open thread – April 1-2, 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.

{ 1,255 comments… read them below }

  1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    How do you know if you’re over reaching on a stretch job? I have an interview with the hiring manager on the 12th for a job that would be a significant pay increase, even the bottom of the pay range listed is $20k more than I currently make. Everything on my resume is factual, but made to sound a bit more impressive. Only two of my projects was a full scale new process, all the rest ranged from very minor defects to adding validation requirements to existing processes, but those validations save the company money. The job description for this position doesn’t list any technical requirements, it focuses mainly on industry experience and soft skills, both of which I have. My first screening interview was actually one of those on asynchronous ones where you record yourself answering questions via a link they send you. The questions were a bit more in depth than your typical HR screen so obviously my answers were good enough for an in person interview, but I feel like maybe they think I have more technical skills than I really have. Since I haven’t had a chance to ask any questions, I really don’t know anything other than the job description.

    My current job I got much the same way on soft skills vs the technical requirements. I actually didn’t apply for it, I applied for a different one but the recruiter felt my soft skills was a better fit for the job I have now. Truth be told, I really didn’t think I’d like it. It seemed way more advanced than anything I’d ever done, I had no idea what Agile meant and I never worked in SQL. They said it really don’t matter, I’d learn. So I took the interview, and immediately clicked with the team and the recruiter was right, the position was a much better fit than the other one. So maybe this one will be fine too? I really don’t know if I’m overshooting here, since this is about two levels up, or if I have imposter syndrome creeping in. I don’t know what to ask in the interview to feel that out without making it sound like I can’t do the job.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      I think you’re at a place where you should continue with the interviews. You will get a better sense of what they need and where your gaps might be. But don’t sell yourself short. You obviously had some learning for your current job, why wouldn’t it be the same for the new opportunity?
      I also suffer from impostor syndrome so I am coming at this from a place of experience!

      1. Sick Leave Drama*

        Yeah it’s their job to determine if you’re a good fit for their needs, IMO your job is simply to be honest in the interviews that follow; maybe don’t pad your actual experience from here out, and be explicit about what you haven’t done. You can ask pointed questions like, “how important is technical skill X for this role? I have some experience with comparable skill Y but have not been the lead staff member on that.” Remember, it doesn’t actually serve you in the end to be placed in a role you won’t succeed in (which I think you understand well).

        1. Same Thing*

          This is what I did in a similar situation. The job description was awful and included skills that I didn’t have (in-depth technical development skills). I asked at each stage – I want to be clear that I don’t have those skills, but here’s how I could learn or here’s where my skills do exist – and I not only got the job, but I have been promoted multiple times since. Sometimes job descriptions are aspirational and sometimes they’re practical – as long as you’re honest about where you’re at technically and how you could gain those skills if needed, I think you’re fine.

          1. Fran Fine*

            I’ve done the same thing in job interviews and have been hired and excelled in the role. The hiring managers appreciated that I was self-aware and transparent enough to be upfront about what my learning curve would look like, and they were able to get me the help I needed in the focus areas of concern once I started.

          2. Quinalla*

            Same, I always make it clear that hey, I don’t have the skill for X, but I am excited to learn and possibly discuss relevant experience like it or for you for sure how you’ve had a stretch job like this in the past where you jumped in a learned quickly.

            It may be an overshoot, but as long as you are upfront with them about what skills you need and maybe ask them, what technical skills does your ideal employee in this role need, etc. it is really up to them to evaluate if you are what they need.

        2. Koalafied*

          I would also suggest asking questions like: how long do you expect it to take for the person in this role to be fully up to speed and operating independently? Or: what are your expectations for this role’s output/achievements in the first 6 months and first year?

          That will give you a sense of whether they’re looking for someone who they can throw into the deep end and expect to draw on their own previous experience to know what to do, vs someone they’re expecting to spend time training up. Even if they’re thinking it’ll be training primarily in “how Company does X” and they expect you to already have skill in X, it’s a lot easier to pick up X from company-specific training supplemented by your own exploration/study, than it is to pick up X if your manager is a Z specialist who is trying to hire someone who knows X so well that she can point the new hire at it and never have to think about X again.

      2. Varthema*

        I agree. Be honest during interviews and trust them to weed you out if you don’t have the technical experience they need.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. I had a job where I didn’t know x and y but they were looking for someone with related skills who was trainable. Let them determine how much of their job posting was a wish list.

    2. Sunny Day*

      Two questions I ALWAYS ask in every interview are:
      What are some of the greatest challenges that the person in this position will face?
      What specific skills, qualities, and qualifications are most important for someone to have in order to be successful in this position?
      The answers to these questions help me decide if I think I would be a good fit for the position (and vice versa).

    3. Esmeralda*

      Remember, it’s an INTERview. You are both finding out if the fit is good.

      Don’t make the decision for them! You don’t know if it’s too much, if you don’t have the skills, if you won’t fit, if it’s too much of a stretch… That’s why you’re interviewing.

      The other thing is, it’s rare that an employer is going to find that unicorn who has every single skill listed.

      Finally, I notice that you are GUESSING about the actual skills needed. You are ADDING skills to the job description. Technical skills are not listed — do you have actual information that leads you to be 90% sure that they require these skills but for some reason didn’t list them? Probably not…

      If they want technical skills, they would probably be in the job ad. If they want technical skills that aren’t in the job ad, they will ask about them in the interview. If they don’t bring them up, you don’t have to.

      If you want to be sure, ask an open-ended question about it — “could you tell me about the technical skills you expect the person in this position to have?” When you ask this question — let them answer! don’t list a bunch of skills you have/don’t have. Don’t downgrade yourself in asking the question (“I’m wondering about technical skills because I don’t have x y z/I’m not very skilled at a b c…). Ask the question and **wait**. And if they list some that you don’t have, DON’T just say, oh I don’t have x y — ask if they provide training. Express your confidence in being able to get up to speed on x and y. You can point to your experience with your current job — when you took it, you didn’t have experience with a or b, but you learned a and b within a month/whatever.

      Before the interview: Make a list of likely skills and a list of skills you are just guessing maybe are possibly required — go through it. Which ones do you have? Which ones not? Which ones could you learn? This will help you to be ready to answer accurately and confidently.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Thank you. This is very helpful. I’m guessing because when I say there’s no tech skills listed, I mean none. Not even the basic Word/Excel ones but based on the listed duties you’d need some background in project management and some data type tools. But these are great things to ask.

        I was very clear with my current job my lack of tech experience, but what they really needed was someone who could roll with constant change, calm and focused under pressure. And really that’s when I do my best work, so I got the job, learned the tech stuff and have been successful at it.

        1. a tester, not a developer*

          In my company, project managers are not expected to have very many technical skills – their role is to herd the dozens of cats that are the techie people at a reasonable pace and in the same general direction. Program managers (we use that to mean an expert/senior PM who oversees all the project managers working on different parts of a really large project) have even fewer technical skills in my experience; they spend a lot of their time working on messaging to the project sponsors and other high level executives.

      1. Kes*

        I mean, lots of people think they know what agile means but that doesn’t mean people’s definitions of agile agree with each other lol
        (and I include myself in that)

        1. Momma Bear*

          This. All those buzzwords mean slightly different things to different groups. Implementation varies.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I use Agile as a synonym for Wrong. Going through my first Sprint hasn’t really changed that.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            At the moment, I’m bitterly disappointed I couldn’t opt to have my fingernails pulled with pliers instead of attending my first Sprint Retrospective.

      3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I don’t think within my company we have the same definition of Agile, lol. I had to Google what scrum or sprint was because that’s not what we call it, but I was like oh, I do that! So it’s on my resume because that’s the buzzword most want to see.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        In my mind, Agile is just one sort of project management system, So if you have a good track record of breaking projects down into smaller pieces and keeping them on a schedule, your skills will transfer. You might want to ask what specific software they’re using to implement it. Jira might look like a beast, but it provides a lot of structure for its end users.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          I think even with those tools, every company uses them a bit differently so having a basis is good, but you’ll still have to learn how New Job wants you to use it.

    4. kina lillet*

      It’ll probably be fine. You mention your resume is factual but sounding a little more impressive—i’d expect that to match or exceed the technical requirements based on what you’ve said. Namely: the job description is experience-focused; soft-skills focused; they’ve looked at your resume; you have technical experience; most importantly you have experience being confronted with a technical challenge and learning how deal with it. This last is the most important. You’ve done it once so you can do it again!

      That said, if you continue interviewing and they simply don’t give you clarity on what the job would entail, or you feel like it wouldn’t be a match, that’s legit! Just don’t abandon ship, because it sounds like so far this would barely be a stretch job for you, but more a good fit.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Thank you for this! I am probably forgetting my early days in this role, vs now when today we encountered an issue and I’ve already researched, gotten a dev to investigate with an easy fix solution. I think I’m underselling myself a bit too because not a lot of my projects are super large or sexy, but small, boring changes that fix problems. Problems involving clients money (think banking or stock market stuff) so tiny fixes can really eliminate huge risk and liability. I need to be more focused on that.

        Since my first interview was so weird (I’m not sure how I feel about these “on demand” one way video interviews) I’m coming in a bit more blind than I usually am when meeting with the hiring manager.

        1. Hillary*

          You sound like someone I’d love our PMO to hire (I’m a product owner). My number one requirement in a program manager is emotional intelligence, number two is project management skill. Someone who understands the value of small, boring projects is fantastic. The hard part of a project is people, tech is usually just work.

          I’m not surprised at the salary jump – this is a very in-depend field right now, especially for folks with a proven track record. It sounds delightful and don’t let it create doubt.

          1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

            Thank you so much for this! I feel a lot better about it. Just be me, and honest and whatever happens, happens.

            I do like my current job, but obviously making more money would be nice, and we’re going through an acquisition as well. Always a good time to look elsewhere. The new company actually was very, very impressed with our system when we did the GAP analysis. They are 10x as large as we are, but have way less advanced features.

    5. Kes*

      I think others have already given good advice and it is worth asking questions to get a feel for what’s needed and how comfortable you would be. But definitely don’t sell yourself short, especially when you haven’t even interviewed yet and you have experience in successfully learning and growing into jobs. Also lots of the time when you are switching jobs you’ll be looking to grow as well and take on something not just new, but a step up as well so feeling some level stretch is not necessarily a bad thing and may just mean you’ll have room to grow into and in the new position

    6. aubrey*

      If technical skills were required they would have listed them, I think! In technical areas it can be much harder to find someone with the necessary soft skills – technical skills needed for the specific role can be taught in non-technical-focused roles. Teaching really technical people soft skills can be… challenging.

    7. Wonderer*

      I would just caution you not to get nervous about technical needs and blurt out that you’re not that good! If the technical skills are important, they will ask you during the interview. Focus on what you know and what you’re good at. If you end up with a couple of weak answers on something where you’re not qualified – well, that’s a sign that maybe this wouldn’t be a great position for you.

    8. just a thought*

      My current technical job the manager hired for attitude instead of technical knowledge. About half of us are learning as we go but everyone has a positive attitude and is good about asking for help and getting feedback. He said he much prefers that to working with technical geniuses that stick to what they know and can’t get along with others.

    9. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      Something from my husband – his company asks a LOT of technical questions. But they are looking for you to say “I don’t know” REALLY. They want to know that you can identify your own weaknesses, that you won’t just make stuff up, that you will clarify and not assume, and that you will go look for answers when you don’t know. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you to know a lot of stuff, but they aren’t looking for the guy who answers every single technical question with misplaced confidence.

    10. JSPA*

      sometimes, being able to look past the technical details (and the weight of years of other people’s assorted overblown assertions and the random associated flummery) to notice what basic, sensible processes are missing or weak, are exactly the requirements. It’s not wrong to continue on the presumption they are indeed looking for exactly that!

      So long you are on the alert for hints that they presume you have skills you don’t have–so long as you ask them to lay out their assumptions in that regard–don’t take yourself out of the running before they take you out.

      I mean, don’t let “I am the bearer of common sense” go to your head, either! If someone tells you that a fix you want to add is literally impossible (or even highly inadvisable), or they look at the ceiling and make “that face,” take an in-depth listen, and dig around.

      But any number of companies have focused on flash over reliability. Someone who considers cross checking / check sums / validation a necessity may be all it takes to massively improve performance of systems designed more as proof-of-concept than as a mature, finished product.

  2. KMC244*

    I have a close friend from college who is job searching, and my company is hiring for a position that she’s interested in and pays much more than her current job that she hates. I think she would love this position, but the problem is I’m not certain that she’d be a good fit from things I know about her personally. She’s a job hopper- we both graduated from the same school 6 years ago, and in that time has changed jobs about 5-6 times. (Although by leaving the shortest stays off her resume, it looks as though she’s had 3 jobs). She gets bored easily and wants to move to higher level work, but doesn’t have the patience to work in entry level positions for long. She also seems to hate every boss she’s had- she either dislikes their personality or management style. But I think this pattern shows that the problem might be with her, not her past bosses.

    She really wants me to recommend her for this position, but I’m worried that if she doesn’t work out here, it will reflect badly on me. I know there’s a chance she won’t get along with my manager who will also be her manager… simply because she seems to dislike anyone with authority over her. I also suspect that she isn’t as experienced in this field as she thinks she is, having not worked anywhere for more than a year-ish. This position is a step above work she is used to doing and probably would need a lot more training/hand-holding than she should at this point. And again, she has made her resume look good… but I know information that my company won’t see.

    I want to help her but I don’t want to recommend her when I know that she might not stay long or perform well. If I tell her honestly why I don’t want to do this, I’m sure she will get upset with me. What should I do?

    1. Observer*

      Can you pass on the resume and then have an off the record conversation with your manager where you lay out what you know, both good and bad, without exaggerating?

      Also, is it possible that she’d do better at this higher level job than on the lower level ones she’s been in?

      1. Rosemary*

        This is what I would do. Pass on her resume, and then off the record share your concerns with the hiring manager. Then when she does not get the job… well, you did what you could but another candidate must have been a better fit.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        This is comparable to what I did. A former colleague submitted her resume and let me know she had mentioned me when she applied. I knew she was not the right fit for the job and told the hiring manager. As it turned out, she didn’t do well in the interview process all on her own and knew that, but either way it didn’t reflect on me because I didn’t forward her resume myself.

        I suggest you tell your friend to submit her resume directly rather than have you pass it along. The hiring manager can ask you your opinion, and you can be confidentially honest about your friend’s application. That removes the pressure of your having to share the resume yourself.

      3. TheRain'sSmallHands*

        I’ve done the same…. in fact, I’ve interview people I know (as part of the interviewing team – not as the hiring manager) out of courtesy – they often manage to show their hand before I need to step in with “but I don’t think they’d be a great fit.”

        The husband does this all the time, as he works for one of those companies a LOT of people want to get into, and very few people are a good fit for. So he submits resumes for people into a system – that actually has the referrer grade the potential hire as part of the referral process.

        1. Rosemary*

          Oh that is a good idea, to have the referrer rate the candidate they are referring (I presume this info is kept confidential)

          1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            Oh, certainly. And as I understand it there is a rating system (1 – 5) but also room to make notes…. “I found Steve to be a difficult manager to work under, but I think in the role he is interested in, he will make a valuable individual contributor.” Now the hiring team can look at that and say “yeah, this guy really isn’t management material, but he could be good in this role.”

    2. Dino*

      Do not recommend her. Say you can’t because you haven’t worked in a professional position with her. If your manager asks your opinion, be honest. But try to stay out of it otherwise.

      1. KMC244*

        Actually not entirely true… we did do a volunteer program together (not sure if that counts for much) at the time, she did struggle with certain technical aspects even then. But so did I, as we were students and inexperienced.

        1. STLBlues*

          I think this is enough of a gray area that you can stick to the “haven’t worked together” excuse. Volunteering can be fantastic, but also (normally) has less demanding requirements than a job.

          (Obviously there are exceptions, but generally speaking, I think volunteer jobs would be more lax.)

          1. Fran Fine*

            This. Volunteering together isn’t really the same as working together, so you have an easy out here should you choose to take it, OP.

        2. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

          “I have not worked with her since we were students, so I can’t speak to her professional accomplishments.”

          1. Varthema*

            Honestly, if you say the above with a conspicuous lack of a “but” afterward (“…but in my experience she’s wholly reliable and a joy to work with!”) that’ll speak volumes without you having to directly throw your friend under the bus, so that’s good news!

        3. Bagpuss*

          Well, I think you could still say that you’ve never worked with her in a professional position, only even briefly in a volunteer program when you were students 6 years ago.

        4. Oxford Comma*

          That doesn’t sound like a professional position though. I think Dino has the right solution.

    3. TimeTravlR*

      I had something similar happen a couple years ago. I was fortunately not asked to make a recommendation by this person, but I did tell my manager that I know them and if they would like to ask me about them after they interview, I’d be happy to discuss. My managers take when she interviewed my friend was that she was flighty and disorganized (not good qualities for the position), which is exactly what I would have told my manager. Basically, the “problem” took care of itself without me needing to say anything at all.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I think this is a good approach. It lets your manager make their own impression of your friend, but also offers them the opportunity to seek you out for more context if they have questions.

        KMC244, you say that her resume is strong, but that this job is probably a step up from the work she’s done before. It’s pretty likely that if your manager is a good interviewer, she’ll see all of that for herself and won’t need to circle back to you.

    4. STLBlues*

      You shouldn’t recommend her — you haven’t worked with her in a professional capacity, so you couldn’t speak to the work regardless.

      Tell your friend that you can’t be a referral because your relationship is friendly, not professional. To smooth that a bit, you can tell her you’re fine with her listing your relationship as a friend!

      If she does that, there’s a good chance your office/hiring manager will ask about her. Just be honest – for good and for bad. She’s a good friend + (positives) but you’d be worried about hiring her because (negatives).

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      Any chance you could have an honest conversation with her? That it seems like she’s looking for a job that lets her do high(er)-level work quickly and this isn’t a position where she would find that. Then it’s not a matter of your opinion of her, it’s more about the job not being the right fit.

      Also, how much of a recommendation would you be providing? Because if it’s a “I throw their resume in the special pile but the company takes it from there and I’m not actually recommending them”, their actions might not reflect on you at all. If it would involve you personally recommending them, that’s a different story. But either way, if you’re fully honest with your boss about what you’ve shared here (“I haven’t worked with her in a professional setting, from what I know of her I think she’d be capable at the job but I’m concerned about longevity or culture fit – she seems to get bored easily and moves around from job to job a lot,” etc), then you are giving your boss all of the information you have, it’s on them to decide if they want to proceed or at least be more thorough in the interviews with her.

      And if you warn your boss about potential issues, and then those exact issues come up, it’s not on you – your boss knew the risks and made the decision with their eyes open.

    6. EMP*

      Tell her you’re not the one making hiring decisions (this is true) and she can apply but the decision to interview her is out of your hands.
      I would also tell your manager, if she does make it through whatever screening is in place, the reasons why you don’t think she’d be a good fit. But if you want to keep that private, you can demure and just say something like “I’ve never worked with her and can’t say one way or the other how she’d do here”. If she doesn’t work out, I don’t think that will reflect badly on you at your company if you haven’t tried to sell them on her good points.
      What I would *not* do is go to bat for your friend, knowing she’s probably not a good fit. Both of you could end up disappointed.

      You don’t have to tell your friend exactly why you don’t want to recommend her – that’s a work issue, and it sounds like you’re friends outside of work and it would be best to keep it that way. Just be neutral and don’t promise anything.

    7. Varthema*

      Maybe you could tell her that you don’t think she’ll get along with your manager? In the spirit of “warning her away”? And then if she presses as to reasons why you could maybe gently press her on why she’s never had a manager she liked, if that’s labor you’re willing to take on.

    8. L'étrangere*

      You might lose a friend if you don’t recommend them. But think of how it might go if you do, and you find yourself in the middle of a fight between them and your own manager. Will you take their side and potentially get yourself fired along with them, or just lose a friend then? Quite possibly both.
      The solution might lie in how good your relationship is with your manager. Can you say yes to your friend and agree to recommend them, but make that recommendation lukewarm with HR, and be privately totally honest with your manager? Especially be specific about the bits where the resume is incomplete or massaged beyond recognition. Then explain to your friend that you don’t have much influence at all about hiring, that the new person seems to have much better teapot design skills, that your manager was uneasy about hiring friends potentially unbalancing the team etc. Hopefully that’ll be the last time they’ll ask

    9. NeonFireworks*

      Happened to me. Friend had been enthusiastically looking for the right fit but job-hopping because it kept really not working out. A few entry-level positions at my organization opened up and they hired her on my recommendation. It was excellent for about six months, and then it became increasingly obvious that as an employee, she was frequently sullen and cranky. At one point, she made it well known to almost the entire organization that she didn’t want to be told what to do. PIP one week, fired outright the next. Her work history made much more sense to me after that. Unfortunately, going through this ripped our friendship to shreds.

    10. Bagpuss*

      I think to her, you say you can’t recommend her because you haven’t worked with her , but that you wish her well.

      You can also perhaps give her more information about the role – perhaps flag up the things you think would be negatives for her .
      And if you are worried about how it will affect your friendship, could you say to her “I can’t recommend you because we haven’t worked together so I’m not in a position to do so, but I can mention to my manager that you’re applying” And do exactly that – mention that you have a friend who has said she is planning to apply.

      If your manager then asks for your input, stress again that you have never worked with her but would be happy to speak to your manager after the interview if at that stage they think it would be appropriate, so they can form their own impression first.

      Other than the job-hopping, do you think there’s a changes that she is better then it appears – perhaps that you are her go-to person to vent to so you only hear about things that re annoying her on a bad day?

      I’d agree that you shouldn’t recommend her, in the circumstances.

    11. Confused By People*

      Not entirely the same, but I had an industry contact reach out to me about an open position at my company. I always had a positive experience working with her and she didn’t specifically ask for a recommendation, (which I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing as we didn’t work super closely) so instead I gave her helpful advice on how our companies interview process works and let her know what the position she was initially interested in was like responsibility wise, etc. I then just sent my HR an email stating X had reached out to me about this opening, you will likely be receiving an application from them. That way my HR knew they had worked with us before and had reached out, but I wasn’t giving a recommendation. Outside of thank you’s I didn’t hear any more about it and they weren’t hired.

    12. DG*

      This happened to me, but I didn’t realize until AFTER my friend was hired that her many complaints about workload, workplace drama, prior managers, etc., were more of a reflection of her.

      This friend came in a couple levels below me, on an adjacent team. She found an “in” with a small clique of employees who were frequent complainers and general morale suckers – I tried to politely tell her to reconsider those friendships or at least expand her network to other people, but I was obviously unable to give her all the context I knew as a manager (like how the guy who loudly complained about a lack of advancement opportunities applied for a promotion to another team only four months into his current job, while he was on the verge of being on a PIP).

      She also happened to work for someone who was known to be one of the best people managers in the company, whose direct reports all had amazing work-life balance. Of course this did not stop her from referring to her manager as a “slave driver” (UGH) when the manager asked her to change the format of a document or work until 5:30 on a couple of occasions.

      I moved to a different department not long after she started, and thankfully the company was large enough that I don’t think most people were aware of my connection to her. But it’s made me so reluctant to make referrals ever since.

    13. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I wouldn’t recommend her at all. Even if you have to tell a white lie, it sounds like it might blow back on you, and better to keep the friendship and workplace separate.

    14. Jean*

      Don’t mix work and friendship. It’s unlikely to end well, especially given what you know of her history and patterns of behavior. You can just tell her that you prefer to keep a strong boundary between those 2 parts of your life. If she doesn’t like that, then that’s not really your problem. It’s a perfectly reasonable position to take.

    15. Purple Cat*

      Can you just “refer” her as in, “Boss I know someone who wants to apply” without actually “recommending” her to your boss and saying ‘Hi boss, this person will be great for the job, you should talk to her”.

    16. learnedthehardway*

      I think you can mention her to the hiring manager and provide her resume, and also mention your concerns. I’ve done that before – I’ll email the resume and request that the hiring manager give me a call so I can fill them in on some of the context. Or I email the resume and follow up with a phone call myself.

      In a case last week, I did exactly that and told the hiring manager that I would turn her off, based on our conversation. (The contact / candidate isn’t strong enough for the role and doesn’t have some key pieces of experience.)

    17. KMC244*

      Thanks for the advice everyone! To be more clear, by “recommend her” she did mean pass along her resume with a good word to my manager about her – not by listing me as a work reference. I told her to apply and that I’d mention to my manager that a friend applied… I may just tell him vaguely that my friend applied but I haven’t worked with her professionally. I still don’t know how it would reflect on me if she’s hired and doesn’t work out.

      1. Observer*

        I may just tell him vaguely that my friend applied but I haven’t worked with her professionally.

        If you stick to that, and you are working with reasonable people it shouldn’t reflect on you at all.

    18. Meg*

      Honestly, I’d be hesitant to work with any close friends, even without all your concerns about her leaving. I think it has too much potential to change the friendship, especially working in the same department. When I was hired at my current job one of my best friends worked in another department. We’ve both often said that the reason it worked, and that we were both comfortable with it, was that our positions had 0 interaction. And even with that, I intentionally didn’t really advertise how close we were because I didn’t want people to think it’s why I got the job.

      But as an example of how it had potential to muddy the friendship–my friend ended up moving on a year or 2-ish after I started, in large part because her boss was terrible. All of that impacts how I view that person, who still works here. I don’t interact with them much, so it’s not like it has a huge impact on my day-to-day, but I have emotions and feelings tied up in that interaction because of my friendship. I wouldn’t have wanted to balance my outrage on behalf of my friend with my day to day work, which would have been an issue if we worked closer.

      All of that was a longwinded way of saying that there’s good reason to not want to work with a close friend, even one who you think would be great in the role. If you want to avoid addressing the rest with your friend, you could fall back on that (depending on the friendship dynamics and all that)

    19. Chilipepper Attitude*

      As others said, you don’t have to recommend her. You can let your manager know a friend is applying and you would be happy to talk about what you know but that you have not worked together except early on in a volunteer role.

    20. Frankie Bergstein*

      What about your own reputation? If you are referring people in – even just passing along a resume – don’t you want your word to mean something? You could pass it along to your manager. In writing, you could say something like, “here’s a resume from someone interested in this role. I haven’t worked with them.” In person or on the phone, you could say, “I do know this person socially, and here are traits/experiences they have that you should know when considering their candidacy.”

      I was burned by this once. I recommended (or maybe just passed along) a classmate’s resume for a master’s level internship. She got it. She did horribly, including providing incorrect information that her boss then shared at a high-level meeting. The boss was embarrassed. My classmate didn’t seem to understand she’d done anything wrong. I knew she wasn’t the greatest, but I didn’t realize she’d 1) get something very basic and important VERY wrong and 2) not see the problem with that. Whew, it makes me stressed just to remember this! Anyway, you’ve gotten lots of advice on here from smart folks, so good luck and god speed! I’d be curious to hear an update.

    21. JSPA*

      “A person I knew well in school asked me to pass this along. To be clear, I have never worked with her, can’t vouch for her in a work situation, either in terms of skills or attitude. But we go back far enough that I feel obliged to hand it to you, in case she’s indeed a fit for the llama grooming position.”

      I’d hear that as, “give it a shot if you’re desperate for someone who checks the right boxes and might work out at least short term, but don’t blame me–and I won’t blame you–if it doesn’t work out because she turns out to be unprofessional, difficult, or easily distracted.”

      1. Despachito*

        I find this honest enough to placate your friend on the one hand and not to compromise yourself on the other.

        I once recommended my friend in a situation they desperately needed to fill a position. My friend is a very sweet and kind person, but she was definitely not a good fit, and I felt bad towards the person I recommended her to (also a very sweet person who was swamped with work and hoping the new hire will help her out).

        Our friendship survived without a bruise though, and that leads me to another question – OP says that she is afraid of the friend’s reaction if she does not bat for her strongly enough, and based on that, I think the friendship is perhaps worth reconsidering. It is not a good sign to have to be afraid that my friend would become nasty because I wasn’t able to get her what she wanted.

  3. Resume Formats*

    What is everyone doing for resume formatting these days? I’m not a hiring manager, so I don’t get to scope out the competition.

    Template searches show a lot of complicated graphics and space for headshots, which I know is not a US norm. So what are real applicants actually using?

    1. Find and Replace*

      I guess the first question is what line of work you’re applying for jobs in. The norms differ a lot based on that!

      In general, I believe simple and readable is always best (unless you’re in a field like graphic design, in which case it might make more sense to have a flashier version).

      1. Fran Fine*

        Even the resumes for the graphic designers my company hires don’t have overly fancy resumes. They demonstrate their creativity through their portfolio pieces, which they link to on the resume.

      2. Koalafied*

        So much this. I’m hiring for a role right now and I got a resume last week that was just… so crammed full of small text covering the entire page, with literally no margins at all about about 25-30 bullet points for each job in one column and another bullet pointed list about 50 random “skills” in another column. I actually eventually had to force myself, painfully, to go through it line by line with a lot of concentration because the first 4 or 5 times I pulled it up on my screen some unconscious part of my brain was so overwhelmed by how much information had been dumped on the page that before I knew what I was doing I had minimized the window to get it off my screen.

        I’m really not particular about resume formatting choices as long as you’re using a normal font size (nothing less than a minimum of 12pt with most fonts, 11pt with some of the more open ones that print larger for any given size) and have reasonably sized margins. Other than that, the most important thing is to be concise, focus on your achievements rather than listing your job duties, and don’t waste space on subjective self-assessment.

        By subjective self-assessment I mean, if you put that you’re good with Powerpoint or a great editor, that’s something that I could in theory verify by asking to see a work sample or giving you a work exercise. If you put that you’re great at multitasking or managing up or learning new things quickly, it’s not that those aren’t key skills to have – it’s that anybody can say they have them and it’s not something I can easily ask for evidence of or test for. For the resume I want to see how being great at multitasking or managing up or learning new things has translated into results on the job. You can certainly mention those kinds of soft skills in the interview or weave it into the narrative of your cover letter if/where it feels natural, but on the resume itself it’s just taking up valuable real estate without adding anything that feels to me like an objective qualification/differentiator for you as a candidate, and there’s surely something else that would be a better use of the space. (If your resume is already pretty full, then even white space would be a better use of the space, tbh.)

      3. Momma Bear*

        Our Marketing person had a simple resume. The Graphic Designer had a more colorful one with a link to their portfolio.

        I’m looking at two right now that I think used almost the same template – Name large and in bold, contact info, and then a line for Education (these are college students looking for an Internship) + skills/relevant experience in a bulleted format. One page, no less than a 10 pt font. Clear and readable.

    2. ThinkQuicker*

      I used a really simple format on my recent (successful) job search. Name and contact details at the top, then chronological work history, and education at the bottom. I had a side panel on the right containing some of my skills highlights (industry specific software proficiency and awards etc.)

      1. AW*

        This is what I’m doing now. I’ve been comfortably searching for a bit, and I’ve found that the simpler format like this gets more positive response than my longer, more detailed resume. I then put a link to my LinkedIn page where I have a lot of detailed information.

        The sidebar with knowledge & skills is useful and really easy to tweak to be specific to the position.

      1. Joielle*

        And as someone who hires primarily government attorneys, a design-y resume like that would be seen as unbearably precious – not necessarily disqualifying but definitely a point against an applicant. It’s 100% black text on white background around here, sedate fonts only, a bit of bolding or underlining for headers or job titles is fine. Definitely depends on your field!

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          Oh my, yes. And “sedate fonts” can be interpreted very narrowly. I know of one attorney who really dislikes Palatino, for example (another isn’t a fan of Times Roman, of all things—but then, no one ever got fired for using Times Roman, so they cope).

          That sample might be a tolerable attorney bio page on a firm web site, if that firm is trying to project a hip & happening vibe. As a resume, eyebrows would be raised.

      2. Alfalfa Alfredo*

        I’ve received this resume. I hate hate hate it with the burning passion of being forced to eat bananas.

      3. JSPA*

        That’s a lot of “unreadable to older eyes” white-on-color blocks of texts, and the overall look-and-feel remind me of clickbait pages, or networking sites from 15 years ago. I’m a tad surprised that it gets approval from designers.

        I mean, if the person had designed it themselves, starting with a blank page, it would indicate a certain level of technical proficiency…but when it’s a template, I honestly don’t see the appeal.

    3. Can't think of a funny name*

      I just did one and went with a one column, simple, clean, no pictures…but I’m an accountant so not exactly a creative industry.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My last resume was aimed at a government position. It’s more like a CV. So, not flashy, either. But very, very informative.

      2. Quinalla*

        I haven’t had to use a resume in about 4 years, but last time I did it one column (though I think two column can be fine) and used bullet points with things like “Designed HVAC and plumbing 100 projects in Y & Z markets” “Led initiate that led to X% savings in designer time spent on projects” etc. Recruiter told me multiple times my resume was great. For technical fields for sure keep it clean & readable & straightforward and 1-2 pages, 2 pages if you have a lot of experience, otherwise stick to 1.

        If I was going to polish off my resume today, I wouldn’t change the design of it, just update some dates and details to include more recent items.

      3. KR*

        This is what I do. Everything else just seems like a risk that the hiring manager won’t like it. So I go basic to make sure my experience is highlighted and I’m appealing to a wide audience. I found a role recently but I was applying for finance and business roles.

    4. Annika Hansen*

      I used a Google Doc template that appeared toward the top a few months. It was very simple. I got the job so it apparently worked.

    5. Working on Pacific Time*

      I’m on a hiring committee for the first time, and we’ve gotten a lot of resumes from recent or soon-to-be grads. Most of them had very formatted, colorful resumes, often with headshots. I can only assume they’re getting bad advice or picking Word templates they like. More experienced applicants had very simple resumes.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I can only assume they’re getting bad advice or picking Word templates they like.

        Or probably Canva templates. Those are very design heavy, even their supposedly “basic” versions.

      2. DataSci*

        I hate headshots, and strongly suspect I’d never get a job again if they were expected. And I’m white! But I’m a not conventionally attractive woman, butch, and over 40, which is the kiss of death (And yeah, they’ll find that out when they see me for the in-person round, but at that point I have a foot in the door, I don’t get thrown out on day one for not having a pretty smile.)

        I’m sure there’s a reason beyond “I want to work with pretty people” or “I think I’m attractive and advertising that will give me a leg up” for their use, but those are the only ones I can come up with. Help me out? What is a legitimate reason why knowing what I look like would affect your decision to interview me?

        1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          I don’t think HR likes them either for that very reason. I’ve worked with corporate HR departments that have a hard enough time getting primarily white male management to look at anyone with a name that is female or says “this person might not be white.” Headshots – ugh. Unless you are going to an audition…..

        2. IT Manager*

          Occasionally on this site it comes up that headshots are very common in most European countries (I think) and I recall several people saying that makes it easier to facilitate a real relationship upon meeting or to imagine knowing the person as you read the resume.

          (Which made me think – isn’t this exactly how unexamined bias or racism gets perpetuated???)

      3. MacGillicuddy*

        The other problem with anything but plain straightforward formatting is when you apply online at a company’s website. Click the button that says “upload resume” . Then their software scans the resume and auto-fills a long form, then asks you to correct the form. Even with a plain resume you have to do a lot of tweaking to get the right info into the right fields. Upload a fancy resume and you’ll spend an hour retyping everything in the fields.

    6. EMP*

      I see a lot that are very basic. Think, 12pt font, header with name/address, basic list of experience. This is totally find IMO especially since my field is technical and I have no expectation that these candidates are creating user facing documents. We even get some through job websites that strip all the formatting out completely.

      One thing I’ve seen that I would NOT do – confusing pie charts showing your technical expertise (what does 45% python mean?) or using icons to represent technologies you’ve worked with. These were both from intern candidates so I assume they were also unfamiliar with norms, but I don’t know if it was recommended by some third party.

      (caveat, I’m not a hiring manager but on a team interviewing frequently so I see the resumes that make it past phone screens)

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I think there are a lot of templates available (Canva, etc.) that just invite people to add confusing fluff like that pie chart. The example linked by KMJ above is not so bad (although aside from the formatting questions, putting emotional intelligence as one of your skills is … sideeye, for me). I like a little color and design, but that doesn’t mean that like, widgets belong on your resume!

        I have also seen quite a few resumes recently where the candidate is clearly hewing to the one-page rule, but doing so by making teeny tiny margins and no spacing, just horizontal lines between sections, two columns of bullet points, and so on. Help the reader out, people!

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I would avoid a headshot, especially as some workplaces are taking the time to blank those out, in addition to other stuff on a resume that could potentially be a cause of unconscious bias (candidate name until it’s decided to bring them in for an interview, college names and dates of graduation, etc.). My last resume was super, super simple. I’m not in a creative field. UNLESS you’re looking for a design-related position, I think it’s generally true that you want your resume to be less memorable for how it looks, than for what it contains.

    8. cubone*

      I personally prefer the 2 column and got good feedback from friends on it, but saw a (very experienced, otherwise quite good advice-giving ) career coach recently who was a very strong believer in the single column and as simple as possible (like the header with contact info, then just Experience and Education headings with basic bullets under). I changed to that basic format and I did immediately get 2 interviews (but whose to say if it’s solely based on the resume).

      I also have 2 friends in HR/recruitment at different companies and one is firm on “must be a PDF”, while the other one complains when people don’t submit it in Word format. So…………… I am just baffled these days, lol.

      1. Kes*

        That’s so interesting – I always draft my resume in word and then save to PDF to provide because that way the format can’t get messed up and others can’t change it. But I’m surprised the HR/recruiter side would care as much which format as long as it’s something they can easily open and read

        1. Blue Lagoon*

          My experience has been that a recruiter who wants a resume in an editable format wants to mess with it. Either they do something simple like delete your contact info so the company can’t escape paying them a finder’s fee, or they get super unethical and change your skills.

          1. Can't think of a funny name*

            I sent my resume to a recruiter in word format recently (I was hesitant but did it anyway, lol) and all he did was a change to the header to put the recruiting company name on there (yes for fee purposes) and then he sent it back to me. I guess I am assuming he sent the same one to the employer but I’ve had 2 interviews and nothing led me to believe they had anything different.

        2. cubone*

          yeah I’m still blown away by that one, tbh. I would ALWAYS do it in PDF – heck I would do any emailed document in a PDF if it’s not being sent for easy editing. You never know what old janky word processor or Windows version people are running.

          Her explanation was something about applicant tracking software/their specific ATS or database, but yeah, I still am a little surprised by it. It may just be highly specific to their company or her individual preference (maybe she makes comments? I was hesitant to ask too many questions and seem .. judgmental lol).

          1. Momma Bear*

            I use PDF unless requested to do otherwise. It’s easier to email and the formatting isn’t likely to go sideways if they are not using a compatible version of Word (which, esp. in the government, they may not be).

    9. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      My take on it is: DON’T USE TEMPLATES.

      If you’re in a graphic field, you need to make your own design. If you’re not, then stick to formatting with bold and all caps only.

      Templates are often full of tables and fields and all kinds of elements that look pretty but compete with the online Applicant Tracking Systems which could mean that all your good information gets mis-read or unread by the robots. You’ll see this in action if you upload your resume into a job application and you spend a lot of time correcting where the info went.

      Templates are also not designed by people in the HR/recruiting/workforce field. They have unnecessary and often un-recommended elements.

      My favorite format is to have: Contact info; Headline/Job Title for which you are applying; 4-5 highlights that show why you match up to the things they asked for in the posting; Work Experience; Education; Extra stuff if relevant to the posting.
      I use ALL CAPS for your name, headline, section headings and employers. Bold for Job titles. Plain bullet dots. No underlining, especially on email addresses because the lines visually cut some letters. No lines across the page because sometimes ATS’s read that as “the end” rather than “the end of this section.”

    10. ArtK*

      Very simple format. I’m in software development:

      1) Contact info at the top
      2) *NO* fluffy self description or objective (“A senior llama wrangler with decades of experience…”)
      3) Work experience in reverse chronological order
      4) Bulleted accomplishments under each job, including references to technologies used
      5) Education/training/certifications
      6) Technical skills
      7) Patents/publications

      I maintain a master resume with everything and remove stuff to help focus attention on things specific to a job posting. I always edit it down to 2 pages.

    11. Jora Malli*

      I was on a hiring panel a few weeks ago and while we had a few resumes with charts/graphics/headshots, and even one making liberal use of memoji art (what the actual hell, please don’t do that), most of the resumes I’ve seen lately are just the standard text.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      I just had my first experience reviewing resumes from outside the United States and I’m so glad I had read here about the different cultural expectations for including personal info. I saw things from uncommon in the US (hobbies) to forbidden (marital status) to perplexing (father’s name).

    13. Anonymous Hippo*

      There seem to be a trend of recruiting firms squishing people resumes into their own formats. I personally do not care for this 1) because the formats are usually goofy, and 2) its so obvious they just uploaded it in, and there are weird errors, but it makes me not be able to use the resume appearance as a sifting tool.

    14. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I recommend Etsy for resume templates all the time! There are many options without space for headshots, and you can always remove any graphics or something you don’t like. I’ve gotten rave reviews on my resumes when I used an Etsy template, and haven’t paid more than maybe $10-12 USD.

    15. Gnome*

      This somehow posted elsewhere the first try…

      I hire people with programming experience and almost all have a section for that. I’ve seen a lot of bland Word Doc stuff, stuff with objective statements, stuff with sidebars. Too much formatting and I’ll remember yours as “the green one” which isn’t good.

      No head shots. I am seeing got repositories, LinkedIn URLs, and the like.

      Also, I know Alison hates the objective statement, but I have seen a few people put it to good use since we don’t require cover letters. In particular where there’s clearly a pivot happening (like why after 20 years as an A are you looking and a position as a B?). But it HAS to be short.

    16. learnedthehardway*

      Complicated graphics and headshots are a nightmare for Applicant Tracking Systems, and any time a recruiter has to put together a report that is formatted. If you decide you want to have a fancy pants version of your resume, use it for interviews. Upload fairly plain ones into systems.

    17. Cedrus Libani*

      I like mine. It’s simple, it’s pretty, it gets the job done.

      The first line has my name on the left, and my phone and email on the right. There’s a thick line below that to visually set it apart from the rest of my resume.

      I have two sub-headings: Education and Work Experience. (I’m in a field where my specialized degree is required, so Education goes first.) These sub-headings are in capital letters, with a thin line beneath.

      Each entry has a header in bold text, plus the relevant year(s), unbolded and in parentheses. If needed, there are bulleted entries beneath. It looks like this:

      EDUCATION
      ——————————–
      PhD, Edible Housewares – University of Tea, Oolong (2011-2016)
      * Dissertation: Anomalous Melting of Ill-Tempered Chocolate
      * Awarded Hershey’s Young Chocolatier Fellowship (2011)
      BS, Chocolate Studies – Coffee State University (2004-2008)

      WORK EXPERIENCE
      ——————————–
      Llama Groomers Inc – Oolong, Tea State (2017-present)
      * Formulated chocolate-based shampoo that preserves “clean llama smell” for up to 5 days
      * Prepared fractionated extracts from raw chocolate using Keywords A, B, and C

      (You get the idea.)

      For the record, it’s in LaTeX for bonus pretty points. I keep a plain-text version around too, for the inevitable pasting into various boxes on application forms. Not Word, because I don’t want people messing with it and/or messing it up and then making ME look like a goof. Also, while I’m above-average at Word (wrote a whole dissertation in it, very much not of my own free will), I still find it absolutely miserable to do something as fiddly as a resume. You get it right, and then you change one little thing somewhere else and then Word “helpfully” breaks it all. Rude.

      1. OverThinker*

        I love your sample resume. Truly made me laugh.

        And can I please get the chocolate-based shampoo that preserves “clean llama smell” for up to 5 days?

    18. Karen*

      I’m only applying for local, government jobs and I’ve sent my resume out 5 times over 18 months. No interviews. I took Alison’s advice and completely redid my resume for a job that has everything I want and fits me well. The new resume is very basic – contact info, jobs, education with just 3 point-form highlights for each job, in Arial 11.
      With the revamped resume, I have an interview next week so I’ll be studying Alison’s guide this weekend. My last interview was 20 years ago so I’m a bit nauseated.

    19. Lyudie*

      If I can tag along on this a bit…several years ago I replaced my objective with a sort of summary of my background and skills at the suggestion of a career coach (“employers don’t care what you want, they care what you can bring to the table” and that is totally fair). I don’t currently have any sort of heading there, it’s just under my contact info. Is all that ok/common/frowned upon?

  4. Kath*

    Hi everyone,

    Some of you may remember me, last year I posted here twice regarding an unprofessional admin I work with. I wanted to give you an update (although not a happy one) and hopefully get some support/advice.

    To summarize, I’ve been harrassed by this person since I was 2 months into my job. She has done many things such as:
    Referring to me as the name of a not-very-attractive movie character (I overheard)
Skipping me and getting others sign birthday cards
Wishing me happy birthday on the wrong day and getting others to do this as they were unaware it was the wrong day (She had it right on the list she was given)
    Asking everyone else if they needed beverages/office supplies but me
    Mocking me sneakily – repeating what I said in a mocking fashion when speaking with others

    She is a vile person and friends with our manager (we report to the same person). It is a small company with no HR. Last year in September she stopped talking to me because I vented to a coworker about feeling excluded and he told this to her. She went up to our manager and cried her eyes out saying ‘she can’t trust me anymore as I gossipped about her’. My manager said ‘I can’t get her to like you so happy for her not to talk to you unless she must for work.’

    Many of you told me to find a new job. I promise I tried to no avail. We also purchased our first house early this year so I’m unable to just quit before lining something else up. My mental health has tanked. I don’t have motivation or confidence to apply for a new job. I haven’t been able to for a while and I’ll hold my hand up to that. I cannot take this anymore. How do you not care someone so nasty, who completely ices you out (doesn’t even acknowledge your presence) and is very friendly with everyone else? I keep questioning myself if I did anything wrong but I feel like I did what I can to salvage this very difficult situation.

    1. Observer*

      Therapy and a good business coach.

      Therapy for the mental health issues. The Coach to help you start working on finding a new job. Normally, I wouldn’t bother, but right now you’re seeing things through a very clouded lens and an outsider could help you see things differently and also just help start taking proactive steps to change your situation.

      1. Fingers Crossed*

        A lot of people don’t know, but unsocial therapy is often covered by medical insurance so it’s more attainable. It costs me a $15 copay each week. I hope you have similar access!

        1. Fingers Crossed*

          I meant to write “individual therapy” not couple or family therapy is covered.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I usually kill them with kindness. I know it’s hard to do but I have someone at work who will get up and leave the room if I walk in. I barely know her but she seems to have major issues with me. So when I do see her and she can’t “escape,” I make it a point to look directly at her, put on a big smile, and say, “Good morning, Yolanda!” She sometimes turns away and sometimes grumbles a response and I walk away with a big smile on my face while inwardly I am laughing at the ridiculousness of it. I have made it sort of a game in my own head. I don’t know that this is as helpful as you need though since it sounds like this person is actively sabotaging and criticizing you, which my nemesis does not, to my knowledge.

      1. Kathenus*

        Yes, this. Malicious compliance Total politeness and professionalism, it’ll drive her nuts. And you have the moral high ground – win/win. She is a bitter, unhappy person. Be glad that you aren’t and don’t let her affect your happiness and self worth. I know it’s easier said than done, but be unfailingly nice and professional and every time she’s not just be so glad you’re not that horrible of a person too and think how bad it must be to live like that.

      2. KuklaRed*

        Why are you giving her so much power over you? She is still playing “mean girl” high school games and there is no reason you have to participate. Ignore her and her petty little BS crap. She’s ridiculous and should be treated as such.

        1. A Feast of Fools*

          What??

          Yoland *is* being treated as if she / her behavior is ridiculous. Making a game of exuberantly greeting someone who is acting Mean Girl-ish isn’t “giving her so much power over you”. Quite the opposite, actually.

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I agree that the OP is giving this awful person too much power over her. Stop questioning if you did something wrong or how to salvage something. What would you salvage? A friendship – why would you want to be friends with such an awful person?!?

          You asked how to stop caring – as others said, therapy. But also, you are spending a lot of time thinking about her. Think about other things, things you like. Engage with your own life and less with work.

          Whether you kill her with kindness or ignore her, make your life about you, not her/work.

    3. Jean*

      You cannot change this person’s behavior. You can only change your reaction to it. Gray rock and do your best to pretend that she doesn’t exist. Letting her ruin your life like this is giving her way more power than she is entitled to.

      1. Cj*

        You are spot-on when you say the OP is giving her co-worker way more power over her than she is entitled to.

        Kath- it sounds like you want this person to like you, but why? She sounds like an awful person, and I would want to have as little to do with her as possible, even if that means she is icing me out.

        If she’s actively sabotaging you, or getting your other co-workers on “her side”, you should let your boss know about it, even if you don’t think it will do any good. But if she just won’t speak to you, I’d take that as a win.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I worked with someone like that and it does mess with your head. But don’t wrap your self worth up in how this horrible person treats you. They are the ones who suck here, not you.

      As how to cope, well this might sound weird but I pretended in my head we were in some wacky workplace comedy where I was the obvious protagonist and they were clearly the villain character. I even gave it a fake name and would text my friends “New episode material!” anytime they did something to me. It didn’t change their behavior but it helped me detach from it. Not saying that will work for you, but it helped me. And I did eventually move on and she’s still there and still horrible based on what my old coworker tell me.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I think you have a manager problem, not so much a coworker problem. Are you a member of a protected class and is it possible that the admin’s treatment of you is rooted in discrimination? If so, please document all the incidents (a contemporaneous log is best) and schedule a meeting with your manager to resolve. If not resolved to your satisfaction , you can file a federal discrimination complaint. Again, this is only if you are a member of a protected class, so if you’re not or the harassment is not rooted in illegal discrimination, please disregard.
      None of that will improve your working conditions in the short term, but as words of encouragement, let me say that my daughter’s sixth grade classmates are more mature than this individual with her birthday and coffee order pettiness! She is ultra silly. Take all the sick leave/vacation leave you can, and spend that time job searching!

      1. Lana Kane*

        The problem can be both, it’s not just one or the other. Big picture yes, it’s a manager problem. Day to day – Coworker is very much the problem.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      Your manager is really failing here. They can’t make the admin like you, but they can make them act professionally, and their treatment of you is most certainly unprofessional.

      I’d recommend what others have said – definitely therapy and definitely keep working on getting out of there. In the meantime I like Alison’s advice for surviving a toxic environment – pretend you’re an anthropologist studying a new culture. Every strange/cruel thing they do is just another data point for you to make note of, rather than an attack to be withstood.

      Best of luck, I hope you get out of there soon!

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. What the hell, manager? It’s not about liking each other, it’s about reasonable standards of professional conduct, which this admin is not meeting. I would take the advice of the other folks talking about ways of coping with this emotionally, and do your best to get to a place where you CAN start job-hunting again.

      2. JelloStapler*

        Correct he can’t make her like her but he should expect her to act like a professional human being.

    7. jane's nemesis*

      I didn’t see your earlier posts, so forgive me if this has already been covered, but… does it have to matter that this person doesn’t like you? I know it sucks, and I’m a people-pleaser who wants everyone to like me, too. But if you can do your job without this person liking you, I think you need to work on not caring.
      I know it sucks to be excluded and have someone get your birthday wrong, and get mocked. But all of those things reflect poorly on HER, not you. Try to hold your head up and work on not outwardly caring. And then at home, vent about what a jerk she is and then try to move on and not dwell on it. Focus on your job, not socializing, as much as you can.
      Also, I promise, she gets off on upsetting you, so the more you can Grey Rock her, the better.

    8. Bernice Clifton*

      Do your best to cultivate working relationships with coworkers who DO like and respect you to balance it out.

    9. CatCat*

      Therapy. It’s been helping me and I think could help you.

      One strategy I keep on a note in front of me is to depersonalize they’re behavior. Just like how you might feel if a wild animal did things that were upsetting. The bear broke into your car and stole food because it’s a bear and it does bear things. It’s upsetting but ultimately has nothing to do with you. Here, Nasty Admin is going to do Nasty Admin things because that’s in her nature. It’s not about you.

      But therapy, 100%.

    10. Jora Malli*

      I remember your posts from before, and I’m sad to see that this situation has become worse instead of better. You deserve so much more than this. You have done all the right things. Your coworker and your manager are the ones who aren’t holding up their end.

      I agree with the therapy recommendations, and I’m going to go a step further and ask you if there’s a hobby you feel good about that you can join a group for. A knitting circle or a hiking group or a dance studio, somewhere that you can spend time with people who like the things you like. As you get to know those people, you’re going to form some positive relationships and even friendships with some of them. Let those relationships bolster you up when your work relationships are hard. See that there are people who like you for who you are, and that their opinions of you matter more than this coworker who formed her opinions for mean-spirited reasons. With time, you can build back your self confidence and feel comfortable applying to new jobs that will take you away from this terrible situation.

    11. All Het Up About It*

      I’m so sorry you are struggling with this. I agree with the above comments and that it’s time to consider therapy (though I know that is easier said than done sometimes.) Nothing is going to change at your office. You will have to leave and get a new job, but if you don’t feel mentally good/confident, then it’s not a surprise you aren’t applying. The longer you work there the longer you will feel bad, and the less likely you are to have the mental fortitude to job hunt. It’s one of those negativity spirals, and you’ve got to find the stick to poke in to the wheel and stop it.

      As for this: How do you not care someone so nasty, who completely ices you out (doesn’t even acknowledge your presence) and is very friendly with everyone else? Because they are a NASTY person. They are awful and horrible and YOU DO NOT WANT THEM TO LIKE YOU. Would you want Voldemort or Delores Umbridge to like you? No. Start thinking of this woman that way. You are still hung up on the fact that she is “Nice” to other people so the problem is you. It. Is. Not. You. This is a her problem. She’s not a nice person just because she can be friendly to other people. Cast her as Umbridge and yourself as McGonagall. (Or whatever your fandom may be.) This isn’t something I’d normally advocate, but it sounds like part of you still wants her to be nice to you. And while I get that in the sense of having an unpleasant co-worker creates an awful environment, I get the sense that you still want her to be nice to you because you equate that with her approval.

      See if you can work yourself around to feeling successful when you are both able to ignore each other. I know others have recommended the “killing with kindness” approach, but that’s likely to make you more miserable because part of you is still going to feel like you are failing because you are so nice to her, but she is still awful to you.

      TLDR
      1.) Work on your mental health/self-esteem.
      2.) Recast her approval as a negative.
      3.) Ignore/Avoid/Work around as much as possible and consider that a win.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      I would suggest that when others are present when you encounter an unprofessional action, respond in the moment to that specific action.
      “Abby tells me that you already circulated & delivered a card for Betsy. Please give me a blank so that I can send one as well.”
      “Caitlin just asked me what I ordered for the company lunch. Please check your distribution list, because somehow you dropped me. I hope you’re able to call in a order to the caterer at this time because I’m sure you don’t want our company to leave one employee out.”
      ‘ Debbie wished me happy birthday and says you told her it was today. This isn’t the first time you’ve done something like that and it was not funny the first time. Why would you do that?”

      1. Momma Bear*

        This. Take back the narrative in a succinct and direct way. If you aren’t getting office supplies, then remind her and cc your boss if you need to. You do not need to be liked by her or be her friend. You just need her to do her job so you can do yours. She’s mocking you? She’s a child. Try to ignore it. Address work-related issues only.

        I also agree with individual therapy. The therapist can coach you through conversations with her, maybe give you some affirmations you can say to remind yourself of your own value and strength, and teach you healthy boundaries and assertive communication.

    13. Ellen Ripley*

      Your coworker sounds like a huge jerk with serious issues, and your manager is not much better. Keep it in your mind that it’s them, not you, that is the cause of this situation.

      I know it’s hard but getting out of there would feel so good. Even spending 1 hour working on your resume or applying to one position per month would be a step towards a new job where you wouldn’t have to deal with this rubbish.

      I hope you have hobbies or something outside of work that you enjoy doing! Hobbies have been a powerful lifeline for me when my confidence was crushed by my job, to help remind me that I am good at some things, that I am a worthy human being.

      I’m sorry you’re in such a bad situation. I really hope you come out the other side soon in better circumstances!

    14. Trek*

      Try laughing at her at least to yourself if not actively to her face. She is allowing a new hire two months into her job to dictate her entire daily schedule. She spends so much time thinking of you and trying to exclude you. The one time you vented she went crying to a manager. I can’t imagine worrying or caring about someone else so much that I barely know.
      You can also call her out in the moment. ‘Hey Jane I need sticky notes Thanks.’ She may not bring them to you but she’s offering to bring other people stuff. “Hey Jane I want x for lunch’
      Clarify your birthday with others if you want to. I never really got birthday celebrations at work.
      If the nick name comes up state “I thought that’s what she called our boss. I didn’t know she called me that. Uh interesting. I wonder why.’ Act dumb about it even if someone else may think it’s obvious.
      Focus on being nice and professional with her and if she is snarky act like you don’t notice or laugh and treat it like it’s a joke. If she snaps at you stare at her and walk away.

      1. Itsnotaboutme*

        ^^^ this!

        Thanks Trek!

        VP I work under, for the last three years – treats me like OP’s tormenter. But, I know that this is because she’s an insecure jerk and I just note every nasty jab, should I require documentation for HR.

        What struck me about your comment is that the tormenter is so obsessed with tormenting, that an inordinate amount of their working hours are taken up with obsessing about the object of their disdain. And that… speaks volumes about the tormenter – NOT the victim!

    15. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I am SO sorry you’re dealing with a bully like this.

      You can’t change her, clearly, but you can try reducing the amount of space she rents in your head until you’re able to get out of this toxic workplace. Make sure that you have good relations with the rest of your co-workers (as long as they are reasonable people) that are independent of her; document, document, document that you are doing your job well; and then try to ignore her stupid shenanigans to the best of your ability.

      She ignores you? Fine, ignore her back. She says something salty to you? As you think best, either ignore her or reply, “What a mean/rotten/inappropriate thing to say! What were you thinking?!” in a nasty tone and stare her right in the eyes. Bonus points for you if you stand up to her in front of witnesses. Every time you ignore her or stand up to her, give yourself a big mental pat on the back.

      Bottom line: her nasty behavior is NOT your fault, though poor management at your workplace seems to have made it your problem when it shouldn’t be. Your job here is just to not take her bullying as some kind of reflection on you and to take really good care of yourself until you have enough emotional energy to get a new job and get out of there. And then Glassdoor the company for not protecting its workers from a bully like that. Sheesh.

    16. JSPA*

      Unless there’s more of substance in previous posts…

      None of these slights strike me as going much above petty annoyance.

      You got wished happy birthday–on the wrong day. Gasp! The Horror! Really….So what? Work isn’t someplace you should need to be getting your birthday recognized with well-wishes, to be liked, to be effective, or to be happy.

      Missing a chance to sign a circulated birthday card? Take a picture of the birthday list, and send a birthday email, if you’re worried people will think you forgot.

      She doesn’t like you, and is petty?

      Take her name out of your mouth, give her no fodder, and there’s only so much she can do, by adding you to her list of people to imitate.

      If you are at your breaking point and unable to even consider applying elsewhere (?!?) because an admin is petty towards you, consider getting some sort of counseling. In the US, where workplace teasing and workplace bullying are not illegal, there’s no such thing as a workplace that guarantees that nobody will be petty towards you at this sort of irritation-and-nuisance-bu-no-actual-damage-to-work-functions-or-reputation level.

      You get on her nerves. She gets on yours. Accept that, and either ignore it, or move on.

      HR would not be getting involved in this (unless her characterization explicitly had to do with race, gender, religion, etc) even if you had HR.

      1. OverThinker*

        If she gets everybody else’s birthday right, from a list, but gets Kath’s wrong, that’s intentional. If she openly snubs Kath, that’s intentional. Having someone like this in one’s day to day life wears on a person.

        The sdmin’s behavior is *incredibly* unprofessional. It is not reasonable to expect Kath to not be bothered by it.

    17. Blueberry Donut*

      “How do you not care someone so nasty, who completely ices you out (doesn’t even acknowledge your presence) and is very friendly with everyone else? ”

      With every intentional slight, this woman is saying, “I’m a petty, spiteful person and will go out of my way to ruin someone’s day.” It says a lot more about her than it does about you.

      Resist the urge to internalize this like you somehow caused her absurd behavior and don’t devote anymore headspace to looking for a reason for it. Those of us who don’t lash out at innocent bystanders may never be able to understand what motivates a person to behave that way, so you could turn this situation around and around in your mind forever and still never find an answer that makes sense.

      Additionally, remind yourself that this colleague isn’t all that important to you in the big scheme of things. She’s a petty, spiteful pain in the foot, but she’s also a very insignificant part of your life and doesn’t deserve a second thought 99% of the time. She’s a pebble stuck in your shoe…annoying and somewhat cringe-worthy, but not worth a whole lot of consideration.

      That’s how I ‘not care’ about irrational people/situations that I have no control over. I choose to mentally let them go (quit dwelling on them) and focus on things more worthy of my time/energy. There’s something very freeing about admitting to myself, “This (stressful thing) simply isn’t that important to me anymore.”

    18. AddictedtoCleanTok*

      I have had a couple of students who felt trapped in extremely toxic situations and I’m talking clearly racist, emotionally damaging environments. For both, the dysfunction was so deep, there was no language that would made it more bearable. Being new to the workforce, they don’t necessarily have the confidence or language to advocate themselves. Imagine that you’re a little nervous already and when you face a barrage of demeaning or insulting behavior, it’s incredibly difficult to find the resolve you need to protect yourself… it’s ridiculous that they even have to do that but it’s a reality for many.

      Here’s what I advised them to do because I did think it was achievable:

      Reframe how you see them. The mean girl mindset comes from a place of insecurity. Look at them with pity because their lives are miserable and they need others to be just as miserable.

      Here is your mantra…I’ll be gone soon and you’ll be stuck here. I told them their current job would soon be a distant memory… I mean really that job may soon fall off their resume. I also need them to get out before the horrible situation infects and warps their mindset.

      Stop letting them rent space in your head. Their sad attempts to hurt you are so trivial and petty that it’s beneath you and doesn’t even make your radar. The few little acts that they carry out every day are the minuscule things they have power over.

      You have a robust life, full of people who love and care about you. You have hobbies. You travel. Whatever it is that brings you joy, focus on that. Dim the light on the mean girl and choose to be a ray of sunshine. Don’t get mired in tit for tat. The high road is always a more fulfilling path.

      Best of luck. Better days are ahead.

    19. SofiaDeo*

      So what is the chance that she’s insanely jealous of something about you, and is trying to be mean because of it? You sound more professional at work than her. This could make her jealous, and wan t to push your buttons, any button she can find. Are you taller and she’s short? Shorter and she’s tall? You are (married/single) and she’s not? You (do/do not) paint your nails/wear high heels/wear low heels? Jealous people get jealous over most anything. And if she’s must garden-variety “mean girl” who likes to
      push buttons/find someone to pick on, apparently she has chosen you.

      Your manager is wrong about any “liking.” This is work, and the only things that really matter are professionalism/civility. If you are a member of a protected class, the “she purposefully excludes you” could be a basis for a harassment claim. I say could, because in a small office it may just be very clique-ish. My boss in one small business would ask/buy coffee for all 8 other employees except me. I was a good worker but he didn’t “like” me. So what. Not ordering your supplies is something you can go to the boss, in a very calm, pleasant tone of voice, more of a “Susan excludes me from supply orders, I am out of pens, paper, and sticky notes. I can’t work without them. Please get me some so I can continue to work. What shall I do until I can get the supplies I need to continue?” I think a few of these will influence the issue, but you Must be pleasant. No complaining/frustration.

      Don’t let this mean girl get in your head.

  5. Anonymous reader*

    Does anyone else have a stomachache from stress when they go into work? What do you do about it? I’ve tried drinking hot tea or cold water but they don’t help much. And I can’t quit my job right now. Any suggestions?

    1. Evelyn O'Connell*

      What stress management are you doing outside of work? The usual suspects like exercise, meditation, good sleep, etc., all should carry over to times you aren’t actively doing them. It takes time, of course, and isn’t always consistent in my experience, but it helps. I hope things get better for you. It’s so hard to feel that heaviness every day.

      1. Anonymous reader*

        I’m going for walks and getting enough sleep. I’ve started looking into meditation apps because I need the help in meditating.

    2. Kath*

      Hi there, I too have been suffering from stress for a while now (for the reasons explained in my message above). It doesn’t fully go away but I manage it with the help of a few things outside of work. I go out for daily walks. I do yoga and I meditate for 10 mins every morning. I also journal, nothing fancy, just putting down what I’m thinking or what happened every day. It helps me organize my thoughts. Lastly, I tend to withdraw from people when anxious but the more I stay away the worse my anxiety gets so I make sure I have regular contact with friends & family. Hope everything gets better for you.

        1. Sylvan*

          I’m not the person who commented, but yes. I use Meditation Minis and Shine guided meditations on Spotify when I want to relax, and they usually last about 10 minutes. They’re really nice to listen to on your way into work in the morning, during free time on a break, etc.

        2. Oxford Comma*

          Chiming in on this. I’ve started doing meditation for sleep issues but have been doing it for stress as well and it helps a lot. I’m using an app called Calm, which does cost, but I did the trial. On a friend’s advice, I canceled, waited a few days and got an offer for 50% off. Have also heard good things about Headspace.

    3. Sick Leave Drama*

      Can you find the root of what is making you stressed at work? I tend to struggle to pick apart what is my own general anxiety from real-world actionable items like “my boss is a malicious jerk.” Sometimes I get hung up on silly things like answering the phones or what to wear and it’s helpful to laser focus your solutions to the problems.

      1. Anonymous reader*

        My biggest problem with work right now is that there’s just so much of it! It never lets up.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          Alison has run some wonderful suggestions for how to professionally tell your manager that the new task is going to interfere with the existing tasks. I’ve used the suggestions, and they really do put the responsibility for prioritization back onto the person being paid to make that decision.
          “I just got your email to start project X. If i do that, I won’t have time to complete the 3 projects you have me working on for Friday. Project A is 90% complete, but I can do only 2 of the other three. Which are the highest priority B, C, or X?

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Use ginger? Peppermint pills for IBS? I get headaches really bad, and typical wellness stuff does nothing for me so don’t feel bad if it doesn’t help.

      1. Ashley*

        The peppermint pills are really awesome for the stress stomach ache. The only side effect is burping peppermint.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          They are called IBSgard. They are concentrated peppermint. They are expensive tbh

    5. Mr. Cajun2core*

      If it is that bad, I would suggest talking to your doctor. Maybe your doctor can prescribe something that will help.

      If the cause of your stress is your job (which it sounds like) are you looking for another job?

    6. Austistic and Anxious: The Biography*

      Not stomach aches, but stress triggers a lot of chronic pain issues, including migraines- I’m also on pain meds that double as anti-anxiety meds now because of that, but prior to getting meds I used a lot of anxiety management strategies to manage it.

      My non-med strategies: If there are elements of the work you can control, I’d suggest focusing on those mentally and practice accepting the elements that you can’t change. Doing small elements of meditation before/during/after work as available is helpful. So if it’s a workload issue, in a work environment where your work depends on others who may or may not be on time, focusing on the work elements you do have control over and listing those separately from those you don’t, and congratulating yourself every time you cross something off your list, is a small thing that helps me feel much more in control. It’s less effective if the issue is interpersonal, but even there, I’ve found that reminding myself that I can only control my own behavior and that anybody else’s behavior only reflects on them, not me, does help.

      Big thing: Also doing physical activity or something similar to complete the stress circuit in your brain is immensely helpful for me. We’re built to be freaked out about a predator, which we then run from, and then we escape and calm down. In today’s environment, our bodies are basically acting as though we’re SURROUNDED BY LIONS OMG but none of them are actually *eating* us and we can’t run away so…. we’re just at elevated stress levels all the time. I’ve found doing even mild cardio, as you’re able, helps my body interpret the signals as “We got away from danger” instead of “OH GOD WE’RE IN DANGER ALL THE TIME”

      I won’t recommend specific activities, since everybody’s body and capacity for different activities is different, but even a short walk can help. anything that gets your heart rate up and brings it down again.

      Other things to help complete that stress response: Getting into some emotional media, doing emotional art/journaling, etc. Also, finding a sensory center -if you like the smell of mint, for example, get a little satchet, and take calming breaths while holding it. If you’ve got somebody who you can vent to- just setting a timer for ten minutes and venting, then refocusing on the cool things in your life, that can be helpful as long as you’re not overloading them.

      Most of these are things that end up needing to be built up as a habit. The one that I’ve found the most helpful is cardio exercise, followed by separating out the things I control, vs accepting what I can’t.

      1. Quinalla*

        Cardio – even just brisk walking – is the #1 thing for me too. Completing the stress cycle is so important. The best book I’ve read about it is Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski, it explained it in a way where I was like – Oh, I finally get why exercise is good for stress.

        Meditation can help a lot too especially if you tend to ruminate. And yeah, you can start with 5-10 minutes and increase if needed or just keep it at 10 minutes. 10 minutes a day has been shown to do a lot! Get a guided meditation app if you aren’t sure where to start or just set a timer and focus on your breathing and as your focus drifts (it will) gently bring it back. That’s it.

        Getting enough sleep helps a lot too, but can be hard if you are stressed. So try to set yourself up for success here, but I’d focus on exercise first as it will also help you get more sleep.

    7. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Can you talk to someone? A therapist can help with stress management techniques and medication if needed.

      If it is truly the job then it is about finding the stress points and creating techniques to deal with them.
      – setting aside specific times to work on certain things (a big project, email, whatever you need to focus)
      – organizational system to deal with tasks (this is important for me because my job can have literally 100 new tasks pop up in a day at random times with various degrees of urgency)
      -is the stress something your manager can help address? Is it inherent in the job?

      1. Anonymous reader*

        The stress seems to be inherent in the job now. It didn’t used to be but the job duties have increased.

        1. Cascadia*

          I’d really encourage you to talk to your manager about your workload. Alison has answered lots of great posts about this. Any competent manager would be horrified that you are getting stomachaches due to the stress of the job, and they would work with you to adjust your workload.

    8. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

      Yes, that happens to me quite a bit! I recommend keeping Canada mints in your bag or car and just let one melt in your mouth on the way in while breathing deeply. The sea-bands that you can get for motion sickness also help me — it might just be the placebo effect, but if it works, it works! Also, some guided breathing meditations can help a lot.

    9. L'étrangere*

      Make sure you start every day with some job hunting action. Don’t go in to work without having sent out one resume, or reached out to one person, or at least read a relevant AAM post

    10. Bagpuss*

      Not now, but in the past.
      I think long term, the solution is to actively job search and plan to move on.
      I know I found things a bit more bearable when I knew I was taking active steps to change things

    11. Anonymous Koala*

      I was in this position, and finding a good short-term therapist was incredibly helpful. My insurance (and a lot of US insurances, I think) offers a set number of free sessions with a telehealth therapist – maybe that’s an option for you? Also finding a support group of friends/coworkers to vent with can help.

    12. River*

      On a rare occasion I’ve gotten that stomachache from stress and anger. What has helped me is to go for a walk or go outside and get some fresh air. Getting a good amount of sleep is essential. A lot of adults don’t get enough sleep and not getting enough sleep has been linked to mental health and physical health. Everyone’s sleep needs are different. For me, at least 8 hours is what I need. When I was in college, I could function on 4 hours and maybe a Red Bull. So get your sleep! It makes a huge difference! Trust me. And dieting also affects health overall. The gut bacteria in your stomach is connected to mental and physical health as well. If you’re getting stomachaches, you’re killing the good gut bacteria in your stomach which in turn will make you sick. Eating a balanced and healthy diet will help the gut bacteria and will make you feel better. There’s that saying, “you are what you eat” and it’s true. Eat foods high in probiotics. Anyway, not to go on forever but if you can focus on your sleep and dieting habits, this should hopefully help you. You also don’t mention what is causing your stomach aches? If it’s a personnel issue, consider talking to your HR or management and doing something about it. Your job isn’t worth you going into pain. Good luck!!

    13. Joielle*

      My spouse has a chronic illness that’s exacerbated by stress, and one of the symptoms is stomach pain and vomiting. It got really bad last year when he was in a stressful job – same kind of thing you describe, just so much work that never lets up (and serious consequences for the company if it doesn’t get done adequately). We’ve been through every specialist, had every test done, worked with a naturopath, massage therapist, acupuncturist, medical hypnosis, etc etc… the only thing that actually helped long-term was taking a month of FMLA leave and using that month to find a new job.

      Short term, massage and bodywork does help (more of a medical-focused practitioner, not just a spa-type thing). Sometimes peppermint helps – just altoids usually. If it’s nausea, Zofran is pretty good if you can get a prescription for it.

    14. Cruciatus*

      I know you said you can’t quit your job, but it’s the only thing that worked for me. But without that, what is giving you the stress? Too much work? Bad boss? Is there anything you can do to help with that? Can you have some things taken off your plate, or avoid your boss (can you work from home)?

      I also agree with keep job searching that others have said. It made me feel like I had control of *something*, even if nothing was worth applying to. It gave me hope that there would eventually be (and there was!). Knowing that I would eventually get out helped. I hope some of these other tips will help you though. Good luck!

    15. Anonymous Hippo*

      I found eucalyptus essential oiler in a diffuser very helpful. I also have a Xanax prescription from my doctor for when it gets exceptionally bad.

      I also found smoking helped too, but that’s not really a heathy alternative, though it was very effective. BUT, even without smoking, if you act like you are, IE take a break, walk completely away from you desk/work/coworkers and take 5-10 minutes to yourself you will get a lot of the benefit without the nicotine problem.

    16. Rana*

      I’m not usually one for journaling but when I was in a job like this the only thing that helped was the write down (in my super secret journal) exactly what I was most stressed about and then the worst case scenario that I could imagine would come from that. So for me, an example might have been “CEO actively dislikes me” and then I would write “could put pressure on my boss to fire me but I know my boss likes my work and would push back.” For you it might be something like “I completely drop the ball on x project and it doesn’t get done” to which the response might be “my boss is upset with me but we all eventually move on.” Even if the worst-case scenarios are worse than that, I found it really really helped to write it all down and then evaluate how likely I thought it was to really happen.

      And in the end, there’s really nothing worse than “I get fired” and that is not always the disaster it seems either, especially if the job is that stressful. But I did find a lot of relief in just naming my greatest fears, and being able to look at them written down helped me realize that the underlying fears I was having were actually pretty unlikely to happen. Good luck! It sucks sucks sucks to be this stressed at work and I hope you find relief soon.

    17. Anon for this one*

      Not anymore. I did, years ago in grad school when I was studying for my qualifying exams. (As in, throwing up almost every morning from stress levels of stomachache.) Therapy helped. For me the anxiety was situational, so I didn’t need any medications – the therapist recommended some techniques that I found useful, and I only ended up needing a few sessions – so if regular therapy is a financial stretch for you, but a few sessions are doable, view it as you would going to another sort of doctor and see if it’s useful for you.

    18. Anonymous reader*

      Thank you everyone for your help! I’m going to print these out and review them. I appreciate your help.

    19. Onwards and Upwards*

      When I’ve been in this situation, it helped a bit to try and make a secret game I could play or have a silly secret that made me feel “you haven’t crushed my independence yet!” Eg, once I brought a favourite old soft toy (Ducky, a duck
      !) to work in my handbag and all day I had the interior giggle of imagining Ducky keeping me company and being on my side :) Another time I tried to use the word “exactly” once every hour. Another time I tried to mindfully feel the ground under my feet throughout interactions with a bully.

  6. Evelyn O'Connell*

    My interview went well last week and I’ve continued to mine information on the organization after hearing from a former employee (who I trust and have no reason to believe would exaggerate) that things are worse at this org than I thought. It sounds like the problems are coming from two in upper management, maybe one more than the other. The third person, I hear, is fantastic. Everything tracks with the vibe I got during the interview. My latest mining expedition with a current employee confirmed the information I had previously. The thing is, I no longer feel physically, emotionally, or mentally safe in my current position. So even if this place is bad, it’s likely not as bad as my current job. And even if it is, it took me several years to get to this point in my current job…I’m hoping it’ll be some time before I’d start to feel the pain of the new one (which is also a step up, more pay, and a little closer to where I live). I still have serious concerns about the two managers, one of which could be my direct supervisor (that would be determined later, probably when the offer is made).

    The question: Is it a terrible idea to, if it’s offered, ask the third manager something along the lines of, “Especially with the extremely high turnover, I’m a little apprehensive because I’m hearing Jane and Paula are difficult to work with. Is this something that is really being addressed?” (Contacting just the one manager because I did ask about turnover and what’s being done about it, but when I discussed some of those answers with a trusted source, they said those answers from those individuals are basically false boilerplate — again, this tracks with previous information.)

    1. Sick Leave Drama*

      I think you should absolutely do this! I don’t think that language is quite right unless you’re happy to walk away from the job if she’s offended or doesn’t give you the answer you want. “I’ve heard it can be challenging working with Jane and Paula. Can you tell me the kinds of people who have been successful in that and what some of the challenges have been?” might be better (but she’s still quite likely to want to know who said that and it’s not unlikely to get back to Jane and Paula). It’s also true that personalities can be untenable to some people (particularly the ex-employee, who is likely to be more salty) and might not be as bad for you.

      1. Evelyn O'Connell*

        Thank you! Yes, I agree on the language. Being too direct in these situations is a chronic struggle of mine, so I really appreciate the script.

      2. Fran Fine*

        but she’s still quite likely to want to know who said that and it’s not unlikely to get back to Jane and Paula

        This is why I would tread carefully here. Suppose you ask this, and the “good” manager relays what you said back to the other two. This could start a witch hunt on their end to find out who spilled the beans (I know, I’ve seen this happen when various people warned me about going to work in a division that was struggling and then the VP went around asking everyone who scared me off), OR they could wait to hire you and then proceed to make your life miserable for deigning to ask.

        If you can just hold out at your current company a little while longer and continue your job search, I would do that. Don’t jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          Evelyn O’Connell could say former employees if she is pressed for an answer. But yeah, be prepared with an answer for that.
          Could a different question to the third manager get the same result?

          There has been a lot of turnover, do you have and insight into the reasons? Can you tell me the kinds of people who have been successful here and what some of the challenges have been?

          Then, depending on the answer, you could add – I asked you because I’m hearing Jane and Paula are harder to work with. Does that ring true to you?

          And, can you tell me how the turnover is being addressed if it is?

          But also, try to hold out for a better job.
          Best of luck to you!

    2. JSPA*

      “Difficult to work with” is probably a no-go. Maybe, if you can name a dynamic that’s something that can happen, without either person being “bad” or “difficult” per se, you can raise that, more specifically.

      “I get the sense that Jane and Paula do not always have the same vision for tasks, such that in the past, people could get caught in the middle. Are there now processes and reporting structures in place to reduce that sort of pinch point?”

      That allows Jane and Paula to each be excellent (whether or not they are), and displaces the question onto process.

      Or maybe the problem is bottlenecks, because they are often absent; again, you can name the problem (“approval bottlenecks”) without calling out people for screwing up.

      Especially if you hope to fly under the radar and make nice as needed for a couple of years, you don’t want to lead with an attack on 2 of 3 top people, and THEN decide you’re still desperate enough to take the job.

  7. KMJ*

    I have a question about whether or not to disclose to my manager that I’m applying to jobs (if I get interviews)

    I know the standard advice is “don’t” but here’s what’s making this case particularly weird:

    1. We work in a niche field and gossip is rampant. My manager’s spouse works on the team I’m applying to. They’ll be part of the interview process, and while I trust everyone there to be professional … spouses is a special case. I’m paranoid that something will slip.

    2. My job is going through some reorg, and my manager has been hinting that I would be considered for management in the next couple months if I’m interested. I have no idea how to handle this conversation, because if I get a new job I will obviously be leaving, but if I stay I would strongly consider the management position. It feels icky to ask them to invest in helping me prepare for management, only to bail right after without warning.

    Am I putting the cart way before the horse here? What would you do?

    1. Sick Leave Drama*

      Oh lord this is really stressful! Honestly I would probably not apply to the spouse’s org if I wasn’t willing to share my job search with my manager and particularly if a promotion was in line. I’m sorry because that sucks and is unfair.

      1. Ashley*

        If it does come from the spouse, the spouse maybe violating their companies confidentiality policy. When submitting your application materials, I would try and talk to someone in advanced of your concerns. I switched jobs in a gossip industry and made it through because they took the confidentiality seriously.

    2. lost academic*

      Absolutely not. You’ll surely get passed over for the new opportunity if you do and it’s at least a couple months out. Anyone could leave at any time for any reason, and they know that.

      Remember, you don’t need to unsay anything you never said in the first place. But you can’t ever take it back once you put it out there.

    3. SherSher*

      Can you have a conversation with her about your trajectory and professional development with the company and maybe use that as an opportunity to interject that you are considering exploring other opportunities? Not as a threat, but just as a way to develop yourself professionally? It really depends heavily on the relationship you have with your boss though and what you know of how they may have handled similar situations. FWIW, even spouses shouldn’t be having those conversations. My husband and I work for the same organization and we avoid talking about personnel things particularly.

    4. Peachtree*

      Can you reach out to the hiring manager or your HR contact at the company and say “just FYI I’m aware that the spouse of my current manager will be involved in the interview process; I wanted to mention it as a heads up prior to meeting”. That way, HR is aware of the issue and may even remove you from the process to ensure fairness. And, if your old manager does find out, they’ll know the source.

    5. cubone*

      for #2: you’re not obligated to adjust your current or future goals just because of a hint. It’s one thing if you are a senior executive and they are restructuring with the understanding of your specific skills/abilities in a leadership role, but personally I don’t think the prospect of a (potential!) promotion means you’re being icky by considering other jobs. You’re allowed to look at what’s out there! If the timing ends up being weird (eg. the promotion materializes and is imminent, and you get a better job offer), “this was a very difficult choice but it’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass on” is fine.

      #1 is more of a tricky problem. I agree with Peachtree’s advice.

    6. Just my 4 cents*

      Easy to say from the outside, but this really shouldn’t be a thing. If spouses work the same niche field, they should be able to understand and handle the confidentiality that comes with interviewing people from their respective companies. I wouldn’t notify the company you are interviewing with because it could actually seem like more of a conflict of interest than it is. You could mention to spouse after the interview that you haven’t told manager that you are interviewing but will obviously do so if you progress further in the hiring process.

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Yes putting the cart before the horse. I know it all feels urgent to figure out now, but until you have an offer in hand, sounds like you would stay with your current company. So keep acting as if you are. Sorry it’s such a rock and a hard place!

    8. Purple Cat*

      Cart before the horse
      Absolutely do not proactively share that you are job searching.
      1) If the spouse says something, that is a breach of confidentiality on their part. You shouldn’t give them a pass. That would be a red flag for you and this opportunity if it happens.
      2) It’s just as possible that your job may be eliminated with the reorg. Managers “hinting” at something in no way shape or form means it will happen. She should be investing in preparing you for management regardless if it’s the next step on the ladder.

    9. anonymous73*

      I still wouldn’t say anything unless she brings it up. You can be matter of fact about it. “I’m keeping my options open.”

      1. tessa*

        Yep. Hard agree with anonymous73, especially the one-sentence script. Perfect thing to say.

  8. Dice To Meet You*

    Does anyone have any credible resources (that look great on a resume!) for teaching yourself data/database analysis?

    My partner currently works as a lab technician so has a scientific data background, just not the training beyond Coursera and free online SQL classes. She loves spreadsheets and she’s got a knack for understanding the building blocks of databases, but she’s stuck figuring out where to look for the instruction needed to start getting workforce experience.

    1. Gnome*

      I hire people with programming experience and almost all have a section for that. I’ve seen a lot of bland Word Doc stuff, stuff with objective statements, stuff with sidebars. Too much formatting and I’ll remember yours as “the green one” which isn’t good.

      No head shots. I am seeing got repositories, LinkedIn URLs, and the like.

      Also, I know Alison hates the objective statement, but I have seen a few people put it to good use since we don’t require cover letters. In particular where there’s clearly a pivot happening (like why after 20 years as an A are you looking and a position as a B?). But it HAS to be short.

      1. Gnome*

        Ok… That was supposed to post elsewhere… Sorry.

        Coursera is good. Practical experience is better. My two cents: find something to database. Like, if your scout troop sells cookies or popcorn, that can lead to a database. Your finances can lead to a database. You can talk about that stuff in an interview, even if it’s not job related.

        Consider MS Access as it’s SQL under the hood and you don’t need to set up server or anything to use it. Lots of concepts will transfer.

    2. SherSher*

      Does she have any projects or accomplishments she can point to that demonstrate the skills? That says more to me than all the training in the world.

      1. Dice To Meet You*

        Unfortunately not! This would be a career shift. Her current experience is focused on day-to-day lab work (titration, use of lab equipment to run samples, etc) (I’m not a lab person so I’m just parroting words she says here, ha) and she can’t get projects without the training.

        1. tessa*

          I wonder if she could take a semester-long course for certification. Likely, or at least possibly, the course capstone would be to set up a relational database for a real-world organization.

          Plus, she would have documentation that her knowledge and skills were measured in a standardized way for accuracy. I think there is a place for teaching one’s self, but I do wonder how people who say they are self-taught measure the accuracy of their knowledge.

          Just my 2.

    3. Lora*

      Codecademy is not my favorite but they seem to be credible as far as what my business school colleagues think is acceptable, for what that’s worth. Free short trial period but then it’s like $12/month. I personally didn’t get much out of it but I’m told other people like it a lot, and they have quite a bit about data analysis and management with different languages and software packages.

      1. Dice To Meet You*

        Very good to know business people find it acceptable! We’ve seen it thrown around a lot online but weren’t sure if it was one of those scams that isn’t immediately obviously as scame.

        1. Lora*

          One of my professors actually required us to use it as part of the class on IT management he taught, and he was an adjunct because his day job was CIO of a very large company you have definitely heard of. He had us pick something relevant to our work and then do a Codecademy certificate in that. Not a scam, I was somewhat annoyed because it takes a while to get into actually using the thing they’re trying to teach you and the examples they have you run through are really oversimplified. Like, they’d walk you through making a git repository and then tell you, “next you’re going to download and install another thing…now use the installation wizard to install another thing…and now install another thing…now check that your git repository is connected again and re-save all the file structures and the data you put there…” and it took a looooooong time to get to any useful programming of projects. There wasn’t a lot of WHY you are doing something, which was also annoying to me: why am I supposed to do this next? why do I need to do this in that particular order? can’t I just work on the project and then upload it afterwards when I’m done with it? But they’re also trying to teach you how to code when you’re working in groups and you have a small piece of a larger project, and there’s an optimal way to do that vs. how you would work out the best way to do something by yourself if you were just playing around. They still don’t explain it, but most of the reasons why they wanted you to do some things (which don’t need to be done at all if you’re me and just messing around with Arduino or whatever) are “because that’s how corporate software development functions”.

    4. Daisy*

      I just signed up for DataCamp last week for professional development. It’s a year subscription paid for by my office. My director says the certifications I can earn there will look good on my resume, but I can’t confirm that yet with personal experience.

      1. Dice To Meet You*

        I hadn’t heard about DataCamp, but looking at it now and it seems promising! Thank you!

      2. Gnome*

        I used DataCamp. I like their format and consider it a good place to get building blocks. Personally, I wouldn’t be super impressed with the certificates on a resume (project work really is best), but I would probably note which courses they took.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      I helped an entry level SQL developer find a job that was self-taught. They utilized LinkedIn learning a ton to help them learn the building blocks.

    6. LeftAcademia*

      A tip for job searching. From my experience smaller DataScience departments are more willing to take a risk with out of box applications. Scientific background is definitely a plus. And a warning: data cleaning is a huge part of the job.

    7. NerdAlert*

      I’ve hired for junior data analyst roles before and was looking out for people who demonstrated critical thinking and an interest in data. Any kind of Science background or the kind of online courses you’re talking about were perfect. Skills can be taught but ultimately you need someone who can problem solve. No need to list online course names, but I would put the name of the language in the skills section and rate it as a beginner.

      If she wants to try out some more SQL courses, I’ve used DataCamp in the past and found it very good. The monthly price is not outrageous. I wouldn’t sign up for the year at first – try it out and see. They have career tracks on it so your partner can just go for one of them and they’ll line up the modules for her.

  9. Sick Leave Drama*

    Is anyone else finding it hard to use sick leave in a work from home situation? In my office, it’s the culture to put into Slack when you take sick leave and most people provide a bit of context. Saying “I am taking sick leave today” is out of the norm and would come across as chilly/secretive I think. I am now paranoid about my reasons for sick leave not seeming “good enough” when after all we’re all remote so really couldn’t I still be responsive to email even if I’m a bit under the weather? (To be clear, this is entirely coming from me, not my manager). In my old job it was much easier to take time off because getting dressed up and taking the train was a clear barrier. To make it worse, in this job our sick leave is not that generous and doesn’t roll over, so I do feel like I should get to use what little leave I get. I’m generally fortunate not to need it for big dramatic illnesses.

    1. Echo*

      I think the difference is making the slack message sound warm and friendly. This is basically verbatim the script I use:

      Hi team! Unfortunately I’m not feeling well today, so I’m going to take a day of PTO to relax and recover. If you need XYZ today please reach out to John Doe. Jane, do you mind attending the llama meeting today and letting me know if there are any to-dos for me? Thanks and hope to see you all tomorrow.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I agree. You can give the appearance of an “explanation” without giving any real, substantive details.

    2. urguncle*

      Adding additional context is unnecessary, and I think with some allies in this, you could definitely shift the culture. “I’m not feeling well, I’ll spare you all the details” is more than enough information. If people ask afterwards, just say “I just really needed the rest, thanks for your concern though!”
      I primarily WFH and I agree that it’s tempting to never take a sick day, especially if I don’t have any meetings that day where I need to be on camera. At the same time, I’ve set some boundaries on just taking the damn day when I need it, even for mental health.

      1. Sick Leave Drama*

        Ha yes this is actually my current strategy, to imply without explicitly stating that my reason for sick leave is gross and that’s why I’m not going into any more detail. It’s a bit weird. I know I’m overthinking this. I did it at a past job too so this is clearly a “me problem.”

    3. Rolly*

      Is your job particularly precarious?

      If not, do what you want, even if it’s out of the norm. Someone has to say they are taking sick leave. it’s the right thing to do for yourself AND modeling healthy behaviour.

    4. Cendol*

      Yes, me! I also hate calling out sick on Fridays or Mondays as I’m afraid it will look like I just want a 3-day weekend. But it happens! And even monitoring emails can be hard when you’re under the weather. I had surgery last year and was shocked when I “returned” too soon and an email that would have normally taken me five minutes to write took more than thirty.

      I advise you to “just do it,” as Nike suggests, see what happens, and use that result as evidence to counteract the anxiety you might be feeling. People will seldom be as harsh on you as you are on yourself. And wouldn’t you be generous to a coworker who called out sick and trust their assessment that they needed that time to rest and recover? Perhaps by giving no details you can set an example and nudge your company culture toward not requiring detailed context for sick leave.

      1. Sick Leave Drama*

        I mean honestly I *could* check emails, at least sporadically, if I had to. But – I don’t want to! I want to take my sick day and not think about work! I think this is the crux of my guilt haha.

      2. Sloanicota*

        The worst to me is that I am quite likely to get sick during traveling – from the planes and the new strains of whatever is brewing in another part of the country – so the time I’m most likely to need sick leave is right after a three day weekend or after sometimes (even worse) after the week of vacation I just took. It looks so suspicious! I hate it! And yet every time like clockwork …

        1. Cendol*

          Me too!!! I don’t do well in transit. I always joke that I need a vacation from vacations.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      “I feel lousy,” is plenty of detail. It says you’re sick without specifying what part of your body is doing what, which I often don’t want to know.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      When we’re WFH and out sick, we just . . . don’t check email. The expectation is that we’re not working and thus that we won’t be checking email. If there’s a screaming emergency and for some reason they really do need me, they can call, but email can wait.

      And they don’t need to know anything more about your sick leave than that you’re sick, so they have no basis for it not seeming good enough.

    7. RabidChild*

      Two things come to mind: First, just because it’s not the norm, couldn’t you still say, “I am not well today and will be unavailable”? It’s not really anyone’s business unless it causes a disruption in the work, and that’s up to your boss to deal with.

      Second, I am a migraine sufferer and what it’s taught me is that non-sufferers understand very little about it but give me a lot of grace, typically. If you’re not averse to a white lie, perhaps this one would work?

    8. EMP*

      “Not feeling good, think I ate something that disagreed with me” is my go-to vague, plausible, unlikely to cause follow up white lie when needed. I tend to check slack once or twice if I’m really just taking a mental health day because otherwise it’s too much to catch up on the next day, but take that sick time!

    9. ecnaseener*

      No, I think you’re fine just saying you’re under the weather / not feeling well / a little sick. If questioned (not that I think that’s likely, but you’ll feel better to have scripts in your back pocket) then you say you’re too tired/out of it to focus on work and you’re going to try to sleep all day.

    10. cubone*

      my go to was “I’m really not feeling well today, so I’m going to take a sick day and rest/recover. I’ll be offline but contact [supervisor] if you need anything”. It’s vague but doesn’t come across as ‘mysterious’ and I find using the word ‘offline’ addressed the “checking emails anyways” bit.

      If the choice is between a) prioritizing your health vs. b) doing something nice and helpful for your workplace (like checking emails), always choose A.. Always.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is a good script and I appreciate “rest/recover” more than “relax” as suggested above.

    11. Random Bystander*

      I’ve been WFH since March 2020 (now permanent WFH) and I have taken some days off (we don’t have separate buckets for regular PTO and sick days–it’s all rolled into one bucket) when I wasn’t feeling well. Once I got the time off approved and entered into the time keeping system, I restart my computer (what I do every day at end of day) which logs me out of everything, and then I turn the monitors off (so the screensavers don’t come up) and just do not think about work until the next day that I am clocking in to do work.

      If you really need to do an out-of-office sort of message, I’d just go with a very bland “Under the weather [today], if you need something immediately, please contact [insert appropriate info], otherwise I’ll get back to you when I return.”

    12. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I am currently taking a sick day. I responded to a couple of emails this morning, emailed my manager, and shut off my computer. Strangely I’ve found it easier to take a sick day when WFH – if I feel like I need it, then I’m going to really take one.

    13. Jean*

      There’s nothing chilly or secretive about saying “I’m taking a sick day today.” Seems a bit like your internalized guilt over using PTO is causing some projection there. It’s your time, you’ve earned it, you’re entitled to take it, and no one else needs to be looped in on the details of your personal life. I don’t want to know context of why my colleagues are taking sick time. Not because I don’t care about them, but because it’s none of my business. And I expect the same courtesy from them.

    14. anonymous73*

      “I don’t feel well so I’m taking the day off.” *

      You don’t need to provide details, and WFH doesn’t mean you’re not allowed sick days. I don’t get sick much, but my rule of thumb was this pre-COVID. If I felt okay but was contagious, I would work remotely (like a head cold or mild illness). If I had something that made me extra tired or feel so crappy that naps are needed/I couldn’t concentrate on anything more than trash tv/I needed to be close to the bathroom at all times, I took off. My rules haven’t changed since I started WFH full time 2+ years ago.

      *Not feeling well can pertain to anything, physical or mental.

    15. OtterB*

      We usually say in our Slack message something like “Under the weather,” maybe with more detail or maybe not, and then either “checking e-mail intermittently” or “offline until tomorrow.” Possibly adding “Text me if something is urgent” depending on how that’s likely to work. My role doesn’t really have emergencies, and my colleagues’ judgement is good, so I have never been texted under those circumstances. It’s paradoxically more relaxing to say that and know that if I haven’t heard from anyone, then nothing is on fire and I don’t need to worry about whether I should make a quick email check.

    16. Koalafied*

      Agree with everyone else, keep it short and sweet and don’t feel the need to justify with details why you can’t work while sick. Let that be self-evident from the fact that you’re taking a sick day. “I’m really not feeling well this morning and need to take the day off to get better.” Or, “I woke up feeling awful and won’t be able to work today.”

      If you’re willing and able, you can throw in something like, “I’ll try to check in on email from bed a couple of times later today if I’m feeling up to it, in case I can answer any quick questions to keep things moving, but I can’t make any promises that I’ll be able to – and any work requests will have to wait until I’m feeling better, hopefully tomorrow.” It would also likely be fine to say, “I’ll be totally offline, so please direct any time-sensitive questions to Boss while I’m recuperating.”

    17. JSPA*

      “Unfortunately, I’m sick enough to have to take a sick day” should work.

      If it’s something of limited duration, whether it actually IS food poisoning, or hellacious PMS, or whatever:

      “”Unfortunately, I’m sick enough to have to take a sick day; this sort of thing is usually better in 24 hours, so I hope to be back with you tomorrow”

      should prevent people from wanting to know more.

    18. Anonosaurus*

      I get this, but if you are sick you need to rest and doing more or less a day’s work is not resting. I usually say something like “hi guys I’m under the weather today (not covid!)* so I’m going back to bed and won’t be checking emails, text me if there’s anything urgent. Hopefully it’s just a 24-hour thing but I’ll let you know tomorrow how things are. Please can you call x and reschedule our call for later this week? (Or whatever).”

      * – I put this in because we have hybrid working and I don’t want to freak anyone out if I was on site the day before! Thankfully it’s been true up til now

  10. Glitterbomb*

    Well an update from last Friday (I took the plunge and started looking for a new job). I’ve had three different phone interviews (same company) since last Wednesday to yesterday. Yesterday was the final one, with other same level staff as the position I applied for. The second was with the actual VP I direct report to. It’s all happening so fast, but it sounds good, right? Maybe? I think the timeline is them extending an offer to the selected person next week.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      It sounds like it’s moving swiftly. Do you have any reservations or you’re a little confused at the opportunity moving quickly? I could see how you’d be surprised by that.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I don’t think moving quickly is itself anything to worry about. They likely need the position filled. What is important from your end is that you are able to ask whatever questions you have along the way and are satisfied with their responses. If they’re not giving you the chance to do that–you’re interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you–then that’s a problem. Or if they offered you the job without talking to your references.

      But if that’s not the case, and you’re mutually interested, you can be grateful that the process isn’t dragging out for months. Good luck!

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I’m currently hiring and things are moving a lot faster than they used to. We posted a couple positions back in January and by the time the internal recruiting team gathered and reviewed resumes, did an initial phone screen, and finally got the info to us, more than 80% of the candidates had multiple offers in hand. We finally got on the same page with the talent team and now they are basically sending us every resume that ticks the boxes and we skip the HR phone screen. The person we hired two weeks ago applied on Monday and we sent the offer Friday.

    4. Michael Scott*

      I think things move faster right now especially for high demand jobs. I’m currently interviewing with 2 companies. Both skipped an initial 5-15 minute phone call I normally get with hr straight to the first interview with a hiring manager. I went from first interview on Friday to a 2nd interview the next Thursday and an offer the next day. It was really crazy!!!!

  11. El Camino*

    Happy Friday y’all!

    TLDR: Has anyone had a successful approach to talk to a boss who’s kind of a jerk about being more mindful of their tone/demeanor?

    Some background: Our work consists of overlapping deadlines, quick turnarounds, and working with multiple teams of varying degrees of reliability. It also requires sharp attention to detail, so it’s a high stress environment. I’ve had a recurring issue with my boss using a short, snippy, and frequently adversarial tone when we’re reviewing projects together before a deadline. It’s this accusatory way of talking down to me that makes me feel stupid. When we were remote on Teams calls I could save face and cry after a meeting in the privacy of my own home, but now we’re back in the office a few times a week and she’s snapped or barked orders at me in front of other people. Literally cut me off when I was introducing myself to a new colleague: “Stop talking, I need you to help me [fix this tech issue].”

    She’s super rude (and yes, she does have a reputation for it) but she’s a workhorse, so I know she’s not likely to change and the organization would kind of be screwed if they lose her. She recognizes when she’s upset someone and apologizes, but the behavior just repeats again so it feels meaningless.

    I’ve gotten much better at not taking it personally after being here a year and a half, but I’m still frustrated and want to be able to advocate for myself. I want to remind her that we’re on the same team and want the same outcome – we can approach a problem together to find a solution and it would be so much more helpful if she stopped talking to me in this way. Would it be a waste of my time?

    1. Sick Leave Drama*

      Ugh this is so hard I find. It very much depends on the individual. I had an old supervisor like that and I didn’t judge she’d be responsive to feedback so basically she just lost my loyalty as I did the minimum required and tried to avoid her when I could. If she’d been reasonable we could likely have worked it out better. Sometimes people who are very task-oriented like this will actually respect someone who sets a boundary around how they expect to be treated; it depends on the individual and varies widely though. It’s probably worth it for your personal evolution to try at least once – maybe right in the moment when it happens? “I feel like this is strangely adversarial right now. Could you please try to keep our editing notes a bit more positive? We’re all on the same side here!”

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Do you feel like you have standing to push back in real time?

      My experience with people like this is that, yes, it’s often a waste of time–my mother is like this and it’s made her life harder but she’s convinced herself that she cannot change and that everyone else is unfair for asking it of her–but if you think you can without jeopardizing your job, you can say, “There’s no call to bite my head off; just tell me what help you need,” or whatever addresses the situation.

      Also, if your organization is that dependent on her, there’s a bigger problem here.

      1. Dino*

        This. And since she’s a workhorse, maybe appeal to her sense of timeliness. “I work faster and more focused when I’m not getting my head bitten off, can you try being mindful of your tone? Same as you, I want to get [this] taken care of ASAP.” Not sure if that’s the right tone for your particular boss so tweak as necessary.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Provided I can do so without being fired, I am 100% not opposed to making things less efficient when she’s insulting. I’ll work with people but if they’re going to be rude, I’ll wait until they simmer down. The longer it takes them to rein it in, the longer it will take to get [thing] done.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Right, with people who are just so task based that they don’t realize they’re being rude, you may be as direct as “I’m not going to continue to work on this when you speak to me that way” and they may actually course-correct because they are only interested in the efficiency and indifferent to the social dynamics. But if she’s rude because she has the power and enjoys flexing that, this is likely the exact opposite approach you’d want to take.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            All of this is dependent on the boss not being fundamentally abusive. If it’s a power thing, then the only solution is to find a new boss.

        2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          Yes — a long, calm stare as you say “Yes, of course, just a minute,” then calmly return to the person you were talking to, complete the thought that was interrupted, say that you will come back to them after you have addressed this new situation. Slow turn back to the boss, “Let’s go to your office and discuss what the issue is that you are having,” because of course you won’t disrupt the first person’s personal space by having a conversation in it.

          Just modeling a bit of the excruciatingly polite and respectful.

      3. Jean*

        This is where I come down as well. A calm, simple “It’s not necessary to talk to me so rudely in order to get things done” and then change the subject/move on with the discussion. If she wants to make it an issue at that point, then SHE’s the one wasting time and causing a delay, and you can come at it from that angle. “We can talk about this more after we’ve put this fire out.” And then sit down with her one on one in a quiet moment and tell her that you’re having a hard time with her brusqueness. Just because she’s a “workhorse” doesn’t mean she’s allowed to have no expectation of the same soft skills that everyone else is held to.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think it would be a waste of time to have that conversation – perhaps if it happens again , then you could say those things after the event – if she then apologizes, maybe add that it’s frustrating that she apologizes but her behaviour doesn’t change.
      Perhaps you could give specific examples – e.g. say to her
      “last week I was in the middle of introducing myself to Romesh when you interrupted, told me to ‘stop talking and that you needed my help. That came over as really rude and aggressive. Had you said something like ‘Sorry to interrupt, but I need your help to fix the laser targeting programme and it’s urgent because Dr. Evil needs it by 4.30’ you would have got my attention and help without being ruse or aggressive – and I work better when I’m not upset or angry, so it would help both of us”

      another option might be to address it in the moment – e.g. if she interrupts or barks orders at you, try to be really calm – maybe in the example you gave you could have said something to the other person “Sorry about the interruption, excuse me a moment” then to boss “I’m right in the middle of something, I will be with you in a few moments, I am aware of the urgency”

    4. TodoList*

      I’ve had bosses like this before, and it’s a very difficult situation. I’m the kind of person to speak up and ask for changes, but when I’ve tried, it hasn’t ever resulted in a positive behavior / communication shift. Depending on the rest of the context and people involved, it could backfire on you. If you have some political capital and a good relationship with your boss’s boss, it might be worth considering talking to them about it. For me, when I got to the point of crying regularly after interacting with a mean and rude boss, the job was no longer salvageable (but that might not be the case for you!). If I were in your shoes, I’d be either job searching or trying to set up an internal transfer or manager change (or working on both & going with the best option you find).

    5. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Yeah this boss sounds awful. Until they face the consequences of their actions and behavior, sounds like they won’t change. But if your job is causing you to cry, I would start looking for a new one if you can. Otherwise practice letting their rudeness roll off you back (which is easier said than done!) Like viewing them as a cartoon villain or something. But if you can, I would look elsewhere. You are a person deserving of respect!

    6. AnonNurse*

      I’m so sorry to hear this. Your Boss’s behavior is awful.

      As a nurse for 20+ years, unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end of similar rude behavior from nursing supervisors and physicians.

      One thing I did learn was that standing up for myself in the moment was important. Sounds like your boss has a bullying streak in her. Bullies thrive on punch down, but often stops when someone pushes back on their behavior. What worked for me was saying “Please don’t speak to me that way” in the moment. When I said that, they were usually taken aback. It took some practice, but it was the only thing that worked.

      BTW, if her apologies felt meaningless, it is probably because they are meaningless. She knew what she was doing and how her behavior affects her direct reports. At this point, I would just view her apologies as attempts to manipulate others into summitting to her terrible behavior.

    7. anonymous73*

      It may be pointless but I would still do it. The best way to have a big talk about a difficult subject is to do it outside of the moment it happens. You will be calmer and less upset, and it may have more impact. If she reacts in a way that tells you she’s willing to change, call her out in the moment when she does it after the big talk. But if she’s not receptive, there’s probably not much you can do about it, other than working for someone who doesn’t treat you so disrespectfully.

    8. Jora Malli*

      You say she always apologizes when she realizes she’s crossed a line, so maybe you can try using one of those conversations as a jumping off point. Next time she apologizes for snapping at you, don’t say “that’s okay” or anything else along those lines. Thank her for realizing that she crossed a line. If you can come up with a script that you would feel comfortable saying, you can add something about how this happens a lot and you’d prefer it if she changed her behavior.

      1. Jora Malli*

        Thinking more, I may have a script to offer you.

        “Thank you for apologizing. I’d prefer it if you made more of an effort to keep from yelling at me in the future.”

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yeah, with that “stop talking” incident, I’d be likely to pause, blink, look at her for a few seconds, and then say, “of course I’m happy to help.” Then, when that fire was out, I would say, “Jane, can I say something about what happened a minute ago? I was introducing myself to NewColleague, trying to start our working relationship off on a good footing, and you interrupted me with an order to ‘stop talking.’ I know we’re all under a lot of pressure here, but frankly, when you talk to me like that, it makes the situation a lot more stressful than it needs to be (especially when it happens in front of other people), and that added stress can make it harder to focus on the problems at hand and work to the best of my ability. You are always good about apologizing when you hurt someone’s feelings, which I appreciate, but I–and I think many others here–would appreciate it even more if you could try to be more conscientious about how you talk to people to begin with. We’re all on the same team here, and we are all working hard.”

    10. RagingADHD*

      Whatever you say, make sure it’s a script you are comfortable repeating frequently and immediately when it happens.

      A long-term, engrained habit like this is not going to be solved by one big talk. You’re going to have to push back repeatedly in order to retrain her in how she speaks to you.

      “We are on the same team here, Jane.” or “That’s uncalled for.” might be places to start.

    11. JSPA*

      While there’s no reason to presume that this stems from disability, would it help if you internally reframed it as, “poor dear, she can’t help it”? Whether she has a delay/deficit in social training, a delay/deficit in awareness of others, a delay/deficit in self-awareness, a delay/deficit in language tone awareness, is stuck in a pattern that she can’t seem to break, or was consistently spoken to that way as a child, and resultingly has to put disproportionate mental energy into not using that tone–who knows!

      But (unless it’s bad enough to change jobs), choosing to frame it as, “when she’s in a high-energy flow state, she gives up or loses some of her ability to handle normal social interaction” may be more comfortable for you than focusing on the certainty that she, consciously and with malice, doesn’t respect you, doesn’t care about letting it show, and isn’t putting any effort into fixing the problem.

      That said, if she herself admits it’s a recurrent problem, you could perhaps ask, next time she apologizes: “rather than doing apologies after the fact, is there anything you can suggest that we can both do, to change the pattern, in the moment?”

      Some managers do ascribe to the work-equivalent of a safe-word, to let them know they need to dial it down, in the moment. Others find it distracting, painful, enraging, or it just doesn’t penetrate.

      Would an, “it’s not you, it’s me” from her, do the trick? Could you bring a bit of momentary filtering selective amnesia to bear? Is there some sort of recognition that would compensate adequately?

      If not, then not! What then? I’d say, given the job market, it’s not wrong to look. There may be a thousand people you’d work with better, as you are…and also a solid number of people who’d work better with her, as she is.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Perpetuating the false idea that disability = being a rude, hostile jerk does nobody any favors. Especially people who actually have disabilities, who then have to overcome even more stigma, bias, and infantilization.

        This person has enough agency and self-control to become the boss. I guarantee she didn’t get that position by talking to her superiors and clients the way she talks to her subordinates.

        1. JSPA*

          Nowhere did I present this mental, internal self- message as fact. But when someone won’t change, and you won’t or can’t leave, it can really quiet the internal conflict to assign a reason you can live with, and that leaves you able to work with the person.

          “She is evil” would leave my stomach roiling in anticipatory anger, before she even walked in. “She has a mental block and can’t figure out out in real time” would (and has) equipped me with the grace to mentally step back, when i wasn’t in a position to physically step out.

          I’m not talking about excusing or explaining. I’m talking about reframing.

          I thought my use of the (highly judgemental!) “poor dear, she can’t help it”–a phrase that basically means, “she is a jerk, vicious, or impaired, don’t push to find out which” should have adequately signaled this.

    12. Anonosaurus*

      Honestly, if the boss is making you cry then it’s time to look for another job in my book. But if that isn’t possible it may be worth having a bigger picture conversation along the lines of “on X and Y days you snapped at me when [whatever we were doing]. I appreciate that you apologised afterwards, but I’m concerned that this keeps happening. Not only is it having a significant effect on how I feel about coming to work, I feel that we could achieve so much more if we worked more collaboratively. At the moment I don’t feel that I can collaborate with you effectively because rather than seeking my input or asking me to do something in a respectful and appropriate way, you give orders in a way that is peremptory and to be completely honest, rude. Can we have a discussion about how to work together more effectively?”

      As others I’ve also said you can address this in the moment by calling her on the rudeness while still doing the work task required.

      A long time ago I was a bit like your boss and somebody came to me a short while after an incident like that and said words to the effect of “I know you’re the boss and I know this needed to be done but I’m not prepared to be spoken to like that at work”. That had a big impact on me. I like to work quickly and I can be impatient and there are times I still want to bark orders people but you just can’t do that (rightly) so I have worked hard to address this and it’s literally years since I have had any issues with this behaviour. However I changed because I could see there would be consequences for me if I didn’t (and also I’m not an a****** hopefully). If there aren’t really any consequences for your boss she might not be willing to change and if that is the case then you know what Alison says…

  12. Professional Emailer*

    I’m curious what everyone thinks about tagging people in emails. For instance: if I’m including more than one person on an email but only some have action items, I would @PersonINeedActionFrom in the body of the email next to the action item. People at my last job did it a lot and it was helpful when scanning my inbox to know which emails to address first. But I’ve only come across one or two people to do it at my current job. Should I start doing it? Do you find it annoying?

      1. Sherm*

        Yes — In Outlook at least, “@Person” gets highlighted in the email text, and this person also gets an “@” in the pre-opened email next to the sender’s name. I personally love it, because people get a ton of emails and may tune out early in the message. The “@” thing helps flag to a reader that a reader’s attention really is needed.

        1. Professional Emailer*

          Yes! This was why it was such a favorite feature of mine. And, for the sender, it automatically adds the person you tag to the To: field. It’s a small convenience but nice.

        2. Echo*

          Cool! Yeah, I’d keep using it, @Professional Emailer (if only it worked the same way here on AAM!) and assume your colleagues are like me and just don’t know how it works.

    1. lost academic*

      I will bold/highlight in the text when making it clear that someone is in charge of a specific action item.

      1. Rolly*

        And start each on a new line, so their name is first on each line

        Rolly – please you follow up on the data import
        Polly – can you line up possible vendors?

      2. Koalafied*

        That’s the convention where I work as well. If there are any action items, bold the name of the person who needs to take action. Also bolding the deadline by which they must act, if there is one.

    2. BusyBee*

      I like it! I sometimes forget the ability to do that exists until I see someone doing it, and then I’m like “oh yeah! Tagging! That’s efficient!” So it could be a situation where folks aren’t using simply because it’s not top of mind.

      1. Professional Emailer*

        Good point! I started this job last year so I was trying to follow what others were doing while I got the hang of the email culture but now may be a good time to start doing it.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      I find it helpful to indicate what you are actually asking for from a specific person, or indicating why a person has been added to the chain. I find just blindly CC’ing is less effective in getting people to actually respond.
      I tag people all the time and I get tagged all the time – I don’t think it comes through as anything other than a normal email, and I don’t think it’s annoying at all. Much better than sending everything as Important, or sending “gentle reminders” every day when people don’t reply!

      1. Professional Emailer*

        Agreed, and it’s admittedly helpful in getting me to respond to others. Questions just thrown out for the group to answer tend to get lost in my inbox where as a direct tag is something I intentionally address.

    4. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex (she/her)*

      This is very common at my organization. I always do it in the scenario you mention, at least for people who I know are included on many, many emails and sometimes are “for awareness” and sometimes “I need you to respond to this before we can go further.”

    5. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I @ people ALL THE TIME. I know there was a time before this was a feature in tools like Outlook, but I never want to go back!

    6. Brightwanderer*

      I’m not exactly disagreeing with the previous commenters, but I guess I’ll say that this is a feature of Outlook I’ve never seen used, and if you started doing it in work emails to me, my knee-jerk impression would be that you were a bit too used to social media and were treating email correspondence like Twitter. And my associations with @ in that context is more like calling someone out/shaming them/putting them on the spot. (Or at least, that WOULD have been my reaction before seeing the comments up thread, which have made it clear to me that I’m off-base here.) So I guess that might be a consideration if it’s not a convention your organisation uses already.

      1. Professional Emailer*

        This is definitely something I want to be cognizant of and mostly why I asked this question. I like it and find it useful but don’t want it to be off-putting if the recipient is not used to it. I’m in digital marketing – not exactly social but not too far removed – so some may be familiar but others may not like it. Thanks for the POV!

        1. eisa*

          Making it clear whom exactly you are asking to do X / answer Y ist very useful.
          At my company, we use @ all the time; but if you are concerned it might look too twitter-y, other formats work just as well .

          @MyersJanet Please nominate a person from your team for this task.
          @ Janet correct me if I’m wrong
          Wakeen: please provide the current version of the document.
          Cersei, Sansa – please coordinate about this topic.

          (picking one of the styles of course)

          The difference between the first and second is that you can choose whether you want to use the mentioned Outlook feature mentioned by others, or just use @ firstname (which I personally prefer).

          To counter Brightwanderer’s statement
          “my knee-jerk impression would be that you were a bit too used to social media and were treating email correspondence like Twitter.”
          in my knee-jerk opinion, someone who feels like that is the one that is (a bit too) used to social media and imagines Twitter shaming in a normal feature of email correspondence … but this probably depends very much on the background / field of work.
          In journalism or other Twitter-adjacent fields, the recipients’ minds would probably indeed go to Twitter immediately; in more, let’s say, stodgy fields (finance, industry, tech, ..), I think people are quite able to differentiate between professional office communication and social media and the latter will often not be on their radar at all while they are at work.

      2. Purple Cat*

        I like the feature, and I think some nuance to Brightwanderer’s feedback, is that you shouldn’t @ somebody just to say hi or be social. (Not that I think you would). It’s super-hepful when on project emails to multiple people that the recipients know exactly what’s expected of them. Especially if there tends to be a lot of update emails not requiring action, and then all of a sudden an action is needed.

        I love that it automatically puts the people in the “to”. Helpful when you’re dropping a task on somebody that wasn’t on the email chain before.

      3. Be kind, rewind*

        Yeah, this can depend on what it’s used for. I have a coworker that uses the @ callout every time someone’s name is used, not necessarily because that person needs to provide input or has an action item. I find it to be overkill. Kind of like using the ! for every email.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        Engineering/manufacturing perspective here. @ tagging is used in Jira and Microsoft Teams to trigger an email to a specific member of the project.
        Since that’s where I used it first, I don’t think of it as primarily social media. (Even though I’ve since joined twitter.)

      5. BlackbeltJones*

        This is a coincidence! I received an email today where someone was tagged. This was the first time I’d ever seen this at work, and I had the same thought: “A little too much Twitter, MaryLou?”

        I learned something today – thanks, OP!

    7. anonymous73*

      I wasn’t aware of this feature but I may be stealing it now! I wouldn’t find it annoying – I use my inbox as a to do list. I usually just bold and highlight people’s names in an email if more than one has an action item.

    8. Quaremie*

      I love this feature. I have my email rules set up so that anytime I am tagged, The email also gets flagged. I work heavily off of rules and flagged emails so I find this extremely helpful. (Except for when the trail goes on forever and every single response gets flagged. But oh well, at least I don’t miss important things.) I remember when people first started using it, I did think it felt a little over the top but it didn’t take long before I realized its utility.

    9. @IT_Manager*

      My workplace seems to have informally started using this over the last year and I love it. I get hundreds of emails a day and it is SO HELPFUL to get tagged!

      Plus in outlook at least, @-ing someone automatically adds them to the To: line so you don’t forget people.

    10. @IT_Manager*

      Also – you may already know this but I leaned recently that you can now tag people in almost any Microsoft product (I believe only via O365) in the comments, and it will email them a notice, and in some cases also assign an action to them that you can track.

      So when I say “@wakeen can complete this section”, it emails Wakeen to say he’s been tagged in document X, with a helpful link to go edit. Extremely helpful.

  13. Echo*

    I applied for an internal job posting (lateral move) at my company and the HR rep offered to chat with me to answer any questions. What should I ask her if I take her up on her offer? Salary and benefits are identical to my current role.

    1. RabidChild*

      Treat it as any other pre-screen interview or call. Ask her questions about the role that you need answers to–they’ll be different from the questions an outsider might ask since you already know about benefits etc., but you’ll be able to find out why the position is open (if you don’t know), a bit about the manager and the team, the compensation structure if relevant, the growth path, etc.

      1. Echo*

        Thanks! I talked to the hiring manager about all of these (and I’m also talking to the person who last had the role) but now that you mention it, it’ll be instructive to see if anyone’s answers are different.

    2. Fabulous*

      Hi! I just went through this exact thing and made the lateral move at my company! First things first, this might actually be considered a first interview for you, so I’d treat it as such. Some of the questions I asked at this stage were:

      How is the team structured?
      What specific traits is the hiring manager looking for that may not be in the job description?
      I’d also ask how flexible salary is and whether there is a cap on internal transfer salary increases.

      1. Fran Fine*

        That last question is so important. I’ve seen some people take internal transfers and get no raise (even if they went somewhere they’d be doing more work), it even happened to me a long time ago, so I would want that clarified.

    3. JSPA*

      She may be trying to pump you for why you are eager to get away from the current job. If you don’t want to spill about personalities (if that’s part of it), have a canned response ready about enthusiasm for widget maintenance, or feeling that your llama polishing skills are going to waste. Beyond that, do the standard, “why is the job open” and the rest of the external spiel.

      Of course, because she’s internal, if you want her to spill, you can always ask, “Do you have a sense of how [new manager’s] management style compares to [old manager, and maybe any other managers you’ve had or observed closely, in house]? What sorts of initiative does she expect and encourage? How is she on guidance? Does she have any declared strong opinions that are common knowledge, that I should know about, going into the job? Do her implied expectations and unstated requirements differ markedly from those of [old boss]?”

      If she’s strict in-office, or believes that only lazy people sleep past 5 AM, or micromanages, this is stuff HR may well know, and be able to let you know, at least in guarded language.

  14. Spearmint*

    This is part sincere question and part venting, but why aren’t more employers willing to hire employees for potential and then provide extensive training? You’d think the strong job market would make employers more willing to hire inexperienced candidates for entry-level roles, that it would be in their economic interest to do so. Yet even supposedly entry-level job ads still contain a laundry list of requirements and seem to be searching for someone who has preexisting experience in their specific field. I get why this was the case back when the job market was weaker, but now everyone is talking about labor shortages and employers being desperate.

    If you’re a hiring manager, are you open to non-traditional candidates who would require training? If not, why not?

    1. Sick Leave Drama*

      Yeah this job market doesn’t seem that great to me. I maybe do see more positions posted but the norms and salaries are exactly the same in my field as ever.

      1. Trying to Change Careers*

        I am looking to change careers so I’m not the greatest expert on this, but I have had a few interviews with no offers and have been struggling lately to get past the first round. (Three of my last four interviews I only got the phone screen, and one screen got cut short because the HR rep said I didn’t have the experience they wanted. In the fourth I went to the second round but ultimately lost out in the end.) I’m trying to get into instructional design and my understanding is that the market has been flooded with transitioning teachers so every job gets piles of applicants. I am exhausted and people who give me advice (even those in the ID field) treat me like I’m a teenager who doesn’t know how interviews work even though I’m in my 30s and have been working consistently for years now!

        I told a friend of mine yesterday that I understand why she went full freelance haha. The option to do it is tempting.

      2. Alice*

        I agree that the job market doesn’t seem great. New hires in my org, hired at the level that I was hired at, are offered a salary in the range 65-72k, and I’d be hugely surprised if inexperienced people were getting the top half of the range. My own starting salary, adjusted for inflation, was 74k — that is, above the top of the range that’s offered now.

      3. Spearmint*

        My theory is that it’s really tight in certain fields, especially certain service sector and blue collar fields, but that the entry level job market for white collar fields may not be quite as good.

        1. Wino who says Ni*

          Bingo! Getting people to apply for, much less show up for interviews for these kinds of jobs, is such a struggle.

    2. Eco-Logical*

      I have been hiring for an entry level job recently. The reasons are two fold – one is that in my field (YMMV), even entry level jobs are still attracting decent numbers of applicants with non-zero levels of experience. We had about 50 applicants, of those the 8-10 strongest all had experience, we interviewed 4, offered the job to one. So it was in my interests to list some desirable skills because, well, we got people with those desirable skills! The other is that if the right person with a bit more experience came along, we could have increased the salary and made it a bit higher than an entry level job for them. So even though there is a shortage of people in my industry *generally*, there isn’t a shortage at entry level at all, so it makes no sense for me to exclude those people from the recruitment process. We were open to recruiting someone with zero experience if needed, but we didn’t need to.

      1. Spearmint*

        That’s interesting to me. Why would there be a shortage of candidates overall but not of entry-level candidates?

          1. Siege*

            They actually aren’t, but I don’t know how that plays into this situation. Across my state, all colleges are down for admissions and for continuing students. A lot of International students went home at the start of the pandemic and a lot of them haven’t come back. A lot of people who would typically be entering school with the (projected) economic downturn of the pandemic didn’t because there wasn’t money and the pandemic was in high gear. And then the downturn was very different than projected. Education is still reeling at all levels, and frankly is at real risk right now, which for-profit entities are getting very excited to leap on.

        1. Eco-Logical*

          Basically because my industry is notorious for being badly paid and having absolutely nonsense ideas about hours. You already have to work out of hours to do the job (as in, it is literally not possible to count bats during normal office hours), and then the sector has historically had a habit of sending people out to 4 sites a week, and expecting them in the office during the day, sometimes offering only seasonal posts and expecting them to sleep in their car etc. It’s bad. There is a huge shortage of senior people, because in my country a) some big infrastructure projects have sucked them up, b) it’s extremely normal to either leave the industry or go freelance because you cannot sustain the life and c) construction is absolutely booming here.

          But! It’s an environmental job! Universities are churning out more graduates than there are jobs for them (see above re seasonal posts – which did I add you need a car and a driving licence to do, and they’re often zero hours). People are desperate to break into the industry. It’s just the reality of it which breaks them.

          This has all coincided with people like me having lived through the 2008/9 recession, when a whole generation of my peers was unceremoniously made redundant. We’re the people who would have been in those senior roles now. But some of us set up freelance (me), and more left the industry entirely. So there’s a huge skills gap at the top.

        2. JSPA*

          There are always more people who know “not much” than who know “a whole lot.”

          Firms rarely need 50 people who know “not much,” so often as they need 5 people who know “a whole lot.”

          And every one of those people has exactly one body, and that body needs healthcare, benefits, social safety net payments, etc. That makes it far, far less cost effective to hire 5 people in hopes of finding two keepers, than to hire two people who have the minimum skills.

    3. Echo*

      Earnest answer: I think a lot of companies ARE willing to do that, and this is one of those things that’s just a convention. It would look strange and out-of-touch to post a job with no requirements.

      If you have volunteered or interned, that counts as experience. I’d go by Alison’s usual rule that you only really need to meet something like 60-80% of the listed requirements, and add that you can think of the requirements as another way of saying “here’s how you should tailor your description of your past volunteer/intern/temp/student leadership/whatever experience”. I got my first job with that kind of resume.

      1. Echo*

        Oh, one caveat, I’m not talking about highly technical roles. With those, I often wonder the same thing as you. If you’d hire people out of a bootcamp, why not just launch your own bootcamp and hire your ‘A’ students directly? You could tailor the training to the specific type of work they’d do on the job and you’d see real work examples before hiring (plus you’d know if they’re a total jerk or something like that). Theoretically you could even get them to pay for the bootcamp and make it income-generating, but that seems morally questionable for a number of reasons.

    4. Marie*

      I think it has a lot to do with the changing/changed nature of the employer-employee relationship.

      We’ve all heard that people in today’s workforce jump ship after a few years. That’s largely employers’ faults…if you have no loyalty to me, the employee, then I have no loyalty to you. And so we moved away, culturally, from a model where people stayed at a job forever to a model where people move around.

      Now from the employer’s perspective, they don’t want to invest in an employee if the employee is just going to leave. They want an employee who’s ready to go “out of the box” because then they don’t have to spend time and money training someone who will just take that training to another company.

      It’s not a great situation all around…I understand the lack of loyalty toward employers, but it makes it harder to get in when employers are basically treating you like a contractor.

    5. CTT*

      I direct you to Alison’s response to the letter “Why don’t hiring managers look for potential in people?”

      Also, while employers may be “desperate,” not every job can have a warm body as its only qualification, even if it’s one with a lot of potential. I’ve been doing more training over the past two years and it’s HARD, even if you have a plan, and it takes a long time to learn. Employers have to balance the appeal of someone with potential with their immediate needs.

      1. Spearmint*

        I have read that article, and it made sense at the time (she mentions employers getting flooded with overqualified applicants), but it makes less sense to me now when you hear all the stories of employers struggling to find people to hire. An empty position is not fulfilling immediate needs.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Honesty I find that the positions they are struggling to fill are either front-line customer service roles that people don’t want to do anymore for the old price point (because there are more remote job options now and/or because frontline jobs that offer no sick leave or insurance aren’t worth it anymore in a pandemic) – or the very specialized top-level jobs where they are still looking for a ton of experience. And I guess tech jobs, but those have always been in demand and it’s just gotten worse.

        2. CTT*

          But if the amount of training required is such that it will take six months for someone with no experience to be able to competently do it on their own, then it’s also not fulfilling immediate needs to hire someone who’s only asset is potential. And I say this as someone who has been in the position both as the person who needed that much training and as someone who is doing that training right now – sometimes taking that time is worth, but sometimes it makes more sense to wait for a more qualified applicant.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            Plus, they’re having to pay the person doing the training, either as a dedicated position, or someone taking time away from their regular tasks to do it. So it costs money above what the company is paying the untrained person.

        3. Bagpuss*

          No, but an empty position may mean that the person/people covering that empty position are already doing 2 people’s work so don’t have the time or energy to then train someone new on top of that, so leaving the position open may be the least-worst option if you can’t get someone who has the experience needed

          It depends, of course, on the size of the organization and what training would be needed, but if it’s the sort of thing where the training is mostly going to be through having the people who are already doing the job teach you then that it only practical if they have the capacity to do it.

    6. OrangeSage*

      Obviously it depends a lot on the industry/job and how much training would be required. “Extensive” is a scary word. I actually do this to an extent with some of the positions I hire for, and the challenge is really related to turnover. If someone stays in a position on average a year, let’s say, I don’t want to spend 3 to 6 months training if I could hire someone who would be ready to go on their own in a few weeks or a month. If I knew someone was going to stay for 5 years, I would be much more interested in investing in the training up front, but either way, if you’re looking at candidates with experience versus candidates without, it’s preferable to hire someone who can get up and running quickly. I know it’s not fair, and it’s a bit of a catch-22, but that’s the hiring manager perspective.

      1. Spearmint*

        I appreciate the perspective, and I do get why employers might be hesitant to invest in training someone who might leave quickly. At the same time, though, I keep hearing stories of hiring managers struggling to fill positions at all, which I would have thought would change what employers are willing to do.

    7. EMP*

      We don’t have the extra people hours to train a new person from scratch, even if we know it would be possible. I get the sense that most companies run pretty lean these days and are similarly stretched thin for one reason or another. Even when we’re open to someone with minimal experience (say, 1-2 years including internships) that’s what gives us the confidence that they can learn the more advanced or job specific stuff once they get there.

      (not a hiring manager, but involved in hiring on my team)

      1. Fran Fine*

        Ha! I should have read all the way down first before posting, lol. I pretty much said the same thing. We don’t have the bandwidth or people resources to train up someone green in my department, so we had to bypass the candidates who were only bringing “potential” to the table (and it pained us to do so because many of them would have been great culture fits).

    8. Mika*

      My company does. We have a management trainee program, intended for people with little experience. I think our pay and benefits are competitive (as a combo), but we are finding people declining it due to pay. Now, once you are promoted outside of the “trainee” program, pay increases about 25%. But we are having a tough time attracting people. So my answer is there may be an expectation that pay be high, even when the company will be doing the training, which may not make sense.

      1. Zee*

        Well, I’d be a little wary of a company that promises a pay increase after training is completed, given that lots of places promise that and few of them follow through.

    9. CheesePlease*

      as someone who was understaffed in my department but hired an individual based on “potential” – I simply did not have the bandwidth to train them in any dedicated manner and still fulfill all my responsibilities. Granted, it was a smaller company with minimal training resources / structure, and I was very stressed. But they ended up quitting when I took medical leave and they needed to be independently responsible for their role. Not that every situation is the same, but I think that situation is not uncommon

    10. Generic Name*

      We hire new grads with little to no work experience and train them in our field. Our culture is very much promote-from-within.

    11. Decidedly Me*

      I received over 300 applicants to a recent open position – I don’t need to take on someone only with potential.

      Training takes a lot of work even for someone with experience. Starting from scratch takes so much more time and it’s a much larger gamble (even with experience is a gamble). We used to take on people with more varied (indirect) experience in the past and it typically wouldn’t work out, even with potential and training. This can also lead to a morale issue in the team.

      Would we never do it again? I wouldn’t say that, but I won’t do it if I don’t have to. If a role is more unique, then it might even necessitate going with someone that shows potential since exact experience may be hard to find.

      1. Cormorannt*

        Yup. Extensive training is difficult and time-consuming. Who is going to be doing the training? Do I have to pull another employee away from their regular duties? Who covers those duties? How do you know the candidate has potential if they have zero experience? There are plenty of enthusiastic quick learners who still might not be right for the job, or might not like the job, or won’t work out for 100 other reasons.
        Major kudos to companies that have training and development programs, but that’s a big investment and not every company can do it. My company is big on promoting from within, but that comes with some idea of how the employee has performed in the past and their strengths and weaknesses. A total unknown quantity with no experience is a real gamble.

        1. Echo*

          This is a really good point. My partner’s team is struggling to fill open positions because it’s a tiny field and there just aren’t enough people out there with the skillset. I asked him a similar question and he said, “I’m one of the only people senior enough to train new hires. I train *experienced* hires, and it takes 20 hours a week for 4-6 weeks. And any time I’m training, that means I’m not taking work from the queue.”

          He did say that they could probably divide the training more (“senior enough” here means “has a broad enough knowledge base”) but the amount of time is unlikely to budge.

    12. Lora*

      1) Don’t have time or capacity for training. If I need someone who can help me with a project May – September and training would take 6 months, it ain’t happening. I’d rather do without.
      2) “Extensive” is a problem. Right now I have a role open looking for someone with 7-10 years of experience, because that’s someone who can function without a lot of fussing on my part. If they have 5 years experience but need training in something that would be a couple of 2-day seminars to learn – sure, we can do that, I am happy to send someone to a couple of seminar classes which I personally don’t have to teach. If they have 0 years experience and would need several months of training which I personally would have to provide a significant amount of…nope.
      3) define “training”. My boss and grandboss, both PhD holders, made this mistake: they thought a PhD should be able to jump in and do things right off the bat, in a manufacturing / product development role, because PhDs should be go-getter types. In my experience, PhDs are a lot like new grads and often have some mental work to do adapting to industry job culture, plus depending on where they’re coming from they may be even kinda traumatized (harassment, emotional and verbal abuse are a big problem in my field, especially in academia); they need at least a year to figure out how a regular job is supposed to be. They have some training to do but may be resistant to receiving it–some figure they learned all they needed to know ever in grad school or are just tired of learning experiences. So, there’s academic training and then on the job training and then continuing education training and people often say they’re willing to do any or all of those, then find out it’s a bigger time commitment than they wanted, get frustrated with the scope of it, feel like they aren’t getting much out of it, and quit halfway through. There’s a lot of washout, honestly, whether that is in academic training or industry, you can train an incoming group of new hires and a year later maybe 1/3 of them will have decided it’s not for them. If someone is doing that training of their own volition (eg going back to school via a company tuition reimbursement program) that’s one thing, but if their job is contingent on them passing a particular 6 month company-prepaid training program for certification and they can’t stick with it, that’s a different thing.

      When I worked for very big companies with dedicated training departments, it took about 6-12 months before new hires even with previous experience had enough training to be in compliance with regulations, and if they hadn’t previously worked in a highly regulated field before, it was almost guaranteed they would wash out in training. It’s hard to communicate clearly to people the scope of the training and when they found out, they were often frustrated and quit. Think of what it would be like to train people to wear not just masks but steel toe shoes, hair covers, uniforms, shower and brush their teeth a certain way, sign their names and write their handwriting a certain way, and 700+ pages of typewritten instructions to the letter every single day, it’s like Army boot camp (and the people who mostly succeeded were indeed military).

    13. mreasy*

      If people did this I feel like I wouldn’t be surrounded by coworkers with tons of software platform experience but no organizational or communication skills…sigh. My last hire was less qualified on paper than my other finalist, but when she described problem-solving and previous roles, I decided she’d be a better fit, hired her, and she is a fantastic team member. Easy to teach someone a few things they don’t know, impossible (or nearly) to teach someone to e.g., have follow-through.

    14. SnowyRose*

      I think there are a couple of things at play here. First, non-traditional does not mean entry-level. We’ve absolutely hired non-traditional candidates for more junior-level positions and while they may not have extensive work experience and require some training on things specific to our organization, they generally have more of the soft skills or greater professional and personal maturity.

      The second may be a misalignment between what a company views as an entry-level position versus what a candidate thinks is an entry-level. For example, an assistant is entry-level and we understand that these candidates are people we’ll need to make a significant investment in. A coordinator is the next level up and generally the expectation is that the candidates will have a few years of experience. How we view experience and the candidate views it can be very different. We know training and professional development is also needed for this role, but extensive training may not be realistic depending on needs of the project.

      For example, we hired a person who had limited experience but a lot of potential. They’ve been a great hire and it’s worth it, but it’s taken a significant amount of their manager’s time to coach them on their professional development and soft skills. Workload expanded and we hired for a similar role, but focused on hiring someone with more experience. We needed someone who could operate within the parameters of that role but at a higher level. The manager only has so much capacity and still has his own work he’s responsible for. It’s my job to make sure he doesn’t get burnt out or overloaded.

      This is a really long way of saying that sometimes it’s better to wait and hire the right person than it is to hire just anyone to fill a role.

      1. In Wrong Job*

        “an assistant is entry-level and we understand that these candidates are people we’ll need to make a significant investment in.”

        That’s how I’ve understood it. I’ve done entry-level jobs for years. And while I can hit the ground running for the employer, there isn’t a lot in it for me. I’m bored silly at this point. So I’m looking for a different field where someone will take a chance on my potential so I can move up and into other opportunities..

        Some entry-level roles have potential for growth. The ones I have done have not. So while that may temporarily take work off a manager’s plate quicker, the person might leave in a year because they already had the experience beforehand.

        That’s what I’m thinking of doing, though. It must be difficult as a hiring manager. Don’t necessarily want or can invest in someone completely inexperienced, but have to be wary of those overqualified as well.

        Another thing: how long do employers expect an entry-level person to stay? Five years is a long time but sure, you get return on investment. I think people nowadays would have to be extremely content in a role (or it meets some of their needs, even if it’s just paying the rent) to stay there that long.

        1. Fran Fine*

          My manager doesn’t expect entry level employees to stick around long. She’s glad if they stay for up to two years and then moves on; she thinks that’s reasonable (as do I).

        2. SnowyRose*

          See, that’s what we would view as a non-traditional candidate. Maybe they don’t have the background in our field, but maybe they have something else.

          Our assistants usually end up moving up to coordinators. How long they remain is pretty varied. We have some that are willing to put in the work and be bumped up to a senior coordinator or promoted to manager, and we have some that leave after a year or two. (We’re very upfront about the time it takes in a position to be considered a bump to senior level and why.)

    15. Koalafied*

      I’m hiring for a role right now – not entry level but early-mid career. I’m open to hiring someone with a decent background who could be trained, but to be totally candid, I’m probably only going to make that call if I can’t get someone who doesn’t need training to accept an offer. This role is being created to take work off my plate because I’ve been overworked for years. I know it’s going to take at least 3 months for even a super experienced candidate to come up to speed enough that they start saving me time instead of adding to my workload, and the less experienced they are, the longer it’s going to take before I start to actually benefit from their presence. Frankly, I burned out about 18 months ago and have been running on fumes ever since, so I’m placing a huge amount of importance on trying to hire someone who can hit the ground running and bring me relief as quickly as possible.

    16. Managing to get by*

      I’m a hiring manager and am open to any candidate that could do the job. I have hired non-traditional candidates in the past.

      One problem I’ve found with hiring people from another industry who are looking to change industries is that they underestimate how long it will take to get back to the level of pay they had in their prior job where they had experience. We have pretty specialized work and we can’t pay someone at the senior level if they are not able to do senior work, and it will take probably at least 3 years for them to work up to the senior level if switching industries (closer to 5-6 years if they are right out of college). So I’ve had two employees in this situation take a higher paying job back in their prior area of expertise after about a year in the position.

      A problem with hiring people with no job experience, even for an entry level job, is that I end up needing to basically teach them “how to have a job”. What are office norms, why they can’t disappear for 2-3 hours midday, why we need to work standard work hours (we interact with other departments and clients who are not available at 10pm for the night owls), the importance of clocking in and out when you are hourly, how to treat coworkers both in our department and other departments, and my favorite, no I cannot pay you more than someone that has extensive experience and expertise, even if you are really very good at the simpler work you’ve been doing for the last year. Ability to do complex work is worth more money. Doing 25 simple projects per month is not worth more than someone who can work on 4 very complex projects in a month (and guess what, they could do 30-40 pieces of the simpler work in the time it takes you to do 25).

      Sometimes people will leave things like summer restaurant jobs during high school off their resume, so we do ask about that in the interview if they have no work or internship history. We have a clear career path with 5 levels and at least a couple of years of training to move to the next level, and our level 1 is hourly. I want to know entry level analysts can reliably clock in and out, show up on time and be polite to coworkers. I’ve had problems with people who have a degree but no work experience struggling with these simple things. Group projects at school don’t teach these things. and it doesn’t always show up in the interview.

    17. CupcakeCounter*

      A lot of it depends on needs and workload. Frankly, after losing two people in quick succession, I don’t have the time for extensive training. I need someone for a Sr position who has either been at a Sr level somewhere else or had been mid-level for a while and is ready to make the leap and can jump in and figure things out with just some general guidance. Once I get at least one of the roles filled, I might be able to look for that diamond in the rough, but while in triage mode? Nope. I need, and am willing to pay for, someone who can come in and hit the ground running.

    18. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I did get hired for a job for which I had very minimal experience, but it was over thirty years ago and I don’t know if any place can take those risks now. What got me the interview was a cover letter that sold me in the right way, plus recommendations from two board members who knew of me through family. It took me a while in the not-for-profit world to not feel like that was somehow cheating. But I got through the interview on my own. I was not their first choice, nor even the second; one left after a few days and the other had accepted a different job. So untrained, under-educated ME got the position. What was funny was when I wracked my brain trying to think of ANYTHING relevant to the position to emphasize on my resume, I remembered a long-forgotten university job I’d had twenty years earlier, for the one year I attended before dropping out. As it turned out, nearly all the professional staff at this new place had come through that university, and had worked in that same department for years, as students and for long after. So seeing that on my resume made them think of me as one of them before I was hired. So anything even remotely relevant should go on a resume!

    19. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I think the “job market” as a whole is strong, but individual sectors vary. My husband is in restaurants and they literally can’t hire enough people – he has staff just leaving mid shift and he’s at the point where he’s basically hiring anyone with a pulse who shows up to interview. On the other hand, I’m in nonprofits/education and we have a small but robust pool of great candidates for every role I’ve been part of hiring.

    20. Koala dreams*

      The job market is strong, especially compared to the last few years. At the same time, a lot of candidates have been struggling since early in the pandemic and now see a chance to finally get a job. If you hire recent graduates you don’t just have the last year’s graduates apply but also some of the previous year’s. There is a shortage in some industries, but in other industries it’s back to normal, especially for entry level roles.

      That being said, I agree about the training. School can only prepare people so much, some things you have to teach people on the job.

    21. Chauncy Gardener*

      I have ALWAYS hired inexperienced folks for entry level roles. Otherwise, why are they entry level?
      That being said, my son continues to not be able to find a decent job because all the entry level jobs require 3-5 years of experience? What the actual f—?
      And then companies are complaining about their inability to hire. Well, grow your own, for Pete’s sake!
      I posted something like this on LinkedIn once and thought I might have broken the internet….

    22. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience, except in the case of “someone just left we need to replace them”, many employers wait to post a new role until it’s painfully clear they really needed someone in that role, like, 2 months ago. So by the time it’s posted, the people already doing the job are in crunchland and won’t have time to train the new person. They need someone who already knows how to do the job – with minor tweaks for company protocol but not the main substance of the job. You have to have the foresight and budget to hire before you the need the new person if you’re going to train them up.

    23. Fran Fine*

      Not a hiring manager, but I am involved in the hiring process at my company, and certain areas in my company just don’t have the employee bandwidth or headcount to be able to hire someone too green who’ll need a lot of handholding. It sucks because I remember being that entry level person desperately trying to find a job in my field and being passed over for things I know I could have done easily with a little training, but now that I’m on the other side in a very busy comms department with very little downtime, I get it. We just don’t have the time and if we hired someone with little experience, they’d crash and burn quickly – we don’t want to put someone in that situation to fail.

    24. JSPA*

      The person who writes the list may have left last year, and they’re still using the old list. Now more than normally, it may make sense to apply with much less than what’s listed, but a plan for getting the essentials in place quickly.

  15. DreddPirate*

    A bit of humor to lighten everyone’s April Fools’ Day:

    Always include the following when contacting someone who is not familiar with you:
    1. Polite greeting.
    2. Your name.
    3. Relevant personal link between you and the recipient.
    4. Manage expectations.

    For example:
    “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

    1. DreddPirate*

      Excerpted from “Seven Habits of Effective Business Communication and Networking (The Good Parts Version)” by William Goldman

    2. Allornone*

      This comment has been the best part of my day.

      (yes, it’s been a crappy day. thanks for the laugh).

    3. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      The best kind of mnemonic… Simple straightforward, and humorous so that it’s remembered!
      (And yes I burst out laughing so i had to read this to two other people who also laughed.)

  16. What to ask a CEO?*

    I have the opportunity through my part-time MBA program to be paired with a CEO or other high-level executive for a one-hour discussion. I do not know who I have been paired with yet, but I want to start developing some conversation topics. Do you have any suggestions for questions/topics beyond the super basic ones like “how did you get to where you are”?

    1. irene adler*

      If they have an MBA, maybe ask them what knowledge/class/assignment they had from their MBA education program has served them well in their work life. IOW, what should you be focusing on as you progress through your MBA program.
      What would they do differently in terms of their MBA education?
      Are internships part of your MBA program? IF so, maybe they have suggestions on how to find one that will be worthwhile to you (i.e. most bang for the buck, so to speak).

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        If the meeting goes well, I’d ask if anything hindered their ability to make decisions. I sound like I am joking, but I’ve seriously worked with too many higher level people with degrees who are incapable of making basic decisions without discussing them for months. Sometimes I feel like too much theoretical learning gave them some sort of mental block. If you can word this appropriately, I think it could be a good discussion. The CEO might talk about when they ignore their training and use gut and when their gut feelings were right.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          forgot to clarify, by “anything” I meant in their MBA education in particular

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In a similar program (except specifically leadership training rather than my MBA program), I got a lot of mileage out of a few specific questions:
      1) What have you learned along your leadership journey that surprised you?
      2) What do you wish someone had told you when you started down this path?
      3) If you could go back and give past-self some new-leader advice, what would it be?

      (2 and 3 sound like two ways of asking the same thing, but I got very different answers every time.)

    3. Lora*

      Gosh, already? I mean the most useful things you can ask, you have to know what company they are CEO of, and what changes the company has been through under their tenure. I would probably ask something about current/recent events, like how do you manage Covid, how are you managing supply chain both from your vendors and as a supplier yourself (almost every company is a supplier of someone, somewhere). If the company is large enough to be international, how has Russian war / global politics affected your business and your choices. Climate change and oil pricing, how does that affect the business and how are you dealing with it.

    4. OnsiteRebootSpecialist*

      “What advice do you wish you had received earlier in your career? ” or “What do you know now that you wish you had known earlier in your career?”

    5. Doctors Whom*

      “What book would you recommend to everyone on your team?”

      This has done very well for me over the years.

    6. cubone*

      1) “Is there anything you would do differently if you could go back to when you were a student?” (if they also did MBA) or “what do you think it’s most important for students in my position to know about [industry/job/business]”?

      2) Tell them a bit about yourself/experience/interests and ask “is there anything you think I could do to round out my experience/skills/knowledge more?” – this has been my go-to for info interviews and it has been by far the most helpful and productive. It’s sort of like asking “what do you think I’m missing?” but in a less blunt way.

    7. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I would ask – how they mentally focus? Organize their time? Does someone do gatekeeping for them?

      I find this to be a huge issue at a regular management level. I’ll have issues in the tech, HR, and business side, and instead of focusing on one, I focus on them all and get nothing done. I am struggling to learn how to tune out noise temporarily and learn what to focus on and I am sure it’s 100X worse for the CEO

      Time management – how do they decide what meetings are worth their time, what do they delegate, what do they do themselves? Do they block meetings or do them at certain times they are less or more alert?

      I’d ask about metrics and how they measure success for various roles. For example, does the CFO need to spot losses, or simply keep the company from getting sued and going under? Does the COO get rewarded if they meet budget? Or are quality metrics more important?

      Trust – since you can’t do it all, do they have tricks for hiring and spotting talent? Do they hire for personality or resume? Have they ever been wrong about someone? How do they mentally handle trust? For example, if someone does a bunch of reports for you, do you just trust that they are all accurate? Have they ever been burned or disappointed by someone they had learned to trust?

  17. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How are you guys dealing with overwhelm? I see twenty things on my to do list ( all due today, same priority) and just shut down. No I don’t have a secretary to delegate to nor am I able to tell my boss ” Not gonna do my job”

    1. Ella*

      Is there any way you can break those tasks down into smaller tasks, to make them feel less overwhelming?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        If I broke 20 tasks into 40 that would be even harder. I’m trying to understand how a list of 40 tasks is better than a list of 20.

        1. Ella*

          Personally, I have to write three pages of a literature review for my thesis today. So it’s helpful to break it down into smaller tasks like (1) gather a list of relevant articles (2) request interlibrary loans for any articles I don’t have access to (3) read articles and summarize key points and (4) summarize key points from various articles. That way I don’t have to wonder about how I could even approach this giant task.

          At least it’s helpful for me. I totally understand if that approach doesn’t work for you, but I thought I’d suggest it :)

          1. RabidChild*

            This is helpful to me too–having the ability to cross something off my list is not only satisfying, it helps me see the progress I’ve made when I’m particularly stressed. Also, when I’m really swamped, I put the true priorities (those with the soonest deadline) on a smaller list, like a post-it, and focus on nothing else until they’re done or at least progress has been made. I do a lot of event planning, so learning how to prioritize in this way has helped tremendously.

        2. Camellia*

          The idea is ‘smaller is less overwhelming’, as in, one task on your list might take an hour to do and seem too overwhelming to even start. If you could break that into four tasks, each taking 15 minutes, then you could do one task, take a break, then do the next task, and so forth. This works for some people and not others. And of course, some things can’t be broken into smaller chunks.

        3. jane's nemesis*

          It’s not creating 40 tasks, it’s narrowing the 20 tasks down to 3-4 manageable tasks in order of priority.

          Look at your 20 tasks – which are the most urgent/due the soonest?
          Break the 3 most urgent tasks down into their first 2-3 steps. These should be steps that take a maximum of 10-15 minutes.
          Make a list of those first steps.
          Start at the top, work your way down, feel the sense of accomplishment grow. Build in reward breaks in between steps.
          If you complete all of them, start from the beginning and repeat.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            So it goes
            Document A
            Half 1
            Half 2?
            My executive functioning is weak so like breaking tasks down is hard and I’ll be like * stares at paper for hour*

            1. Peachtree*

              Not necessarily – more like:

              Task 1: write document A
              Task 1.1: review notes for document A
              Task 1.2 outline structure for document A
              Task 1.3 write intro
              Task 1.4 write main body
              Task 1.5 write conclusion

              Does that help?

        4. cubone*

          it’s really common advice for depression, burnout, anxiety, overwhelm etc. The idea isn’t to have LESS or easier tasks, it’s to have tasks that are actually achievable so that we can a) start somewhere and b) build on the motivation of checking something off.

          When I am having a rough time, I literally add things to my to do list like:
          1) turn on computer
          2) open word doc
          3) type title of document
          4) type date
          5) write 3 words

          It sounds like MORE but brains are super wild, complex things and I think of it like driving manual, instead of automatic. I’m struggling to get up a hill, so I have to physically turn off autopilot and process each little tiny individual motion to get my engine warmed up again.

          I also am a big fan of the Eisenhower matrix and regardless of whether you have ADHD or not, I think some of the videos about overwhelm on the YouTube channel “How to ADHD” can be extremely helpful for anyone (as they explain a lot about psychology and motivation, and anyone is allowed to use a tip or tool if it helps them, regardless of if it was designed specifically for them or not)

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yea I don’t get the bump of motivation from checking off half a task especially when I know it’s supposed to be complete. I think the Eisenhower matrix might work for bossless jobs but I got ” heres a million meaningless pieces of paperwork! They’re due in an hour”

            1. cubone*

              I mean this is the kindest, generous way possible, but that really sounds like a mindset you have to address if you want to handle the root of the overwhelm. It’s okay if you don’t get a bump of motivation from checking off half a task, but you have to start somewhere and be able to be okay with the smallest “I am getting somewhere, even if it doesn’t feel like much”. The people who aren’t struggling with this aren’t like, just naturally wonderfully motivated and love checking off minor little tasks. They’re just finding SMALL things to do to unravel it piece by piece. The comment from Teapot captures this: “No, they don’t all have the same priority. If they can’t all get done, then somethings not getting done and you boss can and should provide guidance on figuring that out. And also the fact that it’s not all doable needs to be addressed.”

              I used to feel exactly like this and feel like I could’ve written all of your comments here and I had a LOT of arguments with my partner when I was feeling stressed at work about how “EVERYTHING is urgent!! There’s no way to break it down!!!”. To be blunt, nothing changed substantially in my work or motivation levels or to do list. I didn’t suddenly gain incredible bumps of motivation from small tasks. But I still broke them down because well, what else is there? Keep spiralling and staring at a screen, waiting for something to rescue me? It just took a lot of time and accepting that some things would not get done to the level I wanted, some things would not get done at all, and that I couldn’t continue this way and it wasn’t my fault; I didn’t create the conditions that required me to do an unbearable amount of work and all I could do was weigh each day “how can I get some work done without making my anxiety, overwhelm and burnout worse than it already is?”. And if someone had a problem with that and fired me, at least I’d have some semblance of my health hanging on to put towards the next thing.

              1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

                Eh to be honest I get really down when I feel good when I did a lot for me and it doesn’t count because it’s not all complete. That’s hard reality for you.

          2. Mantis Tobaggan, MD*

            On days I’m really overwhelmed this is literally what I have to do. Sometimes I have such a block about a task as simple as writing an email, so I’ll break it down into “draft email to Karen” and “send email to Karen.” It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one bc it can feel like I’m the only one struggling just to function like a normal human

        5. Prospect Gone Bad*

          OK we are in the same boat, which is why I am on AAM instead:-/. You need to pick let’s say 2 a day and tell your boss (or whoever) you literally can’t do all 20. I’ve looked back at my performance and realized that when I try to do 10 a day, I get about 0 done.

        6. Haha Lala*

          Having a list of 40 things with 10 crossed off feels much better than a list of 20 things with nothing crossed off.

          The smaller the hurdle each task is, the easier it is to cross off the few and get on a roll of productivity.
          I have the same issue with getting overwhelmed if my to do list is too big, but when you can start chipping away at the small bits it gets more manageable.

    2. AdequateArchaeologist*

      I think it depends. Do the people asking for your qualifications actually care, or are they just making noise? Will sharing your credentials and such make a difference on how the policy is received, or will it just make you more of a ta

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        Whoops. Early submit.

        Will it just make you a target they can take their frustrations out on?

    3. Spearmint*

      I have this problem sometimes too. Are there any items on the list that you find more interesting or pleasant to do than the others? Getting started is the real hurdle, and it’s easier to get started on something that is more appealing to work on.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah-start with a task that you like.
        Can the boss give you a way to prioritize?
        I have the ‘all tasks are priority 1’ kind of job. But I have to attend first to those tasks that get product out the door. Cuz, at my work, product = pay check. Everyone understands this; so any task that gets delayed because of this won’t put up much fuss.

    4. Guava*

      I’ve used Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle. It’s an easy matrix and helps you delegate what is important/urgent (do), important/not urgent (schedule), not important/ urgent (delegate, or if you are unable to do so which you mention in your comment, schedule for later), and not import/not urgent (delete/eliminate – which if you have a job like mine may not be an option so I just leave these at the very bottom of my list)

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I put the same priority to cut off this comment. All the paperwork is DUE NOW and IMPORTANT

        1. cubone*

          then this is the core problem. There is a great saying for this: “If everything is important, nothing is important”. You have to make some choices about what can be sacrificed or not.

          If it’s your job (and you’re not say, a student or freelancer) that has set it up this way, then it is a bad job that is not setting people up to succeed (or something else is going on, eg. your supervisor needs to help you prioritize or help you gain more skills to make tasks easier).

          If you only had to pick ONE task, which one would it be? That’s the most important. If you can’t pick because everyone is equally important, the issue ISN’T “too much work” – it’s work that isn’t appropriately weighted, scheduled, or prioritized.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yea it all kinda blurs together if it’s paperwork.m because why is form 3a more important than form 5c? If I have 10 form 3as each taking 30 minutes which one is important?

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yes, you need a matrix or some other sort of prioritizing tool. I have one with a little more granularity than urgent/important, a total of 16 boxes, which sounds intimidating but is actually a godsend because it gives me an ordered list. I don’t have to do any picking and choosing which task to do next, I just do the next one on the list.

    5. AdequateArchaeologist*

      Please ignore my multiple fails at nesting.

      Short term solution: pick something at random and just do it. Maybe it’s the shortest task, maybe it’s the task you enjoy the most, whatever. Rinse and repeat.

      Long term: talk with your supervisor about the unreasonable workload. Find out if everything really is too priority or if some things can slide. And take time to really try to relax and do something to de-stress when you’re off work (which, easier said than done).

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea just pick something and plug away. My poor boss is suffering because I got sick and the others are new and we didn’t do our paperwork.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I always pick the thing that I can get done the quickest.

    6. Austistic and Anxious: The Biography*

      I usually start by writing them all out on a piece of paper- for some reason it’s better than on a screen.

      Then I group them by task area. If there are any component parts I’ll write them underneath.

      Then I’ll highlight/circle/decide by priority within the task area. If they’re all the same priority, I’ll then pick one or two I know are short/easy and do those. If you have a bunch of same first-step constituent parts, like “Send email to X to inquire as to status of Y,” Doing all of those for 5 items and then doing the next step for all those 5 items sometimes works well (like writing the first letter fifty times of a word, and then the second, feels faster than writing the word fifty times).

      If none stand out, and they really are all the same priority, I pretend the rest of the list doesn’t exist (sometimes I’ll cover it with a post-it note to trick my brain) and just do the very first one. Then I cross it off, enjoy the small dopamine rush, and move to the next one.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Oh. Post its. I forgot those. I always write my list in my work journal but never use other stationary. Maybe I could intersperse hard ones with easy ones?

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If the 20 things are doable, you’re just shutting down, then that’s a you problem. Whether its anxiety or not, look into the techniques for managing anxiety and see if anything helps. A 2 minute breathing exercise that fixes your head is worth the 2 minutes.

      If it’s not doable, then that’s a boss problem. The key word you’re looking for is prioritization. No, they don’t all have the same priority. If they can’t all get done, then somethings not getting done and you boss can and should provide guidance on figuring that out. And also the fact that it’s not all doable needs to be addressed.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        They aren’t doable for me, no, but thats America under capitalism. I used to have more capacity but by doing more than I could I burnt out. My boss did mention that my coworkers also didn’t do their paperwork tbh.

    8. A Simple Narwhal*

      You don’t have to tell your boss “not gonna do my job”, you can ask your boss for assistance in prioritizing the list and letting them know what is reasonable to be accomplished in one day. So for starters – what is doable to get done today? And not in a “if I skip lunch and work until midnight” day, a normal day.

      If you can get through everything today, and it’s just overwhelming to see such a long list, then pick one item (it can be at random, it can be the most fun thing, it can be the quickest – it doesn’t matter, just grab one), and start with that. When you’re working on that item, forget about the list, it doesn’t matter, you’re focusing on the task in front of you. Once it’s done, cross it off, and pick the next item. Rinse and repeat!

      If you won’t be able to get through everything in one day, figure out what you can do. Then go to your boss for approval and to set expectations. Or to get their assistance on what needs to get done first. Something like “I have items A through T to get done today, but I only have time to get through item N. This is the order I plan on doing them in, does that sound good?” Or if you aren’t that sure, it can be something vaguer: “I have items A through T to get done today, and it’s not possible to get to all of them. Which of these items needs to be prioritized and what order should they be done in?” If they’re not terrible they’ll help you figure out your day and push back on what can’t be done. If they are terrible and their only response is “well it needs to get done”, keep pushing back and stick to the facts “It’s not possible for just myself to get it done, here is what I’m planning to do. If you can offer prioritization I will focus on those items, but until then this is what I’m doing today.” And anyone who is waiting on your work can be directed to your boss – “It is not in my priorities for today, please talk to [boss] if it needs to be prioritized.” And then if your boss comes back and says to work on that, then tell them “sure, but that means X won’t get done”, rinse and repeat. Make sure the problem is getting firmly placed on your boss’s lap – if you have too much work it’s not your problem to solve.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Sensible although I always overshoot. I remember that one day when I felt physically good, took my meds and the stars aligned, on a day where I have a migrane, my ADHD is acting up and the children are on fire ( I put them out first do not worry)

    9. Echo*

      Block off your calendar/make a schedule for yourself, e.g. 9-9:30 AM Task A, 9:30-10 AM Task B, 10-11 AM Slightly Longer Task C, and so on. During your Task A block you are ONLY going to look at, think about, or work on Task A. Turn off your email and Slack/IM notifications if possible. If you finish Task A in only 20 minutes, take a break instead of moving directly on to Task B.

      And good luck–weekend’s almost here, and you’ve got this!

    10. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Sometimes I use a little whiteboard as a sort of focus assistance to tell my brain “okay, this is the next thing”. It’s quite good for the situation you describe, where my brain might otherwise go “toooo many things at once, cannot deal!”

      I would pick the thing I’m doing next, and write only that one thing on the whiteboard. Then I try to set aside the thought of the other things – a bit like “Autistic and Anxious” said above, pretending the rest of the list doesn’t exist.

      If you’re in a situation where you have to care what things look like to other people, there might be ways to accomplish the same mental switch which are a bit less visible, e.g. a post-it on the edge of your screen, or (for me this wouldn’t be as good, I think), a way to annotate or fold or highlight the original list. The essence of it is to signal to myself “THIS thing next, any worries about all the other things can wait till later”.

    11. Generic Name*

      Are they REALLY all the same priority? Can you schedule a 15 minute meeting with your boss or someone in management and ask them what HAS to get done today (we will be fined by a regulatory agency, someone will die, etc.) and what can get done Monday/later.

      1. Overwhelm*

        To all the people saying to ask your boss to help you prioritize, what do you do when you have multiple bosses that all ask you to do things and believe their task is more important than all other tasks?

        1. Philosophia*

          I’ve used a variant on Generic Name’s method and asked for details on the reason for what you assume is the urgency. (You’ll have to pretend that the reason their task is more important than all other tasks is urgency rather than egotism.) Enlist them all in assisting you to prioritize. Find out whether it’s that someone down the line can’t do Y until you’ve done X, and they need to get Y done by the end of the week or Z can’t happen, or rather that, “Well, I did tell so-and-so I’d have this to her today, but come to think of it, she’s going to be in meetings the rest of the day anyway and won’t have time to read it, so tomorrow is fine.” Set an example of earnest helpfulness. It may rub off.

    12. aubrey*

      Tbh if I have multiple things that are all the same priority, I do them in order received or alphabetical order until either I’m done or a priority order becomes clear. Is that ideal? Probably not. But usually it gets me started on a task and past the “omg which to choose, how to prioritize, panic” stuckness.

    13. Anonymous Hippo*

      If all due today, all same priority, start with the easiest/fastest. See if you can knock a couple out real quick and help jump start your motivation.

    14. Living That Teacher Life*

      When I have a giant list of things to do, I accomplish the most by staying focused on one until it’s done and then moving on to the next, rather than trying to multi-task. If I get to a place where I have to wait for more information or someone else’s action, then I will switch to something else while I wait. It’s good to start with a few quick and easy tasks, or alternate the easier ones with the more complex ones. If there are several things you need to do that are realistically going to take an hour or more, then you may need to talk to your boss about how she would like you to prioritize. If you think your boss will be resistant, you can jot down on your to-do list how long it takes you to do each task for about half a day. Then go to your boss with that data to show that it’s literally not possible to get everything done by the end of the day.

    15. Koalafied*

      Honestly – considering looking for a therapist who specializes in, or even reading a book about, executive dysfunction. Everyone gets overwhelmed, but that “I just shut down” response to being overwhelmed, especially if that’s your typical/most common response to being overwhelmed, is a hallmark of someone struggling with executive brain functions, and the strategies that help other people stay organized often don’t help us at all (I’m one of the kin). There is a whole field of psychology/psychiatry that has looked into the things we need that are different from what other people need in order to stay focused/organized/productive.

      I could write a novel in the comments here but in my own experience, what made a huge difference was a deep dive into understanding exactly what executive dysfunction is and how it works… it was like being given the operator’s manual to my brain that I never knew existed, and now when I hit roadblocks that make me shut down, at the very least now I know why I’m shutting down and what I need to remedy the issue. Which isn’t to say I can always successfully intervene on myself, but I’m infinitely more capable of it now than I was before I had ever heard the term “executive dysfunction.”

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Well I’ll look around on the net. I’m glad there’s more stuff out there for different brains.

    16. Mouse*

      People have mentioned picking at random, but, to expand on that…if nothing is obviously more urgent or more important, literally rolling dice or pulling up a random number generator can remove the mental load of trying to decide or prioritize, so that *something* at least gets done instead of spiraling.

    17. Eyes Kiwami*

      Here is how I deal with overwhelm:

      -set a pomodoro work timer for something ridiculously short, like 5 min. If you actually work for 5 min, you did it! Reward yourself. Take your break and start again.

      -If you don’t even know where to start, change your goals/tasks from “complete X” to “spend # minutes trying to figure out X”.

      -use little candies like M&Ms and place one at each stage of a page/next to something that symbolizes the task. Each time you reach a stage of the task you get to eat a candy (for example one per page or half page).

      -put on fast pace music that makes you want to move or feels cathartic, like dance, punk, metal… turn up the volume on your headphones until you can’t hear your own thoughts.

      -drink caffeine

      -look outside at something far away for a break, get fresh air if you can. I like to listen to podcasts about ancient history or astronomy, something about the immense time scale gives a sense of perspective. If nothing we do today matters, then we might as well do whatever makes us feel satisfied.

  18. Betty Suarez*

    I left a job 2 weeks ago, left on very good terms; during my exit interview I asked if I could keep the laptop they sent me (~3 years ago) and told them I’m willing to pay for it. During the exit interview they told me not to worry about it but they had to check with the director, and if I don’t get instructions from them about sending it back then it’s mine.

    Because I’m weird, now I’m overthinking this. I haven’t seen anything about sending it back, the director texted me since then but it was just a nice “we’ll miss you don’t be a stranger!” text. Do you think this has the potential to be an issue? Like, 6 months from now can they decide I need to send it back?

    1. Sick Leave Drama*

      This … does seem a little odd to me. I think I would want this loop closed in writing. Maybe it’s a new norm in the work from home era.

    2. AnonAnon*

      Yes, I think it has the potential to be an issue. Too many open communication loops.
      Is there any reason for not contacting the exit interviewer or the director to confirm?
      Personally, I would never ask to keep a work laptop, but that’s just me.

      1. Koalafied*

        It’s fairly common in the nonprofit world where staff, especially the younger/junior ones, likely aren’t making enough to really be able to justify buying a whole personal laptop when they can get by reasonably well enough with a personal smartphone and a company laptop. Buying an older (3+ years) laptop from your org when you leave, at a price equal to its depreciated value on the financial, is usually significantly cheaper than buying a new one. And if the laptop is already 3+ years old, the org is getting near the point where they’re going to have to replace it anyway in the next couple of years, and normally they would get $0 out of the old machine – being able to sell it to a departing employee will actually help subsidize the replacement machine.

    3. Esmeralda*

      Sure, check back with them once now.

      If they come back to you in 6 months wanting it back, just…give it back. You’ll have had 6 months of using it, so you’re ahead there.

    4. Admin of Sys*

      I would definitely try to get something in writing (email), especially since folks in exit interviews / management often don’t understand rules about software license transfers and the like. At minimum, could you send something along the lines of ‘per our verbal conversation at the exit interview, it was stated that i can keep the laptop unless i heard otherwise. Since i have not heard otherwise, i am taking that to mean that ownership has been transferred to me. if that is not the case, please contact me asap.’

      1. Betty Suarez*

        Thanks for the script! Reading the responses makes it seem pretty duh that I should just shoot them an email.

        1. MJ*

          Also, be aware that depending on their IT setup, they may still have access to anything on the laptop – including your personal files. And may delete software since their company licenses probably won’t cover non-employees.

          If I was going to keep a company laptop, I would want a written transfer of ownership and then would reformat and reinstall personal copies of any software I wanted to use.

          1. MJ*

            Oh, if you don’t reformat and reinstall, make sure you delete ALL company data / files.

    5. rage criers unite*

      I would absolutely get in writing that you can keep it.

      something like “I haven’t heard anything, so I just want confirmation that the Laptop provided to me will not need to be returned” or something similar.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Yeah you feel weird about this because you know there is a chance they want it back. Any company with a good data security plan would want it. You need to contact them and ask about this.

    7. ArtK*

      I’ve been able to keep hardware after leaving in a couple of cases. In both situations the hardware was old enough that it really wasn’t worth the company’s time to take it back. I did get written confirmation that the item was now mine, though.

    8. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      No, doubt they will even remember it. Especially since it’s 3 months old. Have you removed any work-related applications? Otherwise sounds like it’s yours!

  19. Ella*

    Hi, everyone – hope your Friday is going well!

    I have a question about being ghosted before an interview. I’m a student interviewing for a fellowship hosted by my university, and I received an email last Friday asking me to submit my availability for Apr. 6-8. And I haven’t heard from them since. One of my professors was actually asked to sit on the interviewing committee this year (but he doesn’t choose who gets interviewed nor does he make any final decisions), and when I mentioned this to him last Tuesday, he said that they usually interview around 30 people for 10 spots, so it might take some time to schedule interviews.

    But it has been a while, and I really want to send a follow-up email to the person who originally reached out for my availability – is this a bad idea? I’ve never had a hiring manager take longer than one business day to confirm an interview, but I guess academia might be different. Does anyone have any similiar experiences or any advice? I’m a little paranoid that somehow they never received the email with my availability, or it got lost in their junk folder or something (although I’ve checked my sent folder a million times, and it’s definitely there).

    1. wildcat*

      I would follow up since today is the 1st and you’d need to block off time in your schedule.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I know it feels like it’s been a long time, but I assure you that a week is not a long time on their end, academia or otherwise. If you want to follow up, you can do that, but I would wait until Monday unless your availability has changed.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Both Wildcat and ALB are correct: following up with the scheduler (by Monday) should be fine, but in the academic universe, time can become flexible. Often, scheduling the interviewers is more difficult than scheduling the candidates.

        1. Ella*

          And while I was drafting a follow-up email just now, I got my assigned time! But thank you all for your advice anyway; I really appreciate it.

    3. Gracely*

      I’d probably wait until Monday–odds are they’ll send it out today if they sent the requests last Friday. I’d guess that Friday is probably the day that person has the most time for admin-type stuff, since professors are generally stuck to a class/office hours schedule.

      Academia is slow, but also, a week is nothing in terms of wait time normally (it’s a little different in this case, since 6-8 is next week).

  20. Guava*

    Return to work office wear – are there any Instagram pages or blogs those of you in your 30s in the semi-casual or corporate world have found helpful?

    I really like @leevosburgh and @theminimalistwardrobe, but they’re too casual for work.

    1. Sincerely Raymond Holt*

      If you are on Pinterest, do a search for “preppy work” or “casual work” or whatever your style is. You’ll start getting images pop up in your feed for your style.

    2. Delighting in daffodils*

      I’ve enjoyed the blog Capitol Hill Style (caphillstyle dot com)! She used to work in DC and then returned west and became an attorney. What I most appreciate is that she’s realistic about office dress codes in a way that many non office worker bloggers aren’t! (Aka you can’t wear a shorts suit to most offices, no matter how on trend they are.)

    3. Workerbee*

      bridgetteraes.com has wardrobe categories, work wardrobe capsules, and a blog. She shares her consultations with clients as well.

      I don’t know if she’s stylin’ for a specific age group, but then my own attire hasn’t really changed from 30s to 40s. I just (try to) pick what I think looks good and is comfortable.

  21. Average Bureaucrat*

    I’m curious to get people’s feedback on a concern I have-
    I work for a gov agency that publishes sometimes controversial policies (usually affecting other agencies). In the past, members of the public have submitted letters asking for the credentials of the policy authors or submitted FOIA requests for resumes.
    I am going to be the signatory on a potentially controversial policy in the next year or 2, and I’m wondering if I should update my LinkedIn/make it more public to head off questions about whether I am qualified to evaluate the topic I will be publishing policy on. On the other hand, maybe it’s better to be as unsearchable as possible?
    Does anyone have experience with this kind of thing, or have any advice?

    1. Anothergovtemployee*

      Also in a government agency, 2 -3 years ago some people at another branch got death threats at thier homes:

      I was pretty locked down on social media anyways, but made sure to delete any references to my employer off there and change to a fake name, and remove pictures (I have an animated picture people who know me would recognize, but I don’t think could be matched)

      I also updated my addresses in the work system to be my work address (co-worker’s who have been over know where I live, but I don’t think it remains in any of the state systems.) I know they’re supposed to redact those, but why take the chance?

      This might be a little more paranoid than you’re looking for, but I’m in the “why take the chance” camp

      1. Average Bureaucrat*

        My face and name are out there already, in an un-scrubable way, so that ship has sailed. :)

    2. t-vex*

      I have zero experience with this so take my opinion for what it’s worth, but it seems to me that if you make yourself hard to find people will assume you have something to hide. If you make yourself findable and show that you’re experienced but otherwise uninteresting nobody will care.

    3. Doctors Whom*

      I work in a govt-adjacent arena and honestly it kills me when I get a policy letter signed by someone and I can’t find an official bio or a Linkedin profile. I’m not hunting creds, per se, but I am hunting background to give me context about the person’s perspective.

      If you’re going to be authoring policy documents for public consumption, you absolutely should have some kind of public bio. People who do this work should not be a mystery to the public that is affected by the policies, whatever they are. Establishing a public bio will reduce stuff like the requests you mention.

      You don’t have to be active on LinkedIn or connect with anyone if you don’t want.

      1. Average Bureaucrat*

        That’s my feeling too- if a LinkedIn profile with my basic experience and education can head off some of the more extreme reactions, then it would be worth it. A lot of this is just people not liking a decision, grasping at straws to explain why the government is going to do something that doesn’t fit into their worldview, and deciding that the person behind the decision has no idea what they’re doing.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Also in gov in a sometimes unpopular sector – we were told at orientation to lock down all social media, including LinkedIn. I think this is only good advice if you intend to stay with gov for the rest of your career. Otherwise, I would keep proprietary info off LinkedIn and maybe post/comment carefully, but otherwise keep a normal social media presence.

      1. Average Bureaucrat*

        Hah, my agency is generally not exciting enough to warrant any kind of blanket warnings about social media! We’ve just happened to get caught in the crossfire of bigger political fights which have raised the public profile of what we do, and directed people with axes to grind (both sides of the political spectrum) to our policy products.

    5. New Bureaucrat*

      Not quite the same thing, but I worked on a public procurement that in our niche field and one of the folks who didn’t get it protested the loss through official channels. One of the ways they challenged the decision was by suggesting we weren’t qualified to decide and we had to provide our credentials as part of the formal process.

      My name is listed as a matter of public record and they could easily have cross referenced my credentials through social media.

      So I’m not really convinced you can head off these questions in advance. I get the sense that even if they can just look it up, they want it in writing from the agency as an official response.

    6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      If it’s the type of publication that might be used by academics, or other types of researchers, any citation would become problematic if you and your credentials can’t be verified.

  22. AdequateArchaeologist*

    I’m planning on asking for a raise, but im pretty nervous about it. I’m currently being underpaid by about $5-7k. I compared my salary to our federal counterparts (who are generally lower paid), other companies flying jobs similar to mine, and my coworkers pay and these are the numbers I came up with. Additionally I have a master’s degree which is considered the defining requirement for a full time position (archaeology is a weird field). I’m a little light on field experience but I have a ton of experience on the back end/report writing side, which us where people who excel in field work typically struggle.

    Every time I share my salary with my coworkers, they are appalled. I’m being paid the same as a recently promoted field tech who has less field experience, doesn’t do report writing, and no masters degree. The caveat to all of this is I’ve only been here about 4 months. And while I’m doing ok at my job, I’m not a rockstar. I make about $39k, so the raise I want is a 15-20% increase. But that’s also just to get me to market value. So I’m struggling with seeming out of touch, while also getting what my labor is worth. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

    1. Sick Leave Drama*

      Shoot, four months is really early. I wish you’d had this information when you negotiated the offer! Can you ask for a six month review and potentially make this part of that discussion? Ideally you would set yourself up to receive a raise at one year that completely compensates you for the money you missed out on. I think if your position has changed a lot that’s another opportunity.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        +1 Yes, consider taking a slightly longer term view. Do these reports have the potential to turn into publications / greater recognition / avenues towards higher profile investigations? As you say, writing reports is not something all archeaologists enjoy, but if you keep producing work, that should help over a little time.
        Good luck!

        1. AdequateArchaeologist*

          I’m in private cultural resource management, so while the reports are technically published it’s not the same as in an academic setting. They basically get sent to our state historical office to sit unless the project area is subject to another project. Not really any recognition from it unless we really screw something up.

          I might eventually be able to lead projects but it’s going to be several years in the future.

      2. AdequateArchaeologist*

        Yeah, the offer seemed to be a take it or leave it and I was desperate to get a job in my field, and it was more than I was making at the time so… definitely shot myself in the foot

        My coworker did a 90 review that was basically pointless in terms of feedback (the only feedback: “you have a great attitude!”), but she said it seemed like they were anticipating her asking for a raise. Which I thought y was weird. (As a side note she makes $5k more than me for the same position.)

      3. Doctors Whom*

        I concur. At four months in the response to this is most likely “the time to have this conversation was when you were negotiating the offer, why is the job suddenly worth 20% more? than it was 4 months ago?” Your boss won’t be able to make that case I don’t think. I know I wouldn’t be able to as a manager if someone approached me like this.

        Turn in a solid performance, and seek opportunities to make your strengths shine. Then talk about market and performance at your annual review.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          I agree that the timing is not in your favor and that the one-year review (or whenever annual reviews take place in your organization) might be the best time to bring this up. You’ll have more of a record of accomplishment then, too, and can point to areas of the job where you are a rockstar. The part where you describe your performance as ok also makes me think now isn’t a great time to ask for a significant increase, even if it is just a market adjustment.

          1. AdequateArchaeologist*

            The performance part is bogging me down too. I got thrown into admin-ing a massive project with minimal assistance/training and I honestly feel like “I haven’t drowned yet” is an accomplishment. But I’ve been killing it at the report side of things.

      4. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I’m also concerned about the “not a rockstar.” New and not great (yet) is not a good combination. I would work on the becoming better part first.

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        My boss and I are both women, as is my coworker who was hired at the same time, for the same position and makes about $5k more. Everyone involved is white, very similar backgrounds, etc. so I don’t think demographics are playing into it.

    2. Can't think of a funny name*

      At only 4 months, I’d think that’s not enough time to have proven that you should be paid more. If your boss doesn’t decide pay, she’s going to have to explain to someone above her to support why you should get more and I would be surprised if she wants to use capital up for that. Are you willing to leave over it? If so, start interviewing and maybe leave this job off the resume.

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        She decided my pay. I basically report to our division director so she has total control over salary.

        I’m on the fence on if I’m willing to leave. I could go back to tech-ing and make more, but lose the stability. And, most irritating, my offer letter says I have to pay back my $1500 moving bonus (which I can’t afford to do comfortably) if I leave before 1 year is up.

        1. ArchAeologist*

          Fellow archaeologist here – CRM is a weird field. I would be hesitant to go back to being a shovel bum if you do have a permanent gig, especially with the moving bonus payback in play. It always seems great at the start of the field season but the closer I get to when snow flies the more stressed I get.

          If you are that far underpaid for your position, it might be possible to bring it up after 6 months if you are working for a smaller company. If you are part of a CRM wing of a larger engineering or design firm you may be stuck in their corporate review/promotion timeline. If you do decide to go for it at 6 months I would spend the next 2 months collecting data on your coworkers salaries and relative experience as well as from regional postings on Shovelbums and ArchaeoFieldwork. If you have contacts in similar positions at other firms in your immediate region that might help too. However if they shut that down unless you have a 1 year review or something you may be stuck.

          I am not sure where in the country you are or if you are fully SoI qualified (or if that is the experience bit you are working on), but I am seeing a lot of posts for Project Director and Crew Chief level positions in the West. There are a lot of folks who are pretty desperate for people with SoI quals who can run crews during field season and write the reports during the winter. It may be possible to keep doing your position for now and really look into those companies and see if whatever they would pay you would cancel out the loss of the $1500.

          1. AdequateArchaeologist*

            Oh yay! Another archaeologist who understands the weirdness of CRM! I’m in the west actually, and SoI qualified (which is part of my gripe over pay). My experience has been several long projects rather than multiple short projects, so I don’t have as much variety.

            I’m working for a large-ish firm and actually applied to one of those crew lead/report writing jobs and got it. I have a weird background with lots of admin work so they put me on the admin/report/data management portion of our massive project because they were struggling with keeping up. I assume they’ll have me do field work soon-ish? At least once the monster report is out the door.

            I’ve looked a little at other jobs in the area, but 2 of the major companies are…not great.

    3. Fedgirl*

      I can tell you the feds are definitely hiring right now, and with a master’s you qualify for at least a GS9 (as you likely know). Get out there and job hunt! We definitely need people with grant writing/review background. (I agree it is really too early to ask for a raise unless you have another offer in hand.)

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        I’ve been looking at some fed jobs, and that was part of how I figured out how underpaid I am. (I looked at pay scale and I’m currently sitting at a high 5/low 7. Ouch). There’s a position coming up at an agency where a grad school-mate of mine works and I’m seriously considering it.

        I don’t have any grant writing experience (our grad program was a weird experience that includes almost 0 grant applications or funding), but I’ve gotten really good feedback on my reports and technical editing. Do you think that would translate well to the grant writing portion?

  23. BusyBee*

    Wanted to hear the commentariat’s advice on something. I’m fairly new to my job, approaching one year. I really like my boss and we work well together, and I often work closely with her boss. Her boss is a smart person, but extremely reactive.

    For instance, we’ll have a project underway to refresh content on a group of produce pages. As we’re working through the project plan, which might be a three month project involving an agency, she’ll decide to create an interim fix. She will start writing copy herself, getting images together, and basically running a not-as-detailed, not-as-good, quick fix project off to the side.

    It’s surprising to me to see a person of her seniority tackling such tactical projects, and she doesn’t fully inform the team, so we’re all getting emails and requests that are confusing, especially considering we are running a whole project to address this very issue.

    I understand sometimes that we have to put a quick fix in place now and again, but this is happening over and over. It’s a bit frustrating for me, since I’m never sure what the expectations are, or how it relates to the larger strategic projects I’m running.

    Any advice, friends? I’m just not sure how to manage this one: my boss doesn’t push back much, though I get the feeling it’s also distracting for her. I can live with it, but if there’s something I can do to prevent these weird fire drills, I want to try it.

    1. Mouse*

      Would it help to just embrace it? Assume that when you’re working on a project, she’s going to want a quick-fix interim solution and incorporate that into your project plan. That will hopefully reduce the chaotic feeling (and might make your grand-boss really like you, too!).

      1. Reb*

        Yep, I was coming to say that too. Early in the project, meet with boss and grand-boss and ask if the client needs an interim solution, and then make that part of the project.

    2. Ashley*

      If you get a chance for facetime with senior person, I would flat out ask and make it clear you are asking because you want to know if there is something you can do to improve make things flow better.

  24. Jen*

    I have worked at my organization (public sector—keep this in mind) for 6 years, and been in my current position for 4. Since stepping into my current role, I have always received excellent evaluations and am well respected by all of my peers and superiors. I have even been formally recognized in my area of the organization for my performance within the past year. I have also taken on increased responsibilities over time, and my proficiency has increased.

    The only pay increase I have received in these 4 years was a 2% COLA. The first 2 years, it was accepted that if you do good work, you’ll get a modest (again, public sector) raise every few years. I never reached that point because we hid COVID, and budgets shrank overnight. Although not many people received raises during the past 2 years of COVID, several still did, and they were all at executive director levels or above (I am not at that level). Very recently, however, we were told not to expect any raises or COLAs for the next several years moving forward. Luckily, though, we have experienced no layoffs during this time, and none are expected.

    I love working at my organization, and really want to stay, but this news has me down. I don’t want to settle for low pay to the point that my future earnings are compromised or I can’t achieve my goals in life (like buying a house). Things I love about the job: I like the work I do, have some autonomy, and have built up a great portfolio; good benefits and time off; the culture is good and it’s a healthy environment; I get along with everyone I work with really well and enjoy their company and being part of the team; good work/life balance.

    The type of work I do lends itself to freelance really well. I already do some freelance, and am actively trying to get more clients, especially bigger projects that pay well. If I were able to turn that into my full time job, I would love that, but currently I don’t bring in enough income to do so. On the other hand, leaving my job to work for a different organization that could be more demanding of my personal time or have other downfalls for an increase in pay feels potentially risky (or maybe it would be great).

    If you were me, what would you do? My coworkers have normalized not getting raises to the point that I now feel like I’m being really ungrateful when I think about this making me unhappy. I need an outside perspective. What is a reasonable expectation?

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      I am not in the public sector so maybe this is different but our raises were not great last year either so I started looking around and found I was paid under market. I like my job, people, work/life etc (like you said) but I can’t justify to myself being paid so far under market so I am going about this 2-ways…I started interviewing and I asked my boss for a market adjustment. He said I will get one but hasn’t told me the details yet (still working thru approvals…it’s only been about 2 weeks). So if the market adjustment is good, I’ll stop interviewing, otherwise I’ll continue with that…not committing to taking another job but leaving the option open.

    2. Gracely*

      I think it boils down to what you want: the low-paying stability of your public sector job with the knowledge that it isn’t getting better for several years, or the slightly riskier move to somewhere that pays what you’re worth.

      If I were in your position, I would start looking for a better paying job, and just be picky.

      And I say this as someone who also works in the public sector, and has gotten used to the idea that pay raises generally aren’t a thing aside from the once-every-few-years 1% “merit” raise that, given the way my institution implements it, is really just COLA by another name. I know I’m underpaid, but I enjoy the work I do, and more importantly, for me it’s a 2nd income that my spouse and I use to pad our savings and pay for overseas travel. If I needed this income to live, I’d have definitely found a different job years ago.

    3. Henry Division*

      I would take a moment to evaluate what you want in your life and career and if this job is really doing anything for you on that front. It sounds like it isn’t. So you have to make the decision to take the plunge and take a risk if you want that to change, or not.

      The least risky thing you could do is start looking for a new job. It costs you a little time and energy, but in time, you can probably find what you’re looking for at better pay. It is hard to say what a job’s culture and work/life balance will actually be like until you take the job . . .but again, that’s a risk you’re going to have to take.

      It also sounds like freelance full-time might become an option for you in the future. You could focus on that and really work on getting clients so that it is a viable source of income. Some people really like freelance, but also keep in mind some of the caveats of freelance vs a salaried job – it’s often harder to keep a work/life balance, and if you’re in the USA, health insurance is a concern. But it really works for some folks.

      You can also try once again to ask about a raise. I do want to point out that in the USA, COLA this year should be a 5.9% adjustment because of massive inflation.

      Good luck! This isn’t an easy decision, and it can be really hard when a job you love doesn’t love you back.

      1. Jen*

        Thank you for your advice! I think I really needed to hear all of this. And yes, a true COLA would be very high. 2% in 4 years doesn’t begin to cover it.

    4. Koalafied*

      Although not many people received raises during the past 2 years of COVID, several still did, and they were all at executive director levels or above (I am not at that level).

      This organization is telling you something about them and it’s not something good. When funds are tight, they should be prioritizing the lowest paid staff for increases, not the highest paid ones. In 2020 because of limited budget my org gave something like (may not be exact numbers) 5% to people making under $50k, 4% to $50-75K, 3% to $75-100K, 2% for $100-150K, and everyone making $150K or more was not eligible for an increase.

      1. Jen*

        Yes, I agree with you. I was really put off by this decision to give raises to people already making a lot. It has given me a lot to think about.

        I make $40k. We do have a low cost of living here, slightly below the national average. But with inflation, it’s seeming like less and less. Average home price went from $150k to $200k here in the last two years (like I said, buying a house is my number one goal right now).

    5. Can Can Cannot*

      Do you get good benefits? A pension? Lifetime health insurance after retirement? Public sector positions sometimes include long-term benefits that should be factored into the analysis.

      1. Jen*

        Yes, good benefits including a pension. That is something I am taking into account, but it feels hard for me to weigh everything properly.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          A good pension could be worth thousands of dollars a year. Find a financial advisor that can help you assess the value of your pension, and then factor it into your decision. It could be a big deal.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      I have read numerous articles recently about how it seems employers don’t offer raises to people they already employ, making it necessary to find a new job to be paid what you are worth. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but apparently the way things are right now. You can make a run at your boss, armed with numbers, but I think you need to look for a new job. I’m sorry.

      1. Jen*

        My boss isn’t the problem, and asking for one or even giving an ultimatum won’t help, unfortunately. There’s an organization-wide freeze on raises for the foreseeable future as of two weeks ago. It’s caused by a domino effect from COVID.

  25. Justin*

    Now that I’ve actually accepted a new job (I took the higher paying one because it turned out it was actually fully remote when not occasionally traveling), I am reflecting on some absolutely nonsense from the hiring processes.

    Do any managers/HR folks here understand how disrespectful it is not to send an update at all after a second-round interview? Resume submission, whatever, but if you take the time to interview folks more than once, I think you can inform them they’re not moving on.

    It didn’t matter for me, but I think it’s worth noting these things that are “normal” but shouldn’t be.

    1. irene adler*

      Well, ghosting is a regular thing in the job interview world. Unfortunately. At least it allows potential candidates to easily see what that company’s priorities are.

    2. Jen*

      At every stage of the process, if someone isn’t moving on, they should be informed. But so often you’re just left hanging. It’s really unfair to candidates.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        That’s a little much. Some of this is a back or forth, the people I’m flat out rejecting are going to be the people that will react the most negatively. Oftentimes there isn’t any update right away

        1. Jen*

          Well, to clarify what I mean, once someone is hired, it would be polite to simply send out a form letter to all applicants saying thanks for applying but the position is now filled.

        2. Fikly*

          So because a few people might react negatively, you justify treating all applicants horribly? That’s more than a little much.

    3. Sherm*

      Yeah, ghosting is both common and rude. I was once ghosted after a day-long series of interviews: 9am to 5:30pm with no breaks. Even lunch was an interview.

      Now that I’m sometimes on the other side of hiring, though, I can see how accidental rudeness can occur. Maybe Jane thought Fergus was going to send out the rejections, but Fergus thought Jane was going to do it. Hiring is like any other work project — there can be delays and confusion, even a bit of chaos. Not to mention that many people only infrequently are involved in hiring and therefore fairly suck at it.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Once I got a certain age, I stopped caring. I responded below from the management side, but I also got headhunted last year and feedback and rejection I got was so useless that it just made me mad. I rather would have just heard nothing. I feel like people think a reject gives you closure but it really doesn’t. It will just disappoint you and maybe open a can of worms (such as finding out the manager misunderstood basic things you said and you couldn’t have done it differently – they just not be knowledgeable of the industry. Not very useful feedback IMO)

    4. Policy Wonk*

      I totally agree with you, but where I work I am not allowed to do such notifications to candidates. Beyond the interview itself I’m not supposed to communicate with candidates. I hand off to HR and they (allegedly) do it. I have heard from more than one applicant that they do not hear in any kind of timely manner, and that the standard rejection notice is sometimes sent literally months after the interview.

    5. Lore*

      My worst-ever story in this regard: went through a phone screen and two rounds of in-person interviews for a job I really wanted and thought I’d interviewed really well for. Never heard from them again. Annoying. Then, a good 6 months later, I get an email from the main person I’d interviewed with; the interviews had caused them to really rethink the position, and I was the only original candidate who might fit the new brief. Massive apologies, they knew they’d behaved badly, but would I still be willing to consider the redesigned job? We set up a call (which had to be rescheduled, I can’t remember why), and it seemed to go as well as the first round of interviews.

      They ghosted me again. And I only found out about it because they announced the new hire several months later in an industry publication that notes job moves.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      The problem is you often don’t know yet, for weeks. I struggle to pick someone. There really isn’t an update beyond “you’re good but so are two other people, and you have some strengths but also some quirks I am not going to change, but I am still considering you.”

      So I don’t know what the update would actually be. If the person was so stellar, I’d have hired them already. The fact I am stalling means none were that great and I’m trying to change the job to fit the pool. I wouldn’t consider this very positive if I were on the receiving end, and I don’t want to send lackluster updates to people unless I have to

      Then when we extend the offer, I want to make sure the person actually starts and isn’t a disaster before I shoot off rejection emails.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      It’s utter tripe. I’ve been ghosted numerous times throughout this hellsearch. Once, an employer emailed me about a different job than the one I applied to. She scheduled a video interview and then never showed up. I waited a while and emailed twice, but I never heard from them again.

      That company went straight on my naughty list. They could come begging to me on bended knee to work there and I would say no waaaay.

  26. jellybean*

    Posted this a few weeks ago and didn’t get any responses so take 2 :)

    I want to try my hand me freelance work in paid resume and cover letter editing, so I’d love to hear your experiences!
    -do you do this work and if so, thoughts/tips/advice?
    -have you ever paid for a resume edit or cover letter support? what made it worthwhile for you? (and if you are comfortable sharing, what rates you have or would pay!)

    (also just noting: I am definitely not trying to make a full-time living out of this and while I am not a career coach by trade, I do this allot for friends and get consistently great feedback. I also work in HR so I am pretty familiar with best practices and trends for a decent amount of industries and aware of the ones I don’t know well enough. eg. government resumes.)

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Personally I would not pay for a resume/cover letter edit for myself (native English speaker applying to US jobs). I feel that part of the reason I submit written materials when I’m applying for a job is so that my potential employer can see my writing style, self-marketing, etc. and decide if I have the potential to be a good fit for the position. A decent edit from a professional would probably change my written voice, and a light edit wouldn’t be worth the money. The only way I could see *maybe* paying a consultant for an edit would be if I were applying to a field with extensive, specific requirements for written materials (like some types of academia) and I needed someone who knew the unwritten rules to walk through my application packet with me. But just normal resume/cover stuff? Nah. But YMMV a lot with this question depending on what field(s) you’re hoping to work with.

    2. WellRed*

      I’ve never paid for this service but sometimes think I should since my resume needs a big update and paying someone might help with my
      Mental block. For cover letters, no because I am a writer and need to do my own.

    3. Workerbee*

      I have paid for a resume edit! I bought myself one of Alison’s offers several years ago. I had finally decided it was time to move on from my job, and didn’t want to risk leaving any betterment of my resume undone. I thought it was totally worth it, both her suggestions and for my own peace of mind.

  27. BaseballIsFinallyBack*

    Is there good language for replying to a recruiter who is reaching out about one role but you are interested in a different position with the same organization (in this case in healthcare if that makes a difference answer wise)?

    1. Bobina*

      I’ve had success saying something like, “Thanks for reaching out about role X. Unfortunately its not quite what I’m looking for right now, however I did notice you have role Y open at the moment which is more in line with what I’m looking for. Would you be the right person to speak to about it?”

      A good recruiter will say no but I’ll put you in touch with my colleague who is.

      1. BaseballIsFinallyBack*

        Thank you! This us what I was looking for. I think I was overanalyzing my possible responses.

  28. Skye*

    A few weeks ago I asked about a coworker who kept calling innocuous comments racist as a ‘joke’. In the end I didn’t have to ask him to stop again, as he hasn’t made that joke again since that Friday thread. (I also found out I was not being specifically targeted in this, he made this joke with other coworkers too.)

    Now for a completely unrelated question – is it worth it to try to get into accounting, so I’d really like to not do everything all over again, and I’m in my 30s. I don’t know if I’d be better off just focusing on things I can do with the degree I have or what.

    1. Lifelong student*

      I got my degree in accounting at age 47- so it is not too late for you! There are so many types of jobs for accountants- business, industry, public, governmental, academic- you name it! Go for it!

    2. Purple Cat*

      What is your degree in and what’s your current role? (ie how much of a leap is it to move to accounting)

      1. Skye*

        I have a bachelor’s of science in mathematics. Right now I have a part time food service job as well as a data entry job. I like having a routine / more methodical roles, and I’m good at tracking little tedious details.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          You could even put your part time “unrelated” position on a resume if you look at accounting positions in the food service industry. (Restaurant chains, industrial catering etc.)

        2. CupcakeCounter*

          Why not look at getting a job as a bookkeeper as a test? It sounds like a good fit for what you like and doesn’t require an accounting degree. I think there are some online or community courses you could take to get a certificate and would help transition your skillset.
          Then if you like it, you can determine if you want to get an accounting degree.

        3. Former Accountant/CPA*

          You sound as though you’d be great as an accounting clerk, especially in an accounts payable position. There isn’t a high bar to entry; the processes are generally well documented or trained (ideally both) enough not to require much accounting education. A bookkeeping class at a community college or high school adult education department could look good on your résumé, but methodical and good with tedious details is practically the *definition* of a good accounting clerk.
          Then, once you’re IN an accounting department, you’ll be surrounded by accountants, and can see what they do. Talk to them, especially your boss, about what training you would need, assuming you like what you see.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Totally agree with this. Accounts Payable or Payroll could be right up your alley, with not a lot of training/education required. Good luck!

    3. Mary B*

      My mom went back to school for accounting in her 50s and absolutely loves her job. She thinks it’s the best thing she could have done. It wasn’t easy for her because she did evening/online classes while working full time, but she thinks it was worth it.

    4. Person online*

      My dad got his accounting degree at age 40 and did the rest of his career in accounting and was very happy! Go for it!

    5. Your Local Cdn*

      I’m a CPA, and would encourage you to go for it if you have an interest in it! However another suggestion would be to look into data analytics (you wouldn’t need to go back to school with a math background). A lot of accounting firms and departments hire data analysts as well, and the bonus would be that generally in those areas if you do want to get your CPA after, they will cover at least some of the costs.

    6. Pam Adams*

      I see plenty of older accounting students in my position as an advisor. Go for it!

  29. often trapped under a cat*

    Mostly a vent:

    Today is my last day at a place where I’ve worked for a few decades, starting when I was fairly young. (not my first job, though many people assume it was)

    Because of the kind of business it is, I’ve made a few public/social media announcements that I’m leaving.

    Almost everyone seems to be assuming I’m retiring, but I’m not. I was fired/let go as part of a re-org. I don’t really want to say that because I don’t want people to be pissed at my employer (some of my friends and colleagues are, but I’m honestly not). It was a business decision and there’s no need to get worked up over it.

    At the same time, I’m not retiring, and the “congratulations on the next phase of your life” comments are kindof annoying, and I can’t figure out what to say, or if I should say anything, in reply.

    1. Mouse*

      “Congratulations on the next phase of your life” is not something I would say ONLY to a retiring colleague! I would say that, or something similar, to anyone whose plans I didn’t know. Think of it as more similar to “excited to see what you’ll do next!”

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        oh, I’d say something like that to someone who was leaving for another job or to go to school or moving away or any one of a thousand other things. but if someone just said they were leaving, without indicating where they were going, I wouldn’t say that. because they might be leaving because of illness, or to take care of an ailing family member, or for any of a thousand reasons that they wouldn’t want to share publicly.

        1. Mouse*

          You know, that’s an excellent point and something I’ve never considered. Maybe there are others in your network that are similarly socially clueless. :)

        2. AnonAnon*

          Right – Personally, if I didn’t know the reason for their leaving, I might say something generic like “Wishing you all the best!” Some people just assume incorrectly, and I get how that feels annoying.

          A friend of mine got divorced and changed her last name back to her maiden name. She was amused and annoyed by the number of clueless people at work who notice the name change and said to her “Congratulations on your marriage!”

        3. Doctors Whom*

          I usually say “best wishes on your next chapter” specifically for this reason. I can give you my sincerest best wishes that the next thing you are focused on turns out well, or that you find comfort in it, or that you heal, or you are ok while helping an ill loved one, etc. I want the best possible things for you, whatever those might be in your situation. And I’m not your coworker, so I’m not “sorry to see you go.”

          In fact… I said exactly this on LinkedIn today to a college friend who is leaving a longtime employer and was not specific about their next adventure. No idea what is next for them, but I really wish them well no matter what it is.

          So OP if you are getting congratulatory notes in comments on social media, I’d… just let them go by. You don’t need to reply. You don’t need to clear the air. Take them as good wishes and let them go, since they were meant as good wishes. Then when you land somewhere else, just make an announcement about how excited you are to be the new VP of Teapots at Cool Cookery Inc.

          I am sorry you did not get to leave on your terms. I hope that you find the right next thing for you.

    2. Alice*

      Tough. I’m sorry you’re not leaving on your terms.
      I think you probably want to correct the record, not just because these comments are kind of annoying, but also because the people in your network who wish you well might have good networking leads for your next job.
      I think you can clarify that it was a re-org without leading to people getting pissed at your employer. Personally I’d probably use the terms “lay off” or “re-org” or both, but you don’t actually have to be explicit about it. The “meat” of the message is “thanks for your good wishes! Actually I’m not retiring; I’m excited about ———” where the blank might be:
      – contining to work in industry X
      – finding a new opportunity in new industry/new region
      – using my Y skills in a different context.
      Good luck :)

    3. it's always tea time*

      I think what to say really depends on if you’re jumping immediately to new work or not. If you do have something lined up, say something like “I’m excited to be working for X”, if not, I’d say something like “I’m taking a month or two off, then I’ll be looking for work in field Y”. This is your network, it’s entirely appropriate to let people know you’re looking, if you haven’t found anything yet. Best of luck, though, it’s still a shock.

    4. WellRed*

      Don’t worry about managing other’s emotions or reactions for them. Good luck for whatever you do next.

    5. Sincerely Raymond Holt*

      People are awkward and most people don’t know what to say in a lot of situations. You’ll be happier if you take it as the sentiment that it is, which is that they are wishing you well. The words matter less than the message.

    6. Purple Cat*

      It sounds like you haven’t shared (or don’t yet know) what your next role is going to be.
      So people can’t say “congratulations on the new position” because there isn’t one…..
      “Next phase” is open-ended to “whatever” is coming next.

    7. *daha**

      This is a networking opportunity. “I’m still working on that. If you run into any openings that I’d be a good fit for, I’d love to hear about them. Can I give you my personal email address?”

    8. MaryLoo*

      If you were let go as part of a reorg, you were not fired. You were laid off.

      Fired means you were let go for cause: poor performance, something dishonest or illegal, outrageous behavior.

      I don’t understand why you don’t want to just say you were laid off (or downsized, or made redundant, or your position was eliminated, if you find those terms to be more palatable).

    9. ThursdaysGeek*

      A lay-off because of a re-org is completely different from being fired. It sounds like you were not fired, just let go. It’s fine to say that the re-org caused layoffs, and you are one of the ones let go.

    10. Cocafonix*

      Your question and responses here are good to the extent of being more aware of how the generic norms might be received. But the reality is that if one chooses to post a life event like this on social media, one can hardly expect to control the responses one gets. Especially, in your case, having given no indication of what actually is next or how you feel about it. Had you said something like “taking a short bliss break and look forward to a new gig” might have give your poor responders something to work with. For now, you respond saying thank you for the well wishes.

  30. job search friend*

    Hello! I’m trying to support a friend who’s looking to leave a job that’s actively harmful to their physical and mental health. The challenge here is that I’ve got a decidedly white collar, higher-ed-focused career path, and their experience is much more blue collar (they’re currently a manager at a warehouse). They’ve said they don’t really know how to job search, and I have some ideas for how to help them figure out what they might want to do and how to look (ask friends and trusted former coworkers, etc), but I know that a lot of my normal advice doesn’t apply at ALL. Any tips or resources for folks in blue collar job searches?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Networking is just as valid an approach for blue collar as it is white collar.

      Your friend almost certainly has contacts with those in the supply chain – upstream (suppliers) or downstream (retailers/2nd tier distributors), with physical service companies (the people who fix the forklifts and the trucks etc.), with admin/financial/support services, and so on. And those people have contacts too. It’s completely normal to call up the contractor that does forklift maintenance and say “Hey, I’m looking to leave Evil Alpaca Corp; do you have any other customers that you know are short-handed for warehouse supervisors?”

      1. job search friend*

        Thanks! I figured this was the case, I just don’t know enough about it to give specific advice–they’re currently so beaten down by their job that they’re having a hard time seeing options that they probably know better than I do. So this is very helpful!

    2. DG*

      I often see threads about local employers in my city’s subreddit – discussions about which employers are hiring, which pay the best, who’s offering bonuses, which have the best management/work policies, etc. I live in the land of distribution centers, so a lot of these discussions are about warehouse jobs, but I’ve also seen threads about restaurants, health professions, and skilled trades like plumbing and welding.

  31. Albeira Dawn*

    Industry-gala-that’s-not-really-a-gala update: I have acquired a dress to wear. It is slightly more fancy than I would normally wear to the office, but not something I would wear to prom.
    New question that sounds like a math problem: the event is at 5 PM on a weekday. It’s a short trip by transit from my office to the venue (10 minutes). I live 5 minutes walking distance from the office. Should I (a) wear the dress into the office (b) bring the dress and change at the office (c) go home, change, and meet my coworkers at the venue or (d) something I haven’t thought of?
    Summary of trip times:
    Office -> venue: 10 minutes by transit
    Office -> home: 5 minutes by foot
    Home -> venue: 15 minutes by transit

    1. Jen*

      What are your coworkers doing? If any of them are changing at the office and traveling to the event together, that sounds fun and like a way to save a few minutes. Otherwise, any option sounds fine so I would just choose the least stressful one! Does your outfit change also invoke freshening up hair and makeup? You may not want to carry all of that stuff with you to the office.

    2. Mouse*

      Honestly, I’d say it depends on your work bathroom amenities and how high-maintenance you are! If I were you, I would go home, but we only have a few single-user bathrooms, so there would almost certainly be congestion. I’d do your hair in the morning however you want it to be for the event, and as much of your makeup (if relevant) as you can without looking too over-the-top. Then go home, throw on the dress and shoes, touch up makeup as needed, and go!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You live close enough to slip out a little early and change at home. If you’re friendly enough with the co-workers who are also attending, you can offer your place to them for changing (I have a few co-workers I would do that for) but otherwise plan to dress at home and ask your co-workers if they’re planning to leave together. If they are, meet them back at the office.

      But don’t wear your dress at work all day. I used to change in the office bathroom on occasions like this.

    4. SansaStark*

      I really wouldn’t wear the dress to your office just because I’m imagining 100 scenarios where I end up having to go home and scramble to find something else bc I spilled coffee on myself, my skirt caught on a cabinet and ripped, etc. I am obviously quite accident-prone.

      I’d either change at the office or run home to change and come back like others are suggesting. I have an involved makeup routine so it would be easier for me to get ready at home and then dash back over to the office. I also like having a moment to myself before a big event where I’m “on” for hours.

      1. DinosaurWrangler*

        Don’t wear the dress to work. Either change at the office or go home 15 minutes early.

        One place I worked had a semi-fancy holiday party. One of the engineers wore his suit to work that day. This in a very casual dress environment. He looked really out of place all day. Plus lots of ribbing from coworkers (Job interview, huh? Going to court? etc)

    5. JustaTech*

      I usually choose B, because my hair/makeup routine are pretty simple.

      Though one time this did result in me doing my makeup by emergency lighting because the power had gone out at work just as I was getting ready to head out to my event.

    6. Nancy*

      You live only 5 minutes from work? Go home and change. I’d love to have that option.

  32. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    So, I currently work in secondary ed, a position that is a blend of classroom teaching and administration. I was in academia, and left a couple of years ago. I’m getting pretty burned out on teaching, and my current job doesn’t have a lot of opportunities for upward growth (it’s a very horizontally organized school, and most leadership positions are hybrid like my current one). So, I’ve been job searching. I thought I might make my way back to higher ed in a non-teaching role, but a lot of the jobs where I seem to fit in terms of experience/credentials (3-5 years, graduate degree) are much lower than I’m currently making, especially if I shift from a 10mo to a 12 mo position. But I don’t seem to have quite enough experience for more senior jobs (8+ years exp), and also those are fewer and further between. So I’m having trouble figuring out what my next step would be — a new field? A job that is a reach position, instead of a lateral move?

    So, I guess I’m looking for advice on two points: if anyone out there has left education for another field, what was that? Or, how do you know when you’re ready to apply for reach positions, and which kinds of reach positions are worth the time applying for?

    1. Esmeralda*

      If you’re going back to academia, what kinds of positions are you looking for? Because in my academic-adjacent field, we used to get a couple hundred applications for each position and a couple dozen of those were on paper excellent and after the interviews etc we always had three or more good candidates we could hire…and now, we’re getting maybe 50 applications/fewer good ones/fewer people going thru the whole process.

      It’s the same across campus, outside of tenure-track faculty positions.

      Can you share a little more info?

      For our positions, we want “more experienced” but we’re having to give serious consideration to less-experienced folks.

      1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        Interesting — is the instability of higher ed through the pandemic is affecting the candidate pool?

        I’ve been looking on the student affairs side of things (my background is a combo of community-engaged research and student formation/development). I was actually recently finalist for a position where I would’ve been at an assistant director level, managing some community stakeholder relationships and faculty training for a specific center within the university. But I withdrew when they told me the salary — it was less than I make now and they were open about not having any room for negotiation. An old mentor of mine let me know about another assistant director opening for a job that would’ve been student leadership development, but when we talked it came out that this would’ve also been too low of a salary (she also had no room to negotiate). I was pretty surprised at how low the salaries were set, given that I’d heard hiring was getting tougher for high ed — you’d think raising salaries would be part of trying to attract talent.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Just another heads up about Student Affairs — at least as far as it looks to me as an outsider, if you work in Student Affairs, the administration at my school thinks they @#$%@#$%ing own you. The Student Affairs staff are called in for all kinds of mandatory weekend/night/summer obligations . . . EVERYTHING. Hope you don’t have kids, and better live close to the school, ’cause you’ll be there a LOT.

        2. Esmeralda*

          No, it’s the crap way we were treated over the past couple years, the insistence that we all drink happy juice now and pretend the pandemic is over yay, and unwillingness to let us flex and or WFH at least some of the time. And the pay differential. ( bitter? Me?)

          Pay is a serious problem. Most higher Ed institutions are just not nimble enough to raise pay quickly. Public institutions are even more constrained. My state recently put thru raises for virtually all state employees. Biggest raise many of us have seen in years.

    2. Pam Adams*

      academic advising, financial aid counseling, registrar’s office positions? You would probably be moving to a staff job, not a director/assistant director role. At my state university, the pay is not the best, compared to corporate jobs, but benefits are good and we have pensions.

      Also, look for education-adjacent, for instance, working with the companies that build technology for campuses. As an educator, you are better able to know what’s needed, and how to get busy teachers to use the new tech.

  33. Alice*

    Waiting to hear about next steps after a first round interview.
    It’s a week after they said they’d contact me.
    TBH in this industry timelines are super long.
    So hard to sit tight though….

    1. MaryLoo*

      Best thing to do is apply to more jobs. It’ll take your mind off it. Also, it takes time to “fill the pipeline”, so waiting until you have a decision on one job before you apply to another will lengthen your job hunt exponentially. Besides, it’s good to be able to compare prospective jobs and workplaces.

  34. Mouse*

    I recently received a promotion but it was a bandaid on a broken dam of issues and I’m looking for a new role. The promotion is my old title + “Senior”. I did update my LinkedIn. Should I list the title on my resume, and how should I format it? I have no substantive achievements yet, but I feel like omitting my current title and saying that the past title was “March 2021-present” is too incorrect.

    I have had six titles in five years at my company, so my resume currently looks like this:

    Sr. Teapot Painter, March 2022-present
    Teapot Painter, June 2021-March 2022
    -Accomplishment
    -Accomplishment
    -Accomplishment

    Teacup Designer
    -Accomplishment
    -Accomplishment

    etc.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This looks right to me; that’s how I would do it. If you want to pad you could just list the dates of tenure at the org without being explicit about when you were promoted:

      Teapots Inc (June 2021-present)
      Sr Teapot Painter
      Teapot painter
      -accomplishment
      -accomplishment
      -accomplishment

    2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      I think this makes a lot sense and looks fine – it’s such a recent promotion that I don’t think it’s anything problematic to not have accomplishments yet. And definitely don’t leave it off since you’re finally getting some [bandaid] recognition, however late.

      If you wanted/it was relevant to any jobs you are applying for I could see adding a note on a high-value responsibility or current project assigned as a result of your new title.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      You don’t have big accomplishments, but do you have responsibility for anything? You’d want to put something like “took over responsibility for something” or else it will indeed look like an empty title change!

    4. Purple Cat*

      Your layout looks good.

      The other option that I’m toying with (similar situation) is
      Sr. Teapot Painter June 2021-Present
      – Promoted from Teapot Painter March 2022
      – accomplishments

      I don’t know if that comes across as disingenuous, but I like specifically calling out the wording of the promotion since it’s recent.

  35. Another Ex-Librarian*

    Hey all! I’m… looking to get out of libraries. I need help figuring out what jobs I could feasibly apply for where they won’t just toss my application sight unseen. I’m a youth services librarian so I have event planning, collection development, mild tech skills (basic HTML and CSS and a passing understanding of javascript, wordpress and the like), bombass customer service skills, and organizational skills. I’d love something remote but basically anything that’ll pay the bills and give me health insurance and GET ME OUT will be nice. Any suggestions?

    1. Alice*

      It probably wouldn’t be remote, but — event planning? Bespoke theme bar/bat mitzvahs? (I’m really leaning in to the youth services librarian part ;) )

    2. EMP*

      I have several friends who do admin work at universities and it sounds like you would do great in one of those roles. I’m not sure what the actual job titles are – they’re different jobs, for one thing – but it’s stuff like working in student services and organizing freshmen orientation, move in, events, or being an admin for a specific set of professors or labs. Good luck!

      1. Another Ex-Librarian*

        That would be great actually, I could probably do that. I’ll start sniffing around

    3. HeavensToBetsy*

      It looks like you just want any job that will give you enough money. Suggestion: I wouldn’t take just any job just for the money otherwise you might run away from that job too. Just a thought…

      1. Another Ex-Librarian*

        Listen, I’m currently showing up to my job for the paycheck only and if I’m going to do that it might as well be a decent paycheck

    4. Youth work*

      Your experience sounds like you’d be a good fit for nonprofit youth work! My partner plans events for the local girl scout council. There’s also after-school, community education, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Y, youth director for a church, and more.

    5. OtterB*

      At my higher-ed-adjacent not-for-profit “program assistant” positions would be a reasonable match to your skills. They do a lot of event planning, updates to the website, online applications, coordinating with volunteers, etc., assisting workshop speakers and coordinating slide decks, etc.

    6. Granger*

      Your skills are highly desirable at small to mid-sized credit unions! Having employees with broad skills – especially those you name here – and who are willing to handle a variety of responsibilities is essential to their success (there are often generalist positions rather than a regular just-a-Teller that larger credit unions would have). Credit unions are typically professional but less formal and share commonalities with libraries for a good culture match. I work at a credit union and we love hiring teachers and library employees for this very reason! You might look up job opps by searching for your state’s Credit Union League website – it will have a mix of jobs which are posted elsewhere and some that are only posted there. Good luck!

    7. Lizbert Jane*

      I’m also an ex-librarian, and found my way out through jobs in technical support and training. Several of my colleagues in these roles also had library backgrounds – librarians make spectacular tech support engineers! Bonus: I picked up so many tech skills along the way that I eventually worked my way up to software developer.

  36. matcha123*

    Does not having a career goal look bad to workplaces?
    Likewise, does it look terrible if you’re not striving to be the best in your field? (I aim to do the best within my ability, but being The Best has never been interesting to me.)

    I don’t know what I want to do and I don’t have the time or money to figure it out. I do know that I can do a lot (outside of highly specialized fields, of course), but I don’t bring a passion for, say, data entry or a passion for pushing a company to its next level.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I think if you outright say you don’t have any career goals it won’t look great, but “being the best” isn’t the only kind of goal that companies want to see. Something like “I want to grow X skills” or “I want to learn more about Y” would be enough of a goal for most. And even if you don’t particularly want to grow your skills or learn anything new, you probably will anyway just through the course of doing a job, so they’re achievable goals as well. You might even discover real goals for yourself as time goes on.

      1. matcha123*

        “I want to grow X skills” isn’t something I’ve thought of saying to a company, so thank you for the comment!
        I always thought of that answer as bad because it’s “selfish”? and advice I’d read before boiled down to: “If it doesn’t help the company, then stfu.”
        I’ll have to rethink some of my approach.

        1. SansaStark*

          Growing X skill could *absolutely* benefit the company as well as yourself, so I think it’s great to maybe reframe your thinking on that!

    2. SansaStark*

      This was me for a really long time. I wanted to be good at my job and then I wanted to go home and not think about my job. That’s not something I could really say to my manager! Are you interested in your industry at all? I found that I could usually keep some of those questions at bay with doing a combination of Soup’s recommendation on finding a skill or two that I wanted to grow and something about deepening my knowledge about my industry.

    3. Echo*

      There’s a great answer from Alison that gets at the ‘passion for data entry’ piece of this: https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/should-i-fake-interest-in-the-job-during-an-interview.html

      In general, I think “how does this work align with your goals?” is another way of asking “will you get bored at this job and leave after a couple months?” You could say something like “I’m looking for an opportunity to use [skill that relates to the job] and continue to build that skill. In the long term, I’m hoping to stay in this kind of role and (if applicable) gain more seniority.”

      1. matcha123*

        I remember reading this when it came out and completely forgot about it, thank you for the link!
        Something I notice about myself, which I don’t know if I should even mention in an interview, is that I find myself feeding off the energy of others. If they are excited and passionate about the job, I find myself feeling more excited and passionate.
        This goes for things I’m not even interested in. The other day I was talking with someone about hydrogen energy, not a topic I particularly feel anything toward, but their way of speaking and the data they provided really spoke to me and made me want to learn more.
        Will definitely be taking some notes from that link!

  37. urban teacher*

    I put in my resignation for my teaching job for June. Meanwhile, I’ve been using the 100 best company list my local newspaper put out to apply to other jobs. Any other suggestions to find smaller companies? I agree with the poster here that smaller companies might be more willing to hire a career changer that is a generalist.

    1. Grace Less*

      Check if your metro publishes a list of “best employers” and/or “healthiest employers”. In my area, those lists are broken into small/medium/large categories and the companies who put themselves forth are largely ones who are actively hiring.

  38. Seeking*

    How do you ask for help and clarity without being labeled as problematic?

    I’m lost and completely confounded by my new job. They have things 7 different systems for asking for budget for projects and it seems that the system I have to use depends completely upon everyone else’s personal preferences (no wonder we have budget issues).

    I feel like I’m the person telling the emperor that he’s naked every time I ask for help. Example, I ask for details about why I should use one system for Kim and another for Bob even though the expenses are from the same portion of the budget and it really only seems to be down to who responds to the group email first.

    1. Austistic and Anxious: The Biography*

      Do you ever have team check-ins/meetings? This seems to be something that could be addressed there. What I’ve done in the past is to sit down, write out my understanding of the procedures, and then bring it up at a check in, while asking (a nice phrase I learned from a coworker here) “What’s the wisdom (or story) behind X decision?” It lets you point out oddities while being very polite.

      1. Seeking*

        I’m going to use that wording. I really like it.

        I have team check ins with my boss and the project managers but I was hired specifically to interface with finance because the PMs are so frustrated and project delays are usually due to a disconnect somewhere in the process of engaging with the financial analysts. I’ve taken this way up the chain too.

    2. Esmeralda*

      Do you actually have to know why? (I mean, you want to know, but would knowing why make your work easier?)

      I’d just ask at the start (or at whatever point is appropriate): which budget system do I need to use for this project — should I use system A for the whole thing, or do I need to use different systems for this piece, that piece, the other piece? And then just use what you’re told you need to use? I’m not trying to be snarky, I’m just trying to figure out if you’re asking the wrong question…what do you hope to get from asking “why”? Because it sounds like, you want (someone?) to say, this is madness, let’s all just use one system! But is that even likely?

      1. Seeking*

        The problem is that the answer depends on who I ask. I could ask 5 people (in the same email), which system I need to use to request to purchase a new lama and I get 5 completely different answers even though I provide the exact same details (cost center, purpose, budget line item, etc).

        I’m asking them how to determine the answer myself because I’ve been told I should know the answer by now (I’m two months into this job). It seems completely arbitrary and I have 20 years working in finance and AP and I’ve never encountered anything like this.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I’m facing a similar situation – 5 months into the new job, there are at least 5 different places to store information and no one has a consistent process for storing common documents or sharing the locations. It takes forever to locate a document!

      The potential differences are: everyone (colleagues and our manager) recognizes that this situation exists and is a problem, no one seems to have a strong preference for one location over another, and no one is expecting me to have figured it out by now (!). Since it affects me the most due to a new task I’m taking on, I have offered to my manager to come up with one process to rule them all and when I return from medical leave, this will be one of my priorities.

      So is it possible for you to flip the script? If you’re the main person having to use these systems and they are equivalent in terms of inputs/outputs, can you offer to simplify things by being the one to choose a process? If they can’t tell you why they need one system over another using a legitimate business reason (e.g. only system A has function X) rather than just familiarity, then you as the primary user should get to decide. They provide you the inputs you need, you use the system of your choice, they still get the result they want.

    4. Generic Name*

      Do you ever get grief for using the “wrong” system? If no one has ever corrected you, could you use the system that you like best every time and see what happens? Is there someone who had been around forever who you could ask why there are 7 different systems? I work in a small company I’ve been at for over 10 years, and I usually know the story behind why we do something that seems really dumb. (Unfortunately, the reason is usually also dumb)

      1. Seeking*

        I do get grief for it. I’ve tried pointing out that I am doing what I can to make sense of it and that the project I put into system X is now being directed to system Y just because Bob prefers to pull reports from Y.

        This is a company with 60,000 employees so it’s starting to make more sense that they scaled to quickly without getting