open thread – April 22-23, 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.

{ 1,065 comments… read them below }

  1. DataGirl*

    I’d love to hear from managers or people in IT whether there is any value to certificates gained from online courses such as those offered by Coursera, Bootcamp, Edx, etc. From a learner’s standpoint, these courses are appealing as they are online, usually on one’s own timeline, and usually much cheaper than attending a traditional university. On the other hand, the content is, in my experience, much more superficial than a university course in the same subject would be.

    For people who have taken these classes, do you feel that you learned enough to have made them worthwhile? Did they help you advance or pivot your career?

    For hiring managers, what do you think when you see them on a resume? Would you presume that someone having completed these courses is competent in the subject studied? If a person has only taken these types of courses, but has little to no relevant work experience in the subject, would you still be interested in interviewing them?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      From a hiring perspective, I don’t really put a lot of stock in those. I’d much rather see your GitHub and blog than see that you “passed” an online course or have a certification.

      1. Spearmint*

        How extensive does a blog/GitHub have to be for you to consider a career switcher for an entry level technical role? Is it a couple of small sample projects that demonstrate basic skills, or are you looking for large contributions to open source projects and such?

        (I’m in a similar boat to DataGirl, trying to pivot to a more technical career path but am unable to use the new skills my current job).

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I don’t think there’s an exact minimum threshold. You’re up against other candidates, and I think I’d be looking to see what your aptitude is and how you solve problems. That could be shown in a small sample project or in contributions to a larger open source project… or both. But do only what you have time/energy for.

          My point isn’t “This is exactly how much code you should have written or how many blog posts you have to have.” It’s more “You can demonstrate what you know and how you work with publicly available stuff better than with some ‘cert.'”

      2. Doctors Whom*

        I’m going to hope you aren’t relying on or requiring those, though? Those things can provide some insight but shouldn’t be viewed as necessary/required.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yeah, I’ve been working in software development for over ten years and my personal github/blog/stackoverflow accounts are all echoing voids. I’ve never contributed to an open source library.

          On the other hand, I’ve worked at some of the top software developers in the US. I suspect that focusing too much on a public “portfolio” rather than work experience or the technical interview will weed out those who cannot afford (or do not want) to do volunteer work.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            OP:
            If a person has only taken these types of courses, but has little to no relevant work experience in the subject, would you still be interested in interviewing them?

            You:
            I’ve been working in software development for over ten years

            Big difference.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Not if you don’t have a portfolio. I have 20 years experience and I run into this same exact problem. All my work is proprietary, there isn’t really any of it that’s “mine”, and I really don’t have the time/energy to do freelance projects on top of my busy job.

              1. pancakes*

                Proprietary commercial purposes, of course. A sample of your work with sensitive information redacted (and other care taken as needed) that you give prospective employers limited access to isn’t quite the same thing. Surely other people in your industry have worked out how to share samples without commercial sabotage. Also, of course, having twenty years of experience does not put you on par with someone just trying to break into the field. Your verifiable work history speaks to your experience before and even without you providing samples of particular projects you worked on during those years. I’m not trying to say that no one will ever be interested in seeing or ask for samples; my point is that you simply aren’t in the same position as someone who doesn’t have twenty years of experience on their resume.

          2. Doctors Whom*

            This is exactly it. Relying on GitHub or blogs or whatever excludes anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to *also write code for free*. And it is wholly unnecessary for verifying someone’s experience.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          If someone has no relevant experience and has only certs and online courses, I’m not going to really consider that person as a candidate, so, yeah, I’d require those.

          If you have actual relevant experience, you don’t need a GitHub or blog, but those can certainly be helpful.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      It is always my suggestion to take the HECK out of any free or cheap classes in something that you want to learn, especially for work. And it is also my suggestion that you not fill up your resume with a long list of little trainings and certificates.

      Use them to prop up the experience you’ve got on the resume. In the interview when they ask, you say “I used spreadsheets for X and Y purposes at Job A. I didn’t need to do a lot of W and Z features on the spreadsheets, but I know that in Job B I’d probably need to use them , so I’ve been taking Excel classes and practicing with W and Z with practice data sets.”

      I also encourage folks to use these other resources to expand their studying for professional qualification exams/credentials. It’s handy to learn from a lot of directions.

      1. Just a Manager*

        I hire for a help desk. Certs aren’t a big thing for me. I’m looking for some experience, excellent troubleshooting skills and a good customer service attitude.

      2. amoeba*

        I’d say there’s also certain well-known courses that people tend to recognise – it obviously depends on the area, but for machine learning, basically everybody I’ve talked to knows (and approves of) the Andrew Ng courses on Coursera. So if you’re mentioning any (in person or on your CV), I’d say it makes sense to pick those that people actually recognise and have an idea of the content/scope…

    3. trilusion*

      What Anonymous Educator said.

      In addition to that, there might be some cases where certain certificates are mandatory in order to get a job. E.g. as a Scrum Master it might be helpful to have a Scrum Master certificate from scrum.org, or if as a company, you offer AWS services, for some customers it might require having some AWS certificates with some people in the team. Other than that I too think that offering certificates are a good way to make money.

    4. IT Guy*

      In my opinion they’re helpful insofar as they help develop your skills. I probably wouldn’t put them on a resume, but I also don’t think they would necessarily hurt your resume.

      If you’re on the networking/systems side, well-known certifications, such as Networking+, CCNA, A+, or whatever makes sense based on the technologies you use and level of position you’re applying for would all be more relevant. Those are all established and well-known in the industry, so hiring managers know the level of knowledge the certificate signifies.

      If you’re on the software side, being able to point to actual work you’ve done is far more important than certifications. This could take the form of a portfolio website with various projects and a link to your GitHub, or contributions to open-source code.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      A friend of mine did a lot of coding courses on sites like that – I can’t remember the exact one(s). He went from a customer support role into a sales engineer role. He had worked on doing personal projects with the skills he learned, which I think made a huge difference over just saying he had taken some courses.

    6. The IT Project*

      From a hiring perspective they don’t hold much weight for me and I have never seen them on a resume–I think LinkedIn is as better place for that if you want to document it. I have taken Coursera classes for different things like when I was trying to learn some advanced Excel skills but that was for a job I already had.
      And in reality, a good YouTube video will do the same. I use YouTube more than anything to learn new systems.
      Employers want to see accomplishments and that you have the aptitude to learn new skills or teach yourself new skills.
      My best advice if you want to break into something more technical and you don’t have the experience is to find a way to use those technical skills in your current job. Maybe you have a lot of manual processes that could be automated using PowerBI for example. Creating an MSForm to solicit information from people. Or wrangling project information by creating a tracker in Excel, SmartSheet or Project. That is how I always managed to use and practice my new skillset and also move up and be selected for opportunities outside my group.

      1. DataGirl*

        My problem is that software and applications are highly restricted by my employer. The things I need to learn, I can’t use at work. I could potentially try to create some projects on personal time, but I’m not sure I can afford all the licenses and I’d have to find some free source data. I know Microsoft has some sample databases for training purposes, maybe that would work.

        1. alj1212*

          I’m an R&D lead and I’m always looking for an R developer. It’s the swiss-army-knife of statistical analysis, data modeling, simulation, visualization, etc. In the last month I’ve used it to bulk-reformat bills of materials, conduct statistical analysis on a product line, generate an interactive web app for product testing, simulate light absorption in gas samples, and produce a Sudoku-solving AI. (The last one didn’t get much usage at work…)

          The software is completely free, supported by a strong developer and user community, rich with well-organized add-on libraries (which, IMHO, are better managed than python) and it’s a great environment to gain experience in how to collect data, analyze it, and produce professional-looking reports, tables, charts, interactive dashboards, etc.

          1. quill*

            Are you taking applications for people to be the Sudoku solving AI? Because I am very interested in that job, lol.

          2. anon e mouse*

            I’m a pretty good R programmer and I’m on the market… can you give me a hint how to find you (assuming it’s either remote-friendly or in my area)? Thx.

        2. LeftAcademia*

          Kaggle has a lot of free databases. Another idea is to Google DataScience blogs, they always use well-known free databases and provide links to download.
          The most import thing in DataScience is the ability to solve puzzles and affinity to statistics (programming can be learned relatively quickly). However, if you are going for entry level, instead of glorious model building you will probably be stuck doing data cleaning. Smaller companies will give you more responsibility and room for autonomous growth, larger companies will likely let you learn more from colleagues and provide more supervision.

    7. Another Data Girl*

      If you are interested in certifications, I would focus on offerings from Microsoft, Amazon, Databricks, Google, etc. As a hiring manager, those are worth highlighting on a resume.

    8. Alex*

      I’ve taken several of these classes and found that the quality varies wildly. Some were very intense and I learned a ton, and others, as you say, were superficial.

      I will say, though, that the intense ones did teach me some basics that I put into action at my job.

    9. Susie Q*

      Training courses are fine but I’m looking for applicable skills. Can you apply what you’ve learned?

    10. Dragonfly7*

      Thank you for asking this. I’m considering studying for A+ certification, and the answers here are helpful.

      1. As per Elaine*

        I’ll say that while places I’ve worked don’t generally prioritize certifications (I mostly don’t have any, so there’s some sample bias there), A+ is one of the “name recognition” ones that I would think would still hold a certain amount of weight. It wouldn’t necessarily get you a job over another experienced candidate without a certification, but it would be an indicator that you have a certain level of skills (and might get you an interview if your direct experience wasn’t as relevant, depending on the particular role and what your other experience is).

        1. Dragonfly7*

          Thanks! In my case, the studying will also refresh my memory on some basic IT support courses I took 5-ish years ago and gradually forgot the parts that I don’t actively use.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      To me, the certificate itself is meaningless and seeing it on a resume is meaningless. Whether these courses are useful depend on the person. Someone who has experience, say writing code, and uses one of these as a jumping off point for learning a different language than they’re used to, could totally learn what they need. Someone coming in as a blank slate? Way less likely. Either way, I care if you have the skill you claim to have and would ascertain that with a skills test. I’ve worked with people with BAs in computer science whose code was barely functional and people who taught themselves to code from a book who wrote useful stuff 2 months later. Although I realize it’s often hard to tell when you’re the one taking the course if you’re actually learning anything.

    12. Today's Name is Not Interesting*

      I spent a significant portion of my day reading applications for a position that includes a requirement that candidates know how to query databases, clean up data, subject it to analysis, and present cogent summaries and maybe even recommendations, and I’ve seen loads of “I took a free course on R”. What makes a difference is the candidates who say, “because I knew R would be useful to answer this question, I took a free course (or three) and then applied what I learned to…”
      Confession: I know how easy it is to sit idly through a webinar and click through slides and say “i took a free course and have a certificate in…”
      “I’m a curious person so I’ve taken free courses in…” is a nice detail. But “I used what I learned to…” is better.

    13. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I’m a recent career switcher, and I’ve taken courses on some of those platforms (usually the free versions, so projects are not graded). I think there’s some disparity in the level of knowledge you actually walk away with. For example, for at least some classes offered by Coursera, you have to install and configure various software/tools/packages/etc that are needed for the coursework. With other platforms, you’re doing all of your coding in their application, so you don’t get any experience with installing stuff and getting it up and running.

      Overall, I think those courses gave me some good exposure, but I didn’t list them on my resume. Since I was also pursuing a degree in my newly chosen field, I focused more on including my degree coursework. That said, my company has hired people with online certificates, but some of those candidates also had GitHub accounts, and they were given code challenges before any offers were made.

      I also have worked in an environment where I wasn’t free to install anything – or even to use things that were already installed if they weren’t relevant to the job I had been contracted to do. So I get that it can be hard, and I understand that you’re worried about licensing costs.

      But there are definitely free or low-cost resources out there. I see someone mentioned Kaggle, but another source for free datasets is Data.gov – you can find all sorts of things on there. I’d also recommend investigating whether any tools or software you’re interested in offer free trial versions. I did that a while back with ArcGIS – didn’t want to pay for a personal license, but was able to do the free tutorial that they had.

    14. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      Former IT person here, most of the IT managers and supervisor would not consider those courses relevant. That said, calling out specific skills you’ve learned from those courses (programming language, tools, etc) could help you get a foot in the door.

  2. Librarian to tech writer*

    I’m a librarian thinking about making the switch to technical writing. I have a degree in communication and in the past I’ve created written help guides for staff and customers on how to use the library’s technology tools. I’m working at recreating some of those documents so I can have a portfolio to submit with job applications.

    Current and former technical writers, is there anything else I should be doing to prepare? Where’s the best place to look for work? Are there any downsides I should be aware of before I get started?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer me.

    1. Calibri Hater*

      I just landed a position in tech writing for a small software company. I had a previous year of experience writing help content, similar to what you described. I would be prepared to speak about how you evaluate a user’s level of technical knowledge and write for different audiences. Smaller companies might be more eager to hire a tech writer without much formal experience.

    2. Nea*

      Downsides:
      Jobs can be very tight, especially in software tech writing and a lot of people don’t think you actually add value. I was once dropped from a contract because “we’ll just build the manual from the comments in the code.” (Their funeral! And it was!)

      That said, I highly recommend joining the Society for Technical Communication (stc dot org) and checking out their communities and job banks. They’ll have something all over America.

      My entire body of work has been for proprietary software, so I like to find some program that’s free or low-cost and build a quick-start and a manual for it, maybe even an installation guide for my portfolio. Be ready to talk about the thought process behind why you organized it that way.

      That thought process should be: the user wants to Do A Thing and they don’t want to read the manual. Quick starts and tables are your best friend, especially if you’re documenting something really gnarly. My most successful manual had a quick start for every process – go here, click that, enter this and if you want to know what it looks like or why, turn the page and I’ll explain it with lots of pictures and arrows.

      Your second best friend is a universally understandable example. I once explained various filing tags using peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m currently leaning hard on koi ponds.

    3. Death to Comic Sans*

      I started out as a tech writer that specialized in software documentation at both the highly technical and user levels. I am current in product management had manage a tech writer on my team. Your plan to recreate documents for a portfolio is a great one. As an interviewer, I’m going to ask about your process of how you created those documents and what challenges you ran into.
      The writing portion is an important part of the job, but so are strong interpersonal skills. If you are looking to get into software documentation, odds are high that you’ll encounter some people who aren’t going to want to give you the time to get what you need for your documentation. I always ask candidates how they handle those situations. I also will be looking to learn about your natural curiosity. My most successful technical writers that have a lot of curiosity about new things and genuinely enjoy learning about new software and subjects.
      When it comes to authoring tools, honestly, I am of the opinion that if you know how to use MS Word and have a solid understanding of HTML paired with a willingness to learn, you’ll be able to pick up most authoring tools with ease.
      I know there is a lot of activity in the Atlanta market currently, and many roles are remote work. As for downsides, in smaller companies, you may be the lone writer, which can be isolating at times. I always recommend for writers in this position to ask to be included in daily stand ups, project check ins, etc so you can get to know people and understand more how the company works to help with at isolation.

    4. Red Lines with Wine*

      As a hiring manager who recently hired an ex-librarian, this is my advice:
      1. Writing samples are a must. An online website/portfolio is even better.
      2. Re-work your resume so it is technical and writing-focused. If it’s crafted for a librarian job, a hiring manager isn’t going to readily see the transferable skills. Make it obvious how you meet the criteria they’re looking for.
      3. Join a TW community (Write the Docs and STC both have Slack groups).
      4. Along with 3, find a mentor. Several STC chapters have mentorship programs.

      You may not be able to land an FTE role right away but look into contract work – a 6- to 12-month contract gig doing tech writing or (TW adjacent) will give you the real world experience you need to make landing your first FTE role that much easier.

      By the way, this gets asked a lot in /r/technicalwriting so check out the threads and wiki there for more tips.

    5. Momma Bear*

      Something to consider is what do they mean by “technical writing”? Some companies are looking for very specific, very detailed, very technical writing. Some are really looking for a Proposal Writer. Some are looking for a Person of All Trades re: communications within the company. Some are looking for a body to do regular reports and write requirements for things like software or SOPs. The reason I mention this is because you may enjoy one kind of writing over another. I really, really, really do not like Proposal Writing and avoid any job with that as a major component.

      You might also do well to learn or be familiar with tools such as SharePoint, Illustrator and/or Photoshop (many writers do not get in-house graphic artists and have to be a little proficient with graphic design), and whatever content management tool they may use (like MadCap Flare).

      Do not be tempted to freelance as a starting writer. IMO, that is a quick path to late nights and a bald head. A lot of companies will outsource the things they hate so you will get the 200 page frankenfile with eleventybillion section breaks that will never format correctly.

      As for where to look – all the usual places. I’ve had better luck with smaller companies. I do agree that if you are a team of one and they aren’t used to there being a you that you need to be proactive in getting in on the ground level of projects. It is not very fun to be told the software release is Tuesday and by the way the contract requires a manual. I will usually get myself a Jira account and lurk to see when a sprint is coming to an end. Your librarian skills may help you there in finding out where the best info comes from. Also, befriend your subject matter experts. One good engineer in your pocket can be gold.

  3. Red Werewolf*

    I’m coming up on a year with my new job and still find myself with a lot of downtime during the day. I thought at first I was being eased into things, because I’m new to this industry, something my boss knows and always says she’s happy to answer my questions, but there just still doesn’t seem to be a lot to do. People have said my predecessor was always busy but no one knows the details of what she did on a daily basis, not even my boss.

    I feel weird asking for more work because I don’t think my boss has anything more to give me; she comes to me with anything she needs, she just didn’t know exactly what my predecessor did. I discovered a task that was assigned to someone else when my predecessor left and when I asked my boss if I should take back the task, she admitted that she’d forgotten about it and agreed I should take it back. So if I can’t really ask for more work because my boss doesn’t know of anything more unless I dig it up, what can I do?

    1. ecnaseener*

      It might be your predecessor was just a slower or less efficient worker than you.

      Can you come up with any projects to improve your processes, create documentation, etc? Are there articles or webinars related to your work you could peruse? (And if that sounds terminally boring, maybe this slow-paced job just isn’t a good fit for you and you should either look for a new one or try to expand your duties.)

    2. Lemon*

      I was in a job like this. I spent a lot of time on professional development opportunities offered by my company (this was suggested to me by my manager). Is that an option for you – maybe you could talk to your boss about that? Also would your boss have any suggestions for how she’d like you to spend your time?

    3. Mng101*

      You need to read David Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs.” This is the dirty little secret of a lot of work now, especially in the office.

    4. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I had a experience like this in a previous job as a Cost Accountant.

      Unknown to me, my predecessor barely knew how to use Excel for anything beyond the basics of plugging numbers from a hard copy Bill of Lading into a spreadsheet. She apparently struggled mightily to do her job in 40 hours/week, which is why she was let go from the position. I am a power Excel user who uses vlookups, pivot tables, macros etc. extensively and was tbh wildly overqualified for the job but I needed it desperately. Within a few months I was regularly done with my duties by 11:30am every day.

      I went to my boss and asked her if there were any other projects outside the scope of my position that I could take on, or at least help with. I started helping out with some data analysis projects that had been on the back burner for years because no one with the skills to tackle them had time, and anyone who had time didn’t have the skill level needed. Once I started working on one or two, others would come to light and I would just ask if I could add them to my workload, of which my boss was happy to do as long as she didn’t have to change my pay or title. I was fine with it for about 5 years, after which I quit for a job much better aligned with my experience.

    5. Gracely*

      Find things to do. Read industry-related articles/books. Do professional development. Read the entirety of AAM’s archives. Write out procedures manuals if there aren’t any for the work you do; if they already exist, look through them and see if anything needs updating. See if there’s any cross-training you can do with other coworkers.

      And if you still have lots of time, take up a hobby you can do discreetly at your desk (writing, reading, sketching, that sort of thing).

    6. amoeba*

      Somehow in line with the thread above: do Coursera/Udemy or even LinkedIn learning have relevant courses for you? My start was somewhat slow and I was basically told “there’s a great course on this programming language, feel free to do it in your downtime” by my supervisor. Can actually employ those skills for my position now, and otherwise probably never would’ve followed though with the course, so that was great.

    7. Questions for me!!*

      @Alison, this is a huge problem I struggle with too!! Can you address this or open it up to the readers? I’d love to hear your recommendations. I’m also curious to hear if professional development things count as “valid work things” or if they’re considered more slacking off. Like are things things you can openly do in front of your boss or are they things you should reserve for the safety of your office?

      1. Spearmint*

        I think good bosses would be ok with you doing professional development in front of them if you run it by them first (so the know you’re spending time on it). So maybe ask your boss if it’s ok to some professional development during work hours? Worst case, if they say no you can still secretly do work form your office in your downtime.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        There are some letters already in the archive! Go to the menu, click on topics, and search within the site for “not enough work”. There are probably more of them will turn up with variations on the search terms too.

    8. Spearmint*

      I’m in a job like this. I have a lot to keep track of, and occasionally I really do need to work a lot (and it’s work only someone who works on the project on a day-to-day basis can do). So while I think my role isn’t a waste for the organization, most days I have like 3-4 hours of work, and some even less than that.

      I think part of it is I’m more efficient and tech savvy than my predecessor, maybe that’s true of you as well?

      Regardless, I spend a decent chunk of my downtime on professional development. I also spend some of the downtime doing chores (I work from home). And yes, some of it is spent on social media/blogs, like AAM.

      You could also propose new projects that you would be primarily responsible for. This won’t work in all office cultures, but I think in some places it would.

    9. quill*

      I had a couple months like that at Last Job, when my workload dropped because two team members went on maternity leave. I used it to learn a bunch of excel stuff.

    10. MPH Researcher*

      As a manager, I love it when my reports let me know they are slow and are looking for additional work. To me it shows that they are committed to the work and looking for more to do – definitely a “go-getter” type of attitude. I can loop them in to help others, assign special projects, add on duties, look for professional development for them, etc. I wouldn’t generally worry about letting your boss know that you are slow as long as it’s paired with a request for additional work – it’ll help out your reputation as someone willing to take things on and learn new things, which is a good step toward promotion in the future.

      At least, that’s how I see it. YMMV with other bosses, of course. ;-)

    11. Lida*

      That was my job for a few months when I started. I used the opportunity to think about what kinds of things I wanted to get experience in, then just asked my manager to be included on those kinds of projects/meetings/tasks. I just listened/observed for a bit, then started helping out, then eventually took over a bunch of projects that I was interested in. Now my job is 100% different than what I was hired to do, but I’m ok with it because I’m doing stuff I want to keep learning.

  4. Cranberry sauce*

    Low stakes question, but I’m interested in hearing your perspectives. When’s the right time to talk to your manager about vacation plans?

    It’s been 2 months since I joined my (European) company, and I have 3+ workweeks of vacation leave for this calendar year. I can roll over some amount to next year but probably not all of it, besides, I’d like to go on a vacation sometime this year. I was planning it for the end of the year so that it doesn’t seem like I’m already thinking about a vacation just 2 months into the job :) I would probably broach the topic sometime in Jul/Aug to allow myself time to get my flights, stay, and visas in place for a Nov/Dec trip. However I don’t want to get to July and then find out that we have a huge deliverable at the end of the year or that we’ll be left with no coverage if I go on leave. I tried asking my teammates but they’re pretty new so they don’t know much either. Thoughts on when and how I should talk to my manager about this so that it doesn’t look like I’m bringing up leave plans too soon? I’m also concerned that I may not be giving him enough notice if I only tell him 4 months out. Maybe relevant to this is that my previous firm would ask us to inform them of approximate vacation plans at the start of the year, so that they could arrange for coverage. I don’t know if that’s a common expectation though so happy to get a reality check on that!

    If it matters: I will definitely not use up the entire allotment this year, I was thinking around 7-10 workdays off with the rest rolled over. I don’t work in Europe but my manager does, and he (+ the org in general) is quite supportive of work-life balance.

    1. BCC*

      Speaking as a US employee at a European company with a European manager, bring it up in your next 1:1!!! I’m sure they won’t mind as much as you think they might. With a new manager, I have typically phrased it as: I know the summer holiday months are coming up and I’m hoping to get an idea of how you handle holidays on the team and how you would like me to approach this time. Or be more specific if you already have dates in mind!

      This opens the door for any philosophy they may have or allows them to tell you to go for it! As most of Europe takes a 2-3 week chunk in or around August, you will not stick out. In fact, most European managers I’ve interacted with will chose you for not using your holiday days.

      Just make sure your unused days do roll over.

      1. BCC*

        That should read chide instead of chose.

        One other thought- if your team is mostly Europe based, take advantage of those slow summer times to get work done without normal distractions! It’s really great to have a slower work month and then head out on vacation shortly after everyone returns!

    2. londonedit*

      I don’t think there’s any reason why you can’t speak to your manager now, just to suss out the situation – two months is plenty of time to have been there, it’s not like you’re booking holiday the day after you arrived! There’s no harm in saying that you’re planning your calendar for the rest of the year and you wanted to check in advance that it wouldn’t be a clash if you wanted to take some leave in November. November is ages away!

      Also check how much time you can roll over – where I work we get 25 days and we can roll over 5 of those but no more. And I’d thoroughly suggest taking as much leave as possible (obviously saving some to roll over if that’s what you want to do). Holiday is there to be used and no reasonable boss/colleagues will think less of you for taking your leave allowance.

      1. londonedit*

        Oh, also forgot to mention that if we roll over holiday then we have to take it by 31 March the following year (our holiday year goes 1st Jan-31st Dec so you get three months to use anything you take over), so check whether there’s a rule like that in place too.

      2. Loulou*

        Agreed! OP is overthinking it — I’m not sure why it would be bad to seem like you’re “already thinking” about vacation when you’ve started a new job. Vacations take a lot of time to plan and it’s normal to do it in advance!

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’d say that it’s perfectly normal (for me, at least) to think about longer vacations 6-12 months ahead of time. And no one should be surprised, especially European employers/managers, that an employee wants to take a long(er?) vacation once a year. So I don’t think it’s too early to ask informally, and say you’re starting to price flights to probably book them over the summer. I track some flights on Google Flights for a long time, I find it’s helpful.

      1. KateM*

        I think in my own European country, taking at least 1 or 2 weeks in row at least once a year is LAW.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, in Finland it’s not law, but it is in the collective agreements of the vast majority of fields. Collective agreements also apply to both unionized and non-unionized employees. The unions and employer organizations negotiate them, and everyone follows them, it’s illegal not to.

          We just hired a few new employees, and they’re entitled to take out 2 vacation days for every month that they’ve been working for us, so even they’ll get at least a week off in late summer.

    4. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      From my perspective as a manager, I love having more lead time on this stuff. For example, if you’re planning a summer vacation, your manager will likely already have a sense of whether your absence will create problems with coverage or not for a given week. Taking into account the things you’ve outlined here about is their job, and they will decline the request if it would create huge operational problems.

      You’ll have the best sense of how approachable your boss is but I’d suggest this is a case of “ask them what works best in this workplace.” I bet it’s less of an issue than you are worried about it being.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same — if we’re talking more than 1-2 days off, the more notice you can give me the better. One of my team members is going back to her home country in October for three weeks to visit her family for the first time in five years, and she came to me to get it on the PTO calendar back in December.

        On the other hand, the one who gave me a week’s notice that she wanted to take two weeks off kinda burned a little goodwill. (I was able to make it work for her, but she had known about her plans, had tickets etc for several months and deliberately made the PTO request her last to-do, her thought process being “if I’m not meant to go, my manager won’t approve the time off.” Like, what am I, your lucky quarter to flip? :P )

    5. Lilith*

      In my opinion, it would be fine to ask now, especially as at this point you’re more asking about norms in the office rather than booking specific leave dates. It’s usually been something I bring up in my first 6 weeks or so, with the idea that it’s better to be clear on these kinds of things before it becomes necessary – things like how they approach leave, how should I inform them if I’m taking a sick day, how do they deal with time off for appointments, etc.

      In my current company, as long as there are no urgent tasks or deadlines I can take up to two weeks leave at a time with very little notice. Longer than that does need to be arranged further out, but assuming you know your own workload best they’re very unlikely to not agree the leave. My manager just confirmed the other day that he’ll be taking all of May off :)

    6. amoeba*

      Yep, in Europe asking now is very normal and reasonable. If we don’t take our holiday, there will definitely be emails reminding us. There even an informal rule that we’re supposed to take two weeks in a row at least once a year.

      Also, I’m pretty sure nobody would bat an eye if you take it in the summer – that’s when almost everybody is on holiday, after all, they’ll probably be confused if you don’t. (Of course that’s fine as well – one guy in my team doesn’t take any summer holiday and instead takes all of December off!)

      Bottom line: better to ask early so there’s no problem with coverage, and once that’s clear, take whatever works best for you!

    7. anonymous73*

      Bring it up now. Even though you’ve only been there for a few months, it’s okay to give them a heads up on what you were thinking and get their feedback on potential issues with that time of year. “I was considering taking my vacation at the end of this year, Nov/Dec time frame. Is there any reason that may be an issue?”

      One of my developers told me a few months back that she was planning on taking 4 weeks of this summer. I don’t think people need to ask permission to take time off, but this is longer than a typical vacation and it pissed me off that she thought she could just tell me she would be off for the month of July.

      1. PoisonIvy*

        Why did it piss you off? Genuine question. If she asked you a couple of months ago, she gave plenty of lead time, especially considering most companies’ holiday years start in Jan or Feb.

      2. allathian*

        If she has the vacation accrued, she should be allowed to take it in bigger or smaller chunks. Obviously it depends on the company culture, but I wouldn’t want to work in an organization where taking 4 weeks off in a row would be an issue, which is why I’d never want to work in the US.

        In spite of what you said, it sounds like you do think that people need to ask permission to take time off, given how you reacted to your report’s announcement. Or do you honestly think you would’ve reacted any differently if she’d announced her plans to take a perhaps more typical week or two off in July instead of the whole month? I’m not being snarky here, just asking an honest question.

        1. P*

          Where I work, the attitude to someone just telling their manager their vacation dates varies a lot by length of break.
          1-2 days: Just put it in the calendar – don’t even bother with a separate email / heads up
          1-2 weeks: “Hey, here’s my vacation plans. I’ve made sure it works for my projects but let me know if there’s any issues” and wait for a “sounds good”.
          3+ weeks: “Would it be ok if…?”
          I had a manager a couple of years ago who took 6 weeks off in the summer. He’d carried over more than the maximum due to a huge release at the end of December so he’d had to cancel all his Christmas plans (I believe he didn’t log in on the 25th but did every other day including weekends). That one took 3 months and went up to the partner (managed ~1500 employees) to get approved.

    8. Koala dreams*

      It varies a lot how companies plan vacation. Some places do like your last company, some require X weeks advance notice, some companies have set vacation periods where you can choose between early or late period (for example, either Christmas week or New Year week).

      It’s common for companies to offer different benefits in different countries, so if you’re in US and your boss is in Europe they might not know all the details. In that case, ask to see the written policy or ask HR.

    9. SelinaKyle*

      UK companies (I don’t know if it’s the same for the rest of Europe) usually only let you roll over 3-5 days into the next holiday year.
      Some employers ask for 3 months notice for longer holidays and you usually can’t take more than 3 weeks without prior approval. However most are quite flexible. Some companies also make you save 3 days to use over the Christmas period for the days between Christmas and new year that aren’t public holidays.
      Book a holiday and enjoy!

    10. Green Goose*

      I like to give a lot of notice when I want to take a week+ off. I extended my winter break and I think I told my boss over six months ahead of time because it was really important to me and my family that we get that time. It helped with last meeting meetings and summits, because it was already on my calendar.

    11. Hillary*

      Late response – my EMEAI colleagues are used to making vacation plans very early. I agree bring it up in your next 1:1. By Europe standards this is just good planning, especially if you don’t want to take time off during “normal” holiday time in August.

  5. Anon for this one*

    It’s been a long friggin week.

    On Monday I had to have a super uncomfortable convo with our COO explaining why “j*pped” is a slur and not OK to use in a work email.

    On Wednesday during our company-wide Town Hall, the president of our company was asked via the chat how employees can ask for help when dealing with a toxic manager. The president, to whom the askers were NOT anonymous, jumped in to say quite sharply “I know your manager and they aren’t toxic at all.” And…. no one seems to realize how colossally bad that was.

    1. MI Dawn*

      “j*pped” or “gy*ed”? I’ve never seen it spelled with a J (and always happy to learn regional spellings!) and only learned recently myself that it’s a slur (and I’m…ummm….let’s just say I fall in the Boomer population segment). I guess because in the US where I’ve lived (midwest and northeast) we don’t have a large Romani population.

      1. Anon for this one*

        The misspelled slur, yeah. I know it’s not as well known in the US which is how I approached it with her, but she still got overly defensive which was frustrating. Ma’am, you’re C-suite and you used a slur, put on your big girl pants and deal with it.

        1. This Old House*

          Oh, interesting! I was reading it with an “a” for the asterisk and was kind of confused. So clearly a slur, but also, not usually a verb . . . ?

          1. Siege*

            No, it’s a verb. Someone “g*pped” you. The version with jy makes sense as a phonetic spelling of the other.

            1. Wisteria*

              When the * stands for an “a”, it’s a whole different slur, which is not usually used as a verb.

      2. londonedit*

        A lot of people do think the word is ‘jip’ and don’t make the connection with the Romani community until it’s pointed out. But when it is pointed out, the correct response is ‘Oh my god, I had NO idea that’s where that came from! I’ll stop using it!’, not defensiveness.

        1. Green Goose*

          That’s what I had always thought growing up, but I also haven’t heard that word used in regular vocabulary since I was in elementary/middle school (over 20 years). I definitely did not know that j*p had any connotation with the Romani community until college and at that point I was not really hearing people say it anymore.

    2. JelloStapler*

      Oh my gosh, I am so sorry on both counts. Sounds like your C-Suite is woefully idiotic.

    3. AE*

      Um, wow. To both of those.

      I’m sorry for your bad week and hope that next one is better (with some job-searching, maybe? some real big red flags happening).

      1. Anon for this one*

        The thing is I like my job and I adore my boss, but the company is truly in the shitter. They’ve gotten pretty much uniform feedback that the reason why we’re hemorrhaging employees is that we overwork our employees without paying them competitively and rushing the return to office and yet they’re still not making adjustments. Frustrating.

    4. Thoughts*

      If the words “toxic manager” were actually used the the question, the president was right to shut it down, though he should’ve offered a more private avenue for employees to use regarding poor management. A Town Hall can turn into Company-wide Complaining Fest very quickly, especially when throwing around pointed language like “toxic”. You really do not want everyone to start airing every grievance they have with their coworkers and managers posed as “what do I do if I have a (toxic, lazy, aggressive, underperforming) (coworker, manager, subordinate) who (details of exactly what they do)?”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        But the president didn’t shut it down because it wasn’t the right place to air that problem. The president made a point of saying “You don’t have a problem because I don’t see a problem.” And now they definitely have a president problem.

        I do agree that was a questionable time to raise that issue, though – it’s not clear what the asker hoping to accomplish since Town Halls generally aren’t for that kind of individual help.

      2. Littorally*

        Nah, the president was 100% not right to shut it down, and especially not right to shut it down in that way.

    5. Doctors Whom*

      I once had to yank a very senior person out of a room (who was my grandboss, and a Fellow at our tech org) while we were teaching a class together and tell him that he could not use the phrase “t*r baby”.

      1. N.J.*

        Now that is not a slur you hear every day. I’d like to say that I’m surprised, but as a POC, yeah, I’m not surprised.

        1. Doctors Whom*

          He had no idea it was a slur. Like was gobsmacked. And then tried to argue with me that since he didn’t mean it as a slur, it was ok.

          I awarded him no points.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            It evolved into a slur.The story that I learned it from creates a vivid image of a sticky situation that could easily have been avoided.

            But since the phrase has taken on a toxic meaning, it’s better to avoid getting it all over oneself.

  6. Camellia*

    I know it’s beneficial for your resume to omit all but your last 10 to 15 years of work experience, especially to combat age discrimination, and I work in IT so that matters. But what if you’ve only worked four jobs in your entire professional career, one of which is long term and one which was VERY long term? All are in the same industry, so the wealth of experience that I have is a plus. I’m at retirement age and don’t want to retire because my work is exciting and creative, but even though I now work for a great company I may need to change jobs soon due to a possible relocation.

    Here’s my work history:

    Current job: 2010 to present (12 years – does business in only 1 state)

    Six month contract: 2010

    Ten month contract: 2008 – 2009

    First job: 1988 – 2008* (20 years, laid off when company was bought – does business in 27 states, each with their own rules and regs)

    *I actually started with this company in 1980 and quit when I had my daughter in 1984, then came back to work for them in 1988. So I’m already leaving off that first chunk of time. But I don’t see how I can leave off the 1988-2008 span entirely, because not only does that seriously misrepresent my knowledge and experience, it feels weird to seem to be saying that I started my career with two short term contracts. And I especially can’t see how I could legitimately list it as a shorter period of time, like “1998 – 2008” (10 years), but maybe that would be an okay thing to do?

    1. Elspeth*

      Did you have multiple titles/roles during your time with First Job? If so, could you just list the last title you held there and the dates for that?

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      a) You can just leave First Job off. Don’t worry about the length of two short jobs. And in the interview, if you use stories from the First Job, you just mention that it was from a long while back. Or just save that old job for amusing anecdotes in the break room.
      b) You can create a second section called “Other Work Experience” and list the older jobs very briefly and with no dates.
      c) You can divide First Job up into sections by job title (assuming that you moved up the ranks) and then in the work experience you just say “Job Title #3, at First Job 2005-2008” or whatever as if it was its own little experience and accidently leave off all the junior years. They’ll figure out that you didn’t emerge from Zeus’ head fully formed, and that you probably had other experience before that, but won’t actually care where you did the forming.

    3. OtterB*

      My vote would be to leave it and lean into the value of your experience. My husband, who is at retirement age, recently changed jobs (engineering, not tech, and government, which is probably better about age discrimination than most, so may not apply to you) and he’s learned that one of the things that they liked about his resume was his experience at a company he left close to 25 years ago.

    4. irene adler*

      Why do you have to list your entire job history on the resume?

      Can you list just the current job and then have a larger education or knowledge/expertise section that would cover skills/knowledge obtained at prior positions? Do employers need to know WHERE you got the knowledge or that you HAVE the knowledge? That way you look like you have 12 years experience, not 30+ years.
      (remember, I’m not in software, so maybe this won’t fly)

      I’m dealing with a lot of age discrimination myself. My experience: the shorter the length of time listed in the job history, the greater the response I get. The full history got me nowhere.

      1. Hunnybee*

        I have the exact same experience. I left everything prior to 2006 off my resume now, and — voila — I get so much interest in my application, vs when I had 22 years of experience listed on my resume (which wasn’t even the full timeline).

        It’s the saddest and most infuriating thing, honestly. The experience we’ve had is so valuable and ageism is the stupidest thing, given that everyone is aging all the time. Sad that experience isn’t valued but is instead dismissed.

        1. Miss Ames*

          Hunnybee wrote: “It’s the saddest and most infuriating thing, honestly. The experience we’ve had is so valuable and ageism is the stupidest thing, given that everyone is aging all the time. Sad that experience isn’t valued but is instead dismissed.”

          I completely agree!!! I feel that I have so much knowledge and experience to draw upon, having starting working as a teen in the 1980s, finishing my education in 1991, and then joining the “regular” workforce.

          1. quill*

            It’s so weird that the hiring sweet spot seems to be 5-7 years of experience up to an arbitrary point before 20 years. I’m assuming it’s a function of trying to get candidates for the least salary.

            1. Filosofickle*

              Yes, it seems like 5-15 is the most desirable window. It’s the balance of enough experience to be self-directed or lead, without perceptions of age and expense.

          2. Hunnybee*

            Absolutely (and, you and I share a timeline)! We GenXers actually lived through the creation of the early internet, the dotcom boom and bust, etc. Although technology has evolved, trends repeat, and our understanding of the history helps us make more measured decisions (or, theoretically, SHOULD). Millennials didn’t invent the internet, by the way.

        2. ffs*

          As a Gen Xer I love being able to pull out stealth knowledge that dropped off my resume long ago and new employers/younger coworkers seem to think is jedi sht. But yeah, it would be nice to have experience equated with knowledge, not obsolescence.

    5. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      I think that you could focus on the last 12 years and what you have accomplished there, since it’s more relevant anyway (you work in IT, so I’m assuming that the latter years matter more because technology has evolved so much). I know your experience in the workforce matters also, but maybe not as much. After all, 12 years is a long time at one company. So I would list all your accomplishments at your most recent job and, if you must, I would list the most-relevant older positions underneath (not necessarily with dates) if there’s anything that needs listing. Or you can just reference them in the cover letter, no dates needed there. You could say something like “worked at IBM in the development of the first-generation chip” (don’t come at me, I’m not THAT tech-savvy), but only if you’re developing chips now and you’re the head chip developer of all time forever and ever… :-)

      Now, you didn’t say that there’s something specifically in your older positions that you’re trying to target (like management of people or things that you may not be doing now, like that chip scenario). But between your latest role and any education/training you have received lately, I think you have a good resume without including any other positions. I wouldn’t go back into the 80s. Like it or not, there is still some age discrimination – even if it’s subconscious.

    6. Brownie*

      When I was up for promotion recently leaving jobs off my resume actually lost me money. I have 18+ years of IT experience, but only had the last 14 years of jobs on my resume so HR said that I should only be paid at the 14 year experience pay band. Beware of the possible impact on salary when thinking about how much job history to put on the resume, it’ll probably need to be tailored for each position based on what the position wants.

      I don’t see why someone couldn’t leave off the first x years of a job position if they wanted, you’re not padding your experience level which would be dishonesty for profit. If the new company called up to verify employment and the old company said “Oh, yes, Camellia worked for us from 1988-2008” when your resume says 1998-2008? More than likely the interviewer would think it just a typo or the old company reading the record wrong because it’s not something that would be beneficial to you in terms of salary.

    7. FenomAnon*

      I am soon to be in a similar position, but worse(?) and better(?). I have been with my current employer since 2001. I could legit chop that to 2006 because they sold a business and I moved with them to their new venture. They are retiring the end of this year and unless I want to buy their shares in a struggling company for a ridiculously unrealistic sum, it will probably be dissolved.

      I am quite a few years from retirement age, but still in the potential for age discrimination bracket. Then add in my reference company will no longer exist . . .

      The experience prior to that is a mishmash of temp jobs, server jobs, and retail jobs.

      1. MJ*

        Just because the company might no longer exist, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a reference from there. If your (soon to be) retired boss is willing to be a reference, you can provide their personal email / phone number to the hiring manager, with a note that they closed the company down when they retired.

    8. anonymous73*

      I would keep it on there since you were there for so long. I’ve been working professionally since 1995 and I’ve kept all of my work history on my resume (which is still less than 2 pages). I’ve always worked in IT, but moved from developer to Project Manager over that time, so I feel it’s relevant.

    9. Public Sector Manager*

      As with all great answers, it depends. If you’re worried about age discrimination in the transition, definitely just have the current job. But if you’re highlighting your experience in the field and that experience is a selling point, leave it in. I would definitely merge the 10-month contract and the 6-month contract to be more like “Independent Contractor 2008-2010” than discuss each separately. You could do the same for job #1 and list the dates “1980-1984, 1988-2008.”

      It all depends on who your audience is and what you’re transitioning into.

  7. DataGirl*

    How do people handle job titles on resumes that have absolutely nothing to do with your actual job duties? For example, let’s say your title is Project Manager but you actually mainly do data entry and assist your colleagues with reports. The job duties are so far from the title that the title is meaningless, but if you put a different title it won’t match if an interviewer does a verification with your current/previous job.

    For the sake of this question, let’s assume you can’t get your job title changed to reflect what you actually do.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Use the correct title and hope that hiring managers actually look at the bullets. If they’re decent at hiring, they’re looking at the type of work you did.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Alison has answered some similar questions in the past, so you may find good advice in these letters/comments sections:

      “using a different title than your real one on your resume” posted January 8, 2009

      “titles that don’t match job duties” posted November 8, 2012

      “do job titles matter?” posted July 25, 2019

      I’ll post the links in a follow-up comment.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Two thoughts:

      1. there can sometimes be a way to use a title that isn’t your formal one but something anyone at the company would recognize as the thing DataGirl was doing, so instead of Project Manager it might be Report Co-ordinator … the idea is that you’re being honest about what you did and describing yourself as colleagues and other might have.

      2. another way to do this can be to be more explicit about the job in your cover letter and/or general description line at the top of your resume. Think about using things like “the go-to person when colleagues needed report reviews” or “experienced with juggling data entry with duties to the team” to explain what you were doing, which has then primed the person reviewing your file before they reach the “Project Manager” line on your resume.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I have this issue. I was laid off from a job in the middle of getting HR to change my title. Sigh. So… I was a “training analyst” because years prior, the department had been called Training. They had changed the department name twice since then, but I was still stuck with the outdated title. So on my resume, I list Training Analyst (Senior Analyst) to make it clear what the role really was.

    5. Data Nerd*

      I have a title that is so confusing and doesn’t exist outside my company. So instead of title, I use functions, depending upon the company where I’m applying.

      Something like:

      Employer Name
      Research & Evaluation

      or

      Employer Name
      Really Weird Title
      Portfolio includes: research, evaluation, training & technical assistance

      1. Siege*

        Ooh, I like your second example. I have a bog-standard title but a huge area of responsibility, much larger than the title implies, and bulleting out the accomplishments makes it a very long entry.

    6. Zee*

      A few options…
      List yourself as Real Title/Accurate Title – in your example, something like Project Manager/Data & Reporting Specialist.
      List your title as something that is close your real title but slightly more accurate, and will get the keywords you want noticed in there: Project & Data Manager, Project Data Manager, Project & Reporting Manager, Project Reporting Manager

      People use shortened versions of their titles all the time, so if someone called to verify, I don’t think it would send up big red flags if you used one of the above on your resume and on the phone your employer referred to you as just Project Manager.

      For what it’s worth: I had a boss once who consistently referred to me by the wrong title (my official title was accurate, the one she called me was not), and it never caused any problems with employment verification.

    7. Wisteria*

      I don’t even put my title. I put the names of projects I worked on.

      Company 1
      Tank Mounted Llama
      bullets
      The Weather Llama
      bullets

      Company 2
      Weatherproof Rice Sculpture
      bullets
      Millet for Days
      bullets

  8. MeTwoToo*

    I wrote on a Friday thread asking for advice about leaving my 13 year position for a new job after the business was sold. Several people recommended I go for it and also said, what if the co-workers I was staying for ended up leaving which really struck a chord with me. The day I gave my notice the other department Director walked out. The next day they fired my boss. As of today, only one of the 11 original management team remains.

    I took two weeks off in between the positions to decompress and just cope with everything. During that time two past bosses called to offer me positions, but I told them I had accepted an offer and wanted to honor that.

    I started my new job on a Monday. Unfortunately, the boss I had interviewed with was let go during my notice period and several of the things I was promised were no longer happening. The new person had a completely different vision and went back and forth on his decisions with me even in the first 24 hours. The coworkers seemed nice, but I was very uncomfortable with the feel of the whole place and the leadership. Despite it being a months notice, I still hadn’t been assigned a workspace or office and kept being told they were ‘trying to work something out’. This was for a department Director position. The whole thing felt very unstable with red flags all over.

    I reached out to one of my old bosses and met with her the next day. At the end of the third day I resigned and accepted the other position. I spoke with HR, told them the fit wasn’t good, discussed what I was promised and what was now reality and told them I didn’t want to waste anymore of their time training when I wasn’t staying. I felt a bit guilty for not trying harder to make it work, but just couldn’t see myself being happy there.

    It was quite the rollercoaster ride, but everything turned out for the best. I’m now with a boss I trust and a few members of my old team as well. It’s even closer to my house than the first job. It’s been a couple of weeks and I’ve been brought onboard and able to be productive from day one. And while the first job offered me a 12% raise, this one is 33% up from my original salary. So thanks to everyone for all their advice!

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you did really well throughout all these changes! I’m really impressed that you decided to leave the new job- it had so many red flags, it did not sound healthy. I probably would have stayed and been worse off for it, so kudos to you!

    2. JelloStapler*

      Good for you- hopefully the company realizes they shot themselves in the foot with disorganization, or maybe it was just the wrong time in the midst of a lot of their transition. I am glad you had the chance to change your plans!

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Good for you. Sometimes new jobs are a bad fit from day 1, and you did the right thing by recognizing that. I stayed in a bad fit position trying to make it work and it was a huge mistake. Way to go!

    4. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Wow…quite a roller coaster indeed! Glad you landed in a better job even if it took a few twists and turns to get there :)

  9. trilusion*

    Long time reader, but this is my first open thread post! Hi everyone!

    My question: Are there any Linkedin best practices you swear by?

    After years of resisting digital networking platforms, I give in because it seems it is – after all – a simpler way to keep up with people than email, text etc. So I’ve finally created an account and googled “10 best beginner tips for Linkedin” and so on, but there seem to be quite a lot of advice, and also contradicting advice. In the AAM archives, I found funny stories but not really advice for beginners.

    So what exactly makes sense to fill out? What doesn’t? How much do contacts or recruiters check? How many skills make sense, 10 or 100? Are there a few profile items you think have the most value when looking at other people’s profiles?

    For context, I’m in a European country, in IT project management / agile coaching. I want to use the account to keep track of networking contacts, have an easier way to keep in contact than via email, and maaaaaaybe eventually use it for job searching (in a few years, I am currently happy where I am).

    1. ferrina*

      I like using LinkedIn as a longer resume. It shows my entire work history and a few short bullets about each (not a ton). I use LinkedIn to review potential candidates/contacts to see what they’ve done that’s not on their resume and get a fuller view of their experience. (I’m in the U.S.)

      1. trilusion*

        Thank you! I like the idea of keeping linkedin as a long, detailed resume and only sending out actual resumes with key entries. (So far, I have tailored my resume to wherever I applied, but never left anything off, but instead reduced the space it takes up / blew up the bullet points where it was important for the job)

    2. cubone*

      Interested in this question as well. I do think it’s very industry specific though – for example, in my work, the skills section of Linkedin is not something I’d ever give much credence too, as it’s a communications type role and thus a lot of “soft” skills. It’s much better to have examples from jobs of HOW they used those skills in practice than just “public speaking skills”. But I could imagine for IT/PM/agile, skills could be a much more important section?

      1. trilusion*

        Thank you! I’ve also stalked some people’s profiles to look at their skills and it’s essentially what you say – some are so soft or generalistic that it doesn’t really make sense to list them.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Focus on what you want people to know about you.

      The number of skills you check doesn’t matter as much as checking really relevant ones. Eg. You’re in IT Project Management, use IT and project management skills, but not MS Word and Excel. No one who is searching for an IT Project Manager will use those terms in their search.

      Get your work history in. Use your resume/CV for content for now.

      Use the “About” Section for your “elevator speech” — a quick story about who you are, what you do, and why you’re good at it. Sometimes an “origin story” is a nice thing to tuck in — something that talks a bit about how you got here.

      Then, as you start pivoting to being open to change, you can just quietly flesh it out with the things you’re looking for.

      1. trilusion*

        Thank you, especially the “what I want people to know about me” part. Linkedin has pressured me to “fill this and that out so I can be a superstar profile” or whatever, and this is a good reminder to use this tool as what it is.

    4. Savvy*

      Caveat that I am not a LinkedIn expert, but I have worked on my profile and engagement on that platform for several years and have learned a few things. Personally I think it’s helpful to fill out pretty much every section that’s relevant to you, but I don’t put any effort into the “skills” section to be honest. I have a few skills that people have endorsed for me, but it’s so subjective in my opinion I’m not sure how helpful it is for recruiters or others who may be looking. I think the most important 3 things are to have 1) a straight forward “headline” that describes your job/current profession, 2) a brief About section that gives the reader a good grasp on your expertise and why you enjoy the work, and 3) thoroughly completed “Experience” (work history) section. Oh, and a clear, professional photo of yourself!

      Like you, I am open to using it in the future to potentially get a new job, so I make sure to always be a little active on the platform to show that I’m still there. I try to make value-adding comments on other’s posts, and when I do share a post, I try to make sure it’s something helpful/relevant to my “network”. I often repost job opportunities that I think are interesting and from good employers in case others in my network might want to look into them. I post about local professional events related to my industry. Occasionally I post an industry-related news article and offer my short opinion on it, or post it with a question meant to start some discussion. Once in a while I find a funny meme about my industry and sometimes I post those, usually on Fridays since it’s a “fun” post. Honestly all of my most viewed posts are memes!

      1. trilusion*

        *writes down* Share a lot of cat memes. Got it!
        Thanks for your input, esp. keeping on being active. I’m not a social media person at all but I guess a few likes here and there are manageable!

    5. Purple Jello*

      For what it’s worth, here are my tips:
      1. About section: use this section to summarize your work history, goals or both. Use it like an informal cover letter to let people know who you are.
      2. Experience section: can be direct from your resume, or more of a storyline of the job. I’d keep it short
      3. Accepting people into your network: If it’s someone I know, especially if related to my career, I accept. If it’s someone connected and they’re in my field, I usually connect. If I have no connection to them, their company, or their line of business, I decline.
      4. Skills section: fun, but not necessarily meaningful. You can rearrange them so the ones you want to reinforce are on top of the list.
      5. Adjust privacy settings to suit your needs. For example: There used to be a setting you could change to indicate you were actively looking for a new position; I don’t know if it’s still there. I always left it as “open to discuss” or something like that. I have had to field some inquiries from recruiters when I’m not looking, but this way I never had change alerts from ‘not looking’ to ‘looking’. I’ve also heard about positions that I’ve passed on to other contacts in my field who I knew were looking.
      6. Join some industry groups and follow some discussions. Quit the groups that just have spam, but there are sometimes great articles and discussions, and some groups are wonderful places to ask industry questions and make contacts.
      7. Turn off notifications.

    6. Em from CT*

      I’m not an expert user, but I will say that I do check people’s LinkedIn profiles when I’m hiring. It’s less a “make sure their resume matches their LinkedIn” check and more a “hey, do we have any connections in common?” check; sometimes I get interesting tidbits I can bring up in interviews.

    7. ronda*

      I use the messaging feature to contact people from old jobs when I am in town. much easier than other contact info. Also use Facebook messaging the same way for cousins and other relatives and friends.

  10. The Wizard Rincewind*

    My spouse wants to change careers and I’m freaking out.

    He’s so unhappy in his current position, which comes with a nice title and paycheck, and wants to pivot to a different field entirely. This would entail starting at the bottom of the ladder.

    I’m supportive of his ambitions and we can swing the cut in pay for a while. But it’s a big change and I don’t do well with big changes! If someone has a good success story about how much happier/successful they are (and how much they appreciate their supportive spouse), please share. I’d love to hear how it worked out for you.

    1. Jay*

      I’ve been both the switcher and the spouse. I didn’t change fields – I left a toxic and abusive j0b to start my own practice. I’m the primary breadwinner. I was off work completely for ten months and then my income dropped to less than 50% of what it was for the first year as we were building the practice. That time we had to downsize both for financial and logistical reasons – we bought a smaller house much closer to my work. We also had a toddler. I won’t lie: it was a tough decision and there was a lot of stress along the way. But the first day I walked into my own office to see my own patients and was able to manage both my time and my work the way I wanted to – it was AMAZING. I remembered that I actually love practicing medicine when I’m not beholden to a misogynistic, abusive boss. When I walked in the door that evening, my husband said “I haven’t seen you this happy on a work day in – well, ever.” It was hands down the best thing I could have done for myself and for my family.

      Two years later he decided to leave a tenured academic position for a completely new career. He took about a 30% pay cut and obviously lost the job security that comes with tenure. He had been increasingly miserable, anxious, and depressed in academia. Since my income had rebounded a bit by then, we didn’t have to make the same kind of financial changes. We did refinance the house to reduce our mortgage payments and we were able to cut back on some childcare expenses because he was working much closer to home and had a lot of flexibility in the new job. And we had pretty much the same experience: he came home one day the first week and I was suddenly reminded how much more fun it was to be married to someone who was happy.

      tl;dr: scary as hell, both times, and utterly, totally worth it. I’d do it again in a minute, and so would he.

    2. cubone*

      similar to Jay: not really big career changes but both my partner and I left toxic jobs with no prospects (at different times, thankfully!). I know the practicalities of life, like money, need to be considered, but I remember seeing my doctor while in toxic job to talk about mental health and then 6 months after quitting and she said she wishes she could write a prescription for people to quit jobs they hate because it has so much more of an impact on their health and well-being than we are willing to recognize. I don’t know if it’s a good workplace and he’s just unhappy in the role, or if it’s not a good workplace, but something to consider. I consider my partner’s incredible supportiveness in encouraging me to leave my job to be one of the greatest gifts they’ve given me and I’m definitely much better for it all around.

      Re: the ladder – the best thing I ever heard early in my career was “it’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you WANT to climb than halfway up one you don’t.”

      Lastly, I feel like I’ve said this in many responses over the last few months but career counselling!!! It’s such an underappreciated tool in transitions and I think possible people just think it’s resume editing and tests that say “be a plumber”?? A good career counsellor will help him talk through his wants, needs, the realities of making a switch (eg. money, more training, time to move up) and your relationship. Some even ask partners/spouses to participate in the process by filling out surveys or attending a session with them. If you have the option to use someone who has a counselling psychology background and specializes in career transitions, do it.

    3. AE*

      I hear you on the big changes! I know this isn’t directly related to your question, but aside from the pay cut, which sounds like you both can handle for a bit, are there specific things about his prospective career change that you’re worried about, that you can talk about in advance with him? (Longer hours, spending time/money on training, possible location change, more stress for him/you, changes to your home life, etc.)

    4. Koli*

      I’d just say, make sure he’s solving the right problem. If the issue is a job, can he get another job in the same industry with the appropriate seniority and compensation? IOW, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      1. The Wizard Rincewind*

        Totally valid concern, but he’s sure he’s in an industry that isn’t making him happy. We’ve had a lot of discussions on that topic. Possibly relevant info is that we’re both in our mid-30s and he earned his degree almost two years ago with the intention of moving into the industry that matches his education. Then his boss got him to stay with an excellent promotion. However, that promotion hasn’t made him happy and he still wants to change jobs. So he’ll be moving into entry-level jobs that he went to school for.

    5. Lunch Ghost*

      Shortly before I was born my dad left a well-paid but toxic job for one that paid less. My mom still talks about how she was totally supportive because my dad was turning into someone she didn’t recognize (mental + physical health issues they were pretty sure were stress-related) and it was well worth the “cost” to get the man she married back.

      Incidentally, he ended up liking the new company so much he stayed for 20+ years.

    6. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      In 2007 I left a relatively high-paying job to run my own small, niche business full time. Went from making $40K to less than $12K a year, but I was following my bliss and my husband was incredibly supportive. I did it for about 3 years before going back to a traditional desk job, as I was getting burned out and we couldn’t swing it any more financially without going into major debt. I took the first job I was offered at about 1/3 less than I was making at my former day job.

      It did take me a few years to catch up to where I would have been salary-wise had I never left/stepped down, but I’m now working as a Project Manager and making substantially more than I ever have. I landed a position with a 20% increase in 2020 and just started a new one in January with a 40% increase over that one. My husband and I are now on equal footing salary-wise for the first time in our marriage, and we are very financially stable and happy.

      I’m not sure what your ages are, but it’s only now at 51 that I’m beginning to feel like I should stop hopping around and stay put, especially since I have such a good position and pay right now, and retirement is right around the corner. In the past 19 years I have had 7 different jobs while my spouse has had the same one the whole time! I think we balance each other out really well in this respect, and have always felt that you spend too much of your life at work to be miserable while you’re doing it.

    7. pancakes*

      I think it would be more pragmatic to look at the prospects for new entrants in the field he wants to move into rather than gather stories from people who may have moved into entirely different fields with an entirely different roadmap to getting a decent paycheck and decent quality of life. No?

    8. Green Goose*

      Ohh, I like this one because I’m in the same boat as your husband. I have a job where I’m making more than I ever expected to make, and I’m paid well for my industry. If I were to leave my company and go to another similar one I’d likely take a 10%-25% pay cut, which sucks. I’m just getting really burnt down and want to take time off to work part-time but we live in a high COL area and have one kid and one on the way. My husband is in a more lucrative career than me but is currently paid the same as me (combo of me being paid well and he could probably go to another org and make 20%-50% more than his current salary)
      My husband hasn’t totally shot down me moving to part-time but he is content with the current income we make and doesn’t want us to start worrying about money, which I get. I just wouldn’t want to do it without his full support because I don’t want resentment to build, but guh, I hope I start feeling less burnt down. So no advice from me but I’m curious what others say.

    9. Parakeet*

      I’ve been both the spouse and the switcher.

      When I was in grad school, my spouse was unhappy at work and wanted to try self-employed freelancing combined with working in a hobby field. Didn’t really work out as a long-term option (after a couple of years of effort), but after giving up on it, my spouse ended up at a better, higher-paying job (that some of the freelancing did help with), and appreciated having gotten to try the self-employment + build-a-job-from-a-hobby thing. We lived off of my graduate stipend and our joint savings, and it was financially tighter than I would have preferred, but not too bad. I think it helped a lot that we had the savings, especially since graduate stipends are not large and this is a high cost-of-living area.

      I burned out on my academic field, and the academic track in general, for a number of reasons, during my postdoc. I went to work in a different field where I had volunteer experience, and where I make much less (I make about 20% less now than I did during my postdoc). I’m much more productive and better at my job in the field I work in now, though, and have even managed to get some freelancing/consulting work on the side, where I combine skills from the old and new fields (very few people have serious skills in both, and I’m starting to develop a reputation that could lead to opportunities down the road as awareness of the need for people who can do both, increases). The entry-level-ness does bother me sometimes, but the aforementioned nice work on the side, and feeling more secure in my job day-to-day, alleviate that, and I feel that I’ve come out ahead. Since my spouse gets paid pretty decently, our standard of living, while not extravagant, is also not precarious.

      I think both of us have been pretty appreciative of each other’s openness and flexibility.

    10. tenfour*

      Is it really true that he’d have to start at the bottom of the ladder? People career switch all the time without having to start from the bottom each time, although I can also envision careers where you do have to start from scratch.

      My partner and I have taken turns supporting each other through various switches, and our careers have both evolved significantly: journalism to start-up to consulting; PR to consultant to digital. I’ll be real: the reason it’s worked for us is that while our switches sometimes required temporary income setbacks our overall trajectory has been to higher and higher salaries along with increased job satisfaction.

      So yeah, agree with other commenters: try to list out your biggest concerns and see if you can brainstorm mitigation plans with your partner. Would you be okay with a temporary setback and drastically reduced overall trajectory? Or do you want him to find a better job/field but with a similar trajectory? I mean, probably you’d PREFER the latter, but are you seriously upset about the prospect of a longer-term financial hit? That’s something you’ll want to resolve before he makes any big changes. Better to have an uncomfortable conversation or two now instead of laying the foundation for long-term resentment!

  11. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m finally going on vacation!* * if I get a lot of work done, which makes no sense since I need a vacation because I’m too tired to do work efficiently. I’ve been enjoying Time Management for Mortals since most productivty advice assumes you’re randomly assigning yourself more tasks than you can do because of low self esteem or something, but here the fact that your boss expects you to do more than you can do is understood.

    I’m wondering about whether I need to note to my boss that most of the team is more interested in being able to do the job they already have rather than meeting someone in the office to climb the ladder. I’m only interested in my job because tangibly being useful is motivativing and uninterested in other things.

    1. Juneybug*

      Maybe mention this at the next team meeting but only state you would like to improve your processes. Your co-workers could speak up at that point. I have learned that sometimes a coworker will complain but when I bring the concern(s) to the boss, that coworker will not move forward with training, etc. So I tend to throw ideas out at team meetings, offer to research if the group would like to move forward, and then let them make a group decision. If no one wants to change, that’s ok. I can still work on me. :)

      If your coworkers want to move forward, check with Training or HR to see if there are classes to learn about process improvements or talk to your company’s Lean or Process Improvement Team/Unit.

      Good luck!

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I don’t understand? Commuting to the office for vague reasons isn’t a process?

  12. Amber Rose*

    Small bits of Friday good news: I officially get my office in a couple weeks! We expanded and I get an office in the new space when we take possession. Gosh, I am so excited to have a door I can close during online meetings. Right now it’s like the Join Meeting button is a giant beacon that draws every coworker and their dog over to ask me things. Also, the new hire is working out so well and aside from answering some questions and generally being helpful, I have almost completely removed that work from my list of stuff I have to do.

    Friday question: We do a quarterly charity thing and I think I wanna go simple and just do a raffle, but what makes good raffle prizes? I’m thinking there should be two, so people can enter for the one they want or both. Tentatively thinking one should be a Nespresso (those are always popular) and one should be maybe a gift card of equivalent value? But is a gift card something you’d enter a raffle for? I have about $600 with a little wiggle room, so looking at $300 per prize.

      1. Golden*

        Agreed! If the winner wants a Nespresso they can use the $300 gift card to get one, and if not, they can use it on almost anything else.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Depending upon the charity, I’d definitely go for the gift card, but make it a VISA one so that the winner isn’t confined to a specific store.

      1. Amber Rose*

        For a pet rescue. We get a quarterly charity budget and the freedom to do whatever we want with it, though we try to keep it relatively local. We do a lot with the food bank and homeless shelters, but I want to do something for the homeless animals.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          Wish I could support it, even without the raffle.

          May it go well and surprise all concerned with the amount raised.

    2. AngelicGamer*

      I am on the bandwagon of gift cards. However, is it possible to have smaller prizes as well instead of just 2 grand prizes? Is there anyway for someone to win a half day off or something of the like?

      Thank you for thinking of the homeless animals!

    3. Hillary*

      Small prizes can be surprisingly compelling. Back in 2013 I watched two very well-off company owners try desperately to win drawings for $15 remote control helicopters. They were more popular than the ipad or the fancy headphones. I’m not sure what the “it” toy is now, but amazon best of and popular lists often have interesting inexpensive things.

      The people who worked in those guys’ offices were less pleased with the helicopters. They did a lot of damage to the office plants before the rotors broke.

  13. mreasy*

    So, my current job is fine, and I really love and respect my boss. She’s the only reason I’m still here. But I kinda got headhunted by another company who I’m currently interviewing with for a job that would be a salary increase, more responsibility, & slightly more like what I want to be doing. I’ve been at my current company for almost 4 years and I really, really, don’t want to keep getting a new job ever 3-5 years, but things have really changed at our parent company since I started & even though I keep being promoted into new roles, the level of chaos around me is getting really difficult to manage. I guess my question is…what do I do? I guess I kind of feel guilty about my career path being like this…I just desperately want a long-term job and I took this, and my last job, hoping they would be that way. But in my last role I was subjected to sexist tone-policing and refused raises and in this job, despite the support from my boss, peers, and my generally amazing colleagues, the C-Suite and their inability to lead have made it a struggle every day. I don’t really have to worry about it unless I get an offer, but if anyone has perspective I’d love to hear it. (NB my boss will absolutely support me doing what’s right for me and will understand why I’m leaving. We have worked together before and I don’t think this will hurt our relationship – I will just be sad to leave her and such great colleagues, and I hate the idea that I can’t stick to one place.)

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s as simple and complicated as: assess the potential new job carefully, on its own and in comparison to what you’d be leaving behind. Consider whether you think you’d be happier if you took it. Try to ignore your guilty feelings while you do this thinking – you never need to feel guilty over leaving a job, it’s so very normal. But it’s absolutely okay to factor in things like “I would genuinely miss my team” and “staying here another X years would mean Y good thing”

    2. MsM*

      I think just make sure you ask lots and lots of questions during the interview process to make sure this will genuinely be a more stable situation with a better managed company. If it still seems like the better move, then remember you’re not leaving because you can’t stick to one place: you’re looking for a place that’s willing to do what it takes to make sure it’s a good place for you and other employees long-term.

      1. mreasy*

        Thanks, this is reassuring. I have multiple former colleagues/friends who work at the new company and seem to really like it. Because I’m not “desperate to get out,” I’m trying to ask lots of questions and if I do get an offer will see how far I can take salary/title…but I’ve been a professional for 20 years. 5 years is the longest I’ve been at a company. It’s not that it’s terribly uncommon, it’s just got me worried – I don’t want to be switching careers in my late 50s when ageism is more likely to affect me (currently 40)… I really appreciate the insight here.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I’m in my sixties, and the range of years/job is 2 years up to about 10. So yours looks very normal to me. My range of titles go from Research lab tech to chemist to sr. Product Development Chemist. I’m currently back at chemist, but being the only one (at the moment) is nice.

    3. MissGirl*

      Why are you fixated on staying somewhere long term? What’s wrong with leaving every three to five years? Do you think it looks bad? Do you not like change? Are you wanting to get into higher leadership roles?

      I can think of a plethora of reasons why leaving every four years is a good thing or a bad. So I’m curious what’s holding you up.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I had the same reaction MissGirl.

        You say you really don’t want to keep switching every 4-5 years and want something long term, but without context. There are very few industries where moving every 4-5 years is anything odd, so mostly likely this is personal – or you are incorrectly seeing this as job-hopping.

        Assuming it’s the former, I’d definitely encourage you to dig deep about what it your goals are for a long term company and if you are going to be able to accomplish them at a place where you are only sticking around for a singular boss. These goals can also help you shape what you are looking for in the new company/role. Example, you want a company that you can grow with and move up the ladder, well you better make sure they actually promote from within.

    4. Rosemary*

      If you compare your current job to the (potential) new job and decide your current job is a better fit/pay/people/work/whatever – then stay. But PLEASE do not stay just because you have invested time and want to be in a long term job/not switch every 3-5 years. If that is one factor – fine – but I would urge you not to make it a top factor. Would you marry a person you had been dating for awhile simply because you were ready to get married/had invested time in the relationship, even if they were not right for you/someone likely better came along?

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I could have written this almost to the letter a year ago. FWIW I did take the offer, left the boss and team I really liked for a slight increase in salary and big increase in what I want to be doing, and joined a team where I already have somewhat of a network of former colleagues.

      It’s been really, really good for me. There are a few reasons why I might have stayed at the previous job (inertia being a big one, but it’s a forever job for a lot of people) but ultimately I needed the career progression more than I needed the familiarity. I’m about six months in on this job and don’t regret it at all. It’s not perfect by any means, but it was the right call for me. And it is potentially a forever job, but there’s opportunities to move around within the organization so I don’t have to stay in one place if I choose.

    6. RagingADHD*

      It’s objectively a better job, from your description: more pay, a step up in responsibility, closer to what you want to do.

      Unless the company is a trash fire, which I assume you screened for, it’s only reasonable for you to take it.

      Moving jobs every 4-5 years isn’t job hopping at all. Particularly in the prime of your career, it is usually the best way to advance.

      There is no point setting yourself on a retirement track now. You’d just be settling for decades of work you aren’t happy with, making less than you deserve. Your view of the future right now should be to maximize your earnings and savings.

      Make hay while the sun shines.

      1. mreasy*

        Thanks, you’re right. I’m not worried about job hopping or the impact on my resume, as I’m lucky to be well-known in my field. It’s just…tiring. I would just like to work at a place that didn’t become intolerable in time, you know? It makes me think it’s me, but when I go over the reasons I’ve left my former employers, they’re usually pretty objectively external – the constant is my not being willing to put up with them. I appreciate everyone’s insight here! I liked the marriage analogy too…especially since I almost did that when younger! Lol thank goodness I waited for the right person.

  14. ecnaseener*

    Low-stakes pet peeve alert!

    Tangential to the OOO message discussion from the other day (and the resulting discussions in the comments about chat etiquette): am I the only one who thinks “heart” reacts should be used sparingly in work chat? My coworkers will heart the weirdest things, like “taking a late lunch” or “ok I told Jane what we decided.” I guess the latter could be interpreted as a thank-you heart, but what’s wrong with a thumbs up for that?

    I admit this is silly, but I’m rather grossed out by it! If I didn’t send an especially warm message (praising you, thanking you warmly, wishing you a good weekend, non-work chitchat, etc) I do not want your hearts — it feels like you’ve just reached over and clasped my hands lovingly. Is this one of those task-focused vs relationship-focused divides lol?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think it just reflects habits developed from social media use. Heavy Twitter users default to a heart meaning “cool”, “ok”, “I approve”, “I agree”, etc.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, if they’re using it in every situation, I think you have to interpret it as their equivalent of a thumbs up and that they aren’t intending any deeper meaning. I also think it’s a bit out of step with my personal social media usage, but clearly it isn’t for the folks who use it that way! Just different preferences/go-tos I guess.

            1. an anaconda aliteration*

              I HAAAATE the thumbs up because Ok HAAAATE Facebook and clicking on it makes me feel like I’m endorsing fb lol.

            2. Spencer Hastings*

              I don’t use Twitter, but one thing that just came to mind is that the “like” on Facebook is a thumbs-up and the “like” on Twitter is a heart. So, where I’d usually go with the thumbs-up on Teams to mean “OK, acknowledged, thanks” as I would on Facebook, some people might be using a heart by analogy to Twitter.

    2. MsM*

      I can see situations where even basic statements warrant a caring reaction: “Oh, good, ecnaseener’s making time for lunch; they’ve been working so hard on that project!” Or “I’m so glad you talked to Jane; I really wasn’t looking forward to doing it.” If you prefer to use it sparingly, cool, but I’m inclined to err on the side of welcoming and encouraging effusiveness from others when it doesn’t actually encroach on your physical or even verbal boundaries.

    3. Redhead*

      Yeah, super weird. The only time I got a heart was from my former manager when I told her that I’d be out for a week after my brother died (I still send her reports). Otherwise, it’s thumbs-up to acknowledge whatever I’ve said.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      We tend to mostly use them for things like coworkers sharing pictures of their babies or pets in the “water cooler chat” channel, or similar. We use Slack, which has an enormous number of reactions available, so we can react with little “thank you” stickers or “woo hoo” or whatever, if we want something more fun than a thumbs up. Personally, I am very relationship-focused–but I am also a firm believer in communicating in the best way possible, and that even includes reaction buttons.

    5. ferrina*

      Counterpoint :) I love the hearts. My work uses them liberally, and while it took me a while to adjust, the code seems to be Thumbs Up = Acknowledged. Heart= Appreciated or Really Excited About. It’s the IM difference between “Yeah, okay” and “That’s Great!”

      1. Loredena*

        Also might be cultural. I’ve noticed the offshore support team uses the heart much more often for what I’d use the thumbs up

      2. allathian*

        Yes, we use it in a similar way. Although I admit that when we switched from Skype to Teams, the hearts took some getting used to, but I’m getting there. I’ve added my heart to others, but I haven’t posted any myself because that feels too awkward, except on our informal home office pets thread.

    6. Sangamo Girl*

      I read the room. I use them all the time for work friends who I know are OK with them and never ever for others. In fact there are some folks that will never get emojis.

    7. AE*

      Guilty heart-emoji user here! Like Alton Brown’s Evil Twin says, I use it more as a “cool!” or “nice!” than a literal “LOVE THIS.” But yeah, it is a little weird now that I think about it.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        There’s also quite a difference between “love this” and “love *you*”.

        Then again, I’m practically a luddite in social media terms, and I sprinkle hearts liberally over texts to friends and family.

    8. PB&Jlunchies*

      When I worked at a company with Slack, I avoided it, because it was a little odd. I’d use a fire response, party parrot, or whatever other more specific and appropriate response. With Teams, I’m limited to a thumbs up, heart, laughing, sad or angry… I use the heart a lot more now because of that. It seems friendlier, and as long as other colleagues are using it similarly, then I don’t feel I’m overdoing it.

      1. ferrina*

        I did the same transition from Slack to Teams, and had the same experience. I miss all the Slack emoji options.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah, to me a heart react feels more… tender? The “loving hand clasp” is a good analogy lol. It’s not really a big deal and I’m sure your coworkers aren’t trying to convey a “caress” (shudder) but I’m completely with you in the “ick, not at work!” vibe

      1. Hunnybee*

        It will always and forever have an “ick” vibe after reading this post, I think. I’ll always think “loving hand clasp”

    10. Maggie*

      It’s probably something you’re just going to have to let go of honestly. Lots of people use them I interchangeably. I know you acknowledged that it’s low stakes but this is the smallest of small potatoes. Grossed out by seeing a heart emoji? That seems like a huge overreaction. Sorry it’s bothering you though.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Damn, I really thought “low stakes pet peeve alert” and “I admit this is silly” were enough to spare me from these types of comments. Next time I’ll include a flashing banner with a message about how I know it’s not a big deal and I don’t plan to do anything about it.

        1. DrRat*

          If it makes you feel better, the overuse of hearts also kind of squicks me out! And having someone comment that it’s a “huge overreaction” makes me want to use an entirely NSFW emoji towards them since you ALREADY ACKNOWLEDGED that it was a low stake pet peeves alert!

          But then I have a pet peeve about people who tell others “you need to get over it” as though that is somehow helpful advice.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Mine too, especially when the question was “am I the only one who thinks this” and not “do you have advice about this” -_-

        2. Hunnybee*

          I really enjoyed the “loving hand clasp” — actually one of the more memorable posts in a while.

          TEAMS really doesn’t offer a lot in the way of emojis:
          • Thumbs-up feels a bit terse.
          • Heart is over-enthusiastic (I’ll never not think of loving hand clasp now, ewww)
          • Laughing smiley face is again a little over the top. People use it for big smile in addition to laughing so it’s hard to know how to take that one.
          • Normal smiley face….well, ok, that’s fine.

          My team constantly complains about the limited range of emojis, but I highly doubt that is something that MS will ever revisit…..but, if you could choose one replacement emoji for the heart, what would it be?

    11. Wheee!*

      There’s one person at my work who consistently uses the blowing a kiss emoji.
      Just for answering any question she’s got. It’s… odd. I am glad that there are a lot of options for thanks in slack. We have a ty emoji, a TY!, and a ty in a heart (the beanie baby company logo.)

      1. an anaconda aliteration*

        OMG we played an online teambuilding game at work where you were supposed to react with heart, question mark, poop or heart emojis, just no.

        The content was SFW but the game was designed to be a party game, ugggh so awkward!

    12. Doctors Whom*

      This is on the list of things I do not have room to care about.

      I have, however, noted that in the Teams mobile app, the heart is next to the thumbs-up. As long as you are not getting middle fingers and vomity faces, I would Elsa this stuff.

    13. Parakeet*

      I think this is really culture-dependent. My day job is in human services, in a smallish and fairly close-knit org where most of us are from specific marginalized demographics. People use reaction emoji, including the heart, quite liberally. I also recently started a volunteer gig, that also uses Teams, where most of the other people are techies, and I am…trying to cut back on my reaction emoji usage, because it’s clear that the culture is different (as are the demographics lol). They do use them, but a LOT less.

      I’m actually pretty task-focused in the task/relationship divide, so I don’t think it’s that (though I also think it’s a false binary). I find the emojis helpful for communication, and effective communication is important for tasks! But I think it really is, like so many things, a matter of cultural norms within specific orgs.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      I think the heart is just a ‘like’ these days. There is also a chance your IM system is pre filling the options… which just makes it the fastest one to get to. I do wish my coworker was hopelessly devoted to the heart icon, instead of the vomit icon which is her default negative. Ick.

      1. ecnaseener*

        There’s nothing to pre-fill. I’m not talking about separate messages, im talking about hovering over someone *else’s* message and attaching a react to it – in teams, the options for that are thumbs up, heart, laugh, surprise, cry, angry.

        The thumbs up is of course for liking, and the people I’m talking about use the thumbs up plenty – it’s a deliberate choice to use heart instead.

  15. Daria grace*

    Please help me work out of my manager is being unreasonable or I’m just tired and cranky.

    I work for a company that’s very profitable but has tended to badly under resource my team. We’ve been under a lot of pressure and doing overtime for months. While only a few hours a week of overtime are compulsory, working 6 day weeks with a couple of 12 hour days a week is strongly encouraged and many comply.

    Obviously people are exhausted which showed up in the results of the question about how energised people are at work in the employee satisfaction survey. We have been told there’s no changes to the overtime and pressure in the near future. They expect us to all submit possible initiatives to help us feel more energised at work. There’ll be meetings to discuss what we come up with

    I believe my manager is a well meaning person. Is this a reasonable thing to expect employees to problem solve or am I right that this is inappropriate? It feels to me like it’s expecting employees to find time and brain space they don’t have spare to work on mitigating the impact ongoing bad choices by the company. I also feel like it punishes telling the truth on the employee satisfaction survey.

    If it is unreasonable, what if anything should I do about it?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      72 hours/week on a consistent basis is not a reasonable thing for people do.

      It’s so far beyond reasonable for the **employees to figure out how to deal with it** that you can’t even see reasonable with the Hubble telescope.

      1. Daria grace*

        People aren’t doing 12 hours every single day but there’s be people doing 55 hours a week at the moment and it is extremely high attention to detail, very little margin for error so even a normal length day can be draining.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Are they just asking for ideas, or like fully fleshed out proposals? If the former, I don’t think it’s so unreasonable to essentially ask a follow-up question of what would be helpful for you.

      1. Daria grace*

        Unclear how much detail they want but the only thing that’s really going to help (less workload) they aren’t giving us so I’m at a loss for what to say

        1. Rosemary*

          Can you just tell them that no, there is NOT anything – other than less workload/more staff – that will help? You and your colleagues are not magicians; you cannot create solutions out of thin air.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think it’s ridiculous to make the response to “too many hours” another assignment that will take up even more of people’s time. And given that there’s no good solution other than the one y’all already asked for, it feels like if anything gets implemented, they’ll be patting themselves on the back for rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and using it to push back on any further requests (“Well, we did what you asked for” ignoring that what you asked for was a sane work schedule.)

    4. Tired Social Worker*

      Ask for them to hire more staff so there is less overtime. If everyone burns out and leaves they take their knowledge with them.

      1. Aggresuko*

        But…but…they CAN’T possibly do that! Because money!!!!111!!!

        This kind of BS is why I no longer put actual answers on the stupid surveys. They do punish you for honesty.

      2. Daria Grace*

        You’d think they’d care more about that given what we do can only be learned through extensive on the job training. I think they’ve got themselves in the position where we are so short staffed they can’t afford to have people spending time training newbies rather than doing the work

    5. JelloStapler*

      Wow, talk about missing the forest for the trees- wanting you to come up with a solution to an unreasonable demand that you did not ask for. I’d be tempted to write my idea as “change jobs”. :(

    6. Cj*

      The whole thing sounds unreasonable, and I would seriously be looking for another job. Are you under the staffed because they are having trouble finding people to hire, or don’t even try?

      I’m also curious to know if you are on salary or hourly. If you are salaried, the amount of overtime is really unreasonable when there is no hope of it changing. Even if you are hourly and get paid overtime, most people don’t want to work that much overtime even for the additional money.

      I’m a CPA that specializes in tax preparation, and it is expected that we work 65 hours a week or so from January through April 15th. But then we have reduced hours in the summer, and salary is structured to take into account the long hours you work for part of the year. I’m already looking to get out of tax because I’m getting too old for this s***, and there is absolutely no way I would be able to do it year around.

      1. Daria Grace*

        I think its a mix of corporate bureaucracy is very slow at getting people hired and new hires require weeks of on the job training and months of close supervision. Even having done a similar job at another company in the industry would probably only get you 30% of the way there.

        We are paid for the overtime and I know some people don’t push back because they like the money but at this point I’m really worried about some people’s wellbeing

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah – there’s a big difference between jobs that have crunch times where things like providing dinner would help workers get through things, followed by a chance to recuperate, and wanting a magic solution that will get employees to work 15 hours a week of overtime on an ongoing basis without burning out. There are two solutions I can think of

        1) hire more people so that the overtime is no longer required and people have time to sleep and have lives outside of the job

        2) increase the pay by a lot so people can outsource the rest of their life (afford a housecleaner, lawn workers, evening childcare, delivery instead of shopping, the purchase of high quality nutritious meals, buying convenience products).

    7. Saffie_girl*

      Of course the solution to being overworked and not being energized is assigning you more work to fix the problem… No, it is not a reasonable solution, but unfortunately a very common move from bad management. I would just ignore the request, or come up with something basic, and focus on keeping yourself sane and healthy in a not great environment.

    8. Bex SF*

      It’s unreasonable, and you should leave. Nothing that anyone comes up with will make up for the fact that they expect you to work 70-80 hours a week. They have been clear that the situation isn’t going to change, so your only reasonable option is to remove yourself from the unreasonable situation.

      1. Daria Grace*

        My post was probably poorly worded- people aren’t asked for 12 hour days everyday. Some people would be working 2 12 hour days, 3 10 hour days then a 7 hour day on saturday

    9. Girasol*

      I’m with the “seek another job” folks. When a company hands employee survey issues to the employees to solve but gives them no power to do so, that’s HR just checking boxes. “Employees surveyed: done. Focus groups held: done. Announcement that we listened and we took action: due Monday. Poster campaign about “Our Culture” that doesn’t resemble our company at all: next month.” You can’t fix the survey response without changing the company culture, and to attempt that from the bottom up would be to tilt at windmills. Moving to a company that’s more reasonable would do you more good.

    10. Miel*

      It sounds like a moot point for this specific instance, but it sounds like on the next anonymous survey everyone needs to write that the workload is too high and they need to hire more help.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes – this calls for group action and minimal thought put into any other kind of suggestion except: “the workload is too high and they need to hire more help.”

      2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        The only alternative I can come up with is to have them deprioritize & eliminate something. Like if you have been spending hours a week generating reports for another department, your company could buy another license for that department to look up their own data. Hey presto oh, someone has two or three hours a week extra to sleep.
        (But if there’s no obvious low-hanging fruit like that, how about a nap room for lunch time?)

        1. Daria Grace*

          Part of the reason I’ve been doing more work from home days than they’d prefer is to nap at lunchtime.

    11. Juneybug*

      I would be tempted to provide cost-cutting measurements with the consistent solution being to hire more staff (I am snarky sometimes) –
      – Cleaning crew comes in three times a week instead of nightly – use savings to hire more staff (assuming your building doesn’t need nightly cleaning).
      – Let folks work from home few days a week thus saving the company electricity. Then hire more staff.
      – No COLA or bonus raises for senior leadership, then hire more staff.

    12. Pomegranate*

      If they just want high level ideas, sure, give them “cut hours”, “pay really really well for overtime”, “rotate schedules (would it help if people had one very busy week and then the next week they work normal hours, rather than always working ‘some’ overtime?), “hire more stuff”, “outsource certain tasks”, “management adjusts expectation on energy levels of staff”. But to be honest, it’s nothing leadership can’t come up with on their own. It would be more useful to if they came to the staff saying that we are considering these 3-5 options, which ones would you prefer?

  16. I want to get away, I want to fly away.*

    Has anyone here ever successfully landed a job abroad where the company sponsored you? If so would you be open to sharing your story (how you heard of the role, if the employer was open to foreign applicants, etc).

    1. AE*

      I taught English in a foreign country ~10 years ago (I’m a US citizen). Pay was pretty low, but they covered my flights and accommodations, and of course my visa and paperwork.

      In my network, people who have relocated (sponsored) for work abroad tend to fall into a few different categories:
      1. All or part of the job necessitates international travel: Peace Corps, Foreign Service, military, private security, international NGOs, certain academic/research fellowships, etc. Limited choices in terms of the place you are assigned.
      2. They have a very advanced, niche skillset or knowledge base (typically, a PhD in something) that allows them to get a specialized position, like teaching/research in a foreign university where English and/or one of their fluent/native languages is the official language (even if it’s not the primary language of that country).
      3. They’re already working at a private sector organization that has an international presence, and transfer to an overseas branch.

      I hope this is helpful! I think your prospects will depend a lot on your specific background/industry, as well as your citizenship and the place(s) you would like to relocate to.

    2. StellaBella*

      I did this with an NGO in Europe in 2008 and am still here. I knew the former CEO, and they needed someone for a specific role in 2004, I declined but in 2008 the role opened again and I applied and they helped me get my work permit etc and moved me here too. I got very lucky. There are some things to stand out as a candidate: local language, specific skills needed, and if the country needs a local to do the job or not.

    3. Green Goose*

      South Korea will sponsor English teachers from US, Canada, Ireland, UK, Australia and New Zealand on an E2 visa. This will allow your employer (a school) to sponsor you to work only at their school for 12 months. You can’t leave a contract and start a new one within 12 months though. Most of the schools will also pay for a one way flight and your housing which is nice. You need at least a bachelor’s degree and I have heard from people at it is more difficult to get placements if you are over 40.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I have. I’m in a highly international academic field where hiring at the PhD level is generally open to international applicants – at the PhD level my department is about half non-citizen. My institute can only sponsor foreign applicants who have at least a Master’s degree in a relevant field. I found the job posting on one of my field’s primary job listing sites.

      In the area I live in there are a ton of English teachers. Getting a visa for that requires a Bachelor’s degree (doesn’t matter the subject) and they favour Canadian/American passports, particularly for teaching at higher levels. (Generally the people hiring can’t judge accents well, so they use the passport as a proxy). However, the better paid, more stable, non cram school jobs generally go to people with teacher training and/or previous experience. The other main pool of immigrant workers are migrant workers – nannies, elder care, agricultural and construction workers – which is an entirely different system.

  17. Org gmail account issues*

    Does anyone have advice/tips/alternatives for multiple people who need to access the same gmail address? I’m on the board of a local professional organization – think something like Gotham Teapot Designers Association for Women and we put on events that highlight issues for female designers. This is all volunteer, people tend to stay on the board a few years and then roll off. We have one main gmail address, and having multiple people access it is a pain in the butt. I understand why there are security protocols that make it difficult, but not being able to log on unless whoever has the recovery number can tell you the code at that exact moment, etc., makes it really difficult. And because of that, no one will log on and we end up with piles of unread emails because, for example, the person who’s supposed to be reviewing membership applications can’t log in and the people who can don’t want to open them because they don’t want to mess with the membership chair’s job.

    I’m sure we can’t be the only organization that’s run into this problem. I am one of the people who does have ready access to the account and I am planning to batch forward emails to the appropriate person, but if there’s another way I’m missing, please let me know!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Would it be counterproductive to have all emails automatically forwarded to everyone on the board?

      1. Org gmail account issues*

        I hadn’t thought of that. It’s probably counterproductive for the entire board because we have a bunch of programming chairs who handle all that out of their personal/work emails, but that would make sense for the president, communications, and membership chairs. I’ll have to float that.

    2. Little beans*

      Can’t you Delegate access? I do this in Google workplace but I think it works for regular gmail accounts too.

    3. Jay*

      We do that for my choir and we turned off two-factor authentication. Pretty sure there are often three or four of us signed on at the same time.

    4. Little beans*

      Can’t you Delegate access? I do this in Google workplace and we have 6 people who regularly access a shared account, by logging into their own work account. I think you can do it with regular gmail.

    5. Cheer*

      Does your organization have any budget? I am a volunteer for a similar type of organization and we charge a small membership fee. We use that fee to pay for a “membership manager” website. There are several options out there, we went with StarChapter since it is one-stop-shopping. They host our organizations website and also offer a membership database, process payments, track orders and transactions, and send mass emails. One of the benefits of this type of solution is that instead of having our members send emails to a single organization account, they submit a form on the website. All the board members have admin accounts, so we have individual log-ins and can check the “mail”. We also have email forwarding set up, so if a form gets submitted to, say, the membership committee, it gets saved on the website and an email notification gets sent to the volunteers on the committee.

    6. Org gmail account issues*

      Thank you to everyone suggesting delegating. I thought there was something like that, but when I googled the question earlier this week I got a lot of info saying that multiple people couldn’t access one account (I wasn’t using “delegate” in my search which must be the magic word).

    7. mreasy*

      Can you have someone who runs the Gmail account and is responsible for forwarding emails to the relevant parties? Or perhaps as mentioned below, you have the account emails forwarded to multiple people who can handle that responsibility, but not everyone?

    8. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      My company has several email addresses that are actually mailing lists instead of “email account with inbox and login info” .

      chocolate @ teapots . org goes to everybody on the chocolate teapot team, mint_chip @ teapots . org goes to everyone on the mint chip team, etc.

      Since it’s not an actual email inbox, if Joe from the Chocolate team deletes his email, Martha on the Chocolate team still has hers… would something like that work?

    9. Grits McGee*

      At my work, we use Google Groups for this situation- it’s been forever since I’ve set one up so I can’t go into too much detail, but I do think it’s pretty easy to link and unlink personal emails from the Google Group/main email address.

  18. Tearing my hair out*

    So I have someone in the team I am on currently who just will not listen or allow others to contribute. They are technically the project lead but this should be collaborative with other members not in isolation, similar to a project manager type role. They are ultimately in charge but have no line management of the team. The team are getting more and more frustrated, they will spend hours in meetings agreeing an approach and the next day will find this person has changed their mind and unilaterally decided on something different (and often more difficult or less effective).

    There have been a lot of efforts to try and reset this culture on the project but every time we think progress is made another example comes up. Today the team had to make a spreadsheet to calculate an exact answer as this person just would not accept the estimated value (estimated “finger in the air” was absolutely fine and expected for the purpose here).

    I guess my question is without the ability to performance manage the person in question (their line manager is aware and trying hard), and knowing this person has very thick skin and few people skills does anyone have any language to allow us to politely and professionally but effectively call it out in the moment? At the moment we are stuck with just going over their head which doesn’t feel collaborative either.

    1. Jay*

      “I see you changed the Teapot schedule after yesterday’s meeting, and I thought we’d finalized it there. Is there something we can do in the future to make sure we’re all on the same page?” I doubt this will change anything. Sounds to me like this is more of a manager problem – this person’s manager isn’t effectively managing them. “Trying hard” is great for a T-ball player and not adequate for this situation.

      1. Tearing my hair out*

        Sorry I have underplayed the line managers stance. Without wanting to give identifying details-this is high on their line managers radar and is being escalated accordingly. Just looking to see if we can reinforce what they are doing by calling it out when it happens (their manager isn’t involved in the project). I truly think this person can’t see when it happens, and hence calling it out in the moment would help. Just struggling to find the language to say “not this again, we have a plan-stop it” without being rude.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          How about a slight modification of Jay’s wording?

          “I see you changed the Teapot schedule after yesterday’s meeting, and I thought we’d finalized it there. What drove that change?”
          Put it onto this person to explain themselves to the team, make them consciously see what they are doing, and point out that everyone was in agreement before and nobody else agreed to the change. If it’s not too late, ask to revert to the previous, agreed-upon decision every time.

          I hope the line manager makes some headway soon, that sounds really frustrating!
          It might feel like ganging up, but honestly this person is being disruptive to the process, doesn’t seem to see it, and needs to be shut down before there are anyway impacts of their changes. So being blunt but factual and calling attention to it may be your best bet.

    2. JelloStapler*

      It may be time to pierce the tough skin with a warning and a PIP as I would expect part of the job is collaboration, and this person is not doing so.

    3. ferrina*

      This sounds like it’s also starting to become a time suck. Have you looped your manager in and strategized how much time you’re willing to give this project? (i.e., if the Problematic Person (PP) changes their mind after you put in work, can you say “sorry, I don’t have any other available hours for this. Do you want to use the original product or push back the timeline?” The time loss can also be a good thing for PP’s manager to know- is that something that your manager can share with their manager?

      This sounds really frustrating though

      1. Tearing my hair out*

        Yep-four times this week I have said I can’t reply to discussion as I am on multiple projects with another one needing my input urgently (genuinely urgently rather than “urgently” as this persons default is urgent). Doesn’t get through. Have tried explicitly showing them my workload and allocations with the associated urgencies to try and hammer home how not urgent their question is. This is at the extreme of one project I am on if it stalled would halt the business (therefore is truly urgent) while this person asks me to reschedule an internal meeting 2 weeks in advance is “urgent”. Over 2 months and no change.

        My manager looped in and very supportive. I couldn’t ask for more from them with respect to this

        1. Wonderer*

          I wouldn’t go to all the trouble of justifying yourself. Just inform them that you can’t do it because there are too many other urgent projects and copy your manager in the discussion. After that, just don’t be part of the discussion. Let them roll on without you.

          It sounds like your manager is pretty good, so you should be able to just take care of the actual priorities and let your manager deal with this person’s issues.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          How about… “Jane has giving me different priorities for this month. If you need something for me before next week, I need to hear from her that this comes before projects a b and c.”

    4. jane's nemesis*

      Wait, do they actually have very thick skin, or did you mean to say thin skin? Because if they have thick skin, to me that means you can skip “polite and professional” (because that stage is long in the past) and go straight to “direct and just-barely-professional” and call out the behavior when you see it directly. As in “Fergus, we all agreed to x approach yesterday. Why are you changing it to y approach today?” And repeat ad nauseum.

      1. Tearing my hair out*

        Thick. We are at that stage now and repeating wording along those lines ad nauseum but not seeing a change, but anything beyond language similar to what you have outlined feels rude…..

        1. Anonymous healthcare person*

          Talk to the person’s manager to ask for strategies that the manager will support? Eg. when person makes unilateral change AGAIN, will the manager support you saying “We will not be doing that, the decision was made by the group yesterday and we will go forward with that decision.” (Or similar wording). Then if person pushes back, tell them to talk to their manager (who you have given the heads up to and has authorized your approach, ideally). Also can they just be removed from these types of projects by their manager? And/or make it clear that no individual person on a group project can take these kinds of unilateral decisions unless senior to everyone else? Or whatever similar strategy makes sense in your set-up. I agree manager of this person needs to be taking a harder/clearer line with this.

          1. Tearing my hair out*

            Unfortunately removal isn’t an option-it is their literal job description so reallocation simply moves the problem around.

            Sounds like we are doing about what people are suggesting which in a way is good-means we aren’t missing anything obvious :-)

            1. Wonderer*

              The only thing that will change the behavior is actual consequences. You’re allowing them to get away with all of this – as long as your manager has your back on this, just stop engaging in the meaningless extra work.

              Maybe you’re too busy to go to this person’s meetings?

        2. JelloStapler*

          It’s time to be rude. “We have attempted to help you fix this issue numerous times, but the behavior still continues. I need you to understand that X Y and Z need to happen (or stop happening) or A, B, C will be the result. Do you understand this?”

        3. jane's nemesis*

          oh I see, I misunderstood. Hmm, I’ve never had to deal with this! It sounds like this person needs to be managed out of this role.

    5. Grits McGee*

      Ah, I see you’re working with my old boss…

      I think at this point, you need to let go of the hope that anything about this project is going to be “collaborative”… if they are the project lead and seem to have no motivation to listen to others on the team or respect collective decisions, then going up the chain is pretty much the only option. (Other than leaving the project entirely- is that an option? If so, that is the option I would recommend (and took with old boss).)

      1. Tearing my hair out*

        Not an option, and while it’s frustrating it’s not sending me to that level thankfully. I guess as one of the most senior on the project I’m just feeling best placed to be direct, and like I should for the sake of the more junior ones who are way more impacted than me

  19. Mimmy*

    Seeking resources!

    There are tons of resources for getting a job, but how about surviving and navigating a job? I’ve read one of Alison’s books that includes different conversations, but I’ve always been mystified by more basic things, such as understanding different management styles, office culture / politics, etc. I think that’s why I’ve struggled to find a good fit because I honestly don’t know what to look for. I think I also struggle a bit with unwritten rules, so I may miss certain red flags that indicate a particular environment won’t be right for me.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      If you’re not already a regular reader of this site – it really is the best resource I’ve found for what you’re asking about.

    2. cubone*

      In all honesty, I think AAM is a great tool for this. The questions run the gamut and I think Alison has a particular talent for articulating the “why’s” of office politics/bureaucracy/professionalism, not just “this is how it’s done”. I recommend AAM to a lot of neurodiverse friends who struggle with the unwritten/unspoken rules and they’ve all found it accessible and useful. So one suggestion would just be keep reading and use the search bar for specific things you’re thinking (eg. management styles, culture, etc.).

      Also, continuing my mission of spreading the Good Word about career coaching and advising: this is actually something career coaches/advisors can do! Helping you develop skills in navigating workplace conflict, office politics, and stuff like that is what some specialize in, so you could see if there are any free options in your area (or paid if that’s an option). Like with regular therapists, you can usually have a free consultation and you could literally use exactly what you’ve written here (actually on that note, I talked a lot with my regular therapist about workplace conflict I was experiencing and she was immensely helpful since it’s really just communication strategies like any other relationship. So you could also consider that, if you have been in or would consider therapy, though you certainly don’t have ).

    3. ferrina*

      This might be something worth taking some time, reflecting and figuring out. Honestly, therapy might be a good option so you can get a sounding board and someone to prompt you with questions (you might also have someone in your personal life who has a lot of professional experience who can do this with you).

      It can help to break these things down into bite-size pieces. Instead of “Management style”, what about “communicates often” vs “leaves me alone”? “Personally connected” vs “only professional converstaions”? Where do you fall on these spectrums? And how attached are you to that (i.e., is it something you feel strongly about/have found that you really need in a job, or is it something that doesn’t matter much to you?) Find out what you like, then you will know more what you are looking for at a job.

    4. Green Goose*

      When I first started in the corporate world I listed to the audiobook They Don’t Teach Corporate in College and I found it helpful. I had previously only worked as a teacher and it was very different than the office environment, and the office politics were more nuanced than at my schools where it was more in your face.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      This thread on office culture may be helpful (and entertaining):

      “let’s talk about differences in office culture by country and region” posted on February 1, 2018

      I skimmed some of the top level responses, and things that fall under the broad category of “office culture” include start/end times, whether you greet others when you arrive at the office, do you jump right to business when you talk to a coworker or start with some “how was your weekend?” small talk.

      You may also find some helpful advice in the comments of this question about office politics:

      “how can I navigate office politics when I hate hierarchy and authority?” posted August 22, 2019

      The advice in this comment section largely focuses on the difference between blue collar and white collar work places, so there are probably some tips on dealing with politics in each of those environments.

      I’ll post the links in a follow-up comment.

  20. I wonder...*

    I wonder how you would over this hurdle in life. I am in my mid 40s. When I was in my 20s I worked for a company where I did great. Outstanding reviews, reliable etc, but I was bored and decided to switch jobs. I did everything “right” when interviewing and accepted a position that came with a 40-50% pay raise. After I accepted the position I realized I was in waaaay over my head. There was a little bit of bait and switch, a little of me not having enough experience, a little political… it was not a good match. I hate to say this but that situation has really held me back during my career in that any major pay increase (even though I know I am worth it with merit justifications) has come with major hesitation from me. I am now at a point where I am ready to swich jobs. I love my job, my boss, my coworkers but I am just bored out of my mind; ready for a change. Even with “taking a step back” due to family concerns and a lot of research, I realize I could get a much higher salary…. and I. Am. Petrified doing this job search. I have this mentality that I don’t deserves such a raise and the same situation will happen again 20+ years later. I’m at a really good place in life to switch jobs right now I just can’t get myself over this hurdle. I feel so silly bringing this up. What do I do?!

    1. Jean*

      It’s natural to have some anxiety after a past bad experience like this, but it seems like it may have just been a one-off bit of bad luck. Higher salary doesn’t always mean bait and switch, or an insurmountable jump in qualifications, or anything negative like what you got hit with before. Also, you have the benefit of more years of experience on your side now.

      Start your search. I can almost promise you that once you start the process, you will feel more confident and have some of these worries set to rest. The unknown can be scary, but the only way to get past that is to make things known, and you do that my gathering information. Getting information is just that – you’re not committing to anything by doing it. And it’s where you have to start. Best of luck!!

    2. merope*

      This sounds like an opportunity for some therapy around this past event. But if that’s not an option or there are time-related issues to consider, can you show your resume to a trusted mentor or friend and ask for their feedback? And then (and this will be the hard part) listen carefully to and work hard to believe, the good things they are saying about you? I don’t think you should hold yourself back from the potential for success because of one mismatch early in your career, but it is so easy to do, because our negative internal voices are often much louder than our cheerleading internal voices. Two other exercises you might try: 1) what would you tell a cherished friend if they came to you with this problem, and then keep telling yourself those answers 2) map out, to the farthest extreme, both the best and worst case scenarios of the choice to pursue a higher salary. It might help to see which of your concerns are based in a reaction to your past, and what agency you might have if something comes up that you don’t like.

      1. Lioness Rampant*

        Agree on the therapy! I’m in therapy working on this issue right now- a bait-and-switch job undermined my confidence, and I want to get it back!

    3. Juneybug*

      Sounds like you might need to switch the sound track in your head.
      Instead of “I screwed up/failed by switching jobs”, say “I did the best I could at the time with changed job duties that was out of my control.”
      Not “I didn’t see how ill-fitted I was for the last job”, but “I am older/wiser/have more inexperience so I could look for red flags better during the hiring process.”
      Basically whatever negative thing you are telling yourself, flip it to positive. Then post it on your mirror, say it out loud in the car on the way to work, etc.
      Repeat, repeat, repeat the positive to replace the negative sound track.
      Good luck!!

    4. SansaStark*

      Wow, are you me? I could have written all of this 6 months ago….until I started interviewing for those jobs and started seeing how *good* I felt in those conversations. Even the tough questions didn’t throw me off my game because I really do have the qualifications now to back it up.

      I like what some others have said about re-framing it in your head, too. If your situation was like mine, you have in many ways already experienced the worst and you came out of it with a lot of knowledge and wisdom. If it happens again (which it probably won’t), you’ll survive that, too, because you have ALREADY shown that you can and will. You know how to start over if you need to. You know it’s not the literal end of the world. It’s scary, but it’s doable.

      Don’t let those monsters in your old job shape how you see yourself so many years later.

  21. Little beans*

    Does an ultimatum ever work, professionally? I’ve been promised a promotion and raise for nearly a year now, and Combined with a couple of other frustrations with my leadership, I am ready to start job searching. But I don’t actually want to leave my job. I’m confident I can find another job that will pay more but I don’t know that I will like it better than my current job. I’ve told to my supervisor that I’m frustrated with the delays but I haven’t explicitly said that I’m ready to leave over this issue, and debating whether I should. Or, if I have to fight this hard to get something that everyone agrees I deserve, is that a sign that it’s not worth it?

    I love the actual work that I do and my team. I think I’d be willing to stay if the salary increase came through, although there are a couple of smaller issues that ideally I’d want to fight for. I wouldn’t leave over those smaller issues alone, but I also don’t want to use up all of my capital and not be able to ask for them at all.

    1. Jean*

      There’s no real reason not to look around, apply to some other positions, and see what other offers you can get. Knowing your options can only improve your negotiating position. Not knowing your options, and only “feeling like” you can probably get something better, isn’t doing you any favors. Searching doesn’t obligate you to leave your job, but it can open up a definite and direct path to be able to go to your management and say “I’ve received an offer, and I would like to discuss my options.” Go for it.

      1. Little beans*

        I am looking around, but I work in a specific field and my employer is the only major organization in my region, so I’m looking at other opportunities at my current (very large) organization. I’d be nervous about getting an offer and declining it, because I don’t want to burn bridges with other units that I may still need to work with in the future. I’m willing to actually leave for the right role, but I don’t want to just apply for things that I’m not seriously considering.

        1. Jean*

          It may be different for your field, but I would hesitate to agree that declining an offer burns a bridge. But I understand your concern on that. I still think at least looking and having actual knowledge of your options gives you more actionable information. I would NOT advise giving any kind of ultimatum without definite backup options. Going to your manager and saying “I need my promised pay increase or I will leave” is a lot less risky if you actually have another offer in hand.

    2. Jay*

      Only say it if it’s totally true and not if it’s a negotiating ploy. If you say it and they call your bluff and you don’t leave, that would markedly worsen the situation.

      I think ultimatums are dangerous in any relationship because they are inherently manipulative and threatening, and that’s not a healthy basis for a relationship with your boss any more than with your spouse. That’s the distinction to me between an ultimatum and a statement of need or a boundary. “Do this or else” is about the other person’s behavior. “I need this for my well-being, and I’ll have to figure out how to meet that need one way or the other” is about my behavior – if the other person can’t meet my need, then I’ll figure out what I need to do. That might mean I need to end the relationship for my own good – not as retaliation or punishment.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This.

        Ultimatums are about forcing someone else’s hand, and if it’s supposed to be an ongoing relationship, even if you “win,” everyone loses.

        Pursuing your own best interest and being transparent about what you want / need isn’t an ultimatum. It’s just good communication.

    3. Doctor is In*

      Beware of the risk of being let go if you say you are ready to leave (before a new position is available), we have seen that scenario on this site too often!

    4. Not that Leia*

      The language from last week’s post about hearing higher salary offers from recruiters might be a good option. It’s not an ultimatum but it brings up the question in maybe a more direct way? (I mean, obviously, every work negotiation has an implied risk that someone might leave but it’s usually not made explicit so can be easier for employers to ignore…)

    5. Green Goose*

      I think an ultimatum really only works if you are really serious about it and want to give them an opportunity to act. I’ve used it once or twice at work in the past seven years but not for myself, for people that I manage. I told my department head that if my direct report was not given a better salary increase (she was offered an offensively low one with her promotion) that she would quit if it was not increased. I said it because it was true and I didn’t want to lose her. It did make a difference and her salary offer was increased but I don’t do things like that lightly.

    6. Wisteria*

      I have seen people get raises and promotions based on ultimatums bc they were superstars and the company wanted to retain them. Does this describe you?

      1. Little beans*

        I think so? I’ve always gotten really positive feedback, been nominated for awards, that kind of thing. I feel confident that at least my direct supervisor and the people I work closest with would want me to stay.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      My significant other works for a very large company that does a lot of contracting work and benefits from low overhead (and the average pay of people in his role is calculated into the “overhead” for contract award purposes) and the only way he’s gotten raises or promotions is by threatening to leave. Not to say it’s healthy, but it’s how his company seems to work.

  22. ecnaseener*

    Today in “What I Wouldn’t Give for a Letter to Allison About This,” from a tumblr post this morning:

    if you run up behind me while I’m working and hold a flash drive to my throat pretending it’s a knife and I instinctively seize your hand and bite you I don’t think you are allowed to be mad

    anyway I bit one of the interns this morning

    (They don’t work in an office setting for what that’s worth, but omg)

    1. MsM*

      Oh, so it’s definitely not the same company the original biting letter came from? I was kinda hoping we could keep all that contained in one place.

      1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

        !!!! There is a biting letter???

        (I have dealt with biting at work also – it was a director level employee who BIT her subordinate because she didn’t like the way the employee had merchandised a very tiny part of a store. Bit! Her!!)

          1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

            Oh gosh. This reminds me of the one time I bit my sibling as kids, in a situation where I felt complete and totally powerless. Its really incredible (in the worst way) how a toxic or abusive environment can completely warp who we are.

        1. Jora Malli*

          The only time I’ve been bitten at work was when I was an assistant teacher at a preschool, and I was allowed to put the biter in timeout.

    2. Hamlet's friend Omlet*

      Anyone with martial arts training would react to that a LOT more violently than a bite to that scenario. Like, broken nose, broken wrist, and pinned on the ground as a reflexive/flinch response.

      That intern was an idiot taking horseplay to that level.

    3. WTAF People*

      I worked food service and we got robbed at gunpoint – two days later I was back at work and the guy I was closing with (I refused to work alone and I was the only closer) decided to pretend the spray bottle he was cleaning with was a gun, and said “stick em up”. I didn’t punch him, but it was a near thing – and I refused to work with him again. Years later, I still won’t work with my back to an open space. If someone came up behind me at the coffee machine or the printer and put a flash dive to my throat?! Yeah…biting would be the least of their worries.

    4. Ocelot*

      I actually witnessed and incident between coworkers during lunch a few years ago. One coworker was trying to be playful, but the other did not know what was about to happen as they were being approached from behind and didn’t see the smile on the face of the person about to regret their actions.

      As coworker #1 walked up behind coworker #2 and put him in a “playful” headlock (I’m assuming), coworker #2 was startled, panicked and flipped coworker #1 over his shoulder and body slammed him onto the lunch table.

      After investigation, HR said they were both idiots. Nothing ever came of it.

      1. Hamlet's friend Omlet*

        A headlock can be lethal force per our training by a retired US police officer. If it gets locked in correctly it compresses the jugular arteries so you will back out in a few seconds. Coworker #1 was an idiot.

    5. NotRealAnonForThis*

      If you manage to find out that someone’s instinctive response in a situation where “fight or flight” is triggered tends to be “fight, muthfvcka”, you don’t get to be mad if you’re the one who set up the situation on purpose. Bonus points if it was done as a “joke”.

      (FWIW, my instinctive reaction tends to be throw punches, then run like hell)

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Ummmm….biting would be the smallest thing that intern would have had to worry about if they did that to me

    7. ffs*

      Being a victim of multiple violent crimes, if a coworker pulled something like that I would probably injure them pretty severely before realizing they weren’t an actual attacker.

    8. SnappinTerrapin*

      A plausible threat of deadly force.

      By definition, there is no such thing as an excessive reaction before the threat is neutralized. (Punitive force afterward is a very different thing.)

    9. Yeah, don't surprise me.*

      Ugh. Reminds me of when I was walking down my (somewhat dicey) street near work and someone put his arms around me from behind. It turned out to be someone from our building who I like very much, but I told him never to do that again and he was lucky I don’t carry a gun. I’m not into guns or violence but I have a very touchy response to surprises, for reasons that make total sense and that he would have no way of knowing about.

  23. Upspeak question*

    What’s a good way to give feedback to one of my report’s about their tendency to upspeak when presenting and that it can affect how her message is interpreted?

    I don’t want to get into a debate about the societal issues around it, so if we can stick to advice around messaging and wording, I would appreciate it.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think you need to be as objective as possible. If you have actual evidence of others being confused or misled, use those. I think you also need to emphasize to people that you trust them, so they don’t feel the need to get confirmation on everything they do.

      That being said, this can just be a habit that people may not even realize they have, especially if that’s how their social cohort all talks.

      EG:
      Rebecca, after you said “and we’re going to groom the llamas on Friday this week instead of Wednesday?”, the herders were confused and came to me later to ask whether the change was definite or not. When you are the one responsible for making a decision, or communicating a decision, I want you to know that I trust you and I want you to speak confidently.

    2. Lilith*

      Could you arrange a 1-1 to specifically work on presentation skills? It could be couched as coaching/development time, rather than any specific criticism. Could ask your report to think of any specific aspects they want to work on as they might have noticed the upspeak themself, but if not it would hopefully be easy to bring it up in context of a wider discussion about what makes a good presenter.

    3. Lifelong student*

      I would regularly respond- “Are you asking me or telling me?” It made the speakers aware – but TBH- I have been told that this was rude- not by the speakers but by others. In my case I was in a position of authority and responsible for preparing others for business practices.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I think if you tone conveys genuine inquisitiveness rather than snarkiness*, it feels a lot less rude/intended to belittle.
        *Like when you ask the teacher “Can I go to the bathroom?” and the teacher replies “I don’t know, can you?” because they want you to use “may” instead of “can”.

    4. Today's Name is Not Interesting*

      I’ve given feedback one-on-one to a colleague whose “away from desk” message? was riddled? with upspeak? including saying their name? and title? and that they were away? (sigh)
      I know they were very concerned about professional presentation, and even more so about how women in the workforce presented. I shared an article on upspeak, and offered to listen to them practice if they wanted. A few days later they invited me to listen to their revised away message, and it was much better.

  24. Optimistic Prime*

    What are some other ways to say things that are becoming standard?

    Thinks outside of the box
    Wears many hats
    Able to think on their feet
    Good at multitasking

    1. Catcher in the Rye*

      It depends on what you mean specifically, but you could say something like “thinks creatively”, “critical thinker”, “nimble”, “versatile”, or something similar.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      For “wears many hats,” I think I’d just say something like “has many responsibilities” or “needs to preform a variety of tasks.”

    3. RagingADHD*

      Stock phrases stick around because they convey a complex idea succinctly, and register in the reader’s mind almost like a single word. The reader can absorb the meaning without slowing down, and get to the main point. In many business contexts, it’s more important to be clear and efficient than creative or fresh.

      Make sure the benefit of deconstructing an expression is worth throwing a speed bump in the reader’s path. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

  25. Trivia Newton-John*

    I GOT A NEW JOB!!!

    Of course there is Imposter Syndrome because this is all new (new workplace, new bosses, new kind of work) but I am also very excited.
    The main person I support at my current job (who has been a royal PITA and is one of the reasons I am leaving, honestly) wants to go there, too. He’s not joking and is looking into it. He told me that I am more important to him and his practice than the current place we work. My OA (the one who peaced out and didn’t show up in our office from a week before we all locked down until June of 2021) asked me to write my own job description.

    How honest should I be about why I am leaving? Part of me thinks I should just say that I have an opportunity I can’t pass up with growth potential (which is true) but also I am not sure how aware my home office is of the goings-on in our office and the toxicity /the OA taking advantage of me throughout the pandemic, etc. there. It’s sweet knowing that co-workers also want to go to the new place with me and asked me to please look out for them once I get there.

    1. MsM*

      Do you think the home office will actually listen and institute changes if given feedback, or no?

      1. Koli*

        Why should OP care either way? OP, I say keep it positive and vague. You never know how what you say could be misinterpreted or resented by someone who is in a position to help or harm you down the road. YOU PERSONALLY have nothing to gain by being honest that I can tell, so say nothing.

      2. Trivia Newton-John*

        Unfortunately, I don’t know. Our longtime HR director just resigned and the person I would be holding my exit interview with has no idea about any of the people in my office.

      3. Ama*

        Yes, this is the thing — if you think you might be identifying issues they might not know about, it might be worth it. You could also just speak in very general terms, such as “there’s a real morale issue in our office because of the way management handles X problem” (or whatever) instead of getting into specific details about what happened. I did something to that effect when I left a job where I knew getting into specifics would just get fed back to my department director who would deny everything, I just said “the administrative staff are overburdened and there doesn’t appear to be a willingness to add additional staff to ease the workload” which was very much true, but avoided talking about how I was gaslit every time I tried to talk to someone about it (and it was actual gaslighting, I would say “I am doing X amount of hours of reception work every week, that’s 50% of my workload and the job description says 15%” and would be told “no, you’re not, you’re overcounting.”)

    2. Hunnybee*

      I also just went through putting in notice and leaving a toxic job, PM and manager! I kept it all VERY vague with the PM and manager to the point where I didn’t say where I was going and when asked why I was leaving just said I had other opportunities. I found that if you just say you aren’t at liberty to discuss your next position people leave it at that.

      I DID send on a detailed email to HR because the situation leading up to my resignation was horribly dysfunctional.

  26. irene adler*

    What should the takeaway be for me, the job candidate, when both the hiring manager and the grand boss conduct the job interview, but only the grand boss asks the questions? Both introduce themselves and explain that I’ll be reporting to the hiring manager, who in turn reports to the grand boss. But when the hiring manager is asked (more than once) if they have any questions for the candidate (me!), they demur.

    I’ve had this happen a few times. The result was not being advanced in the hiring process.

    Should I assume the lack of participation by the hiring manager is a sign they are not interested in hiring me?

    Should I make it a point to ask some of my questions directly to the hiring manager (instead of both)– in the hope of getting them to at least speak during the interview? Maybe ask them how they evaluate their report’s performance?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Personally, I’d see this as a major red flag – grand boss won’t let the hiring manager interview for their own team. I don’t think it’s about you at all.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes this isn’t you. Either grand boss won’t let anyone else think or speak (most likely) or the person who would be your boss is timid and ineffective and you’ll never get a raise,

      2. JelloStapler*

        I agree, I see this as a sign of a micromanagement culture and that your hiring manager will not be able or willing to advocate for you when needed.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Honestly, I think this is a situation where it’s easy to read into it more than is actually there. Did the hiring manager seem otherwise pleasant? It’s possible the hiring manager isn’t experienced in hiring or something like that, which is why they didn’t ask questions when they had the opportunity. Or maybe the hiring manager and grandboss work closely with employees, so the grandboss would be involved in your day-to-day work as well, and the hiring manager is just trusting their judgment. Or, yeah, it could be that the hiring manager isn’t as interested as the grandboss.

      I think your idea of asking some questions directly to the hiring manager is good–not in an aggressive way of course lol but before I take a job, I’d like to know some of the personality and approach of the person I’ll be directly under!

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I had a recent interview where the hiring manager had only been with the company a grad total of 10 days, so she just listed for the most part. However they were very transparent on why she wasn’t leading the interview.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m no expert, but personally, I would assume it to indicate something about the grand-boss’s managing style, that he or she is very much “in control” and as a result, their employees feel unable to speak up in front of them, even to interview people.

    4. Wildcat*

      In an interview with more than one person I always prepare questions for each person and ask them directly “say so and so what do you think about xyz” so I can hear everyone’s opinion. I don’t know if it means they don’t like you or just a bad interviewers. Sorry that keeps happening to you.

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      I think the plan to direct more questions to the direct manager is sound. After all, you are evaluating them, too. If the GB doesn’t let your hiring manager answer your questions, that sheds more light on the concerns raised when only the GB asked questions and the hiring manager demurred.

      When you see a hint of a potential problem with fit, I think it’s prudent to look a little more closely before deciding.

  27. Wendy @_@*

    It’s review season at my work. One of my fellow employees (same level as me) has a habit of upspeaking during presentation (this makes him sound like he’s asking questions rather than making statements). We’re both in the same junior role and it’s expected that we’re learning a lot in this position. Our reviews of each other ask for suggestions for improvement and they are anonymous. Should I mention this as a potential way to improve in my review of him? I think it is likely an ESL thing or maybe just his way of speaking, but I find that it makes listening to his presentations harder as an audience member. If it were me, I would find the feedback valuable but idk if others agree.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I guess you could, if you focus on the impact: “it’s not always clear whether Bob is making a statement or asking a question, and I sometimes get confused.” If you can’t say that (or a similar real impact) honestly, then I wouldn’t bring it up as a peer.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work we have to be cautious about how we phrase things in the written review to ensure we aren’t hurting the person’s reputation rather than helping. Looking at it through that lens I would say something more general about needed more training/experience in making presentations.

  28. Birch*

    Help me with a script?

    I’m going to be a starting a new full-time, exempt job in a few weeks.

    Meanwhile, I’m dealing with a new medical condition that doesn’t impact my work or life, but does need follow-up to make sure it doesn’t become more serious. The first follow-up appointment is scheduled during my second week of work, and will require missing a full day. I’m not sure what follow-up beyond that looks like: it may be an appointment in another few months, or it may require further diagnostics that would require a few days to recover.

    How do I talk to my new boss about this? I’m planning on scheduling a phone call next week, but beyond that, I’m really unsure how to phrase anything, how much information to give, or how to ask for what I need. I accrue a generous amount of sick time starting with the date of hire, so that isn’t an issue, but I hate needing to take time off so soon.

    1. Catcher in the Rye*

      I think the way you explained it here is good. If it helps to ease anxiety, you could even lead with the fact that you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable asking for time off this soon in a new position but your medical situation requires it. Take care & best of luck.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      “Just to let you know, I have a medical condition that doesn’t impact my work or life, but does need to be monitored. I have an appointment on [date] that will require me to take the day off sick. What’s the best way to handle that? I’m not sure what follow-up will be required after that, but when I find out, I’ll work with you to figure out the best way to deal with any future medical absences.”

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “I’ve got to schedule some medical appointments over the next couple of months. Are there any particular days/times coming up that I should avoid? How do you like to handle this sort of thing?”

      Don’t apologize. You just ask for how boss wants to handle the logistics and maybe some guidance about how to do your time card. They don’t need to know what the appointment is for or how dire the condition is.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I think you can just say “I’ll need to take a sick day on June 1, I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled.” Your new boss doesn’t need to know anything more than that, unless you think it’s very likely you’ll need extra unplanned sick days right afterwards (would the diagnostics be on this same day?)

    5. ABK*

      Is it possible to just tell them that you have a pre-scheduled commitment for that one day and need to take the day off? I’d be leery about mentioning a health condition at this point if I were in that situation.

  29. Anonya*

    Tips on keeping your concentration at work when stress from your personal life is bleeding over? I NEED TO GET MYSELF TOGETHER and get some stuff done, but I have zero capacity or wherewithal to do it. I have a history of anxiety and depression, and they are starting to rear their lovely heads again. :(

    1. Catcher in the Rye*

      I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that. I’m in a similar boat, and while I don’t have any magic solutions, something that’s helped me is remembering that “showing up” can look different from day to day; we aren’t always going to be able to offer 100% of ourselves at work. Depending on your relationship with your supervisor, it could be helpful to let them know that stress from your personal life may be impacting your productivity right now so that they have context and can maybe be supportive, but you know your situation way better than some rando on the internet. Take care and know you’re not alone.

    2. JelloStapler*

      As someone who has been there done that, are you seeing anyone for counseling- often they can have some great tools and coping mechanisms for you as well as an outlet to discuss what is going on. I agree with the commenter that “showing up” looks different day to day and to talk to your supervisor if you can. Having an understanding team and supervisors relly made a difference for me during a long period of stress.

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      It helps me when I make a to do list and order them by priority. That doesn’t mean I complete them in order, but the thought is there. If I get 2 very important things done, awesome. If I get just some minor work done, that’s better than nothing. The physical act of marking something off my list is incredibly appealing to me.

    4. Generic Name*

      Oh, hi, fellow struggler. :) I am currently dealing with 3 major stressors in my personal life that I have zero control over in addition to working a busy and stressful job. If you aren’t in therapy, it can be really helpful to help deal with stressors in your life. Also, don’t underestimate taking a mental health day on days when you just can’t. Yes, it doesn’t help get stuff done short term, but being at work while freaking and being stressed doesn’t get stuff done either. I’ve found it helpful to discretely give my manager and select higher-ups I work with frequently a heads up that I’ve got personal stuff going on that I’m dealing with, just in case it shows in my work performance. But this depends on your workplace and your relationship with your superiors.

      Also, prioritize what HAS to get done. Are there impending deadlines that need to be met? What happens if you can’t meet them? Do people die (this is a serious question), does the project lose funding, is the deadline sort-of made up? My industry is flooded with work right now, and there are lots of discussions on how to move deadlines wherever possible. Getting a deadline moved will give you more breathing room.

      On days where you are having a tough time, think about what you can concentrate on. In my job, I have things to do that require lots of concentration, and other things that require much less concentration. On days where my brain just can’t anymore, I focus on the tasks that require less brainpower.

      Also, can you take a vacation? Taking a break can help de-stress so you come back with more focus and ability to get stuff done.

      1. Generic Name*

        More tips I just thought of. Try to streamline the rest of your life as much as possible. Are you doing any volunteer work or are on committees that you could step back from? Do you have support at home? If you have a partner or spouse, ask them if they can pick up the slack in terms of cooking and cleaning. If you normally cook dinners from scratch, it can be a nice break to have frozen meals or takeout. If your family normally relies on you to help them, ask if they can reciprocate and help you out. Don’t say “yes” to anything extra or anything that you plain don’t want to do (in your personal life). That way what you’re doing gets distilled down to the bare minimum of what you *have* to get done. The rest can wait.

    5. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      I have been here.
      1: Not to be a cornball who suggests yoga, but when I was really Going Through It ™, I would do a guided meditation where I would imagine putting my personal life stressors on a shelf to deal with later. I’d often tell myself something like “this is still an issue, but it is not my issue to deal with right now, I am going to put it here and I can come back to it later” – something about this allowed me to compartmentalize just a little bit better.
      2: If I found that I was easily distracted and not getting work done (a symptom of my anxiety/depression) I would set an interval timer for myself, or create VERY detailed check lists so I could give myself a little dopamine hit by checking an item off… even if that item was “make a check list”.
      3: Sometimes I would try to “reset” myself by engaging my senses. I’d do this by moving to a different part of the house or going for a quick walk and coming back to my desk, getting a beverage, turning on an oil diffuser with my favorite scent, and putting headphones on with something new to listen to. Doing all of these things as one routine, and then *immediately* getting to work, often helped when nothing else would.

      Good luck and much compassion to you.

    6. Software Dev (she/her)*

      Figure out the minimum you can do to get by and do that, maybe? There’s this compounding, paralyzing guilt with this stuff that can actually make you do even less because you think you should be doing more. Try stuff like “making yourself work on the thing for 5 minutes” (as applicable to your own job).

      I like in these times in our lives as similar to when you have a minor cold and if you push yourself, you might just get worse but if you give yourself time to rest, you might get better faster. If you’re stuck in a spiral where it feels like it’s impossible to stop feeling bad/guilty about work but also impossible to do work, try breaking the first part of the spiral. Do whatever you have to to keep your job, accept that your work output is going to be less than your best for a while and give yourself permission to just do whatever self-care you can.

      This is purely anecdata but it has helped me in the past. When I stopped beating myself up about not getting things done and just gave myself permission to drop balls/fail at non-critical obligations, I found that after some time had passed, I was able to get things done again and also that world didn’t actually explode.

    7. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Lists. When the fecal matter starts trickling over, I rely on lists. Literally on a giant whiteboard in my office. (The fecal matter has awesome timing in my world right now, so I’m creating huge brain dumps of information and lists on that 4×8 white board. I’ll get through it, but I’m fighting to compartmentalize it.)

    8. Hlao-roo*

      Captain Awkward has a post on this. If you search “Captain Awkward #450: How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed” you should find it.

      Good luck and I hope the advice helps!

      1. Catcher in the Rye*

        Thank you for sharing that article. I just read it and it’s the only thing close to good advice I’ve been able to find for how my depression (+ two illnesses over the past month) has lead to my work habits going what feels like hopelessly off the rails. This practical advice gave me a little bit of hope back.

    9. Metadata minion*

      Sometimes giving myself little rewards helps keep my motivation going — fix a record, get an m&m, repeat.

  30. Tired Accountant No More*

    I managed to interview and land a job during the last weeks of tax season and gave my notice on Tuesday. I have great coworkers and a fantastic boss. I just don’t want tax season hours for the rest of my career, and knowing that the partners work even more, I didn’t want that either (though when I gave my notice, my boss mentioned that he was hoping I would take over from him, which I had kind of guessed). Anyway, is it normal to feel sad/bad about leaving? I’m definitely not leaving a toxic environment, and I know where I’m going will be a great opportunity. It’s just sad to leave people and work I genuinely like. (Though it is a little easier when I remember that this is my first actual day off since February, including weekends.)

    1. MsM*

      Totally normal, especially when it’s a “this is just what’s best for me personally” decision and not anything the company or your coworkers could be doing differently. But it is what’s best for you, and good coworkers will understand and support that, so keep looking to better things ahead.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Of course, life is complicated and most things are a mix of good and bad. Congrats on taking this step, and good luck in the new job!

  31. Catcher in the Rye*

    I posted in a previous open thread a few weeks ago about being mortified that I’d accidentally submitted a cover letter with the wrong school name in it. Some commenters eased by worries and I’m happy to update that I still got an interview for the position next week. Thanks for the reassurance- it was helpful!

  32. Rona Necessity*

    After coming out of college completely convinced that I’m an idiot with no real future in engineering, it’s nice to (a) have a job in the field that I’m doing really well (b) be interviewing for jobs more in line with my interests and have interviewers express how cool my personal technical projects are and how well I carry myself.

    I just wanted to share this for my past self and others in that situation. You’re going to be okay, I promise.

  33. Bad Qs*

    I commented a couple weeks ago about a weird phone screen where the interviewer asked how many times I had been late to work in the last year and what I thought were acceptable reasons to call in sick. These questions obviously threw up some red flags but I decided to do a Zoom interview with the hiring manager anyway, partially out of curiosity and partially because it’s been a few years since I’ve job hunted and I wanted to get an idea of what virtual interviewing feels like. I was pleasantly surprised by this interview and everything about the company and the role sounded great, so I chalked the weirdness up to the HR person who had done my initial screen. They asked me to do a skills test (which I spent about an hour of my personal time on) as the next part of the process.

    Well, the weird HR person reached out to me a week later asking to set up an in-person interview but also sharing what the pay would be for the position: a full $15/hour less than the number I told her I was looking for the first time we talked. I had suspected this particular job would mean a pay cut since it was a nonprofit, but I assumed that since she didn’t balk at the number I mentioned that it would at least pay in the same ballpark. Why even ask the salary question if not to screen out people with a pay expectation mismatch? I had forgotten how frustrating job hunting is. *sigh*

    1. JelloStapler*

      Sometimes I think they believe people will be so dedicated to the mission or so eager for the position, they will happily accept a pay cut for the honor of joining the org.

      Am I possibly a little snarky today? Yes.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I was literally told this by a senior executive in my last nonprofit job, so it didn’t read as snarky to me.

      2. Bad Qs*

        Ugh, I’m sure that happens all the time. This particular company was a nonprofit serving other businesses rather than the community so it wasn’t even the kind of place you would feel passionate about. I’m currently paid above average for my role so I’m reconciled to taking a pay cut but maybe like, $5/hour tops. I have to pay my mortgage, after all!

    2. irene adler*

      Ouch! They hoped you’d be so enamored of them that you’d be thrilled with a salary paid in Monopoly money.

      1. Bad Qs*

        Luckily it was an email exchange, otherwise it would have been difficult to respond professionally. I just emailed her back and politely said that I was withdrawing from consideration since the pay was far below what I was seeking. I thought about adding “as I outlined in our first conversation” but that seemed too snarky.

  34. Windows to Apple*

    I feel silly asking this, but I just received a job offer from a company that uses Apple products and I’ve never used a Mac laptop before. I’ve only ever used Windows. How hard is the learning curve? Is there a crash course somewhere I could learn? If it helps, this would be for just normal office tasks (e-mail, documents, spreadsheets, etc.). Nothing too specialized.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Not that hard to learn if you’re open-minded.

      A lot of the shortcuts can easily transfer over. For example, to copy, instead of Control-C, you do Cmd-C. To paste, instead of Control-V, you do Cmd-V. Instead of switching windows with Alt-Tab, you switch programs with Cmd-Tab (and windows within a program with Cmd-`).

      But, for the most part, Chrome is Chrome, Slack is Slack, Excel is Excel.

      1. FromasmalltowninCanada*

        I disagree that Excel is Excel. It’s the single biggest reason I no longer have a Mac. If you use Excel a lot – it’s going to suck. Everything else though should be fine.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Being able to access menu items using the Alt key is super handy. Is there any specific functionality in Excel that’s in the Windows version but not in the Mac one? Or is less about functionality and more about just annoyance in the interface?

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      It wasn’t bad for me! I feel like these days, things are even more similar now in terms of user experience than they were when I first started using Apple products. It’s mostly very intuitive.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’ve been there, and found it straightforward to adapt for normal office tasks. Proficiency came with practice. I don’t have the best memory for keyboard shortcuts, but I’ve figured out the ones I use often, and stick to them: I don’t mind spending more time clicking around for tasks I only do once in a while, if the alternative is googling the shortcut every single time. And I say that out of sheer laziness! With “how-to” stuff like this, googling really answers most questions rather quickly.

      On the other hand, I’m one of those people who enjoy poking around a website or new software and discovering all configuration options, so when it comes to changing configuration or plugging into second screens / Bluetooth devices, that’s all stuff I picked up rather quickly. That and Keynote, which was a must in my old role. It has lots more functionality comparing to PowerPoint, but to me, it’s waaaay easier (and more fun) to use.

      One thing I love about the Macs I’ve worked with is that they rarely ever seem to have performance issues. I have a personal Windows laptop at home, and it’s slow and prone to crashing to the point I wish I never had to turn it on again. Never had any issues of that sort with Macs, even with using them 8 hours a day and processing lots of data.

      All the best for your new job, and as far as Macs go, you’ll be fine in no time :)

    4. Raboot*

      It’s not so bad if you’re a person who is comfortable with “my pc can do X, I bet my mac can too, let me google how”. I go back and forth with work and personal and since I’m confident with “what is reasonable to expect from a computer” it’s nbd. For someone not very computer literate it would maybe be more difficult to go back and forth. If that’s not you then I wouldn’t worry about it.

    5. Another Data Girl*

      Thanks for posting this question, I am in the exact same situation! Also very nervous even though I use an iPhone

    6. Gracely*

      It really depends on the person. I was all windows/pc before I met my spouse, who was all Mac (with added Unix/MS DOS). I got an iPhone and liked it. When I needed a new laptop, I decided to try a MacBook, since I knew spouse would be able to help me if needed.

      The learning curve was frustrating. A lot of Apple people swear that it’s more intuitive/etc., but if you’ve only used PCs before…it’s not. It is, in fact, the exact opposite of what I’m used to/expecting most of the time. However, once I realized that, it actually made the transition a lot easier. BUT, the good thing is, like someone else pointed out, that all the internet-based stuff (chrome/google/etc.) is exactly the same, so that’s also very helpful. And there are lots of resources out there to walk you through how to do specific things.

      Also, I think my transition to using a Macbook was made a lot harder because I have to use a PC at work, so I still spend much more time in Windows than I do on a Mac. It will probably be easier/faster to learn if it’s the computer you spend the most time on.

    7. Beth*

      It’s been many, many years since I made the transition in the other direction, but I would still say that it’s much easier to go from Windows to Apple than from Apple to Windows. Allocate some time and bandwidth for getting yourself up to speed, and be prepared to Google for tips a lot, as Raboot said.

    8. Clouds (in the sky)*

      This was me last December. As an avid Windows hotkey user, it was more of a struggle than I expected to unlearn Windows and relearn the Mac ones. There are Apple videos on YouTube that were useful for me. If you’re more of a mouse user, its a more straightforward transition. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle initially! Most everyone accepts ‘new to Mac, sorry bout that’.

    9. OtterB*

      I made the switch a few years ago. When I started at my office, they were a mixed Mac and PC environment, but it had gradually migrated to everyone else being on Mac, so I took the jump. It was frustrating initially but settled down pretty quickly. I got a book on Switching to a Mac. It wasn’t very expensive and I didn’t need it for very long, but it helped expedite the process.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      For me it was about two weeks of swearing and then it was totally fine! Exit to the left vs the right = helpful hint.

    11. JessicaTate*

      I’m a dedicated Windows user, who once had to adapt to Macs at a job. It was frustrating, but OK. The shortcuts and positioning of buttons was hard, along with the dock / menu bars. The biggest thing (which I think they’ve done away with?? I’m old) was that Macs used to have the “homing bumps” on different keys on the keyboard. I touch type, and I would constantly type several words of utter gibberish before I realized my fingers were on the wrong keys.

      Actually, I think the hardest part was the switching back and forth between my home PC and work Mac. My brain had to remember which system I was on at any given moment (and those GD key bumps!).

    12. Alex*

      If it makes you feel any better, my extremely technologically inept 77 year old mother was able to make the switch. And this is a woman who struggles finding the “power” button.

      You’ll probably have a few hiccups at first, just from muscle memory, but you’ll get used to it pretty fast, I suspect.

  35. Hedgehog*

    Does anyone have any advice/thoughts on how to handle terminations well (from an employer perspective)? I work at a small nonprofit (<30 people) that is very people-focused (so everyone knows everyone and staff are generally encouraged to build friendly relationships with each other) and we keep running into issues where people get extremely freaked out whenever someone leaves unexpectedly (either through resignation or termination). Obviously, from an HR perspective, we can't share any personal info about what happened behind the scenes, but every time someone leaves people are shook and the rumor mill runs wild, often requiring several supervisory conversations to calm down and settle into "normal" work again. I'm wondering if there's a better way to communicate that someone is leaving without all the drama, or if that's just an inevitable thing that comes with terminations?

    1. Alice*

      Do the employees trust that, if their managers are perceiving problems with their work that might lead to termination, there will be conversations about it before going to the nuclear option?
      That’s not to say that you should be telling everyone “we fired Timmy because he kept peeing in the breakroom ficus even after we told him to stop.” But if people are having regular 1:1s with their managers, why are they afraid of getting blindsided by a surprise termination?
      Or maybe it’s not fear as much as gossip, in which case, I have no ideas. Except, maybe, that if terminations are happening regularly at a company with <30 people, maybe the hiring process should be more rigorous?

    2. Annie Moose*

      If someone is resigning by choice, perhaps you could allow them to send out a goodbye email or have HR ask if it’s okay to share what they’re doing next?

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t think drama is the norm in these situations so what is going on here that’s leading to “shook” “calm down” and “settle?” That’s what needs to be changed.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      So I’m in a small office, and one of our staff resigned this week — with their permission, I shared where they were going next, and included a warm tone about wishing them well, etc.
      I also included a line about what people should do in the short term in regards to this person’s duties, and mentioned more info would be forthcoming once a transition plan was set.

      With terminations, there’s not much you can do except designate an initial point-of-contact to field all questions regarding that person’s work while an actual plan is being formed.

      You can’t get rid of drama entirely, but if you do what you can to decrease the immediate confusion/stress around departures — that is, people can still move forward with their jobs and won’t be too impacted by not having someone in that role — I think people will be less inclined to turn to gossip/rumors to feel more in control/in the know. The quicker and smoother your org can move forward, the better for the individual employees. It’s when people feel stuck or out of the loop that they get more invested in rumors/gossip/any info they can latch onto.

    5. Ama*

      One thing my smallish nonprofit does when the circumstances around someone’s leaving are a little sensitive is tell all of the department heads first along with advice about messaging and then have the department heads speak with their reports face to face (over Zoom counts) to let them know. We had a kind of awkward situation recently where a department was being restructured and two long-time employees’ current jobs were being eliminated while new positions were being created that better handled the department’s current needs. The employees both had the option to apply to the new jobs but one of them it would have been a demotion and he chose to take a layoff instead. Handling it in smaller meetings where people might feel freer to ask questions or express concerns (rather than it being announce on email or in an all staff meeting where people might be afraid to speak up in front of everyone) helped eliminate any rumors about the employee who took the layoff being fired for performance and also allowed the department heads (of which I am one) to explain the context around why that department was being restructured and those particular jobs had been eliminated and that my own department’s members were not going to see any similar restructuring.

  36. DeeDee*

    Nothing exciting to say, but just general professional malaise. I’m on our digital team and just spent a little while interacting with one of the core apps we build (I’m also a user) and it is so, so frustrating and I know all the reasons why but it doesn’t make them okay.

    I’m just frustrated with the whole organization. Everyone who works here is lovely and I like all the people but as an organization we’re so backward and stodgy and afraid to do anything that might change the way we’ve always done things and we have so many silos and teams that don’t talk to or even actively compete with one another and it’s really hard to care about anything anymore.

    I’ve been here five years and every so often there’s some hope for change but it never really happens. Inertia is powerful.

    That’s all. Rant over for now.

    1. JelloStapler*

      Wow. I am sensing a different industry but I am really relating to this. :/ My org has some of the same issues.

  37. Justin*

    I am overqualified, fully credentialed, and, in a few weeks, finished with school, so I should excel at the new job, which starts Monday.

    But that old impostor brain is fighting. It’s finally a job with a lot of responsibility (and seems to be affirming, etc). It’s what I’ve been pushing for. Can someone help me believe I deserve it? :)

    1. ecnaseener*

      You got this! If it helps, lean into the imposter syndrome – like hell yeah, play the part of a qualified and competent professional! scam those clowns into paying you for the fake (real) work you’ll do!

    2. Wildcat*

      This was shared in a newsletter called nu I subscribe to by Nedra Tawwab
      “There are two questions we should ask ourselves when we’re feeling like imposters:

      Do I know what I’m doing, or do I have the skills and knowledge to figure it out?

      Do I have the experience for what this phase of life or new role is demanding?

      If the answer to these questions is yes, maybe it’s not imposter syndrome. Qualified people aren’t imposters. Maybe we are just uncomfortable being in roles where we don’t have mentors, or roles where we are the first in our family or friend group to do what we’re doing. Maybe we’re uncomfortable being in positions that we’ve never been in before.”

      You’re not an impostor if you’re qualified!

    3. Stevie Budd*

      Remember that you’re not expected to know everything about a new job when you start. This is especially true right out of school, but even applies to later jobs – you always need to learn how the new workplace does things. So don’t feel weird about not knowing things.

      1. Justin*

        To be clear, I’m not fresh out of college, I got a doctorate (while working full time), so I’ve definitely been working the whole time. But yes, they will not expect me to know everything. Thanks.

        1. PollyQ*

          Still, keep reminding yourself that it’s normal to feel confused and ignorant for that first months of a job. There’s always job-specific knowledge to be picked up, including things that are so basic to your colleagues that they may not even think to tell you. Try not to let the bully in your head beat you up for not knowing those things. Good luck — you got this!

  38. Paper Jam*

    So I’m in the middle of the strangest week.

    I have been promoted to be the director of my department – It was a long time coming, but I found out officially on Tuesday, which was the same day we fired another member of my team, much to the relief of everyone.

    I communicated this yesterday, though as I was walking out the door, one of my current teammates asked very quickly if I could be a reference for him and to keep it on the down low. He’s a great employee with a ton of potential, and I had no idea he was looking – I literally JUST took over the team a few hours before.

    Obviously, people leave jobs and I’m going to be supportive and give whatever references are necessary. But what is my responsibility in regards to confidentiality? If I was still his peer, I obviously wouldn’t share, but as the director of the team, I do have a responsibility to keep our team staffed, and I want to be able to try to retain this employee if possible, but I’d have to alert my boss (his former boss) in order to try and make that happen. I also know how important is to build trust early, so appreciate any guidance here.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Please don’t sell out your teammate! It’s not right. How about a first step of following up with him to ask if there is any way he could be convinced to stay and what it would take…because if there’s not then it’s moot. If he is open to some wooing, you could ask if it would be okay to try to make that happen. There could be a way to go to bat for him in a way that isn’t obvious but getting permission first would be ideal.

      1. JelloStapler*

        I really like this approach, it shows you heard the employee and that you value them professionally and personally without pulling the rug out from beneath them.

      2. MsM*

        +1. Trying to retain him starts with figuring out if he’s open to being retained, or whether you need to start lining things up so you can quickly launch the hiring process and implement a transition plan when he does make it official. (Honestly, I suspect the fact he’s being open and honest with you about looking means there’s not much you’re going to be able to do, but at least you can proceed with confidence.)

    2. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

      If you’re sure that your org doesn’t punish people for leaving, then you can reassure him if that and let him know you need to open his backfill by y X date. By it you need to be sure you can protect him.

  39. Irish Teacher.*

    This is just out of interest, but I’m wondering about the job application process in other countries/industries. I just read a post here the other day about how somebody had “only” had one half hour interview. To me, in my field, that is on the longer side of average.

    To apply for a teaching job in Ireland, you usually send either a CV (resume) or an application form, depending on which the school asks for, with a cover letter. If you are short-listed, you get called for an interview, which generally lasts 10-30 minutes (though I once attended one that was THREE minutes and have attended a couple that were 40-45 minutes, but those are real outliers). Then the successful candidate gets a call offering them the job.

    There ARE some schools that do preliminary interviews, but again, these are comparatively unusual, maybe 10%? of schools would do this and the preliminary interviews are short – 10-15 minutes, then about three candidates are called for a full, 20-30 minute interview.

    I know in the UK, teaching interviews involve a good deal more, including things like teaching a class, but just wondering what the norm is for various fields and countries.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Wow! My teacher friends in the US say it’s usually 3 rounds of interviews and a demo lesson.

    2. londonedit*

      Yeah I’m not a teacher but I have teacher friends and what I understand is that in England at least it’s likely to be a full-day interview that involves teaching a class and interviewing with the head/senior staff members.

      My industry is book publishing and the way it generally works here is that you apply with CV and cover letter, and the first stage is an in-person (or nowadays the video equivalent) interview. Usually there’ll be a line in the job ad to say that only successful applicants will be contacted, because publishing (especially editorial) jobs get so many applications. The first interview is usually with the publisher/editorial director of the list you’d be working on, and probably a commissioning editor or other senior staff member from the team. It’s mainly ‘talk me through your experience/tell me about a time when/what do you think you can bring to this job’ questions, and there’s usually some sort of practical element, like an editing/proofreading test, or for commissioning roles sometimes you’ll have to come up with a couple of pitches for new book ideas or ideas for growing the list (which you’ll be notified of in advance). Then second interview stage will be with the same publisher/editorial director but also most likely with whoever’s above them in the hierarchy – could be the head of department or in smaller companies the CEO/managing director/owner. That’ll be more competency-based questions, they might dig a bit into your experience within the industry, they might want you to talk through particular books you’ve worked on or challenges you’ve faced. After that, a decision is made – it’s very rare to have more than two interviews (I never have, and a couple of times I’ve got the job after one interview). First interviews are probably 30-45 minutes of chat and 15 minutes for the editorial tests, second interviews probably the same but with no tests at the end.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Candidates at my school (US) spend the whole day on campus: teach a demo class, sit in on another, meet with the department chair, the head of school, have lunch with the department members so they can ask questions.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Just out of interest, do ye usually get many applications for jobs? Here, schools can get 100 or more applications, though a lot depends on subjects. Some subjects schools struggle to find teachers for, Irish in particular. Others have dozens of applicants.

        Personally, I quite like the idea of teaching a demo class. I have been to a couple of interviews where I had to teach a pretend class to the interview panel, though when I say “a couple,” I mean like it’s happened two or three times out of all the dozens of interviews I have been to. It is not the norm here by any means. I quite liked it as it meant I had an opportunity to show what I would do rather than just talking about it.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve had a pretty wide range of experiences with having interviews in the US. Most places it’s been a single 30ish minute interview, sometimes just with the principal and sometimes with a team (principal + a couple teachers in the same dept/level). One place had me teach a demo lesson and gave me a campus tour but they had a pretty intense program with really rigid standards/practices, as well as an unusual campus with things like a community garden and bike repair shop

    5. Flower necklace*

      When I was interviewing to teach (public school, in the US) around five years ago, I had a similar experience: 20-30 minutes with a group of about 2-3 people.

      When I interviewed for an open position in our department a few months ago, the interviewers included me, my boss, and another admin. We had a list of questions and took turns asking each one to the candidate. We had a brief discussion after she left, and then I think she accepted pretty quickly (within 1-2 days).

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Sounds very similar to the situation here. Generally, the interviewers would be the principal, the deputy principal and possibly somebody else, which could be a teacher of the subject in question or a representative from the board, that sort of thing.

    6. Alex*

      How could they possibly gain anything in ten minutes? This seems really bizarre for me!

      I remember my interview for a receptionist job was meeting with four different people for at least a half hour each, and then a group interview with the lower level staff in addition. And that was just to make copies and answer phones, not shape the next generation lol! My current job was just a phone screen an one in-person interview with my boss, but it still lasted 90 minutes.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        To be honest, I sort of suspect the ones that are under 10 minutes have a pretty fair idea who they want to employ already and are only going through the motions.

        Though you can ask a fair few questions in 10 minutes.

    7. CatMintCat*

      I was appointed to my teaching job (NSW, Australia). My principal was given a list of (I think) five people eligible for the appointment and told “pick one”. He picked me because I have a strong background in teaching (unlikely to leave after a year or two), older (not interested in promotion), established in our remote little community (not desperate for a transfer to the city). He didn’t actually meet me until after the appointment was made.
      i got my teaching job by appointment. I had applied for a transfer out of my previous school (bullying principal who loathed me on sight and made my life a misery and a burden for the eight years I knew her). Finally my name came up, and my current principal picked me from the short list he was given by the department. Mainly because I’m established in the community and wouldn’t be wanting a transfer to the coast as soon as I was eligible.

      My daughter has just been similarly appointed – the position she has was for appointment of a new graduate, and she has been working in the school for a year already. So he knew her, knows she’s got ties to the community. So now she has the classroom next to mine.

      Every alternate job is an appointment and the ones in between are done by interview. Most of these, where the Principal has a say, end up going to teachers who have been working in the school on a temporary basis for some time – they’re a known quantity. It’s very hard to break into a school where you aren’t know by interview. Maybe with the current teacher shortage , which is biting hard in rural areas, this will change.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        That’s really interesting. Here, you have to have had two interviews with a school in order to get a permanent contract.

  40. Sarah*

    I know I’m overthinking this, but how do you handle when your boss wants to go to lunch? My internship is ending and my boss is taking me and the other intern to lunch. Like…what do we talk about? Who pays? (I’m also one of those people who’s just uncomfortable eating in front of others, a separate issue but probably related as to why I’m worried.)

    1. Colette*

      I suspect your boss will guide the conversation. She should pay, as well, but I’d be prepared to pay for your own meal anyway.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Be prepared to pay, but there’s a good chance your boss will pay in this circumstance.

      Odds are the conversation will be low impact … it’s a friendly gesture to say goodbye. You can talk about what you’re going to be doing after the internship. Maybe ask the boss a couple of questions so they’ll be so busy talking that you won’t have to … and they won’t pay attention to what you are or aren’t eating.

      And feel free to order something light, comforting, and/or portable so that you can say “gee, I don’t usually eat much at lunch, but I’m looking forward to having my leftovers tonight”.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      In this case, your boss SHOULD be offering to pay. If they do so, thank them graciously and allow them to do so–don’t try to push back out of a fear of seeming greedy.

      You could talk about anything you might talk about at a work event or maybe in the time before a meeting starts while waiting for people to show up. It’ll probably be a mix of work chat, small talk, and maybe some questions about your future plans after the internship. You could take the opportunity to talk about what you’ve learned in your internship in a casual way–not like you’re being grilled to make sure you retained it all. (“I’m so glad I got the opportunity to learn to care for llamas’ hooves here! We had studied it a bit in class, but now I feel like I really get it–and it’s got me considering specializing in llama manicures eventually.”)

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      Intern lunch the boss almost always buys. Pick something low to mid range price on the menu. If Boss orders first then don’t order something more expensive than what they order. Obviously, have money to cover your portion just in case. Usually at start boss will say “its on company” or “my treat”. Reply with “thanks!” (My mom always used the phrase “That’s very generous of you, Thanks”). If boss is personally covering it (“its on me/my treat”) you can offer to pay once (“are you sure? I don’t mind getting my half the bill”).

      Food wise use first date judgment. Messy foods, or foods eaten with hands instead of utensils might be less good choice. But no one really cares.

      For conversation you can talk about work stuff. How did boss get started in this field? What did Boss wish they had known starting out in field? Has company always been located here?

      Or you can talk about personal stuff. Favorite new TV show? Read any good books lately? What does everyone think about marvel going for yet another movie in the same universe? Is nearby tourist attraction XYZ any good? Any fun plans for the weekend? What hobbies do people enjoy?

    5. Policy Wonk*

      I’m with the others who have commented – usually the boss will pay in a situation like this, but have enough to cover your own meal just in case you work for that one.

      RE: the conversation, be prepared to say what you thought was good about the internship or the experience you gained (if you want to praise someone for being helpful, this is the time to do it.) You should also expect a question along the lines of what didn’t work or what should we do better next time (completely opposite the praise comment, DO NOT trash someone who wasn’t helpful. Will reflect on you, not them.)

    6. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      As the others have said, the odds are better than average that your boss will pay (but do be prepared to pay for your meal if it comes to that). You mention that another intern will be joining you. That’s always good–so you won’t have to do all of the talking. As this lunch is happening at the end of your internship, I’m sure your boss wants this to be relaxed so expect a good amount of general lunch chat–Plans for the weekend; plans for the summer; hobbies; fav movies and tv shows etc. As for work chat–talk about your experience as an intern at the company, but don’t talk about any of your co-workers.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Like the infamous McDonald’s coffee lawsuit, this one is generating a lot of “hot takes” based on misleading headlines. He sued because his employer ignored/provoked his panic attacks, among other things, but none of the headlines are going to say “Employer loses lawsuit after deliberately provoking panic attacks.”

    2. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      When I read about this, my gut instinct response was “Good.” Companies that clearly don’t respect their employee’s health and well-being deserve to be sued, and deserve to lose.

    3. WellRed*

      I thought we’ll, this is why we should take people at their when they ask not to have their birthday celebrated. But also, the company had no idea he had panic attacks. Can’t accommodate an unknown (though I suspect a company this into birthdays might have ignored his wishes regardless).

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        From the articles I’ve seen, it sounds like he explicitly requested not to have a party *because* of his anxiety. He may not have used the words “panic attack” but it sounds like he did inform them that this was a health concern.

    4. Nonny*

      I thought this but was odd: “ Julie Brazil, the company’s founder and chief operating officer, said in an email statement to the newspaper that “with ever-increasing incidents of workplace violence, this verdict sets a very dangerous precedent for employers and most importantly employees that unless physical violence actually occurs, workplace violence is acceptable.””

      Is she implying they fired him because his panic attacks lead them to believe he would be violent?

      1. RagingADHD*

        In other articles they are characterizing his behavior as appearing “enraged.” Based on the verbal abuse the CEO was heaping on him, he woukd have had a right to be enraged.

        Clearly the jury did not buy the characterization at all.

      2. Jora Malli*

        Part of the stigma against mentally ill people has always been that we’re dangerous and when we lose control we’ll be violent and hurt people. This isn’t helped by the fact that the people who want to avoid doing anything to stop school and workplace violence have been giving media interviews for decades where they lay the blame on mental illness. I’m guessing the person who said that totally believes that ableist garbage and can’t distinguish between a person who’s about to start punching people and a person who’s about to have a panic attack.

      3. Elle Woods*

        From the articles I’ve read, he allegedly clenched his fists, his face turned red, and he ordered his supervisors to be quiet in the meeting. The company also said he hadn’t notified them of his panic disorder prior to this event. Depending on whose version of events you believe, he did tell them “no party please, it will cause me anxiety” and the supervisor forgot to relay the message OR he never told them about his anxiety issues.

        That said…yikes. That seems to be what she’s implying.

        I’ve worked in corporate communications and this statement from the CEO is a really good example of DARVO (deny, attack, reverse victim & offender) especially because she explains that “her employees, rather than the plaintiff, were the victims in the case” and that he stole “his co-workers’ joy.” If I had been advising her, I would have issued a far more neutral statement (“We’re disappointed with the jury’s verdict and are reviewing our options”) rather than indirectly maligning this man’s character.

        I wonder how or if this statement might get used against the company if there is an appeal.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          Officially, not at all, since it’s not in the judicial record. I wouldn’t bet against one or more of the judges or their law clerks having read about it, though, and they are human.

          More likely, the appellate lawyer will take the tone her client wants in arguing the appeal, and it’s not a good look.

          Reminds me of a line in an early product liability case in Mississippi. Rather than getting bogged down in the theory underpinning the jury’s verdict over the illness plaintiff suffered, the Court drily commented that they could think of no reason why putrefied human toes could not be left out of products intended to go in a consumer’s mouth. Verdict for the plaintiff affirmed, by the way.

  41. Silvercat*

    I asked a while back about coming out as non-binary at work. I finally got up the courage to send out an email and it’s going alright! My manager and another on the team thanked me for letting them know, some co-workers have been supportive about reminding people, and I haven’t gotten any pushback.

    1. Candle Knight*

      Ah, that’s so amazing to hear!! It’s such a scary thing to do but having everything go smoothly is the best antidote. I hope it continues to be as chill and smooth as it sounds like it has been.

    2. jellybean*

      I know it’s not easy, but congratulations on such a big step and hope it continues that way. I completely understand and respect why people don’t but it does make me think of that line from Brooklyn 99: “every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.”

    3. Catcher in the Rye*

      That’s awesome! Who knows, you may also be paving the way to help someone else feel comfortable coming out at work. My current job is the first time I’ve been out as non-binary in the workplace and I only felt comfortable coming out because there are other out non-binary people in my department. Congrats!

    4. ThatGirl*

      That’s awesome.

      One of my coworkers came out as nonbinary a couple weeks ago (I had already known) and it went well for them too – people were largely very supportive. I have heard a few people awkwardly try to avoid using pronouns but nobody has misgendered them in my presence, anyway. They also added their pronouns to their Zoom display and email signature.

      1. Silvercat*

        I wish I could add my pronouns in Teams because that’s the main way we communicate (most people are in once a week or less), but it’s controlled by the company.

        1. ThatGirl*

          yeah, my company uses Teams a lot for everyday chatting and unfortunately there’s no way to modify that

    5. Doctors Whom*

      This is awesome. I’m so glad to hear you are able to be fully your authentic self at work in a safe & supportive environment:)

  42. Candle Knight*

    I’m really curious to hear from anyone who has gone freelance during the pandemic, particularly in a creative field. What was your experience like? How has it been finding & keeping clients? How many clients did you have built up before you made the jump?

    Looking pretty heavily to make the jump into freelance illustration—I have the skill, a soft client list, and a financial cushion all ready—but the idea of leaving stable full-time creative work in the design industry for something that feels so indulgent still scares me a little bit. Would love other folks’ stories.

  43. Not A Mail Carrier*

    Kinda random question, but I’m genuinely curious: how do those of you who sort and distribute mail for a lot of people, without a mailroom, handle it? My new job’s mail system is completely disorganized, and I can’t tell if this is just normal. Even if it is, I’m still looking to improve the process since I’m in charge of sorting and distributing at the front desk.

    Our mail system hasn’t been updated since the company had only a couple dozen people in the 1960s. Now we’re at 400+ people. How it works: currently, we have ten sorting slots the mail goes into, sorted by the departments that fall under each slot. A supervisor must be contacted to come get their slot’s mail (and getting them to the front desk to actually pick up for their department is like pulling teeth, but that’s a different problem for another time). I have an always-outdated listing of employees that doesn’t always tell who goes in which slot (outdated because I have to beg the rest of HR for the info, and people are constantly getting hired, fired, retired, or changing departments), so most of the time I’m just guessing. (A lot of this is out of the scope of AAM comments to suggest fixes–I’m just sharing how things work here since I’m asking all of you for the same type of stories!)

    Even if the way your work does things isn’t something I can utilize, I’m also just curious how it functions elsewhere in general, so I look forward to your mail-tales. :)

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      What a disaster!

      Could a non-supervisor from each department be designated the mail collector? And can you NOT be the person who has to remind them every day? Just the occasional “Hey Marketing Department, your bin is overflowing” alert.

      I’d probably also be completely ok with having a list of the relevant employees on each slot and keep misdelivering mail until someone points out they moved on.

      And maybe get one of those awesome mail carts and just take a walk through the office every day at 3:00 and dump the piles in a inbox for each department.

      1. Not A Mail Carrier*

        You have no idea how much I would love to handle mail delivery direct to the recipients with a fun cart or something! :D Sadly, I’m front desk reception (and haaaaate it), so I can’t leave my little box, much as I’d prefer to wander the building doing random tasks. As long as I’m stuck here with this job, I’m hoping to bring up the mail inefficiencies with someone who can authorize making changes so the next person doesn’t have to deal with the ridiculousness. But since these are the same people who don’t get why there’s a problem with me working 9 hours with no bathroom or other breaks in the schedule, I’m not overly optimistic I’ll get anything other than a confused, “Why do we need to change anything now? It always worked before.” (No…it really didn’t.)

        I’d probably also be completely ok with having a list of the relevant employees on each slot and keep misdelivering mail until someone points out they moved on.

        I am definitely guilty of malicious-compliance misdelivery. :D If you don’t give me the info I need to do things correctly, you don’t get to complain when your mail’s always at least partially wrong!

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Implemented more efficient internal mail sorting and delivery – would make a great resume bullet point too hmmmmm

          Re the outdated lists – could you ask the supervisor picking up to confirm a print out list of names in their department (print it so they can cross off or add to it) ? Might be more likely to do quickly than to reply to an email that gets buried.

          1. Not A Mail Carrier*

            Implemented more efficient internal mail sorting and delivery – would make a great resume bullet point too

            I hadn’t thought of that–but this is an excellent point!

            Re the outdated lists – could you ask the supervisor picking up to confirm a print out list of names in their department (print it so they can cross off or add to it) ?

            This is an extremely logical and reasonable idea–which are two of the reasons why I couldn’t get anyone to work with me on this when I tried to ask for something similar. :/ (“We don’t have time to keep you updated. Everything’s too backed up and busy.” –Well, if you kept me updated, people’s mail wouldn’t keep getting delayed and backing up the works, and if we had a better delivery system than “when the supervisors feel like getting the mail” you wouldn’t be so constantly rushing to catch up on work!)

        2. ferrina*

          To try to get people to come to the front desk:
          I’ve been known to resort to poetry to get people to do what I want. There’s nothing like getting an all-staff email with a haiku about administrative policies (plenty of people roll their eyes, some genuinely enjoy it, but it definitely gets attention! And I can always use the threat of limericks to get people to comply in a timely manner)

          Other tactics I’ve been known to use include candy bowls and trivia questions to coax people to my desk (great when two folks you need to talk to are competitive and always want to know if the other person knew today’s question).

          1. Not A Mail Carrier*

            I am giggling at these clever ideas!

            (My limericks are definitely not work-appropriate. LOL)

          2. linger*

            Limericks don’t have to be a threat.
            A [Department] rep needs to be knowing,
            Your mailbox is now overflowing.
            Grab a bag, or a pail,
            Collect up your mail,
            And shove it where it should be going.

        3. Yellowjacket #3*

          Wait – I know this isn’t your main question, but I’ve had several front desk jobs (including one I’m at right now!), and it’s definitely not standard to not have a bathroom or other break for 9 hours! What do you do for lunch? Is there someone who is assigned to cover the desk? If not, there should be! There might actually be a legal issue there too if you’re not able to ever take a break.

          1. SloanGhost*

            Yeah this is horrible! Not only would i absolutely lose it if i couldn’t pee for 9h, “holding it” is demonstrably bad for your physical health. To me, this would be worth walking over, to heck with their mail.

          2. Not A Mail Carrier*

            We don’t have anyone else assigned to the desk if the person working it needs to step away, which also struck me as weird when I started working and found out! And people act like it’s so confusing that I have a problem with this. (They’re not holding it in for hours themselves–I’m literally the only person in the company who can’t just get up and go to the bathroom when I need it.) Total disorganization is sort of the running theme of this place, unfortunately. For lunch, I have to bring in snacks I can eat at the desk that don’t require cooking or refrigeration.

            I’ve never worked in this kind of office environment before and had very little idea of what’s normal. But I’m getting enough horrified responses from people that I’m going to look into this.

            1. Yellowjacket #3*

              It’s DEFINITELY not normal. Please look into the legality of this in your state. I’d even consider writing in to Allison about how to approach them because it’s really wild that you even have to point out to them that you are a human with basic human needs!!!

    2. Shoney Honey*

      At a prior job, once the mail had been received and sorted, the receptionist sent out an all staff email that simply said “Mail has been posted”. It was quick, simple, and then it was up to the individual departments to sort out who and when they picked up their mail. If someone’s box would fill up, she would email the department email list and tell them their box was full. She operated from a place of, it was her job to distribute it (to the best of her ability, with the outdated information she had) and what happened after was not her concern.

      1. Not A Mail Carrier*

        Did you used to work at my current office? Because that’s pretty much how it works (well, doesn’t work) now! XD Except that in my case, what happens to the mail becomes my concern if it’s sent to the wrong department. Because it’s somehow my fault that no one will get their crap together. If I had the power to fix everything myself, I would NOT be working the front desk, let me tell you.

    3. Yellowjacket #3*

      I worked for a smaller company, but they were similarly disorganized sometimes, and they hadn’t had a receptionist before me, so I kind of had to teach them how to have one. Here’s how we did it: the vast majority of mail received was for one department, and that department designated a specific spot I would leave their mail. Anything beyond that fell into just a couple categories:

      -Spam like catalogs and advertisements, which could always be recycled (plus things that people would individually flag to me as spam, i.e. “Always recycle my letters from so-and-so, it’s a solicitation)
      -Mail for employees who worked in the office, which was annoying to deliver because we did hot-desking and you couldn’t reliably find people in the same spot. If I couldn’t find someone to deliver their mail, I would send them a Slack message to come get it.
      -Mail for employees who are always remote. I would email these people individually, and ask if they preferred that I open and scan their mail to them, or forward it to their home address.
      -Important caveat! I was allowed to leave the reception desk whenever I needed to, without finding coverage, due to the fact that our front door was always locked (and had a doorbell that would ring to my cell phone) and the desk phone didn’t really ring.

      Other ways I’ve seen it done:
      -Every employee has an individual mailbox in a designated area and is responsible for checking it periodically
      -A non-receptionist is in charge of all mail and packages and distributes everything daily so that the receptionist doesn’t need to leave the desk

      1. Not A Mail Carrier*

        I really like these. Thank you for giving me something to gnaw on when I bring up the topic with the department head.

        I was allowed to leave the reception desk whenever I needed to, without finding coverage, due to the fact that our front door was always locked (and had a doorbell that would ring to my cell phone) and the desk phone didn’t really ring.

        Our phone…never stops ringing, unfortunately.* Your old job’s system for stepping away sounds like it worked a lot better than anything here. I probably will just get a shrug in reply, but I’m going to bring this up.

        *In fact, it took me about twenty minutes to type this brief comment because I had to keep stopping to take calls and sign in visitors.

        1. Yellowjacket #3*

          I said this in my earlier comment above, but like….this is a really extreme situation and is not ok!! When people say being a receptionist is a “butt-in-seat” job, that shouldn’t mean that you literally have to be at the desk for 9 hours a day continuously. It’s very, very normal to have someone who is the designated reception cover when you need a bathroom break or lunch. Or even a designated lunch hour where *no one* covers the desk, and the voicemail greeting indicates that, and there’s a sign up that says “Reception will return after lunch” or something. Honestly, given how busy you are, this sounds like a job that would warrant TWO receptionists! I’ve had a position like that, and being able to trade off mail delivery and phone coverage and lunch breaks can work really, really well.

          Has your manager outright said that you aren’t allowed to leave the desk for lunch or bathroom breaks? It might be good to have a really really explicit conversation with phrases like “Ok, so just to confirm, you are asking me to take no bathroom breaks during the day?” “Just to confirm, I’m not allowed to take a break for lunch because I have to cover the desk, correct?” (and if they pull the “Oh you can take a break, just stay at your desk!” bs, follow up with “To confirm, since I would be on a break, I would not be responsible for answering the phone, correct?”)

          What state are you in? Because in some states if you have to work for more than 5 hours without a lunch break, you are entitled to extra pay (or can sue your employer, hello California!)

    4. Anonymous in New England*

      The most futuristic mail system I have ever seen involved a robotic mail cart and a pneumatic mail slot. They had a cart for each floor, loaded up to circulate twice a day. No idea if it’s still in use, but here’s the kind of robot and an article about the building because some of you like that kind of stuff.
      https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mailmobiles-mail-robots-technology-retirement
      https://historicbuildingsct.com/connecticut-general-life-insurance-company-headquarters-1957/

  44. two snakes*

    So today I received notice that my temporary assignment (that was supposed to turn permanent when the incumbent on medical leave resigned) has been terminated with four weeks of notice for “personnel realignment” issues (specifically noted to be nothing performance related). I’ve recently requested some medical accommodations including a telework agreement (which is in line with policies from our organization) that they didn’t seem happy about and I think this is retaliation.

    I’ve reached out to my union, but do Canadian readers have any advice on issues like this? Specifically in navigating disability accommodation issues, useful resources, etc.

    I’m so mad and upset. I was trying to take care of my health but I really liked this job and was hoping to stay in it permanently.

    1. Anonymous healthcare person*

      Reaching out to your union is a great first step, they should be able to tell you how likely it is that this is retaliation (eg, do temp people often go to permanent positions? If yes, suspicious for retaliation but not proved; if no, much less likely to be retaliation). They can also tell you steps you can take to from temp person to appeal the decision, apply for other jobs in the org, etc. This is if the union is a strong one, and you can find that out by asking other staff their views/impressions. If you work for government of any kind, unions do tend to be strong/effective. Bear in mind that temp staff often don’t have the same protections and rights as permanent staff- again, the union can tell you that.

      HR can also tell you the general facts of what a temp employee is entitled to when laid off, including steps to appeal a decision or apply elsewhere in the organization, but of course can’t do advocacy.

      If the union isn’t strong, see if your local bar association offers free/cheap brief legal advice sessions and ask for someone specializing in employment law. And/or the local human rights association for your province (disability discrimination issue). Specifics on your situation will depend on your provincial laws.

      1. two snakes*

        Fortunately I do have a permanent position in the organization (sorry for not being clear – I have been pretty flustered all day)- this was an acting assignment that was intended to become my substantive position, so I have some standing and hopefully the union will be able to help. The temporary to permanent placement is pretty common here, too, I’ve seen it happen often but I’ve never heard of management unilaterally ending an acting assignment this way. It feels really bad!

        1. Anonymous healthcare person*

          From your language I’m thinking you are government in which case you probably have a lot of options. I wonder if the union can pull the documentation around the decision process to not move you into the temp position permanently? Could be as simple as you getting bumped by someone with more seniority, maybe? If it helps, in my experience in Cdn/provincial/city government (personal, friends, professional) its not uncommon from what I know for a temporary position to not become permanent. But, the union should be able to provide at least some info on what happened and therefore if discrimination was involved.

    2. ferrina*

      Not Canadian, not union, and no advice I can offer, but omg this is AWFUL! This definitely reads as retaliation and is super messed up. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this!

  45. Driector*

    This is a very low stakes thing that’s super annoying to me and I’m not sure how to address it without sounding like a tyrant. I’m the director of a small department that’s hybrid after being remote for 18 months, and overall we have a good team dynamic and are really successful at communicating and helping each other out. Every once in a while, I will ask in our all staff chat something along the lines of “can someone send me x spreadsheet” or “can someone drop y graphic in the chat real quick” (usually in the context of me being in a meeting where someone above me is asking to see it, or working on something complex that requires a lot of concentration and is on a tight deadline), and one of my employees WITHOUT FAIL will respond, “that’s in the shared drive”. Sometimes she will add the pathway. It drives me up the wall! That’s not what I asked for, I asked you to send me the actual document. And I’m not asking necessarily because I don’t know where it is, but because I’m doing something else that is high stakes and I need it quickly. I get so exasperated by it I’m having a hard time of coming up with language to address it diplomatically. It most recently happened yesterday, and I REALLY struggled to stop myself from saying “I didn’t ask where it was in the shared drive, I asked you to send it to me” but I’m not sure that would come across well. Help?

    1. ecnaseener*

      They might not be reading your mind on this. On my team, sending a direct link to a document is the same as sending a separate copy. I know you’re likely typing quickly in meetings, but I would take the extra second to write “a copy of” .

      1. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, I think they believe they’re fulfilling your request, and if you’ve never told them otherwise or changed your wording, well–how would they know you wanted something else?

        Taking the time to write a longer message (e.g. “In a meeting with Susan and she needs a copy of X right away, can someone send me the file”) would probably be very helpful. Without context for why you can’t just go get a copy yourself, it does come across a bit like–well, doesn’t Director know where these things are stored? Why do I have to get this for her? So adding that context to explain why you need the actual file rather than simply the generic location will likely help a great deal.

        Also, if I may… if the shared drive isn’t easy enough to navigate/search for you to be able to find things quickly, perhaps it would be worth starting an effort to organize it better? If things are well-organized, have good filenames, etc., it might start being faster to grab the files yourself rather than type out a request for someone else!

    2. Alice*

      “I didn’t ask where it was in the shared drive, I asked you to send it to me” would definitely not land well.
      But how about explaining what you explained to us, that you ask for this in urgent situations, like real-time meetings and tight deadlines and your attention focused elsewhere.
      If I were your team member and I didn’t have that context, I might see these requests and think “Director doesn’t know how the shared drive is organized so I should explain” or “does Director think I am her admin?”

      1. Gracely*

        Yeah, this. I would be like “Can they really not find it? Okay, I will find it for them” since if you can find it, it’s literally a couple more clicks to pull something like that up, and it’s a bit weird to me that you couldn’t do it yourself (even in the middle of a meeting!) if you knew where it was. Because A LOT of people will say they need a document, and what they’re wanting to know is where they can find it. If you need the actual document, straight up say you need the document, not the path/ability to find it.

        Perhaps, at a time when you’re not stressed to get the actual document, tell everyone that what you mean when you say you need X document, you mean you would like the actual file, not just how to find it.

    3. Anonymato*

      That would drive me nuts too – like when I ask somebody specifically to call a person and they email them instead. If I am leaving it up to you, I’ll say “call/email” or “contact them”, but there are times when – for reasons – specific communication is needed.

      I’d probably say “Please EMAIL me so & so (not link) – thanks!”

      1. Dragon*

        One time the boss asked me to contact someone who I hadn’t met, and I decided it was easier to call than email.

        He was fun to talk to, someone who could sell a hat to the Headless Horseman.

    4. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’m not sure this comment will go down well. In real life, I’d probably be one of the people who send you the link instead of the document. I’ll try anyway, because I may have some insight on why your employees respond like that.

      Would it be worth adding a few words to your request, to quickly explain the context? For example, instead of writing “can someone drop y graphic in the chat real quick”, writing “can someone drop y graphic in the chat real quick, I’m in a meeting with Grandboss and need to show it now” (or whatever words you’re comfortable using).

      I wonder if the people you’re messaging are used to getting a lot of questions from other people who have the tools and the time to find the answer on their own, but don’t bother doing it because they know asking others is quicker. I used to be in a role where that sort of questions easily took up half of every working day. Higher-ups posted regular reminders to check existing documentation before dropping questions on Slack, and set the explicit expectation that people would be answering with links to the right resource – but nothing ever changed. So if the people you’re working with have similar challenges, I can see why they might be responding like that. Some quick context might signal that your request is less likely to be a regular occurrence, than something you really can’t get to right that second.

      That also brings me to something I’ve read in another AAM comment recently – which is, employees watch managers more closely than managers might expect. Is it possible that employees are getting the impression that you don’t know where to find documents you should be on top of (that they spent time working on, and therefore expect you to be aware of)? I’m again speaking from experience: I worked for a manager who absolutely didn’t know where to find things he should have been on top of (no amount of emails saying “here’s X document, please review” ever changed that), and contributed to sink team morale in more ways than one. I’m NOT saying that’s you! Just checking whether there’s a risk the questions may come across that way, when that’s not at all the case, and some quick context might help with that too.

      I hope I’m not speaking too much out of turn, and that at least a little bit of this can be helpful with framing the situation.

      1. But are you secretly a jerk?*

        I second this very diplomatic comment. I’ve worked for “the big boss,” with a pattern showing how much he valued his time over everyone else. Behavior included: 1) always always late for meetings that weren’t allowed to start without him. Sometimes someone would text him & he’d forgotten 2)always asking for items that were extremely easy to find on the shared drive 3) scheduling a one-on-one and have me waiting around outside his door for half hour or more, then talking with me for 5 minutes or waving in another employee during the meeting. The entitlement may be deserved and we understand it’s illogical to have him look for things at his pay scale, but the implementation made a lot of us prickly. Enough to send slightly “disobedient” texts of, “it’s in the shared drive.” This boss also thought the culture was amazing and a great team but we ALL felt the self importance emanating off him. Just sayin’

    5. Thoughts*

      This might be a dumb question, but is there a reason you’re unable to look up the document yourself? It would be faster and make more sense to look it up yourself than it is to send a chat, wait for them to look it up, and wait for them to send it to you. I’m not sure it’s clear why you need it emailed to you instead of just clicking the link or looking it up.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I’m with you. Typing the name of the document in the search bar and clicking on it can’t possibly take longer than asking someone else to send it to you, time crunch or not.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        This is also probably at least partly what the linkers are thinking “in the time it took you to send this chat, you probably could’ve grabbed it yourself from the shared drive”.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, I’m with you. At least on our systems, it takes less time to open a file on the shared drive by clicking a link than it would be to wait for the email. Our Outlook is configured to check the email server every 5 minutes. It used to be every 2 minutes, but it was reconfigured to enforce the idea that email is for asynchronous communications. They’re doing their best to ban email attachments altogether.

        In our organization, a request like that would land very poorly.

    6. Girasol*

      When I was a new PC support person, my great great grand boss requested a simple task done on his PC. I emailed him the correct commands. His executive secretary intercepted my message and told me, “You don’t understand. He’s running the whole organization. He has more important things to do than fuss with his PC. That’s what he pays YOU for.” (Eek, was I really that clueless?) Since you’re a director, I don’t see why you wouldn’t say, “It’s on the shared drive? Then you can email it to me,” if you have better things to do than search for it.

      1. Dragon*

        Even if they’re simple, some tasks require access to the computer while the user’s online. And the user has to pause while the tech does what needs doing.

        Not everything can be done on the back end, while the user continues working uninterrupted.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      That would come across to me as being really snippy–especially since the person is trying to help and doesn’t realize what they are doing is not helpful! I would probably change your requests to say something like “In a meeting–can someone give me X in the chat right now–not the file location, but the file itself!”

    8. Suprisingly ADHD*

      You might have better results if you have a conversation with them at a point when you’re not urgently in a meeting (maybe a regular scheduled check-in?) Something on the lines of “When I’m in a meeting, my phone doesn’t let me pull up the shared drive properly. Normally I have no problem finding a document on my own, but when I ask for a copy in the staff chat, I’m asking for people to give the actual document, not the filepath.” Maybe you can come up with a specific phrasing that means “a link isn’t helpful right now,” and explain it to your staff (or select a few specific people who are most likely to have the time/access).

      1. Attolia*

        If there’s a good reason like that, definitely share it with your staff!
        Without it, since this is happening enough to annoy you, it might also be annoying your staff that their director can’t seem to find things in the shared drive and doesn’t seem to be bothering to learn it.

      2. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

        In my organization, your employees are doing exactly the correct thing and you would be out of touch.
        We very specifically avoid sending copies of shared editable files because drift happens when someone makes changes on their local drive, concurrent edits easily get lost, and random copies on hard drives mean that people reference outdated information. Or worse–the boss makes a critical correction that the rest of the organization never receives.
        So yes, specify you’re asking for an offline copy or a read-only copy …and do discuss it outside of the crunch period.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          This. At a time when you’re not asking, talk to staff about your process and needs. Be sure to be clear that you generally know where to find things but sometimes need it at the top of your inbox ASAP, so when you need a file you will either ask for someone to email it/copy it into the chat, or send the file path (if you don’t need it immediately like you’re talking about above and genuinely need help finding it). Let them know that you will be careful with the wording of your request and ask them to take you at your word. Otherwise, yeah, they’re doing the conscientious thing by considering the need for version control- be sure to acknowledge and show appreciation for that!

    9. Little beans*

      Hmm, I have to ask: DO you know where to find it on the shared drive? I’m a director, and I would almost never make this request of someone on my team, because it would only take me a few seconds to go get it myself. That doesn’t save enough time to be worth inconveniencing someone else.

    10. nnn*

      What if you used very specific verbs?

      “Can someone email me the spreadsheet?” “Can someone copy-paste the graphic into the chat?”

      If they’re not clear on what you need, that makes it clearer. If they’re operating mindlessly, it’s likely they’ll mindlessly go with the verb you provided. In any case, it would be a low-risk experiment.

    11. CallyR*

      For what it’s worth, I’d interpret dropping a link to the actual location on the shared drive as /exactly/ the same as “sending the document” — so if it’s something like “I can’t access shared drive on the device I have with me, I need someone to download it and email it” or “I need a clean copy that’s /not/ our teams working copy”, you gotta specify that.
      Also if it’s a searchable shared drive, people might be giving the exact name as a substitute for the link

      Otherwise I agree with commenters here — your company culture may vary but in the largish company I’m at, sending someone at the director level a link to a shared drive location is halfway in the realm of a “favor” — our directors typically keep track of their own stuff (as opposed to, say, the CEO, whose admin compiles all the relevant documents for upcoming meetings in accordance with a fixed procedure)– so if it’s a special emergency situation, a little explanation+softening would go a long way

    12. eisa*

      I get how “that’s on the shared drive” is not as helpful as you would like, but posting a link in the chat is actually the fastest way you will get that doc.

      Let’s compare the two methods.
      The time your employee (let’s call her Mary) will spend searching for the file is the same either way. So let’s say she has already found it.
      1a: Mary drags the file from the shared drive to the chat window, hits send. You download it from the chat program.
      1b: Mary rightclicks the file, “Send to email recipient”, puts you in To, hits send. You wait for the email to arrive, save the attachment to your computer.
      2 : Mary Ctrl-Cs the link to the file into the chat. You click on the link, copy the file from the network drive to your computer.

      1a will take longer than 2 in terms of network transmission time, also the chat program will store a duplicate of the file, taking up space somewhere.
      1b will also take longer than 2 end-to-end. (and ditto for space: now you have copies of the file in Mary’s Sent Items and in your inbox).

      So if it’s really about timing the seconds until you get your hands on that doc, posting the link to chat will be the fastest way.
      Of course it is your prerogative to prefer email for whatever reason, so rather than fuming silently about it, just say at the beginning of your next all-team meeting that whenever you ask for people to search out a file for you, you want them to send it per email. Use your words – your employees aren’t mind readers ;-)

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. If you want your employees to do things in a suboptimal way, you’d better have a damn good reason (clicking a filepath is much faster than waiting for an email and saving the attachment). Or else they’re going to think you’re a petty tyrant, OP.

  46. Blarg*

    I realized yesterday (while writing a comment on a different AAM post) that I’ve forgotten how to make life decisions during the pandemic. That ‘aha’ moment crystallized why I’ve felt so uncertain about whether it was time to move on from my job, if I should relocate, etc. Even at work, I realize I’ve had difficulty, for instance deciding whether to go for a grant that is a stretch of our capacity or not.

    I assume that decision making is kind of a mental muscle, and I’ve made virtually no decisions in the last two years, because most things felt like they were on a binary (safe/not safe) and I always went with whatever felt safer for me and others.

    Anyone else dealing with this? And anyone have any tips for relearning how to be decisive, or even knowing what it is you want/need? It feels surreal to be in this boat cause I’ve always been known as the person willing to take the risk and trust my gut, and now I feel like I have no instincts and didn’t even realize this had happened!

    1. ecnaseener*

      Makes sense! I’ve definitely noticed the part in myself about not knowing what I want…but I’m young enough that I can’t tell whether that’s pandemic trauma or just losing the last traces of developing-brain hormonalness :P

    2. Colette*

      I find I’ve hit decision fatigue. Normal life has so many more decisions (should I take that trip to the store? Are these masks sufficient or should I find better ones? Should I get together with friends inside, or should we try to find something to do outside? Should I ask that friend to stop by, or just chat via text?) that I can’t make more in other areas. I’ve specifically told people I want to see them but that I can’t make the plans, for example.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Being decisive and having a well-calibrated gut is entirely based on having a thorough understanding of the environment, risks, and likely outcomes. As well as having confidence that you can handle the situation if things go wrong.

      I don’t think it’s decision atrophy so much as massive uncertainty. Everything has been in flux, postponed, upended, cancelled, etc. It’s like trying to play chess blindfolded with boxing gloves on.

      I think we’re all just going to have to work our way back into things gradually and run some new trial & error experiments on life, to recalibrate our guts.

  47. confused????????*

    Is there a good script for asking friends or connections about positions you are interested in with their employers?

    1. irene adler*

      Maybe let them know about your interest. Then ask them about any referral program where they score a few bucks if you are hired. Do they want you to put their name down for that? And BTW, can you tell me more about the position itself?

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Like in general or a specific friend at a specific company with a specific listing?

      Specific friend: “Hey Sal, I love your employer by the way, specific comment[their commitment to enviromental friendly practices seems really great]. I keep hoping they’ll show up on indeed with openings one of these days. If you ever hear anything would you mind letting me know?”

      Specific job: “Yo Sal, I see your bosses are hiring for an accountant in the R&D department, I’m thinking about throwing my resume out there any advice?”

      In general: “Hey I’m really ready for a change and am actively job hunting. If anyone’s got any leads at their companies please let me know! I’m in XYZ field and have a degree in ABC. Happy to provide resume or more details!” (My friend replied to something like this once with here’s my dad’s email chuck him your resume so he can forward it to his coworker – it works!).

  48. SQL Coder Cat*

    My boss has been tasked with a lot of additional responsibilities, and the PTB have decided to hire a new manager under her. The new manager would become my boss and my current boss would become my grandboss. We have a pretty open hiring process, and my team is given the opportunity to interview the candidates.

    Our team is very diverse- 50/50 gender balance, 50/33/17 Asian/white/black. For reference, I am a white female. The top candidate is a white male. His interview went ok, but one thing that stood out to me is he stated he was a big fan of ‘radical candor’. My experience with people who say that they believe in radical candor is that they have tend to be abrasive and hard to work with, and be a bit unaware of their priviledge. We get to provide feedback on the candidates- how much of a red flag would you consider this to be?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Idk if you can assume that about this candidate…radical candor is *supposed to be* caring and not abrasive. Sounds like you’ve met a lot of people who the actual Radical Candor author would put in her “Obnoxious Aggression” category lol!

      1. SQL Coder Cat*

        Oh, I most definitely have! I have interacted with only one or two people who embody the actual direct and caring intended with the concept. But I’ve met a lot of people who, when called out on their poor behavior, say “But it’s just because I care! I need to be honest with you! It’s for your own good!”

    2. AdequateArchaeologist*

      I would not be comfortable with someone who advocates “racial candor”, especially a white male. In my experience that kind of sentiment is a cover for racism that they’re trying to spin as a legitimate view. I’m curious though, what was the context of the comment? Was it something he offered up without prompting or part of a DEI discussion?

      1. SQL Coder Cat*

        It was in context of a question on what he has done to promote diverse perspectives and ensure everyone felt valued as a member of the team.

      2. Joielle*

        I think you misread – he said RADICAL candor (not racial). I also misread it that way at first and was very alarmed. But radical candor isn’t much better. I too have never met a “radical candor” person who wasn’t just an abrasive jerk. Personally, I would consider it a pretty big red flag.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hmmm. Ideally, I would have probed into this and asked what “radical candor” meant to him. Without the clarification, I would use the context of the rest of his interview. But I would definitely be thinking hard about that context, looking for anything that might indicate the kind of attitudes you’re concerned about.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      Has the interview process wrapped up? I wonder if it would be possible to go back and ask this candidate for examples of what he means by “radical candor” because it definitely can be used in different ways.

      FWIW that phrase would be at least a yellow flag to me and I would include feedback that mentions it, especially if he didn’t give any context or examples at the time for how he would apply it. Even in the best version of it, does that fit with your team’s culture?

      1. SQL Coder Cat*

        We didn’t get to ask follow-up questions due to a lack of time, unfortunately. Part of my concern stemmed from him bringing up in answering a question as to how to promote diverse perspectives. Our team is very collaborative and congenial, and that culture is one of the best things about my job. For what it’s worth, we just had a meeting with my current boss to give feedback on our candidate, and my fellow team members all shared an impression of him as seeming like he’d be a bit difficult to work for. My boss has promised to have a separate conversation with him to drill deeper into his coaching and feedback style, so we’ll see where it goes.

    5. Desdemona*

      I work for an org that is very progressive and diverse and we all use the radical candor framework. When done correctly it’s awesome and can be very caring and helpful. The founder, Kim Scott, also has a project called Just Work which is all about inclusivity at work. I’d dig into what this guys understanding of radical candor is. It could mean he’d be a great fit for the team… or not.

    6. bunniferous*

      Hm. I just found a link to this-apparently Radical Candor is an actual thing

      https://www.radicalcandor.com/

      Out of sheer curiosity I am going to have to investigate this. Can you update us next week on if this is what he meant or not?

  49. Super Sleuth*

    Recently, the company I work for sent out an “anonymous” survey. As a supervisor, I received the results from my director reports, including comments. One of the comments states that the supervisor (me) steals this person’s work and takes credit for things.

    First of all, I am floored. Not only do I shine a light on the personal and collective achievements of our entire team to all leadership, but I have also worked really hard to support them, including traveling to their events across my region. There were also comments about not being promoted because this person is not BIPOC; for reference, I am a woman of color. Worst of all, I fear this erroneous feedback cost me a recent promotion opportunity.

    My director supervisor has been very support, but I want to go to HR and discuss my options. Thoughts?

    1. Alex*

      I don’t really think there is much you can do, except to examine your own actions to see if any of the feedback could have a kernel of truth. This is one person’s opinion and experience, and you can’t really change what they think or tell them their perspective is wrong.

      I’m sure it stings to know that your employee feels this way, especially when you feel you’ve worked hard in the other direction, but that is sometimes part of being a manager.

    2. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      Anonymous feedback without the framework of improvement is really just cruel.

      You will likely have to find a way to take the criticism seriously, but externalize it as best as you can. And then consider, “if this was true, what could I do to improve?” Even if you know in your very bones that it is NOT true, you could consider a greater rethinking of how you credit your employees (and even asking them how they like to be credited or rewarded). You could also consider if this employee knows clearly what is expected of them to be promoted, and if they have some areas where they could seek professional development to feel as though they are improving or on their way to a promotion.

    3. Becky*

      To be honest, this comment has a lot of red flags in it.

      Just like your reviews of your employees, a review of you as a manager is one person’s experience of working with you. I can’t see an outcome of going to HR that doesn’t involve some kind of investigation into who said that about you, and getting that person in trouble. This is why people don’t like anonymous surveys…they fear retribution, and it seems like that is an avenue you’re considering.

      Maybe I’m biased, because I work for someone who thinks he’s great and I think he’s terrible. But you seem to not be open to the idea that your management style isn’t working for someone, and that is a concerning trait in a boss

      1. Super Sleuth*

        I think that is an unfair assertion. My point of going to HR was to ask for feedback on how to broach the survey as a whole with the team to ensure bidirectional feedback and transparency is still a possibility. I also wanted to make sure I handled this appropriately.

        I also don’t think psychological safety should just go one way in the workplace either.

        Alison, can you please delete this thread including my original post? Thank you.

        1. Becky*

          I don’t think you have nefarious intent, and I tried to word my comment respectfully. If there is an outcome that HR is able to figure out that results in what you said, that’s great – I just don’t see how that works in practice.

          And you’re correct that psychological safety should go both ways. Unfortunately, it’s also true that there is an imbalance of power between managers and reports. This is why people often lie on these surveys.

          Best of luck to you, I hope it works out.

      2. eisa*

        Dilbert cartoon. Pointy-haired boss says to Dilbert :
        “According to the anonymous online employee survey, you don’t trust management. What’s up with that?”

    4. Aggresuko*

      *sigh* Another example of why “anonymous” surveys and actually filling out comments are bad!

      I have no idea what’s going on with this person, mind you, but still, oy.

    5. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

      “There were also comments about not being promoted because this person is not BIPOC”
      This is a flag/dog whistle racists use. It’s a common one. If your org it’s decent at DEI you could pull some research together and go to HR with the approach that it’s a signal if the need for increased DEI training and for your org to be clear on their values regarding diversity.

  50. Anon4This*

    A coworker (team lead) committed a major ethical and federal violation last week. When confronted by the person who witnessed said violation (and who then notified our managers), he doubled down and tried to justify his actions and claimed “everyone does it”. He was taken off the project and put on a different project.

    Overall our company seems to be trying to sweep this under the rug which makes me wildly uncomfortable. It’s going to get out and it’s going to go badly. The company violated the same law a few years ago in a different way, but with the same governmental body we are working with. Everyone thought they learned their lesson from the massive fall-out which is why I took this job in the first place.

    I’m hesitant to leave because we cannot afford to live solely on my partners salary, I will have to repay a sign on bonus, and positions like this are hard to come by. I’m also wildly blindsided because the level of… stupidity? require to commit this violation is off the charts and I’m still waiting for Punk’d to pop out with cameras. Does anyone have any advice?

    1. Alice*

      I realize it’s easier said than done, but can you blow the whistle? It sounds like there are a lot of people who know — a witness and multiple managers at least. So in principle a report couldn’t necessarily be traced back to you individually, but reporting externally will force the company to deal with the problem.

      1. Anon4This*

        I’m not confident the whistleblowing wouldn’t get pinned on someone (likely the witness). And retaliation isn’t out of the question.

        1. Alice*

          Tough situation. Does your company have an internal compliance team outside of the normal chain of command? If so, you could report there — not getting law enforcement or regulatory agencies involved but still getting it on the desk of someone who doesn’t have incentives to cover it up.

    2. pancakes*

      One thing I’m not clear on at all from your comment is whether you would ordinarily, in the job you do, have visibility into disciplinary measures for him and/or the process for remedying the violation. If you would not, I wouldn’t assume that you have a handle on exactly what the company is doing in either regard.

      It also seems important to have a sense of whether this is a pattern of the same behavior or a rogue employee with terrible judgment and ineffectual oversight. The latter is of course a problem in itself, particularly if the company hasn’t made improvements to its oversight procedures around the first violations, but the magnitude of the problem isn’t super clear here. Does it need to be, for you to do your day-to-day job, or is it more like these are things you’re trying to learn about as background information?

      It sounds almost like you’re thinking of quitting, which seems both premature and an overreaction to me, without more context. You aren’t involved in these violations, correct? What exactly would be the advantage(s) to you in leaving your job right now if you weren’t otherwise planning to?

      1. pancakes*

        I want to add something about this part: “Everyone thought they learned their lesson from the massive fall-out which is why I took this job in the first place.”

        Don’t be too hard on yourself for not anticipating someone else’s terrible judgment, and don’t lose perspective on this. You probably took the job more because you needed a job than because the company had a compelling redemption arc in response to violations, yes?

      2. Anon4This*

        Lets say I’m a botanist for ease of clarity. My coworker, fergus, and I have the same roles/education/etc but are being used differently for this project. Fergus accepted a plant, stolen from federal land, that he planned to keep for himself. This violated a federal plant protect act that is a backbone of our industry. This does not direct affect my day to work in the sense that I can’t write reports etc, but it does affect my me in the sense that we can have our operating licenses pulled in ~5 states, lose projects we currently have slated, and I could potentially be out of a job (there were mass firings last time). Also, being associated with a company that has twice tried to cover up federal violations isn’t great.

        This is a pattern on Fergus’s part, but also one that’s starting to emerge about the company.

        And you’re right. I took the job because I needed it. I tried to do my due diligence and ask around on their reputation, bit I was desperate for anything in my field.

        1. Despachito*

          Perhaps it would be worthwhile to start looking preemptively and before things start to crumble down?

          I do not see much else you could do. What Fergus did was absolutely not your fault, nor is the unethical behaviour of the company. I understand that if this becomes a scandal, some people may tar you (very unjustly) with the same brush, so perhaps you could use the time before that to jump ship?

          And I am very sorry it happened to you, it must suck.

          1. pancakes*

            I agree that’s not a bad idea. The worst that comes of looking around is that you end up in same place you are now but with a refreshed take on the job market.

            It might be helpful to read up a bit on the regulatory process around the violation, even if you just skim here and there, to get a feel for what typically happens in these situations, and to make sure you’re not anticipating the most severe consequences too soon or whatnot.

    3. Nesprin*

      If you can’t survive without this job, time to start looking for other positions aggressively, and assume that at some point this will go sideways, i.e. building up a big emergency fund, doing everything you can to stay on the right side of all rules, assuming all your emails will be read and documenting all outstanding issues so its clear that Fergus’ actions are not yours.

  51. AnotherSarah*

    For the last few months, I have hired someone to clean my home every other week. She’s doing a great job, but at this point, I feel ready to start doing my own cleaning again. I have basically only been communicating with her via text message, although I did meet her in person the first time she came. There is no way that I can meet her in person now, due to my work schedule. My question is: what is the best way, and when is the best time, to say “this week will be our last week.” Her work has been very good. Is it customary to give some sort of notice?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      How often do you pay ? I try and give a full paychecks notice. 2 weeks notice at least. A month might be kinder. Unless you have concerns about their integrity and want the key back sooner, then maybe say hey this was your last day but I’ll pay out the next 2 weeks anyway. (Giving them the pay if they had worked the notice period).

      Offer to be a reference for her and ask if she needs good reviews on any websites.

      1. AnotherSarah*

        Thanks–I pay every time she comes, so perhaps I’ll notify her this week and then have her come once more, and then give her a bonus on that last cleaning.

    2. Anon for This*

      The cleaning service I use has had trouble getting employees, and last week sent one person to my home instead of the usual two. So I would guess she will be able to find another job. With that as context, I would be straightforward about her work being great, but you don’t need the service anymore. I would give her notice – e.g., next week will be the last time I need you. And depending on how long she has worked for you, maybe pay a severance bonus.

    3. Cindy*

      I would suggest texting her to state that you really appreciate what she’s been doing but you’d like to cut back to once per month. That way you would still get her to do the really “gritty” stuff done that you don’t like to do. After 3 months, if you don’t need her, you can text again on “her day” that next visit will be her last with you.

      1. AnotherSarah*

        Thanks, I might indeed do that, if she can do once monthly. My sense is that she’s quite booked up.

        1. FDS*

          That’s reassuring in a sense. At least it seems like she won’t be without for work long.

  52. VV*

    What questions do you like to ask (or wish you did) before accepting a job offer? I have that conversation coming up soon and have my own list (there is some bureaucracy around final approval I need to make sure works with my timeline, and a question about time off around the holidays that is important to me) — but if I take this, I want to be there for a while, so I’m all ears to others’ go-tos!

    1. JelloStapler*

      What are some examples of “other duties as assigned”?
      What do you wish you knew before starting your position?

    2. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      “Can you give me an example of feedback you’ve received from employees that lead to either process or administrative change?” and then ask how long ago it was. I feel like this really keys into how a company accepts and considers the experiences of their employees, aka if they respect their employees or not.

    3. Joielle*

      I like to ask “what’s the learning curve like for this position?” Most of the time when I’m starting a new job, it’s in a completely new subject area and there’s a lot I’ll be learning from scratch (this is not uncommon in my profession). I like to know whether they’re expecting that I could be up to speed within a few months or a few years.

  53. Pocket Mouse*

    How do you handle medical documentation, such as for sick leave or an accommodations request, that contains more detail than is preferable for a condition you’d like to keep private—even if the doctor’s message keeps it vague?

    I’m thinking of letterhead that makes it clear sick leave was under the care of a urogenital surgeon or inpatient psychiatric facility, or an accommodations request that comes from a OB (prior to when you’d typically share the news) or HIV clinic. Asking about this both for employees who have had to submit such documentation, and supervisors and people in HR-type roles who receive it. (I recognize that sometimes accommodations requests will need details of the condition, but not always—and I’m not sure how one would find out at my employer ahead of time.)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ask the doctors office if they have more vague letterhead? I feel like you definitely wouldn’t be the only patient at an HIV clinic who didn’t want to share that detail. Though even googling the name/address on a generic letterhead would reveal it pretty quickly. Could your primary care doctor work together with you to provide documentation?

      1. Becky*

        No advice needed, just a vent. I had a 2nd interview a week ago for a job I really, really want and was expecting to hear back this week. It’s Friday afternoon now and…nothing. This has felt like the longest week and I’m alternating between angst and hopefulness. The job would be a great fit for me and I’d finally escape my horrible boss. For now the uncertainty continues :(

    2. Miel*

      I’m a big g unclear where your role is in this.

      Ideally, can you minimize the use of doctors notes? I would hope that in many cases the company would take the employees’ word and not require a doctor’s note.

      Otherwise, I’d recommend the employee trying to get a letter on no (?) letterhead; a MyChart message signed “Dr. Smith, MD” etc.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I’m an employee looking at submitting documentation that is currently a vague note on specific letterhead. I don’t have power to require them less than is the case, and I like your idea of getting a MyChart message.

        However, I’m asking for multiple perspectives out of curiosity for how this is handled on both/all ends- for example, if it’s submitted to HR for an accommodation request, how careful are HR staff about not disclosing a hint of the condition to the employee’s supervisor? If folks on the HR end can weigh in on whether a MyChart format would work for their needs, I’d appreciate it.

    3. Blarg*

      Most providers will not — for good reason — forgo the use stationary/letter head/things that are pre-printed. I worked at a prominent abortion services provider and we had a generic work excuse letter that did have our name on it, cause there was just no way around it. It said basically, “please excuse so and so from work until x date following a minor procedure.” But, we didn’t do too many other procedures, and I don’t know how many patients used it.

      You may be able to get a provider to write a note on a prescription pad, which sometimes doesn’t have the name of the facility or the specialty on it, but also can be a pain cause it isn’t a full piece of paper and the chicken scratch can be illegible.

      Employers have legal obligations to keep stuff private and keep it to themselves. Be respectful and act like grownups. They should not ask for notes unless they are truly needed for some reason. And for individuals, they can ask their provider to include fewer details if there are too many. It can say, “needs a cubicle near the bathroom to meet medical needs,” it doesn’t have to say, “because they have IBS and might poop themselves otherwise.”

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I expect that a lot of medical facilities have generalized letterhead, so it’s possible that if you ask for that, they can print the letter on it. For example, my own letter for medical leave just has Hospital Name and “Surgical Care” on it and the content doesn’t mention anything except “medical treatment.” However, if I’d requested that from another of my doctors, it might have had “Cancer” in the header because that’s part of the name of that group.

      In any case you would not be able to obscure the doctor’s name (which could theoretically be looked up and their specialty identified), though, so it might not be possible for total privacy. But this should be a form that only goes to HR and the safeguard is supposed to be that HR doesn’t share that information with anyone, including managers. If/when I apply for medical accommodation, our policy is explicit that the HR office may ask for medical documentation directly, but it should not be shared (by employees) with managers. Your HR should* have a policy about how medical leave/accommodations are handled and it should explicitly state how the information is managed. (*I hope they do! I’m only familiar with big companies with formal HR)

      FWIW I got my letter as an electronic version via MyChart but it was basically a scan of the physical printout.

  54. Anonymously living a nightmare*

    Help! I think I have to quit my job and change my name…my work calls forward to my cellphone and I just opened a call on a meeting platform on my phone with video and audio enabled without realizing it…and I was in the bathroom experiencing the worst gastrointestinal distress. I’m pretty sure my boss just heard everything while getting a view of my bathroom ceiling. The call lasted 47 seconds before he hung up.

    I’m mortified and I have a 1:1 in four hours.

    How do I recover from this?

    1. DivineMissL*

      Oh, gosh, that’s mortifying. I think the best thing to do is the polite “pretend it never happened” for both of you!

    2. Alice*

      Oh dear!
      I suspect your boss is as embarrassed as you.
      At least it was the bathroom ceiling….
      I’m sure that in a few years you will look back on this as a “remember when….”
      And, I hope you feel better :)

    3. ecnaseener*

      Oh lord. :( 47 seconds before he did anything??

      Agreed, pretend it didn’t happen. If he brings it up, say “I’m so sorry about that, I didn’t realize I had picked up the call.”

    4. Dasein9*

      Oh no! Your own cell phone? Serves ’em right, using your personal tech for work stuff.
      But I can see why you’re embarrassed.

      Muting all participants as they enter the meeting is a setting that the person who set up the meeting should have activated.

      Try to remember that you haven’t done anything wrong or bad here. Just embarrassing.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I would go with “pretend it didn’t happen.” My manager once walked in on me in the bathroom. We never spoke of it, which was very unlike her, but apparently even my no-filter manager understood the right course of action.

      1. Blarg*

        Yup, I like this. Your boss just accidentally walked in on you in the bathroom cause the virtual latch didn’t hold. Pretend it didn’t happen.

        And I hope you feel better. I’m actually glad you have a meeting with boss today and can rip the bandaid off now and not dwell over the weekend.

        1. Anonymously living a nightmare*

          I’ve survived the 1:1 and now I have the weekend to put it out of my head. That was the most awkward meeting ever. He tried to ignore it but he still asked me if I was feeling ok at the very end of the call. I keep hoping it’s all a bad dream.

  55. DivineMissL*

    So, I have a phone screen in an hour but I thought I’d run this by you all quickly.
    The job is EA to the president of a successful local company. I am more than qualified. However, I’d say that, over the past 15 years, I’ve seen this same job advertised at least half a dozen times. I’m wondering if the president is having trouble keeping an assistant; that seems like a lot of turnover to me. I was thinking of asking, “How did this position come to be available?” to see what happened to the previous EA. I don’t think I can come out and ask if the president is a terror to work for! I certainly wouldn’t want to leave my (secure but boring) current job and then find myself out on the street in a year. What do you think is the best way to approach it?

    1. Insert*

      I just recently asked the same question during an interview, I think I said “can I ask why the position is vacant?”

      1. ferrina*

        I asked this for my current position. It was well-received and a helpful question to ask (though they may or may not answer it honestly)

      2. Joielle*

        Yep, that’s how I ask it too. Or if you really want to know about the pattern of short stays, you could ask “how often do people typically stay in this role?” Either way, the tone and facial expression of the interviewer when they respond may well give you more information than the actual answer.

    2. Ashley*

      Ask to talk to the previous person or persons. When you ask why it is vacant you can ask how long the person stayed.
      Who knows maybe the person doesn’t stay because they are getting better opportunities within the organization thanks to mentoring.

    3. Anonymously living a nightmare*

      I also like asking “how do you measure success for this position?” and “what does the onboarding support look like for this role?”

      It often clarifies if they’re looking for a mind reader who is on call 24/7 and if you’re expected to figure it out on your own.

      I’ve been watching a similar situation where a high paying EA roll is filled and then reposted within 90 days. It makes me question if the leader is a difficult human.

  56. Ivy*

    Im ready to quit…burned out just like many others. Why oh why am I so afraid to make the decision. Let me correct that, I’ve made the decision but I can’t seem to execute it. I know what my family will say and I don’t want to hear all the reasons they think I should stay. I would receive a return of contributions from my pension fund. I can afford to not work but I’ll need to cut back, my spouse is retired with a generous pension. I’m 39 for context…my question is how to move forward and do what needs to be done. Anyone ever ripped that bandaid off and been okay?

    1. greenleaf*

      You can do it! I did this a while ago when I seriously needed to take a step back and just work part time, and everything turned out okay. I ended up returning to the full time work force earlier this year, but it was because I felt refreshed and ready to go back. I practiced by writing a script of what I was going to say to my boss when I resigned and then saying it out loud to my partner over and over again until I felt comfortable saying it. You might be anxious leading up to the conversation, but you’ll feel so much better once you get the words out!

    2. ferrina*

      You sound burned out! I’m so sorry, it’s a really rough place to be. And when you’re burned out and exhausted, and change takes a lot of energy.
      It sounds like you know what you need to do. If you don’t have the energy to deal with your family’s reasons, you can put them on an information diet until you are ready to discuss it (have you read Captain Awkward? She’s got some great scripts for information diets). It can help to think of this as a health decisions- you need to do this to take care of your health.

      It’s going to be scary- could you afford some short term therapy for a few months to help you get through the transition?

      1. Ivy*

        I literally just sent an email to a psychologist office before checking the replies to my question, maybe I am on the right track.

        1. ferrina*

          I’ve gone on antidepressants to help with a big life transition. It had left me so drained I could barely do anything. I’m a couple weeks in and it has really helped me- I have energy for the little things again and am not constantly exhausted all the time.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Seconding ferrina’s information diet suggestion! The first time I switched jobs (handing in my notice with nothing lined up, because it was a ridiculously long notice no junior employee should have had), my parents freaked out. They acted as if ending up unemployed and broke was the only possible outcome, and had little understanding for the impact the old job had on my mental health. Both are retired and had the same public service job all their lives, so job hunting is a completely foreign concept to them.

      The most recent time, I was way more burnt out and didn’t have the energy to deal with all that again. I waited months before telling them I was sending resumes out. When a long spell of rejections ended, and interviews began to pick up, it felt like the right time to share. I was still burnt out and miserable, but could confidently say things were moving in a positive direction, and that’s the message I focused on with my parents.

      You’re in a tough spot right now, and even though you may not be able to see a way out just yet, you will reach the way out. Take things slowly if you can afford to, and be as gentle to yourself as you can: job hunting can feel like another full-time job, and it’s easy to let it consume time and energy you’re already running out of. You can do this, and when you do, I hope you land a role that brings you everything you’re looking for :)

  57. Just Me*

    Would love some advice on this: should I wear a necklace with a symbol of crossed fingers on it?

    My partner gave me a necklace with a little charm showing a hand with crossed fingers. We’re in the US, and I love wearing it as a kind of “lucky charm.” I am also not religious, so I think of it as a fun take on wearing, say, a cross, star of David, or star and crescent.

    I work in an office where I frequently interact with people from different cultures, and it was only just now when one of them remarked that it is an interesting “cultural symbol” that it occurred to me that it has different connotations in different countries (some being offensive). In children, and in some countries, it also signifies that someone is lying. At the same time, in the culture I’m in right now, it’s generally not considered offensive, and many people probably wouldn’t expect some of those rules in their culture to apply here.

    Given all of this–can I keep wearing the necklace, or should I not wear it at work anymore?

    1. ferrina*

      I don’t think it’s offensive to wear it, but it might be inconsiderate to wear it when you frequently interact with people who will find it uncomfortable or offensive. I also encourage you to not think of it as “a fun take on a cross, star of David, or star and crescent”. Religion is a defining aspect of identity and (often) integral to your soul and spirit. I’m going to guess that this isn’t?

      What about putting it on a longer chain so you can tuck it under your shirt as needed? Then you can enjoy wearing it and not worry about people’s reaction? (if that’s something that you’d be interested in?)

      1. Just Me*

        Hi Ferrina, thank you for pointing that out–you’re right that I shouldn’t have said that. The style of the necklace itself is similar to one that a person might wear with one of the above-mentioned religious symbols (small, simple, gold) but more true to who I am as a person, but you’re right that it’s not an integral part of my identity in the same way another person’s religion is.

        It definitely can be hidden under a shirt in a pinch, so I can easily do that as well. Thank you for your reply.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      If you think it is offensive to someone you work with, but you want to wear it, would you be willing to put it on a longer chain that can be tucked under your clothes? Or add another charm or two to the necklace so it is one of many.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I think wearing it is fine but calling it a fun take on a religious symbol is strange. I see you clarified that you meant it’s just a similar style but “charm on a chain” is a pretty common type of necklace so I’d refrain from making that comparison.

        1. Dark Macadamia*