this – in that case public recognition is pretty great, as is putting her in for a bonus. Personally I’m not in favour of food, because it’s so hard to know what people’s individual needs/expectations around meals are, but an Amazon gift card is basically cash.

          1. David*

            Or, a gift card to someplace where the employee will be able to get something useful and feel happy about it. Amazon is a good bet for most people, but there are some of us out there who have issues (ethical and/or otherwise) with Amazon and have the means and motivation to shop anywhere else if at all possible. Like, if someone gave me an Amazon gift card, I’d certainly appreciate the fact that the gifter was trying to do something nice, but privately I’d be thinking to myself “gee, thanks for donating to one of America’s scummiest corporations on my behalf /s”, so it wouldn’t exactly have the desired effect.

            Anyway, my point here is not really to bash Amazon, it’s that gift cards are not always basically equivalent to cash even if you can use them to buy basically anything. So when you’re giving a gift card, it helps if you have some idea of what the recipient would likely appreciate.

    3. Not Today, Friends*

      Speaking for myself: public recognition (taking into consideration their level of shyness or whatever), good booze, and a generous gift card. This is exactly what I got in recognition of a beast I shipped recently, and it helped balance out a general feeling of being underappreciated. I worked my butt off, and it mattered that it was acknowledged and thanked.

      But I am also easily bought, so there’s that.

      1. Not Today, Friends*

        This sounds like they thanked my butt, and I’ll be over here giggling for the rest of the day.

      2. Celebrator!*

        a good combo! she does drink so perhaps some combination of that with a gift card. she will def get recognized, both within our team and the company at large (we’re very conscientious about shoutouts here)

    4. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      An all-staff (or all-department if your org is big) email specifically calling out that person and pointing out what a great job they did. I wish anyone would do this for me :(

    5. irene adler*

      Public recognition? Maybe a department (or company as well?) “shout-out” to recognize Vern who achieved [goal] within [timeline] thus meeting company objective [x]. Include how much the efforts were appreciated. Talking a memo or however your company communicates.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Do you have a way to recognize her internally? I recently nominated my team for a recognition award that they won, so I have a big stack of certificates I have to send out to them (I’m including everybody’s favorite candy bar in theirs as well), but the award will also be mentioned in our division newsletter and will be attached to their employee records.

    7. Anonymous Koala*

      My office allows supervisors to give their direct reports a few hours of admin leave (basically free leave that doesn’t deduct from annual or sick buckets) at their discretion. Could you give your DR an afternoon off or something to show your appreciation?

      1. Celebrator!*

        We have unlimited PTO and flex work hours (this DR has actually been on vacation all this week) so saying “take the afternoon off” is highly, idk, superficial since people generally do that whenever they want or need

    8. anonymous73*

      Personally I’m not one that needs praise and I hate being the center of attention. Outside of a raise or bonus, I think a sincere thank you is all that’s needed. Maybe recognition in a team meeting? I don’t think gifts are necessary.

    9. Sun in an Empty Room*

      I work in a federal office so we’re super limited in how we can celebrate things and give recognition. I’ve enjoyed brining a bottle of sparkling juice (again federal, no alcohol) and doing a quick toast with all involved specifically mentioning the contributions of key people. Small office so we’re all involved in big projects in some way but it feels really nice to publicly acknowledge. I certainly don’t overdo this but we’ve done it about once or twice a year for really big projects.

    10. Madeleine Matilda*

      One thing Alison has recommended before is a hand written note of recognition. Flowers, food, booze are all things that will be gone relatively quickly. A handwritten note from you to your direct report with one of those things will give your report something to save if they want to.

    11. Margaretmary*

      I’d be careful about booze unless you know for a fact the person drinks. I don’t and while I’ve no problems with it, it just means the gift is a waste. And if the person had a specific reason for not drinking – alcoholism (either their own or in the family), religious reasons, etc – it might not go down welll.

      Love the idea of a handwritten note. Or a card. I personally keep most cards I get, especially if they have a personal note in them. I also like the idea of a personalised gift. It’s not the same thing, but when I had an operation, my department gave me a voucher for a bookshop, knowing I love to read. A gift card for something you know they like or their favourite chocolates or something would really indicate this is specially for them and not just a generic gift given to anybody who does well on a project (and given you are asking for advice, it’s pretty clear that is the case).

  29. yala*

    So, for some good news, about a year ago, I was given a letter that was a precursor to termination. From the response letter I wrote, HR felt that it was appropriate to try some new accommodations before proceeding with the termination. I had a check-in meeting with HR recently, and was told that I have “made a complete 180” regarding the quality of my work and meeting expectations.

    Seriously, the accommodations put in place are so minimal, but they have made such a HUGE difference (also I guess that new medication is working better than I thought it was), not just because they help directly, but also because I’m less stressed about being dinged for being a little late, taking a few minutes away from a project to look at my cellphone, etc. Which, in turn, makes it so much easier for me to focus on the details in the work I do.

    I’m a little anxious about some of the more personal-interaction stuff. I still really do prefer email for questions, because being able to write things down helps me to organize my thoughts without getting *too* nervous, and creates something concrete to look at for both parties. But I’m going to try to adapt to fit my boss’s working style a bit better.

    One thing that was kind of annoying about the meeting was they addressed my previous claims about being bullied, and it felt like trying to nail jello to the wall. Basically:
    “Well, yes, X can feel a little unfair, but it’s very justified. Now, if something like Z were happening, that’s when you’d want to come talk to me.”
    “Oh, no, I agree, X is justified, and I’m more than happy to comply with it. But Z is also happening.”
    “Right, so the thing is, X is ok. But if you were to experience Z, that could be an issue.”
    “Yes, Z is the thing I am talking about.”
    “Now, if Z were happening, that’s something we could talk about.”
    “Yes, Z is happening. That’s the thing I was talking about.”
    “Anyway….”

    But overall, I’m pretty happy. (The bullying thing is…not fun, but also significantly less than it was years ago for a variety of reasons. It’s more that I would like HR to be aware that there is a Dynamic in my department, and that may color things. I don’t really expect of want them to do anything about it.)

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      That sounds incredibly frustrating and kind of gaslighting. Did you try specifically calling them in out on what they were doing? Like, “I want to be clear that Z is happening and adversely affecting me. I’ve mentioned this several times in my emails to A, B, and C, and I discussed in my meetings with D and E. What can we do to address this?” And then follow up.

      1. yala*

        I tried, but it just kept going in circles.

        For what it’s worth, there’s really not a lot they could do about Z that wouldn’t just feel petty and uncomfortable for everyone, but I do want them to at least be aware that it’s a factor if “your work is good, but you seem uncomfortable talking to Persons A and Z and they’ve complained” comes up again.

        So I’m going to try and let it go for now. If it becomes relevant or gets out of hand, I’ll go to them and try to be more firm about Z Is Happening, but hopefully it won’t be an issue.

  30. Alice*

    I think my manager wants me to be more flexible and more tolerant of ambiguity. (Although this feedback was itself communicated rather ambiguously….)
    From my perspective, I am tolerant of ambiguity of the sense “we don’t know what the decision will be” or “we don’t know when the decision will be made.” But once there is an official decision or policy, I assume I am supposed to follow it, even if I don’t want to, even if I think it will lead to worse results, rather than trying to relitigate it. Recently my manager told me that it wasn’t necessary to follow a (clearly stated) policy. Flexibility is great! But surprise flexibility is not ideal — now the bad results of the official policy are *my* fault for applying the stated policy. I find this frustrating.
    This particular instance, I had to take one path or another path before I could discuss the issue with my manager. But even when there is enough time for discussion, I sometimes hesitate to raise potential problems with already-made official policies. I feel like I have only so much time and political capital and I want to “spend” it on things that are important to me, not on relitigating every decision that someone else (someone higher up in the company) has made.
    I think this is an organizational issue: if policies are flexible then they shouldn’t be presented as official edicts, and if managers want to hear about potential problems when the policies are applied to real situations they need to make it clear that they welcome such warnings. (And honestly, I have enough to do for my actual job, I don’t have time to “red team” decisions made by leaders even if anyone wanted me to.)
    But if my manager perceives me as inflexible or intolerant of ambiguity, obviously that is a problem.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think “tolerant of ambiguity” describes this at all. This is about making the right decision given the information at hand, not dealing with gaps in the information provided to you.

      My unwritten Rule 0 for all policies and procedures:
      * Make sure this is the correct thing to do before following it.

      I know that’s glib, and you don’t always know what the right thing to do is in advance; sometimes you have to be halfway through something before you realize you’re on the wrong path.

      But if you go into everything with a grain of salt, and apply some foresight, then you can predict at least some of the issues.

      EG: the policy for setting up a new customer has 30 things you have to do. All of them assume that the customer is in the US, because it asks for state & zipcode, IRS numbers, etc. But the customer is Canadian. So you raise a flag right at the beginning.

      You might be making the mistake of thinking “Well, somebody higher up than me wrote this down, and they know more about it than I do, so I should just assume that it’s the right way to do things.” Clearly the evidence in your case is that’s not a correct assumption to make.

      1. Alice*

        I can definitely predict the negative outcomes :)
        The problem is that I’ve learned over time that raising the negative outcomes as hypotheticals with my manager doesn’t lead to changing the policies, or acknowledging exceptions. A couple times I’ve gotten the explicit response, “You don’t have to think this is the right approach but you have to understand that this is going to be our approach.” So I’ve come to understand that the policies aren’t flexible. After enough of these interactions I’ve stopped raising hypothetical negative outcomes except in the cases where I care the most (mostly workplace safety).
        But in reality the policies can be flexible sometimes, in hindsight, after the predicted negative outcomes have happened.
        I feel like my manager/organization want to get the benefit of me exercising my professional judgement while also retaining the option to fault me for failing to follow a policy, depending on how my decision turns out.

        1. eisa*

          That sucks! Your management sounds pretty crappy.
          I guess you can’t do anything but CYA to the n’th degree : Whenever there is that choice to take, spell it out in an email to your manager : “One way of doing it would be X, but since that would be in violation of our company’s stated policy ABC, I will be doing it like Y.”
          If the manager does not object, he has given his implicit consent and responsibility is with him.
          If he tells you to do X or conversely, Y : even more obviously his call, his responsibility.

        2. Lebkin*

          I think you have a bad manager/organization! They are setting you up to take the blame in all outcomes. As you’ve noted, you have two bad options. You can spend capital trying to push back on policies you know will have bad outcomes or let the bad outcomes happen and then be blamed.

          Of the two, I think pushing back is the better option given what you have in front of you. It would at least help me sleep at night knowing I tried to avoid the bad outcomes.

    2. Generic Name*

      I wonder if you’re visibly expressing frustration when negative outcomes occur when you follow a policy (and an outcome you predicted). Honestly, it sounds like they’re instituting crappy policies, don’t like being told there could be problems, and also don’t like when the problems they’ve been told about happen. I guess if you want to stick around in this environment, you could put your head down and not say anything about a new policy, follow it, and if something bad happens, do your level best to not seem put off by it. A lot of this requires a certain amount of detachment, and can be especially difficult for people who tend to be “optimizers”.

      1. Alice*

        I definitely feel frustration in these situations and while I try not to express it, my poker face has room to improve. My “well what did you expect” vibe is not super constructive.

        And — I did have an interview somewhere else this week. I don’t know if their policies will be any better — no where is perfect — but maybe I just need to take my “non-detached optimizer” personality somewhere else — get out of a dynamic that my manager and I are both feeling stuck in.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am having a hard time following this.

      It sounds like you are being told “You should do X. But never mind, you don’t have to do X. But do it because we will wonder why you didn’t.”

      You may just need a new job.

      I assume the storyline here is convoluted because your boss is convoluted and you have no idea whether to do X or Y on any given day. No sane person is going to be able to follow this type of instruction.

      If you have a boss who is running you ragged with “do X” and then later “never do X” here is how I handled that.
      Boss: Do X.
      Me: So you are saying to do X, right? I want to do it once and do it right the first time.
      Boss: Yes, do x.

      Next day
      Boss: What did you do X for???!!!
      Me: You said do X.
      Boss: I did not.
      Me: This is why I double checked. I repeated back to you “so you want me to do X, right?” And then I added that I wanted to do it once and do it right.
      Boss: ohhhhhhh
      Me: I do not mind if I do X or if I do Y. I just don’t want to waste company resources by redoing. I prefer to do it correctly the first time. So would you prefer I do Y?

      I think one thing you can do is take the whole conversation off of policies and procedures and just say, “Boss, what do you want me to do? How would you like me to handle it?” Make the spineless person make a decision. It’s up to the boss to interpret company policies and procedures and instruct the employee accordingly.

      Meanwhile, dust off your resume at home.

  31. Jay*

    I’m a retired doc and yes, Match Day is the height of stress for 4th year med students in the US. The system was created when there were more residency slots than there were applicants, and now the situation is reversed in many fields, so it can be difficult.

    To explain briefly, the student creates a list of the residencies they’ve applied in order of preference and the residency creates a list of their applicants in order of preference and The Match computer attempts to, well, match them, ideally putting people where they want to go and where they are wanted. When people don’t match, it may be because they applied to an extremely competitive field and there were more qualified people, or because they didn’t list enough residencies, or because residencies didn’t think they’d come and thus didn’t rank them. Lots of potential reasons. The med school finds out a day or two before who hasn’t matched and usually lets them know. It was a HUGE relief to *not* get a phone call the day before Match Day. The school then tries to help the resident find a place outside the match. Some residencies don’t fill – less desirable specialities in less desirable geographic areas – and they will reach out to med school leadership who will then connect them with unmatched students. Or the med school has affiliated residencies willing to take the students. Most students who don’t match find a place in a residency, although it’s often not the speciality they wanted.

    MD/DOs who don’t do a residency can’t get a license in any state in the US. They can work in research or in biotech or pharma. I have known a few who chose not to do a residency and went directly into bench research or pharma work out of med school, but that’s unusual.

    I went to med school in New York and was an undistinguished student. It was also a undistinguished school – I was an odd applicant out of college (English major who spent more time working in theater than in anybody’s bio lab) and only got in where my dad was on staff. My husband went to grad school in CA. We were married in my third year and chose the timing so I would be an official CA resident before I applied to residencies. The med school didn’t think it was a good idea – they didn’t think I was competitive enough. I finally got the dean of students to tell me that I should pick my residency very early and go do a rotation there, which I did, and it worked out great. It’s a horrible process.

    1. Jay*

      Whoops, that was meant to be an answer to the question above about Match Day. Sigh. Nesting fail.

  32. Job Description*

    I’ve been asked to write a job description for a new hire who will be taking on some of my current job duties.

    This is my first time writing a job description for someone else. Most of the job duties will build on each other – similar tasks, but getting more difficult and in-depth over time.

    My question is, do I list all of job duties up front? Or just the ones that this person will be starting out with? I’m thinking of writing something like “You’ll start out doing X while training on Y, and once you’re comfortable with Y we’ll add that to your list of regular duties and start training on Z.”

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    1. irene adler*

      You might start with primary duties (required skills/abilities) and then go into secondary duties (nice to haves/ expect to be trained on). That way, a candidate can gauge if their skills match the primary duties = a good fit.

      Otherwise, you may end up missing those who believe they must meet ALL duties before they apply. OR, you receive resumes that meet the secondary duties but not the primary duties.

    2. Muddlewitch*

      I think advancing without management responsibilities usually means having specific, scarce skills. Can you carve yourself a niche in your industry?

    3. Teapot Wrangler*

      I’d write the full job description so they know what they’re getting themselves into and then asterisk or mark in some way the ones they’ll pick up first.

    4. ginkgo*

      I’ve seen this done in the format “At 30 days you’ll… at 60 days you’ll… at 90 days you’ll…” Or 3 months/6 months/a year, or whatever makes sense.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I like this method. I also like to add things that are required (traits?) like attention to detail, accuracy, timeliness, whatever is required to get the job done well.
        Also, at the top of the job description, put the actual mission/point/reason for the job “Supports the folks manufacturing teapots by ensuring all the supplies are available for use when needed so there are no delays in the manufacturing process” Sorry, poorly written, but I hope I conveyed the point!
        Depending on the job, you can also add things like, “approx 50% of the job will entail routine process such as x, y, z. The remaining time will be focused on resolving shipping issues as they arise”
        Hope this helps!

  33. side hustle question*

    Suggestions for side hustles?

    Specifically looking for things that 1) are safe, e.g. I’m a woman and I’m not going to start driving for Uber and 2) can be done on my own time, e.g. don’t require me to come in at scheduled days/times, as I have another commitment which will always come 1st and I don’t trust managers / schedulers to respect the times I particularly request off.

      1. GraceC*

        I’ve interviewed a lot of people recently (mostly recent grads) who did subtitling/transcription services for video companies as a WFH gig during lockdown – one was an au pair who did a few hours of subtitling work for extra cash once the kids were in bed, etc. It seems to be very flexible with timings and a decent side gig if you can type quickly and accurately.

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      I do freelance writing of all types on the side. Personal essays, fiction, marketing, SEO, whatever I can find. I typically get paid $100-300 for each piece. You have to be a good writer, though, and fast, and proactive.

      1. side hustle question*

        Can I ask how you got started w/ this or advertise for this? It’s def up my alley, but I have no idea how to get underway.

        1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

          I signed up for Sonia Weiser’s Patreon “Opportunites of the Week” newsletter. It has tons of calls for pitches. I typically find opportunities, not the other way around. I have a few connections that I’ve made over the years for finding marketing work. You just have to reach out and start asking around.

  34. Notfunny.*

    How do you stay organized? Suggestions for project management systems? Tips and tricks that you recommend? I’m an organized person with a system that mostly works but could be better – would love to hear what works for you!

    1. Nea*

      I’ve got a project with a lot of moving pieces, a mindset that prefers to work visually, and no real interest in learning new project management software.

      Enter: The MS Word table. Column 1, a discrete piece being tracked. Column 2, what needs to be done. Columns 3+ – color-coded hold/act/wait/etc

    2. Admin of Sys*

      I still love Trello, but then i started doing project work with post it notes, so i may be biased.

    3. SecUnit*

      I use Asana for work, and it’s free for personal use with pretty adequate features. I combine that with a notes app (used to be Microsoft OneNote for work and Evernote for home, now I use Apple Notes for both) to completely organize my life. For home, since I’m on a Mac/iOS environment, I started using Things for my to dos and like it a lot, but you do have to be a hefty-ish one-time fee, can’t remember exactly what it is. The key to organizing for me is add-ons for my email (Outlook at work, Spark at home) and any other chat platform (Slack, Teams, etc.) that allow me to make emails and messages directly into to dos. I like to keep my email inbox pretty empty (I hit Inbox Zero a couple times a month, but mostly try to keep less than 10 emails in my inbox), and that’s only possible because I can make those emails/messages into to dos and file them away or trash them.

    4. LizB*

      Not a suggestion for any particular system, but for the podcast Productivity Alchemy. The co-hosts are a married couple, one tech person and one fiction writer, and they a) try out a ton of different organizational methods themselves and b) interview people with varying jobs, lives, and perspectives about how they stay organized and productive. I’ve gotten a lot of really great ideas and advice from both the hosts and the guests.

    5. anonymous73*

      I’m a Project Manager and don’t use any particular apps, just Excel, a notebook and my inbox.

      *I use my inbox as a to do list. I create folders. If an email needs follow up or it’s something I need to complete, it stays in my inbox until it’s done, then it gets moved to a folder
      *I use a notebook with checkboxes to track items I need to complete (some from my inbox, others from meetings), because nothing will ever be as satisfying as checking something off my list. I also use my notebook to keep things straight in my head. I work on 2 different contracts (one is government) and have 2 laptops so I need to keep things separated.
      *I use a spreadsheet to track deliverables and reports I have to complete on a regular basis

    6. Lebkin*

      I have a master to-do list that is always open on my desktop (I use TickTick). This is organized into four categories based on priority: High, Medium, Low, None. Every undone task goes on the list. Bigger projects get broken up into multiple tasks, often across multiple categories.

      Call from my boss with a request? On the list. Email with task from a customer? On the list. Long term project I want to pursue on my own initiative? On the list.

      There is only one kind of task that doesn’t go on the list: things I can do immediately. Whenever I am given a task that is under 5 minutes, I do it immediately. This is because managing it via my task list will take that much time to revisit it later.

      Project names are my key thing that ties all my organization together. Each task is listed as [Project Name]: [Task]. I have a folder with that name on the server, one in my email, and a physical folder. This helps consistently as everything as a place to live. Files generally are name with [Project Name] [File Contents]. This prevents having multiple “Living Room Quote” files. It is instead “Jones Residence Living Room Quote.

      I tend to error on the side of too many folders/project names/tasks rather than less. Sometimes a folder ends up only having one thing in it, but I think that’s better than having objects loose across my physical or virtual spaces.

    7. Generic Name*

      I’m a project manager, and I track overall project status on an Excel spreadsheet, and each project has it’s own file on the server, and I have a Word document in the project file where I have more updated notes. I try not to duplicate information anywhere. As in, my predecessor kept budget info in her notes in the project file, but that info is readily-available in our timekeeping software, which meant she was checking the software and then copy/pasting into a word doc, which seemed inefficient and inaccurate to me. I use tasks in Outlook to flag emails or create tasks when I have to do stuff by deadlines. I am by far not “inbox zero” and I keep some emails unread to remind me I need to take action on them. It’s not the most elegant system, but I think I’m seen as very organized, and I rarely forget to do things.

    8. Lady Danbury*

      I’ve recently started using Todoist and I’m a huge fan. You can integrate other users so that you can assign tasks to them and vice versa. It also integrates with Toggl if you need to track the time for any of the tasks.

  35. I was told there would be llamas*

    What color flag is this…I have been at my current job 10 years and I keep hearing about how it’s an employee’s market so I am trying to figure out the market rate for my role (slight rant: OMG, hiring managers, why, why must you hide the salary amount, gah!)…found one job with a salary that appears to be about 25% above market so I’m suspicious…what are they hiding?!

    1. MsM*

      …An employer who recognizes it’s an employee’s market right now and is prepared to pay for top talent? If you’re not finding anything on Glassdoor or other chatter to warn you away, I’d just apply and see how it goes.

      1. lost academic*

        If you have to post a salary you can’t just set it low in this market, they’re doing the smart thing to get people into the process at all.

    2. anonymous73*

      I would be a bit skeptical (but I’m ALWAYS skeptical) but ask the right questions and trust your instincts if you apply and get to the interview stage. It also sounds like you’re unclear on what market rate actually is, so it may seem higher than it actually is, or you’re being paid below market rate at your current job. I can tell you that every job I’ve ever had has never given a significant raise, so if I was there for a while, I probably could have gotten a job doing the same thing for more money.

      1. I was told there would be llamas*

        yeah, my post was a little contradictory…salaries that I can find are all over the board. I am supposed to talk to a recruiter next week that placed me in a job before my current one and I think that will be helpful. Yes, in the 10 years that I have been in my current job, I’ve only gotten one decent raise and that was due to a promotion.

  36. ONFM*

    This is just a fun work story about getting ghosted by an entire company Division! I work for a large company who hired a HR director in late 2019, against the objections of other involved parties. (His background was spotty and he did not have good reviews, but the position had been open for nearly a year.) Of course, once COVID hit, there was no going back. The entire HR division became remote – that’s fine, most of us did – but once the rest of the company returned to work (October 2021), HR stayed remote. I have a decent amount of interaction with them due to my responsibilities in hiring and promotions, and some COVID coordination, and was able to discover that at least 50% of our HR staff resigned rather than come back to the office, and the HR director just…didn’t tell anyone? It seems like he’s been using the remote work as a cover story.

    I got together with some coworkers (across different divisions), and we were able to piece this all together over an after-hours venting session. Stories like “I can’t get Janice to answer my emails” were met with “Janice quit a month ago, Jamie is handing her stuff now, didn’t you know?” were traded around the table. I’ve gone to my boss, who made inquiries, and he came back and confirmed that it was all true. He’s stunned. Apparently no one in the C-suite knows how to proceed, because they’re all sure that the HR director will simply resign if he gets questioned on it, and there are other people on the line who should have noticed what was going on but didn’t.

    I guess the only question here is – hey, has anyone else worked for a place where your entire HR department just quit? :)

    1. MsM*

      …I mean, I’ve worked for a bunch of places with *no* HR department, which is frustrating (particularly for the CFO, who usually wound up in that role). But I kinda feel like as long as C-suite makes sure they have access to whatever records and systems they need before they pull any triggers, it might be *better* to just clean house and start over with a department that will actually communicate here?

      1. Alice*

        Re cleaning house to the extent of firing everyone in the department — I am of two minds about that. On the one hand, the rank-and-file staff who remain are probably the lowest-performing ones, because the high performers could presumably get new jobs and leave. Maybe firing them would not be a loss. On the other hand, is it fair to expect the rank-and-file staff to go around what must have been explicit instructions from the HR director to keep this quiet? What path were they supposed to use to report this issue?
        So weird!

    2. anonymous73*

      I have one colleague who does this. I think it depends on your role and level at the company. For instance, if nobody will be affected by your vacation outside of your team, you let them know and have no reason to modify your email other than an OOO message. But if you’re in management, or deal with clients, it may not be feasible to let everyone know before you go and need to give people a heads up.

    3. DEJ*

      Our single HR person in a satellite office ‘left’ and nothing was said about it, so I can relate. People continued to email her for things and there was no OOO message or anything indicating she was gone. HR at main corporate would get really cagey if you asked about it, and the whole thing would have created way less gossip if someone had just said ‘Jane is no longer with the satellite office, please contact Susan for any HR needs going forward.’

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Well, “should have noticed” may be trumped by HR director lying and covering is tracks. It seems like it’s the job of somoene in HR to notice these kinds of things.

      Your C-suite sucks cause they hired a bad employee with red flags, let him do whatever excuse he used to hide the resigning people, and now their biggest worry is that HE might quit? They should fire him themselves no worry about him leaving.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I can tell the C-suite how to proceed… They need to fire the HR director, but make sure he’s locked out of the system first, so he can’t sabotage anything. Then they need to hire a new HR department – offer remote work and a good salary to attract good candidates, and make it clear they’re coming in to clean up a mess. Then rehaul their system so that 1) the HR division has clear enough responsibilities that most of the department can’t quit without anyone noticing 2) they know when people quit. Presumably they weren’t getting paid after quitting, so *someone* knew what was going on – if they’re still getting paid they have a much worse problem.

      I wouldn’t fire the remaining low level HR staff now, but I’d keep a close eye on the, and if they weren’t willing to go along with the new, more professional system, be willing to let them go.

    6. Kiki*

      Never a whole HR department (wow!!!) but I’ve definitely worked at a company that was incredibly secretive about folks leaving. Leadership felt it was less alarming for folks to not see a whole bunch of departure announcements, but it was a small company! People found out eventually AND it just created new organizational nightmares because nobody had created plans on how to handle the open work

  37. Strict Extension*

    Lately (just the last month or so) I’ve noticed a lot of my coworkers putting “upcoming PTO days” in their email signature. Is this a new trend? An old one I’ve just never run into? (My guess is that our HR manager did it for an upcoming vacation during a somewhat busy time in order to set some expectations around her time, and the somewhat sizable batch of newish hires thought it was an organizational practice.) Should I jump on board? If so, how far in advance do you start listing dates? I’ve always set out-of-office replies, but I can see how it might be useful to give common contacts some warning.

    1. I was told there would be llamas*

      I don’t think this is new. Usually I see it when someone is going to be taking at least a week…not just a random day here or there.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This. I did this a couple times at an old company when I was in a very visible role to clients (a commercial claims adjuster working with banks, credit unions, and real estate investors) because if they didn’t see it in my email signature, some of them would keep emailing or calling me checking on the status of their property claims even if they saw my initial OOO message. This notice would let them know I would be out for an extended period and they could plan for it ahead of time (and it did in fact curb the number of emails I received while I was out).

    2. Zephy*

      I…don’t think this is A Thing. You’re probably right that someone in your org decided to do it (for some reason???) and then a bunch of newbies glommed onto it as A Thing when it’s absolutely not, but maybe it makes sense for your industry?

      I don’t think my role would warrant putting that kind of thing in my email signature, but I have set a special outgoing voicemail message when I’m out on extended PTO. Not in advance, though, changing the VM is like the last thing I do before leaving for my extended break. I’ll also verbally announce that kind of thing to my colleagues in team meetings and mention it to clients if it’s relevant (like “I’ll be out of the office all next week so please call me back ASAP to resolve the outstanding issue on your account,” or “I’m out next Thursday and Friday so please send me your deliverables for the X report by Tuesday…”)

    3. Squid*

      It wasn’t really a thing for me until I joined my current company 2.5 years ago, and it became immediately apparent that our department appreciates the email signature reminders of upcoming PTO *in addition to* calendar invites for the days we are gone, even for one-off days that are planned. I wouldn’t necessarily sweat it if you’re already communicating with partners and frequent contacts that you have XYZ days off coming up, but some folks need/want the constant reminder in their faces.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do it as just sort of an FYI, primarily to my direct reports, my boss and the people I work directly with, but I still use the out of office reply. I list anything that’s a week or more OR extending a normal holiday, and only once it’s actually formally approved in our PTO system. (I also tend to do my vacations as midweek-to-midweek most of the time, rather than a M-F, which is a little weird in my org I think, so I call it out.) Right now I have the week of PTO that starts next Thursday listed, as well as the two extra days I’m taking off added to the 4th of July holiday. I wouldn’t list July 4th if I wasn’t taking extra days with it, and I’m taking a random day off in April and that’s not listed either.

      A lot of people don’t even notice it, but it has been useful a couple of times.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s really useful if you work with clients. They can’t see my calendar so if they’re looking to schedule a meeting soon, it’s a good “heads-up” for them. I haven’t used it yet but I will be out for over a week in May and I plan to start including dates in my signature a few weeks beforehand.

    6. Generic Name*

      Folks at my company do it, and I’ve seen others in my industry (consulting) do it too. I think it’s reasonably helpful, especially if it’s for a week or longer. I don’t think notifying people in advance of taking an afternoon off is super helpful.

    7. star*

      Reasonably common for me. I work in an org which is a merger of three old ones, so calendar access is not consistent, and where we work with external folks too. Useful as a little heads-up, especially around scheduling.

    8. Lady Danbury*

      I’ve never done this as an email signature. If I’m going to be out for at least a week, I’ll alert certain colleagues directly so that they can plan accordingly. I’ll usually tell them 2-3 weeks in advance, which gives them time to submit any requests might need and for me to start addressing it. I’ve never done this with external clients because my roles have always been support/internal, but if I was working with someone on an ongoing project I would consider alerting them as well.

      I don’t love the idea of including it on an out of office because I wouldn’t necessarily want to alert every single person who sends me an email that I plan to be out.

  38. Boss makes a dollar I make a dime*

    What’s your favorite letter where the LW is clearly the one that’s in the wrong?

    I like the one where the LW was complaining about being told not to flirt with her 18 year old coworker. I also like the one with the manger who let her team bully a new employee because she thought the new employee didn’t “fit the culture”.

    1. Littorally*

      Those are both pretty epic letters.

      I can’t really call it “favorite,” but the one where the LW’s husband resigned on her behalf and she referred to it as “thinking outside the box” lives rent-free in my head. I’d really like to hear an update from her on how her life has gone since then.

    2. Alice*

      The one where LW gave a day off to each employee for their birthday, except for the one who was born on February 29 because it was not a leap year. That one was bonkers.

    3. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      For me, it still goes back to either “I can’t believe my star employee quit because I wouldn’t give her the time off to attend her college graduation” and “I can’t believe my employee is being so rude about payroll messing up their checks for multiple pay periods.”

    4. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Definitely the one where OP was convinced that her New employee framed Old employee for stealing New employee’s jacket, which contained New employee’s wallet. Several mysterious charges then showed up on New employee’s credit card.

      Seems obvious what happened, right? Like, Old employee stole the jacket, stole Old employee’s credit card, and then got caught? LW was just CONVINCED that Old employee was completely innocent, and New employee had framed her. Nuts!

      1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

        Argh of course I messed up the details of this convoluted take. Old employee stole the New employee’s jacket and stole New employee’s credit card!

    5. CTT*

      I have never been able to go back and find it so maybe I’m dreaming it, but someone wrote in and was offended that their interviewer offered them a few blocks of time to choose from instead of picking a time themselves.

    6. Grace Poole*

      I always remember the one where the LW broke up with his girlfriend by moving out when she was out of town, and didn’t answer any of her calls, then found out that she was going to be his supervisor at his new job.

    7. Sherm*

      I’m fascinated in a frustrated sort of way with the OP who went to extreme lengths to avoid charging their struggling employer any expenses. (For example, OP walked for miles carrying heavy equipment instead of paying for transportation.) OP even refused to eat the employer’s free pizza out of principle. In an update, the OP reported that the employer laid off people — so clearly the employer didn’t share this diehard loyalty — but the OP still didn’t change their stance.

      1. A Wall*

        This one might be my favorite, because the LW either had been laid off or was going to be laid off (I forget which) and felt like that actually proved them right for scorning the pizza. Really seemed to think that fewer pizzas and reimbursed cab fares would have stopped the layoffs of a ton of salaried people.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      Graduation boss was the worst.

      The one who bullied a rockstar employee when they were teens and was really spiraling in the comments and updates (majorly downplayed the bullying, kind of had her life fall apart and blamed the rockstar). She was clearly in the wrong but I also felt really bad for her and hope she was able to turn things around!

      I still wish we’d gotten an update from the woman who was angry her employee didn’t “appreciate” (make use of) the maternity/nursing accomodations the LW made on her behalf.

    9. DEJ*

      Several already mentioned but I would love to know where dress code petition intern is and if they had changed their stance on the situation.

    10. Dory*

      The one that I think about weekly is “I got fired for attending a conference that I wasn’t invited to”
      It’s hard to image someone like that exists

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I think people like that wind up on The Bachelor/Bachelorette as the season’s designated socially oblivious villain.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      The LW who ghosted their live-in partner of three years by abruptly moving out of the country when their partner was on vacation abroad, to avoid ‘relationship drama’, leaving them genuinely worried that they had died in a ditch somewhere, and was annoyed that the partner contacted family and friends while trying to figure out what was going on. 10 years later, they had taken a job where they were going to be supervised by the ex, and were wondering how to make it work. And completely didn’t grasp how horribly callous their behaviour had been. They followed up, too, and the letter went viral.

      One that was just sad was the young woman who had been rejected from her dream employer in a niche industry because a rockstar employee was someone she had bullied in high school, who wasn’t willing to work with her. They engaged in the comments and followed up, and it became clear that the bullying situation had actually been bad enough that the victim had been suicidal, ran away from home and lived with a relative in another town for a few years. The LW took a not-so-great job out of town, came back one weekend to find her boyfriend cheating on her, and soon thereafter ran into Rockstar in a restaurant and had a public meltdown at her, completely tanking her professional reputation. She was working at rebuilding her life, but still hadn’t gotten over the idea that it was the Rockstar’s fault for not getting over the bullying.

      Actually, both of the above shared the characteristic that the person who had behaved badly figure that because their victim had survived and made a good life for themselves, their actions couldn’t have been *that* bad, not recognizing the years of work and lingering emotional scars that can come from that sort of experience.

      One that was in the weekend thread, the details of which emerged slowly in responses. The LW had gone on an international trip with a junior colleague. They exchanged the fully refundable company plane tickets for tickets on a different airline and pocketed the extra money for a large per diem on the trip. On the way back, the LW was told she needed to pay for a double seat, due to their size. They panicked, took both tickets, plus the company cell phone, credit card and petty cash, leaving her junior in a foreign airport with no ticket, no money and no phone. LW just… abandoned them and went home, without contacting anyone at the company. The junior eventually got home after a family member wired them money for a new ticket, which was not refunded by the company because they had already paid for two plane tickets. The junior was vocally angry about the situation at work. The LW started their question from the perspective that they were angry at the junior for gossiping about the situation, because it made the LW feel embarrassed about her weight.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          https://www.askamanager.org/2018/03/open-thread-march-30-31-2018.html#comment-1920394

          I hope this link works!
          The details are as AcademiaNut describes so it must be the one but the perspective doesn’t match – the commenter was mortified (took a sick day as she couldn’t face people), was disciplined, was evidently filled with shame. Certainly not doubling down or thinking she wasn’t in the wrong, and doesn’t accuse the junior of gossiping, she just said she knew there was gossip, which seemed to be an ingredient in her being horrified at her own behaviour.

  39. science teacher*

    I’m helping to craft the job postings for two openings for new high school teachers at the school where I work (I’m a teacher myself.) We hope to get a diverse candidate pool that represents our student community, both in terms of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ candidates. We’ll be sending the postings actively to many more teacher prep schools and job boards than ever before, and want to make the application, hiring, and evaluation process as inclusive and equitable as possible. A few questions:
    -My suggested sentences to add to the posting are below. Any thoughts?
    -Any resources you suggest reading to help in this work?
    -Any specific tips for how to make the process more inclusive and equitable?

    Suggested sentences we’re thinking about adding:
    “we seek candidates who are prepared to actively teach about the overlapping systems and intersectionalities that affect our environment and communities.”
    “We strive for a radically inclusive and equitable community for all of our students, and the successful candidate will have a strong commitment to developing culturally-responsive curriculum that reaches all students.”
    “We’re actively seeking a diverse pool of candidates that represents the diversity of our student community, and we are committed to facilitating a truly inclusive recruitment and hiring process, including evaluating the ways we recruit candidates, the transparency of our hiring process, and the ways we evaluate candidates. We aim to be flexible in scheduling and to provide needed accommodations to candidates to ensure that our application process is accessible to all candidates.”

    1. Anon Teacher*

      As someone who works in education in a fairly liberal environment, I would take out “radically” in your sentence above, as well as perhaps “truly.” If your postings are available for public view, I think you’re risking unnecessary backlash with “radical” inclusion & equity in the current climate – at least, in my area/public school district, it would be something a certain subset of the community would get all roiled up about, but they would let just plain old “inclusion & equity” slide by as typical school-speak.

      It is good to get your postings out to as many places as possible and target more colleges. It sounds like you might be at a private or independent school? If you ever send out recruiters or HR reps to schools, make sure to include those lesser known or HBCU schools when possible. That in-person representation (or virtual opportunities to connect) means a lot more than just access to the postings. This can be difficult for an independent school, but sometimes you can get together with other private schools to host a job fair & specifically reach out to diverse programs. Or if you have teachers or administrators who participate in or attend state or national conferences, you can connect with students or program heads at colleges to help develop those ties to potential candidates.

      Additionally, if your school or district reaches out even earlier to potential candidates, such as for student teaching opportunities or summer classes, it’s crucial to make sure these opportunities are available to all as well. Bigger districts tend to cultivate relationships with the colleges in their area, but even an independent school can sometimes work with local colleges to have student teaching opportunities or summer work for aspiring teachers that could help you with applicants in the future.

      Good luck!

      1. science teacher*

        Thanks for this! I’m actually at a small public school in a large district. But we’re hoping to push as our school to make the recruitment process more inclusive for the whole district.

    2. Peachtree*

      All of those sound good – you can also explicitly name things that you don’t support as well, which flags support for the affected group. I.e.: “As a school we stand against racism, ableism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia [and other -isms that you may have in particular like classism]”.

      I’ve also seen “we are committed to diversity and are particular interested in applications from people from historically marginalised communities such as BIPOC or LGBT+ teachers”

    3. Anony*

      The second line refers to a specific skill set – developing culturally responsive curricula – and seems like a separate point from the inclusivity in the hiring process.

      Questions to reflect on: Is your staff already diverse and representative of the student body? What would draw or incentivize BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ teachers to work there? You refer to an inclusive hiring process, but what sort of support do you have in place in the school community for teachers?

      1. science teacher*

        That’s definitely an extremely important question, and one we’re asking alongside these other questions. Our staff doesn’t complete lack diversity, but is certainly much less diverse than our student body. I’m at a small public school with a really great admin, much better work-life balance than other public schools, great support for parents, a lot of autonomy for teachers, and decent resourcing. Our school is seen as a safe space for trans, nonbinary, and other LGBTQIA+ students in the district and we have a lot of LGBTQIA+ students. We emphasize project-based learning and experiential learning in a way that wouldn’t be a draw for everyone, but for some teachers is amazing, and we want to make sure that teachers across the region know we exist – not just teachers already in the “environmental” world. However, I know there’s a lot more we can be doing, and I’m currently working to try to educate myself and then be a pusher of the admin.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think #1 is too robotic to use, and would pick #2 or #3.

      I might wonder if you need to shift the focus though? Growing up I felt the teachers were always good, it was the other students. Hiring good teachers isn’t going to help kids suffering bullying or being excluded by other students. I think the risk of hiring a homophobic or racist teacher is infinitely smaller than having to root out problematic behavior in students

      1. Peachtree*

        I think (tho I can’t speak for OP!) that the idea is having a staff from those backgrounds (ie staff who are LGBT or BIPOC) rather than hiring cishet white people who aren’t racist or homophobic. Like affirmative action but in a non mandated way.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        Completely disagree. There’s strong evidence that teachers’ racial bias impacts Black students from a very young age, from how they’re graded to how they’re disciplined. This “infinitely small” risk can and does have a huge impact on these students’ future. Almost every Black person I know has a story of how a teacher or school counselor encouraged them not to apply to certain schools, have lower career ambitions, not to do advanced classes, etc. And then there are the more harmful stories of teachers who call the police on Black students for normal childhood behavior, school to prison pipeline, etc. I encourage you to do further research on this issue instead of generalizing your experience to minimize a very real harm that continues to impact students.

    5. BalanceofThemis*

      Don’t discount candidates from alternative teacher prep programs. Many schools in my area won’t hire them, even though they have the same license.

    6. Fikly*

      And the reason you don’t want candidates who are disabled or have experience working with students with disabilities is? I realize this sounds harsh, but it’s for a reason, because anyone who is disabled and reads yet another job post forgetting their existence is tired of getting slapped in the face. I promise you, you have students with disabilities.

      I was reading a company’s guidance on DEI hiring the other day and this stood out: we will not make an offer until we have a finalist who is part of an underrepresented group. Our finalist group must have at least 1/3 members of underrepresented groups for us to make a decision.

      Does your post include information on how to request those accommodations before getting to an interview? Does your post include concrete information on what you are actively doing to reduce (not prevent, it’s impossible) discrimination?

      1. science teacher*

        Fikly, thanks for the specific reminders to include specific details on HOW to request accommodations and the specifics of what we’re doing to reduce discrimination in the post (or at least a link to a detailed doc/webpage.) That’s a good point! I also really like that commitment about not making a decision until the finalist group is at least 30% from an underrepresented group.

        Are you able to explain your first paragraph a little more? Do you just mean that I specifically mentioned BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ candidates but didn’t mention other underrepresented groups? I do appreciate you making that point. I guess I was specifically thinking about our goal of having a teaching staff that represents our student population. For example, our student population is about 30% students of color, but our teaching staff is currently only 4% teachers of color (that’s just one person…) Our student population is about 15-20% openly/out LGBTQIA+ students, but we don’t have a single out queer member of the teaching staff. And yes, we absolutely have students who have disabilities, but so many disabilities are invisible or unknown unless declared, and obviously I wouldn’t want to pressure candidates to declare them during the hiring process. Currently 1% of our student body uses a wheelchair or similar mobility aid. A much higher percentage have learning disabilities, including dyslexia and others, and you and others here are making me realize that it would also be amazing for them to have teachers who are open about their own experiences with learning disabilities. I’m kind of just thinking out loud here…lots of really good points, thank you.

        1. Fikly*

          Thanks for being open!

          What I meant in the first paragraph was, your example language said you welcome candidates from BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ to apply, but does not mention people with disabilities. Plenty of people who fall in the categories you mentioned, you would have no way to know unless they declared it.

          The point is not to have them declare it to you, either during hiring or after. The point is to have language in your job post that is inclusive so that someone who is disabled knows that you remember they exist, and welcome them to apply.

          One of the really tricky things with trying to get a more diverse group of candidates (so that you can hire more diverse people) is how to get them to apply in the first place. It starts with having inclusive language in your posts. If it’s not inclusive, it is inherently exclusive. I was looking at a job post the other day, thinking seriously about applying. The org was talking about and proud of its 6 ERGs. Not a single one was for people with disabilities. I thought, can I deal with this yet again? And then I turned right around, closed the tab, and cried for a while.

    7. Margaretmary*

      I don’t have any advice for the ad, but would say make sure you think about inclusivity in more terms than just racial minorities, gender balance and LGBT+. Not that those aren’t important, but things like people with disabilities, mental illnesses, class difference and so on often get glossed over and it is easier to miss biases there. Like “it’s not that we favour middle class people. We just consider good communication skills and correct grammar important” (when, by “good communication skills and correct grammar,” they actually mean “middle class dialect”) or “we’re not excluding people with disabilities. We just want good social skills,” when good social skills implies neurotypical behaviour. I’m not saying your school does favour one particular form of speech or whatever, just that they are things to consider.

      Also consider specific local issues. Like I’m in Ireland and the group that probably experience most discrimination here is the Travelling Community. Think about groups that fly under the radar and may even be unknown outside your particular area but may experience discrimination or exclusion locally – could be a specific estate that has had some high profile crimes take place there so everybody gets targetted by the same brush because that’s what people associate with it. Could be a minority religion that is excluded in the area.

  40. Minimal Pear*

    I just want to complain for a second–if you work in HR, payroll, etc. PLEASE check that you’ve spelled people’s names correctly. The payroll person at my company has screwed multiple things up for me because she just can’t spell my name right, even though I’ve pointed it out to her.

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      This happened to me (and two of my coworkers) at my old job. HR misspelled my name on all of my hiring documents, including my new company email address. I pointed it out right away, and HR changed the spelling on the documents, and closed the misspelled email address and opened a new one with the correct spelling.

      However. All of my employment docs were sent to the old, now closed email address, and they just would NOT resend them to the new one. HR got super snippy with me when I said I did not have my signed docs, because I no longer had access to them due to their mistake. Again, they did this to TWO other people that were hired at the same time.

      And then, for the duration of my employment there, my name in our HR portal was just completely wrong. Like, not misspelled, just the wrong name entirely. They couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so they never did!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      *so many facepalm emojis*

      As an HR/Ops person I am so paranoid about doing this. I always copy/paste from like…the email address, or something else they’ve written themselves if I am able to, and then triple check other things to make sure THEY didn’t spell it wrong (I have spelled my own name wrong before no I don’t want to talk about it) and only then send it to IT. It’s the easiest thing to screw up, the hardest thing to fix once it’s in because it ends up being in a thousand different places, and it ruins the onboarding process and destroys the goodwill with the new employee if it’s not correct. I don’t understand why people aren’t diligent about this it’s such a respect issue.

    3. It's fantastic it's so plastic*

      I just got an award with my name spelled wrong. Hard-coded in the plastic until the end of time.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I have a plaque with my first name spelled wrong. It also has my married last name (and I don’t like seeing my married name anywhere since I reverted to my original name when I got divorced), so maybe I should just chuck it.

  41. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

    Healthcare workers, how are you coping? I’m not patient-facing at all, I work with c-19 lab report data, and I love my job but all the ups and downs of the pandemmy really take a toll.

    I work for the pandemic response for my state and 100+ contractors from our unit have been notified they’re being “deactivated” (basically laid off). I am the team lead for a very specialized team that is not yet facing layoffs, and have been told my position is safe for at least a year. Nevertheless, the survivor’s guilt is real, as is the feeling that we’re tempting fate and will be drowning in new cases and overworked again soon.

    1. Alice*

      No advice, but I’m sorry and I wrote to my congressman to say I want pandemic response funding to continue at a high level. Fingers crossed.

    2. Tatiana*

      I get it. I’m an RN in discharge planning, I recently moved from an at-the-hospital-every-day position to WFH and I feel like I’ve abandoned all my work friends.

  42. Yet Another Jenn*

    I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some perspective on a problem I’m having at work.

    I have been at my company for seven years. I have done essentially the same thing for seven years and it is glorified data entry, basically, with elements of having to know and reference government regulations while doing so. I need to be challenged and engaged with my work, and naturally after seven years of data entry I got incredibly, deathly bored to the point of knowing my work would suffer if I did it much longer. So I applied to a different department, where my new manager has given me glowing feedback about my skills and work ethic and positive attitude and productivity, and my new colleague and I work extremely well together. I have been full time in my new position for about a month, and finally starting to feel happy at work again. Then my manager dropped a bombshell on me: they needed me to go back to doing my old job for a period of time. But this time, for the same department in a different office in a different time zone (we are all remote, as the return to office hasn’t begun yet for us), with different managers and different processes. This was touted as a “special project” but basically what’s really happening is, a competitor of ours was hit with a large issue that affected their ability to do business, and since my company and this competitor share many clients, my company decided to take on as many of that company’s client’s as possible, and, well, wouldn’t you know it, but the other office that would be handling this work just doesn’t have enough staff to handle all the new work coming in. So the VP decided to shake down other departments (mine included) for anybody with recent similar experience, and I was the only one in my department with any recent experience, so I was the sacrificial goat.
    This is basically putting me back in my old position, except with less responsibility, more tedium, and no real reward. Because I changed departments and got a raise earlier in the year, that disqualifies me from the regular yearly raises handed out in April. There is no reward, career, personal, or monetary, associated with working on this project. I’m just the unlucky bastard who happens to know sort of what to do, being assigned to do my old job where someone from the new office has to check over all my work and give me stupid little status reports on every little thing I do “wrong” (because I’m used to doing it the opposite, or another way).
    My manager is fully aware that I do not wish to be involved in this project, but had exactly as much say in this decision as I did (that is to say, none), because it came from On High, and therefore does not have the authority to just tell me I don’t have to do it.
    Is there any way of handling this, other than just flinging my hands in the air and going to another company? The hinting is that I’m going to be trapped in this purgatory for 3-6 months, which is about 2-5 months longer than my tolerance level.

    1. Just another queer reader*

      Any chance you could talk with your boss about at least getting that annual raise?

      There’s always the option of finding another job, too.

      Good luck.

    2. Fabulous*

      I might suggest taking this to HR. If they have any sort of retention goals, they might be interested in hearing your issue and helping to come up with a compromise.

    3. Mockingjay*

      You and New Manager need to build a case to have you return to New Role. What’s the impact on New Dept. of you filling in for 6 full months? You need metrics – effects on schedule, productivity, costs. Offer alternatives: you’re can help out for a month or two to help set things up and train people, but then return to New Role. If the work is client based, better to help other staff establish a relationship with the new client(s), because you have to go back to New Role. You can work FT on Old Role for a month, then transition to 50% on both jobs, then back to New Role. And so on.

      Take some time and craft a couple of scenarios in which you get at least some of what you want, but the important thing is to ESTABLISH AN END DATE for your “loan.”

      I’ve been where you are; transferred out of the Dept. of Hell, only to be borrowed back for six months because they couldn’t staff my replacement (NO ONE wanted to work there and they kept quitting). A senior manager in New Dept. finally put his foot down with Dept. of Hell when I couldn’t take it any more. Take heart and build a business case, not an emotional appeal – that will give you the best chance to get out of there once and for all.

      1. Yet Another Jenn*

        My job is a two-person job, and does involve a lot of client contact. However, my predecessor up and quit before the end of 2021, so my counterpart has been doing it herself, with lots of overtime, very little time off, and a growing burnout. The VP saw, “well, it was kind of doing fine on one person, so we’re stealing the New Second Employee for our purposes.” Our manager recognizes my coworker’s burnout, and has actually filled in doing some of the work herself to try to help out. But between my previous department demanding me part time for three weeks, and now this, it’s almost as though I haven’t been hired, and my training is very much incomplete. My manager and my colleague and I have discussed me working Sunday afternoons on pure OT just to do administrative tasks in my new department (since I’ve only been half trained, and that only on the easier tasks thus far), and she has made clear that OT is unlimited as long as we want, but unfortunately I must spend my regular 40 hours doing this other project. Plus, a small part of why I left the old department was that they relied on OT and begging people to do OT all the time (I am not exaggerating when I say I got 8-10 separate email requests per week asking for overtime, and multiple guilt tripping phone calls from my drowning manager begging for help, just 4 hours on saturday, please..) rather than hiring. Which they try to do, but the salary they offer doesn’t bring in a whole lot of candidates.

        My colleague has told me extensively that she does not plan to stay with the company if they don’t start helping HER out more tangibly — she is paid SIGNIFICANTLY less than me, yet has to train me! And my manager’s manager has shuffled her around on a meeting about pay (because of course our manager can’t approve it on her own..) And if she doesn’t get the raise she wants, plus has to continue doing the whole job almost herself without knowing for how much longer, I doubt she’ll stay. I would not encourage her to.

        So, in all of this, my company basically stands to lose two people, and we would be the only two people who really do what we do, if they don’t start listening to both our concerns. This would set the department back very much because my manager would have to start from scratch arranging for people to do our work which involves a lot of client contact. Obviously, I have no real idea how much my manager and her boss and the VP have actually discussed this since I wouldn’t be privy to those conversations, but my colleague and I have DEFINITELY made her aware, separately and together, that we are unhappy with the way things are going, so if our management chain doesn’t see the potential for losing two employees, that’s on them not us. I am reluctant to be more blunt — “I will leave if I have to continue on this project for months,” because my company, while never firing people on performance, absolutely loves to fire people who are trying to go to our competitors. A lot of my former coworkers quit VERY abruptly for this reason. At least, I am reluctant to be more assertive without being able to produce a competing offer letter. I am absolutely updating my resumé so I can interview elsewhere at this point.

        As far as a timeline, I tried. When this was announced to me two weeks ago, my manager had the impression of it being “at least 90 days? Ish?” in her exact words. This past week I sent an email to the manager of the group I am working with, and my own manager and director were copied in as well, because I had a half dozen questions involving access, procedures, and most importantly, an estimated timeline for this project. The answer I was given on the timeline was, “Well, we’ve taken on a lot of new clients as a result of this. So awhile.” That, in my company, means no less than 3 months. Probably longer. When I saw that, I resolved that I would bring it up again, if they had a weekly check in of some kind, or if I didn’t have a meeting with the manager of this other group, in about 2 weeks. I will not be doing it for months on end without concessions or quitting, I know that much.

        I would have absolutely preferred for this to be a part time thing. Even back to, doing mornings on one job and afternoons on the other (like I had to do during the transition while they hired to replace me). That at least would have allowed my coworker and I to continue to get me fully integrated to my new regular role, without her burning out so much, and still provide tangible assistance. Depending on how things go in the next two weeks, I may directly propose this as an alternative and see how it pans out.

        I really don’t consider myself an unreasonable employee. I nodded and smiled while I did the 50/50 transition, even though I groaned about it daily. I fully appreciate that the people in the other office are probably struggling too and they have obviously expressed appreciation for any help they can get. I know the Upper Management is who’s to blame for the problems and I’m trying to be as courteous as I can about the whole thing, while putting my foot down. I know just saying “but i HATE it” isn’t going to get me anywhere, but having some idea how to proceed without mentioning how miserable I am (at least, not mentioning that first) was something I struggled with articulating.

        Me being absent from my department for months on end is absolutely going to be a loss for the company, and my manager and her manager, our director, already know that. The VP just appears to not value us as much as he values the department I’m suborned to assist. And that’s because we don’t bring in as much billable revenue — which my department has never had a lot of, in its nature.

        Your reply has been VERY valuable, I appreciate the insights very much.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I honestly think they’re going to dump you back in your old role and leave you there, because it’s easier for them than hiring or training someone new. You need get a new job.

          They haven’t hired the new people they need, they’re not willing to offer salaries that will let them hire someone, they’d rather beg for overtime than staff properly, they don’t care if employees hate their job, and they’re vindictive when someone gets another offer. If the place implodes because they drove off the only two people who know how to do a vital task, it’s entirely their own doing.

    4. *daha**

      Fling your hands! Revise your resume. Research job opportunities. Craft cover letters. Submit ASAP. There’s no guarantee you’ll be back doing new position ever, much less within six months, and you don’t want to wait six months to find this out and start the process then.
      If you get an offer before you feel you’re ready to move out, then turn it down.

      1. Yet Another Jenn*

        I am not waiting to do that for sure! I’m spending this weekend updating my resumé and doing some research on the job market. I really do want to have leverage with my company’s upper management on this issue by having a competing offer to walk away to if they won’t budge. My company often takes a dim view of employees looking/going elsewhere by firing them instead of letting them work out notice periods, or firing them when an offer letter is shown.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Get a time period in writing. Much easier to tolerate when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And ask for a bonus for doing this. (If I read your letter correctly, you are still getting paid the higher salary for the new job, so I can see that a raise wouldn’t be on the table. If I misunderstood and they want to send you back to the old pay, tell them they need to keep your pay the same or you will take — whatever action is appropriate – grievance, legal?)

      1. Yet Another Jenn*

        Yes. My on-paper salary and title have not changed. I am just doing entry level work again, essentially. If they had tried to reduce my pay or change my title back, I would have outright refused to do the work, told them so, and let them decide to fire me. The fact that I’m being overpaid to do this work is why I want to try to work with them a little.

        I absolutely WANT a timeline. I asked the manager of the department I am working with for one, with my manager/director copied in on that request. She could not provide more than the vaguest “awhile.” I intend to press her on that again in a week or two. While, of course, updating my resumé and seeking out interviews elsewhere. That’s a given, until/unless something changes here at my company. I feel like being more pushy than every week or every other week would not yield any better answers, unfortunately.

    6. Be kind, rewind*

      How much vacation time do you have? If you can use a lot during that time, it might be more bearable.

      1. Yet Another Jenn*

        I do intend to use some! Unfortunately I’ve already scheduled the majority of my three weeks for later this year for other family obligations and events with pre-planned dates, so not as much as I would like.

    7. Pocket Mouse*

      How important is it that your experience with this type of work is recent? It sounds like there are others who have the same or similar experience, just less recent. Can you push back with an argument that recency is not a valid qualification? Or, if not, can you enlist another person to do the first month with you so you can get them up to date, then you bow out and they continue for another 1-4 months?

      1. Yet Another Jenn*

        It is pretty important, as I found out this week. Another person who was suborned like me hasn’t done this work in over 5 years and no longer has anything more than a basic understanding of what they need. He still hasn’t joined me in the project because they are scrambling to (re)train him. It is data entry, but there are a lot of SOPs built in, and there is definitely a need for some industry knowledge to be optimal at it. It really isn’t something that “anyone” can do.

        My hope initially when I heard about this was that I (and whoever else they were grabbing) would be doing it temporarily while they trained existing employees on the complicating bits, and then hired entry level employees to replace *those* employees, which is what would make sense in my old department. Obviously I do not know if that is happening or not, but since they are not willing/able to give me a timeline (yet) it isn’t sounding likely. I can’t help but think if they were actually hiring for this work they would have a timeline for me.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Are you in the US? If yes, will you end up paying income taxes for your state plus your work location state? Can you tell your boss that paying taxes in two states causes a problem for you?

      1. Yet Another Jenn*

        That, at least, won’t be a problem. Nothing is changing at the payroll level. So my department/office is still paying me based on my “regular” position, I’m just doing work to benefit another office.

    9. beach read*

      Could you ask for a compromise such as teaching a second employee, or …a temp on how to do the job, so you could do a little of both, that way you’d still keep your toes in the water of the new job so to speak?

  43. The Fellow*

    So I have a question (or maybe just a need for encouragement). I am a one-year research fellow at a nonprofit. I am paid by the fellowship organization, not the nonprofit. I love the work I’ve been doing, and I think my supervisor/coworkers really like me as well – a lot of compliments, lots of additional work the nonprofit wants me to take on etc. I would really like to stay at this position full-time, after the fellowship is over.

    Yesterday, my supervisor and I had a zoom call, and she asked if I was going to re-apply for the fellowship, because the fellowship org has specifically asked the nonprofits *not* to favor their current fellows . I got flustered, and was like “uh, maybe, but I’ve been worried they would just reject me, because I’m a prior recipient/they want to spread the fellowships” (which is part of the orgs ethos – they want to spread the fellowships to as many people as possible). Anyway, she was very much like “we would love for you to stay on, if you reapplied – the work is not done, and we want you to be here.”

    (slightly convoluted, my apologies -). How should I follow up this conversation? To be clear, while I *could* reapply for the fellowship, I *do* think I would be disfavored by the fellowship granting body, and I also would strongly prefer a job, for health insurance, retirement, stability, and other reasons. Right now, I’m planning an email where I ask whether the nonprofit would be willing to employ me directly after the fellowship is over – any thoughts?

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

      “ask whether the nonprofit would be willing to employ me directly after the fellowship is over” I think this is a good option, but why not do both if you really want to stay with the project; apply and see what happens with the fellowship and ask the non-profit if they can hire you. However, it’s likely the non-profit relies on the fellowship to fund the position, and they can’t afford it otherwise especially when factoring in all of the benefits you (rightly) want. That may be what your supervisor is hinting at — they can’t retain you without the fellowship.

    2. Procrastinating at work*

      This really feels like the nonprofit is trying to get good work without paying benefits and providing stability to you. I would send an email or phone call where you explain that the fellowship strongly discourages people from reapplying and you doubt you would get it again. I would then ask if there is any position that is open or can be created because you feel strongly about the work and like manger said, the work isn’t done.

  44. AcrobatSquirrel*

    I have a “what would you do?” situation and would value opinions and thoughts, because I’m a bit stuck.

    I worked in Old Job for a really long time, more than 10 years. I loved it for most of that time but in the final 2 years there was a series of changes that made the role way less fun and a lot more frustrating. So when an opening came up in a different department, doing similar work in a totally different part of the org, I applied and got it.

    I have been in New Job for about a year. The team is lovely and the sorts of demoralizing frustrations at Old Job are not present at New Job. I had a good review recently. And yet I cannot get comfortable! The new org is confusing and very wide in scope, and there is very little guidance for me or my products. After a year I still feel like I’m not quite the right fit here. I am a person who likes (needs) processes, routines, and parameters. This doesn’t mean I need my hand held, but I want to know exactly what you want and when you want it. And since I always feel a bit like I’m guessing in this role, I’m really starting to think I just don’t have the instinct or the confidence to just march forward on projects and assignments with such minimal direction.

    I don’t miss the aggravation of the old job, but I miss the people, the sense of purpose, the clear direction, and the cool factor (it was a super cool workplace). However, I know the situation there for those in my old role has gotten worse instead of better. And they’re not hiring at the moment.

    What would you do if you were me? Try to get more comfortable somehow in the current role?

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      I’d probably be thinking about leaving the org altogether. You gave it your best shot at staying, but it’s not working out. Going back to your old job is not an option, because 1) they’re not hiring, and 2) the atmosphere would make you unhappy. Remember that rose-colored glasses tend to creep up on us without us even realizing.

    2. Zephy*

      Do you have any authority to create the processes, routines, parameters that you need? Is it just that such a system doesn’t currently exist but someone (you?) could build one, or is it the nature of the work that such a structured approach wouldn’t jibe with what actually needs to be done?

      If you wouldn’t be able (allowed or capable, either way) to build the structure that you need, then it may be time to jump ship, but you’ve been there a year and you have evidence that they like you – if you aren’t comfortable just setting up a process, talk to your boss and get their take and possibly their buy-in.

      1. Squid*

        Yeah, this strikes me as a “ask for what you need/want” type of situation. Don’t assume you are out there on your own, but rather talk to your manager about how you best work and that you don’t feel that you are performing optimally, and here’s XYZ thing that you would like their support on to move toward optimal.

    3. anonymous73*

      Have a conversation with your manager about your frustrations and struggles. If they’re good at their job, they’ll want you to succeed. And if the answers you get don’t show that things will improve, polish off the resume and start job hunting. Maybe you’re not in the right organization. You changed departments but you’re still not really happy in your role.

    4. Polopoly*

      Give yourself time. You’ve now been in the role long enough to see how different it is (good and bad). But you haven’t been there long enough to adapt yourself to it, or adapt the role to you. Like putting on a new pair of boots – the pressure points often only appear after hiking a few miles… usually with time, the boots stretch a bit and your feet adapt a bit and the discomfort resolves. It may be that your comfort level will increase again over time. You were at your old job for a decade – you won’t get that comfortable again overnight.

      But obviously if it continues without getting better, or there are any red flags, changing jobs remains an option.

  45. Department Director*

    How do I deal with seeing a pushy consultant who got upset when we didn’t hire her, and who keeps reaching out to try to collaborate and “mentor” me, at an industry conference?

    I’m a director of a department and my boss is a VP who oversees a few different departments. This consultant reached out to both of us at the end of last year and wanted to meet to talk about the services she provides. At the time, we were working on business development ideas, so we scheduled a meeting with her in January. I had briefly interacted with her at a virtual event last summer, and she is known and seems to be respected in our (small, niche) field. That meeting came and went and I was… not interested in moving forward with her. She talked nonstop and would not let either of us get a word in, the ideas she proposed were either things we had already tried, can’t do for various reasons, or are already working on, and she was very patronizing to me. (I am 38 and I’ve been in this position for 2 years, this industry is new to me but I had a well over decade of experience in a related industry before coming here – think llama grooming vs alpaca grooming.)

    Unfortunately, my boss and I didn’t agree on not moving forward with working with her (she treats my boss much differently than she treats me), had her write out a business proposal, and scheduled a follow up meeting that was supposed to happen this week. Two days before, my boss was reviewing her calendar and asked me to cancel the meeting since we are already moving forward with the business development plan we crafted in December and don’t have the bandwidth for more right now. I sent an email that basically said, we aren’t able to move forward right now, so we are going to go ahead and cancel, but will let you know if something changes.

    She was outraged! She basically said, “how could you do this, I thought we were colleagues! Surely you want to move forward with some of the proposal!” and demanded to know why we had canceled. I was quite taken aback – I already wasn’t enthused about working with her, but this was so off putting to me that I never want to again. My boss responded at this point, but then the consultant replied AGAIN saying that she “feels like part of our team and is excited to work with us” (what?), and then noted that she is going to be at an industry conference in a few weeks and will “be sure to find” me. Apparently she has lots of pearls of wisdom she wants to share (pass).

    Does anyone have any suggestions for scripts of how to deal with this person at the conference? I am not interested in meeting with her or talking with her at any length, but she is also a prominent member of our niche industry and I am relatively senior and would like to have a collegial relationship with her, since we can’t really avoid one another. This will be our first in-person event since I’ve been in this role, and I want it to be a positive experience.

    Also, my boss expressed that she is impressed by the consultant’s gumption (that word!), but if she were hired my boss would only have a minor role in working with her, it would mainly be me. I do not ever want to hire or work with this woman. Suggestions of how to communicate that to my boss professionally? This woman really grinds my gears and it’s the first time in a very long time I’ve encountered someone in a professional setting that I have this kind of reaction to.

    1. MsM*

      To consultant: “I appreciate your enthusiasm, but what I said still stands: we’re not moving forward with the project at the moment, and I don’t have a timeline for when that will change.” Repeat as often and firmly as necessary, and be prepared to make a lot of new friends you just *have* to go over and talk to instead.

      To boss: “I don’t find this person’s refusal to hear and accept a “no” or even a “not right now” professional, and I am deeply concerned about what that signals for any project we might end up on together and any conflicts we might encounter along the way. As I’ve said, I also wasn’t impressed originally by her failure to ask about and take on board our specific needs when making her pitch. I’m confident we’ll find a candidate we both like even better when we’re ready to relaunch this search and it won’t be an issue, but if you’re determined to keep her in the mix, I need *you* to hear me and take me seriously when I say I do not see that ending well.”

    2. Conference dodging*

      At the conference, “I don’t have time to talk right now. Great seeing you.” Smile. Walk away. Repeat.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      “had her write out a business proposal, and scheduled a follow up meeting that was supposed to happen this week. Two days before, my boss was reviewing her calendar and asked me to cancel the meeting since we are already moving forward with the business development plan we crafted ”

      I think your boss messed this up big time. Don’t make someone do work for free (unless it was just a form document) when you know you aren’t going to use it. So the consultant went from maybe too pushy to being rightfully aggrieved. I feel they are actually owed an apology now, and you need to get your boss to do it!

      1. Department Director*

        I don’t disagree, but I’m trying to focus on what I have control over, which is not that.

  46. High Steaks*

    Folks who have taken circuitous paths to your current career: How did you arrive there?

    My career so far has been all over the place, and I’m still not where I want to be. I’d love to hear stories about weird career journeys that end in a job that you love!

    1. Carmen San Diego*

      Once I was fed up with a project I was leading and the incompetence of a few team members. I rash applied to 2 jobs in different sectors. I had an offer in 2 weeks and it was the best move I could have made.

    2. Department Director*

      Re-order everything on your resume under each job, so that the things you enjoyed the most are listed first, and the things you didn’t enjoy are listed last or not at all. Look for jobs that speak to the things you enjoy, even if it’s not a straight line from one position to another.

    3. OyHiOh*

      I started my working life in hospitality, hotels specifically. I absolutely loved hospitality, and probably would have stayed there, if not for personal limits on how much I was willing to travel/relocate to get to sustainable and stable salaries.

      Then I got pregnant and dropped out of the workforce entirely. When my oldest entered school, I started picking up some parent volunteer stuff, including running a couple projects that, 10 years on are still on my resume because they are pretty impressive accomplishments. Picked up a couple non profit and government board appointments.

      Got a part time job running a dinner theater’s kitchen. An awesome job, except that I kept getting sick during December madness (two shows running concurrent for three weeks. Fourteen hour Saturdays and twelve hour Sundays were known to happen.)

      Then my spouse died. I decided to try and turn my weird resume into an office/admin job. I was “this close” to having two or three offers to choose from when the pandemic started, and everyone I’d been interviewing with froze their hiring. Finally, in late summer 2020 I landed in the job I’ve got now. I was pretty much just applying for any admin or communications type jobs I could find. The job was billed as an extremely part time admin assistant job. As I’ve acquired skills and confidence (and the org has grown and found new funding sources) my role has morphed into a weird hybrid of executive assistant, office/operations manager, and mass communication.

      The org works in the area of economic development and, if I can stay in this niche for the rest of my working life, I will do so. I find this area of how to develop jobs and growth intellectually challenging, while also easy/”boring” enough that when I go home, I’ve got passion and energy left for my art and theatre projects.

      1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

        I’m sorry for your loss. I’m so happy to hear you’re doing something you enjoy!

    4. Anon 4 This*

      I quit a job when my boss wouldn’t let me have a day off to attend my brother’s graduation (I worked for this place 6 days a week, and they were closed on Sundays, and I had taken literally one day off in the year prior). I panic-applied to a ton of jobs, and ended up at my university’s library as a student employee.
      My boss at that job literally got hit by a truck, and so they needed two student employees to step up and become student supervisor employees until she finished recovering–I was one of the two, and kept the role until I graduated and could no longer be a student employee.

      A year after graduating (I spent a year abroad on a post-undergrad language scholarship), I needed a job, and a different department in the library was hiring. I got in pretty much on the strength of my prior work as a student supervisor, since everything I had to do for the job, my new boss had to train me in. I was interested in working for the university mainly because I wanted to get a graduate degree in education so I could teach, which I did. I got married, moved to a different state, etc.; I never planned to work in a library again.

      After a few years into teaching, I was desperate to get out, and there was a spot at a local university library that was similar to what I’d done before, but it was a bit of a stretch. I got it, and I’ve been here for nearly a decade, slowly growing my role and doing more and more interesting things with it. There’s not really any room for advancement, but it’s stable, I’m appreciated, and I have some flexibility in my hours and choosing new projects, and I have a good boss and grand boss, all of which matter a lot in terms of job satisfaction. Even though the pay is rather low, it’s better than a lot of similar positions I could apply for that would require a commute.

      1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

        I love this one, because I also spent a couple years working in libraries and I dearly miss it and would love to do it again!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My mom was a medical coder and biller all my life, literally, up until her retirement a couple years ago. I could not possibly have been less interested in anything she ever had to say about work growing up. Into my mid-20s, I sorta bopped around a bunch of miscellaneous call center, receptionist, temp type jobs.

      One day I got handed a six month contract doing a document management project for a hospital. The guy teaching me the job abruptly quit at the end of my first week. As it turns out, the documents I was managing were billing forms and I was working with a bunch of coders and specialists. (I called mom and was waxing all ridiculous about how awesome it was, and she was like “….. well, glad you’re finally on board, you know this is the kind of thing I’ve been doing all your life that you thought was dumb and boring?” I apologized.) I got hired on permanently to replace the dude who quit, got my coding certification a year and a half later, and have now been a coder for 18 years. I stayed at that first hospital for a little over eight years, and have been promoted either 3 or 4 times at my current one, depending on how you count them.

    6. MeepMeep02*

      Ooh, ooh, I’ve got one! Here goes.

      Started my career in engineering. I was unlucky enough to get laid off twice in three years, and after the second layoff (a startup that failed in a slow and excruciating way, in which I ended up majorly screwed over), decided I was done with engineering (and with working for other people) and wanted something else to do.

      I started a math tutoring practice. I’d done tutoring before and really enjoyed it. It became my full-time job and I loved it. Then, my mother got sick and I had to move out of state on a moment’s notice. Bye-bye tutoring job.

      I spent a couple of years living with my parents and helping my mother recover (and working for their small business while she couldn’t work). When she got better, I went on a date. The relationship didn’t work out, but while we were talking about work, my date mentioned something about the patent agent exam. I got curious, took the test, and passed.

      I enjoyed the studying process and found that law study was a lot easier for me than engineering was. So, I decided to apply for law school, with the intention of starting a patent law practice after graduation. I did that.

      I graduated from law school, worked at a firm for a year, then started up my own practice doing patents. And then I went on another date. Turns out my date was also a lawyer, but doing family law rather than patents.

      We eventually married and had a kid. During the infant phase, I pretty much dropped my patent practice – I could not maintain it. After I recovered a bit, I joined my spouse’s family law practice, and found I liked it a lot better than patents.

      We now work together doing family law. I’m liking it a lot more than patents – there’s a lot of human drama and a lot of actual help that I can provide to clients who really need it.

      So yeah, I’ve bounced all over the place, and since I’m not dead yet, I’m assuming there will be plenty more bouncing to come. I hope your next bounce brings you to a better place in life.

  47. Dino*

    BEC crackers: any hope of unringing that bell?

    I have a new coworker who is just A Lot. Her voice is loud, her lotion is loud (I can tell when she’s in the building just by walking in the hall outside the office since her lotion smells so strong), and everything is always an emergency and she’ll unload on whomever is in the vicinity. Her A Lot-ness actively hampers my work, and of course her cube is right next to mine. I kinda hate her, but don’t like feeling that way.

    Has anyone successfully reframed their BEC into something more pleasant?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Can you find something you like about her, or some sympathy for her? Maybe give her an unsolicited compliment? Have a pleasant conversation that might help you reframe? It’s OK to just not like people, of course. She sounds like she could just be grating. But if you can reframe it to “oh, poor Forsythia just feels a little insecure and anxious so she sees everything as an emergency” that might help? Just some thoughts.

    2. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      I have never been able to do this, but maybe some people can. Maybe you’re one of those people, if you are good at letting things go in general! I am not.

      Good luck. And maybe get some good headphones. Also, it may be worth talking to her about the lotion. Say you have migraines or allergies. Even if you don’t really, someone probably does and you’d be doing everyone a favor.

    3. Soup of the Day*

      “Her lotion is loud” has me dying. I think my only suggestion is to learn some humanizing things about her that you can remind yourself of in times of particular annoyance. It’s harder to hate someone when you know their mom works at the grocery store and they have the same gardening interests as you.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Do you *have* to like her? Sometimes I find it easier to just file someone away as “annoying but harmless” in my head. Once they have that label, it’s easier for my brain to ignore them and forget about what they’re doing. But YMMV.

    5. Choggy*

      Yeah, I have one of these, I don’t know how but I just tune her out, and anytime I have to talk to her, I keep everything bland or work-related only. I’m sure she finds me dull as dish water so doesn’t tend to talk/share with me too much (Yay for me!)

    6. Fluffy Fish*

      Have you given yourself permission to just not like her? It’s normal to not like everyone. It’s not a character flaw or moral failing.

      I have found with people at work that I don’t like, that once I accepted that I didn’t like them and didn’t have to try to, they began taking up much less space in my brain.

      I feel like most people already know this – I am not advocating for expressing dislike. Professionalism is always a requirement.

    7. anonymous73*

      Honestly no. But why do you HAVE to like her? As long as you’re civil and respectful, you’re fine. If she tries to corner you, don’t let her. “Sorry, I’m in a hurry. Can’t chat.” as you walk away.

      My go to is headphones. Not sure if that’s feasible in your role, but blocking out the loud and unpleasant people around you has always helped me. And if it were me, we’d probably have to throw down with her “loud” lotion because it would give an instant migraine.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’ve given myself permission to just….not like people I don’t actually like. I’m not saying I’m rude or a jerk to anyone, but if I just don’t vibe with someone, I don’t force it. I have several coworkers I low-key don’t like, but I’m still friendly and personable to them, and I’m able to have successful coworker relationships with them, but I don’t go out of my way to hang out with them if it’s not work-related.

      1. Rosie*

        I very luckily had a quirky grandma who I adored but would probably have hated to work with. Any chance there is someone if your life who is the least bit like her? You could try to like her through your love of someone else. I know that sounds weird, but, I do this all the time driving. I imagine it was my crazy grandma driving and don’t get upset when people do something stupid.

    9. Stoppin' by to chat*

      There’s always logistical things like wearing headphones, and saying you can’t talk if they’re popping their head up from their cube to spew their “alot-ness” all over the nearest person :) I think it was advice from Carolyn Hax in the WaPo to view them as a comical, not villain per-se, but like an over the top cartoon character. Not take anything they do personally, recognize them as ridiculous, and just keep your distance.

  48. metageeky*

    I’m on the job market and facing the fun old task of being asked to name a salary. I hate this part and worry on so many levels of undercutting myself or ruining an offer. It’s a technology related librarian job at a private college in Philadelphia. I’ve figured the change in cost of living and could say a minimum of that bumped up appropriately. That seems wrong.

    I’ve tried doing research on salaries but the best I get are averages for all library staff. I do know similar salaries of other academic librarians in Philly.

    Advice please.

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      I mentioned it above, but my new rule is: Ask for as much as you can say without laughing.
      It sounds weird, but most everyone has a point where they can’t say a certain salary without giggling. I had to practice it before my new job and it took a lot to say, “I think X is a great place to begin the conversation.” And they took it without a blink.

    2. Esmeralda*

      Use your network — former colleagues working in similar jobs in other large cities, former classmates ditto, maybe any profs from your grad school who seemed reasonably savvy and/or keep up with their students and might know.

      1. metageeky*

        Small library staff that has been great at retention. And I’m exploring at least within the city and getting some numbers, but not the greatest data. I miss public sector at times.

    3. Magnus Archivist*

      I say go with what other academic librarians in the same city are making. But it really sucks that they won’t even give you a range.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’d base it on what other academic librarians in similar roles are making in Philly. I mean, I work in a very high cost of living state, so what other people in my role are making in Nevada is sort of irrelevant to what I should be making, where as people in other libraries in my area are much more likely to show parity. If it is a faculty role, I would also tap into your network and see if anyone knows the faculty pay floor at the Uni which would give you a bottom number to think about.

    5. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Full disclosure I work in the tech industry, but almost 10 years when I had to come up with preferred salary when I was switching employers, I looked at my current salary, and added about $16K (USD). It wasn’t even based on the job market per se, it was more, if I’m going to leave my current job, I want to make at least x. So if you look at your current salary, how much more do you need to be paid to take a new job.

  49. Melanie Cavill*

    A post from earlier this week got me thinking about the generational gap that can (but not always does) explain the how people approach the phone vs. email in their professional lives. I’m a millennial and while I don’t have phone anxiety, I find it to a waste of time in most instances – it requires stopping what you’re doing in real time and peeling through layers of potential small talk. I generally only resort to it when the person I am dealing with cannot send a coherent email to save their lives… which, sadly, is more often than I would hope.

    But I’ve dealt with people who insist on being on hold because they consider their time too valuable to accept leaving a voicemail (??), people who call after every single email sent to them to answer a very brief question (I wanted a paper trail for a reason, gosh darn it!), people who say no, they don’t want to leave a voicemail and then leave me a long and complicated message to relay (I’m not an assistant, a secretary, or a receptionist), and people who are impossible to get off the phone without saying goodbye six times and telling me all about their life when I ask an intended-to-be-perfunctory ‘how are you?’ To me, I find all this quite rude! It’s a deliberate waste of the time of the person you are talking to. But people twenty+ years older than me often tell me I’m the rude one for preferring email/being concise on the phone and they are actually being polite to our colleagues, clients, and customers by having such a phone manner. (I should point out that we operate entirely in a business-to-business model; these people we’re dealing with all have jobs they are trying to do, and dealing with us is a part of their job, just as dealing with them is a part of ours.)

    So that’s my not-at-all-concise thoughts on the matter! I’m curious what other people think about phone manner and phone vs. email at work. Where do you land? If you’re someone who does consider several minutes of small talk on a professional call to be the polite thing to do, I’d love to get your reasoning!

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      It’s such a toss up. I (for the record, Gen-X) go back and forth.
      Yes, there are some folks who I do want that paper trail. I’ll email, they’ll call a reply, and I’ll send a “to recap our call” email to C my own A. And, at the same time, there are times when stuff gets done on rapport. Not schmoozing, not buddy-buddy, but just the friendly development that – for many older people – comes from talking to people rather than emailing. So if there’s anything I can say, it’s that for some, it’s building social currency which you can use at a later date.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        Oh, that “to recap our call” email is such a good idea, I’m definitely going to steal that from you.

    2. Grace Poole*

      I recently moved offices, and my supervisor told me that I didn’t have to hook up the phone if I didn’t want to, which was surprising and welcome. Most of my job is done online and through email and Slack, so I’m pleased about this. Our voicemail messages are sent to us as an audio file, so all I needed to do was update my outgoing message.

    3. Esmeralda*

      Boomer here. I hate talking on the phone for all the reasons you list. Plus I just don’t like it.

      Small talk — the amount of small talk I’ll put up with depends on our relationship, the purpose of the call, and frankly our relative power. If it’s my dean (also a boomer), I put up with it. Otherwise, I keep it brief. Good phrase for people you don’t want to be brusque with: “Well, I want to mindful of your time, I know you’re busy! ” Allow one more sentence, then “OK then, I’ll get that sent out to you!”

      I’ve also been interrupted by a colleague at the door haha — “Oh, I’m so sorry, my boss is at the door, I’ve *got to* go, thanks so much, I’ll get that sent out to you bye!” And hang up. (no, my boss was not at the door…)

    4. Soup of the Day*

      Ugh. I think it depends a lot on the job, but for me, a random call is a huge annoyance. My job requires a lot of concentration and I have a ton of different tasks that are due to different people. One of those people calling me to discuss their project means breaking my concentration and waiting for me to stop what I’m doing to hunt through my files for the thing they have a question about. It’s a huge waste of my time and it’s never anything as urgent as they think it is.

    5. Squid*

      (Neurodivergent) millennial here. I avoid phones for many reasons: small talk, difficulties with auditory processing, the fact that it takes me out of the zone of whatever I am working on, the lack of preparation I have when calls are spontaneous, the lack of paper trail to CYA or to refer back to later, my mouth can’t move as quickly as my brain does… There are others, but those are the biggest on my mind at the moment.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I think the small talk is actually the best part. I’ve learned about whole new initiatives and gotten myself invited to meetings based on small talk that went into deeper topics. I’ve also increased my status in a way, when I make someone realize I’m working on higher level stuff than they realized.

        1. Squid*

          Sure, there are definitely upsides and you can use it to network. But 9/10 times that I get a phone call, the small talk is about the weather or my kid (or theirs) or other irrelevant things that I don’t care to discuss in that moment. Tell me what you need and let me get back to what I am working on. I network in other ways.

    6. Joielle*

      The thing that bugs me about phone conversations is when someone calls me with a request, but they haven’t thought it all the way through ahead of time, so I just get a stream of consciousness and I’m the one that has to figure out what they’re really asking and what they need me to do. It feels like they’re forcing me to do the work of synthesizing the request, rather than doing it themselves the way they’d need to if they had to sit down and write it out in a coherent email.

    7. Prospect Gone Bad*

      For me the bigger issue is calls vs. chat.

      I hate chat. People say you can ignore them or that they are quick. I find that I’m already getting interrupted, just as much as I would with a call, and that the interruption last longer than a call. I am tired of waiting for someone to type responses and can’t really go back to do anything else while I wait for the response to come back and I see them typing.

    8. ecnaseener*

      Zillennial here, and I mostly agree with you. I’ll go for the phone call in slightly more scenarios than you though – like for a simple quick question that I expect the person to be able to answer off the top of their head.

      The insistence on having the whole conversation in real time absolutely feels rude to me. When people refuse to give any answer over email to an emailed question, or ask to schedule a call with no information, or leave a voicemail with no information, or call and call with no voicemail, etc. If you truly can’t figure out how to write down your question/answer, have the decency to say so and at least attempt a one-sentence summary.

      Interestingly I used to have terrible phone anxiety but it’s largely gone away since I started work! I still strongly prefer email though.

      1. ecnaseener*

        How timely is this! I had a voicemail waiting for me (from a person who ALWAYS seems to call me during my standing friday meeting), took care of some urgent stuff first, went to play the voicemail just now – and there was no message. They just didn’t hang up before the beep.

        Delightful that I don’t have to return a call. Slightly worrisome that they haven’t called back or emailed in the last hour and a half – are they giving up on asking whatever they had to ask and waiting til it becomes a problem? – but if so that’s their problem.

    9. Lunch Ghost*

      Hm. Millenial here.

      – Quick question/request to coworker: call. But if I was in a place where the culture was more to email, I think I’d adjust all right.
      – Question that is likely to require back-and-forth clarification with coworker: call. This one I’d find hard to adjust. A chain of one-line emails gets annoying to me very quick.
      – Brief question emailed to me: would email back. (I could see calling in response to an email if the answer was more complicated or dependent.)
      – Non-coworker: email unless I was told to call them or I can’t find an email address. Mostly because voicemail is a weakness of mine so if I’m going to rehearse a voicemail before calling and potentially not even use it, why not use that time writing an email?
      – (that being said) Totally with you on the “Why would you rather wait than leave a voicemail?” and “Why would you think leaving a message with a person is any more efficient than leaving a voicemail?” (Especially when I just told you the person is on the phone! They will see your voicemail when it comes in! Do you think that me telling him to call you is more compelling than a voicemail? I am not a Jedi…)

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        “Why would you rather wait than leave a voicemail?”

        To be fair, this was one person who was… unique. But they would call asking for X, and X had a queue system that held up to four callers and then it went directly to voicemail. (X got A LOT of calls.) Rather than leave a voicemail, they would insist on being on hold until I knew X was not on the phone (which… ugh) and then put them through. I hated it and would plainly tell them, ‘I have no control over whether or not you go to voicemail.’ This person was not loved in our office and though I often contacted our engineers for clarification on operational matters, I would refuse to contact this specific engineer and would often make X do it instead.

        “Why would you think leaving a message with a person is any more efficient than leaving a voicemail?”

        Exactly! I can’t even begin to answer this question, but it keeps happening.

    10. eisa*

      It’s not that black and white – each communication medium is suited for a specific purpose / situation.

      “people who call after every single email sent to them to answer a very brief question” that is silly, of course, and inefficient.
      “I wanted a paper trail for a reason, gosh darn it!” I feel you .. I have a colleague from another team, I guess he falls into the millenial age group, who drives me crazy because whenever I write an email to him (often cc’ing other people), he will reply in chat to me, although I’ve told him time and again not to do it.

      In communication between different companies, email is mostly preferred, precisely so that both sides have a paper trail for reference.
      Of course, phone calls do happen and can sometimes be the easier and better way to communicate – one can always follow up in writing : “as per our phone call just now, yadda yadda”
      Voice communication, including a bit of small talk, is also beneficial for relationship building, which is in turn beneficial for cooperation. If there is good-will between your business partner and yourself, the business will run smoother.

      Don’t get me wrong – I am a big fan of emails and I often take quite some effort in composing them – but depending on the situation, sometimes voice calls will be a lot more efficient, achieving in 15 minutes what would have taken a day of mailing back and forth otherwise.

    11. Koala dreams*

      I preferred emails when starting working in offices too, but for every year I dislike them more and more. It’s nice for written communication that’s too important to lose in the mail, but it’s really so time-consuming. Sometimes I think it’s just me, then I read an article about how the key to productivity at work is to only check email N times a day and realize email is a time thief for other people too. It’s nice to get a quick email response of course, but I’m always glad I don’t have to work in an office where you’re logged in to the email all the time, hear chimes whenever you get an email and have to respond immediately. Yet, I don’t have any alternative. It’s getting unusual for people to answer their phone, and voicemail is just awful (it’s not getting better when you get used to it).

    12. Anon for This*

      Boomer here. I also prefer e-mail. There are times when you need a real conversation, but for most things e-mail is better – in large part because you don’t need to be available at the same time as the other party. This has nothing to do with phone manner – I enjoy small talk, and over the years have gotten good at cutting to the chase when someone wants to recount last night’s game or engage in some other long-winded social commentary – it’s not an aversion to the phone. E-mail is just more efficient.

      I think the biggest difference in generations is instant messages vice e-mil, not the phone. I prefer e-mails for most things because I often want the record, and where I work e-mails are automatically retained, but IMs are not. I really hate it when people put web links or other vital information into chat messages that will disappear.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Boomer here. I am actually okay with the phone overall. But over recent years the voice quality is HORRIBLE. Picture the adults in a Peanuts cartoon.
      So me, with my white hair, sitting and saying “What?” repeatedly appears to be an old person stereotype.

      I have put the phone on speaker so my boss could hear what I hear and she was horrified that I have to work with this as the voice quality is that bad. “You are able to figure out some of what they are saying???”

      It’s mostly cell phone users. I have just put my foot down. If I can’t understand the speaker, I am not going to knock myself out trying to get what they are saying. Interestingly, since I started tolerating less static (literal static) the cell users are quick to remedy. “I will move to a different spot” or “I will call you back in 5” are the types of replies I get.

      I am “fortunate” in that it’s widely known that I work part time. This speeds up my pacing a lot and people know that. For my regular contacts they just email me, knowing I answer as soon as I get back in the office. For people who are infrequent or first time callers, I just explain my time constraints.

      My suggestion here is to develop a response to each of the scenarios you have mentioned. The one scenario that jumped at me was taking long messages for other people. That sounds particularly annoying. I’d find a way of point out to the caller that they are the best person to relate their story, talking to the proper person is only to their advantage as that person will probably have specific questions that only they (the caller) can answer.

      After you have methodically developed go-to solutions for each scenario, the last thing that I do is I remind myself that this is a part of my job and it is not going to go away. In other words, I try to reset my own expectations of everything moving along swiftly. It just doesn’t and that’s reality. With Covid and other things, people seem more frazzled and getting through even mundane stuff seems to be more encumbered than ever. Oddly, the thing to do seems to keep my own stuff calm and organized. People do respond differently when they realize the person they are talking to is on top of their game.

      The other week I had a person (male) who would not stop beating a dead horse. He wanted me to say something like “the sky is teal”, when we all know the sky is blue. I actually told him that I was running out of time to keep discuss the sky color issue and he needed to talk to my boss directly. “But-but-but” And I repeated, I am running out of time that I can dedicate to this discussion. I do not have the authority to change the name of the sky color. You have to discuss this with my boss.” Finally I said, “Sir, this is not my pay grade to handle this question. I have answered your question and we really seem to be talking in circles. I must hang up very soon.” I can say this in my field, because I do not have the quals or authority to go any further. He actually laughed when I said “pay grade” he understood that one.

      Later he emailed apologies to me and my boss when he found out that the sky is actually blue. I can live with this. Somehow I do not think this person will waste my time like that again. It does feel as though it’s a matter of converting people to the concept of being efficient, but conversion rate is one person at a time. It’s part of the job, sigh.

    14. beach read*

      I thought about this a lot after that letter.
      Respectfully, if one person prefers the phone and one person prefers email, shouldn’t there be an equal compromise?
      Why does a preference for email take precedent over a preference for a phone call?
      What if the person who has phone issues is working with someone with email issues?
      I’m sure there are studies that would show an email is more efficient, but does that mean a compromise is not in order?
      Anyway, I found this an interesting discussion.

    15. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’m retired now (so yes, a boomer), but when I was working I’d spend as little time on the phone as possible. I had my voicemail set up with a message saying all requests for information needed to be in writing via fax or email or even snail mail in those days, and the message laid out what information I needed for them to include in those written requests. Even today as a person of leisure, I very seldom use the phone, preferring texts or emails.

    16. *daha**

      If you need the paper trail, follow up the received phone call with a short email reply “Thanks for phoning me about this with your answer that the llamas should be dyed plaid. I will move forward with this immediately.” Your sent email is your paper trail.

  50. Frozen*

    I have a question for anyone working at a non-profit community-service type job. I recently started volunteering/consulting for a nonprofit group that is related to my day job. They only meet twice a month for this particular project.

    Anytime I email about a question or give an update on what I’m working on for them, they refuse to answer back by email and put it on the next meeting’s agenda. When I asked about it, the lead said they felt this was a better way to get everyone’s input and not overload everyone else with email. This feels excruciating to me because it stops my progress, but I can’t tell if it is normal or not for the field? Like am I the one with bad work/life balance here?

    1. Just another queer reader*

      Nah, that’s weird.

      I mean, if the questions are kind of complicated, I could see it. But if they’re easily answered over email, this is silly.

    2. MsM*