open thread – April 8-9, 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.

{ 1,040 comments… read them below }

  1. Anna*

    I’m a marketing campaign and I’m going to start writing a monthly wrap-up email (about campaign performance, projects, etc.) to some people in V-level management. I need help on how to structure the email please! Something that’s easy for them to remember, but not overwhelming with information. This would be more informal, rather than creating a deck. I do marketing in-house (not agency). I’m partly doing this because the once weekly meetings we have are going away.

    I’m thinking to start with –

    “Hi Don and Roger,
    I wanted to send you a monthly wrap-up email on the key projects for the Lucky Strike and Kodak brands since we’re no longer meeting once a week.

    Lucky Strike

    Project A –

    – Brief description, status or final outcome, what I plan to do next

    Project B –

    – Brief description, status or final outcome, what I plan to do next


    Project C –

    – Brief description, status or final outcome, what I plan to do next”

    Please help I’m clueless!

    1. ecnaseener*

      That looks like a good template to me! (I am not in marketing, but in general it’s clear and will be easy for them to scan.)

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        I agree – I think it looks like a good start. When I’m creating templates, I tend to expand them over time based on the questions I get. So, if you’re asked about X, Y, and Z … include it next time unless it seems like a true one-off question or something just about that particular client/account.

    2. Eleanor Rigby*

      Do you have KPIs defined? It seems like those would be good to include – just top level, with a link to find more information if they want it. And if there are action items for them, I’d pull those out to the top of the email

    3. have we met?*

      I think your outline here is good. Remember, they want to know the bottom line, and you want to justify your continued employment. So make sure to gather any leads/sales numbers and calculate ROI as close as you can.

      1. Merecat*

        Yes, having tangible numbers for management is important. I’ve also found that separating the items in project into different lines, or even a bullet point list, instead of a single block makes it easier and faster for management to read and understand your update.

    4. OtterB*

      The only thing I would add is if you need anything from them – direction, approval for a course of action etc. If so, make sure that’s called out in its own section or bolded or obvious in some other way.

      1. Anonym*

        Put any action (or that it’s just FYI) in the first line of the email. Especially if it’s going to be an ongoing update, people will glance at it and then file it for later. Bottom line up front!

        1. madge*

          I do this and get a ridiculous amount of thanks for doing so. It’s not common here but I suspect it’s why I get faster responses than colleagues from our Dean.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yup, action items should go at the top of each section, in case they are skim reading. Other than that, this is clear and looks good.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      I would just add, keep your sub points under the projects as bulleted as possible. So the description might be a sentence or 2, but the status/final outcome could be bullets, followed by a sentence on next steps (or bullets if it’s something that could also be a list). I find it is SO MUCH EASIER to get people to read lists (and to read them myself) than multiple bricks of paragraph text. Expect folks to try to skim, and bullets make it way easier to actually absorb info while skimming.

    6. 30 Years in the Biz*

      Hi Anna, I would choose a table to present this information – which is data. Having the same table every month would give immediate recognition of what’s being presented and with a quick glance someone could find the client and project they may specifically looking for (if all the information doesn’t interest them). The client name with project names would be listed down the side of the table as rows and then labeled columns across the top would contain the information you’re updating. Maybe columns labeled: Description of project, Date initiated, current status, actions/next steps, projected completion, and a comment section (you can describe any roadblocks or add additional information here). I would start the email saying :”Hi Don and Roger, in lieu of the weekly meetings I’ve created a table to keep you updated on the monthly progress of our campaigns. If you’d like to add any additional categories please let me know.”

        1. JT*

          If you’re sharing any metrics such as average clicks, engagement, growth, etc. I find it helpful to include the previous updates numbers so they can see what the movement is rather than just current number.

    7. Claire*

      In addition to the other suggestions, as someone who has to send a couple different emails like this on a regular basis (one weekly, one monthly), using the Outlook quick steps to save the basic template for the email has been a huge game-changer, and somehow significantly easier than going back and copying the previous month’s email or a separate document. I set up the email subject line, and as much of the template as I can (including the opening greetings, etc), and then just fill in specific updates each time. For example, for my weekly email, the pre-set subject line is “[Topic] for the week of” and then I just add in the dates at the end. If your projects are going to persist over several months, you can even include the project names in the body of the email so you don’t have to fill those in every time. (You can also set the emails of the recipients when you set up the quick step, but I prefer to add recipient emails last so that I don’t accidentally send it too soon.)

    8. Banana*

      If there is any information on it that can be standardized, including it in table form will make it easy to scan. If you’re using any graphs or similar visuals, sticking to a standard format for those is key also. My exec team would require both – we actually have a universal standard format for bar and line charts and heaven help you if you deviate from it.

    9. Calibri Hater*

      I’m honestly just excited about the Mad Men reference :)

      I agree with The Ginger Ginger on the bullet points. Something I like to do in my reports is color code: green for “all systems go,” orange if I need information or clarification, and red if something is preventing me from moving forward.

      1. JSPA*

        Red-green color blindness affects about 8% of men and about 0.5% of women (X-linked). It’s fine if you use it for yourself…but know that someone else may see two similar shades of gray for red and green, and may see orange as tonally similar to (though darker than) yellow. Will find and drop in a link for, “spectrum then looks like” (aka, this is what your cat sees)

          1. JSPA*

            People can choose to eat or not eat sandwiches. And if ordering lunch were a core part of someone’s job, then yes, they should pay attention to everyone’s needs.

            It’s understood in scientific publications that you don’t use green vs. red for precisely this reason; if 5% of your audience can’t perceive your color scheme, and in fact, your color scheme renders the most important items greyed out…you’re doing yourself and your research and your product, no favors.

            It’s a bigger issue in science, granted, where being able to see how the dots produced by color-tagged antibodies line up, from figure to figure, can be the whole point of a high profile article. Link to follow. But why would you make your product less accessible, as a matter of course?

            1. Calliope*

              I mean, yes, it IS a bigger deal in science where you need to make the whole point of an experiment make sense than it is in an internal email on whom a few people are copied and who at any time could say “oh hey, I’m color blind so when you say X items are in green I can’t see that.” Sometimes communication is a two way street.

          1. Hippeas*

            I guess the people whom it would affect may not know that you’re adding color. Or may not want to speak up about it.

            So it may be a moot point but just wanted to speak up for those folks – the logic ‘I haven’t heard a complaint so it must be okay’ doesn’t extend to all circumstances, especially when it comes to people with different abilities who may not want to speak up or may not be able to, especially if there are power differentials involved.

            1. Calliope*

              Given the historical and current lack of discrimination against people with color blindness and the fact that it’s a pretty common topic of conversation in offices I’ve been in that seems like . . . a stretch. It also seems like a stretch to think Hippeas didn’t explain the color coding system this alerting everyone that it existed.

    10. JSPA*

      “I wanted to” strikes me as giving the answer to a question that’s not been asked, and would not be asked, as it’s clearly a good idea. And you don’t have to announce that it’s monthly (which might send them to look for time conflicts 3 months from now. Nor even what it replaces (they know you’re not meeting). I’d just jump right in.

      “Hi Don and Roger,
      This is a summary update on the key projects for Lucky Strike and Kodak, so we have an overview.
      *plans for next
      *Could you [any request you have, relative to those plans (please OK, please drop in any key missing info, please flag me by [date however-many work days from send date] if we need to have a zoom discussion before I proceed on Z, please acknowledge receipt, please let me know if this conflicts with timing for the Toys R Us launch, etc]
      *otherwise, I’ll move forward on X and then Z and Y concurrently; you’ll get another update on [date].

      Invite feedback on what you need feedback on, not on stuff that could be debated, but debating it would be a distraction.

    11. retired3*

      As someone who has written this sort of thing for everyone from legislators to research subjects: 8th grade language and sentence/comment length. Second bullet points. Don’t assume people can read.

    12. Loz*

      Why are you second guessing? Ask Don & Roger what they need & how they want it. Nothing wrong with having a few ideas of your own but if it’s not useful to them it’s a waste of your time and frustrating for them. Ask!

  2. Brit*

    What are hiring questions for when you’re interviewing candidates to be your manager?
    My team is hiring for a new manager to directly manage myself and two of my coworkers. I’ve interviewed candidates for my level and below, but never above. Any advice?
    I want to make sure he doesn’t micromanage and doesn’t get rude and defensive easily.

    1. Mostly Managing*

      I’d be using “give me an example” type questions.

      Give me an example of a time you had to handle negative feedback from an employee

      Tell me about a time you had an employee who knew more about the project than you did

      How do you manage your work life balance?


    2. Murphy*

      I ask questions about their leadership style, more hands on or hands off. How would you come in and get to know your team, how have organized your team around a common goal, have you ever had to deliver an unpopular policy and how did you handle it, have you had to deal with an underperforming employee and how did you handle it. Questions about how they support their employees’ professional development.

      Some “tell me about a time you had to do X” can help them speak in specifics about their management experience.

    3. irene adler*

      I would ask them to describe their management style.

      Also, might ask some behavioral questions:
      Tell me about a time when…

      Your report lacked a key skill needed to complete a project.
      Your report went above and beyond what was needed to complete a project.
      You had to discipline a report.
      You had to manage someone(s) under tight deadlines.
      Your report got defensive over some feedback you delivered to them.
      Your boss issued unrealistic goals for your department to meet.

      Be sure to have follow-up questions ready for their responses. Idea being: you don’t want to know what the infraction is, just want to find out how things turned out.

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        I like these! I also wonder if a question like “Tell me about a time when your direct report gave you feedback on your management style. How did you handle it?”

      2. Esmeralda*

        I wouldn’t only ask them to describe their management style. Too easy to lie or be vague. Or if they’re not self perceptive, they might think they’re collaborative for instance, but really they’re not.

        Definitely get examples. Lots of follow up questions too to probe. A good topic when doing reference checks as well.

    4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      What do you think is the most important quality in a manager? –>will give a hint toward style.

    5. Interviewing up*

      Can you give an example of how you responded when a direct report pointed out a time when you made a mistake or were wrong?

    6. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Tell me about a time when you had to have an employee correct a behavior. How did you handle it? One of the main things you would be looking for is that the correction came immediately. You want to avoid surprises on annual reviews.

    7. Dragonfly7*

      What qualities or behaviors are important to you and your coworkers? For example, the method my manager prefers to use to communicate means that information doesn’t always make it to the entire team. The result is that I ask how managers communicate expectations and changes to their employees when it is my turn to ask questions during interviews.

      1. JSPA*

        “What sorts of behaviors need to be corrected instantly, in public? What corrections should be done same day, but in private? What corrections are better delivered via email?”

        “How do you differentiate (if you do differentiate) between disagreement, negative feedback and correction? Examples of each, and how you would handle each?”

        “Do you believe it’s essential to recognize or praise everyone and every sort of good work in the same way? To correct or call out everyone or every sort of problem in the same way?”

        Note that these are not good or bad; they’re, “does this work for you.” For example, I really, really don’t enjoy public praise; I’d much rather have a manager who understands that “good job!” in an email makes me happy, while my name on a recognition plaque feels strange and awkward. Other people are 100% on board with “employee of the month.”

    8. Varthema*

      “Where does the line between supporting your team and micromanaging them lie? Can you give an example of a time when you went too far one way or the other?”

      For responsiveness and openness to feedback, which is also a thing that is super important on my team (lots of peer QA), we do this. The applicants complete a take-home task (which is how we select the interviewees), and then I give them feedback during the interview. I look carefully for how they respond – do they take it onboard, do they argue? Then I show them a screenshot of a typical piece of QA feedback early on in the job, which is *lengthy*, and ask them for their impressions – this has the benefit as well of managing exprctations for our processes if they do get hired! Then I ask them if they’ve ever gotten feedback on this level and how they handled it. I feel like it’s easier to BS an answer to a “give me an example” question, and seeing their live reaction to the feedback (we’re expecting startled but looking for good-natured surprise).

      The thing I’m thinking of changing next time is giving them the feedback to their takehome task in written form before the interview and then asking them about it in-person (“any questions or thoughts?”) rather than delivering it in-person as that’s more in line with our real-life process.

    9. Tabby Baltimore*

      A 2019 AAM post from commenter MissDisplaced offered a list of “20 Interview Questions To Ask Your Next Boss” (

      This was also a question posed by poster Would-be manager, which got a lot of responses: (Might want to zero in on comments from AnonEMoose, Canonical23, Smooth Operator, irene adler, RandomU, Manager Her, and NW Mossy.)

      Other questions taken from that thread are:
      Tell me about a time when you had to share critical feedback with an employee.
      Tell me about a time when you had to uphold policy with an angry/upset customer or client.
      How would you handle rolling out a change in policy to your staff you don’t agree with?
      Tell me about a time you had to improve an employee’s performance. How did you go about that?
      Tell me about a time you’ve had to have a difficult conversation with an employee about [dress code/body odor/etc.].
      Tell me about a time where you had to make a big change. How did you manage buy-in?
      What skills would you look for when interviewing for X position?
      How would you handle someone on the team who was experiencing burnout?
      If you got a complaint about one of your team members, how would you address it?

      After the candidate has answered, here are a few follow-up questions that got suggested:
      “What were some of the challenges?”
      “Looking back what would you do differently?”
      “What were some of the things that worked?”

    10. Magiggles*

      How will you build credibility with your new team?
      How do you celebrate wins?

      One way to make sure they manage well is to dig into how they operate when things are going well and when they are going poorly.

  3. working mom*

    Today is my last day at my job. For the first time in my career I was sought after by another company for a position that is perfect for my skills and experience. And the bonus was that it came with a considerable increase. I’m leaving behind a team with an absent manager, for which I filled in that role when my team members needed training, help, a shoulder to cry on. They are already being crushed by the workload as I transition out and have been working to train our hire that started this week. I had an exit interview yesterday in which I laid out my concerns clearly, and my sincere hope is that they take the feedback seriously. So now I’m off to clear my head for a few weeks before starting fresh. Thanks to AAM for helping me understand my value, how to fight for what I deserve, and recognize when the necessary support is not being served at the table.

    1. Should I apply?*

      Me too! I feel a little bad because 2 other co-workers last day is today also, but am so looking forward to new opportunities.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        It’s a little surreal: Today is my last day and I’m leaving a good team in a troubling company.
        Unfortunately, I don’t get a few weeks to clear my head before the new one starts, but I’m happy for the OP and wish them (and you) well in your new jobs!

      2. Muddlewitch*

        Me three! I’ve been coaching my newish line manager for 18 months, and he’s still failing, and I was getting nothing back. Reading AAM has helped me understand what has been happening to me – undermined, but at same time underpinning!!
        So I’m off to pastures new, where my skills and experience will be valued.
        Good luck to everyone starting new jobs this quarter.

    2. Rhymetime*

      Congratulations! And a big thank you for stating your concerns in your exit interview that could potentially help your former colleagues even when you won’t personally be involved. Although you never know how things will unfold after your departure, it’s important to do when you have the opportunity.

      I had a comparable situation to yours where I left because I was recruited with a big pay raise. I was sad to leave my coworkers, my direct manager, and the director of my department, who were all wonderful. In my exit interview with HR, I was able to share that our CEO was bullying my department’s director and other directors. There’s no way any of them could have shared that themselves since they reported to the CEO. The HR director took it seriously. I later heard that the CEO was asked to leave and while I’m sure it wasn’t based only on my feedback, it likely contributed.

  4. Fran Fine*

    I’ve had a doozy of a time at work these last couple of weeks, but in a very good way. I received a nearly five-figure spot bonus last week, and then I found out I was promoted this week (for the second time in a nine-month span) with a 15% salary increase. I’m now officially a senior comms manager and part of the six-figure club! Honestly, I always hoped I’d get to this place, but it looked very bleak when I first started my career at the height of the Great Recession. I’ll be 35 in a few weeks, and this was the best early birthday gift I could ever receive.

    The downside of all this is, I’ve only been on this team and in this kind of role for nine months, so even though I’ve been working professionally for 12 years now, I still feel like…do I really deserve all the hype? I mean, don’t get me wrong – it’s amazing to have a manager like mine who advocates so hard for me with the executive leadership team (they are the ones who had to approve my promotion), but what if I can’t keep up this momentum?

    And then I was the only one on my team (besides my manager) who got promoted when everybody works so hard – seriously, this is the hardest working, highest performing team I’ve ever been on and ever seen. Not a single one of us is a weak link – not one. I almost feel guilty that I was promoted when they weren’t because I don’t think I did anything that extraordinary to be singled out the way I have been (the board also keeps throwing RSUs at me).

    Has anyone else experienced this? How did you deal, and how did you act around your equally hardworking coworkers who didn’t get the same treatment? I almost didn’t update my email signature with my new title because I was worried about how it would make my coworker who was previously at my level feel.

    1. Karen Carpenter Fan*

      While I respect your concern for your co-workers, if they’re the “highest performing team I’ve ever been on and ever seen” then they’re going to accept (and hopefully acknowledge and embrace) what you’ve earned. This isn’t treatment, you’ve earned it. You’re humble, and that’s good, but you have to put the new title in your signature line because internal/external people will be looking for you. You will return to your job and do the great things you’re doing and all the new things your promotion requires of you.


      1. Fran Fine*

        Thank you.

        I did update my email address after I posted this since my manager said something similar to what you did, then told me to go celebrate, lol. I’ve just never been in this position before (where I’m the only one being promoted), my team is very small in comparison to most other comms teams, so this was concerning me a bit because I don’t want to see the good vibes we have going sour.

    2. A Beth*

      Wow, that’s fantastic! I think there’s more to being promoted than working hard — personality, initiative, creativity, whatever. So even though your colleagues are also hard workers, you clearly have something that shines. I haven’t experienced what you’re going through so I don’t have any advice, but I’m rooting for you!

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Make a point of giving your team credit — not in a fake way, but for their actual achievements. Do this when you’re talking with higher-ups, talking with colleagues directly, and assuming your new duties. You didn’t choose to be promoted, but you can choose to be gracious about it.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        And help to create positive reputations for your team — a precursor to promotion!

    4. Oreo*

      Congratulations! Sounds like a great birthday gift too (happy early birthday btw!)

      Seems to me that you have a case of Imposter Syndrome. While my experience isn’t quite the same (in my role there’s really no upward path to be promoted to, but I have received significant raises/bonuses that reflect how well I do at my work) I can say for certain that your manager chose you for a reason, not just because of seniority or some other arbitrary standard. Like Beth said, you may have other qualities that make you stand out in a good way.

      At this point, keep up with whatever it is you’re doing – especially being as humble as you are. Those under you will appreciate that kind of attitude and will work hard because of the example you lead.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Thank you for the birthday wishes! And yes, I’ll take your advice in the last paragraph especially since my manager is discussing with her boss plans to restructure our team with me as one of two managers. Should that happen this year (and my manager thinks it will), then I want to be a good example for my new direct reports.

    5. All Het Up About It*

      In addition to the comments you’ve already received, all of which I agree with, I want to address but what if I can’t keep up this momentum?

      You probably won’t. And that’s not a bad thing!!! Nothing in life is a straight path upward. Increases followed by plateaus are normal. Even dips are normal. This is not to say that you won’t keep doing stellar work. You likely will, but just because you aren’t recognized in the same ways doesn’t mean anything horrible is happening.

      Without knowing the details, what you’ve described here, is almost like a correction. They hired you thinking you would do X-level work, for this X-level position. But after nine months, they’ve realized you are really doing Y-level work and have adjusted your title and compensation to reflect it. That’s awesome! And if you keep doing that Y-level work for years, that’s also awesome and just like the other members of your team doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong. Continue doing what you are doing, collaborating with your amazing team, singing their praises when you can and it is warranted and also enjoy working for what sounds like a great company.

      1. Fran Fine*

        what you’ve described here, is almost like a correction. They hired you thinking you would do X-level work, for this X-level position. But after nine months, they’ve realized you are really doing Y-level work and have adjusted your title and compensation to reflect it.

        You know what? I never thought of it this way, but you’re probably onto something here. I was given an internal promotion onto this team from another one where I also had the “manager” title because I was managing a function. My first promotion nine months ago was to manage a comms program, which – at the time – I thought was a high-level role already. My current manager really took a chance bringing me over to her team because she didn’t know me, and in fact, hired me off the strength of a recommendation from another colleague she worked with who is no longer with the company. (Well, that and my portfolio pieces.)

        But you’re right – I ended up managing a couple of programs, not just one, and they’re already pretty successful in terms of increasing our email open rates and bringing structure and order to the process of executing campaigns, which this team couldn’t quite figure out how to do. So my manager probably sees this and realized, “Shoot – she should have been at this senior level all along. Let me make that happen now,” and here we are. If I think of it that way – that I was bumped up to where I should have been all along – then that makes me feel much less guilty, lol.

    6. Muddlewitch*

      Hey! Congratulations on the promotion, you deserve it! Are you in a minority in your new peer group? You might be feeling the impact of organisational bias that you’ve not felt at a different level?

      “ The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group.”
      Quote by Organizational Psychologist Tomas Chamorro Premuzic.

      You’ll do great, and your great colleagues will do great because you will lead and inspire them.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Are you in a minority in your new peer group?

        Yup, I sure am. I’m a black woman in tech, so I’m always in that role though and am used to it at this point (it’s the story of my whole life to be either the only or one of a few).

    7. pancakes*

      Congrats on the bonus and the promotion! Try to put any guilt or near-guilt out of your mind as soon as possible. It sounds like you are performing well. Your company is smart to want to keep you, and they can afford to, period.

    8. jadetaia*

      That’s amazing! Congrats!

      I’m not sure how your team is structured, but it could be that some of your hardworking team members love what they do and enjoy their current role — or maybe they have received pay raises or bonuses but don’t want what the demands or tasks that your newly promoted role would entail.

      As an example, I had a job before where they promoted me from staff accountant to an accounting manager/Human Resources/payroll manager role … and managing is HARD. Plenty of people wouldn’t want to move up to being a people manager, or maybe they enjoy the tasks and area of expertise of a more technical position.

      Whatever the reason, it sounds like your boss and leadership team see that your qualities and experience are a good fit for this new role, so congrats and enjoy this positive change!

  5. Instructional Design*

    My sister is burned out from public education, and wants to switch to instructional design (or similar). She asked me for resume advice. While I have content design experience, mine is UX/UI based. I’d appreciate any tips on resume format (should it be plain, or more “slick” to show graphic design skills? Etc.) and what skills to emphasize.

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      There are several podcasts, sites, and groups on LinkedIn and Facebook for teachers making that same shift (It’s VERY common these days. To a point that I’ve seen some people complaining about it. (Insert eye roll here. It’s a fine and logical place for educators to move to!) I’m not in that spot myself but I’ve seen lots of teachers referred to them. I just don’t remember any of the names.
      I’d recommend they look for those resources for the best information.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        I am a teacher and have also seen a lot of mentions of these blogs, podcasts, and other resources on teacher reddit (which is filled with unhappy teachers, so best avoided by anyone who still wants to love the job despite the issues).

    2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      It’s not as simple as updating her resume. It’s a very competitive field right now. She’ll need a portfolio with projects and to learn technology like Storyline along with learning theory/process like ADDIE.

      I did a great online course that helped me upskill and build a strong portfolio. I recommend she start researching the field and set up informational interviews with teachers who have made the switch. It also helps if she’s open to contract work.

    3. braindump*

      “should it be plain, or more “slick” to show graphic design skills? Etc.”

      TBH whatever gets the point across to readers is the goal. You don’t want to obfuscate information with design.

      (Thinking of when I had to read a scientific protocol from a flashy company. It had 2 inch margins, seemingly triple spaced sentences, light gray font, no pictures….. The last thing scientists need when learning a new protocol is to squint and flip pages every five steps. They impressed the CEO but not so much people working on the instruments.)

    4. Just Here for the Cake*

      Former educator turned corporate trainer here! I highly recommend checking out the Association for Talent Development. They have a bunch of free resources online with a bunch of advice on moving from teaching to talent development/instructional design.

    5. Still Queer, Still Here*

      I used to teach k-12, and have done jobs with about 50% instructional design the last couple of years. Currently searching for a full-time instructional design position, now that I have a few years of experience. Some suggestions in terms of skills: Get somewhat familiar with an instructional design program like Articulate, Rise, or Captivate. See if you can put together a portfolio with on-spec modules of some sort.

      Resume should still be pretty simple unless you’re handing it or emailing it to someone, because most of the organizations are still using ATS software that won’t be able to read a graphics-heavy resume.

    6. Former Gifted Kid*

      Something to be aware of is the difference between education children and educating adults. If she has experience leading professional development sessions or giving presentations to other adults, that is something to call out. I used to work for an organization that hired a lot of ex K-12 teachers. We were willing to provide training on how adult education was different (it was part of our orientation!), but I am not sure all companies would. “Teacher voice” can sometimes sound condescending when you are speaking to other adults. If she is lookin at just doing design rather than leading trainings, it might not be as big of an issue.

    7. Calibri Hater*

      I recommend the Facebook group “Expatriates of Higher Ed Student Affairs” and the LinkedIn group “EDU Pivoters.” There are a ton of people giving and getting advice about switching from education into ID. As others have mentioned, it is a HIGHLY competitive field, but using those resources will help your sister make a plan in order to move into that field after some upskilling.

    8. Anhaga*

      I’ll vote for plain and clear–use the resume to demo information organization and delivery skills. With ID, the shiny stuff is window dressing; showing that you can deliver information clearly, cleanly, and efficiently is really key. And she should look into universal design and accessibility (including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines/WCAG and Section 508); having even a little bit of accessibility knowledge, and knowing where to look for further info, can be a big boost for instructional designers.

    9. Leela*

      I definitely always preferred a very plain, easy-to-read resume and *hated* the slick, design-y ones so bad sometimes I’d just skip them because they were time consuming to wrestle with and I usually had enough good candidates without it.

      First of all, most companies using applicant tracking systems will have a horrible time extracting the necessarily information out of pretty, heavily-formatted documents that show design skills. As someone who worked in hiring, I really just wanted a resume that worked really well with our applicant software so it wouldn’t take me a ton of extra time to try and track down where our tracking system dumped out their information because it never goes into the right place with fancy resumes. And for a design skills job, I’d really much rather a very plain resume with a link to a good portfolio than a resume that shows design skills (which I’m expecting the portfolio to do!)

    10. new kid*

      As someone who just hired for a content developer role (some instructional design but also technical writing) and had a TON of teachers apply, my biggest piece of advice would be to write a cover letter connecting the dots of how she can pivot her K-12 teaching experience into this kind of role. I absolutely believe classroom teaching skills are transferrable to the kind of work I was hiring for but I also had a lot of applicants, so without a cover letter to connect the dots for me, I didn’t interview people that didn’t have the direct experience I was looking for. But the teachers who wrote a cover letter absolutely got an interview from me.

  6. Career counselors?*

    Has anyone here worked with a career counselor?

    I’m interested in making a career change, but I’ve been working in the same field since I was a teenager and I have no idea what else I’m qualified for or what search terms to use to find those jobs on job boards. I thought it might be helpful to have an expert look at my resume and give me some advice about other jobs I might want to look into.

    If you’ve used a career counselor, was it helpful? How did you find them? Is there anything I should keep in mind before I start the process?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I have used one briefly. Moderately helpful, and part was reassuring that I had made some good decisions many years ago. I enjoyed the personality testing

      I found mine through the local community college. Mine actually has a networking group for those out of work/etc. It also allowed me to steer another person away from a toxic employer.

    2. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      I worked with one through my university when I was a recent graduate. They had me take an assessment (possibly connected to the Meyer’s Briggs personality test). It was okay, but I had a difficult time matching the results with practical next steps. It helped narrow my options at least.

      During another time, I met with a life coach (I know quality of these can vary). In that case, she was helpful with helping me process what I wanted and next steps. Through her guidance, I ultimately took the step to purse graduate school part-time to help me change fields form my current job.

      I know Goodwill ahs a career center too that helps with resumes and has a temp agency. Not sure whether or not they would be helpful. My husband did not know what he wanted to do, but found working temp jobs through them helpful. One temp job led to him being hired in a state office.

      Honestly I wish there were more options for people to just try jobs out. It takes such a long time to know oneself and what type of jobs work best. I wish I could provide better feedback, but wish you the best on your journey!

    3. Cate*

      If you went to university, your careers service there may still be able to give you guidance. That’s what I’ve done in the past, they’ve been really helpful.

    4. Catcher in the Rye*

      I’ve worked with college career center counselors before and found them to be helpful with things like getting ideas about how to format my resume, how to frame transferrable skills in ways that employers want to hear, and with what resources to use to find job postings. If you have a college degree, there’s a chance that your institution may offer career counseling to alumni; my alma mater offers free career counseling for life, but it’s a huge public school, so that may vary with other places. Keep in mind that Allison has some articles written about bad advice some career counselors give (search career center on this website to find them). If that’s not an option for you, you might look into local nonprofits or even public libraries that sometimes offer free or low cost career support. I hope that helps some. Best of luck with your job search.

    5. Aggresuko*

      Yes. Unless you want one to redo your resume and cover letter, they are USELESS beyond those two things. Complete and utter waste of my time to even ask about other job possibilities. Like I left after a half hour because she told me you can’t get a job unless you’ve already held that job (which, to be fair, is true here) and I don’t qualify for anything else and you have to fit 95% of the requirements to get an interview and 100% to get a job.

      But if you want a rewrite on your documents, go right ahead.

    6. sunny*

      I loved my career coach and still reach out to her when faced with major decisions. I used her expertise when facing a major career transition (think more than just a new job). She offered some advice on my resume, but we spent most of our time discussing what was important to me, what i was good at and what I valued in life. That self discovery led me to the type of career track I’m on today. She was part therapist, part life coach, part job coach and I’m so grateful. It’s important to find someone you really click with since they are typically expensive. I found her through a personal recommendation, I would encourage you to ask your network who they’ve used and interview a couple. Most offer a free initial session to understand how they work. I would get really clear on your goals before you start with them, are you hoping they just revise your resume? that’s a totally different service. Do you want someone who does a lot of personality tests? Do you want a job at the end? Etc.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I did this with a career coach, who was fantastic. She was helpful in guiding me to find my direction, and recently published an excellent book that enables people to utilize her practices independently. The book is Awaken to Your Calling: A Guide to Discovering Your Career Path and Life Direction by Randi Benator. It’s available on Amazon.

    8. Hunnybee*

      I love this question, OP! I hope you share any good ones you hear about with the rest of us.

    9. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      I worked with one with experience in my industry. I don’t think I wouldn’t have gotten the same value from a generalist. I would not have agreed to take assessment tests and the like. But that really depends on where you’re at. If you’re open and wanting to potentially make a change, those things could be useful. But if you want to progress in your industry, I think it’s best to work with someone who knows exactly what that means.

    1. WellRed*

      File for UI immediately if in US. Take a few days if more to decompress if you can afford it.

    2. Sandrilene fa Toren*

      No advice but sympathies and a virtual high five for your username. Anybody want a peanut?

    3. Lora*

      1. file for unemployment immediately. find out how much your state pays and how long.
      1. (also 1, not a typo) see what the company who laid you off is making available. Some of them offer resume brushing-up services and things like that as part of severance. But the time to ask for stuff is right away.
      2. let your network know. It may feel embarrassing but let them know you’re available and looking.
      3. take a moment, as much as you can afford
      4. figure out temporary financial arrangements. Pay minimums on credit cards, type of thing. If you anticipate your unemployment to last a while (depending on location, field etc) you can ask for forbearance on a lot of loan payments and such.
      5. if you need a survival job, start looking for one of those. Don’t feel bad about it for one second.
      6. then worry about the actual brushing-up of resume part and applying for jobs in your field or retraining in another field or whatever it is you want to do

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        #5 for sure. I was laid off in Feb 2017 from a job that I hated and was a bad for from day 1. I had 6 weeks severance and then went on UI. But I also did grocery delivery, temp jobs while I looked for a permanent position, because I was being super picky about my next role. It took longer than I thought but I am very thankful I did because I did find the right fit. While I’m looking for new jobs currently it’s because my current job put me on an amazing path. Had I took the first permanent job after I was laid off, I’m not so sure I’d be in this position. So the short term of temp jobs was 100% worth it in the long run.

      2. All Het Up About It*

        Adjustment to 1.

        Depending on your state and if you received severance you might not want to deal with Unemployment yet. For instance, in my state, unemployment doesn’t start until after the equivalent time of your severance. So if you had six weeks of severance, you would be dealing with the UI for weeks, following their rules, requirements, stress and then find out that it was all for naught.

        Now the caveat to that is, sometimes you can’t find your state’s laws easily and it’s certainly better to apply and be denied than to miss out on funds, especially if you need them. But if you know, then give yourself a break! And either way, try as hard as you can not to panic. Give yourself time to mourn, and to relax as much as you are able.

        I was laid off twice within a 4 year period and it sucks. But, each time I have ended up in a different place, making more money and the new roles really changed my career trajectory and salary. I’m wishing you the same.

        1. ThatGirl*

          In my state, at least, you can apply right away — you just won’t get payments until the severance has been paid out (which may be in one lump sum or over the course of weeks). There’s also a “waiting week” in Illinois. So it’s worth investigating the requirements and how to apply right away.

    4. Nicki Name*


      On Monday, get up at your usual time, put on your office clothes if that helps, brush up your resume, and then start job-hunting.

      Keep to a regular daily sleep and feeding schedule. (If your job made that schedule horrible, now’s the time to try out a more humane one, but make it the same every day if you can.) Try to find time every day to go out for a walk, bike, whatever lets you move around and get away from your computer for a bit.

      Have a project to keep you busy when you’re waiting for people to get back to you so you don’t just sit there spinning with anxiety. It doesn’t have to be related to job skills.

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Give yourself the weekend to be sad/angry. Monday morning, pick up your new duties of managing your unemployment and looking for a new job. Good news, there are lots of people hiring! But while you’re wallowing this weekend, give yourself a little time to consider what your preferred career would look like and how you can make your next job a step up in terms of satisfaction and balance.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        This. You’ve got to give yourself some time to churn through the emotions. If you don’t do it now, you’ll have to do it eventually, and it will probably not be a convenient time. Take time to grieve what you’ve lost so you can move.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      Definitely file for UI immediately, even if there are circumstances that make you think you might not qualify. My former partner and I were surprised during the Great Recession.

    7. quill*

      Day 1) Apply for UI, update resume, upload it to whatever sites / resources you will use to search for a job.
      Day 2) Search for some jobs but take at least half the day to do ANYTHING you have been putting off – spring cleaning, watching a movie, finishing crocheting a decorative butternut squash – anything that brings you joy or sets you up for a more organized and efficient home life while you search.
      Day 3) Figure out your schedule so you don’t do what I did last time and spend 4+ hours refreshing job sites, 2+ hours worrying, and 2+ hours procrastinating every day.

    8. RedinSC*

      Oh gosh, been there.

      Echo the apply for UI immediately, if in US. Or whatever services your country provides. Don’t wait.

      Also, the thing that I went through, that I was not expecting was the sudden loss of identity. Getting laid off was much more emotionally difficult for me that I had anticipated. I even knew it was coming, at some point, just not then.

      So, I would say, recognize that this is a change, BUT it does not fundamentally change who you are. If your social interactions were like mine, one of the first questions people ask is “what do you do?” and being laid off destroyed my answer! But it doesn’t really.

      Deep breath. You got this, Good luck on your job search.

    9. Morgan Proctor*

      I’m going against what everyone else is saying and telling you to take a full week or two off to decompress and not worry about things! Then, don’t wake up at your usual time. Wake up when your body naturally wants to wake up. Wear comfortable clothes throughout the day. Think about what really makes you happy in life. Allow that to guide you toward jobs you’d actually enjoy doing. Enjoy your unemployment payments, and remember that because you’re getting this money, this is not an emergency. You’ll do fine!

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        EXCEPT you should apply immediately for unemployment still holds. Many states have a waiting period that starts when you apply (not not on your first day of being unemployed). If you wait to apply you can lose a weeks worth of benefits.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      Evaluate ACA vs COBRA (if you’re in the US). We took COBRA when I lost my job two years ago and it turns out ACA would have been a ton cheaper for about the same level of coverage.

    11. Bernice Clifton*

      If you weren’t provided a termination letter with exact figures about severance, unused PTO, etc that they are paying out and WHEN, call your payroll dept and ask for one ASAP and make an electronic copy. You will need it for UI and things like applying for new benefits.

      Save the phone number for HR/Benefits in case you run into questions about things like your 401(k) and your W2.

    12. As per Elaine*

      Good luck!

      I don’t think anybody’s mentioned it, but if you’re in the US, start looking into health insurance options. COBRA is usually very expensive (and depending on a variety of factors, the Health Connector or whatever can be pricier than one wants, too). If you have a partner, see if you can get insurance via them.

      Also be aware that the UI website is probably pretty unfortunate, even in the “good” states. (And know that things like “updated resume” and “attended virtual networking event” and “informational interview with professional contact” all count as things you’re doing to look for a new job and you can list them to show that you’re doing stuff — it doesn’t all have to be churning out applications. Though do make sure you do some of that, too.)

      Also, if you can afford to be picky, it’s okay to be picky.

    13. Madeleine Matilda*

      Follow all the good advice above, also take a look at Alison’s books and her advice on the blog for resumes and cover letters when you are ready to begin applying for new positions.

    14. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Cut any unnecessary expenses
      PrePay or payoff “outlying” things like auto insurance in advance (if you can)
      File for UI
      Get your references lined up, let people know you’re looking
      Update resume/cover letter

  7. WellRed*

    I mentioned this briefly yesterday but wanted to see about larger discussion. The UCLA ad hiring an adjunct. Phd, 3 to 5 letters of recommendation and several years experience. Salary: $0. Maybe someone more talented than can post the link? Think it was The NY Times. Disgraceful!

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      IIRC the position is grant-funded and the candidate is expected to bring their own grant with them. I understand that this is not unusual in academia, and the posting was shared without that context and/or was incompletely written in the first place.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        There’s a lot that’s “not unusual” but very shameful about the treatment of adjunct staff in academia. There’s a reason so many of us don’t work there anymore.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        The additional context for this is also that UCLA’s “lecturers” are unionized, but “adjuncts” are not… so there’s been a move towards hiring underpaid or unpaid staff as “adjuncts” so as to avoid union rules about pay and benefits. Apparently, unpaid “adjunct” positions like this started at UCLA and have been increasing since the 2008 financial crisis.

        As a grad student (not at UCLA), I find this beyond insulting. And I wonder how much administrators’ salaries have increased over the same time period…

        NYT article:

      3. Overeducated*

        But this doesn’t even make sense because grants can pay for research time, they don’t pay for teaching a course or advising.

        1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          Grants can indeed pay for teaching or advising — they can pay for anything that the sponsoring organization wants to support with funding!

          Just in my one university department we work with grants that fund:
          -research (supplies, equipment, and pay for the researchers)
          -teaching courses (pay for the teachers)
          -training undergrad and grad students, or postdocs or junior faculty (pay for the trainees)
          – outreach to the general public or specific demographics
          -recruiting and supporting underrepresented minorities
          -collaboration between different institutions or disciplines
          -program administration (pay the administrator)
          -specific infrastructure improvements or capital equipment, and its maintenance
          -product development (i.e. turning a research topic into something that can be patented and marketed, more common on the sciencey side) or creative activity (more common on the humanities side)
          and a few other things that are weird combinations or hard to sum up.

          Erin Sweany on substack addresses the UCLA adjunct situation from an academia insider perspective that aligns with my experience. Higher Education is a dysfunctional and exploitative system, but not necessarily in the ways you might assume from what shows up to to public.

      4. Nesprin*

        Yep this is correct- Adjuncts are flexible positions where local scientists not at a university (i.e. at other research institutions, in other departments, expert witnesses etc) can apply to have the right to mentor grad students through UCLA+teach if they want to+ develop a better relationship with UCLA as a whole.

        1. Nesprin*

          And to emphasize, adjunct can mean low paid teaching position, and can also mean membership with department X, when your home department or institution is Y.

        2. L.H. Puttgrass*

          Which is fine if the adjunct really is someone with a day job who likes teaching on the side.

          When universities use adjuncts as a low-cost replacement for full-time instructors (which they do…a lot), it’s less fine.

    2. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      Here’s the link to the article:

      I work in higher ed. as a staff member, and find this sad but not surprising.

    3. PostalMixup*

      It’s disgraceful the way adjuncts are treated, but the NYTimes article was a bit too broad. Specifically, they described a graduate student in the microbiology program at Washington University in St. Louis who was required to TA a course, and later found out that graduate students in other disciplines were paid for their TAships. I am a recent graduate of this program, and while those facts are true, they lack crucial details. Students in the biomedical sciences graduate program do not pay tuition, and they are paid a liveable stipend (it’s not a lot of money, but St. Louis has a low COL). The TAship is part of the program requirements, and is in replacement of, not on top of, the usual workload. So she was getting paid. That semester, her stipend compensated her for coursework and teaching, whereas other semesters it compensated for coursework and laboratory work. The vast majority of graduate programs do not operate this way, and therefore they compensate graduate students for taking in the additional work of teaching.

  8. Out of Office message when you’re between jobs*

    I have a kind of unique situation and I have no idea how to word my out-of-office message. My last day at my job at a large state university is Friday, April 22. I will then be taking three weeks of vacation before starting another job at the same large state university. How should I word my out-of-office message to reflect that I left one position and that I’ll be on vacation and then starting a new position? Do I even need to do all that?

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      Could you just put something like, “I am currently on PTO. Please contact XXX for assistance.”

    2. Mostly Managing*

      Will your extension number be staying the same?

      If so, I’d say something like “vacation alert – I will be back on (date). For issues related to OldJob contact Jim at x123. For issues related to New job contact Dwight at x456 or leave a message”

    3. HR Lady*

      Will you have the same email address if you’re in the same position? If so, just put an out of office for your three week vacation.

      If you’re going to have different contact details, just have your out of office say “I am no longer working in this position and effective 16 May I can be contacted on [new details] where I will be working as a Llama Handler.” I don’t think you need to go into loads of details in either situation!

    4. Teapot Librarian*

      My last day as Job One was Friday, April 22. Please re-send your email to New or Interim Person for assistance. If you are interested in maintaining our professional connection, I can be reached at this email when I begin Job Two in mid-May.

    5. ecnaseener*

      If you expect people to need/want to know that you’re still at the institution, “My last day in [Old Team] is April 22. Starting on May 16, I will be on the [New Team]”

      1. Fran Fine*

        This is what I did at an old job when I was promoted into a new division and knew outsiders would be contacting me regarding cases from my old position.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      People who are calling you regarding your current job only need to know you don’t do that job any more, right? So your out of office message (assuming you’ll still have one) should say you no longer work in this office, and they should contact Joe at 555-5555.

    7. londonedit*

      I presume the issue is that you’ll have the same email address? I’m guessing you’ll have told the people you work with regularly that you’re leaving one team and joining another, but I don’t think there’s any harm in saying ‘As of Friday 22nd April I’m no longer working with the [Department A] team; please contact [person] for queries relating to [your old job]. From Monday 16th May, I will be joining [Department B]; please update your contact lists as necessary’. No need to specify that you’ll be on holiday in between.

    8. A Simple Narwhal*

      I don’t think you need to do any of that! Typically your email just gets forwarded to your manager after you leave and they handle any necessary follow ups.

      If for some reason you absolutely must put up an OOO message once you leave (and maybe this is normal in academia), you can keep it simple and to the point:

      “Thank you for your message! As of April 22 I no longer work for Large State University. Please direct all inquiries to [appropriate contact].


      Adjust for your tone and what fits of course.

      Congrats on the new job and enjoy your vacation!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I’m a dummy and didn’t read properly that you’re moving to a new job within the same company. Assuming you’re keeping the same email, I think you can tweak it to something like:

        “Thank you for your message! I am out of the office Friday April 22-Friday May 13th. As of April 22 I no longer work for [Old Department]. For all inquiries relating to [Old Job], please contact [appropriate contact].

        For all urgent requests inquiries relating to my new role as [New Job] in [New Department], please contact [appropriate contact]. I will respond to all others when I return Monday May 16th.


        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          I did the same thing, I didn’t realize OP was staying at the same place. I really like this recommendation.

    9. Murphy*

      I would. I’d say ” my last day in Llama Grooming is Y. After that date please contact Z. Beginning
      on X date I will be in Chocolate Teapot Design”

    10. JT*

      “Thank you for your email! As of [date] I am no longer working with [team/department]. If you require information about [work I used to do], please contact [person now responsible] at [email]. Starting on [date] I will be joining [team/department] as their new [position]. Until then, I am taking time to recharge and refocus and will reply to emails regarding my new role and from ongoing professional connections upon my return at my earliest convenience.


    11. Green Goose*

      Thank you for your email. I transitioned out of my role at X on Friday April 22nd. Please contact Fergus McDergus for anything related to [main duties] at

      And you can leave it like that, if you want people who are emailing you to know you are still at the college, you could add:

      I will be starting [new role] at [college department] on [date] and if you have any questions relating to [new duties] please feel free to email me.

      Thank you,


    12. Midwestern Scientist*

      Recently had this come up with one of my professional contacts and she set her out of office message to something like “I am out of the office from April 1 to April 21. For issues relating to Department1, please contact Replacement. I will be moving to Department2 effective April 21 and can be reached via this email/phone. Until I am back in the office, please contact NewSupervisor”

  9. Maybe baby*

    How can you ask about parental leave without alerting your (hopefully) new employer of your plans prematurely?

    I’m considering leaving a huge company for a small one – so small they don’t qualify for FMLA.

    The timing isn’t great – my husband and I are currently trying to get pregnant and I was hoping to take advantage of current company’s generous (for the US) paid maternity leave then look for another job, but this new opportunity fell into my lap.

    Has anyone had luck finding out what parental benefits are before or when accepting a job?

    Any luck negotiating parental leave at a company that’s not required to offer it?

    If so, please share tips and scripts!

    1. Me*

      Oh no worries here! It is perfectly normal and expected to ask about benefits. Just ask about it as you’re asking about all other benefits. And be sure to ask if there’s a wiating period before benefits kick in.

    2. 1qtkat*

      So I was pregnant when I interviewed for my new job. I made sure to ask about telework/remote work, flexible schedule, and possibility of unpaid parental leave and part time work from the interviewers. When I did get the offer, I made sure to ask for my details about the benefits where I got to hear from their HR person before accepting their offer. I wanted to make sure they were willing to work with the unpredictability of my pregnancy especially since I was going to qualify for FMLA by the twins’ birth.

    3. Venus*

      There are letters in the archive where Alison has responded to this. Essentially ask about all the benefits before accepting the offer, and you can phrase it as wanting to know about the parental leave in particular because you plan to have kids and that timing can be unpredictable. I think you should make it part of the negotiations before accepting an offer, but Alison’s guidance is best.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “you can phrase it as wanting to know about the parental leave in particular because you plan to have kids and that timing can be unpredictable”

        Nope nope nope – I would never recommend this, if only because you don’t want to give a chance for any type of prejudice against parents/women of childbearing age to pop up in the mind of the hiring manager etc. Let them wonder about it. That said, I agree it should be part of the negotiations before accepting an offer.

    4. Susie Q*

      Honestly, I would stay at your company if you’re not miserable for the generous parental leave policies. A small company that isn’t required to provide FMLA probably will not have a generous parental leave policy.

      1. Maybe baby*

        I am not miserable at current job, and the plan was to stay for the benefits then move to New City to be near family.
        New job is in New City and I clicked well with them, just not great timing

        1. Kathenus*

          If you’d be willing to stay in current job if new job doesn’t have the parental benefits you need, then you don’t have a lot to lose by asking outright. You could say that you really like new company, felt like you clicked with the team and mission/culture, but be honest that these benefits are a factor in your decision and ask about them specifically.

          If you’re leaving current job regardless this is a riskier approach since you’re needing a new job, but if staying is a possibility you have more options/power.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      Wait until you have the offer. Ask to see information on their benefits. If they don’t include info on leave of absence, ask directly if they provide any paid or unpaid leave. You don’t need to specifically as about parental leave. Just asking about leave plans should get you the info you are looking for.

    6. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      Just ask! I hired someone and between the offer and acceptance she found out she was pregnant. She asked about leave before accepting and we were able to offer her a full maternity leave.

  10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    So I had my meeting with my boss ( and another important person) it wasn’t so bad- I apparently need to work in smaller chunks take breaks, eat snacks and my boss will write a list of things I’m supposed to be doing.

    But what do y’all do during breaks to keep yourselves centered? Sometimes I do a little yoga. I also need things that are rewarding since getting paid doesn’t feel rewarding anymore? Lol.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      Beyond exercising for better physical health, it has helped me to find something that brings me joy and intentionally make time for it. I struggle with the blahs daily at work, but it helps me to make time to go to a classical concert once a month with a friend. I also find nature soothing, so try to make time to walk in the local park when the weather permits.

      My husband is more of a doer than a watcher, so he makes time to do martial arts classes since this bring him joy and friendship. Also (if possible), using vacation time to go somewhere refreshing is great (Staycations are also helpful). I wish you the best in your journey!

    2. Doctors Whom*

      How long are the breaks? What kind of environment?

      I walk my dog for a half hour when I am working from home (I’m basically a tech exec). I put it on the calendar over lunch.

      What about reading a book? Audio books?

      Do you have a portable hobby like knitting? Spend 10 minutes working on that pair of socks.

      I also do the NYT Spelling Bee. I usually pop in between meetings or when I am moving from task to task, because it’s a way to consciously shift focus and get a fresh start on the new task. I never solve the thing in one sitting.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        To be honest I work at home. We’re trying to get a 15 to 20 minute break in between work periods.

        I do have a lot of books on my kindle app and like to collect them. I used to be a jewelry maker but lost my ability lol

    3. Mid*

      I like Pokemon Go if you’re allowed to get up and walk around outside. You get that sweet sweet dopamine from catching the fake animals, and get fresh air.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Maybe I’ll try that. I tried Pikmin bloom but it had too much notification lol

    4. RagingADHD*

      Walk around, maybe make a cup of tea. If there’s enough time, I go outside for a few minutes. If not, when I was in the office I’d chat with a coworker. At home I’ll start a load of laundry or plan dinner.

      Of course at home I can also play with the pets, and it is quicker to step outside for a minute on a short break. That’s certainly more rewarding than doing chores.

    5. Jora Malli*

      I do fill in puzzles. They’re like crossword puzzles, but instead of questions to answer, you get a list of words and you have to figure out how they fit. I buy a couple of puzzle books a year from the magazine aisle at the grocery store, they’re really inexpensive, and then when I have a break I sit down with my puzzle book and some music or a podcast and give my brain a little 15 minute vacation.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      At Exjob, I took my breaks on the stairs. My department was on the third floor—in addition to the elevator, the building had two stairwells, with sets of parallel switchback stairs to each floor. I would do a circuit that started at the very bottom and then went up, down, then up again. When I first started doing it, I could only do it once. Gradually I worked up to three times, with stretching and some pushups against the windowsill at the end. I kept a shirt in my cube I could change into in the bathroom, wipes, and a fan for cooling off afterward.

      I started doing it before I went to the UK in 2014 since I knew I’d be climbing a lot of stairs in the train stations and I wanted that to be easier. It was a pretty decent workout. I kept it up after my trip and it became part of my routine.

      Lots of my coworkers would go outside and walk on their breaks. There was a parks and rec center nearby with walking trails outside. They’d go on those or around the parking lot. The stairs had the advantage of a year-round exercise opportunity even if the weather was bad. It was a nice break; I could get way inside my head while doing it because it was so repetitive.

  11. Not Your Secretary*

    I have two questions about dressing for the office.

    First, my company just got taken over by a new owner and now there’s going to be a new dress code for the first time in 60+ years (going from very casual to more business). Starting in May, I’m going to have to wear an ugly branded uniform shirt at the reception desk. But the real problem is that it’s that annoying fabric so many women’s tops have, where it clings while also being very thin. As a result, even when I’m wearing a T-shirt under the sample I’ve been loaned, you can very clearly see the shape of my bra under the two shirts and, uh, my nipples under THAT. (I have really perky “assets” that tend to poke through all bras I’ve ever had.)

    I’d been hiding the nips by wearing things over my shirts like jackets or scarves or my hair, but this won’t be an option anymore with the stupid new dress code. My chest will be on full display. :/ Any suggestions for a safe way to hide the fact that I have breasts at work? I don’t want to use something disposable that generates a lot of trash, so pasties are probably not a good solution for me–and I sweat a lot due to anxiety disorder, which makes adhesives generally not a good plan. I also don’t want to bind my chest for 12 hours a day since it’s not healthy, especially not when you also factor in the heat and humidity of the upcoming US Deep South summer.

    When I search, I just keep getting suggestions for tank tops and camisoles that don’t actually hide anything.

    As an aside, I agree that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies and shouldn’t HAVE to hide the fact that some of us have visible breasts. But I am closeted nonbinary, and just having a curvy chest is a major source of body dysphoria to me to begin with. I also work in an extremely male-dominated construction office. I’d rather not have my coworkers openly ogling my breasts and nipples, which is exactly what happened with men the last time I went grocery shopping without putting on a bra because I was too tired to deal with it that day.

    Second question: my hair is thigh-length, and extremely thin and flyaway. It’s pretty much category 1 on the Curly Girl chart (I dislike that name, haha–I am not a girl!) I wear it to work in a braid that looks messy the instant I finish styling my hair. You *cannot* keep this hair pinned up or in order; it’s actually what I love about it. Because it’s so thin, it tends to slip out of any hairclips, bobby pins, etc. It’s definitely not going to look good in the stricter new dress code. (Cutting it is not an option. I’ll quit first.) Are there, like, “hair bags” or something I can just stuff my braid in and hide it completely that don’t look out of place in a somewhat formal office setting? I don’t want to hide all my hair, just put the braid somewhere out of sight and mind so it’s not hanging loose and clearly escaping the scrunchies. This is another thing where Internet searches are failing me, this time because I just don’t know the terminology for what I need. The Internet just keeps telling me to how to wrap mini-braids, or to wear hoodies or baseball caps to “hide your new hairstyle from your parents.” (Which also sounds like terrible advice, to any kids out there reading this. Trust me, your parents are gonna wonder why you’re suddenly always wearing your cap or hood up in the house.)

    As you can see, I have NO idea how to do “formal” anything. I’m in waaaay over my head here!

    1. Kristine*

      What you’re describing for your hair is what used to be called a ‘snood’! I just did a quick google search and apparently it’s also used for full cowl-like coverings now, but if you search for ‘snood barrette’, I think you’ll find something that should work

    2. Not Today, Friends*

      Are you open to a little bit of product for your hair? I have extremely fine, flyaway hair as well, and I’ve found that a very light mist of a texturizing spray like Oribe or a lightweight styling paste (much drier than a gel) gives it just enough grip that it’ll stay put better but doesn’t feel like I’ve shellacked my head. Both products can go on damp hair, neither require any additional work.
      (For context, I am a super low maintenance person and would very much prefer to do absolutely nothing to my hair ever, and I’m also very sensitive to my hair feeling “weird”. Both of these products have worked well for me.)

      1. Jora Malli*

        I also have super fine hair that can’t be tamed by clips or pins, and I agree that texture spray is a wonder. I use texture spray when my hair is still wet and french braid it, then spray on some light hold hair spray, and it works better than anything else I’ve tried.

      2. Joielle*

        Another member of the super fine/straight hair club and I like the Not Your Mother’s sea salt texture spray. Like you said, just grippy enough that you can do something with your hair, without feeling heavy or stiff.

    3. Bird*

      I have no ideas for your first question, but for the hair, what about a knitted hair snood in your company’s colors?

      1. Pennyworth*

        Re the clingy branded shirt, do you have a sympathetic manager you can discuss this with? If you point out the current fabric doesn’t do the company any favors as well as leaving you feeling exposed, you might be allowed to get the branding put onto a more suitable shirt. Present it as a problem that management needs to solve.

        Does anyone else have the same problem? A group approach can carry more weight.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      For your hair, the term you’re looking for is a snood.

      For your chest, have you looked into minimizing bras?

      1. Siege*

        In my experience they reduce the visible size of your chest (by smooshing the flesh onto your sides) but they’re a bra, so those of use with visible nipples in bras will still have visible nipples.

        This almost certainly is not a solution given that you’ve got other considerations, but I do find that a bra with thick padding (the kind Lane Bryant sells, not a push up or actual padded bra) helps. I have a little nipple prominence even with those, but it’s reduced by a lot and I’m not aware of men ogling me.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          This is true, but NYS is also looking to reduce projection, if I’m reading this right.

    5. Ihmmy*

      re hair – there’s a medieval style hair net called a Snood that may be what you were thinking of. There are a few options on Etsy though not as many as I had expected. If you’re crafty, a lot look crocheted so I bet you could find a pattern as well for them. You could also look at ways to tie a scarf or kerchief. Alternatively, using a bit of hair spray can help give it the grip needed for some pins to stay more in place (though you’ve likely given this a go)

      Re clothing, I wonder if there are good binders that help minimize in the way you would want? Alternatively there are shields out there but I’m not sure how comfy or effective they are as a regular use option.

    6. Metadata Janktress*

      Regarding chest: full disclosure that I’ve not use these before, but TomboyX sells compression bras that are not as hardcore as a binder, but as the name implies, will compress the breasts. You may want to look into minimizer bras in general as well. There are also camisoles that are made of thicker, stretchier fabric, but you may have to troll department stores for them to verify the fabric type. (I have a couple that I believe are from Macy’s?)

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m using a tomboy x bra right now. My breasts are still visible but there’s not much movement there. It’s kinda a sports bra thing.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Lands End has good quality suits that you can mix and match tops and bottoms on, including shorts or swim skirts for the bottom.

      2. BBNB*

        I was just shopping on TomboyX and was curious about those! I’ve tried binders before but I don’t love the way they look on me (even after a breast reduction I’m bigger than average so they kind of just give me uniboob). I’m NB and my tolerance for my own boobedness fluctuates so it would be nice to have a compression option that isn’t a binder since those are so uncomfortable and don’t do much for me. Anybody here ever worn one?

        1. I.*

          Haven’t done those but swore by Athleta’s Frog bra before top surgery. Much more comfortable than a binder and tbh worked about as well.

    7. LadyAmalthea*

      Would a snood or something similar to what some Orthodox Jewish women use to contain their hair work for you? I don’t know how easy it would be to keep your hair from slipping out over the course of the day, but if you can shove your hair back in very quickly, it might be an option.

      It also may be worth asking if a sports coat type jacket, possibly company branded, would be an acceptable layer.

      1. curly sue*

        Searching for ‘tichel’ will give you options for Jewish head coverings; most will be shown wrapped to cover all the wearer’s hair, but you can wear them set further back. A snood may be a lot lower maintenance, though.

        1. Observer*

          A snood is going to be easier. A headscarf or kerchief will give you a lot more latitude to experiment around with if you want.

    8. OyHiOh*

      For the hair issue, try a snood (renaissance era hair net, much more decorative than the industrial hair nets of today). They come in many styles ranging from closely woven fabric on a soft stretchy band, through to open netted crochet-type designs. You may have to hunt a bit to find something you love but knowing the word to search for, I’m sure the right ones are out there for you.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        Also look for ballerina bun covers, if you are willing to use hairpins and put your hair in a bun.

        I also have long, straight, flyaway hair. For work, I do a bun with a giant circular claw clip that holds all the hair inside. I still get fly-aways around my face but I just deal with them.

        Back when I was a teen ballerina, we used to use hair gel to get all the fly-aways to stay down to the point where our hair turned into a hard helmet. If I was you, I would just wear my braid and fly-aways and not worry about it unless someone says something. Maybe use ponytail holders in the uniform colors so it looks like you made an effort.

        1. Delta Delta*

          Also tack shops/dressage shops should have bun covers/nets, since the ability to make a horse trot in a 20-meter circle is directly tied to whether your hair is in a perfect bun. (Ignore the snark, but I’m not kidding that this could be a good resource)

    9. Me*

      1. They make nip covers. both adhesive and non based on your preference. Also “t-shirt” bras are designed to be less visible under clothes like a casual thin tshirt hence the name.

      2. They actually do! Look for a snood. Typically its got some kind of clip to attach to the top of your pony or wherever, then a mesh “bag”, To stuff the hair it. Used to wear them for ballet years ago when I didn’t feel messing with a bun.

    10. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      For the nipple issue, look for nipple pads that are geared toward pregnant or lactating women. They come in a variety of thicknesses, and are really good at covering up erect nipples. I wore them while pregnant and was really pleased with their effectiveness. (I will post a link in a reply comment.)

      For the hair issue, look for maybe a hairnet. You can braid your hair, then wind it into a bun and slip the hairnet over top. (I will post a link in a reply comment.)

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Have you considered a shelf bra in a camisole? I know that mine are comfortable and not form fitting. But, I think that my sizing is the opposite of yours

      2. Layla*

        Reusable cotton nursing pads are also the most comfortable thing I have found in heat (as someone who has done two third trimesters in the South in July-September)

    11. Charlotte Lucas*

      That shirt sounds awful! No suggestions, just sympathy.

      My hair is long, fine, & thick. Not curly, but slippery enough to fly away & escape most pins, etc. I do a modified Gibson roll, where I put it in a ponytail, then make a hole right above the elastic, then slip (stuff) the ponytail through. It keeps everything back & looks a little fancier than a regular ponytail.

    12. Dust Bunny*

      You can get barrettes with little bags attached; you can put the hair into a ponytail, roll the hair into the bag, and clip it above the ponytail holder (so it doesn’t slide out). “Snood barrette”? Most of the ones I’m finding come with bows but you can probably snip those off.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Thank you! I forgot to add that what she’s looking for is called a “snood.”

        You can find some really nice ones on sites that sell historical costuming supplies.

    13. CatCat*

      Can you matter-of-fact raise the fabric issue with your manager? “I’ve tried the loaner shirt. The material is thin and clings resulting in it being too revealing. What other options are there?”

      Also, if this is an issue with women’s shirts specifically, can you ask for a men’s shirt instead?

      1. I-Away 8*

        Ask where they order the shirts from and look at that vendor’s website to see if there’s a heavier fabric option.

      2. BlueSwimmer*

        I agree about asking if you can order the men’s shirts or if they can consider other fabric options. I work in a high school where we get school shirts to wear on spirit days and some of us asked them to please consider the fabric sheerness and cling after one too many shirts that none of us felt comfortable wearing in front of the students.

        I’m also “perky” and try to keep my nips undercover because of working in front of teens all day. I like wearing these cheap yoga camis with built in padding from Amazon whenever I’m worried about anything showing. Very comfortable and not hot for me, but I’m only a B cup: Bontierie Women’s Longline Sports Bra Cami.

      3. Mannequin*

        This is what I’d do- ask if I could wear what the men wear, or a different style of shirt altogether.
        If that’s not an option, perhaps going a size bigger than you normally wear would reduce the clinginess.

        I never minded wearing ugly uniform tops at jobs because I’d rather do that than spend my hard earned cash on clothes I will only wear at work, but it still has to be comfortable!

      4. Lida*

        I’m not non-binary, but as a woman I’ve definitely been uncomfortable with uniform shirts before. Regardless of your gender identity/expression, this shirt sounds like a potential sexual harassment liability for the company. If you don’t want to out yourself, you could just say you don’t feel comfortable exposing yourself to your male coworkers in the current shirt and are worried about potential sexual harassment based on the looks you’ve already gotten.

        I agree with previous commenters that if you think you’d be more comfortable in the men’s shirt, you should ask for that. It wouldn’t out you because plenty of cis women (like me!) prefer men’s shirts at work because they’re usually more comfortable.

    14. PeachesLCG*

      Maybe wear breastfeeding/milk leakage pads? There are organic bamboo washable ones. You just stick them in your bra and should be all set.

    15. MaxKitty*

      A term for what you’re looking for, regarding the “hair bag,” is “snood.” Though when searching specify with regard to hair because apparently there is a game called Snood.

    16. SomebodyElse*

      Here are my suggestions for both… sorry if you’ve already tried and they don’t work.

      1. Padded bra (try searching “Tshirt bra” or athletic bra with padding (they exist).

      2. I think you are describing a hair snood. It’s like a fancy hairnet, usually net but can be solid material. Also look for bun cover.

    17. the cat's ass*

      There are snoods-that might work. That’s definitely a hair-bag!
      One of my colleagues in a previous job had very perky assets and our colleagues were 13 year old boys in 55 year old bodies so she wore some sort of plastic nipple shield thing that used a minimum of adhesive. She got them off Amazon.
      The other thing is that that frequently the “male’ version of the company branded polo or shirt is frequently made of a less clingy fabric and is more generously cut and hopefully that is true of your company and you could have one of those instead?

    18. Takki*

      As far as the bra problem, have you tried a minimizing T-shirt bra? They’re usually lined/padded to the point where the nipples aren’t visible and can do a decent job of making the breasts themselves look a little less noticeable.

      If noticeable breasts (and not just the nipple part) bother you that much, you may want to look into binders as well. I don’t know much about them, but it might be worth a look.

      For the hair, I’ve seen fabric headbands that have a hairnet/snood attached to them that might help better than the barrette style.

      Good luck!

    19. Banana*

      My current favorite bra has no lining and I’m prone to nipping out as well. I have a couple of removable bra inserts from some sports bras I no longer wear, that I’ve been tucking into the fav bra if I’m wearing it with a solid color shirt that doesn’t hide anything. Theyre basically just coaster-sized light padding but that seems to be enough to do the trick.

    20. BBNB*

      So much sympathy on the shirt thing! I don’t have any suggestions that haven’t already been mentioned for mitigating the headlights in the short term, but just wanted to chime in to let you know that as a fellow large-chested nonbinary person, getting a breast reduction was the best decision I ever made. I don’t know if it’s something you have any interest in or is feasible money/insurance-wise for you but wanted to offer up some anecdata. One of the side effects of the surgery that I did not expect (though it may not be the same for everyone) is a major decrease in sensitivity which means the nips do not get pointy nearly as easily/often.

      1. mreasy*

        Cis lady here and I would like to second a recommendation for breast reductions in general! However mine hasn’t made my nips less temp-sensitive.

    21. The Ginger Ginger*

      Is there an option to wear the “masculine” style shirt instead of the clingy one? Perhaps if you asked in the context of the fabric being too thin (without all the gory details)? I’m guessing not, because it sounds like this new dress code is going to be super gendered, but was wondering if there was a way ask without outing yourself. I bet the masculine shirts aren’t thin and stretchy -_-

      1. lost academic*

        I agree on this. 2 babies later and the type of work/polo shirt that is the norm these days is just awful for clinging and regular underlayers don’t help at all. All the suggestions above are great but even together might not get you there and it becomes a LOT to do every day for work. I would be surprised if there were serious pushback on ordering the “men’s” cut. (I am tall with long limbs in the first place and am not a fan of “women’s” shirt cuts across the board.)

        1. Jora Malli*

          I have a long torso and a lot of women’s shirts are too short for me, so I order the men’s options a lot. I haven’t had a workplace push back on the request.

      2. Eff Walsingham*

        Seconding this…. At my last corporate gig, several of us female-presenting people just listed ourselves on the form as “Men’s XL”. If asked, I *could* have said it was for the pockets, or I *might* have pointed out that the women’s style safety vests weren’t tearaway(!!!) because apparently we are “just for show”?! But actually the men’s vests were all mesh in the back, and I need all the help I can get in the hot summer months.

        Bonus: all my company swag was super roomy with nice long sleeves, and not tight in the armpits like so many women’s styles seem to be these days. :)

      3. RagingADHD*

        You could certainly try saying that the shirt just doesn’t fit right.

        If the person in charge of uniforms is majorly into gender norms, you could also try the wording that it “feels immodest” because it’s too clingy. Sometimes it’s easier to speak their language than fight the battle.

    22. Teapot Wrangler*

      T shirt bras are that bit thicker so should hide things. Would a hair net work or were you thinking something more substantial?

    23. Merci Dee*

      Look for some lined bras. Not push-up bras, necessarily, but they have a layer of foam-type lining between the outside decorative cloth and the inner cloth. They’re designed to help with exactly this issue, though they have other good uses as well — such as disguising a mild asymmetry, if one size is less than a half-size larger/smaller than the other. All of my bras are lined, and they’re a really good investment for a smooth silhouette under a variety of clothes. Word of warning — do not put them in the dryer after washing. They either need to lay flat to dry, or drape them over a clothes hanger if you have two or three that you’re drying at the same time.

    24. Miel*

      Do you think you could ask about wearing layers? Maybe you could wear a company branded athletic jacket, fleece, or vest over the polo? Or even a florescent yellow safety vest? (not sure the vibes at your job, but when I worked construction I wore a safety vest constantly!) Layering is the classic trans trick, lol.

      Also, would your employer be open to feedback on the uniform? It sounds like they need to change to a new uniform vendor. There are tons of companies out there that put a custom logo on a shirt – surely one of them has a women’s shirt that doesn’t suck.

      Good luck. This whole thing sounds frustrating!

    25. Lizzie*

      for your chest “issue” i have the same problem, and use these small, silicone pads that have no adhesive; you just lay them on top of the nipple, and the heat of your body kind of molds them in place nad your bra holds them in. you don’t even notice you’re wearing them! . I too am always hot, adn I really have never noticed any major issues with these. i got them on Amazon; they’re called dimrs. they’re about $30 but I’ve had mine for a good 10-12 years and aside from losing them periodically, i have had no issues at all. you can wash and dry them as often as you like.

    26. RagingADHD*

      Sports bra with padding?

      A padded bra can seem counterintuitive if you’re looking to minimize, but if you get a high-support model with insertable pads, you can layer the pads for more coverage. The insertable swimsuit style pads don’t add much bulk, and can be tacked in place with a couple of hand stitches in the armpit area.

    27. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      You might also decide that you will be happier in a less formal environment and use the opportunity to look for a better job.

    28. Dragonfly7*

      My company has a similar problem with its women’s shirts being somewhat sheer and with Vs deep enough that they don’t work well for folks with large chests. You can definitely justify being allowed a men’s shirt if it isn’t already.
      I also have thin hair that doesn’t particularly like to stay up if it is freshly washed. My favorite is to wind mine into a somewhat bun that is secured with a circular claw clip, but it needs to either be the day after washing or have some product that adds texture in order to keep it in place. Would a low, smooth ponytail be acceptable under your dress code?

      1. pancakes*

        I didn’t think about clips. The brand Chunks has cute ones. I have a couple and they’re sturdy, too.

    29. HalloQueen*

      While it won’t hide the fact of wearing a bra, the original Victoria’s Secret, Body By Victoria – Perfect Coverage has enough fabric and “padding” to prevent nip slips. It’s not a push-up, it comes in business colors of beige, white, and black, and they hold up well if you let them air dry.

    30. HannahS*

      Consider silicone “petals” that you place inside your bra–they’re designed for when a person is not wearing a bra at all, but they’re a non-disposable solution. Another one would be nursing pads (fabric ones), which might be more comfortable in the heat as they’re designed to absorb liquid.

    31. pancakes*

      How about a cami or tank top with a built-in shelf bra?

      I don’t think I have a hair suggestion, sorry. Could you just keep it back with a headband or does it have to be up?

    32. CMR*

      Re: the nip/bra issue… You can buy non-padded bra inserts (sticky or not sticky) that conceal certain things well. My favorite bra is unlined and I also have very perky nips that easily show through. I bought a few pairs of non-sticky inserts and they’re fantastic. They are not disposable and I wash them with my bras, so no concerns about waste.

    33. Fern Sea*

      Fellow big-chested enby here!

      Since you’re already wearing a full undershirt, and the nips issue is more about dysphoria than worrying about creeps at work (I assume and hope!), would it be possible to wear a men’s style with thicker fabric? Or are they all so thin and clingy?

      Also, for what it’s worth, I hear you about binders–hot, painful, etc. I’ve also been exclusively binding for the last four years, usually 18+ hours a day, since I found a company whose products actually fit me, and nothing has done more to help my everyday dysphoria. The company I get mine from is MyDouble Design, and they make a fully mesh version that, while hiding nothing visually, is breathable enough that I’ve never gotten overheated. I’m short and big, and this was the first binder company I found that actually made me feel included.

      Big hugs. This is such a tough issue to navigate at work!

    34. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Why can’t you wear a matching sweater or blazer over the branded shirt? What if it’s cold? (offices can be freezing)

      Can you switch to sports bras? They tend to be much thicker and many are also lined.
      I have also seen some bras that have extra coverage or padding in the nip area, like T-shirt bras. There are also reusable silicone circles that you can place over the nip and inside the bra. I often wear a bra + a tank or cami over it under the shirt which gives extra coverage without being too heavy.

      Not sure about the hair, but probably your best bet is a pony or a braid with some setting spray or hairspray to set. I have baby fine hair and can’t live without hairspray to hold it in place.
      The “hair bag” you described is called a snood.

    35. Hippeas*

      You got some great suggestions about nursing bras or pads; you could also look into nursing sports bras. They will give you some smooshing while also providing 100% nipple cover because of the thick padding; or you could use an existing padded sports bra and just stick a nursing pad in there, but I don’t know if the pads will shift around, so your mileage may vary.

    36. beach read*

      I didn’t see if anyone suggested this, but my thought would be to take the shirts to a professional, (tailor, seamstress, etc), and have some kind of lining sewn in the front. Probably wouldn’t be too expensive.

    37. Not Your Secretary*

      Everyone, thank you so much! I got tangled up in busywork all weekend and couldn’t come back to the thread, but you’ve all helped me expand my vocabulary and my options.

      A bit of clarification since it got brought up a few times: no, men’s shirts for the uniform are not an option. Because apparently these super clingy, not well-made shirts are the unisex option! I guess at least the manufacturer is making terrible shirts for ALL genders, not just women….

  12. Me*

    I worked for a bully of a boss for 3 years. It was bad enough that it seriously affected my mental health and I was near quitting. Fortunately I was move out from under him and COVID gave me a well needed break form having to interact. I was not the only person bullied, but I was the one who was vocal to my grand boss about the abuse.

    Flash forward 2 years and I now work for Jr Grandboss. It has come to my attention that two newer employees who report to bully boss, are starting to complain about how they are treated. But not to anyone who can do something about it. Which I deeply understand – pushign back on a boss who is already bullying you seems like a terrible idea, and the fact that hes seemingly allowed to behave this way makes you feel like there’s no point in going up the chain to bosses you dont’ really interact with are “scary”.

    So I feel I need to say something yet again. Since the bosses arent subject to the bullying I think they just chalk it up to he’s difficult but that’s just his personality.

    How do I say that it a productive manor?

    I’m tired of (primarily female employees) being subject to this and having nothing be done.

    1. irene adler*

      To me this sounds like a bias the boss has against women.

      “Why is that only the women at this company have to put up with [boss name]’s difficult personality? Just wonder if there’s some kind of liability we are vulnerable to given [boss name]’s treatment of women. “

      1. Me*

        You are absolutely correct but its’ tricky. Bully Boss is in general an ass.

        He’s just especially an ass to women. Which further makes it easier for the male bosses to dismiss as “it’s just his personality”.

    2. jane's nemesis*

      Do you have an HR department? Can you ask them to investigate the reports you’re hearing that the newer employees are being bullied and confirm that your previous experience corroborates that?
      (Totally understand if you feel uncomfortable saying anything, but it could really help these junior employees if you’re able to.)

      1. Me*

        We do have HR. I’m not sure how they are about handling things of this nature, but you are absolutely right about helping junior employees. I’ll def keep it in mind.

    3. Venus*

      Focus on the business effects if those exist, especially if the employees have options elsewhere and are likely to leave.

      1. Me*

        Ugh this is such a sticking point to because of the nature of the work.

        We’re government, so while people can and do leave/transfer, mostly people stay and put up with bad bosses (government wide) because of things like trying to stick it out for the pension. And of course the employees just try to put on a brave face so it’s not even like everyone is moping around.

        We did have one person leave, who confided in me (not helpful) that he and the toxic environment was definitely part of leaving but I’m not sure second hand relaying stuff helps the case at all.

        1. Hippeas*

          You never know what a person has been written up for already, or would be written up for if they knew. Sometimes leaders are glad to get more information on a bad employee, because they are waiting for a reason to build their case against them.

    4. Jora Malli*

      This might be a situation that would work better if you can get a group together. You know you’re not the only person this guy bullied, you know he’s still at it, and you know how hard and scary it can be to be the only person willing to make official complaints. But can you reach out to the people you know who have been subject to his bullying and schedule a group meeting with HR? It’s a lot less intimidating if you’re one of half a dozen people than if you’re the only one.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      The people who are dealing with the bad boss need to speak up. Nothing can happen unless they do. If you tell someone that other people are being mistreated will just result in them maybe reaching out to those people to learn what is going on. You should advise them to go to HR as a group or to the boss’s boss.

    6. Green Goose*

      This is coming from experience of having a bully boss for 18 months before he was finally let go.

      If other systems seem to be generally well functioning at your job (i.e. not toxic) please urge them to speak up, and if you are able provide your experience as well. I silently suffered for 18 months of being treated really terribly by a former boss because it was like constant psychological warfare and I was convinced that if I said anything things would somehow get worse. It ended up not being the case but I truly believed it at the time.

      When I finally got the courage to say something to his boss, it was taken seriously and since he was also treating other lower level female employees similarly it was more credible than if it were just one of us. I even found out that he got another job that was got fired from much quicker because his new Green Goose was not willing to put up with the same treatment as long as I was.

      I hope you guys can get rid of him!

  13. what even is a name*

    Business analysts, project managers, and similar, how did you get into the role? I had a phone screen for a business analyst position the other day and the conclusion was they’re looking for someone who already has experience in that type of a role. If I’ve got aptitude but no experience, where might I try starting? What would the next rung down on the ladder be?

    1. Eleanor Rigby*

      The entry level title for project manager is often “project coordinator” – try looking for those roles?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Be sure to read the job description carefully. According to the instructors in my PM course, in some companies, project coordinators provide administrative support to the project managers, while in others, they manage projects in the absence of a designated PM role. There could be a measurable difference in terms of salary and how the organization classifies the position.

        Depending on the company, it can be a good way into PM work if you have admin experience.* To move up, you can get a CAPM or Project+ certification (they’re basically the same) and work your way to the PMP cert.

        *says the person who does have a certification but can’t seem to get one of these jobs to save her damn life; YMMV

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I got a BA role because I had industry experience and a track record of making non-tech related processes improvements. But it was mostly about personality for they were looking for. Someone who could deal with constant changes and still get things accomplished. I went more into this in last week’s open thread, but I applied for something different at the company but the recruiter felt I was a better fit for the BA position.

      So, just keep trying. Or find a company in the same industry and focus on that, or get your foot in the door on the business side and watch for internal openings. Really the business side is really important to know to be a good BA.

      1. LC*

        Exactly this. This is a much more succinct way to say what I was trying to say below, lol.

        (And succinct written communication is a huge plus as a BA. It’s one of my weaker points, but I’ve gotten better over the years.)

      2. cat socks*

        Agree about getting your foot in the door. In my company, BAs usually work with IT to automate manual business processes or make enhancements to software that we use internally. If you make yourself a subject matter expert on business processes, that would be a good transition to an official BA role.

        I’m on the IT side, but we are doing Agile software development. It may help to familiarize yourself with some of those processes. A while back Six Sigma was a thing at my company, but not sure how popular it is now.

    3. LC*

      Here was the path to my first BA role:

      I was a supervisor at the call center of a fairly large US retailer and got a reputation for … I dunno, fixing things? I had a tendency to find an inefficient process that no one had questioned in years, make it a lot easier for myself, then share it with the rest of the team. Or I’d notice something that didn’t make sense, which I’d obviously have to then figure out, and would sometimes uncover errors or bad practices or issues that no one else had spotted.

      That led them to moving me into a newly created role that was like 30% regular supervising duties and 70% other stuff that was more fun and I was better at. I still had the same job title of “supervisor” though, just in a department with a made up name (they had me name it, I definitely would name it something different today).

      When I finally got fed up enough with, well, everything in that division, I started applying to other roles within the company. I think I ended up applying for something like 60 over a few months, had several interviews for BA roles, then finally got one in a very small but very important division in corporate that I hadn’t even heard of till then.

      I think what did it for me was
      a) I had an excellent interview, they asked questions that showed off what I could do and how I approached things (curiosity is one of the biggest strengths for a BA, I think), and
      b) I was an internal candidate so I think they were able to get much more candid feedback from the higher ups that I’d been working with, so they got a better idea of what I wasn’t great at (managing people, which I specifically wanted to avoid) and what I was awesome at (the type of stuff that wasn’t in my job description but was what they needed in the BA role), plus I already knew the business.

      Of course, those weren’t the only two factors; if they had been, I would have gotten any of the other several BA positions I’d interviewed for. But I do think that they were the crucial factors in this particular job.

      Getting a similar role outside of the company would have been way harder for me, I think, but that was 5? years ago when the market was very different. And hopefully this isn’t discouraging, just trying to give an idea of one of many, many ways that it can happen. Good luck!

      1. sp*

        This is the path I’m currently on! Glad to hear it’s worked out. I enjoy it, but I am definitely underpaid. At the moment I am mentally treating it as a paid internship, as I have no formal training and they are reimbursing me for Business Analyst certificate courses. It’s inspired me to return to school and complete a bachelors, but I am torn between computer science or commerce. Any advice on that front?

    4. Joyce To the World*

      I can’t seem to get away from being forced into the BA and PM roles despite not being certified for either. All I can say is to actively take an issue or project you are working and apply project management principles. You can actually “project manage” a lot of things. This will give you experience that you can turn into bigger and better stretch opportunities.

    5. what even is a name*

      So I guess maybe the issue is that I’ve never had the sort of job where there were any projects to work on? I worked part time at a help desk through college, then had some crappy cashiering jobs interspersed with unemployment, took a jack of all trades but mostly putting things in spreadsheets sort of role that dropped into my lap at a small company until I got laid off, and most recently I’ve been a mail carrier with USPS.

  14. Doug Judy*

    I have 3 final round interviews next week! Hopefully I get at least one offer. One position would be my first time with direct reports. It’s a good fit, but also a bit nervous to be “the boss” but I’m not the head of the entire department so that helps ease me a bit, I’ll have support as I learn. The other two are individual contributor roles. So two totally differ tracks I can take, but I’m excited.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      It is a compliment to you that you have made it this far in the process. Wishing you the best in your interviews!

  15. Funny Story*

    I’m in a crazy workplace, a start up where you never know what you’re walking into. They announced title changes for our department from Project Managers to Project Onboarding Specialists. Our team was commonly referred to as PMs and our new shorthand is POSs. No one seems to have complained but I’m having a really hard time considering myself a Piece of Sh*t. They rebranded everywhere and even put the shorthand in a client presentation… Cannot wait to mention in in my exit interview.

    1. Fran Fine*

      LOL! Noooooo. I can’t believe no one caught that and changed it. And I’m floored that the clients didn’t say anything either.

    2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      My first thought is always Point of Sale…but I understand your chagrin. And somebody was PAID to come up with that.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Holy cow!
      And please let us know how they take it in your exit interview.
      What the actual f–?

  16. Rayray*

    We recently did one of those employee engagement surveys. I know I and a couple others gave some low scores and constructive criticism in the comments.

    There’s been a weird vibe lately and I’m pretty sure our supervisor and manager are mad about the results. I get it, it probably sucks to get reamed in that survey but I can’t understand why they wouldn’t look for ways to improve rather than be salty about it.

    But for what it’s worth, one person is moving to another position in the company next week and o know for sure 3/5 remaining are looking for other jobs so….

    1. Aggresuko*

      Hahahaahah, I continue to give numerically bad scores on those, but I learned not to write comments because they can and will identify you to your supervisor.

      They don’t WANT to improve, they just want to LOOK like they want to improve.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      And they are looking because the managers get salty about surveys they asked you to fill out. LOL

    3. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      I never understand why some supervisors have such thin skin! If they can’t handle feedback, there is no point in even doing a survey.

      I supervise student workers and would rather know the truth if I surveyed them even if it is not fun to hear. I know that I (like everyone else) have blind spots, so would consider negative feedback constructive.

    4. Miel*

      This is the weird thing about employee surveys! Alison has written about it before – there has to be a culture of trust – and management needs to be good – in order for the survey to mean anything.

      My department has pretty good management overall, but a couple years ago they responded to low-ish satisfaction scores with “let’s do a team building event!” instead of the logical solution of adjusting workloads to be realistic.

    5. Banana*

      I did one of those this week and rated everything 4/5 and added no comments. My boss’s shortcomings are well documented and if they haven’t done anything about them by now, they’re not going to in response to a survey they ask me to fill out every six months.

      In another forum, I gave feedback on the company’s treatment of female employees a few years ago and found out that my group’s HR manager was more interested in learning who I was than on taking the feedback seriously. And another time, I worked to rehire an employee who left, and had to fight HR to justify why it made sense to hire him when none of the problems he’d raised in his exit interview had changed (mostly my boss’s shortcomings.) They have burned the feedback bridge with me at this point. I am here because my work is interesting, my commute is short and close to my son, and because I hate job hunting.

    6. CatMintCat*

      We are expected to do a survey every year to tell our employer how wonderful it is working for our huge statewide department that is woefully mismanaged for those working in the trenches (ie, in schools). However, to fill out the survey we are required to be signed in on a department-issued computer using our department-issued login.

      I cannot nope out of that survey fast enough.

    7. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      This reminds me. We were supposed to have our annual employment engagement survey and I was dreading it. Funny, it hasn’t come out…

  17. matcha123*

    I found out last month that my work contract wouldn’t be extended and I’ve been frantically searching for something. After applying to a number of places and having some interviews, I’ve got one very promising lead.

    I will have the first negotiations? next week. And that would be fine, but I’ve been called for an interview with another place the week after next.
    The first place is at a startup and they may or may not meet my salary expectations. The role is interesting and might allow me to branch into another field, although I’m not clear whether that would be the case.

    The other possible job is at a more established place and would offer more vacation time and might offer a welcome mental reprieve from what I experienced in my last job. I would feel terrible about taking a job only to quit a month later.

    The logical part of me says that I should take what I’m offered (I can’t really afford to wait many months and take my time with a job search).Then if I am offered something better? go for it.

    Nothing is in the bag, but I’ve never been in this kind of situation and really need some advice.

    1. kat*

      I am extremely risk averse.
      I did take a job with a start up- which shut down 9 months after I started.
      I’d take the established job- use that time to hopefully build up your mental and cash stores.
      Then take your time searching for the right job for you.
      Maybe it will only take a month, but more likely it will take you a few months to really feel good and then a few more to find the best job for you right now.
      Good luck.

      1. matcha123*

        Yes, I’m extremely risk adverse myself which is why this is really messing with me.

        The startup will most likely come back with an offer early next week.
        The established place wants an interview on the 18th. Turning down something that’s basically a done deal for something yet undecided doesn’t sit well with me. Would you pass on the startup and hope the established place comes through?

        1. RedinSC*

          Would there be any way to postpone giving an answer to the start up, so you could go to the interview on the 18th and see if you think you really might 1. want the job and 2. actually get an offer?

          My risk adverseness means that I would take the start up job because I would be so worried I would not get an offer from the established place.

          Or, I imagine you have to give some notice to your current job, so you could just ride it out and see if the established place offers you a position before you even start at the start up.

          1. matcha123*

            I don’t know if I’d be able to postpone that long. I got the feeling they were looking to bring someone on asap.
            The established place would also be having a second interview for those that passed the first interview.

            Since my last contract ended at the end of March, I have been unemployed since the start of the month.

    2. AdequateArchaeologist*

      Take whatever offers your first. It’s ok to take the one job and quit for the other a month later, as long as you don’t make a habit of it.

      Last year I was in a temp job, and interviewed for another job at company B to start after my tempt assignment was up. While waiting to hear from the new company B I was offered the position with the company I was temping with +company A). I took it. Two weeks later heard back from company B, and left the temp-now-perm position at company A. I apologized profusely, did everything I could to ease the burden on company A during the transition, and happily started my new job doing what I actually wanted to do at company B.

      It was a little uncomfortable and I felt bad at the time, but it’s worth it for security and job satisfaction.

    3. EMP*

      Thinking that you have to decide between these options now is premature! You may not get the first offer, and if you do it might not meet your needs, and if it does you may not need to make a decision before you get in touch with the other company.

      1 – IF the start up matches your salary expectations, see if you can get them to extend their offer so you have time to consider the more established place.
      And tell the more established place when you have an offer from the start up – tell them you’re very interested in Established Business but you just got another offer which needs a decision by X. See if that fits their usual interview timeline. Most places, if they like you, will speed up the process as much as they can if they know they have a deadline.

      2 – it’s fine to quit your job after a few weeks, and tbh probably won’t hurt you in the long run. You can leave it off your resume and it’ll be fine. But if it’s a small industry know that you’re definitely burning some bridges with your coworkers there. Maybe not completely! But if you wind up interviewing with them again, you will have a big mark against you. My team had a new hire who in retrospect very obviously used us as a “temp” job while he continued interviewing. He phoned it in and left after a few weeks for a much bigger company. His work history contained several short stints so that was already a red flag, but if he ever came up as a candidate again I wouldn’t hire him.

      1. matcha123*

        Re your #2, I definitely do not want to be seen as a job hopper! I do have two jobs in the past 15 years that were seven months or fewer, but I am mostly in the same place for at least three years.

        Very nervous even though nothing is yet set in stone!

  18. Mimmy*

    Gut check on internship
    Site: Disability services office

    I’m in the last third of my semester-long internship for my master’s degree. It is not a required program component since most people in my program are already in the field; however, it is an option for those not yet in the field. It’s been an okay experience – everyone is really nice and supportive, but my gut is telling me that this experience could’ve been better.

    -Small office with only 2 full time staff; the rest are part-time
    -Interns’ main role has been to provide academic coaching to students. I appreciated the hands-on experience, but we were given zero training; all that was provided are resources to look through (sample questions, various links on building academic skills, etc.)
    -No 1:1 supervision required – I had to ask for a weekly check-in (which I got and has been helpful), I think that is specific to the school setting up placements
    -Interns are a mix of on-site and virtual grad students. Virtual students have a harder time accumulating hours because if a student doesn’t show up, then it doesn’t count. On-site students can get hours because they’re physically at the office.

    I’m starting my job search and I’m just concerned that I didn’t get the experience that employers will want to see. I have been told that a lot of learning takes place on the job. I just hope that my experience to date will be enough.

    1. Alice*

      I know there’s not a lot of time left; can you propose a little project that you could do and then brag about (excuse me, discuss) in future cover letters and interviews? If you can identify something that is useful and tangible, even if it’s small, that would be a plus in my book.

    2. kbeers0su*

      Ugh. So this sounds like you might be in my former field (Higher Education Student Affairs) because it 100% makes sense that they’re “offering you the opportunity” to get experience as an intern, which actually means they’re getting free labor. This explains why you’re doing something that no intern should be doing- in fact, no employee should be doing- without training. Advising students, especially in an office where students have unique needs, requires training and a specific skill set. My guess is that they ::shrugged:: and figured that since you’re in the grad program, you’re learning enough in class that you can just make it work there as an intern.

      This sucks for you. BUT. As with any crappy job (read: many of the stories on this site) you’ll have things to take away from this. For instance, are you seeing any change or growth in the students to whom you’ve been assigned? Have you found that different methods you’ve tried with them have helped more than others? If you can see changes happening, take note of what is leading to that and try replicating it. I would also encourage you to read up on things like “motivational interviewing” which is a good skill to have when trying to motivate students to do the things they need to do (which is notoriously hard, because college students).

      And when you go out into the job search world you’ll have one must-have on your list for an employer: someone who understands they actually need to train people to do the job, and then supervise and give feedback to people once they start doing the job. Make sure you’re asking questions about what training you’ll receive, or what training they would be willing to pay for you to do so you feel prepared. Make sure there is an actual commitment there, especially if I’m correct and you’re at a college/university- they’re notoriously bad about claiming they’ll train you, but that “training” is a binder full of paper. And if they say they’ll pay to train you, it needs to be in writing and specific- because they don’t actually like to spend money and “professional development” funds will be the first thing out the window if money is tight.

      1. Mimmy*

        You are correct – I am attempting to enter higher education disability services (current field: state voc rehab services).

        A big yessssss to your “free labor” comment. I have a classmate in the same internship, and she thinks that what this school is doing. We do meet once a week as a group with some of the staff to talk about our students and I do pick up ideas and feedback.

        Thanks for the suggestion to look up motivational interviewing. I interviewed for a job last year and I remember the hiring manager asking me what I would do if a student wasn’t motivated. I think the answer I gave could’ve been better *shrug*, so it is something I should read up on.

        Side note: Your comment about the training being “a binder full of paper” reminds of a job I had about 15 years ago at a nonprofit. Same thing – I just read a binder of resources, watched videos, etc. Spoiler alert: I lasted less than a year.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      This sounds pretty typical, unfortunately. My guess is that the people who staff the office are just trying to keep their heads above water with work as it is and don’t have the bandwidth to supervise interns well. Not a good excuse—it would be better to not take interns if they can’t supervise them. I think simply having the internship on your resume will likely be a plus given that your resume is just there to get you an interview. For the remainder of your internship, I would talk with your supervisor about what experience they’d like to see in an entry level employee and what you can do to build those skills.

    4. MoMac*

      I get so angry about these situations. I’m not sure what your degree is in, but as a clinical social worker for 30 years I feel enraged when someone does not get the training that they are paying for. I just started a new position a few weeks ago and one of my supervisees told me that she did not have training in diagnostic formulation. None! She was not even aware that she actually had to diagnose clients in her job as a therapist. So we will be doing a lot of training. Her first-year internship was a caseworker position that is actually a Bachelor’s level job. I just find it super frustrating because she is in debt for an education she did not receive.

      Yes, so much learning happens on the job. But it also depends on the job. In my field, if you’re isolated doing in-home work or trying to bang out clients in a clinic to meet productivity issues, there is not going to be much learning taking place. So I would look for a place where you are on a multi-disciplinary team and time is taken for the team as a whole to discuss cases. That will teach you how other people think and formulate using clinical language and this will help you to develop your own style.

      Good luck! I hope you land someplace that will focus on your professional development.

  19. anon today*

    Does anyone have good advice on how to distinguish between “this person does not have the soft skills for this open position” and “working with this person will drive me up the wall”, when the truth is it’s a little bit of both? I have serious concerns, but am worried I’m being unfair. (I’m not on the hiring committee, but will be working closely with this position and have already been told I will be asked for my thoughts.)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Can you give some oblique examples? Did the person interrupt or something? Or do they just have a manner of speaking that grates on your nerves?

      1. anon today*

        This person has no filter and doesn’t really take no for an answer. Also high-strung and, to be honest, has a lot in common with me personality-wise (I am very neurotic), and we don’t need two of me. We need someone who has different strengths, because no one’s good at absolutely everything.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          I’d just say “Their skills seem very similar to mine, and I think whomever we hire should have different, but complementary skills to better round out the team”. That way it’s not about the candidate so much on a personal level

          And I agree, I like myself but we don’t need two of me on the team. My colleague who’s work most mirrors my work is my opposite, and that’s why it works. Each of us brings necessary but different skills to the table and our team is better for it.

          1. MsM*

            I think it would also be valid to say “I have concerns about their ability to take and absorb feedback constructively or accept when decisions are final, and I think that’s going to be particularly important in this role.” It’s nice to want to keep things positive, especially if this is an internal hire or a small field, but you don’t want to risk the boss deciding that actually, they think two people with complementary skills would be great to have.

      2. anon today*

        This person has no filter, tends to make mountains out of molehills, and doesn’t always take no for an answer. They are also probably a little too similar to me skillset- and personality-wise to be able to balance my weaknesses (we would not be in identical positions, but I have the more internal-facing one and the open position is more external-facing.)

    2. OyHiOh*

      I’m struggling with this too (same situation, participated to a degree in hiring process, will work with person, not involved in the hiring decision): Organization is about to make an offer to one of two candidates. One appears to have excellent soft skills (little soft on the technical side but that’s easily overcome), the other has excellent tech skills but the read from half our staff is “his soft skills are going to drive me up a wall” and the other half of staff are “meh, might be ok, might be a problem six months from now.”

      No idea how to plainly articulate this without devolving into messy culture fit issues.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        If in a STEM field, please concentrate on the soft skills. That upper education levels it is both more important and harder to find.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I’m not in position to be privy to the final hours of decision making, but based on a couple things my boss has said while pacing around my office (mine is bigger, lol!) I think we are leaning towards prioritizing soft skills. The gap/lag on the technical side should fill in as the person does the work.

      2. Observer*

        Just because they are called “soft” does not mean that they are unimportant or should be ignored.

        You might want to point out that no one who has spoken to this person is confident in this person’s ability to get along in a professional capacity with others. And that a significant proportion of the staff are already convinced that he’s going to be difficult to work with. Then some specific examples of the issued. In this case, the OP says that they over-react to situations, won’t take no for an answer, and “have no filter”. If that’s an issue, I would give some examples, because some things are worse than others. Like if they have to comment on everyone’s food, clothing choices and weight that’s one thing. If the things they are commenting on are the weather and what color cars they saw that day, it’s different set of issues.

    3. NeedRain47*

      Are there other candidates? Maybe focus on how great your top choice candidate is and less on the negative about person who will drive you up the wall. That’s what I did when I was on a committee where one of our finalists had the experience but seemed like a big nope personality wise.

      1. anon today*

        That’s a really great point. My top choice candidate does have the soft skills I think are most important for this position — calm, patient, enjoys being helpful. (And is also likely to get on my nerves a little, but not on external users’.)

    4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      “I know Cathy has alienated some people because of a tendency to make meetings longer with questions that are off-topic/more appropriate for one on one discussions.” Vs. “I find it difficult to work with Cathy because she asks a lot of questions immediately as they come up and it breaks my focus.”

    5. Hiring Manager*

      If there are subsequent interviews, I usually flag whatever that behavior is for the next person to try to dig deeper. For example, if the job requires working collaboratively, and I got the vibe that they might just run over other people, we might tweak follow up questions to “tell me a time when” to include things like “how did you handle additional follow up questions to your approach” or “how did you get someone onboard with your plan who was initially reluctant”.

    6. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I would go with your gut. What may seem like a small annoyance now will only get worse over time. Do you think your feedback will be seriously considered?

      1. anon today*

        I do. I’ve actually been in the same department as this person before and I think that will carry some weight. The outgoing employee also agrees with me on her preferred successor.

        I guess what I’m really worried about is charges of favoritism. Yes, I would prefer to work with the candidate that I don’t think is going to cause problems. But that’s just good sense, right? I’ve never really had an opportunity to give feedback before and I think I’m uncomfortable with the idea, even though I can make a solid argument with concrete examples.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, I would prefer to work with the candidate that I don’t think is going to cause problems. But that’s just good sense, right?

          That is why they want your feedback! At least if they have any sense.

          Now, if you just wanted to work with the other person because of reasons that have nothing to do with actually being able to get your jobs done or getting through the day without any inappropriate behavior (eg one person is better looking than the other) that would be different. But what you are concerned about is exactly what you should be thinking about.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          That’s not “favoritism,” or not in a bad sense. Favoritism is things like preferring one candidate A because they were in your sorority, or only being willing to hire people who are fans of the same baseball team.

          You also wouldn’t be saying “We should hire A rather than B because I have a hunch that A will be easier to work with,” which can be a problem because the basis for a hunch might be unconscious bias. You’re right, preferring the candidate who you don’t think will cause problems is good sense.

    7. The Ginger Ginger*

      I would say don’t discount the importance of both soft skills and the ability to work well with the team. That’s completely outside of the definition of “culture”. Is this person responsive to feedback? Do they let others express their ideas, and are they kind when they agree AND disagree? Are they open to training? Do they talk in a way that puts people’s backs up and makes them difficult to work with? That’s not nothing and it’s absolutely not unfair to consider whether they’ll fit with the team. You don’t need a team full of clones to have a cohesive team. In fact, a truly cohesive team has people from all different back grounds and view points and skill sets that are working together well to achieve greater things than they could alone. If a candidate can’t do that IN INTERVIEWS when they’re likely on their best behavior, what’s the dynamic going to be when they settle in and get comfortable?

    8. RagingADHD*

      Why does it matter where the line is?

      The goal is a team that works well together. You will be asked for your thoughts. Driving an existing teammate up the wall is a relevant factor that should be considered as part of the candidate’s fit for the team.

      It may not be the top factor in the final decision, but it’s a data point that the hiring manager needs to hear. Just use polite wording, like “I forsee a lot of unnecessary friction because of x, y and z.”

    9. anon today*

      Wanted to thank all of you for your great advice here! I feel much more equipped to navigate this now. I appreciate all of you!

  20. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    In higher ed., is it possible to change fields and advance at the same university, or would I need to apply for jobs at other institutions to advance?

    I currently work at a academic library at a private university, and am using my tuition remission to enroll in a student affairs. master’s program part time (same university). Since I am over 2/3 through, I have began applying for jobs at my institution that require a bachelor’s to a master’s. So far, I am not getting interviews. My anticipated graduation date is May 2024.

    So far, I am planning to stay at my institution for one year after graduation applying for student affairs jobs that pay more. If I do not get a job, I plan to expand my search to other universities. If possible at all, I would love to stay at my university since I have been there 10 years and have more time-off benefits. However, I want a job that pays more and has growth potential (my current job lacks this).

    1. Murphy*

      I’ve worked at two different universities (both state if that matters) and it’s extremely common for people to switch roles and within the same university.

      1. RedinSC*

        Agreed. BUT also watch out, when switching roles, many universities won’t really give you much, if any raise, and they’ll peg your salary to your current position. Even if the new one is a higher level.

        Sometimes you have to leave just to get out of the salary bucket they’ve assigned.

    2. Aggresuko*

      Could go either way. A recent ex-coworker of mine could only get a pay raise and a promotion at the job she loved by going to my shitty org. Two years later, they still hadn’t replaced her and finally offered her a raise to go back.

    3. Catcher in the Rye*

      In my experience, it’s totally possible to change fields/advance within the same university. Considering that you are earning a degree in student affairs, I think it’s totally plausible to move into a student affairs role at the same school. Some of the people in my student affairs grad cohort accepted jobs at the same school upon graduation. I went back to my undergrad institution to work full time in an advising role and then made a lateral/slightly upward move to an administrative role last year. I work at a very large public university so there may be a lot more positions to apply to compared to your situation. I would recommend trying to start networking now in student affairs departments at your school and applying to positions as they come up. Best of luck with your search!

    4. cactus lady*

      Go to a different university. I learned that at many, even if you do find another job in the same institution, your salary may be capped based on your current salary. I moved up 4 steps in promotion once, and the cap was a 10% pay raise no matter the title. Leaving for another institution has been the only way I made any real progress at salary increase.

    5. Uni Admin*

      It is common and, in my opinion, now is a great time to do it as there are more openings than ever. I work in a specialized admin field (sponsored research) and we are looking for candidates like you for our roles (i.e. people with university experience looking to come into our field). I would try to talk to people you know and see if they have connections in the departments you’re interested in – sometimes that can get your foot into the door before a job has even been posted.

    6. Midwestern Scientist*

      Sometimes depends on size of institution as well. Common knowledge at my University is that promotions from your current boss are capped at 10% and even that is VERY rare but even moving within department (especially if you get a new job title) is an unlimited increase (within the pay band of the position’s title)

  21. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I have a call later on today with the HR of the company I contract with. The nature of the call is to check in, are we open to opportunities etc. I worked with them for about five years before I was laid off in 2020 and came back last year as a contractor. I am considering saying I would be open to a FT opportunity. They are on a hybrid remote model, 2 days in and 3 days remote. My motivation for this is 90% financial and 10% social. 

    I do miss the regular light social interactions of being in an office. And I also miss having a steady paycheck. 

    On the other hand I have enjoyed the time flexibility of being a contractor. 

    A lot of things are on my mind – 
    I know what the position would entail – it would be very heavy on client interactions. Currently I have a narrow scope of what I can discuss with them. I’d most likely come back as a mid level associate rather than senior/managerial level which I am OK with. 

    Another reason I’m hesitating is because my daughter is a little bit delayed and we’re working through a possible autism diagnosis as well as weekly speech therapy (I’ll be posting more about this in a weekend thread) so the flexibility is a huge help. 

    On the other hand….money. I know Going back to work FT would result in more expenses BUT even the bare minimum salary they would pay would give me enough breathing room after all expenses. 

    And….this is also something Else I struggle with: It’s becoming extremely difficult for me to do something new. I have always struggled with adjusting to new jobs and the processes/people/etc that come with it and I feel like it’s just getting harder and harder for me. 

    I may very well be looking at things through rose colored glasses. I know I struggled with certain things (everything?) but I feel like I’ve changed over the last 2 years, I’m more focused etc so maybe things will be better? Idk. Of course this is all just speculating – I very well may not be hired. Advice/thoughts?

    1. Anonymous healthcare person*

      How old is your daughter? Are you parenting with a partner, do you have family/other help available? I have a child with mild autism (now a young adult), and I found the initial post-diagnosis time-frame extremely emotionally difficult for an extended period of time- for me, years not months to work through it. If you also find the diagnosis process difficult, that is likely to affect your ability to learn/function in a new job. Although… distraction can be your friend too?? You know yourself best, maybe the stimulation and excitement of a new job could be good, or maybe way too much. It sounds like it could be too much? Is it the heavy client interactions that make that worse for you?

      Also, for my family it got time-intensive for services/appointments. And schools are not very friendly to working parents, in terms of times when you meet with teachers etc. So, would the flexibility of the new job be enough for that? If you have support from the other parent and/or other family, maybe this is not much of an issue. And the extra, steady money (plus benefits?) would be very helpful.

      I guess I would say, explore the new job option and look at the pros and cons of doing what you are, vs. this new possibility, vs. job-searching for something that could work better for you.

      Oh, and, if possible, ask about treatment/support/services recommended for your daughter in various diagnostic scenarios. Eg if she is under 6 (I think it is age 6?), and if she does have autism, intensive behavioral interventions may be recommended that are expensive and may or may not be funded by government/healthcare where you are. Of course, also super-important in looking at job options.

      Good luck!

  22. Mimmy*

    Second question – this one is quicker.

    I applied for a job at my local state university. I’d applied for a similar job 2.5 years ago and got a phone screen. During that screen, I was asked what my salary expectations are. I’m anticipating that question again if I get called for this current opening.

    How do I answer about salary expectations when the salary range is listed in the job posting?

    1. Ope!*

      It IS listed? I’d say something like “I believe we’re on the same page, my expectations align with the listed range of $X-Z” or you could be more specific “I’d be looking for at least $Y” or “The listed range meets my general expectations, and I’d be prepared to discuss more specifics within it after reviewing benefits information.”

      1. LC*

        I’d be prepared to discuss more specifics within it after reviewing benefits information.

        This is an important addition to me. I like this wording, another option, especially for early in the process, would be something like “Of course I’ll have to keep in mind the full benefits package and the particulars about the role, but the listed range is in line with my general expectations.”

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I assume you’re satisfied with the listed range. If so, say something like “I understand the range is $X to $Y, which works for me” or “I understand the range is $X to $Y, and given my experience, I’m looking for something in the upper half of that range.”

    3. Murphy*

      I’d say that you’re comfortable with the listed range. Though if you do have a specific number within that range, or a minimum that you’d accept, I’d say so.

    4. A Library Person*

      If it is a state university it is possible that the salaries are made public as a matter of course. Try searching “[University Name] salary”. If you do that with my institution you’ll get to a searchable website.

      1. A Library Person*

        To expand on that, this would help you see what people in the role are already making, and you might be able to offer something more specific from there.

  23. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I have a call later on today with the HR of the company I contract with. The nature of the call is to check in, are we open to opportunities etc. I worked with them for about five years before I was laid off in 2020 and came back last year as a contractor. I am considering saying I would be open to a FT opportunity. They are on a hybrid remote model, 2 days in and 3 days remote. My motivation for this is 90% financial and 10% social. 

    I do miss the regular light social interactions of being in an office. And I also miss having a steady paycheck. 

    On the other hand I have enjoyed the time flexibility of being a contractor. 

    A lot of things are on my mind – 
    I know what the position would entail – it would be very heavy on client interactions. Currently I have a narrow scope of what I can discuss with them. I’d most likely come back as a mid level associate rather than senior/managerial level which I am OK with. 

    Another reason I’m hesitating is because my daughter is a little bit delayed and we’re working through a possible diagnosis as well as weekly therapy (I’ll be posting more about this in a weekend thread) so the flexibility is a huge bonus.

    On the other hand….money. I know Going back to work FT would result in more expenses BUT even the bare minimum salary they would pay would give me enough breathing room after all expenses. 

    And….this is also something Else I struggle with: It’s becoming extremely difficult for me to do something new. I have always struggled with adjusting to new jobs and the processes/people/etc that come with it and I feel like it’s just getting harder and harder for me. 

    I may very well be looking at things through rose colored glasses. I know I struggled with certain things (everything?) but I feel like I’ve changed over the last 2 years, I’m more focused etc so maybe things will be better? Idk. Of course this is all just speculating – I very well may not be hired. Advice/thoughts?

    1. RagingADHD*

      The flexibility of contracting has the downside of lacking structure. I find that working with an external structure makes it easier for me to perform in some ways (like retaining info).

      Keeping all the balls in the air by myself takes a lot of bandwidth. Having the structure imposed frees up some of my mental resources.

      So the FT structure might make it a little easier for you to adjust to the job, because you aren’t simultaneously trying to juggle everything else.

    2. Anonymous For This*

      I say all this with the caveat that it worked for us and everyone’s experience will be different.

      While I understand the flexibility benefit with your daughter having some needs right now, I will say that our kiddo had some issues at birth and had weekly therapies -physical and occupational – and a bevy of specialists plus an additional hospital stay at 3 months. We both started looking for jobs where we’d have a bit more financial cushion since the unknown was such a big spectrum at the time. My spouse almost immediately switched jobs and I switched jobs once we were pretty close to our insurance calendar year being over.

      Also, our neurologist strongly suggested that we put ours in daycare because it would likely be beneficial.

  24. Coenobita*

    What are your favorite resources for U.S. federal resumes/job applications? I know the basics but I am having trouble making my specific situation show up well in a federal resume format. Is there a book or website out there that has good details but isn’t trying to sell you a service?

    I’m in the DC area and know approximately one gazillion federal employees (including my spouse!) but they all got their jobs through military/Peace Corps/fellowship/recent grad/etc. routes that don’t apply to me.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Look up Kathryn Troutman at The Resume Place. Her Federal Resume Guidebook is fairly inexpensive and well worth the price. I have been through her resume writing class which isn’t necessary. She also offers writing service but I’d take a crack at it with the book first. Follow her guidance and you should do well!

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Sorry! I didn’t see you weren’t looking to buy a service so please let me be clear that you can buy her book without buying her services!

    2. Twisted Lion*

      I took a fed resume class and got a book from Kathyrn Troutman “Federal Resume Guidebook: Federal Resume Writing Featuring the Outline Format Federal Resume” and it was pretty spot on. Biggest thing is your resume needs to be long. Not one page (I mean I have seen them but… longer is better).

      1. Twisted Lion*

        Her book is on amazon or see if one of your friends has one or if the library does :)

    3. Coenobita*

      Thanks, TimeTravlR and Twisted Lion! I just put her book on hold at the library! This looks like exactly the kind of thing I need.

  25. Sandrilene fa Toren*

    I’m on my way out of my current higher education admin role while we plan for a move across the country back to our home state (we’re very excited!). Our exact location will depend on my partner’s job since his skills are more niche than mine, and I’m currently planning to stay home with our 1-year-old daughter until we can afford for me to work again. (Yes, I’m the mom, and yes, there are lots of problematic gender politics with this, but it’s what we’re stuck with right now.) HOWEVER, once I do reenter the workforce, I want to change industries because I am sick to death of academia.

    So my question is similar to the 2011 mom asking how to manage her impending resume gap: I know I should volunteer/do things with my time to keep my skills up, but if I’m trying to switch to, say, project management ideally in a sustainability setting, is it more important to practice the *skills* I want to use in my eventual job, or spend time in the *field* that I hope to eventually work in? (e.g., choosing between a project management-y role with the ASPCA vs. a more generic volunteer role with an environmental nonprofit). Thoughts? Advice?

    1. Ope!*

      Ooh this is tricky! And it’ll definitely depend on the hiring manager. I think I’d rather see someone who has hands-on skills with field awareness rather than someone with completely unrelated skills in the “right” field. But another manager might answer differently.

    2. OtterB*

      Do you have project management or related skills from your current role? If so, those don’t get stale as fast as tech skills, and I think you might be best volunteering in the field you want to move to. Besides field-specific knowledge, this will give you the chance to meet people in the field. And you might be able to do both by volunteering in New Field and then, after you’re more of a known quantity, volunteering to manage some small project or event for them.

      1. Sandrilene fa Toren*

        Ooh that’s a good point about meeting people in the desired field. I do have some soft skills from my current role that I think are transferable.

    3. 1qtkat*

      I think it best to get experience in the field you eventually want to get in. It helps build connections in that field and shows you’re interested in that new field.

    4. argle_bargled*

      I agree with others who have said that:
      – Your display name is great
      – You should focus on the field, not the type of work – new skills you gain just through volunteering may not carry a ton of weight, but demonstrating knowledge of and interest in the field, plus making connections, seems like a big advantage when you’re ready to return to work.

    5. mystiknitter*

      Consider volunteering with your eventual new city/town boards, for instance, does the [unknown] new city/town have a climate committee? recycling committee? environmental committee? all of which will have other volunteers who most likely have professional experience in your desired field + connections, plus you’ll have connections to the people working for the city/town in those offices. All the aforementioned committees in my city put on events, advise the local government on planning changes to existing systems/regulations and interact with one another and the greater community. They also get invited to events, meetings and conferences sponsored by local colleges/universities, other cities/towns, organizations. Meetings of the committees and boards happen in the evenings and, these days, by zoom. Great way to meet like-minded others in your new locale, as well. Your interest and professional skills will be so welcomed!

  26. Ope!*

    FYI to any other library professionals that haven’t heard through the grapevine, the blog Hiring Librarians is starting to publish interviews again! This blog was super helpful to me when I finished my MLIS and even after it went defunct I would look back through the question database as both an interviewee and a hiring manager. It’s a great resource.

  27. Meep*

    I want to give a follow-up to the insanity which was my first job ever. So I quit in February after filing a harassment and retaliation complaint against my former manager. This was after I had filed a sexual harassment complaint in November 2021 because she told me that my bronchitis and pneumonia were actually “ovulation” and “allergies” symptoms…

    Well, the sexual harassment complaint was half-heartedly dealt with because “women cannot sexually harass other women”. He asked if she did this to anyone else so I mentioned how she also was discriminating against a trans-woman and a non-binary coworker and trash-talking their gender identities to others (they were fired two weeks after I expressed this concern btw. On the week that this trans-woman had gender-confirming surgery…. so…). She decided in January to retaliate by telling a coworker I was trying to get him fired. My offense? Telling her in a PUBLIC online meeting, text message (with this coworker copied – she initiated the text message literal minutes after the meeting), and an email (with her boss cc’d) that he knew what he was doing after she PUBLICALLY trashed him as being incompetent. Yeah…

    Well, apparently gossip, spreading rumors, and terrorizing employees by threatening their jobs wasn’t harassment so I quit. This lit a fire until Bossman’s bum for the first time and he actually paid for a third-party investigator who specialized in employment discrimination law to investigate.

    WELL! She in her infinite cause of projection decided I was the one being investigated and not her. I expected her to say disparaging and libelous things about me, because well… if you can tell by now, she is a piece of sh*t. Instead, she also decided to trash talk literally everyone. And I mean everyone. Even the coworkers I had explicitly stated to both Bossman and Lawyer Lady that she treated well because they were men. Apparently, the company was only where it was because of her. She took credit for everyone’s work. Meanwhile, she was also being sickeningly sweet to her coworkers so they would put in a good word for her. I know this because they were texting me about how she was taking this investigation seriously to be on her best behavior.

    The result? “Toxic Coworker has exhibited behavior, not in line with her position.” She was demoted and is on her way out the door once he finds a replacement. I have a new job that pays more and is away from the crazy town, regardless.

    Bonus Karama is Sweet: So this lady tried to get me fired in 2020 for purchasing a house. That was her only basis for wanting me gone. She purchased a house last month so karma is sweet.

    1. Meep*

      Follow up on the house thing because that is its own telenovela episode: She found out I was purchasing a house and instantly started being nasty to me. She was verbally abusive, trashed talked me to everyone about how spoiled I was and how I didn’t deserve this house (it was how a lot of people found out I was looking), tried to sabotage my work, refused to let me present anything, and tried to get me fired the week I was supposed to sign. When the original house fell through she instantly started acting friendly towards me again. I didn’t tell her when I actually purchased a house as a result.

    2. allathian*

      I seem to remember something about the house buying stuff. I’m glad you don’t have to work for or with her anymore.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Wow. Just wow. She sounds really bizarre! I’m so glad you’re out of there, and have a house. And that karma was pretty thorough, wasn’t it?

  28. EvaluationsAreArbitrary*

    A question from my annual review: “What could you have done better or differently in the past year?” Last year, I wrote about some improvements I could make or had recently made to managing my time when working on many different projects at once. Manager interpreted this as “You are bad at time management” and gave me a low rating in that category. I’m not actually bad at it, I just saw ways it could get better and did those. There’s definitely no evidence that my supposed poor time management ever negatively affected anyone or anything.
    It’s time to write my review again and now I’m worried that if I say I improved anything, Manager is going to say I’m bad at it. How do I answer without it resulting in a reduced rating?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      If your manager is going to interpret anything that can be improved in as you being bad at it, I wouldn’t list anything. Just say something like “I performed my role incredibly well in the last year and I look forward to continuing to be successful in the coming year.”

    2. irene adler*

      “Filled out my last annual review paperwork with completely positive statements.”

    3. Aggresuko*

      “I continue to get better at my position, improving my speed and accuracy” (or whatever it is you do).

    4. Ginger Pet Lady*

      The place where I work has ridiculous off the books “rules” for managers filling out reviews. They cannot give ratings above average for more than 2 areas, and they HAVE to mark an area as “needs improvement”
      I wonder if your boss is working under similar rules or has similar ideas about reviews? And your self evaluation just helped him decide where to place that mandatory “needs improvement”
      (The thinking/reasoning behind the rules is that you have to make darn sure employees know they could do better or else they don’t work hard. Not lost on me that raises are based on the reviews, too, so suppressing reviews = suppressing wages. Honestly it is really demotivating to know that no matter what I do I’ll never be more than average on my formal reviews, and so now I don’t really give a fig about my reviews. So that means reviews are pointless.)

      1. EvaluationsAreArbitrary*

        Yes, I’m pretty sure they are only allowed to give out a certain amount of high reviews, which results in manipulations like you describe. It’s nonsensical at best (employees have to answer a series of questions that have nothing to do with the ratings managers assign) and insulting at worst. I’d still prefer not to be told I suck at something that I demonstrably do not suck at.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      “I was already (meeting metric) (managing this skill by –example–) but I was able to add further value by (new approach).

      1. EvaluationsAreArbitrary*

        LOL, as if we have metrics. That’s a good phrasing though, might be able to use that.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      Adapted to changing COVID restrictions while maintaining productivity. Or something similar. Blame COVID – if you can use a spe ific example, even better.

  29. RetailIsDetail*

    Hello everyone….our small retail store is looking to switch from a paper schedule for staff (!) to a scheduling app. We’re leaning towards Deputy (but are also considering WhenIWork and Homebase). It’s important for us to select an app that’s designed for shift work, that makes shift-swapping easy, and that facilitates clear communication with staff (ages 16-65+). Any feedback or recommendations are helpful! Thanks :)

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      I’m sure you know your current staff, but make sure it has a desktop option staff can access at work because some people don’t have smartphones.

      I had a job change to an app for clocking in/out from a central terminal clock and they still provided another option for those without smartphones (or who didn’t want to use it I guess?)

    2. LC*

      I used to work with Blue Yonder (formerly JDA). It was pretty good, definitely not perfect, but I think they were working on improving some specific things when I got out of that world about two years ago. It actually does 90% of the scheduling for you, then a human can just make tweaks, not sure if you’re looking for that or just a software solution for managers to enter schedules and employees to use.

      We had shift work, multiple departments, multiple locations. You could swap shifts, put shifts up for grabs, request PTO, set availability (both strict availability and preferred availability, and you could make it for specific time ranges which was great when students were involved), do fixed schedules, etc. Again, not perfect, but worth at least a look.

    3. DunderHead*

      I’ve only had experience with HotSchedules. I enjoyed it and I was a manager using it to schedule my 12-20 employees.

  30. TimeTravlR*

    Today is my last day… I am retiring! I have read AAM for so long that it will probably stay on my reading list each day. I have learned so much from Alison and from you, and I regularly refer people to this site.
    Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of the discussion.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Thank you! Many years in the making, that’s for sure. I am hoping I don’t wake up on Monday thinking I’ve made a horrible mistake! LOL

        1. retired3*

          Wake up Monday morning, look at the clock, stay in bed and pet your cat, read, have coffee, get extra sleep. Rinse, repeat.

      2. Fran Fine*

        Same. I’ve got 30 something more years left, and I just…can’t, lol.

        Congrats, OP!

    1. Clisby*

      Congratulations! I remember going to bed on my last day and thinking, “They cannot wake me up in the middle of the night any more,” and falling into a dead sleep. (It wasn’t that I was called in the middle of the night often; it was just that it was possible on any night.)

  31. Melanie Cavill*

    Anyone have experience balancing full time work and full time school? I’d love any tips. Or horror stories. Those are fun too.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did it for almost ten years, through an associate’s, two bachelor degrees and two masters degrees. Embrace your calendar.

      People (including people here, in my experience) will tell you that it can’t be done without doing something poorly, full stop. Whether it can be done well depends entirely on you, on your job, and on your program. It’s not easy, but whether it’s possible is so situational – think very carefully and realistically about what you’re signing yourself up for.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        Thank you for answering! That’s super impressive. If you don’t mind my asking, did you ever get to the point where you felt like some aspect of your life was being done poorly?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          So, this is where “know thyself” comes in :) I did not ever get to that point myself, but (a) I am an extreme introvert and wasn’t trying to fit in any significant level of social life around any of my other goings-on, and (b) my particular areas of brain goofiness – hypomania, low need for sleep, speed-reading-with-high-retention, and a chronic inability to sit around and not be doing stuff, among other things – contributed to my ability to get shit done, heh. (I said that I was a full time student while working full-time for ten years — I am STILL a half-time student three years later, taking classes from the local CC just for funsies now, because it’s a reliable and useful way to keep my brain occupied with something at a level of structure and commitment that works for me. I am currently taking by-god English Comp 101. :P )

          My programs were also (I think) fairly standard in terms of their expectations — all my degrees are adjacent to healthcare administration, so I didn’t have much to worry about in terms of lab courses or similar, everything I was doing outside of scheduled class meetings was largely self-schedule-able as long as I was working to deadlines. I also had the ability to choose comprehensive testing/paper-writing options for my capstone courses rather than needing to make time for internships since I was already working in the field at an advanced level. (In fact, I almost had to supervise one of my classmates doing an externship in my department at work, until I pointed out that such a thing could be a little bit awkward for both of us and they assigned her to a different team.)

          But if I was someone who had a lot of family or social obligations that were important to maintain, or hobbies that made high demands on my time, or an opposition to eating a lot of takeout and turkey sandwiches, or an insistence on a perfectly clean house all the time, it would’ve been a very different story.

    2. Mid*

      This might sound weird, but as someone who balanced full time work and school, I wouldn’t recommend it if you live alone. It’s very very hard to keep up with housework and cooking when you’re booked for 80+ hours a week.

      Horror story: I was scheduled for too many hours but needed the money so I didn’t try to change my shifts, and ended up not sleeping for 3 days and hallucinated ants crawling all over me and had to leave work early.

    3. irene adler*

      I did work and school both full time.
      I was able to strategically schedule in vacation days to give me time to keep current with the homework. Work was very flexible with this.
      I also put off major things, like major house cleaning, getting the car maintenanced or all day social events, to semester breaks.
      Do not allow yourself to fall behind in the studies. That snowballs quickly and can mean the difference between completing the class and dropping it. Plan, plan, plan!

    4. Coenobita*

      I did this for my master’s degree and, honestly, it was fine! I mean, I was busy, but no more busy than I’ve been with other things in other seasons of my life.

      My top piece of advice is to choose your program carefully and be clear with yourself what you want to get out of it. I basically just needed the piece of paper that said “master’s degree” to advance in my field, and since I was planning to stay at my same employer for a while afterwards I didn’t really care about networking, going to seminars, the academic reputation of the program (above a certain level), or really doing anything above and beyond what what was necessary to get the grades I wanted. So I chose a conveniently located school that offered evening classes and provided good scholarships and was like medium-rigorous (a big difference from the super-competitive school where I went to undergrad). Your situation might be different! But like Red Reader says, definitely think carefully and realistically about what you want and how you want to do it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes, this too — I wanted to get my masters degrees from a school that was reasonably well regarded and accredited and all that jazz, but I didn’t need to fight for the best MBA program in the world, the state university in the next town over was going to do a bang-up job of getting me what I needed out of a graduate degree with a reasonable amount of work on my part.

    5. Gan Ainm*

      I did it for two years, I did a full time mba and a full time professional job. Work was supportive and let me cut back in my travel (previously was traveling around 70%, cut back to 40% I’d say) and let me flex my schedule for some of my classes. It was hectic, I had almost no downtime for two years, had to precisely time everything, and just go from one activity or project / task to the next without stopping, saw my family (who live close by and I’d normally see at least once a month) only on major holidays, but it was a great period in my life too because I love being very busy and enjoyed my program. I ended up hiring a house cleaner for a few months, I had roommates and we alternated cleaning assignments and on my turn I was just too swamped, it was the best money I ever spent. You need to be organized and you have to want the degree to make the effort worth it, but it’s totally doable.

    6. feeling like Dori*

      I did it for my bachelors (which I did remotely). I had to stay very organized. As soon as the syllabus was released I would add every due date for my classes to a master excel sheet and then sort by the due date so I could track assignments. I then made that excel sheet my desktop background. It was the only way I made it through. I could prioritize my week, spend weekends on assignments, and evenings were for studying. I would take time off for finals and occasionally take a day off if I had a huge assignment due.

      I’m about to start the process again for my masters but now I’m working longer weeks and have a child so I’ll be taking longer to complete this degree. I have 4 weeks of pto a year so I plan to use it to complete this degree.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      Been there, sort of…full time job, part time job, and part-time school. My advice is to prioritize by what the long term picture should be; housework wouldn’t be important in 5 years, so I generally half-assed it at best. Homework was crucial, so it got top priority. Full time office job provided tuition assistance, so even though it was not my career path I made sure to put in solid, if not stellar, work. The part time job covered the gap between expenses and income, but could be (and occasionally was) replaced as needed. Hobbies suffered for a few years, as did my social life, but I always knew that would be temporary.
      That was in my 20s. Now in my 50s, it would be a lot more challenging.
      Slightly related, I’ve always enjoyed the story on this site about the person whose boss wouldn’t give them time off for their graduation. That happens more often than you’d think…I quit a part time waitress job to attend my graduation, got a part time retail job to replace it a day later!

    8. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Do the homework as far ahead of time as you can. I mean, plan to finish things very early so that you have a cushion. You can quickly see the afternoon off the day before a big assignment is due that you budgeted for finishing it, evaporate when a major appliance breaks or a kid gets sick or a deadline at work changes.

      Good luck and have fun!

    9. Washi*

      I don’t know what kind of school you are going back for, but there is so much variation in master’s programs! My master’s required 16 classes and 2 different multiple-day-per-week internships, neither of which could just be your regular job. My husband’s required 10 classes, no internships, and the homework was a type of task he tends to be faster than average at. He worked full time and while it wasn’t fun, it was manageable because work was flexible with his hours and he was able to use some work stuff for class projects. There was no way I was going to work full time during my program and my few classmates who tried quickly had to cut back on their work hours because it was just way too much. I got a part time job where I could do homework at work (apartment concierge) which paid terribly but kept money coming in and I wasn’t too overwhelmed.

    10. Mental Lentil*

      Good grades
      Social life

      Pick two.

      Also, get a really good planner and keep it by your side at all times. You don’t have the time to be un-organized.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      I did that 20 years ago and it worked for a year (and by worked I mean I barely passed my classes and had zero free time.) Second year, I dropped to 80% FTE and 75% school. Still sucked but my GPA went up.

    12. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      Through my AA I worked full time retail, and went to school full time, and worked a 12/hr a week work study job. It was fine and I never felt over-worked!
      However, when I transferred to finish my bachelor’s degree, the full time program absolutely demanded 40 hours a week of my time – sometimes a little more. I am sure I could have phoned it in and settled on lower grades, but I wanted to get everything I could out of my college experience. I had to go down to 8hrs a week at my retail job, and 12hrs a week at my work study job. Doing laundry and feeding myself were very, very difficult, to say nothing of, like, socializing. One quarter, I took 18 credits and worked 22+ hrs a week and I truly thought I was going to fall apart like a pile of gravel at any given moment.
      This is to say: it depends on your program and how easy the material comes to you. The weeks where I was doing studio art (my strength) were much easier to manage than the weeks I was studying, for example, Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of habitus (fascinating, and exhausting to read).
      Good luck!

    13. Former Retail Manager*

      Accept that you will miss out on things…..things that may be important to you and other people. And be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a certain period of time, and don’t procrastinate on assignments (did that wayyyyy too many times.) I’d also “outsource” as much as you can afford to…perhaps house cleaning, weekend child care so you have a day to yourself to relax, study, etc., simplify cooking as much as you can, etc and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

      If you have kids……
      I could not have done it without the support of my family who helped with my daughter A LOT. I literally did not have time to help with homework every day, or do bath time every day, or even really hang out with her on certain days. I did it when I could, which wasn’t very often. The reality is that I was gone, either at work or at school, A LOT and other people stepped into parent roles. I don’t regret it because, in my situation, failure was not an option, and I knew that other people would eventually be relying on me financially and I had to make it happen in a certain time frame, so if that meant I missed some childhood stuff, and she made those memories with other people, so be it. Everyone can’t handle this emotionally….it really tears them up, so be honest with yourself about how much you can be away from your kids / less involved, and adjust your schedule accordingly. All kids are different, but I can say that I don’t think this negatively impacted my relationship with my daughter. She is now a young adult and grateful for the financial assistance that I have provided her (and continue to provide her), which wouldn’t be possible without my education. It was also an opportunity for her to form strong bonds with other family members that likely wouldn’t have existed under “normal” circumstances.

    14. jadetaia*

      Ooooh, I did that for a year and a half when I was in my mid-twenties. I’m glad I got it over with then!

      I was working full time as a low level accounting clerk in cash receipts, and I enrolled in online college courses to get a second bachelor’s in Accounting. (My original college degree is in English, which doesn’t really check the boxes for moving up in an accounting career.)

      Local community colleges were semester-based, so an associates degree in accounting would have taken about 9 years for me to complete, and local universities weren’t offering second bachelors at the time (and I was not prepared to take on a Masters program back then), so I did go with a for-profit online university to basically check the boxes. It ended up being 5-week long courses, and I took two courses each 5 weeks in order to complete my degree in the shortest amount of time (and the maximum amount I could afford in tuition on my modest income).

      Did I mention that I also did the books for my dad’s small business?

      So … it was a lot. There were many times I felt overwhelmed. I had no social life except saying hi occasionally to my roommate. But at least I knew the number of courses I needed to take and how long it would take to complete them.

      The moment it turned was when I was complaining how I felt overwhelmed to my mom. And she (typical Asian mom who always told me to maintain straight As in school) said, “You just need to pass the classes right? You don’t have to get an A in everything.” I was dumbfounded. And I realized I didn’t need to be the best at everything. I just needed to do enough to pass. Which is what I did. Huge stress dissipated, and I made it through.

      Good luck to you! Hope you don’t stress yourself out too much, and try to take breaks when you can! Do well — but don’t stress about being perfect!!

      1. jadetaia*

        Adding a note: it’s all about prioritizing. What makes the most sense for you, what is the minimum you need to do to accomplish what you need for your goals that week, that month, that year, and what can you get away with doing less well or not doing if it is unimportant. If you are able to pick out what is important and make a plan, you’ll be fine!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes! I don’t think I had a single class where I didn’t get to the point where I was hauling out Excel going “What is it gonna take to make a B.” (And once I did the math it was never as dire as I thought it would be :) )

        1. CatMintCat*

          I could never bring myself to do this. Imposter syndrome or something. I knew in my head that “Ps get degrees” (P or Pass is the lowest passing grade in my university’s system) but I could never convince myself to aim for a P, because what if I missed?
          All in my head, for sure.

    15. Clisby*

      Not a masters, but after working for 11 years in journalism I went back to school for a BS in computer science. I worked nights as a newspaper copy editor, and went to school in the day. It helped that in my newspaper job I always had to work at least one weekend day, which meant I was guaranteed at least one whole weekday/weeknight where I could focus 100% on school. It also helped that I was on my own – no spouse or children. I probably could have done it with a low-maintenance spouse who needed practically no attention, but with children it would have been a no-go. I got the degree, and went on to work 27 years in IT until I retired.

  32. emmalite*

    What do you do when HR gives you the wrong documents for a hiring process and disappears?

    I have to take a ‘competency assessment’ as part of a hiring process. It’s more of a formality — I’m being transitioned from contract to full time, and they already know what my skills are better than a test will tell them. Still, government, paperwork, etc.

    BUT. they use a third party tester, and I’m about 90% sure I have a wrong test. I’m being asked to solve questions way above my paygrade, and in a slightly different area — think instead of summarizing some documents to brief a senior on llama wrangling (normal for my level, I’ve done these tests before), I’m being asked to create a large scale business plan for designing chocolate teapots. It’s not related to my experience, it’s not what I’m being hired to do, and I’m honestly not sure I can pass it.

    I’ve tried to get a hold of HR, they’re not responding, and the test is due tomorrow. I’m going to do my best, but I honestly don’t know what happens if i fail the test. I’m at a loss. Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      As a manager, I want the team to tell me this stuff so I can jump in. The title gets more attention sometimes. If you think it’s workable, ask your manager.

      1. emmalite*

        Erg, you’re definitely right. I admit I feel incredible awkward emailing my future manager (on a Friday afternoon no less) to say “hey, that test you told someone to give me seems WAY too hard”. But there’s no good way around it. Thank you for the needed push!

    2. AE*

      Ugh, this sucks, but if their hiring setup is that disorganized/negligent, then I would take it as a red flag about the organization. In case it was a one-off error and not necessarily symptomatic of larger problems, at least they have it in writing that you possibly had the wrong test before you sent it back.

      1. emmalite*

        The wild part is that hr at this organization is usually regarded a fantastic…..except for the recruitment process itself. You’re definitely right about having it in writing!

    3. Miel*

      I’d recommend continuing to make noise. Reach out to your manager, HR again, and anyone else who has been involved in the hiring process.

      Hopefully someone will respond – but worst case, they’ll at least know what’s going on.

  33. Audrey Puffins*

    I am seriously considering applying to work at the Port Lockroy post office in Antarctica for the October-March season. What sort of things should I consider for my application that might not come intuitively to mind, do you reckon?

    1. Albeira Dawn*

      What’s your experience with wilderness survival? Have you ever been in a very isolated situation for a long period of time, alone or with a small group? In your work experience, have you ever taken on a project with little to no external support and had to problem-solve a wide variety of issues, even those outside your expertise? How do you handle boredom? How do you handle conflicts with coworkers? Do you have cross-training in any other skills, like mechanic-ery, or database management, or procurement? What kind of leadship structures have you worked in – rigid, flexible, centralized, decentralized?

      1. HalloQueen*

        I was going to reply to say how good these questions were, and then I saw “mechanic-ery” and died laughing at what a perfect all-encompassing term that was! I totally want to find a way to use that in daily conversation now…

    2. HHD*

      Having known folks who’ve done it and/or worked for Scott Polar and done extended stints down that way (the perks of Cambridge life)
      – analogue hobbies, have some
      – how do you do with problem solving? How about when there isn’t a support desk just along the hall?
      – how do you get on with people who are very different to you? How do you do that when you can’t just get away at the end of the day?

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I know a few people who have wintered over in Antarctica, and a few things to think of.

      Health – if something goes wrong, you’re going to be limited to the resources available there. They do a very thorough checkup (down to dental) before hand, but you need to be in solid, stable health. You also need to be okay with things like limited bathing opportunities (a friend at a research station got 2 5 minute showers a week).

      Social skills are very, very important, but in a weird way. You need to be able to go long stretches without a lot of variety of social activity (so the ability to be socially self-sufficent and amuse yourself), but at the same time you need to be able to handle close quarters with a small number of people without being too annoying or too annoyed. It’s a weird combination of easy going, easy to get along, with and naturally independent and solitary.

      Oh, and for women, if you’re not interested in hooking up with someone for the winter, invent a boyfriend (or girlfriend) back home to deflect pressure.

  34. WineNot*

    After 3 years with my company and a small promotion (mainly in title) every year, I am being promoted to manage my department and the four people in it. I am so excited about the opportunity, though a little anxious as I have never managed people before. I know they still haven’t told my direct boss, who currently manages our department, or anyone on the team. I am a bit worried about how they are all going to take it. I have two questions…

    1. Does anyone have any advice for the change in relationship from your experience being promoted and having to manage the people you used to be on the same level as, or from being the person whose coworker became their boss? Having buy-in from the whole team is so important, I want to be sure all communication about the change is done right, etc.

    2. Any tips for a first-time manager?

    Thank you!

    1. ferrina*

      Prepare for some distance. They will likely pull away from you- this is normal and healthy. You are their boss now, and they will need that distance to be able to receive you like a boss.

      Know their strengths and use their strengths. Consult with them on their matter of expertise (but be clear when they aren’t able to make the decision- I’ve found things like “Hey, there’s a situation coming up about a potential llama acquisition. There’s obviously a lot of factors, but I know you’re an expert in llama dentistry and would love to get your perspective on that.” then keep the questions specifically dentistry related and don’t discuss items beyond that)

      Be confident and humble. Yes, those two things are complementary. “Let’s try doing it this way, and we’ll check in in a week to see how it’s working” is an example. You’re leading and making decisions to keep things moving, but also actively following up to learn about the impact of your decision making so you can continue to improve.

      Honestly, I’m a little concerned about your organization based on what you’ve shared here. It’s very odd that they haven’t told your direct boss that you will be a manager. Generally your boss would be involved in that conversation and be part of that decision. Make sure you have someone outside the company that can keep you grounded.
      Good luck!

      1. WineNot*

        Hi. Thanks for your points. You mentioned you were concerned about my organization based on the fact that my direct boss hasn’t been in the loop….it definitely worries be a little bit. We are a small-ish company (around 100 people) and this plan has been hatched by the COO and President. When the promotion was originally brought up by the COO, he said he was going to speak with my boss that week. He still hasn’t, which is really frustrating because I feel like I am lying to him every time we talk about the future of my accounts and the function of our team, etc. I actually just spoke to the President in the middle of writing this comment and mentioned I was anxious for them to tell my current boss and she helped to ease some of my nerves in that regard, so that was good! I know I have a great support system of great leaders and managers, so I think it will be a great move. Just an interesting transition in relationships, most of all.


    2. cactus lady*

      I found the books (both older now) “The Leadership Pipeline” and “Getting to Yes” helpful when I first started managing people.

    3. TheDisenchantedForest*

      Boundaries are important. I say this as the employee who watched as the boss rewarded the people she was friends with. She continued to drive to/from work, eat lunch with, and spend weekends with the same people who were now her direct reports. And all of those people got promotions, bonuses, management opportunities, big projects, and exposure to senior managers – even if they weren’t performing as good as others on the team. As a result, many others on the team became resentful and demoralized, and left.

      A good book to read for managers of all experience levels is: Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter, by Liz Wiseman

    4. Fran Fine*

      Congrats on your promotion! I’ll be following this thread closely since I’m in a similar situation (though my boss is very aware of my promotion and actually went to bat for it).

    5. allathian*

      Congrats on your promotion!

      One of my coworkers was promoted to our manager when the previous manager wanted to get out of management and got a job as a subject matter expert elsewhere. Understandably she didn’t want to be managed by a former report, even if leaving management was her idea. This was my former coworker’s first management job, and she got hired as an interim manager. I was a bit worried about how things would go, because as a peer she was close friends with some of her coworkers. We got along, mostly, even if she could be a bit abrasive about when she wanted to go to lunch with “just her friends” rather than the whole team. But she was extremely professional about it, and when she was our manager, she never played favorites. A former coworker switched jobs to another department, at least partly because she wanted to keep their friendship on a level that wouldn’t have been possible between a manager and a report. She was hired as an interim manager, and ultimately she wasn’t hired on permanently when the interim period ended. I’m happy with my current manager, although I was sad that the interim manager wasn’t hired on permanently, because she did a great job. She’s on a temporary contact elsewhere working as an SME, but she was really keen to work in management, so I’m not sure if she’ll return to us or look elsewhere.

    6. allathian*

      Congrats on your promotion!

      One of my coworkers was promoted to our manager when the previous manager wanted to get out of management and got a job as a subject matter expert elsewhere. Understandably she didn’t want to be managed by a former report, even if leaving management was her idea. This was my former coworker’s first management job, and she got hired as an interim manager. I was a bit worried about how things would go, because as a peer she was close friends with some of her coworkers. We got along, mostly, even if she could be a bit abrasive about when she wanted to go to lunch with “just her friends” rather than the whole team. But she was extremely professional about it, and when she was our manager, she never played favorites. A former coworker switched jobs to another department, at least partly because she wanted to keep their friendship on a level that wouldn’t have been possible between a manager and a report. She was hired as an interim manager, and ultimately she wasn’t hired on permanently when the interim period ended. I’m happy with my current manager, although I was sad that the interim manager wasn’t hired on permanently, because she did a great job. She’s on a temporary contact elsewhere working as an SME, but she was really keen to work in management, so I’m not sure if she’ll return to us or look elsewhere.

  35. Can't think of a funny name*

    I started looking for a new job b/c I was disappointed in the raises this year. I found a job paying well and interviewed and am down to the last interview. I told my current boss that I was looking b/c I have seen him give people counteroffers before and there was no negative impact after the fact so I figured I’d see what he could do. After some back and forth, he was able to offer me an amount around the low end of the range of this new job (so not really a “counteroffer” since it was before I even got an offer, lol, but same concept). At this point, I would probably only take the new job if they offered over the high end of their range…SO, getting to my question…Should I tell the 3rd party recruiter this to see if he thinks I should withdrawal, wants to put out a feeler to them on a higher offer, or just do the interview and wait to see if I even get an offer and then go from there? I think I am the only person at this stage of the interview process.

    1. Mid*

      Wait and see what they offer, and if you like the company but their salary is too low, ask for a higher salary and see what happens.

        1. Squeakad*

          I am really old-school and still keep the advice if never take a counter offer. Even if it works out in the short-term, it is the case that many companies it tells the team that you really can’t be trusted.

  36. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

    TL;DR: Can someone be disciplined or fired because their spouse was an ass (no alcohol or violence, just rudeness), off the clock and at the employee’s house? Specifically, at a dinner party at the employee’s house, with him and his wife, two co-workers and the boss and their plus-ones, and the 15 y/o daughter of one of the co-workers. If the hostess is deliberately unwelcoming and/or hostile to the 15 y/o, what are the possible consequences for her husband?

    (I swear the following is true; people really did post these things.) I used to belong to a forum for people who were childfree. I left because of this and because the general attitude had become toxic. A regular who I’ll call Patty posted in a snit about the aforementioned dinner party, which hadn’t happened yet. One couple wanted to bring their daughter (Priscilla), for whatever reason; we never did find out. (In the end, Priscilla didn’t go; she slept over a friend’s house, the party went off just fine, amen and hallelujah.) In fairness, Patty did have only eight chairs, place settings and entrees, but I’m fairly certain that “My [adult] brother is visiting from out of town; can he tag along?” would not have inspired the same outrage. I think Patty was mostly aggravated with Chuck, her husband, for volun-telling her to reenact a Father Knows Best episode. “Honey, I really need to impress the boss, and don’t screw this up or you’ll lose me the Henderson account!” She was already not jazzed about hosting eight people, with the good china and all, and when she heard about the potential teenage guest, her head exploded.

    Bear in mind, Patty didn’t know Priscilla. At all. Nothing good or bad, not even her name or age until she asked. Still, Patty was damned if this…thing…would cross her threshold, and posted, all caps, “I refuse to be held hostage by a spoiled brat!!!” But she wasn’t close to being the nastiest person in the thread, which was swarmed by people offering tips on how to be the world’s worst hostess. Such gems as:

    “Give her a real ‘mean nanny’ look right when she comes in the door, so she’ll know she can’t mess with you.”

    “If they turn up with the sprog, act like you were never told she would be there, then make a big show of struggling to cope with this unexpected problem.” [And I’m sure the other guests would feel totally at ease.]

    “Do not let her join the conversation. If she opens her mouth other than to put food in it, banish her to the worst room in the house, with no TV or other entertainment. You have every right to scold and stand your ground.” [Scold, as in raise her voice? Make a scene in front of her husband’s colleagues?]

    “Squeeze in a folding chair for the brat between where its parents will sit, so hopefully it will behave. [Fifteen-year-old girl, people!] Give it a hot dog or pizza-for-one on a paper plate, a plastic cup of water and nothing else.”

    That’s far from all, but you get the idea. The only dissenters (there were a few sensible, non-aggressive suggestions) were me and two others. “If you guys are joking, it’s not funny. If you’re serious, WTF? Priscilla is a person with feelings.” One person replied, “I am serious. I’m sorry if her feelings get hurt, but that’s for her parents to worry about. Catering to the teen [pizza and pop in the den is catering to her?] will send the message to the parents that their behavior is acceptable. Hopefully when the kid grows up, she’ll realize she needs to be better than them.”

    Me: “Good of you to have such concern for the young lady’s long-term social development. In the short term, Chuck has to work with Priscilla’s parent. And another co-worker and Chuck’s boss are going to see this. I don’t think they’re going to applaud Patty for “standing her ground”. In an at-will state, Chuck’s boss will have “every right” to terminate him first thing Monday. Or even on the spot.”

    But would he? What would be the consequences if this really had happened, to any degree? I don’t think anyone in their right mind would go ahead with the hot dog/folding chair stunt, but this blog gives plenty of examples of people who are not in their right minds! So if that did happen, Priscilla’s parents would probably say “Fine, we’ll go somewhere else,” and likely the other guests would follow. But how far can someone go in rudeness (the don’t-mess-with-me look at the door, for instance) and still have it handwaved? And to what extent is an employee responsible for their spouse’s actions? (I don’t relish the idea of someone being fired/disciplined because he “can’t control his wife”. Or him apologizing for her in terms of “women, amirite?”.)
    One thing I can’t believe I didn’t notice at the time. The same poster who said “You have every right to scold and stand your ground,” when she was called on it, doubled down with “She has every right to say something to defend herself and her home.” Take out “scold” and “say something,” and you’ve got phrases I’ve only otherwise heard in the context of gun ownership. People say that about someone entering their house with criminal intent. They were talking about a teenage girl as if she was a criminal.

    And another thing I can’t believe never came up. Better hope that neither Priscilla nor either of her parents is a visible minority. And that she wasn’t adopted by her two moms or two dads. There’s quite a few ways for even a basic cold-shouldering to be taken more personally and as a full aggression, not a micro-aggression. That no one thought of that confirms that I didn’t get out of that echo chamber soon enough.

    1. Mid*

      In an At-will state, absolutely they could be fired for that. But they could be fired because the boss didn’t like their new car, the boss didn’t like how they made coffee, or anything else.

    2. ferrina*

      Could be fired, but likely not. It’s more likely the reprecussions would be subtle- Patty would not be welcome at social events, and her husband might be tarred with the same brush. He could find himself left out of informal get togethers (if we made if formal we’d have to invite Patty. Ugh.). He wouldn’t get the same informal connections.

      See also: the AAM about the husband who took pictures of the interviewer that his wife was meeting for a job interview (there’s a great series of updates- the lapse in judgement about her husband raised flags in other areas, and she eventually lost out on the job offer)

      If it makes you feel better, picture Priscilla in 20 years as the CEO of a start-up that has changed the world, and Patty trying to make nice with her.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        “Patty would not be welcome at social events…if we made if formal we’d have to invite Patty. Ugh.”

        That might not even bother some people. One of the harpies posted, “Hey, if the kid acts up, she’ll be doing Patty a favor. That’ll be her get-out-of-hostessing-free card from then on. Let her hubby’s cheap-ass boss make a reservation at Olive Garden!” But it sure would bother Chuck. Which no one in the thread thought about. And I love your scenario of Patty groveling to CEO Priscilla!

      2. Abyssal*


        It would take a lot of misbehavior on Patty’s part to get her husband outright fired, but significantly less to make her husband persona non grata at the office and painfully impact his career. This sort of event is pretty old-fashioned and there is a lot to be said about how this reflects patriarchal expectations re: men’s and women’s roles in the office, and there’s a separate discussion to be had about that, but taking as granted that the event is happening and that those expectations are in play, deliberately poor behavior as a hostess would be a big, huge, major deal. The kind of place that’s old-fashioned enough to have this kind of event is old-fashioned enough that this would kill his chances of getting promoted.

    3. RagingADHD*

      The answer to an entirely hypothetical situation that never happened in real life is that anything is theoretically possible in an infinite universe.

      Sure, if the hostess were horrid to a coworker’s family, her husband could get fired. The boss could storm out. A fistfight could ensue. A lawsuit could be filed. Patty could stalk the coworker and threaten violence or vice versa.

      The only determining factor is how wierd and dramatic you want the fanfiction to be.

      In real life, the most likely thing to happen is what actually happened: the husband managed to convey, either directly or indirectly, that it would be difficult to host 9 people with 8 chairs, and the coworkers sensibly chose an alternate activity for their teen.

      The second most likely outcome would be that the husband’s coworkers pity him for being married to a nasty spiteful person, or a raving loon. And that terrible impression casts a subtle but lasting pall over his career prospects by calling his judgment into question, the same way it would if the hostess picked a fight with the guests about any other topic, got plastered, showed up in her underwear, or behaved in any other bizarre and inappropriate way.

      Because nobody should be hosting dinner parties with a spouse who can’t pull themselves together and act civil for a couple of hours. They should take the team to a restaurant and leave the problematic spouse out of it.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        “The answer to an entirely hypothetical situation that never happened in real life is that anything is theoretically possible in an infinite universe.”
        [Apu]He has got me there![/Apu]

        “The second most likely outcome would be that the husband’s coworkers pity him for being married to a nasty spiteful person, or a raving loon.”

        Which is what I was thinking, but I didn’t want to answer my own question. It may even be that Patty didn’t like her husband working for this company, full stop, and this was her passive-aggressive attempt to get him out.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Frankly, as the kid who had to tag along to informal get-togethers with my dad’s coworkers (though never at 15- I was allowed to stay home and read by that age), I didn’t want to be there either! Being banished to the laundry room with my hot dog and water would not have been the punishment these people think it would be (although I would’ve been starving and thirsty by the end of things). The real question is why they “have to” bring along a fifteen year old in the first place- surely she’s old enough to stay home without burning down the kitchen?

      Ferrina’s probably right on the money with regards to repercussions at work. I would be shocked if Chuck’s boss fired him on the spot. It’s legal and could happen, but probably not. The parent presumably wouldn’t want to socialize with someone who’d been that rude to their daughter, and depending on how rude Patty was and whether or not Chuck intervened, the other coworkers might also be less than impressed with him and unwilling to socialize with Patty. Frankly, I’m less than impressed by Chuck now for springing a surprise eight-person party on his wife, but that’s socially acceptable.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        “The real question is why they “have to” bring along a fifteen year old in the first place- surely she’s old enough to stay home without burning down the kitchen?”

        I know, right? We never got an answer, not even a vague one. Probably it’s not that she was such a hellion that she couldn’t be trusted on her own, because that’s likely to be known around the office, enabling Chuck to say, “Are you serious? The same daughter who got into the liquor cabinet at your party and then flashed the guests?” Likewise, if she was exceptionally mature and intelligent and her presence would be an asset to a formal dinner, or if she had some kind of special need that required constant care/supervision, that would be known around the office. Still, asking to bring her (as opposed to showing up with her unannounced) is not So. Unforgivably. Rude. that basic civility is off the table. One of Miss Manners’ rock-bottom rules is “One does not respond to rudeness with more rudeness.”

        “Frankly, I’m less than impressed by Chuck now for springing a surprise eight-person party on his wife, but that’s socially acceptable.”

        It wasn’t a surprise that he sprung on her, though; she had three weeks’ notice. Which was three weeks of building resentment (I don’t recall at what point she was told about Priscilla). They had several yelling arguments, not just about the guest list, but about other details, and the fact of the dinner itself. As worked up as she was, I have to think that some negativity must have shown through at the event, even without the ninth guest as a handy target.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Yeah, it’s not something you can really ask if you don’t know the reason already. I’m glad Priscilla got to go to her sleepover instead, I’m sure everyone involved was much happier with that outcome!

          On three weeks notice, I suspect that the iranian yogurt dinner party was not the actual issue here. I empathize with not wanting to host and cook for an eight-person dinner party, and one hopes that Chuck pulled his weight on the cooking and cleaning and making scintillating conversation, but it seems like the dinner party was the excuse rather than the issue.

          1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

            Okay, can someone direct me to the origin of the Iranian yogurt meme? I did a search, but I only get references, not the source.

            1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

              I mean, I get what it means; I just want to know what inspired it.

              1. Machine Ghost*

                I have never seen this meme before, but the first thing that comes up for me on Google is a 3-year-old reddit post: “AITA for Throwing Away my Boyfriend’s Potentially Illegal Yogurt Collection?” from someone who threw away her boyfriend’s rotting yogurt collection.

                It contains this quote:
                [..] I know that we have trade sanctions against Iran and Cuba, so I don’t know if it was even legal for him to have them? I asked where he got his Iranian yogurt, but he kept insisting “the Iranian Yogurt is not the issue here” and that the real issue was me throwing out his precious yogurts without his permission.”

                1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

                  Ahhhhhhh. I see, thank you. Yes, the issue seems to have been the BF’s hoarding tendency and lack of taste buds!

        2. Observer*

          “Frankly, I’m less than impressed by Chuck now for springing a surprise eight-person party on his wife, but that’s socially acceptable.”

          It wasn’t a surprise that he sprung on her, though; she had three weeks’ notice.

          I’m still unimpressed. The problem is not the “surprise”. It’s that he voluntold her. Sorry, that’s just out of line.

      2. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        “Being banished to the laundry room with my hot dog and water would not have been the punishment these people think it would be…”

        My witchy aunt thought that by specifically excluding me from her witchy daughter’s wedding, she was implicitly telling my parents, and me, a thing or two about a thing or two. In fact, it saved me from having to refuse to go, and gave my mom an excuse to decline that dubious honor.

      3. Observer*

        Frankly, I’m less than impressed by Chuck now for springing a surprise eight-person party on his wife,

        I totally agree. But that would make the repercussion to Chuck’s career worse.

    5. Jora Malli*

      I think it’s not likely the husband would have been fired (remember the letter about the guy who attended a coworker’s wedding and got drunk and punched the groom/his coworker? Even that guy didn’t get fired), but there will probably be social consequences in the workplace. The husband may not be included in as much informal networking as he used to, people may start gravitating toward other coworkers for help and collaboration, that kind of thing.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        My DH, reading over my shoulder, says “I would not want that guy managing other people, or working with clients. At least, as much as that could be avoided. Sure, it’s what his wife does, but if he can’t or won’t shut it down, his judgment is seriously whacked, and his diplomacy doesn’t exist.”

    6. Not A Manager*

      This is less of an employment issue and more of a marriage issue. If things have gotten to a point where the husband coerces or manipulates the wife into performing hostessry for his colleagues, and her response is to set the entire evening on fire, then the real question is which spouse is going file for divorce first. Probably the marriage will end before the job will end.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        Y’all are right. See, it was hard for me to see past the viciousness in that thread to get to the core issue of volun-telling. Plus, I love to cook, and to entertain, so the party would be a fun challenge for me. I can put myself in Patty’s shoes by imagining Mr. Devore telling me that he signed me up for intramural softball. But the analogy still ends there, first because Mr. D would never assign me to do something he knew I couldn’t/didn’t want to do. Or if he did, one of two things: either I could talk him out of it (“When I said I’d be there, I meant I’d cheer for you!”) or he would convince me that this was one of those things in life that just sucks, and then coach me through it, not tell me that he was playing the organ and I’d better dance.

        So yeah, that must have been a pretty toxic marriage. Good thing they didn’t have kids!

        1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

          Can’t ETA here: He would not tell me that he was playing the organ and I’d better dance, and I would not retaliate by taking a gigantic dump on the floor.

    7. Despachito*

      I can see so many wrong things here!

      1) The awful, vengeful, spiteful attitude towards an innocent stranger. These people calling a 15-year-old “it” are completely out of their minds.

      2) If I understand it well and Patty’ husband forced the event on her, that’s awful: who does this?

      3) The parents wanting to bring Priscilla – since when does the guest decide who to bring? (I assume neither Patty nor her husband invited her, given Patty’s attitude towards her).

      I think nobody but possibly Priscilla comes out clean of that. What a nasty bunch.

      I have no idea whether the husband could have been fired over that, but I think this is by far not the biggest problem here.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        “The awful, vengeful, spiteful attitude towards an innocent stranger. These people calling a 15-year-old “it” are completely out of their minds.”

        Yeah, the forum wasn’t like that when I joined. Which I did because I was looking for a place to talk about grownup stuff, esp. women stuff, without fertility, pregnancy and parenting coming into it. For instance, to talk about dieting without anyone telling how they lost their baby weight. NTTAWWT, just that it’s not helpful to someone who’s never had their metabolism changed by pregnancy. Over time, though, people started coming in who mistook it for a place to vent about children and parents. (“My friend/friend’s SO got pregnant, and as soon as the kid was born, they dumped me!!!” “Oh, that always happens.” Gee, I wonder why.) People started drifting away, which means the haters became the majority.

        Some of them — and this is not snark; it’s based on their posts — had fantasies about seeing a child misbehaving (by their standards) in public, and delivering either a verbal smackdown or a good old-fashioned whoopin’, after which the parents would thank them with tears in their eyes, while bystanders applauded and the kid whimpered in the fetal position. Not saying they expected that to come true, but they sure relished the idea.

        “If I understand it well and Patty’ husband forced the event on her, that’s awful: who does this?” Dunno; I couldn’t tell from her posts if he was really forcing her, or if just his asking sent her into a tailspin of passive-aggression. What I wonder, though, is why Priscilla’s parents couldn’t host? That would solve two problems!

      2. Observer*

        I have no idea whether the husband could have been fired over that, but I think this is by far not the biggest problem here.

        I think that’s why the OP left the group.

        1. Despachito*

          The group was definitely horrid.

          But I was referring rather to the situation of Patty-her husband-his bosses. I assumed that Patty must have shared at least some of the group’s opinions, perhaps not as harsh as calling Priscilla “it”, but bad enough to pre-emptively hate a teenager she had never seen before.

          The husband – I feel it is always tricky to invite your boss to your home, and I cannot imagine this without discussing it with my partner first, and if he was not comfortable with it, I’d look for another solution. I cannot imagine forcing it on him, and I wonder how did the conversation of Patty’s husband with Patty about the visit go (we will probably never find out, but still).

          The invitation of Priscilla – again, we will not find out as OP herself said that was not revealed on the forum, but if the parents insisted on having her tag along, they were extremely rude, and if Husband invited her and did not consult it with Patty, it was rude of him (given the circumstances, I do not assume Patty invited her).

    8. Observer*

      And to what extent is an employee responsible for their spouse’s actions?

      If Patty pulled almost any of these stunts, Chuck could easily be fired. And with good reason. Not because he “can’t control his wife”. But because he shouldn’t have had the party if his partner can’t behave like a decent human being. I would say this whatever the genders – If Patty were the employee, and Chuck being the jerk, if it were Chuck and Patrick rather than Patty, or if it where Chere and Patty rather than Chuck and Patty. Because the issue here is not “wife wasn’t wifely enough” but person in your household who you unleashed on your guests is a major league jerk.

      Now, if Chuck were to apologize her in terms of “women, amirite?” that would be a HUGE problem on it’s own. The only acceptable apology would be that he had no idea that his partner (no matter the gender) was going to act in such a ridiculous manner and it’s totally out of character.

    9. Clisby*

      Anybody who brings along (or asks to bring along) an uninvited “extra” to a dinner party – whether it’s a child or a visiting sibling – has already committed a mortal act of rudeness. That doesn’t mean Patty should stoop to the same level, but she would be entirely justified in refusing ever to entertain that couple again.

      1. Clisby*

        And, of course, she would be entirely entitled to say (if asked in advance), “Oh, I’m sorry, we just can’t accommodate an extra person.” If that means the couple doesn’t come – fine.

        1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

          I agree. But it was typical of that group to read arrogant entitlement into a simple request, and to project that the parents wouldn’t take no for an answer. Honestly, the way these people flew off the handle, it’s possible that Patty took a simple, “Would we be able to bring our daughter?” to mean “If we can’t bring our daughter, we won’t go!!!” And I think now I agree with that one poster: *let* the cheap-ass boss make a reservation at Olive Garden.

      2. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        Except, just *asking* is mortally rude? Even if it’s a polite ask, one time, accepting “no” for an answer?

  37. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Professional way of saying “your webinar does not replace my seven years of hiring experience?”

    I am losing my patience with this person.

    1. Mid*

      “I appreciate your enthusiasm but I prefer to rely on my almost a decade of practical experience in the field.”

    2. TimeTravlR*

      More context? Are you being required to attend this webinar? If so, I’d just do it and then say, thank you for that information, and move on.
      If not, say, Thanks, I’ll look into it, and then don’t look into it.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        It sounds like someone attended a webinar and now thinks they have just as much expertise as Eldritch Office Worker does.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        No it’s more “I attended this webinar about hiring and now I think I’m an expert and am extrapolating what I learned to insist we do these three things, two of which are illegal”

        1. quill*

          “Two of those are actually illegal, so I propose we defer to the subject matter expert (me) on that third idea.”

        2. Observer*

          Oh dear! Lean on the illegal part. Because it doesn’t matter who has experience or whose methods are more “up to date” or whatever. You simply CANNOT do illegal things.

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

      “I realize that best practices about hiring change over time, and there are new ways of thinking about Z (or new technology), but my experience in X has shown that ABC is the best predictor of Y. I can give you more detail if you are interested.” If you have external sources of authority to back you up, that would probably help. Is the webinar from a reputable authority? If not, refute the webinar and not the person.

  38. Mid*

    How do you navigate questions about taking a medical leave in interviews?

    I’m currently on a medical leave for mental health reasons, and have been terminated from my job. (Yes, it’s legal, small company, Federal and State laws don’t apply.) I don’t know when I’ll be back to job hunting, but it’s likely to be a rather sizable gap (3+ months.) In the long term, I’m not worried about how this will look on my resume, but how do you answer questions when interviewing at other jobs? The job market in my area and field are very hot, so it would be very strange for someone to job hunt for 3+ months, and I feel like I’ll be asked why I’m looking for a new position after a gap.

    I don’t want to say it was medical leave, because that seems like a way for people to (unconsciously or not) discriminate against me. My family is out of state, so I guess I could say I was dealing with family things, but it would be a lie.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m not sure it will be as strange as you think- plenty of people are making new and different career choices in the wake of Covid. I wouldn’t proactively bring it up, but if it does come up, you can say “I took some time off to deal with a health condition. Thankfully the condition has been resolved, and I’m feeling much better and looking forward to getting back to work!”

      I hop you’re doing better!

      1. quill*

        Yeah, the vaguer you leave it the less likely people are going to think it’s a large ongoing deal. (Personally I’d subconsciously expect either a temporarily disabling injury or long covid at this point.)

        1. Mid*

          Ya know, I do live in a place where people are prone to fairly major injuries (skiing/snowboarding, climbing) so I could probably mention my sports activities and also the medical leave without lying and saying that I had a sports injury.

          1. quill*

            Even if you didn’t, enough people, say, fall in a hole and break their wrists, or are in car accidents, that one time major injuries that prevent you from working for a short period are within the scope of most interviewers’ imaginations.

      2. Mid*

        Thank you! I’m hoping it doesn’t come up but I want to be prepared so I’m not blindsided. I’m fairly open about my mental health struggles in my personal life, but in an interview I don’t want to risk dealing with the stigma.

    2. Littorally*

      I’d just say you decided to take a bit of a break between jobs. While it’s never good to give outright provable lies in an interview, being vague in this area isn’t a bad thing.

      1. Mid*

        That’s also a fair point. I think a lot of people had a difficult few years so it shouldn’t be unreasonable.

    3. NeedRain47*

      They may not even ask… just b/c you *could* have gotten a new job faster doesn’t mean you *have* to. I think if you say “medical leave, things are better now” and do not give them any more details or information. (and if they get nosy, it’s kind of a bad sign about their ability to mind their own business.) I also don’t think it would be wrong to say “dealing with a family situation” or anything else vague and nebulous, since you can’t say “nunya business” in a job interview.

    4. RagingADHD*

      How about, “I felt like it was important to take a pause and really evaluate what I was looking for, and the direction I wanted to take in my career. Fortunately, I was able to do that, and here is what I determined:”

      Then that segues you right into talking about what you like about the position and the company.

      Generally speaking, it’s helpful to steer the conversation when there’s something you don’t want to delve into. Give it a nudge back in the direction that you do want to talk about.

    5. Sacked*

      I got asked to resign last winter and have been job hunting since. Ultimately, I was struggling with mental health and the break from work has been very positive for my health.
      I have had a lot of interviews, and interestingly, many places are not asking about my last job or why I left. Some are though. The questions have included: What prompted your job search? What do you do at X company (misreading my resume and thinking I was still at X company)? And, a handful of variations on “why did you leave/why are you leaving?”
      I am prepared with a line that’s basically, I had a challenging time personally in 2020 and 2021 and needed to take a break and rest and I am now ready to return to the workplace and contribute my skills.
      No one probes more, they seem comfortable to move on quickly from this.
      I would suggest coming up with all the variations of the questions that you might get and just practice how you will phrase it with a similar vagueness. So many people have had life disrupted; interviewers may make assumptions, but there are a lot of very understandable assumptions (childcare, eldercare, long covid, grief, who knows..).

  39. WomEngineer*

    Someone in today’s “four answers” post asked about the ethics of sharing interview questions, and it reminded me of a similar experience.

    I had a 3rd party recruiter share sample Teapot Co. interview questions with me and ask me to share mine as well. These were technical questions (how to set up a FEA analysis, how to address manufacturing defects, etc.) that a strong candidate could figure out on their own, but someone with prior knowledge would have an advantage. There were also comments about which interviewer asked which questions.

    I know the recruiter has worked with Teapot Co. for a while and that they earn a commissions for accepted offers. Still, is it normal for recruiters to collect/share background info like this?

    1. irene adler*

      Yes. They want every advantage for their candidate.
      They also debrief their candidates after they complete the interview to get what questions were asked and add these to their “knowledge base” of their client.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Notes on individual interviewers is a little more detailed than normal, but absolutely recruiters will collect any information they can to give their candidates a leg up. It can also give them a better read on who the right candidate is.

      For instance, I once had a terrible interview experience where it became clear that while they’d advertised for a fairly generic software developer role, what they really wanted was someone with experience writing database engines. By letting the recruiter know that, hopefully I spared someone else going through what I did.

  40. Karen Carpenter Fan*

    Wonder if the time allocation in your job description is accurate? Do you feel you’re all over the place but can’t prove it? Time study it.

    I completed a self-directed time study, with the support of my boss who was equally interested in the outcomes. I am a non-profit gift processing and donor database specialist who also works in prospect research.

    I tracked for 6-weeks to compare the time allocation in my job description with reality. I did it when I had a strong competence of the job requirements/skills so I would have a fair opportunity to measure the tasks. 6 weeks because in reality you can’t track every minute, average 6 hours/day and at that rate you need 6 weeks to track 173 hours or a typical full time work month.

    Surprisingly, the time study came out very close to the job description. 75% gift processing (reports, database management, donor relations, etc); report analysis 20%; and 5% prospect research. It also reinforced my recent change to dedicate one day/week (my WFH day) to report analysis which I can’t get done in the office due to interruptions.

    It also showed my boss that while in the office, I’m toggling between tasks and responsibilities while at home I can focus on projects.

    Outcome: My boss loved the time study and asked two other team members to participate; my ‘mid-line’ boss did it and she learned a lot. My boss also wants to do her own time study to see where she’s hanging out (and it’s not in advancement tasks).

    Honestly, it doesn’t take time and there’s a good, free, tracker online that doesn’t require a lot of set-up or maintenance. It’s great for freelancing and/or volunteer tracking, too (I tracked 600 hours of pro bono work when I wasn’t working in 2020).

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      That is so interesting. Can you share a link to a tool? I have a staff member who insists a certain task (that she doesn’t enjoy) takes up too much of her time. I’ve asked for some numbers to back up that assertion but didn’t get anything back.

  41. Mgmt training?*

    Earlier this week Alison mentioned the course “Managing to Change the World” from The Management Center. (I’ll put the link in a comment.)
    1) Has anyone here taken that? What did you think?
    2) I’m not at a nonprofit, but a company working on international ‘make-the-world-a-better-place’ type work. Would that be a good fit for the training, or is it really best for nonprofits only?
    3) Any other recommendations for good management trainings?

    The background is that I’m a new manager and my company seems to have absolutely nothing in the way of management training or resources. The atmosphere here is very much ‘learn by doing,’ so sometimes even the idea of wanting an external training on soft skills is a bit pooh-poohed. But we do get a professional development stipend, which I’m thinking to ask to use on some kind of training.

    1. Lida*

      Meh, it’s OK. Probably good if you’re brand new to management and don’t have a mentor slash haven’t had other training or read other books. It’s a good “first step.”

  42. Alice*

    I’m waiting to hear back from some interviews and realizing: I should have made a special email account just for interviews instead of using my normal personal one. I have notifications on my personal email, and I don’t want to turn them off, but the hit of “is this the hiring manager?” “no it’s something else that is important but not about jobs” every time I see a personal email notification is no fun.

    1. Collie*

      I’m not sure what email system you use, but I wonder if there’s a setting you can adjust to look for keywords/relevant email addresses and make the emailer server mark those emails as important?

    2. ferrina*

      Ooh, I know exactly what you’re talking about! It was non-stop anxiety every time I saw an email. I ended up doing exactly what you’re suggesting- I made an email account just for job apps. It is much better.

    3. VV*

      Omg I feel this so much. Currently waiting on a couple of expected job search-related emails plus just the general wonder for the applications I have out there… I try to send stuff off and forget about it, but it’s much easier said than done! Honestly, I like the separate email account idea.

    4. Grace Less*

      Some people look at me like I have three heads, but I’ve organized my life with different email accounts for that reason.

      1. Work – company-provided, only used for work tasks
      2. Yahoo – rewards cards, coupons, online shopping receipts
      3. Hotmail – medical, kids’ schools, tax deductions
      4. Gmail 1 – family correspondence, credit card fraud alerts (push notifications)
      5. Gmail 2 – job hunting (push on during active searches, off during passive periods)

      All tied to my phone for as-needed access

  43. Bad Qs*

    I had a phone interview the other day where I was asked, among other things, what I consider a valid reason for calling out and how many times I’ve been late to work in the past year. The tardiness thing I guess I can understand if they’ve had problems with that but I was really taken aback by the first part. Do they really think somebody’s going to say anything other than sickness/emergency to an interviewer?? I was very tempted to say “None of your beeswax” but managed to resist.

    1. ferrina*

      Sounds like they’re haunted by the ghost of their last hire. That’s a ridiculous question and tells you a lot about them. Run.

      1. Aggresuko*

        LOL, reminds me of the interview where I got asked multiple times if I was able to come back to the office after lunch on time.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Giant red flag for a workplace to avoid. I can’t imagine getting asked this in a first interview.

    2. PollyQ*

      I’m sure there are plenty of bad employees who don’t know they’re bad and who’d be perfectly comfortable saying the ridiculous reasons they consider valid.

  44. Collie*

    Our new manager who started in the fall (after an extremely toxic and also hands-off in a different way manager left, but not before months of retaliation ending in her hitting my car and then denying it despite security camera footage) is too hands-off. Other employees are treating customers like crap, are slacking to the extreme (leaving hours early, not fulfilling basic job duties to the point where customers are complaining to other staff, watching movies while at public service points [not okay in our workplace for legitimate reasons], and otherwise taking advantage of Manager’s physical absence due to their schedule and hands-off approach). I and other employees have brought these concerns to her because, frankly, even while not all of those issues directly impact us — though sometimes they do — the group of employees pulling this stuff just make all of us look bad and it’s embarrassing.

    After a coworker had a conversation about this with our manager recently, we all got an email with expectations from Manager. Manager followed this email up with a conversation with me asking if I’d be willing to enforce these things when she’s not in the building and I’m serving as the person of contact. The person of contact typically does things like responds to emergency facilities issues and serves as the “I want to talk to a manager” manager, but mostly to connect those people to the actual manager. The person of contact does not have any authority over other employees. The person of contact more or less rotates around a particular group of employees. So when my manager asked about me enforcing this, I said no, on the grounds that one of the other people who serves as the person of contact is one of the most egregious offenders of what she listed in the email, that it’s above my paygrade, and that it wouldn’t sit well with my coworkers to be policed by one of their own. Because I’d brought similar concerns to her in the past, but did not go to her every single time I witnessed one of these issues because that would be ridiculous, I did agree to share with her when I saw these things going forward. I’m not thrilled about it, but it seemed like a reasonable compromise.

    We thought she had just started off sort of timid as she got her bearings, but she’s been here nearly six months and seems to be very conflict avoidant and otherwise struggles to actually manage the branch, especially given that this particular group needs additional oversight. There’s speculation that she won’t be around long based on her behavior and (admittedly probably inappropriate) speculation that she may be pregnant, so we also wonder if she’s planning on leaving and therefore is pretty checked out from doing her job a lot of the time with the vigor necessary for this particular situation.

    Add’l info: To be fair, I’m a fixer, so I’ve been doing a little bit of above-and-beyond — but not to the point where I think it’s sensible for a manager to effectively ask me to do her job as described above. I apparently also just give off that vibe. More than a few times, other people in the org have come through and later told me they thought I was the manager. It’s explained to me that this isn’t because I’m telling people what to do or anything like that, but just that I know what I’m doing and am responsible, etc.

    More info: The team is a difficult one with personalities that are challenging. As an example, one person regularly has expressive, upset outbursts that others in the organization visiting from other locations have commented on more than once (including referring to customers with profanity around customers). Another employee evidently complained that they were expected to stay at work for their scheduled hours when they aren’t scheduled to sit at a public service point after the expectations email went out. Basic job duties are not being fulfilled and people are complaining, but often to me. And I can’t say I’m entirely surprised, but I wish they would complain to someone higher up because there are only so many times I can report my coworkers and complain about how they’re not pulling their weight, especially when our duties are somewhat siloed, in a sense (it’s hard to explain without going into too much detail, but hopefully suffice to say entire community populations are basically being ignored as a result of this unwillingness to do the work they signed up to do).

    So — I’m not entirely sure what my question is at this point other than at what point do I escalate to boss’s boss? Do I suggest new manager needs some coaching? Is there something else I can do?

    1. Collie*

      I should add — I’ve gently mentioned to Manager that, you know, she’s the manager and she should feel confidence in doing manager-y things (whatever that thing is in the moment in a given discussion). This doesn’t seem to empower her.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I’d escalate it.

      One, it’s kind of ridiculous to hire someone as a manager but then give her a schedule that keeps her out of the office so much that even if she were inclined to do so she couldn’t effectively do her job, so whoever is above her needs to know that that’s a thing that’s not working. (I’m assuming that Ineffective Manager is not setting her own schedule and can’t be there, not that she’s choosing a schedule herself that keeps her away.)

      But if customers are complaining, it’s hurting business and higher-ups need to be looped in.

      1. Collie*

        That part’s a challenge because part of it is due to religious faith and the sabbath. I’m sympathetic, but it absolutely makes things more challenging. But, it’s also fair to say she spends far more time in her office than I personally think is appropriate, especially given what’s going on.

        I appreciate the nudge, though. I’ve been so torn on when enough is enough.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          She could take that time for religious activities *if* the other stuff was under control. But it’s not. (My boss could leave us alone for a month and we’d be fine because collectively we know how to behave. Your manager has not earned that kind of flexibility.)

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Or she could decide that religion > doing this job and find a position somewhere with less responsibility. She’s not powerless here; she’s not using the authority she has.

    3. Kathenus*

      A few suggestions occurred to me when reading this, which one(s) might work for you are probably situation-dependent, so tossing them out for you to consider:

      1) Most importantly, to me – do not jump in and ‘fix’ any of these things – let there be consequences including unhappy customers, work undone, etc. If you or others take up the slack then manager has even less reason to address the problem, but if you let the natural consequences happen, they become manager’s problem and may help motivate her to act.
      2) When you inform her about ongoing problems, add something along the lines of – ‘these are continuing problems that I’ve notified you about before, what is you plan to improve the situation since they are still happening’?
      3) Escalate, either now, or if after trying one or both of the above.

      Good luck, I know it’s a challenging situation.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Second all of this: Don’t cover for her–let stuff fall apart if she’s letting it fall apart.

  45. Feeling Trapped*

    I’m looking for some advice on how to set limits in regards to job responsibilities.

    I work as an administrative assistant for an academic department at a university, and I’ve been here over 3 years. I am quite over-qualified for the position, but I like working here, have great benefits, and it’s been a nice low-key job to have while I’ve also been in graduate school full time. In terms of staff, the department is on the smaller side, so there’s always been a culture of just stepping in and helping with whatever is needed. When I first started, the position was new, as they were essentially splitting an old position into two. Over the years, my job responsibilities have grown– what was initially just reception, recruiting, purchasing, and basic office help has turned into me taking over travel, alumni relations, and a host of marketing and communications tasks.

    That last thing is where I keep running into issues. We have a marketing/communications (MarComm) team at the college level (think College of Arts; I’m in the department of photography, for example) that is supposed to handle all of our marketing and communications. However… this does not really happen. Our department is largely ignored by the team, and it has been very hard for me to get our MarComm rep to give us the support we need. And, because I do have access to all of the accounts… and am quite good at writing and design (my graduate degree is related)… historically I’ve just taken over a lot of those tasks, because they wouldn’t get done otherwise.

    A few months ago, there was an opening on the MarComm team– the position that, in particular, would work with our department. The MarComm team have always really liked me and my work, and so with the support of my manager and department chair, I applied for that position. I was very excited about this because there aren’t really opportunities for advancement in my position, and I felt like I had essentially been doing this job already. I made it to the final round of interviews, but they ended up going with someone who had more specific design experience.

    I was disappointed, but ultimately fine. When the new MarComm rep started, I set up a meeting with them and my manager so that we could more carefully delineate responsibilities. I would handle our department blog and writing for our bi-annual newsletter, and they would handle our social media and any other design and marketing needs. For a little while this went okay, but now that we’re a few months in, our department is again being underserved by the central MarComm team.

    This is where there’s an issue for me: at times I am asked to step in and work on marketing that is ultimately not my responsibility, and I don’t know how to respond. Additionally, I know a lot of things have started to fall by the wayside (think events not fully publicized) that I could technically step in and help with. Some faculty and my department chair have expressed frustration with this. I really care about my department and the work we do, so this really bothers me. However, I did the work of setting boundaries and outlining those with our MarComm rep. And, frankly, I feel a bit bitter about doing the MarComm work when I know that, if I were to actually be on the MarComm team, I’d be getting paid 10k-15k more per year.

    On one hand, I feel like I could be doing more and could step in and improve our social media and overall marketing and communications. On the other hand, I feel like I’m being taken advantage of when I do work that is far above my pay grade and outside of my job description. It’s possible that there’s a conversation to be had with my manager and department chair about my job duties and perhaps rearranging them and getting additional compensation. However, I also work at a large state university and these things have tons of red tape and bureaucracy, and as I’m graduating with a master’s soon I may not be here much longer (though also I might be… my field is notoriously difficult).

    Any insights/advice?

    1. alt ac*

      Don’t do it. Higher ed is notorious for letting people absorb additional job responsibilities without compensating them. I’m currently doing two major extra things that other people would get stipends or course releases for, and I get…neither. Like you, I care about these things, though, so I’ve taken it on for years. Now I’m resentful.

      This is a problem with the MarComm team, and your leadership should be addressing this with them. If they haven’t already, they should have strategy meetings with your rep specifically to establish a calendar of events, a promotional timeline as well as filler posts that relate to areas of interest for your department. Then if those things don’t happen, that’s another issue.

      Please don’t take this on when there is someone who is already responsible for this.

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      This sounds a lot like me at my job 4 years ago. Basically, you have to STOP doing the job of the MarCom department. Just do the blog and newsletter as agreed. That is it.

      Send the person or people on the MarCom staff things that need to get done for the month in advance, and email and be sure to ‘CC the managers in your department. That way, if they don’t do it, it’s on that department.

      Hi Ms. MarCom,
      This month, [my department] needs the following MarCom items completed.
      >>Social posts for Event A
      >>Press release and signs for Events C and D
      >>Brochure for Thing One and Thing Two
      >>Update website to include new XYZ program description.
      >>Etc., whatever is due that month

      Please send all drafts if they require approvals, and a publication schedule or ETA to myself and Manager #1 and Manager #2.

      Thanks in advance!
      Feeling Trapped

      1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        Resist the urge to step in and fix or do it if this is not formal part of your job duties.
        If your manager WANTS to have you become the MarCom person for your department, they can very well promote you and pay you what a Communications Specialist or MarCom manager gets paid.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      Let me join the chorus saying don’t do it. Having you take up that work makes a very real problem go away. Is there some way you can make sure others (who might be able to do something about it) feel the pain of MarComm not doing their job? Or can you document for a while the things that are not getting done and then argue for reclassifying your job at a higher level to include these tasks? That is more of a long-term strategy, which may not work for your timetable.

    4. Feeling Trapped*

      Thank you, all! This is definitely reaffirming my gut instinct to just not do it. I’ll continue to CC my manager on related things and then hopefully we can have a more thorough conversation about it after the semester is over.

  46. Lioness Rampant*

    I think I’m going to be fired. I’m on a PIP and made a couple big mistakes. I don’t want to get fired, but trying to prepare for what’s likely. Might not be a bad thing in the long run- the people at the company are kind and thoughtful, but also massively disorganized, run purely on institutional knowledge and don’t really do training or SOPs (we send out dozens of external reports each month, and y’all, there is no style guide). It’s been so stressful.

    I’ve got enough savings that I will be fine for 6 months. I think a job search will take 4-5 months in my industry, so I can take a break for a few weeks. What should I do to prepare myself for leaving?

    1. Aggresuko*

      Make sure all of your stuff is packed up/leave the bare minimum that you need at the office. Clear everything personal off the work computer or otherwise move it elsewhere. Be prepared to get kicked out at a moment’s notice physically. Stop recreational spending.

      I’m sorry to hear this is happening to you :(

      1. Lioness Rampant*

        Thanks! Thankfully I’m wfh and don’t have any personal items on my work laptop. I’m trying to figure out if I should take a copy of some of the work I’ve done (just for my own reference- I can’t tell if that’s common in my industry, but seems like some might do it?). I’ve decreased my spending a bit, but could definitely do more.

    2. Miel*

      Alison has written before about an option that may make sense in your position – negotiating a planned amicable departure. This could look like you talking to your boss and saying “it seems that I’m not a good fit for this role; could we make a plan for me leaving this role?” You can negotiate the end date and possibly even what they’d say as a reference.

      You may want to think through the unemployment implications of this option.

      Good luck.

      1. Lioness Rampant*

        Thank you. I don’t want to proactively usher myself out- ironically the things I messed up were completely different than the issues outlined in my PIP.

        I do want unemployment, but I also don’t want a firing on my record. So….not sure if that’s something I could negotiate after my PIP, but I’m guessing it’s both firing & unemployment, or neither.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Is there a way to make it work? I don’t think lack of training or SOPs is an uncommon thing. You may encounter it again. I think it’s worth learning how to navigate that environment, which involves a lot of “one day at a time” mentality so you don’t get too stressed. Were your mistakes actual mistakes or things you just never knew about because they were never mentioned? If its the latter, it is possible you can improve the situation?

      1. Lioness Rampant*

        Most of my mistakes (the ones that got me on the PIP and the ones after) were due to lack of training. I’ve started making my own SOPs, which have really helped (and I’ve shared some of them with other team members, who love them). I’m not the only one on a PIP due to lack of training.

        I don’t know if I can make it work. I’m still working hard and being my best self. I just don’t know if that’s something that my boss is willing to invest in or if she wants to cut me loose and find someone who doesn’t need training.

        One day at a time is great advice. I’ve been so stressed while on this PIP, and now that I think I’m failing, it’s almost freeing (if that makes sense?). It’s still so, so stressful. Any other advice on the stress?

        1. quill*

          At my current job where I’m doing B- work in a role that only accepts A’s, it’s helped me to set a date. I’ll try to improve here but I’m also actively job hunting. I did also drill down to getting my boss to accept gradual improvements, in that every system has approximately 1 million moving parts, so I’m probably going to make a total of 200-500 mistakes on “normal” uses of the system until I find all the things I could mess up and write instructions for them. But I’m no longer doing C+ work in that every use has multiple problems, it’s that most items have one, maybe two problems, so there has been improvement in ways that my boss was not initially checking on.

            1. quill*

              Are there any jobs where a solid B is the middle of expected performance? I don’t think I can be a straight A student as long as Covid exists and takes up some of my allotment of worry.

              1. Lioness Rampant*

                Yeah, this industry def has those. Part of it is that my boss is stretched thin and trying to phone it in, so she wants me to be able to pick up the pieces. An I can’t do that without training, or at least some SOPs! But this company doesn’t do that- they just expect you to figure it out.

        2. DinosaurWrangler*

          “Most of my mistakes (the ones that got me on the PIP and the ones after) were due to lack of training. I’ve started making my own SOPs, which have really helped (and I’ve shared some of them with other team members, who love them).”

          Have you pointed this out to your manager? The fact that you’re writing these SOPs is a very positive piece of info. Have you expressed to your boss that they can’t expect people to read other people’s minds in order to know how to do their jobs? ( I’m sure there’s a more tactful way to say this).
          Also, does your company consider PIPs to always be a k look rad-up to firing? Or do they actually accept that people can improve?
          As for keeping examples of your work, this might be useful if prospective employees want this sort of thing. Be sure to sanitize them (remove client and company names, etc)

    4. The Ginger Ginger*

      So, when I was worried about the company I was working for at the time just flat out folding (like what if I went to work one day and the doors were just locked), I made a short term/mid term/long term plan to help me manage my anxiety around it. Some of it might be helpful, some not.
      Short term
      Day of – I was going home, taking a xanax and taking a long nap.
      The next day, I was going to cancel/update a ton of my subscriptions/entertainment/outgoing payments to stretch my money longer (and I made the list of these while I made my plan). And I would apply for unemployment (had the link pre-loaded in my plan document).
      Mid Term
      I updated my resume in advance so it was ready to go, and I would start job hunting from where I was and continue paying rent etc
      I had a list of free things to do in my area so I could take care of myself and make sure my whole life wasn’t job hunting
      Long Term
      I knew the tipping point of when it would be time to break my lease and take the hit from the contract penalty to move in with relatives to continue to job hunting

      luckily I never needed it, but I found when I was having trouble sleeping beacuse my brain was freaking out about what ifs, I could remind brain of the plan, and that there was literally nothing else I could do to prepare for it unless I wanted to leave the job early, and that definitely helped.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        I should add, I also had a list of questions for HR if needed. So if you think you may go into a firing situation, you may want to have a list of important questions in your phone so you know what to ask even if you go blank – thing like, how long is my health insurance valid for?
        – is there any severance attached to this?
        – what number should I refer people to to verify my employment dates if needed

        etc. You know your situation, so know what questions you’ll want answered, but having them ready so you don’t have to rely on your brain to be firing on all cylinders while you deal with the emotional impact of a firing will definitely be helpful.

    5. Colette*

      I agree with other that getting your finances in order is key, but I’d also suggest you re-think the break for a few weeks. When I worked at a company that was going through wave after wave of layoffs, I knew people who “took the summer off”, and a significant number of them never started again.

      Take a week off, sure, but give yourself a firm deadline as to when you’re going to start looking.

    6. Girasol*

      If there are any folks there who might give you a good recommendation or suggest places you should apply, get contact info from them before it’s too late. There might be folks who understand that you were put in a tough position and be kind about it.

  47. AE*

    Low stakes Q here–a while back I was LinkedIn messaged by a young (mid-20s) grad student from outside my networks asking for information on a former workplace of mine because they wanted to apply to a position that I held when I worked there. We ended up having a half hour call and discussing the skills needed for the job, types of projects, and company culture. I also gave them some suggestions for orgs doing similar work that they might also want to investigate. My initial impression of them was positive.

    Afterwards, they sent me a series of follow-up messages with a number of additional requests. For example, they’d noticed that a job listing at one of the other places I’d suggested had been up for a couple of months, so they asked me to contact the director, who I had worked with at one point but was not particularly close/friendly with, to see if they were “really still hiring.” (I demurred and told them I was not in contact with this person.) They then got an interview at my former company, and messaged me to “Please send them a list of tips” to help them prepare. Not huge networking etiquette breaches, but I was a bit put off by the somewhat pushy and entitled tone, so I didn’t write back right away, and then, because I have the attention span of a hummingbird…promptly forgot about it. (They are a native English speaker from the same country as me, so it also wasn’t a matter of linguistic or cultural disconnect.)

    I didn’t hear back from them again, but I was thinking about this recently and now I’m wondering if I should have got back to them after all, and also maybe have given them some gentle advice about how to approach networking contacts in our industry? As I am all to aware as an AMA reader, a lot of people get really crappy advice about networking and job searching. (Note that this is not an “ugh KIDS these days” issue, as this kind of communications issue hasn’t come up in my networking interactions with other people in that age group. I am in my late 30s.)

    1. ferrina*

      You’re fine. This was a reasonable response, and if the person was as smart as they seem, they’ll be able to figure out what happened and use that going forward to refine their networking.

      The gentle advice is an above-and-beyond thing. Yes, it’s lovely when you can do it, but it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to always have the presence of mind/bandwidth to be able to do this.

    2. fueled by coffee*

      I don’t think you need to be responsible for giving career advice to random grad students you don’t really know well. If anything, I’d just decline these follow-up requests to close the loop. If they’re able to read into it that this is not a great way to leverage their networks, great, but it’s not on you to do that work.

      Them: “Can you ask Director if the company is really still hiring for this position?”
      You: “I’m actually not in contact with Director anymore. But you could email the hiring manager to inquire whether the position is still open before you submit your application.”

      Them: “Can you give me some tips to prepare for the interview?”
      You: “Unfortunately, I don’t really have information about the position beyond what we discussed in our informational interview. You should prepare for it like you would any other interview. Best of luck – I’m sure you’ll do great!”

    3. RagingADHD*

      You should have gotten back to them if you wanted to get back to them.

      You didn’t, so you didn’t. That is the system working as intended.

  48. MechanicalPencil*

    Low stakes, but it bugs me.

    I (F) am on a team that consists of 2 other women and 1 male. He and I are the same level, other two are probably higher in the org/have more power. The guy is a contractor working out of Canada, whereas the rest of us are US based. He’s probably late 20s, the rest of us are 30s+.

    On more than one occasion now, our contractor has said something like “well, girls, how do you want to handle the TPS reports.” I find the use of “Girls” irksome, but I’m not sure if it’s actually a thing, and if so, how to push back on it. Any scripts? Or do I just need to let this go.

    1. AE*

      Yeah, that’s annoying. Would something like, “[pause] Hmm, I’m pretty sure we’re all adults here, but…” work?

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, it’s a thing. I think you can say, in a friendly way, “Hey I’d rather not be called a girl, thanks.” Or you can start calling him “boy” or “kiddo” or something.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I’m 40+ and would have zero compunction about messaging him privately first and pointing out (politely) that “girls” isn’t an appropriate way to address coworkers (or almost anyone). If he doesn’t get that message I’d push back harder and more publicly, but it usually doesn’t hurt to start nicely and discreetly.

    4. Miel*

      I would suggest the direct (polite) route rather than the passive aggressive route. Good luck!

    5. ferrina*

      Be direct! I’d start with “hey, I’d rather not be not be called ‘girl’, thanks! For those TPS reports, we can have those ready by …” The quick change of subject will allow him to save face and doesn’t leave an opportunity for argument or silly justifications (cuz no one has time for that)
      That might be all it takes.

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      Honestly I would say something like, “well, boy/well, kiddo, we typically do X,Y,Z” and if that didn’t fix it I’d respond directly the next time, with, “Hey, I made a bit of a joke about it last time, but can you not call us girls? It feels pretty odd in this setting.”

    7. Mid*

      I like “we hired children???” in as dramatic a tone as you can muster, making it clear you’re joking but also not okay with being called a girl.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      “Oh, I’m a woman/we’re women” in a cheerful, polite tone before answering the question

      “Not a girl” like Janet from The Good Place

      “Well, boy, what we usually do…”

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      As tempting as it is to lead with “Well, boy…” that has extra connotations which could be problematic.
      First time, I’d message him privately to let him know about your office norms in the US.
      Second time, I’d mention it in the moment.
      Third time, I’d summon the spirit of a Canada Goose and chase him away, honking loudly, waving a hockey stick and throwing TimBits at him.

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      This just came up for me last week. Verbatim: “We are not ‘the girls’. We are adult professionals.”
      That part of the conversation went fine, and in the aftermath we have been referred to either by our names or our roles. (I.e, “can you ask the Llama Wranglers when they expect to complete this week’s report?”)
      I’d say the direct approach is the way to go.
      (The rest of that situation is still in progress.)

    11. RagingADHD*

      You can certainly push back if you’re so inclined. I usually respond by calling the person “sweet cheeks” or “baby doll.”

      Never had negative fallout, never had to do it twice.

    12. Texan In Exile*

      It is a thing and yes, push back on his condescension. “We are not girls, we’re women. Call us by our names. If you wish to address all of us at once, ‘you’ or ‘team’ is just fine.”

      What a sexist jerk.

    13. retired3*

      I work for a large multinational company. Someone called me and the meeting leader “girls.” I complained to the C suite. A memo went out promptly and there will be systemwide training. I am in my late 70’s; I’m not putting up with this ***.

      1. linger*

        Once upon a time, I worked with a colleague to describe occurrences of girl(s) and boy(s) in workplace contexts. The singular form was generally intended by a speaker as, and perceived by a recipient as, sexist and demeaning (examples were predominantly girl, and signalled inferior status). Let’s be clear, nobody should have to put up with that! However, uses of the plural forms were more ambivalent. We found both girls and boys being used with a range of other functions signalling solidarity within a team, or used by an outsider to refer to a team (“the girls in Reception”, “the boys in the lab”). Very occasionally we found the plural used more obviously to downgrade a group of higher status, but the referents in such cases were mostly male (“the big boys”, “the four-figure boys”, “the Aussie television boys” [referring to executives making editing decisions]).

  49. urban teacher*

    Special Education teacher with a MPA and lots of volunteer experience with outreach and some event planning. I also have a bookkeeping certificate since I’m a lousy waitress and beginning teachers tend to have 2 jobs.. I started to use the Best Companies to work for in the local newspaper to apply but I’m also hoping to get input in best places to apply for career changers? Fields that may be a good fit? Looking to expand my looking.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Would you be interested in being a payroll or accounts payable accountant? Those would be good if you like repetitive tasks and have a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.
      You could also (and hopefully someone with non-profit experience will weigh in here) look at non profits for volunteer coordination type jobs and also event planning. Some large companies have event planners as well. In others it falls under an admin type role. There are also event planning companies.
      Good luck!

  50. Is it hopeless?*

    I’ve been with my teapot manufacturing company for almost 16 years. My boss was recently promoted to a senior executive position and reorganized our department with my new coworker (less than a year) and me as managers to two junior team members – one under each of us. This arrangement is new, under 90 days. Three weeks ago, our boss told us he’s hiring a director to head the department and manage me and my co-manager so that he can more fully step back from our department to focus on his new role (managing both our department and another as well as some higher level strategy for the company in general). This change was a big surprise. My co-manager and I thought we would be absorbing the management duties of our director, but he feels he is still too closely tied to our department (evident in his continued micromanagement of specific items). My co-manager and I have been invited to apply as internal candidates but also told that outside candidates will be interviewed. We both plan to apply, but have asked to see the job description before we do so. I know my boss is already reaching out to external candidates to “assess their interest,” however, no job has been posted publicly, and our boss is dragging his feet and keeps promising and failing to show us the job description for the new role. If you’re still reading, here’s my question and concern: I have a strong feeling (and no proof) that my boss wants to keep me in my current role, because while I’m a manager, my primary function is in creating content and managing processes and other technical details of the teapot company. I’m experienced and knowledgeable in my current role. I’ve been at my company longer than anyone else in my department. Also, I’ve been working on my management skills and have been a manager for four years. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not going to be seriously considered for the director position. It’s making me question everything and keeping me up at night. Any advice? I’ll also take commiseration or stories of similar experiences. Thanks in advance!

    1. BalanceofThemis*

      It’s possible that just because he wants to hire someone, it doesn’t mean her has been given the go-ahead to do it. He can’t show you a job description if one hasn’t been approved.

      It’s also very possible that the intent is to bring in an outside person and leave you and your coworker in the position you are now, so he’s dragging his feet.

      If you know you want a higher level position, the best thing to do may be to job hunt.

      1. Is it hopeless?*

        Thanks. The job has been approved by my grand-boss. I love my work, but I know myself. It’ll be quite a hit if I apply and don’t get it. I’ve already started looking around at other options just in case. There are lots of remote positions, but few local in my particular field.

    2. ferrina*

      BalanceofThemis is right. The best you can do is make clear your interest (which you’ve done) and keep checking in. You may very well be right about your boss’ intentions, but there’s nothing you can really do about it.

      I was in a similar situation a few years back- my boss was leaving and they were looking for her replacement. I was well versed in the politics of the company and knew I wouldn’t get it, but made my interest clear and got a courtesy interview. I didn’t get the position, but I did get face time with the leadership team. I underscored my accomplishments (most of which they weren’t aware of….because they hadn’t bothered to read the resume I gave them) and suggest some initiatives I was interested in pursuing. They were impressed, which gave me the leverage I needed to start a couple new programs.
      I did end up leaving- that place was dysfunctional in a lot of ways. Ironically, I did end up doing my boss’s job because the person they promoted had no idea what she was doing (she had less than half the required experience for the position). I used the responsibility that she offloaded onto me as accomplishments in my resume, and got a new job elsewhere.

  51. Big Huge Promotions advice*

    Hey all — looking for advice from people who have taken significant promotions! I just accepted a step up that “skipped a grade” in our promotions chart — on paper it was fine, but when I landed with my team I realized they’re all 10+ years further in their careers than I am, and had previous roles within this hierarchy tier, where I’m coming into it fresh from a lower-level (though not entry-level) position.

    I would say it’s as though I went right from “grooming llamas under oversight” skipped right past “overseeing normal llama grooming” and got hired into “overseeing champion show llama grooming.” I am nobody’s direct boss but I supervise specific activity and handle the fallout when things go badly off the rails. Everyone has been very supportive and I don’t believe I’ve been hired past my level of competence, but getting my feet under me is proving intimidating.

    – How did you get a feel for your new position, politically speaking?
    – How much specific/dedicated training did you get?
    – What tripped you up the most in adapting to your new position? What would you definitely avoid, if given a do-over?
    – What was the most helpful thing you did? What would you definitely encourage someone to do in this position?

    Appreciate any feedback/advice y’all have.

    1. M.*

      I’m right there with you! I accepted a director-level promotion on a new team within my company last winter. It’s been eye-opening, for sure, and I’m still figuring out how I feel, re: your questions.

      The team has been great, so culturally, that part hasn’t been an adjustment for me. I’m not interested in “ruling” with any kind of an iron fist—even though I might rank higher than some on the team, they’ve been there for much longer than I have, so I deeply respect their contributions and I want to hear what they have to say.

      The issue I’m kind of running into a bit right now is that it sometimes feels as though my director forgets that I’ve only been in the role (and this line of work) for a few months, whereas their other direct reports have been there for more than a decade each. I’m just not at that level yet, and it’s going to take a while. Training hasn’t been the best, if I’m honest. The tools and systems this team uses are much more advanced than I’m used to. But I’m also friendly with the trainer, so if something isn’t clear to me, I don’t feel any qualms about asking for clarity.

      For me, I’m still feeling it all out. I’m not looking to quit right this moment, but I’m also not totally convinced that this is the right position for me. (If I had to say right now, I don’t think that it is, but I also recognize that I haven’t seen the entirety of the position just yet, and I want to give it a fair shake.)

      So, I guess that’s what I would say to you—and to myself: trust the fact that you were chosen for this position, likely among a pool of others. Give yourself the space to learn and grow within it. And you know what, at the end of the day, it really is just a job. If it’s not for you or if you find yourself struggling with it, it doesn’t reflect on who you are or your abilities. You can always find something new that’s a better fit for you.

  52. FuddyDudd*

    Hey everyone! I’m in a bit of a pickle and could use some collective wisdom.

    Last fall, I quit my corporate gig and decided two things: I was going to apply to grad school, and that I wanted to get a job in the non-profit world (I had been in the industry before the corporate job) to get reacquainted with the industry.
    I got a job at a small non-profit, and just a couple months after, was accepted into my dream grad program.
    The issue is that I really, really like this job. I love my team and my boss is fantastic. The org is small, but in a fantastic stage of growth and I’d really like to continue to be apart of it. However… I won’t be able to juggle this full time job and full time grad school at the same time come next fall. The program is designed to be full time, on campus during the day time (it’s not night school), and the job I’m working is decidedly full time.
    Ideally, I’d like to ask my boss if I can stay with the org and either convert my role to part time, or switch to a different role (that doesn’t exist yet?) and also attend my full time program. I understand that the answer might be no, and I might need to resign to attend my program. I’m struggling with how to make this ask. Does anyone have recommendations on language I can use, or been in this position before?

    1. Sunshine*

      Is grad school “just for fun,” or something that would help you in this career? If it’s something that will help you in this career they might be more flexible, but I think that being so new to the company (not even a year), they are not likely to change the nature of the job for you. Depending on how valuable you’ve been in this short time, they might consider creating a new part-time role for you, but in a lot of places it’s really, really hard to do that.

      I think your options are to delay going to grad school until you’re better-established in this job, or to explain the situation to your manager and leave as gently as possible with the hope of being re-hired once you have your degree. They might not be happy that you took the job knowing you were going to bail on them for grad school, but if you leave without burning bridges they might get over it. But in a few years the organization may have changed and it might no longer be the workplace that you love so much now – you mention that they’re in a fantastic stage of growth, which is something that can change. Grad school, on the other hand, will always be there (although having to go through admissions again would be a pain).

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I also like the idea of deferring grad school for a year (or two) and staying in a job that you really enjoy and is exciting to you. Probably because I work in higher ed I feel like it will always be there, whereas really satisfying jobs are more rare. You could still have the conversation about how to juggle but maybe also mention you could put school off for a year (and maybe even juggle at that point once you are a better known quantity).

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Can you/would you want to defer your acceptance a year? You are only a couple months in, you might have more perspective in a year on what you want to do and if there’s a place in the organization you might be able to slot into more comfortably in a smaller role.

      I have been in this position before and basically just laid it out have you have here. “I got accepted to xxx which is my dream program, but I really love this organization and am remiss to leave. Do you think there’s a way we could rework my position so I could do both? Here are a, b, and c possibilities I’ve thought of but I an completely open to other options”

    3. Karen Carpenter Fan*

      It’s always no if you don’t ask.

      Everything you just said is appropriate for the conversation. I assume a small non-profit has no sabbatical options (I’ve been in non-profit for 20 years).

      The question is, will this graduate school experience bring any value to the non-profit such that they make changes for you and you provide something in return? Is the work you perform now at FT as valuable and responsive as a PT role? You should come to the table with a concept of what a PT role would look like for your position and be open to them hiring another PT person to do the remainder. Also keeping your foot in the door as a PT person, will that help or hinder the team?

      You could ask about future opportunities, but we know in non-profit that is determined by the money. Given the economy, inflation, Ukraine, and lingering COVID, those dollars are fragile and unknown. I work in fundraising and our contingency plans are filed under each one. We have a campaign out right now and while performing better than 2021, it’s lagging a bit.

    4. OtterB*

      Since you say your boss is fantastic, I think you’re just up front about it: you’ve been accepted for the full time grad program in the fall, but you love the organization and would like to continue working with them if there’s some way to make it work for both of you. You’re thinking along the lines of converting your role to part time, or possibly switching to a new role as [something the organization needs that fits your skills and interests], but you’re open to anything that fits your constraints of [amount of time you think you could work, times you’d be unavailable because of class, etc.] . Does Boss think this might be possible?

  53. Metadata Janktress*

    I work a jack of all trades position in a small department within a company, with a larger emphasis on a couple of aspects, e.g. llama care, but the majority of my job duties involve feeding the llamas and stall maintenance. (Do llamas live in stalls? They do in this example, I guess.) Originally, my job was temporary due to budget stuff, but both my boss and grandboss didn’t want to lose me so they tried to make another position in the larger company that only focuses on llama stall maintenance. It’s amazing that they were willing to do this, especially since I was about to be thrown into a tight job market even in the pandemic. However, a miracle happened and my department was able to make me a permanent staff member.

    I am really, really happy because I love my job and I don’t want to do anything else. However, I was in a meeting with my grandboss and another colleague regarding stall maintenance and she told me how pleased she was with my work and was really hoping that the stall maintenance position worked out as I would do really well there. However, now that I have my permanent job, I don’t want the focused stall maintenance position! I actually don’t like stall maintenance all that much–I enjoy the llama feeding aspects of my job the most and I deeply enjoy getting to do all aspects of llama care. The maintenance position was really a last ditch effort to keep me employed. However, it’s clear that my grandboss really sees this as part of my career plan and as I probably have the most experience with stall maintenance in my company and the newer aspects of it are novel in the wider profession, I’m realizing it would be expected for me to step into that role, especially since hiring for it probably wouldn’t be the easiest. My boss wants to keep me, but would also probably push me towards this role as there’s likely more pay as well and there’s no way for me to be promoted in my current department. I know I don’t have to take any job that I don’t want to, but is there a way I can gracefully go “no thanks” without causing conflict with grandboss? She’s been in my corner throughout my career at the company and it feels like I’d be rudely turning down a generous gift she gave me.

    1. The teapots are on fire*

      Just say very matter of factly, “I’m so grateful you’ve worked to create this new opportunity of pure stall maintenance for me. It turns out I’ve really grown to love this mixed job of llama feeding and stall maintenance because (blah-blah). No one could be more surprised than I am.” That way if she’s still working on it only for you, she can stop.

    2. linger*

      Possibly couch it in terms of cross-training? “I love that I have a mix of different duties in my current position, and it’s of net benefit to the company that we can all pitch in and cover for each other in all these areas.”

  54. Spessartine*

    I need some advice for how to handle a coworker who’s driving me batty. She is a lovely person and I really enjoy interacting with her on personal terms, but as a coworker I’m losing it. She makes careless mistakes, misreads instructions (or doesn’t read them at all), delays working on things until there’s only one or two days left for me to do my part, and responds to all my instructions on how to do things properly with “yeah” or “mmhmm”, then ignores them. She takes shared instruments and materials from their places and leaves them in her own workspace so I have to go hunting whenever I need them. (She uses them more frequently than I do–but not exclusively by any means.) She rarely cleans up after herself and leaves shared workspaces a mess.

    The difficulty is that while I trained her and am, experience-wise, her senior (by over a decade), I’m not a supervisor or manager or anything of the sort. Just a coworker. In some respects I don’t blame her for every mistake because there was a LOT to learn when she first started, but she never wrote down a single note and it’s been something like 6 months since she was hired. Obviously her work is not all bad–I wouldn’t call any of it stellar, but she gets the job done most of the time, just not in the best fashion. I’ve talked to my boss and he’s frustrated as well, but he’s pretty hands-off and it’s tough because he rarely interacts with her work directly. (Although there have been a few times he’s told her to come get him next time she does a certain thing so he can show her, and she ignored that too. He even got outright upset to her face about a certain thing the other week, and it had zero effect.) We had a lot of difficulty filling this position and had to let someone go right before her for being far worse. I’m worried that if we fire her we won’t be able to find someone else, and, well, I don’t want her to get fired! I like her quite a bit! I just want her to put more care into her work. She left her previous job to join us so that’s a guilt factor as well. I’m also a really non-confrontational, awkward person so I feel partially to blame for my hopefully gentle corrections having no effect.

    The other factor is that if she leaves, all the work she’s doing falls back onto my plate. That’s how it was before we hired her predecessor and it was a lot of stress–just too much for one person, even with my boss helping.

    I’ve always worked by myself before this so I’m at a loss. I know nobody likes to be told they’re doing it wrong–I certainly don’t!–so how do I effectively, kindly handle this?

    1. Aggresuko*

      I’d probably try to work around her/not need her as best I could, and obviously you’re going to end up with all her work on your plate anyway if she’s here or not here. Otherwise I don’t see that you can say anything and your boss trying clearly did no good.

      1. Spessartine*

        Unfortunately it’s impossible to work around her as she handles the first two stages of the manufacturing process and I handle most of the latter ones. 90% of what I work on has gone through her first. From a business perspective it doesn’t make sense for me to take over those first stages because almost anyone can do it with a little training. There are much more difficult stages that only I have the knowledge and technical skill for (aside from my boss, who to be honest isn’t as good as I am and frankly has other things on his plate that only HE can do).

        I think the ideal solution would be to hire someone with a few years of experience in the field rather than someone who has to be trained from scratch, but those people are unfortunately difficult to find in this area.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          You need to make this your bosses problem. Whenever she does stages 1 & 2 incorrectly, send the work back to her, telling her that it is not ready for stage 3. CC your boss as necessary. If this delays a project, that’s on her, and on your boss. As long as you fix the problems, you boss will be fine with it.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think the question Alison would ask at this point is: are you sure she’s been really, explicitly told what she’s doing wrong? For example: “Although there have been a few times he’s told her to come get him next time she does a certain thing so he can show her, and she ignored that too.” Did he actually say “Come get me next time you do X, because I need to show you how to do it,” or was it soft enough that it sounded like an option? And when she did X wrong, did he say “I told you to get me before you do X, and I’m telling you now – DO NOT DO X AGAIN WITHOUT ME?” Because if you’re non-confrontational and gentle, and he’s the same, it can be pretty easy for someone who thinks she knows what she’s doing to just ignore your “helpful suggestions.”

      Also, let go of the idea that telling her she’s wrong isn’t kind or effective. I’m sure she doesn’t want to do her job incorrectly. Or get fired. The kindest thing is to give her what she needs at this point, which is very clear, explicit feedback.

      1. Spessartine*

        Yes, she has explicitly been told! He directly said “come see me next time so I can show you exactly how I want it done.” She did it by herself anyway (poorly). He told her again very directly that it needed to be done differently and that she needed to see him next time, but his tone was not very stern. I admit that I often couch my instructions with phrasing like “if that makes sense”, but I’m clear about what and how it needs to be done differently, and why. But some of her mistakes are complete common sense things that truly don’t need an explanation–think, making a teapot that has a crack or a hole in the side and shipping it off instead of remaking it, or just doing it right in the first place.

        Something else that frustrates me is that she either forgets or straight up lies about inconsequential things. I was explaining something to her and said “I know we don’t usually get X item already set up with Y in it–” and she said “Oh no, I put Y in just before lunch.” I’m 100% positive we got it with Y in it because I looked at it several days ago and noted that Y was different from what we usually do. Or I told her I wanted to be the only one doing a certain process from now on because of an issue with a previous order, and she said “But you did that order too.” I know I didn’t, because it was made with a different material than what I use. I can’t tell if she’s trying to wiggle out of responsibility or if she just pays so little attention to what she’s working on that she doesn’t remember the differences between orders (which is kind of a problem too).

        When my boss got upset the other week (regarding something he’d talked about to her several times) and pointed to X thing and said “This pisses me off” (with further explanation about why), she did fix X thing right away…and next week was right back to ignoring it. So I’m a little baffled. But what you say about the kindest thing being clear and explicit feedback definitely strikes a chord! I’ll make sure I’m firm and crystal clear about things going forward.

    3. Not Fun At All*

      OMG, I swear that was my co-worker for the past 3.5 years. My boss was a lot like yours. I was sooooo frustrated, but figured a body was better than nothing. She put in her notice, and during the time I was working alone, by blood pressure went down and I was so much happier. I am still finding her mistakes, she clearly couldn’t do the job well. We finally got a replacement and she has been here for about 6 weeks, and does a better job than old co-worker ever did!

  55. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Unrelated to my ranty question, a PSA: Our top candidate almost lost her spot by taking really bad advice from her grad school career center and if she takes the job her judgment is going to be in question out of the gate. I can’t be specific for anonymity but yall – career centers are terrible. As AAM readers be a pal to your graduating friends and turn them away from them.