I’m drowning in work, mentioning my dad in a job application, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. I’m drowning in work and don’t know if my expectations are unreasonable

I finally got a job in my field after graduating in 2020. It’s my first entry-level role in marketing, and in the beginning (nine months ago) I enjoyed it so much, but in the last few months I feel my employer is pushing me to the brink of my capacity without a thought of how much work is on my plate.

The best way I can describe the company work style — think of restaurants and then put that into a white collar job. No on-boarding and it feels like chaos constantly. No matter how much I try to keep on top of things, I just don’t have enough hours in the day to keep up. I try to be proactive, create structure, and work effectively but my day/work is constantly interrupted by changes or unimportant or medium important tasks that are always “urgent.” If I ignore the task to work on important things, I’m questioned in the next meeting with my manager if it was done. Or if I do the small task, then it’s bound to be a conversation about why the larger tasks aren’t getting done. Every month the parameters, frequency, and demands of my responsibility grow. I am never once asked “do you have capacity for this?” It’s just thrown to me to do.

It’s causing a huge issue in terms of my mental health. I’m emotional and angry and feel resentful. Last Friday I had to lie and say I was sick because I was up all night stressing about work. Today I got visibly irritated with my manager, which they picked up on. I cried alone in the boardroom after a meeting today because I was so angry for more being added to my plate.

It doesn’t help that the first positive feedback I got on my work was when an unofficial payband scale was accidentally shared with me, exposing that I’m the lowest paid staff member. I finally received a compliment that wasn’t directly followed by a “but.”

Since this is my first real job in my field of education I can’t help but wonder if I’m just being entitled. Is this is the way it always is for most companies? Maybe I’m dramatic and exaggerating the situation? My last job, while boring and not in my field, was at a nonprofit and a great place to work. But I don’t know anymore if they are in the wrong, or if I have just bad expectations for an entry-level job.

You don’t sound like you’re being dramatic or entitled. There are a lot of organizations that function with this kind of chaos and high workload, particularly smaller ones, but the key is what happens when you talk to your boss about your workload and ask for help prioritizing. In a reasonable organization, that conversation will lead to changes or at least clearer guidance to help you prioritize; in a dysfunctional one, it probably won’t. I can’t tell if you’ve tried that kind of conversation that yet but if you haven’t, there’s advice on how to do it here and here.

But you also might be at the point where you’d be better off simply getting out. It’s harming your mental health, you’re underpaid, and you’re crying in the boardroom. (Also, the part about not receiving praise that’s not followed by a “but” is not okay.) You’ve been there a year; there’s nothing wrong with moving on if you’d rather just get out.

Read an update to this letter

2. Should my cover letter mention that my dad used to be a VP there?

So back in the late 80s/90’s my dad sold a patent to a global tech company and part of that deal was they made him a vice president. During his time there he grew the company to such a significance they were priming him to be the next CEO, but due to family-related issues he was not able to take that position, and he had to step down from his VP position altogether.

Fast forward to today and this company posted a job in a field I am looking to get into, and I am wondering if my family history with this company is worth mentioning at all, either in the cover letter or interview process? My dad checked with his old contacts from when he was there, but since so much time has passed he doesn’t know anyone on the current leadership team.

If your dad had contacts he could flag your application to, that would be worth doing. But just mentioning the history in your cover letter would be about your dad, not you, in a letter that needs to be about why you would excel at the job. There’s also a very high risk that would come across as thinking you deserve an interview because of who your father is, even if that’s not your intent. Don’t do it!

3. How soon is too soon to ask for a raise in the current job market?

I recently moved jobs in my industry for a really good pay raise (from $52k to $68k.) Due to the nature of the job market at the moment, I’m having a ton of recruiters reach out to me on LinkedIn with even better paying opportunities. I’ve only been in my position for two months at my new place, but I’ve been getting great feedback. The most recent offer was to interview for a position with a range of $70-80k. Is there any way I can utilize these offers to ask for more money at my current position, or am I still too new?

Too new. Generally you really can’t ask for a raise until you’ve been there a year, or very close to it, unless your job changed in some significant way from what you were brought on to do. You could probably get a way with shortening that a bit in the current market, but asking after only two months will seem like you’re operating in bad faith. You haven’t been there long enough to argue that your contributions have increased, so you’d really just be saying “whoops, I should have held out for more money” … not that different from if the market changed in the other direction and your employer announced they wanted to pay you less as a result. (Then again, I wouldn’t put it past some employer out there to do exactly that, and we’ll probably hear about it at some point.)

It’s just not going to go over well at eight weeks to say, essentially, “Wait, I think I should get more” (especially when “more” sounds like it may only be a couple thousand more, and these are just interview offers, not job offers).

4. My boss has been really awkward since I quit

Last week I gave notice at my job that I will be moving on. We are parting on good terms: I gave over a 30-day notice, and I’m trying to be really proactive about tying up loose ends and transitioning projects. I’m still really engaged at work and doing early morning and late night meetings (with our international teams) without complaint. I genuinely like and get along with my colleagues and believe that I am genuinely liked as well.

I feel that I am doing all of the things I can do to not burn bridges. I am simply moving on because my passion is elsewhere (I am a medical professional in industry going back to medicine).

The problem is that my boss is now really awkward around me. Avoiding eye contact, excluding me from meetings that my team is involved with (maybe this is reasonable since I am leaving, but it’s still affecting some of the work I am doing because I am out of the loop), and very, very awkwardly inviting everyone except me on my small team to grab coffee (even the people who don’t drink coffee).

I’m supposed to meet with my boss discuss how best to prioritize my time left at the company and where to focus my energy. I’m afraid this won’t actually happen unless I chase my boss down because he’s avoiding me. I’m also trying really hard to leave on good terms and not burn any bridges.

I just can’t help but wonder, did I already burn the bridge just by quitting? Should I say anything to clear the air to try to help smooth this transition? Or should I just put my head down and do my job acknowledging that I can’t control or help how someone else responds to my departure and put no more thought or energy into it?

Your boss is being an ass. Resigning a job is an utterly routine business event. It’s not personal, it’s not a betrayal, it’s just a business decision. You didn’t burn a bridge. Your boss might be in the process of burning a bridge with you by the way he’s acting, but this is about him, not you.

And not only is his reaction weirdly juvenile, it’s also incredibly short-sighted since this is the kind of behavior that the rest of your team will see and it’s likely to make them think twice before giving anything more than minimal notice when it’s their turn to leave.

You’re under no obligation to try to smooth things over, but if you want to try you could indeed chase him down for that transition meeting and be aggressively normal and see if that nudges him to reset himself. But that’s 100% optional; if he doesn’t get a transition meeting with you because he’s avoiding you, that’s very much his problem, not yours. (Although if you decide it’s in your interests to smooth things over, that’s a legitimate call to make too.)

{ 269 comments… read them below }

  1. Sarah in CA*

    I have had way too many immediate managers/bosses take quitting personally when it had nothing to do with them. My last one to the point where he didn’t barely talk to me for the last two weeks I was there, after having been there for over five years at a small company where we were like family.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      At my last job, the head of the large govt department pretended that she had no idea I had given notice, never said goodbye, even when prompted by her assistant when the two of them came to my department one day, and I heard later that she was mad at me for not going to say goodbye to her. Like why would I bother my great grand boss who had made it clear we were all just pawns?

      I guess she took it personally.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this. The boss is being an ass. LW, if you can afford it, chase your boss down and say that your long notice period was clearly a mistake and that you’re willing to make today your last day if necessary. Of course, if you can’t afford to do that, keep your head down and disengage emotionally from this manager. They’re clearly taking your business decision to leave far too personally.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        I feel that telling the boss “that your long notice period was clearly a mistake and that you’re willing to make today your last day” would be the LW burning the bridge. Which is quite opposite from what the LW stated they want.

        1. The OTHER Other*

          It might burn the bridge, but IMO the bridge is already in poor shape given the boss’s behavior. This awkwardness is less egregious than some of the reactions to employees moving on we’ve seen here, but still, I would not want to rely on a reference from this guy. Maybe he will grow up by the time that call comes around, but maybe he’ll just ignore it.

          This is yet another instance where the “we’re like family here” culture turns out badly. Someone moves on because they are changing careers and the boss is acting as though they are divorcing one of their kids.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        I don’t think the boss’s passive-aggressive behavior warrants that kind of offer – that’s usually reserved for bosses who are openly hostile/abusive. I think Alison’s suggestion to act aggressively normal is better because it highlights how weird the boss is being despite OP’s every attempt to be professional.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          I agree with Ally McBeal and Mrs. Pomeroy. The boss isn’t being abusive – just immature and short-sighted. So the OP should just do their job as best they can and as professionally as they can, and then move on without looking back.

    3. ecnaseener*

      The family thing was probably why he took it so personally!

      You can’t turn your back on your faaaaaaaaaaaamily /sarcasm

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Mt best friend was part of downsizing when her company was bought. After manager met and gave her the news, s/he (I forget which) never made eye contact again. No communication for two months. Looking away when walking down the hall. So ridiculous.

    5. Seriously?*

      I left a teaching job because my husband got a job 800 miles away. I even stayed to finish the year when my husband left in February and we had a toddler! Yet I was still treated like I betrayed the school after 5 years there. My letter of rec used the word competent 5 times until it sounded like an insult. It wasn’t a healthy place to work.

    6. Birdie*

      I had a boss who, among other things, refused to acknowledge my resignation or communicate with me during my notice period. It was extra weird because we shared an office! Extremely awkward and uncomfortable 3 weeks. People noticed and commented on it. She also very pointedly made sure not to be in the office my last day and did not say goodbye.

      Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m having coffee with a former co-worker, and my old boss walks in. She proceeded to act like we were best buds! Very chipper and wanting to catch up. Once old boss finally left, former co-worker said “Are we in the Twilight Zone? What the hell was that all about?”

      Yes, she was a very dysfunctional and incompetent boss.

      1. AnonToday*

        I had a boss who never so much as said good morning to anyone the entire time I worked for him. He wasn’t abusive but he was not friendly at all. After I gave notice, he sat down and tried to strike up a conversation with me. I definitely had that Twilight Zone feeling!

      2. Carol the happy elf*

        My son did this thing whenever he got hurt; the parent who immediately came to his rescue was “guilty”, so he wouldn’t even look at them, deliberately looking away, with an audible “Hmmph” of immature disdain. (The second parent on the scene was the beloved rescuer.) When one of us left the house without him, he would give us the silent treatment when we got back.
        He was seven months old.
        Did that behavior qualify him for a promotion to boss-man in some dysfunctional operation?
        Just asking.

      3. I'm Outta Here*

        LW4’s boss is being a total ass – and is clearly in good company. Everyone sharing their stories makes me feel less crazy. I resigned from a job last April and from the day I resigned, my boss just stopped talking to me. He would walk into the office in the morning (his was right across from mine), close the door, and refuse to come out or talk to me. When he had to talk to me for work things I was trying to finish up, it was super awkward.

        On top of that, while I had a million things to wrap up before I left (I gave 3 weeks notice), he get giving me complicated projects that were “urgent” and really outside of my scope of expertise. And then he and the other boss kept acting like they thought my last day was a week later, despite my having corrected them *several* times. I remember the first day of my last week, I was like “please remember this is my last week” and they again acted surprised.

        It was a small office, we all got along prior to that. I’m still in touch with one colleague. But the whole experience left a bitter taste in my mouth and my boss for sure burned a bridge with me with the way he acted.

    7. KRM*

      My last boss found out I was leaving through his boss (I had to speak to his boss first about something else and he needed to get the job posting rolling so I brought it up) and I was going to talk to my boss that afternoon at our regular meeting. He 1-skipped the meeting 2-didn’t talk to me for 2 weeks (I gave 3 weeks notice), the Monday of my last week said “X tells me you’re leaving” in an impromptu meeting he decided to have with me over my lunch, then after that awkward 30′ he didn’t speak to me again.
      I had told him that I would leave if they couldn’t transfer me to another department because I didn’t like the job itself (had transitioned into too much automation, not enough of what I liked to do), but he decided it was out of the blue and apparently that I was a bad person.

    8. Chelsea*

      I once had a boss cry and ask if I was leaving because of her. The truth was she was useless but that wasn’t the issue. I told her that I was leaving for a better opportunity and she needed thicker skin if she was going to be a VP. Dozens of people reported to her – I can’t imagine reacting like that if one of my team members quit. I tell them often that I hope they’re happy and want to stay, but I would never want to hold them back, even inadvertently.

    9. I Don’t Know It All*

      I understand. The last place I resigned from I had been there 14 years and I provided 6+ weeks notice of my departure. A senior leader who I worked closely with for more than a decade never spoke to me again.

    10. A Simple Narwhal*

      Years ago I had my boss take my leaving personally when I was laid off.

      She was in tears while I packed my desk and seemed to want me to comfort her (uh no), but a day later the big boss (who was the one who chose to lay me off) called me and pretty much said “so you actually do a lot of work that we need done, how about a month-long contact for you to wrap those projects up”. It wasn’t a bad deal: I got an extra month of pay and benefits, it was fully remote, and I could do the projects whenever I wanted (as long as they were completed by the end of the month) while also taking the time to job search. The contract was explicit that I was to work on only those projects on my own time, and that I was no longer beholden to the old 8-6 schedule.

      I don’t know what snapped in my boss, but the first day of the contract I got an angry email at 9am insisting I call her immediately. I did, and she furiously demanded to know why I had missed that morning’s check-in meeting. I politely told her that I wasn’t on those calls anymore since I was no longer a standard employee and was only contracted to complete my projects, on my own time. She flipped out and told me she still expected me to work and be available 8-6. I again politely told her no, the contract (that we both signed) explicitly said otherwise. She was not happy and hung up on me. I remember being incredibly confused.

      I could go into further detail but that was essentially a preview of how the next month would go, and it sucked. I have no idea why she acted that way, she should have been happy to receive an extra month of work out of me, right? Especially for someone who cried when I left. Despite her best efforts I was able to complete the contract successfully, but she 1000% burned a bridge in that last month – I never want to work with her again, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend her to anyone else.

      So yea, people get weird about change I guess?

    11. Momma Bear*

      I had a manager studiously ignore me, not be interested in any kind of transition meeting, and then not say anything the day I left/when the team took me out for a last lunch. There was little I could do about it. OP, I’d make a list of important folders and passwords, talk to IT about transitioning access to someone else (maybe boss will respond to them) and then walk away clear. I think even if boss doesn’t sit down, you can still mention to your coworker “So I’m not going to be painting the 3000 series teapots anymore. I don’t yet know who that will transition to but just a head’s up that as of x date, that will not be me and you should probably verify the point of contact with Boss when the next set arrives.”

      As an aside it was kind of funny when I ran into him and the team about a year later and everyone was like “Norm!” and he still barely spoke to me/me to him. We just stayed out of each other’s way.

    12. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      One of my first bosses ignored me my entire last two weeks and then simply didn’t show up to work on my last day. She later tried to tank a future job opportunity when I (foolishly) listed her as a reference.

      Silly me, I thought 2 years of exceptional work in a very challenging environment was enough, but apparently I was supposed to stay and take her abuse forever!

    13. Petty Betty*

      When I last resigned, it coincided with the maternity leave my boss refused to tell me about. She did tell every other admin and c-suite person. Just not me. She also decided that my co-irker (office mate and person who was lower in the office hierarchy) was to “keep an eye on” me during her leave and report to her via text in her absence. None of us were sure why, but my co-irker was quite sure (once the shock and betrayal of my “secret job search” wore off) that she was getting my title and pay when I left – she didn’t.
      When the manager did come back from maternity leave (I gave a long leave period specifically because my boss was out and because I had a lot of institutional knowledge, combined with the fact that my contract wouldn’t start for a while) she ignored me and would only communicate through terse emails or through a third party as if she were too busy to talk to me directly. She did not appreciate the c-suite’s insistence on throwing me a going away party and tried to quash it. When she couldn’t, she tried to claim credit for it. It was weird. I appreciated the party, regardless.

    14. JJB*

      I gave eight months notice (typical but on the end of generous), tried not to burn bridges, kept excelling and doing good work, and my immediate boss refused to talk to me, answer my emails, transition plan, etc. I regret even trying to remediate the relationship, as he had my work access turned off days early and then tried to torpedo my career after my last official day (I came back in the office for something and found direct evidence of it in a public location). He then got my grandboss fired for filing complaints and trying to do do the right thing. When someone shows you who they are (especially once you are no longer valuable to their bottom line), believe them. And I’ve also found that sticking around for a while typically backfires and gives people time to ruminate.

      1. JJB*

        Adding to recommend downloading appropriate work files, evaluations, etc (without stealing IP or breaking an NDA or something) ASAP. I’m fairly certain my boss shut off my access early in an attempt to block me from taking my evaluations, employment contracts, work product, etc with me (which in my field you nearly always have to produce when applying elsewhere). I had all that stuff downloaded and triple backed up the moment I realized it was going south and probably should have done it before I gave notice.

    15. LittleMarshmallow*

      While I agree they shouldn’t take it personally, it is true that “people leave bosses not jobs” is a saying of sorts for a reason. Just because a leaving employee doesn’t say it’s personal doesn’t mean it wasn’t (many people say “thanks for the opportunities, it’s been a great journey” to not burn bridges not because they actually mean it). So while managers should behave professionally even if it is personal, I guess I could sort of see why a manager might take an employee leaving a little personally.

      I’m going to throw the caveat out, lest people think I’m a manager that would take it personally, I’ve been a manager and had very talented people leave and never took it personally, but my philosophy is that career moves should be a normal, encouraged, and supported part of life, so I was always supportive of my employees getting other jobs and doing what was best for them. To my knowledge, none of them left because they hated me… and I never took it personally when they left. I’m proud of my stellar former direct reports! And the ones that struggled… well, I hope they’ve found positions they thrive in!

  2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    LW3: Market dependent! There are cities and industries where the pay floor is increasing at the ‘per weeks’ scale. Pay attention to what newer employees are coming on at, and to what similar roles in the area are committing.

      1. Emily*

        If you get offers which are higher and you’re thinking about taking them, they might want the opportunity to retain you, particularly if they wouldn’t be able to replace you for less money anyway.

        1. Katie*

          What is really disturbing is that this is not always the case. Companies have more leeway when hiring someone new than they do when retaining employees. Cases in point:
          1. Brother and teammate plan on hiring people from each other’s team because they could give them more money that way.
          2. Friend left long time company for another job that provided a rather large pay bumb. Company couldn’t match salary. She hired replacement who will be making more than the pay bump!

          1. Emily*

            Yeah. I think they count on the idea that many people aren’t going to leave for more money, so if you make it easier for people get raises while staying, you’d have to give a whole lot of people raises, even though only a few of them were actually going to leave otherwise. I’ve had two employer who were both shocked when I left for more money, even though I’d recently asked for it and been turned down. It was like, guys, how did you think this was going to go? But maybe they’re used to having that conversation with people who just suck it up and stay.

        2. turquoisecow*

          I’m not sure any company would be that desperate to retain an employee who’s only been there for two months and is a newcomer to the industry. If OP had the reputation of being a rockstar, maybe, but even then after only 2 months they’re not likely to even know what OP is capable.

      2. High Score!*

        It’s not too early to go on interviews tho if other companies are offering more. I work with a woman who accepted a position with a company and then was tempted into interviewing with our company. She found she liked the position we offered more and accepted.

  3. MK*

    #1, I don’t understand where Alison gets that OP1 is underpaid, or why the OP talks about being the lowest paid staff member as if it’s outrageous. She graduated less than 2 years ago, this is her first job in this field and she has been there less than a year. Isn’t the inexperienced new employee the logical person to be at the bottom of the pay scale? Am I missing something?

    1. Eagle*

      The OP was shown the paybands and discovered they were paid the least in the department.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        And since they are “entry level” with their first job out of college, and have been there a whole nine months, why would they NOT be the lowest paid employee? It’s not really a point of argument here… or at least it shouldn’t be.

        The OP would be better served by focusing on communicating her workload issues with her managers, and not focusing on the pay band.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Yeah, I was thinking the same thing-it’s only fair that the experienced workers make more than the newbie who is less than a year out of college. Ergo, the the newbie is the least paid. Unless there are even newer and less experienced newbies too?

          A newbie engineer or lawyer might make more than some of the admins, but I wouldn’t expect the same for a newbie marketing person.

        2. Storm in a teacup*

          I took to mean in terms of the amount of work was landing on their plate and what they were being asked to deliver. If you’re working at the level this person seems to be with no support then finding out you’re also paid less than everyone else must be an extra kick in the teeth, even if your position on the salary scale is justifiable.

          1. Triplestep*

            The workload is a problem, but why would a person in an entry level job NOT expect to have the lowest pay? Are there people in the same role hired at the same time or later who are making more?

            1. Your Local Password Resetter*

              But by the same standard, if you have the highest workload you should also expect to have one of the highest salaries of your group.
              Unless everyone else is also chronically overworked (in which case management really screwed up), then it’s quite normal to feel unrecognized over that.

              1. TechWorker*

                … no.. because people take different times to do the same task? If doing high quality work takes person A 35 hours and person B 45 hours, but they’re getting the same done, it does not follow that person B should earn more.

                1. Hannah Lee*

                  And also there’s the “urgent” vs “important” scale, where more senior people might not be the ones jumping to complete urgent tasks if there’s other staff to do it, but presumably they have knowledge and expertise that they are applying to strategize, plan, analyze and execute long term stuff. That’s what the bigger bucks are for.

                  I’m sure sometimes when they are in the strategize, plan, analyze portions of that important work, they may appear to be not very busy to people walking by their office, or who see them roaming the halls chatting with people.

                  Not that every middle or senior manager is worth a bigger salary, but the good ones are. In LW’s case I question it if the managers keep piling work on LW, and are failing to prioritize what’s in the queue.

                  As a good manager once told me: It can’t ALL be both urgent AND important day after day. If you’re acting like it is you’re just reacting, not managing. Choosing what/when to put attention/effort/resources is a huge part of managing projects, others and your own work day. As is recognizing when you don’t have enough staff to do what NEEDS doing, and advocating for more well before your hardest working people flame out and leave.

            2. Rainbow Care Bear*

              It could be that it’s a large company and pay bands are based on tenure. That’s how it worked in my company of 10,000. So in that case, even though LW is a newbie, they wouldn’t by default be the lowest paid in their band if their band is “employees in the 0-2 year bucket.”

              I agree with Storm in a teacup that it seems like the pay is just an extra kick in the teeth.

        3. GythaOgden*

          Yup. I have to say this sounds like my first job out of uni. I was the tiny fish in a massive multinational firm, I had my fair share of scut and crap pay — but it was the sort of job (financial accounting) that could open the door to much more after serving what was an apprenticeship. €10,000 was bad pay, but if I’d stayed there I could well be on €100,000+ twenty years on. Meanwhile my current job caps out below £20k and it’s a relief not to have the stress of accountancy (although I loved my secondment to the firm’s tax office and wish I’d had the foresight to apply there rather than the audit division).

          I did end leaving for the sake of my own health (I am autistic but it wasn’t diagnosed at that point; I fell asleep in the office once during a tough re-entry after a vacation even though my bedtimes were routinely very early), but absent any significant health problems for OP it sounds like a job which they might get used to over time. I had to commute across the capital city of a small country every morning while out auditing.

          It doesn’t mean the company is not dysfunctional, but it could be any kind of entry level intensity and some kind of health issue colliding. OP may want to see whether they could get a better position elsewhere or consider whether they’re in the right field, but they may want to sound out whether this is just a baptism by fire and it would be similar at another company (I believe in my case this would have been true).

          I certainly don’t think OP is entitled or that ‘I went through this so you should too’ (as I said, I was in this situation and totally bailed and am now in a job that is low stress but keeps the lights on) but they need to at least calibrate what they should expect from a job in their field and assess whether they could handle it if this is at all indicative of what other firms are like in their field.

        4. Karia*

          My impression was that OP *had* communicated her workload issues and that nothing had changed. Very common in the marketing industry, and honestly her best bet is to leave. Recommend looking for somewhere with a HR department, and avoiding any startups / family run companies.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            That is where I land. She’s been there just about a year and, given the speed at which hiring can occur, she might not actually leave this job until a full year is up.

            LW, since you have a paycheck, as painfully earned as it may be, take time to really research organizations, pay, and ask around about organizational culture amongst anyone you know in your field, especially peers, since those in entry level positions often bear the burnt of toxicity/bad practices. Brush up that resume and remember to include all the duties you have covered and start interviewing selectively. To partially protect yourself from the badness of your current job, may “Only a few more months and I am out” your mantra.

          2. Marion Ravenwood*

            I echo this. I work in PR, and by far my worst job experience was in a family run organisation of eight people where I was the entire communications and marketing team. There were personal issues exacerbating things as well which didn’t help, but the workload was way too much for one person and I ended up leaving after eight months. Never, ever again.

          3. anonymous73*

            I’m not sure about that. It sounds like she’s said some things in the moment it’s happening, but she really needs to have a “big picture” talk with her manager.

            1. ferrina*

              I don’t think this will be helpful based on the description of the manager (too much on the plate, then chews her out when things don’t get done because there’s not enough hours in the day). This type of manager is churn-and-burn. They want to get as much out of their worker right now and don’t really care about the long-term effects.

              A decent manager that is overseeing new grads knows that they don’t yet have enough experience to gauge a realistic workload and should keep an eye on that for them. At the very least, ask questions about why things aren’t getting done.

              1. Koalafied*

                I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Just because a manager lacks the skill/experience to proactively manage their employees’ workloads and see the problem without the employee raising it, doesn’t mean they lack the empathy or desire to fix the problem once it’s been pointed out to them.

                A lot of managers never got any training on how to manage, so they do that part of their jobs clumsily and inadequately, but still want to support their employees. Marketing in particular is a job where it can be really hard to gauge how long things should take or how many things a person should be able to get done in a week, because it’s a lot of creative work that’s highly variable from one project to the next. The manager is not doing the managing part of their job well, but “bad at managing” DNE “doesn’t care about employees.”

              2. River Otter*

                “ chews her out”

                This is a particular spin on what the OP says. If we take the OP at face value, she says she is questioned and that there is bound to be a conversation about work that wasn’t done. We don’t know the outcome of these conversations or the tone of these conversations, just that they happen. We don’t have any information on how the manager reacts when the OP says that the reason work wasn’t done is because she was doing other work.
                It is reasonable to expect a boss to ask why you haven’t done work that was assigned. The boss probably has her boss asking why assignments aren’t done, and she needs something to pass on. The advice to start having larger picture conversations is good. OP says that her boss never asks her what her workload is. I agree that her boss should be asking, but since her boss is not asking then OP has to start bringing it up. She won’t know the outcome until she tries.

          4. Dona Florinda*

            Being overworked and underpaid is quite normal in the marketing industry, but OP’s workload does look excessive for an entry-level role, and the manager sounds clueless at best.

          5. Gary Patterson's Cat*

            Yeah, marketing roles vary greatly from company to company. They also don’t mention if this is a marketing agency, which is much faster paced than in-house marketing departments.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      That part of the letter was very unclear to me. I inferred from it being mentioned at all that it must be somehow unjust (other recent grads earning more?). And I interpreted the “compliment” given in reaction to that (I’d be very curious to know what that was) to be some kind of “your work is great, so expect a raise”, otherwise I don’t see the link. Again, not very clear, but I don’t think it would change the answer very much.

      btw, you wrote she/her, but I don’t think OP mentions their gender, or did I miss something?

      1. NeevousNellie*

        I don’t know about now, but the standard for the longest time around here was to default to female pronouns when unstated for simplicity sake.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I default to she/her when I write when pronouns are unknown (to counter centuries of the male default) and some commenters have picked up the habit too.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I have noticed that (especially when it comes to mention of generic bosses) and I deeply appreciate it. Very much in favor of countering the male default.

          Somehow it feels different to me when it is about the LW, who is likely to read the comments and who knows they are meant. They may feel weird being misgendered. Also, this is a situation where gender may very well matter (being paid less than peers has a different spin for women than men), so I don’t want to default to one gender in my mind.

          1. BubbleTea*

            If a LW cares about which pronouns are used for them, I’d assume they’d include them in their letter.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              That’s fair.

              I guess where I’m coming from is I also often subconsciously assign a gender to letter writers (often female, because, well, I am female and I project myself into LWs), so I consciously try to check my assumptions in case it matters.

        2. Incoming Principal*

          I started doing this at work too and it makes me feel so great when I talk about a hypothetical CEO, procurement director, plant manager and say “her”. It is so out of the norm where I am from that I give myself a virtual cookie for doing it

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I may have misread the letter, but I thought the LW was saying the pay scale she saw indicated she was the lowest paid of everyone doing her role (and then my brain added in “at a similar skill and experience level”) — and that she finally got positive feedback right after that because they were trying to make up for that. But reading it again, it’s not clear and I may have been reacting to contextual clues that don’t mean what I thought. Either way, my advice is the same.

    4. Batgirl*

      I think it’s significant that the response to the published paybands was not “Well of course OP is the lowest paid because yada yada”, the response was “Oh, that is surprising. Also, it must make you feel significantly shitty enough that we don’t have to be aloof today about your worth. Here’s a rare compliment thrown to you like a bone”. OP describes a culture where people are motivated by making them feel like they are failing and not trying hard enough.

      1. KateM*

        I very much doubt that someone would knowingly give compliments with or without buts depending on how OP’s day has been.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I read it as “oh shit, she just saw that payscale document, I’m going to say something nice about her work to keep her from walking out.”

          1. Trawna*

            Me, too. The whole scenario reeks of my first marketing job where my boss, the owner of the small firm, had perfected a “keep them down on the farm” cycle of building us up to get the maximum work out of us, while tearing us down so we were too demoralized to leave or ask for more money. I still have the occasional nightmare 30 years and several very decent jobs later.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      But we don’t know that OP is the newest person, just they are the lowest person. She saw the pay band and then got the first real praise. I’m assuming this is because she is paid way less than the others on the team. There might even be newer people.

      1. MK*

        Sure, but the letter doesn’t specify. If they said “I am paid less than newer/less experienced/less qualified people” I would understand jumping to them being underpaid, but being paid the least isn’t in itself a red flag.

      2. Heidi*

        I manage a team that is all millennials, mostly those on the younger end, and they all seem to have the opinion that anyone with the same job title should make the same amount of money. That ignores the fact that my experienced people can do more complicated tasks in less time than they can. It also wouldn’t reward longevity in the role and/or experience. I’ve had to engage in some surprising conversations on the topic.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I am in the Gen X/Millennial gap and have a few years background in federal government employment, and *I* expect that people with the same title are paid the same, with variations for years of service.

          1. Wisteria*

            with variations for years of service.

            emphasis mine.

            Everybody with the same job title does not get the same pay check. Experience and performance both affect raises. “People with the same title are paid the same” is an unrealistic expectation.

        2. Purple Cat*

          I’m much older than a Millennial, and I ALSO think that anyone with the same job title should make the same amount of money. If someone is “better” than promote them – at least to a “Sr. Teapot Painter” or “Teapot Painter II” knowing that people don’t necessarily want increased responsibilities. And why should someone who’s 20 years older than me get more money just due to their “longevity”. By that logic, our Admin should get paid more than our CEO because she’s been with the company longer.

          1. londonedit*

            Yes – and from the opposite perspective, I have a job that objectively might be considered as being ‘below’ my skill and experience level. I climbed the ladder, I didn’t like it, I went for a role where I can do a really good job and enjoy my work without burning out. And that comes with a lower salary, because I do not deserve to be paid more than everyone else doing the same job just because I’m 40 and they’re 32. I deserve to be at the top of my pay band and I deserve to have the opportunity to grow in my role and grow into a higher pay band if I want to and if my work merits it, but I don’t deserve more money just because I happen to be older (and yes, by the way ‘millennial’ is not a catch-all term for ‘young people these days’ – the youngest millennials are heading into their late twenties and most are in their thirties/pushing 40).

          2. Koalafied*

            I think that compresses things a bit too much. It’s appropriate to reward top performers and retain loyal employees with vast institutional knowledge by giving merit raises without having to promote them into a new job title to justify paying them a salary that isn’t exactly the same dollar amount as everyone else with their title.

            People with the same title should make similar amounts of money, and discrepancies should reflect their demonstrated talent, experience, and value they provide to the company. Eventually a top performer who’s been around a long time should expect to hit a ceiling, because the work they do has a market value that isn’t infinite. But you’ll lose and/or demotivate a lot of good employees if no matter how well they perform or how much value they provide you insist on paying them the exact same salary as Nellie New-Hire who just started yesterday and Susie Skates-By who isn’t quite bad at their job but is phoning in all their work. Even if you create a “Senior Analyst” or “Engineer II” role – just two levels doesn’t give enough room for growth within a role to be fairly compensated.

            I have personally witnessed this happen in a team of high achievers who began comparing notes on salary and discovered there was little to no correlation between performance and compensation – the people who exceeded all their targets got a 3.6% raise while the people who missed all their deadlines last year got a 3.4% raise. One by one, they all began to question why they were busting their butts and working evenings and weekends to get the job done, when they would get more or less the reward for doing the minimum. Many of them didn’t start job-seeking, but they did stop giving their best effort.

          3. The OTHER Other*

            This is not realistic in any of the places I’ve worked. There are not enough job titles for the many differences in pay that would and should come not just for seniority, but for differences in quality. Most of the companies I worked for had annual evaluations, and raises/merit increases were supposed to be connected to the evaluations–otherwise, what is the point? Exceptional employees get larger increases than mediocre or poor employees.

            Titles should reflect differences in job function and responsibilities, not pay. The myriad different titles that would be required in even a medium-sized organization would be a huge hassle and lead to confusion about who reports to whom.

          4. starfox*

            What’s the general consensus about people getting paid more that have higher degrees? Personally, I think it’s fair to pay someone who spend more years pursuing their field more money, especially if they need less oversight.

            1. Koalafied*

              I endorse a pay bump for getting an optional degree or certification, but it should be a pay bump within the same pay scale that those without the degree or certification are in. Essentially the degree or certification should be translated into an amount of equivalent work experience, so an MBA with no work experience would be paid similarly to a person without an MBA who has 1-2 years of work experience. That gives the employee “credit” for time spent developing their skills in school instead of on the workforce, but recognizes that on-the-job experience is just as (if not more) valuable in a job that doesn’t require any degree or certification.

        3. Nameless in Customer Service*

          “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

          ― Socrates

          1. quill*

            It’s especially rich coming from Socrates “ask annoying questions & corrupt the youth of Athens” the philosopher.

            At least Diogenes would be honest about yelling to get off his lawn as he chased you away from his barrel buck naked.

        4. Snarky McSnarkerson*

          The youngest millennials are 26 years old – the oldest are 41! They were born between 1981 and 1996. If your employees are younger than 26, they are Gen Z.

          Putting this in as a public service announcement because I am tired of people assigning “millennial” to all young people.

          Gen X-er

          1. Heidi*

            I checked the age range before I commented. I manage lawyers. You would have had to fly through undergrad and law school. In my state, it’s a minimum of 9 months between law school graduation and being admitted to the bar. I do not manage the entry level attorneys, but those a step up. They are all millennials.

    6. Purple Cat*

      If you’re the lowest paid person in the department, you shouldn’t ALSO be drowning in work. For me it’s the combination of the 2 that’s the problem.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes, this. Unless the LW is horribly slow at her work and that’s why she’s drowning, it doesn’t make sense that she’s both so low-paid AND so constantly swamped.

        1. The OTHER Other*

          …AND she says she got no training, and gets no support. It’s a trifecta of dysfunction.

          It sounds like a terrible employer, and I hope LW can get out soon, and that her sense of normalcy isn’t permanently damaged.

    7. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Truly, I think the PAY is the least of the issues with LW #1 and not what they should be focusing on if they are struggling with the demands of the job (whether those demands are right or wrong).

      Perhaps they are underpaid, or perhaps that is where the company starts people the first 6 months to 1 year.
      Or the company may need a different skill set for the job and has mis-classified the role and it’s not truly entry-level. I’ve been in some form of marketing for 25 years, and it’s hard to say alone from the letter.

  4. SPB*

    Sometimes bosses are childish asses. Once I gave notice at a job. I did it I’m a reasonable timeframe, and I did it for a job that was better in every way: a promotion of sorts, better hours, closer to home and a place I really believed in. After throwing a hissy fit my boss stopped talking to me. I mean in the ‘turn her back to me when I say good morning’ way. Honestly, made me very happy to be leaving.

    1. T.*

      Places that don’t have a lot of turnover and say more than half EEs over 20 years of service are horrified when people choose to leave. 2 people recently left only a short while after a promotion. Both had better offers, 1 was offered double current salary. Of course they are taking it! SO many people were upset but I really think it’s jealousy. When you decide your low wage job is great for 40 years, you get jealous to hear someone is leaving to do better.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I had one hide from me for my entire notice period. If she saw me, she’d legit scatter off like oil droplets when you add vinegar. It was the weirdest thing because we’d had a pretty good work relationship and we get along just fine now and even collaborate on projects, it was just that two weeks.

    3. Contracts Killer*

      I had the same thing happen. She didn’t speak to me the entire last two weeks I was there. And two bosses later, that boss burst into tears when I told her I was leaving. Super awkward.

    4. Polly Gone*

      Still better than one supervisor I had years ago, who actually threw a stapler when another staffer told her that she was pregnant and would be taking maternity leave.

      1. Nameless in Customer Service*

        They threw a stapler? At someone who was pregnant?? Good grief.

        1. Observer*

          Even without the pregnancy, that should be an immediate firing offense! Being a jerk is one thing. This is another altogether.

    5. raymondholt*

      I had a boss who, the day after I gave notice, pulled me into a conference room and proceeded to tell me that this was a betrayal, I stabbed the firm in the back, how could I do this after everything they’d done for me, and that this was like breaking up a marriage (???), etc. Furthermore, things came up like:
      – I gave 2 weeks notice, he felt I should have given more.
      – I was succinct in my notice conversation and he felt I should have used that time to thank him for the all opportunities I’d be given and so on.

      This was a 30-40 minute rant in a glass conference room. I had been there for several years, grown a ton, and helped the firm achieve a lot of their long-term goals. I had determined that for my own career growth and opportunity, it was time to move on. And while they were having a really big year that I helped them achieve, that two week period was a slight lull in the action so there was time to transfer work and make other plans. Other mitigating factors:
      – I was moving across the country to take a new job to a city I had wanted to move to for a long time.
      – My apartment in our city was being sold so I’d had extra motivation to just move cross-country.

      And, this was a firm where most of the senior leaders had spent their entire careers, so while of course there was some turnover, if you were rising in the ranks, they couldn’t image why you’d move on. And I had previously made it clear I felt there was a ceiling there for me, which they’d done nothing about!

      A few days after the rant (which I pointed out was something I’d anticipated, hence nothing longer than standard notice period), he wrote a beautiful congratulations and “wish them well” email about me to the entire firm. It was probably the kindest, most generous feedback he’d ever shared with me (I saved it).

      All that to say, the two week notice period was kind of wild — some people were really weird and gave me the cold shoulder, but plenty of others were warm and wonderful. I ended up having and really fun last day where I got to do a final skill building workshop (a passion of mine) and had an awesome going away drinks with many lovely colleagues. And, a few years later, I have lightly kept in touch with this old boss (we’re still in the same industry and it’s not that big) – just the occasional text or email and I would say our relationship is fine!

  5. MK*

    #2, I agree that this doesn’t belong in your cover letter, nor will it help your application, and it shouldn’t. At most, if there is a natural opening to mention it during the “social” part of the hiring process, it’s a cute detail to bring up.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Yeah, enough time has passed that the hiring manager will probably just go ‘who?’ followed by ‘so what?’ It might be worthwhile if it was semi- recent but we’re talking 30 years ago. Seems unlikely anyone who remembers their dad will still work there.

      1. Antilles*

        Bingo. “Late 80s to 90s” is a 30+ year gap. At this point, every single person who worked or interacted with your dad is long gone by sheer force of time. The absolute most that could happen would be running across someone who’s vaguely seen the name on the bottom of some old documents or whatever – which falls more under the “cute anecdote” than anything which will carry weight.

    2. OutofOffice*

      I think it could also be part of an answer to the “Why are you interested in working for Company X?” or “What do you know about the work we do?” type of question. I don’t think it would be bad to say something about growing up hearing about the company from their father and tying in something about the growth/changes/new products developed by the company since. Cute, personal anecdote + strong demonstration of where the company currently is.

      1. Tuckerman*

        I agree it could have a place, depending on field? Even in a cover letter. Perhaps as tied into the mission statement? “I’m drawn to Teapots, Inc. because of its ongoing commitment to xyz cause. When my father served as VP in the 80s he would come home and talk about these initiatives and their impact on the community…His stories got me interested in getting involved. In my role as “x,” I… (talk about achievement) and would like to bring my knowledge and skills to Teapots, Inc. to help advance the cause.


          I feel like that is a perfect interview question answer, but not a cover letter topic.

          1. Mockingjay*

            Agree. Present your quals and interest via resume and letter, then bring in the family connection during the interview. But only if you truly think it will support your candidacy.

            1. Tuckerman*

              The purpose of a resume/CL is to get an interview. If you can illustrate your accomplishments and skills through an example or brief anecdote, that can be very compelling and memorable. Show vs. tell. But that’s just my preference, and I understand there’s a subjective aspect to cover letters.

        2. Trex arms*

          I did it once in a cover letter (a one-year gap vs. 30 though) and couched it in humor because I knew nepotism was going to be on everyone’s mind and I might as well attack it head on. It worked out, but the tone and topic was a risk and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.

      2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        Agreed–it would make sense to share that history in response to those kinds of questions. As long as the LW presents it in a matter-of-fact way and specifies that it’s been many years since their father was involved with the company, I wouldn’t think it would come off as entitled or namedropping.

      3. Nameless in Customer Service*

        That’s a good way to spin it. T’m not in this position but I know people who are, so… *takes notes*

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I just feel like mentioning a family connection would come off as requesting some sort of nepotism. I know it would rub me wrong as an interviewer, and might even count as a negative, since it would feel like asserting/signaling some kind of privilege as a legacy.

      1. MK*

        That’s why I said the OP would need a natural opening. If a candidate blurted “by the way, my dad used to be a VP here”, that would come across as you say. But if they mentioned it after being asked how they got interested in the company, it wouldn’t in my opinion. Also, you don’t need to lead with how high up the dad was; I wouldn’t take a casual mention that the candidate’s parent used to work at the company decades ago, at a non intensive stage in the interview, like when being escorted to the exit, as a request for nepotism, just an attempt to make conversation.

      2. Purple Cat*

        I posted a rambling thought on this below, but I think it depends on “how” the LW mentions the connection. I think leading with “My father was a VP” is overbearing, but to say I grew up with family working at this company is a natural connection to why LW might also want to work here. IMO it’s no different than saying “My parents are teachers so I wanted to be one too.”

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          “My parents were teachers” hits different for me than “My family worked here”. I think it because “My parents were teachers” is more invoking a connection to the profession while “I grew up with family working here” is invoking connection to the specific company presumably to gain favor. The first implies an interest and maybe some familiarity with the role while the second feels like pulling a connection, even if that isn’t the LW’s intention. I think I’d feel a little different if the LW was applying for the same profession as her dad and mentioned him working at the company, but if they are applying for a totally different role that is completely unrelated to what their dad did, it feels like trading on family connections. This may just be a me thing, but I might not be the only person who would feel this way.

      3. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        “I don’t know if anyone he worked with is still at the company–it’s been a couple of decades!–but he still speaks highly of Company X and the work you do, which only adds to my interest in the position. I’m really impressed by [segue into something the company is currently doing that doesn’t have anything to do with family connections].”

  6. Mehitabel*

    I know someone who a couple of years ago had her pay cut by something like $20K/year. She had been at her employer for a number of years and was a the top of her pay range. Her newly hired CEO decided that the way to ‘fix’ this (non-existent) problem was to cut her back to the middle of her range on the pretext that she was overpaid.

    Needless to say, she no longer works there.

      1. Water Everywhere*

        Probably this pay cut was designed to push her out so the CEO could cut costs by hiring her replacement at an even lower rate. File under “things leadership will do to inflate income and protect their own bonuses.”

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Ugh, I briefly sat next to an older guy at my first big-corporation job, who was sent into early retirement for that same reason. I moved into a cube next to him shortly after I was hired, and a month later, he was gone. He’d been with the company 30+ years and his annual raises had gotten him to the point where the company told him they couldn’t afford him. At least, I hope they gave him a generous retirement package. This was (hopefully still is) one of the few remaining companies with a pension plan.

      At my current job, we were bought by a big corp. in the mid-2010s, but they let us operate pretty much independently until a few years ago. Then they decided to get involved, in the form of two layoffs in a row, followed by several rounds of “aligning” our benefits with the ones big corp. had (meaning, we had all of our benefits cut, and then cut again, and then again). Then the big corp CEO decided to scare us all half to death by casually mentioning it that the “realignment of salaries” would be next. I was bracing myself for a pay cut and trying to figure out whether to stay or leave after it would happen. Thankfully, they never followed up on it. Probably because we’d been losing enough people already with all the other “realignments” going on.

  7. soontoberetired*

    LW1 – if you are crying after meetings, it is time to move on. there’s way too much stress there. You also have to learn to push back,and show your boss just how much work you are getting, and ask them what should have priority. Some bosses manage workload by throwing it towards someone who’ll push back the least.

    1. John Smith*

      Definitely this. My manager’s manager is skilled at that last sentence (I prefer the term “bullying” to describe this behaviour – some people are pathetic snakes).

      Unless there is something very likeable and unique about this job that’s worth all this stress (and it doesn’t sound like there is)… run away. I’m in a simar position but I’m staying in the job I absolutely love because I know (pray) the cause of all our ills – current senior management – will be retiring shortly.

      In the meantime OP, please reach out to someone you can talk to about your mental health, even if it’s just to get things off your chest. Good luck.

    2. Allonge*

      Yes – LW1, this will not get better by itself.

      Get out would be my first suggestion, but indeed you will also have to gain the skills to manage upwards on your workload (meaning discuss with your boss about expectations and priorities). It’s very normal for a newbie to get more and more tasks, and you will be best served by being proactive about what you can get done.

      But maybe what you learnt here is you prefer a more structured place to work. Nothing wrong with that! We all have different tolerances for chaos.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, it sounds like OP1’s work environment is not great in a lot of ways. However, a lot of employers will just drop more and more work on low-ranking employees and expect it to get magically done. Having the mentality that you mustn’t ever question the amount of work assigned to you (being too diligent) is going to lead you into burnout territory.

        Learning to push back and to work with your supervisor (if they’re reasonable – though it sounds like your current one isn’t) to set priorities is one of the most useful career skills you can learn. But it sounds like OP1’s manager is lousy at communicating priorities and managing their workload. Pushing back might not get you anywhere with this employer, but it might be worth trying just to get some practice at doing it.

    3. bamcheeks*

      You also have to learn to push back,and show your boss just how much work you are getting, and ask them what should have priority

      This is absolutely true, but there is sooooo much difference between learning that in a place which is actively teaching those skills and supporting you to develop them vs. learning as a self-defence mechanism because you’re drowning and calling in sick because you’re so stressed. LW, it’s absolutely the case that these are important skills, but don’t feel bad about yourself for not having them already OR for not being able to learn them in this atmosphere.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Great point! Leaving now and learning that skill in a healthier environment is absolutely a good outcome.

      2. ferrina*

        Yes! Just like all skills, this one is faster to learn when someone is supporting you. I’ve managed plenty of new grads, and they just don’t have the experience to know how to balance a workload. This is normal. You shouldn’t be expected to be good at something that you don’t have experience in and were never trained for. As a manager, I see it as part of my job to keep an eye on their workload and proactively check in about it, coaching them about how to add buffer time and tell me what the time trade-offs are when we pivot on priorities.

      3. BigHairNoHeart*

        Thank you for saying this! I relate to this OP so hard because I worked in an incredibly bad environment in my first job out of college. And it was sometimes frustrating to get advice about learning to manage up because after struggling to implement the advice a few times, I just realized it would never work! My boss didn’t care if I had competing priorities and could use his help to solve them. No way of wording it would have gotten through to him, he just wanted me to do my work and never ask questions or push back at all. I’ve learned a lot more about how to do these kinds of things since switching jobs and having more reasonable managers–but I honestly think it’s almost impossible to learn a skill like this in the wrong environment.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      LW1, Even us more experienced workers have a hard time with shifting priorities. When you are told that everything is #1, that is one of the more helpful statements that I have ever heard /s.

      We have just learned to push back more and or use our connections in other parts of the company to make decisions about what to work on. (For me, a chemist, both the production manager and the purchasing manager are my go-to folks. And I also share encouraging results with them as well)

      1. Shiba Dad*

        At OldJob we would have weekly meetings to discuss projects. When we discussed Project A the boss would say it was top priority. Then he would say the same for Project D, etc. I think our top priorities peaked at 6 or 7 one meeting. When we discussed one of these top priority projects amongst ourselves one of us would ask something like “is this priority 1c or 1d?”. Of course, those priorities went out the window if someone from Project B called or emailed complaining about lack of progress.

        This was attempting to at least appear organized but was actually about putting out fires. LW1 is in the same situation. She is essentially a firefighter.

        LW1 – You are early in your career. Learn to push back.

    5. No longer working*

      Even near the end of my working life, with all that experience and knowledge of my industry, I would get overwhelmed with too many things on my plate. The only solution was to make a list of all the things I was juggling and go to my boss or his assistant to ask for priorities. Immediate relief! I can only do one thing at the time even when multiple things are needed ASAP.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Second this advice – start looking, but in the meantime, start going back to them with a list of assignments and questions like “I am working on A, B, and C today, that are all due tomorrow, and will take me 8 hours to complete. I was now also sent X, Y, and Z, that all say they need to be done asap, and would take 4 hours to complete. Which of these six tasks should I work on first, and which can be left for tomorrow, because they cannot all be finished today?” I’ve worked at places like that, and asked those questions. Most of the time, you get an answer.

      As they say, when everything is top priority, nothing is.

    7. ferrina*

      It’s definitely time to move on! More experience at other organizations will also give you more data about where you are now- it’s possible that you need to be firmer about pushing back, but there are also some bosses that flat out will always expect you to do too much and punish you for not having 32 hours in a day. I’ve worked for two such bosses, and they will never change. (They also will deny your request for a Tardis or a Time Turner). The only thing that will make it better is leaving.

    8. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Yeah, when I got to the point in one job of seriously considering crashing the car so I could get some time off then it was time to leave.

      It was for a number of reasons – the boss was toxic, fatphobic, ableist, sexist for one – but another was the horrible workload dumped on me. There was a lot of ‘we expect you to work overtime to do this’ which would be okay in rare situations but this was every day (and this was a software developer but I do not hold to treating your staff like crud because you can’t manage resources. Plan better or get out of the business). If I didn’t do it then errors piled up, customers started shouting, boss yelled at me…

      When I figured out Iwas also being paid about £10k less than the other staff doing the same work I’d already made up my mind to quit. And I walked out the door with no other job to go to but the sheer relief of the stress going was worth it.

    9. Pomegranate*

      OP1, I’d also like to add that you didn’t lie when you said you were sick after feeling overwhelmed with your work and not getting good sleep. You indeed weren’t feeling well. It was mental health-wise rather than physical health-wise, which is harder for us to justify somehow. But it shouldn’t be. Just look, your mental health wasn’t great and it manifested as physical health issue (poor sleep). That’s how it is a lot of the time.

  8. BKK*

    #1 – If you are still new and never receive praise…well, is it possible that you are just slower than everyone else to complete certain tasks? The reason why your managers might keep giving you more and more work could be because they figure something would take, say, 10 minutes to complete and therefore you *do* have the bandwidth for it. But if you are taking two hours to complete 10 minutes tasks (because you are inexperienced / still learning / still figuring out processes etc.) then yes, you end up drowning. I would suggest that you try to figure out if this is the case and if it is: 1) don’t beat yourself up! It’s a totally normal thing when you are new; 2) let your bosses know and ask for more training. Good luck!!

    1. Mid*

      I don’t see any indication that the OP is slower than they should be. Adding more and more work to someone’s plate without ever checking in on them is bad practice. Especially when they’re new. There is no training, according to OP and we take them at their word.

      1. alienor*

        Plus, there are a lot of job tasks where training doesn’t help very much. Step-by-step processes like running reports and submitting request forms, sure, but things like creating presentations, writing marketing plans, etc., take lots of time and practice and feedback to master.

    2. Mangled metaphor*

      It’s not that she doesn’t receive praise, she’s getting the feedback sandwich (or at least half of it)
      “Yes, you did that WXY report really well last week BUT the JKL report was late.”

      (I’m still not clear on how seeing paybands resulted in unconditional praise – I’ll need to reread that paragraph)

      OP1 – how have you been communicating with your manager? Do they know you’re overloaded? Have you actually said the words “I can do X, but it means delaying Y, which is my priority today?”
      If it’s like a restaurant and you’re wait staff asking the chef which dishes go out next, you can’t assume the chef knows how many covers you have. Have you told them?

      1. Jora Malli*

        I assumed it was a CYA move on the boss’s part. Like, “yes OP, you make the lowest salary but at least we appreciate your work!” Except they only truly appreciate OP’s work when they’re worried OP might be upset.

    3. Emmy Noether*

      Mh, I dunno. One of the things that really surprised me when I was promoted to team lead is just how hard it can be to keep track of everyone’s workload. It’s hard to judge how long a task will take, and it’s a lot of work to keep track of the status of all projects, complications that came up, etc.

      Yes, this is part of the work of a good manager, but it takes a suprising amount of time, and a lot of managers that are otherwise slammed already just don’t do it. I do my best to track with meetings and notes and lists, and I also make a point of explicitly asking what else is on their plate when assigning new work, and giving a relative priority of the new task. Even with all that, I’m sure I don’t always have the complete picture.

      A LOT of managers don’t do this though, and I think it’s much more likely, statistically, that management has no clue than OP being slow.

      1. SeluciaMD*

        I agree with this. OP, your manager might just suck or the company might just have a really unhealthy culture around overwork, in which case there may not be much you can do to manage or counteract it. BUT there is a very real thing where people are not able to remember what else they’ve assigned – or, even more complicated – not factor in what they’ve assigned with what other people have assigned (if that’s a thing that happens in your position) and don’t realize they are being unrealistic about your workload or overloading you.

        The place I worked where this was the most true, I wound up getting a very large white board and putting it on the wall next to me and putting like my top 8 or 10 “to do” items or projects on there with deadlines (even if only my own self-assigned deadlines). That way when my boss popped her head into my space and said “hey I need you to work on XX thing” I would turn to my board and go “OK, should I do that before the Y project or after Z?” Her being able to visually see the other stuff I had going on at any given time (all of which she’d assigned by the way) was very useful for her in that it helped her clock the full context of her ask and it helped me because I got more clarity on what got priority and where I needed to put my energy.

        Did it solve the problem? Hell no. Did I still leave that job over burnout? 100%. But it was a short term solution that DID help me manage better for awhile until I could get out of there. This might be a workable strategy for you too, even in the short term while you work on making your move.

        Hang in there and jedi hugs of solidarity if you need them!

      2. Koalafied*

        Exactly. It’s very possible that NTAH – nobody is the asshole here.

        It’s possible the manager is inexperienced and untrained as a manager, so is not great at managing LW’s workload well, and also that the LW is inexperienced and undertrained at her role, so is taking longer to complete work than a more-experienced coworker or predecessor would have.

        It’s possible that these are two people doing the best they can with the tools they have, and that it’s going horribly for both of them because the tools they have are insufficient.

    4. Karia*

      One Drum (marketing magazine) survey found that a *third* of marketing professionals suffered from clinical anxiety or depression, directly due to their workplace. Overloading staff is extremely common; too many agencies operate by churning through young and inexperienced staff who don’t know to push back against these absurd expectations.

      1. Marcella*

        That’s an interesting stat. I believe it. There’s the overloading, there’s the “Oh, you have the easy job” trivializing by other departments, and at some places, there’s the ceaseless criticism by people who know nothing about marketing but think they’re expert writers, designers, social media managers, etc.

    5. Workerbee*

      That wouldn’t make sense unless OP is dealing with an incompetent manager, which is what I suspect is the case.

    6. Jackalope*

      Honestly, though, if the LW is new then she should still get some positive feedback for how she’s doing, assuming it’s reasonable speed- and quality-wise, for her time there. I remember when I was in training for my current position; I got positive feedback from my supervisors for a level of work that would never warn me that now, because I was doing well *for a newbie*, and they recognized that.

      1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        Yes! I wouldn’t expect someone brand new to get tons of praise for their incredible accomplishments, but if I had an entry-level direct report on my team, you bet I’d be looking for avenues for positive feedback–their responsiveness to feedback, their openness to learning, their communications skills, what-have-you. If you can’t find a single positive thing to say about a new hire, you have a big problem. (And maybe the problem is you, not them!)

      2. ferrina*

        Lack of praise instead of saying “you’re not meeting expectations” is a passive-aggressive, ineffective and cruel. I’ve managed plenty of new grads, and when they’re slow it’s incumbent on me to figure that out and get them trained. And seriously, if you can’t find something to praise about someone, that usually says more about you than them (especially when you’re supposed to be the leader).

    7. Wants Green Things*

      If LW has been there almost a year and her bosses still haven’t figured out that she’s “slow” as you posit – which I’m doubting – then thd bosses are incompetent. The whole place overall is a bad fit, and LW will be well served to get out.

    8. Ashloo*

      I had a similar thought in general re: maybe OP is lacking in the skills/knowledge to do this work efficiently at this company, but I think it doesn’t actually matter since she’s not receiving the training/tips/etc from her workplace to excel. It’s still time to leave because she can’t succeed here and that amount of stress is unhealthy.

  9. LisTF*

    In regard to LW2 I definitely agree that they shouldn’t use dad’s old position as the main focus of the cover letter “I’d love to work here because my dad was your VP so interview me”. But I guess I’m having a hard time understanding the line between using networking if dad still knew people there to get their application looked at vs mentioning the family connection as an intro to a letter where the remainder of the content is standard cover letter content to also get their application looked at.

    1. TechWorker*

      I think it could come up in an interview in a semi natural way (not unusual to be asked how you heard about the company/role – if they’re not a household name). I’m not sure how you’d write it into a cover letter in a way that doesn’t have the potential to be interpreted badly.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Because if dad asks Jeff to look at Sam’s application, it’ll be as a personal recommendation of Sam.

      If Sam invokes dad in an application, it won’t be about Sam, but about dad. And it might be interpreted as “Don’t You Know Who My Father Is” which would be a red flag for some interviewers.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Yes, exactly this.
        Sam (to stay with General von Klinkerhoffen’s proposed name) doesn’t have the networking connection, their Dad has (or rather, had, since it’s been so long). If Sam knew someone who works at the company they are applying to, or knew someone who knows someone who works there (which would be the farthest networking stretch I’d recommend they go and is the equivalent of Dad asking Jeff), that that would still be networking. Invoking Dad in the application would reek of (an attrmpt at) nepotism.

    3. KateM*

      How about emphasizing not the father having been VP part, but what caused the father to be made VP in the first place? Is the patent that OP’s father sold still used in that company? Even if it isn’t, can’t one say something like “my father once created a product that your company liked so much you bought the patent for it, and I am interested in creating similar products”?

      1. TechWorker*

        I think bringing it up in conversation comes across very differently to a cover letter? I just don’t think your dads achievements have any place in a cover letter.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, I think I’d also mention the connection in the interview – not stressing the fact that dad was a VP, but more as a response to “why this company” – family connection, long history, always thought company was great since childhood as dad worked there, etc.

          1. londonedit*

            Yes I think in an interview, ‘also my dad worked for Teapots Inc in the 90s and he always spoke so warmly about the company – now I’m following in his footsteps as a teapot designer, I really like the idea of forging a family connection here’ as ONE of the reasons you’re interested in the job is fine (but still, not as the only reason – it has to be backed up by the usual examples of how you think your skills and experience would fit the role). But mentioning it in a cover letter just feels a bit too much like you’re trying to elbow your way in via a bit of casual nepotism.

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        I don’t think I would do that. Why are you mentioning your dad’s accomplishments? They have nothing to do with you. The only reason would be effectively name-dropping because you hope it will make them consider you favorably. It’s unlikely to do that but it very well will be received very poorly.

        Mentioning briefly that your dad used to work there and spoke highly of the company as part of the answer to why do you want to work here, is fine. It’s not about your dad – its about the company.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think to some extent it’s just about sticking to norms. In practice though as well at least one small difference is that if it is mentioned in the letter then the person evaluating the resume/cover letter starts really thinking more about the father than about the actual applicant. Whereas if the father used contacts I think it would be just to make sure the application actually got looked at and not buried and lost in a potentially giant stack of resumes–but then when they actually do look at the application they would hopefully just be thinking about the applicant.

      It’s a small difference but I think it’s there–especially since the father doesn’t actually work there anymore. If the father *was* the actual CEO, then it would be really difficult to assess the candidate without thinking about the father the whole time either way probably. But as a former employee rather than current I think the extent of his influence would mostly just be to make sure OP’s application didn’t get entirely ignored.

      1. LisTF*

        People further downstream have taken this a step further and said that if the OPs application was strong they might even wonder if their father completed it for them which is something that didn’t even cross my mind and definitely not a doubt they would want to be raising. I’m a person with no useful relatives whatsoever so I was thinking that jobs would look at it through the lens that if OP’s dad did meaningful work OP would have a strong desire to live up to that legacy. I didn’t really consider the nepotism aspects of the frat bro stereotype riding on daddy’s coattails.

  10. Batgirl*

    OP1, since you’re not being asked about your capacity, you do need to communicate it. If you get thrown task C, when you’re already drowning in A and B, email back: “I’m at capacity with A and B, which task would you like prioritized?” If it’s two bosses competing for your time, email them both and let them work it out. And once you’ve prioritized, you then communicate the new timescales for the other tasks. Do this every time you’re asked beyond your capacity, even though it will really feel that you don’t have time for planning ahead. The response to this will be eye opening. Either they’ll start to realize your capacity (poor bosses use magical thinking re timescales), or they’ll push back hard on you being forthright and calm instead of embracing the panic they’re using to motivate you. Either way you’ll have an answer when you’re questioned and you know you did your best to communicate professionally. But my best advice is to job hunt.

    1. Sometimes supervisor*

      Was coming here to say something similar to this. I can understand how it feels like your managers must know how much you have on your plate and must be purposely giving you too much work. I felt this way a lot when I first started out but, now I’m at supervisor level, I have to be honest, it’s amazing how often you just have a vague idea of what everybody’s working on or you just plain forget!

      To give you an example: We have somebody on our team who (up until recently) frankly had managed to gain a bit of a reputation for being difficult and not being a team player. It was a case that every time they were asked to do something, they would massively push back and claim to have too much on – but, when asked for specifics (and I made this clear that it was because I wanted to make sure they weren’t working on things which could easily be delegated or could be postponed, not because I was going to retort with “Well, Jane has 8 things on and you only have 6 so you need to do this too”), the answer I’d get back was always quite vague about how it was just a lot of things. We recently did an audit of everybody’s long-term commitments on the team – and it quickly came to light that this person really does have way too much stuff on (seriously, during busy period, they had things which would have had them trying to fit 12 hours of work into 8 hour days) and we’ve been able to make sure their workload is better prioritised, that people know not to pass them anything new during busy period and so on. But I really wish they spelled out what was going on earlier – we could have stepped in to help prioritise long before it hit the 12 hour days point!

      That being said, like Batgirl says, the answer when you do this will be eye-opening. I’ve equally worked places where I’ve said something along the lines of “At the moment, you’re asking me to do A, B and C. I only have time to do two of those so please would you let me know which two to focus on and which one to postpone?” and got back “I need you to do A, B and C”. (My solution was to work overtime and do a half-as-good-as-it-actually-needs-to-be job on all three projects – which I, of course, then got called up on). Only solution then is to start job hunting really. (Sorry)

      1. Shiba Dad*

        In a post above, I likened OP1 to a firefighter. I did this because it seems like her employer is doing what my OldJob did, which was change priorities constantly. In their case it was based on whoever was complaining about lack of progress on their project, so management was “putting out fires”. I’m guessing something like that is happening at OP’s employer.

        Like you mention in the last paragraph, I dealt with this by working lots of overtime. That was six years ago. I pretty much gave up mu summer that year. I left that company at the end of the year.

      2. ferrina*

        I think the key here is that you (as a manager) asked questions. I manage a remote team that works pretty independently, and at every 1:1 I ask about their bandwidth so I have active knowledge of this (which it doesn’t sound like LW1’s manager does- it sounds like they just scold LW1 for not being able to do it all). You also did a workload audit, which is a great idea! When you have someone chronically saying that there’s too much, this is the perfect solution!

    2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      Agree with this. You are beyond your capacity. Write a “here’s what I’m working on, when they will deliver, and my general understanding of priority” list of tasks and discuss with your manager. A good manager will weigh in and adjust based on their knowledge. A bad manager will say “they’re all number one.”

      If you have the first, establish a regular cadence to update the list. If you have the second, start looking for a new job.

  11. Introvert girl*

    OP1, this is me. The only difference is that I’m not a graduate. I’ve been in my new management function for half a year and I’m also drowning as I’m doing the job of three different people. So I communicated it to my direct supervisor telling her I’m burning out with the amount of work. As previous talks about constant interruptions and last minute changes hadn’t yielded any result, I’m coming up with suggestions on what to change to make me function on a normal level. Im creating a list with improvements that I will present next week. If this won’t be doable, I’ll be looking for a new job. Ex: only checking e-mail three times a day, marking myself as “busy” on teams when working on important tasks, suggesting which meetings could be an e-mail instead,….

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I hope others will jump in here. I have the sense that your list of suggestions does not target the real problem.

      Let’s clarify. Introvert girl is the OP #1, right? And the problem is that you are doing the work of 3 people. Meaning others on your team do closer to the work of one person but you are assigned more? Or you all do the work of 3 people? The problem is not so much that you get interrupted more than others or that you have to go to more meetings than others. The problem is you have a lot of work and it is all priority one, you cannot prioritize one task over another. Is that all correct?

      1. I don’t think you can push back on meetings and ask that some be emails instead. I think many ppl have that same feeling but we are not in a position to suggest that. But I do think you can ask if you can stop attending some meeting to focus on the tasks.
      2. I do think you can point to the number of interruptions and that your solution is to mark yourself busy. But if it is your boss interrupting with new tasks, I don’t think they are going to pay attention to your calendar unless that is the norm in your workplace.

      I sounds like the main problem is too much work if it is all priority number one. Others gave some links to Alison’s advice for handling this. Basically, ask in your meeting or when something new is dumped on you — I can do A and B but not C in x time frame, so that’s how I’ll prioritize the tasks unless you have a different way you want me to prioritize them.

      There is some debate here about your pay/ pay scale too. I think you can ask about it! I know you did not mean to show that to me. But now that I’ve seen it, I wanted to ask about policies surrounding raises. How does that work here.

      Or something like that.

      I suspect it is time for you to move on. And you should plan to ask in interviews how work is prioritized when it is very busy. Like: can you tell me about a time when the workload got very heavy for an employee or a team and how you handled prioritizing things?

      Best of luck to you!

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I think Introvert Girl is not actually OP1, sje just finds herself in a very similar position regarding workflow.

      2. Antilles*

        A couple more points about #1 for meetings that you can do even as a junior member of the team:
        -If you have a higher priority / urgent task, you can often get away with skipping them. Or if the meeting is broken in to sections, only attending the part that’s relevant to you then “sorry guys, gotta run to handle a report”.
        -Make the meetings more productive when you’re there. When you get a vague meeting invite, ask for for clarification under the guise of “so I’m prepared…” or something along those lines – this often subtly gets the meeting organizer to actually think through what they want from the meeting so it runs quicker and easier.
        -Try to guide the meetings a little while you’re there. This can be a little trickier depending on the culture, but if you see things going off the rails, you can sometimes get away with asking a question that’s more on-topic to nudge things back on track.

        1. Introvert girl*

          Yeah, I’m not OP, I’m just in a similar situation. I can’t get out of meetings, I have to be in every single one. :(

    2. ferrina*

      I agree with Chilipepper Attitude. These are all process solutions, but the process isn’t the problem (and I know from experience, your boss will likely ignore these solutions or complain that it makes you “hard to work with”)

      I had better luck with outlining my core responsibilities and the number of FTE that it counted against (FTE being a Full Time Employee, or 40 hours per week). So something that averages out to 10 hours per week (even if it’s 20 hours one week and 0 hours the next) is .25 FTE. When you count it this way, it’s not an issue of overtime- it’s an issue of understaffing.
      Then propose that your role include Responsibility A, B & C, which together add to 1.2 FTE (for example). This means that management will need to find someone new for Responsibility E & D, cuz as of tomorrow you aren’t doing them. And give them a time deadline to agree to this, otherwise they may drag their feet indefinitely.

      Ultimately though, this may not work. As Captain Awkward says, “Reasons are for reasonable people.” These folks may just be unreasonable about what your role should be.
      Good luck!

      1. Introvert girl*

        Yeah, I’m working in a newly created team and frankly we’re understaffed, I’ve mentioned this before but like everywhere “there’s is no budget”. I calculated it out am supposed to do the job of 2-3 people which I’m failing miserably.

  12. Green great dragon*

    OP1 I really want to echo the talk to your boss advice. Managers may not know how long things will take (or how long things take you, personally), they may not have a mental list of what you have on and how the deadlines stack up. A decent manager will ask, of course, but yours hasn’t. Raise it at a check-in, raise it when you’re given new work, drop them an email saying the tardigrade helmets are taking a long time so the bumblebee boots won’t get done until next week; is that the right prioritisation? Whichever works.

    This is you doing the most *you* can to ensure you’re working effectively. If it helps, excellent! If you just get told to do more, or you’ve already tried this aand got nothing, you have gained information and can make better judgements about whether to leave.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I strongly agree with this. If you aren’t already tracking all the things you are working on in some kind of spreadsheet or database, but one together and take it to your meeting with the boss. It is possible the boss does not realize just how much work you’ve been given. It is all too easy as a boss to delegate tasks assuming employees have the capacity to handle them without realizing that what was assigned last week is a longer-term project that is eating up a lot of time.

    2. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Green great dragon – just had to comment since I’m wearing a shirt with a tardigrade on it as I read your comment :)

  13. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    “Last Friday I had to lie and say I was sick because I was up all night stressing about work.”
    OP1, this was not a lie. You WERE sick, from stress. OK you didn’t have a temperature, or a broken limb, but you were in no fit state to work. My personal experience is that in this kind of situation, you have to get out, it’s too badly organised to ever be suitable for you.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I picked up on that as well! That’s not lying, that is literally work making you ill.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I really agree!

      Jobs like this can warp your workplace norms, so it’s very good you are writing in to try to suss out your expectations. But jobs like this can also undermine your own view of yourself! If they have you feeling constantly like you aren’t getting enough done and never giving you positive feedback, that can really mess with you. You acknowledge it is affecting your mental health, but it’s also impacting your physical health if it’s keeping you up stressing all night. That is a real problem worth taking time off for. You weren’t playing hooky, you were genuinely taking care of yourself, which is an important thing not to lose sight of!

    3. Butterfly Counter*

      I came here to say exactly this.

      It’s called mental HEALTH. If your mental health is bad, you ARE sick and absolutely can take a sick day without guilt. Easier said than done, I know. But this internet stranger can definitely see that you deserve to take care of yourself.

  14. bamcheeks*

    LW1, there’s a number of things that could be going on here:

    1. there is too much work
    2. there is a normal amount of work, but you haven’t got the support you need in terms of systems and training to allow you to do it at the speed required
    3. there is too much work, and you’re expected to be able to prioritise it, but you haven’t got the support you need to know how to prioritise it
    4. there is always more work, and you’re supposed to push back to your supervisor and manage up and tell them when you have too much on and say no, but you’re not doing that because you’re too new to know how to
    5. there is always more work, and you’re supposed to push back to your supervisor and you have tried doing that but your supervisor isn’t listening or supporting you to do that

    Some of these are problems with the company, and some of them are problems that you might be able to solve yourself in five years’ time when you’re a more experienced and assertive employee who knows how to manage up. If you’re not that employee right now, that’s OK! That’s not a failure on your part– these are skills that people learn and are taught and supported to develop when they enter the workforce. You aren’t born knowing how to do it. (And you know, you might find that even where you’re supported to do it, you hate it and are no good at it! That’s also fine– it just means you screen for workplaces where it’s not necessary when you are looking for work. Knowing this kind of thing about yourself is one of the reasons job descriptions say things like “approx five years’ experience”.)

    So do try managing up– if this is the right place for you, the response is supportive and actually helps you— you know it’s the right response if your workload becomes manageable and you feel better, whether it’s “we’ll sit down twice a month and prioritise your workload” or “let’s get you on some time management training” or “oh no, I had no idea– you’ve got to tell me when you haev too much on!” Any of these could be the right response, but the important thing is whether it works.

    If you have tried that, or you try and it and you don’t get a useful response, it doesn’t actually matter whether the workplace is broken, you manager is bad or whether it’s a functional workplace that just expects you to have skills you don’t already have– whichever it is, it’s a bad fit for you at this stage of your career because it’s not nurturing essential skills and making you feel competent and happy in your work. Don’t beat yourself up or blame yourself for not having the skills or spend too long trying to figure out which it is (you’ll probably know for sure in ooh, about five years when you look back)– the key thing is that it isn’t WORKING and you don’t need to figure out the exact source of the problem, you can just go and find somewhere that does work.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      This is a wonderful summary!
      It does not matter what the source is if it is not working!

      It’s ok to move on just because that would be better for you.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is wonderfully said. OP, please know this isn’t your fault and you should take days off as you need them, sick or not. The weight of this company does not fall on your most junior, lowest paid shoulders

  15. Caroline Bowman*

    OP1 being the lowest-paid entry level employee is not a great feeling, but also not the pressing issue, because as you say, you are very junior and entry level and you are within the appropriate pay band, if only just.

    The issue is that you are being treated extremely badly, used as a bit of a whipping boy (person!) and just dished out more and more and more, with very little by way of constructive help or kudos to balance things out. If you were much better-paid, it might not feel so egregious, so I get where you’re coming from, the pay thing is a kind of last straw ”all this crap AND I’m the lowest-paid” type of feel.

    Very interesting that you got the sole compliment after they realised what you saw. Very interesting.

    Were it me, I’d GTFO. I would find another job, negotiate a slightly deferred start date, and then give as little notice as I was legally able to with no apology and no conversation. If asked specifically why you’re leaving, you can explain, without editorializing, the most egregious of your experiences – literally name one or two, and then thank them for the opportunity, all the best for the future and off you go, to enjoy a week or two of rest and regrouping before diving back into the world of work.

    1. Lauren19*

      I didn’t get the sense OP is the lowest paid entry-level employee, they used the term staff member. And since they only have nine months experience in their field, that seems to be on par. Now if there’s a discrepancy with others in the same role with the same skill and experience, that’s an issue.

      But having seen what others are making, that could be an interesting way to frame the conversation. What does it take to get to that level? Does the org value the ability to get things done no matter their value, or the ability to prioritize and focus on high value work? How your manager answers that will be eye opening. And for the record, the answer cannot be both. Good luck!

  16. Wolf*

    #1, you weren’t faking a sick day – if you had no sleep, you were probably unable to deliver any good work that day, and that should count as enough health issue for a day.

    1. GythaOgden*

      Exactly! There have been days like that for me too, most recently as I was struggling to deal with impending lockdown and the massive exodus from our office to WFH, but also when I was in the OP’s situation in my first job. I wouldn’t do it too often, and I keep OTC anti-histamine sleeping pills in my bedside table, but it’s absolutely a sick day if you’ve been up all night despite everything and can’t face work.

    2. kiki*

      Yeah, I feel like LW is taking on extra guilt here– that was a mental health day, which is considered a 100% valid use of a sick day everywhere I’ve worked.
      And as someone’ who’s learned this the hard way, if a lot of mental health days are needed and they are being caused by your work, it’s time to find a new job. It just isn’t worth it.

  17. Hold on loosely*

    #1 I went through something similar. Federal government job. Was told “the more work you do the more you are given “. I wanted to do a great job so kept pushing until my health suffered. The environment became abusive (an example was getting yelled at because I wanted to eat lunch after 6 hours of working). I had to leave because if I discussed my workload with management I was told I wasn’t a team player. Sometimes there isn’t a fix and you just have to move on.

    1. Luna*

      It feels like this type of management’s definition of ‘team player’ is more one fitting to ‘doormat’.

  18. cal*

    2. Don’t do it! Your dad doesn’t have 1 contact at the company. There is no networking opportunity. This would look bad to many people. My estimation of you wouldn’t be complimentary. Focus on what it takes to enter your field.

  19. Blaise*

    OP1, when I started reading this I was immediately thinking “welp, this sounds a lot like teaching”, so when you eventually said education, I was not surprised at all.

    In our field, you absolutely need to stand up for yourself on a regular basis- to pretty much everyone- children, administrators, parents, society at large. I’m inclined to say that if you’re crying at work, you’re probably somewhere toxic and need a new job, but also… well, as you mentioned this field is very trial-by-fire, so everyone cries their first year. I know I did. It really, really does get better when you know what you’re doing (a little better every year, but by year 5 things should be going more or less smoothly).

    Still, if your boss sucks (and it sounds like she might)… there are better jobs out there!

    1. bamcheeks*

      I had two friends who started their first year in teaching at schools with lots of students with high needs and poverty, who were both horrendously overwhelmed. One of them had leadership and mentors who said, “oof, you’ve got a tough class there. Let’s get you on the classroom management training course, this one’s supposed to be really good. Jill’s going to observe your classes and give you some feedback. Claire’s our Special Educational Needs teacher— we’re going to schedule a regular meeting with her to go over the plans for your students with extra needs, and if I stretch the budget I can get an extra half a week of teaching assistant time. Julie’s actually worked as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant before she came here, so I think she’d be perfect for some of the specific challenges you’ve got there. You’re doing GREAT, by the way. This is really hard!”

      The other had leaders who said, “oof, you’ve got a tough class there. Well, haha, welcome to teaching!”

      It was SO marked that they were going through the exact same things in the classroom, but the support and environment was completely different. Anyway, guess who left teaching after two years and who is now is a leadership position herself 20 years later!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, the school I work at tends to do, “we’ll see if we can arrange some team teaching, might not be every day, but would a second teacher supporting you in the room two or three days a week help? And if Johnny is being particularly difficult we might be able to take him out for some behaviour support or a resource class once or twice a week. Give the others a chance to get some work done without him constantly disrupting them. And you know Billy does best if you give him a reward occasionally. And Seán has a really good relationship with such a teacher, so if he’s acting up, have a word with that teacher; they can usually get through to him.”

        We had a student teacher this year who had a difficult class and one of her classes with them was at a time I was “on the roster,” which means I was down to cover classes for teachers who are absent and if nobody is, I have a free class, so I started sitting in that class whenever I wasn’t needed to cover.

        And I will add that teaching SHOULDN’T be “really hard,” not ALL the time. We all get difficult classes, but if every class is acting up and the leadership is just shrugging their shoulders and saying, “oh well, that’s teaching for you,” it implies a problem with the running of that school. I’ve worked in some schools like that and it…tends to be a management problem.

        That said, I also took the comment to mean “in the field I was educated for,” rather than “in the field of education,” but again could be wrong.

    2. ThatGirl*

      She said she was “in her field of education” which I took to mean “what she went to school for” but I could be wrong.

      1. Parse*

        It think the letter write mixed up drafts, or wasn’t sure if she should obscure personal details, because she says both “this is my first real job in my field of education” AND “it’s my first entry-level role in marketing.” Unless she’s doing marketing for a university, or something.

        1. GythaOgden*

          It probably means her education was in marketing, as in she got a degree in that particular subject.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I think “field of education” means what she went to school for, then. In *her* field of education, not *the* field of education.

  20. I should really pick a name*

    A request to interview isn’t leverage for a raise, regardless of how new you are.
    An job offer with a concrete salary is.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      But it might be an indication that you need to do more salary research so you are prepared to make a case for a raise or for your salary at your next job.

      1. anonymous73*

        It also may be an indication that the job with the shiny high salary isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Salary shouldn’t be the only perk to consider when looking for a job. Yes it’s very important, but if that salary comes with a lot of crappy baggage, is it really worth it? OP is referring to a job in which the lower end of the salary range is only $2K more than they’re currently making and is considering asking for a raise after being at their job for only 2 months. That indicates to me that they are focusing solely on salary, and that’s generally not a good idea.

        1. WellRed*

          Yes I agree. Sometimes people get dollar signs in their eyes and miss the bigger picture or even the value of other compensation.

        2. Cj*

          The OP does seem to be confusing an offer to interview with a job offer. And if they did interview and were offered the job, there’s no reason to think should be offered $70,000 instead of $80,000. $2,000 doesn’t seem words job-hopping after 2 months.

          Since he received a large bump in salary when he took the job, hopefully that means his current job realizes what the job market looks like and he will get a decent raise at review time.

  21. Marilyn*

    I know this is outside of the scope of the question #3 asked, but maybe #3 should consider taking that job. Or anything else she wants to in a labor shortage that is adjusting for her value. As someone who graduated from college in 2008, I am very much (vicariously) enjoying the shoe being on the other foot.

    1. KRM*

      These are just interview requests though! And it’s entirely possible that, because she’s new, that her pay would be at the base of the range she’s been given. Is it worth it to burn a bridge over $2K? Maybe use that knowledge of other payscales to think about asking for a raise at your one year mark (and make sure your work is up to par!), but interviews aren’t leverage. They’re just possibilities.

  22. Luna*

    LW#4 – When I was let go from one of my hotel jobs, I ended up being kept out of any shift-change discussions and was the employee managing front desk during those discussions. It did lead to my being out of the loop on things, meaning I was unable to help guests with some questions.

    Admittedly, I was not leaving on good terms (to be perfectly honest, they let me go before I could hand in my resignation. I jokingly claim that they were a bit faster because the ink hadn’t dried on my resignation yet) and I overall had learned in the three months I had worked there that this place was badly run.
    Bad management, bad direct supervisors, badly run in terms of how things get taught. The not-so-fresh receptionists, like me, were told to teach the newest receptionists what to do. Which, if you were instructed in ways that left big gaps in knowledge, you just pass those gaps on.

    This turned more into a rant than I intended… what I mean is, if the boss is being like this, wipe your hands off it. You did your courtesy of giving notice, you are doing whatever you can to not leave them in the lurch when you leave, etc. If your boss decides to be an immature donkey regarding their behavior towards you in this time, that is on them. If the lack of communication becomes a genuine hinderance to doing your job the last few weeks you are there, bring it up with HR if necessary.

  23. Workerbee*

    OP1, one of the flags that jumped out of me was how quick your manager was to note an expression on your face, yet feel no compunction at piling on task after task while giving little to no direction and expecting them to all be treated as Priority #1. And keep you at the lowest level despite increasing your workload.

    Bosses like this don’t grow out of it (in my experience). Look for a better job situation elsewhere.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      That struck me as well. Their manager can’t/won’t prioritize assigned tasks, assess their employees’ work capacity, assess salary fairness, provide support or direction… but they can nitpick their employees’ emotions.

  24. cardigarden*

    OP1: That’s a really tough situation. Not knowing the type of marketing that you do (client side vs agency side), there are changes you can make/look for if you’re working agency-side. I know someone at an agency on an account where the client was incredibly demanding and shifted priorities in weird ways at the drop of a hat. On top of that, the client was in an area where Q4 was make-or-break for the year, so during those months, we didn’t see them because they were on-call basically 24/7. Fortunately, their agency was big enough that they made a transfer to an account that wasn’t nearly as go-go-go and it was a good change. So if you’re at a big place, you could see if there are openings on other, slower-paced accounts.

    Or, it could be time for you to leave. You’re manager SHOULD be helping you figure out how to prioritize your assignments and support you/ help you grow, especially since you’re new in the field. If they don’t do that even after you ask for help, it’s probably time to look elsewhere.

  25. Work Related Acquaintance*

    LW1, what you’re describing (fast-paced environment, competing priorities, and the tension between the need to develop longer term plans/projects/strategies while being interrupted constantly with tactical work) is really common in the marketing field. I’ve been in marketing 16 years and still deal with feeling overwhelmed sometimes. In my opinion the issue is with your manager – a good manager would understand and offer to help you prioritize, either when new work is being added to your plate, or when they see signs that you’re getting overloaded or burned out. Part of developing in this field is learning how to manage competing priorities and given that you’re relatively early career, your manager should be coaching you through this because it’s absolutely a skill set you’ll need to develop to avoid the burnout that’s so common in the industry. The fact that they’re not acknowledging the work pile on, and are instead scolding you about not making enough progress in some areas of your work, speaks volumes about their limitations as a manager, and how they plan to treat you in the future.

    1. Marketing Bee*

      Coming here to say exactly this. I’m also in marketing, and this type of environment is very common. That doesn’t mean it’s okay! But it might help to know it’s not just you. There’s a reason marketing/communications is often rated one of the most stressful fields to work in.

      That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it though! As others have said, proactively tell your manager when taking on a new task will push something else back. Assuming you’re working significantly more hours than your colleagues, let them know! This may or may not change things, but you have to start by setting boundaries.

      If this doesn’t help, you absolutely have the option to leave, especially in this market (more and more marketing jobs are becoming remote). Agencies are notorious for this kind of environment, but hours are often more reasonable on the client side. Just know that what the above commenter said about learning to manage competing priorities is true – it’s definitely a learned skill, but a good manager should help you with that.

  26. Emily*

    LW3: If there’s a real chance that you are going to leave for more money – which would be totally reasonable – then your employer probably wants the chance to know that and pay you a market rate, even if it’s just two months in. I would see how high an offer you can actually get, if it’s a job you would take, and then have that conversation. (Although I wouldn’t necessarily say you have a competing offer, just that market rates for what you do have gone up and that inflation is eating your salary.) What you really don’t need to do is stay in a job that’s paying you less than you could be making (unless you want to.) You can leave a two-month job off your resume, if it comes to it.

  27. Hlao-roo*

    OP#5 – I want to echo everyone else that you’re not burning a bridge here, your boss is acting like an ass.

    For an example of how leaving a company should look: the last job I left, I met with my boss three times during my notice period. First to work out a transition plan, second to update him on my progress with the transition, third to wrap-up and for him to go over off-boarding details (benefits and logistics and the like). For the main project I was working on, the project lead invited me to some of the project meetings during my notice period (the ones that were relevant to tasks I was wrapping up/handing off) and not to others (presumably ones not related to my tasks or more future-looking meetings). No one I worked with had any trouble making eye contact or small talk or saying good-bye.

      1. Oakwood*

        I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that has trouble keeping track of who is who in these multiple letter posts.

        It’s not my site, so it’s really not my call, but has Alison ever considered breaking these up into separate posts instead of using one large conglomerate post with multiple subjects?

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I messed this one up because I knew I was commenting on the last question but I assumed there were 5 questions this morning and not 4 (and only checked after I posted my comment, of course).

          Sometimes in the past Alison has separated one of the questions if responses to it are taking over the comments section, but I think despite the occasional mis-numbering in the comments it’s nice to have some shorter questions/answers grouped together in one post.

    1. anonymous73*

      Yup, and quite honestly, I would document what I could document, go to boss and say “Since you’ve excluded me from everything since I gave notice and won’t meet with me to talk about the transition, I’ll be leaving at the end of the day.” OP owes this boss nothing if they’re going to act like a toddler.

  28. Avril Ludgateau*


    Interview at other places and take a better offer. Job hopping is literally the only way to improve your lot, anymore. Especially because of arbitrary rules like “you can’t ask for a raise until a year” (in this economy? With this rate of inflation?). And just like Alison said, employers will cut pay, benefits, and even jobs when there is an economic downturn – or, really, whenever they decide it is more profitable. Meaning, you need to hoard as much bread as you can, while you can, before the bakery shuts down.

    You work for money. Go where the money is. (Although, jumping ship for $2000 a year might not be quite worth it, but if somebody offers you $80k or more to your $68k, and the benefits are on par? Take it. Don’t look back.)

    1. anonymous73*

      Yes and when you apply for a job and your resume shows you at a new job every 3 months, a company is going to pass you by because they’re not going to take a chance on training you only for you to leave for a few thousand dollars more.

      1. Emily*

        If you take a job every three months, sure. But there’s no indication that’s going to happen here – they’re not going to be able to keep finding jobs that come with significant pay raises every three months. (They haven’t even found one yet.) I’ve done a fair amount of job hopping in a more typical range, and it hasn’t harmed me. I even got an offer from a previous employer who I left a few years ago, and it was for much more money than I ever would have gotten if I’d stayed.

      2. Avril Ludgateau*

        You’re operating on/perpetrating outdated and flat-out harmful perspectives. Listening to advice like this screwed over an entire generation that graduated into the recession and settled into jobs where they were underpaid, which established a low baseline that has had profound, observed effects on lifetime earnings of Millennials. Telling this population that they need to show “loyalty” to employers who do not reciprocate or value them properly is a method of top-down wage suppression and only contributes to wealth inequality.

        I stand by what I said. If OP3 has an offer on the table that would materially benefit them, that suggests they are currently undervalued, they should take it.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      If the LW gets a better offer, more power to them, but it’s an exaggeration to say job hopping is the only way to improve your lot.
      Some companies actually give decent annual raises without prompting.

      1. Avril Ludgateau*

        Some companies actually give decent annual raises without prompting.

        This is a meaningless statement. Some companies also have employee ball pits and some have 4-day, 32-hour workweeks. If it doesn’t apply to the majority or even plurality of employers, this message is not going to apply to most jobseekers, and it will needlessly discourage and therefore disempower labor.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Without data, your statement is equally meaningless.

          I do not believe that the issue is so widespread that “Job hopping is literally the only way to improve your lot”

          People need to look at their own situations and act accordingly. Blanks statements like that aren’t helpful.

  29. Really?*

    LW 1:
    An entry level job used to be an introduction to the field with assignments and tasks given to shape you for success in more advanced roles, leading to promotions and more advanced work. Now companies abuse that role as a way to heap loads of work without structure onto someone’s plate and play survival of the fittest until they quit or burn out. Dont sacrifice yourself for an entry level job. Explore other options and get out. You’ve paid your dues, no one deserves that work environment with what sounds like an inept manager.

  30. Jam Today*

    LW#1 — Your expectations are not out of whack. This sounds exactly like where I work, and I am mid-career at a large multinational corporation. Some companies are just run badly, with bad leadership.

  31. ThatGirl*

    Lw#1 – please look elsewhere. I work in marketing and it can be chaotic but I’ve always been on boarded, eased into things and had managers who cared about my workload.

    Lw#3 -I relate, I suspect I left money on the table at my current job (when they offered the top of my range without blinking) and recently got an invite to interview at about $12k more than I’m currently making. But I’m not ready to make waves based on that alone and I like the company I work for.

  32. cardigarden*

    OP1: Echoing what everyone above has said about what entry level jobs and good managers should be. Wanted to add: you could also be on a bad account. If you submitted your letter during Q4 and Q4 is make-or-break for the account, I recommend finding something that has work spread out more evenly throughout the year.

  33. Oakwood*

    Re: asking for a raise

    The job market, like the real estate market, has been crazy lately. There has been nothing like either in my memory, which goes back to the 60’s. The old rules for buying and selling a home don’t apply, and I’m not sure the old rules for jobs (like waiting a year to ask for a raise) apply either.

    I’ve had two corporate meetings recently where managers (not line managers, but people high up in the company) mentioned “the great resignation”. They are noticing the effects.

    But, a job offer of $75k is not a huge pay bump for someone making $68k. I’d go to these recruiters first and tell them you’d need at least $90k to consider a move. If you get interest at that range, then you can go to your current boss and discuss the offers you’ve been getting.

    1. KRM*

      They’re not getting offers! It’s just interview requests and posted salary bands! I think it’s likely that LW would find themselves being offered something at the bottom of the posted pay band, which is unlikely to be worth jumping ship for. Not to mention you have no idea how the raise/promotion structure works where you are (or where you might be going) and those can also be quite important. I’d say that what you’re getting isn’t far off the mark of what you might get elsewhere, so stick it for the year and find out more about promotional structure and raises. Those are perfectly valid questions to ask of your supervisor, as you figure out how things work!

  34. Purple Cat*

    Thought on LW2… Is it still inappropriate for the LW to reference their dad in their cover letter in the context of, “I know Company X really well since my father used to work there.”? Probably yes still inappropriate. Maybe just leave it as “I’ve been familiar with Company for a long time, and have always wanted to work there”.

    1. Colette*

      It doesn’t add anything – there’s a limit to how familiar you can be with a company someone else worked at, especially if that person worked there when you were a kid.

    2. cal*

      2. If she referenced him in the covering letter I would be suspicious he wrote it. Due to this suspicion, I would set up tests to assess her (although this should be bog-standard for any job).

  35. Nina_Bee*

    LW1 – As someone who also works in marketing/advertising land .. it tends to be like that and I feel your pain! Some places are better than others but what’s helpful is having a task list and if someone asks you to do something, tell them when you can realistically get to it. If they insist, ask what they would like pushed down the priority list (and loop in the person who’s job that is too). You’re mostly experiencing a boundary issue and also because you’re fairly new, you may not have a good sense of how long things might take you yet (to be able to communicate that) plus feeling like you have to do everything when anybody asks you.. it feels like you’re just putting fires out! Not sure if you’ve tried this but having a google doc listing all your jobs with a column for priority level and also its status (eg. ‘in work’, ‘completed’, ‘waiting for feedback’ etc) that you can point people to.. could help them visualise where things are at? And it’s ok to tell people what you can realistically get through in the day, or if they send you something, saying you can start in the next XX timeframe. People sometimes just need to be told when to expect things and that their job isn’t the only one in the world! Good luck

  36. Just a thought*

    LW #3 – I’d be cautious about asking for a raise this early in. I don’t know where you are in your career progression, but I’d suggest waiting a minimum of 6 months. Also, if you brought this to me as a manager, my knee jerk reaction would be mention that just because the range goes up to $80k doesn’t mean that is what they would offer you. And as someone else mentioned, salary isn’t the only consideration.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “Also, if you brought this to me as a manager, my knee jerk reaction would be mention that just because the range goes up to $80k doesn’t mean that is what they would offer you.”

      This. An offer to interview for a 80K position is not at all the same as having an offer in your hands for 80K.

    2. Emily*

      While that’s true, I’ve said “recruiters are saying x” as part of negotiating for a raise when I actually already had an offer in hand for that amount which I wasn’t ready to disclose. And when I heard back basically that response – that the partner was skeptical that I could get that amount of money, when I had already been offered it – it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. If someone is coming to you and saying “I think I can get more money externally”, you should be straightforward about under what circumstances your organization would give them a raise (whether that’s tied to performance, time, external offers), but you really don’t need to get into whether what they’re asking is something they would realistically be able to get elsewhere, especially if all you’re basing your perception of that on is what they conveyed about where they are in the hiring process, which they have good reasons to not disclose to you.

  37. cal*

    2. One thing I forgot to mention is that if you are good, and your application is strong, I would worry your dad did it for you. Don’t mention him.

  38. Former teacher*

    LW #1, in this job market, you should just quit.
    You say you’re in education. If you’re a teacher, you should just sit on a throne and wait for school district HR directors to approach you on bended knee, presenting job offers on a velvet cushion.
    Depending where you live, of course. I’m getting job offers and I’m not even applying, nor have I been in the classroom in 20 years.

  39. kiki*

    LW #1: Do you have friends or acquaintances or mentors in the same field? It may be worthwhile to talk to them about how normal your job seems to them and ask about their day-to-day. Certain jobs, like marketing, are known for being overwhelming, but that can also be a cover a lot of poorly managed workplaces use to keep employees from realizing their workplace is especially overwhelming due to fixable issues, like lack of onboarding or infrastructure. I would look towards leaving and hopefully find a workplace that’s calmer.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Marketing jobs and positions vary a LOT from place to place. But on the plus side, there are a lot of different marketing jobs out there!

  40. LHOI*

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think that LW4 should speak directly to their boss, I can’t see any downside. If the boss is being an ass, there isn’t a bridge left to burn, but if they are just handling it poorly, asking them what’s up might help them see that they don’t have to behave that way, and it might help ease the rest of your time there.

    For example, I can see a situation where a key member of a team resigns and the manager of said team feels anxiety about the remaining team members, and so meets with them casually over coffee to chat and check in about how they are feeling. I can see that coming from a place of wanting to assure the team that everything is under control, or maybe wanting to check in with folks to see if anyone else is planning on jumping ship, or some other reason–reasonable or not.

    The other stuff just, to me, feels potentially more like a manager who is letting their anxiety and maybe lack of experience show, rather than malice or assishness. Given that managers are also humans, I would encourage you to reach out with a good, frank “hey, what gives?”

    1. Observer*

      The other stuff just, to me, feels potentially more like a manager who is letting their anxiety and maybe lack of experience show, rather than malice or assishness.

      The thing is that it doesn’t matter WHY the boss is doing this. It’s still really out of line.

  41. Marcina*

    ” not that different from if the market changed in the other direction and your employer announced they wanted to pay you less as a result.”

    Yeah, that’s happening now with Travel Nurses. Some hospitals are desperate for staff, so offered high hourly rates for 13 wk – 6 month contracts. Once the nurse has relocated, onboarded and worked a few weeks or months of the contract, they will invoke a cancelation clause and say if you want to stay you will now be paid at half of the original rate, giving sometimes no notice at all. Most of the time they are counting on the difficulty in breaking leases, sunk cost in setting up utilities to keep the nurses on at the lower rate, at least for a while.

    I used to travel years ago, and while those clauses have always been there, I’d never even heard of a hospital invoking it until these last two years.

  42. Observer*

    #4 – I think that your coworkers and colleagues see what your boss is doing. But please do create a bit of a paper trail, and more importantly, please make sure that others know what you are doing to try to smooth the transition. And try to make sure that they have direct access to any materials and information you leave behind. Because what you do NOT want to happen is your boss’ behavior makes things more difficult than they need to be, and people think that you are at least partly at fault. You want people to know that your behavior when leaving was not only totally appropriate, but highly professional and that you did everything reasonable to smooth the transition.

    As for your boss, Alison is right – do what works for you. You have no obligation there.

  43. New Job Karma*

    I had been at my last job for 13 years, and was well known to be a hard worker, friendly with all staff, and had been running our department for 6 months during a transition after my previous Director retired. During that time I had applied for the Director position, and was not selected because our Executive Director hired a friend who had worked for him previously. I understood and had been expecting this, so concurrently I was job searching and happened to land a great job! I gave 3 weeks notice attempting to make a nice smooth transition for the new Director who was set to start in the middle of that timeframe. However, the Executive Director/CEO did not like me. When I gave my 3 week notice, I was told “thank you, we will make an immediate transition” and he basically walked me to the door. This was the same week where a contract employee had received her 3rd going away party because she kept leaving and coming back. At the time I was angry and felt betrayed, but in the long run it was the best thing since he would have been miserable to me for those three weeks, and nothing I could do would change his opinion on me. The best part is learning about all the chaos that ensued after I left, because there was nobody left to do the work and bring the new Director up to speed. Karma is bitch sometimes.

  44. I wonder...*

    I don’t have any more advice for you than has already been offered. Just know that you are great at your job. I hope in 6 months when Alison asks for year end updates, you have found peace in the solution that works best for you.

  45. catcommander*

    OP#1, I was recently in a sales job where the unspoken expectation was that you’d work your 40, then do an hour or two in the evenings and a half-day Saturday off the clock. Sunday was a catch-up day. There was some commission involved that took the edge off, but not more than about 10k a year, max. If you did all this and made the boss happy, he would allow you to punch in on Saturdays as a reward. I didn’t do the unpaid overtime, got my ass kicked by the workload, and wound up leaving after a little over a year.

    I’m in a place now where they think people do a better job when they’re not being run to death, and it’s going much better. I recommend you make the switch while the market is still good.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Working off the clock is illegal if you are an hourly employee and punch a time clock. Report this company.
      Salaried can be made to do so and it is not illegal or unusual, sadly.

  46. NotAnotherSageGrouse*

    #1: Run.
    The work environment you describe sounds eerily like my previous job. You’re not being dramatic or entitled– this kind of chaotic work environment and lack of basic onboarding is not typical, and they’ve essentially set you up to fail. I’ve been in my industry for over 10 years, and am in a senior-level role, and I absolutely expect to be told the specific responsibilities of the role, onboarded, and be given the information I need to make decisions about prioritizing work (ex: “custom client requests always take priority, otherwise prioritize by when the deadline is” or “always do X task first”).
    It’s easier to find a job while you have a job, so I recommend getting your job hunt on NOW. You’ve only been there a year, but you’re right out of school and short stints at jobs is less likely to come off as a “red flag” for employers. I’d also recommend coming up with a canned line if you’re asked why you’re leaving your current job– I went with the “I was hired to do [my actual skillset] but it turned out the organization really needed [entry level role]”. “I’m looking for a work environment with more structure” or similar is also a good one– then quickly pivot back to why you think the role you’re interviewing for sounds awesome.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      You are absolutely right that some companies will prioritize the interruptions and requests from clients, executives or even sales FIRST above all regular scheduled work. That’s fine, but then they need to tell OP that, and the manager needs to manage other expectations accordingly. My guess is that OP landed at a chaotic company or has a bad manager who can’t manage people. Or, it’s possible the job isn’t “entry-level” at all and requires someone more experienced or with a different skill set. Either way, sounds like time to move on.

      That being said, I have seen some people who are unable to deal with juggling multiple balls in the air. Some level of interruption, second-guessing, derailing, and last minute changes are normal in marketing and one must get used to dealing with those aspects. One of my colleagues left marketing completely because of this and decided it wasn’t for her, despite being awesome in her role. She now works in customer service and says she is happy to turn it all off at the end of the day.

  47. Phil*

    Sorry, but that advice to LW#3 is BS.

    AAM says that we might see businesses eventually do this back in the opposite job market. As if this it’s some big line that we might see them cross, when they’re doing exactly that every moment of every day.

    Every single cost cutting measure, every single instance of loading more work onto employees for the same pay is EXACTLY that. If you were paid 80k and they could hire a comparable employee for 65k….then they’d simply fire you and hire the 65k employee….or maybe a 55k or 45k if they could get away with offloading the extra work onto others. And they’d ABSOLUTELY do that even if it had “only” been 2 months since you were hired.

    Businesses are solely interested in what’s best for them, but STILL expect employees to consider what’s good for the business contrary to their own self-interest.

    The problem is “i’m being paid 68k but other places are offering me significantly more”
    and the answer is so glaringly obvious….”then leave.”

    You owe your workplace nothing…because they owe you nothing. They can (and do) boot people out to save a buck, and then have the gall to act so offended and hurt when people leave to gain a buck. Don’t be gaslit

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Alison didn’t say not to leave (though there’s no offer on the table yet anyway, just an invitation to interview).

      The LW asked if it there was a way to leverage this into more pay at the current employer and the response was no, there isn’t.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      No one is actually offering her significantly more though. She has no job offers. She has offers to *interview* for jobs, where the lowest end of the salary band is only slightly higher than her current salary and there is no reason to assume the lowest end is not what they would end up offering if they even give her an offer at all.

      And she’s not trying to leave, she’s just asking about negotiating for more money at her current job. Which is just not how it works. You can’t really renegotiate your salary right after you start just because you found out that some hypothetical jobs might pay more.

      If she decides she wants to keep interviewing and see whether anything turns into actual offers for higher salaries, no one is stopping her.

  48. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    1. I’m drowning in work and don’t know if my expectations are unreasonable
    Welcome to Marketing!!!!!! Seriously. I’ve worked in some form of marketing for 25+ years and people think it’s something easy but it’s not. It’s always stressful because of the following: a) It’s creative and there is often no set way of doing things so you have to be ok with a lot of ambiguity, and b) Literally everyone “thinks they can do marketing” and you’ll always be prone to having “whomever” interrupt your work with tons of last minute changes, tasks and questions about your decisions — and you are going to always have aspects of this no matter where you work. So, perhaps marketing isn’t the career you’d thought it would be? But I’m not sure you can truly asses that yet. Marketing is always a tough job, but made worse if you got stuck at a bad company or in a role you’re not yet ready for.

    Hard to assess if you are having unreasonable expectations. I’d have to know more about what is actually being asked of you task-wise. But here are some considerations.

    >>Company gave you no training
    Marketing people rarely get much training. We’re often expected to ‘hit the ground running’ for all things marketing and know how to do our jobs–that’s why they hire us. In 25 years, I have never been “trained” on the job in marketing or about marketing. HOWEVER… all companies have their own style, methods, rules, processes and protocols that someone more senior should be training you on as it pertains on how to get work done within your company. If you’re not getting that, something is wrong with the manager managing their people, or the company culture. It takes time to learn each company’s methods and style.

    >>What are the nature of these “tasks” you’re being interrupted with?
    Are they small but important things like submitting a PO, or approving copy for the next step? Those are part of the job and you need to figure them into your overall process. And believe me, waiting eons for approvals and then having to jump through hoops quickly to act afterwards is normal with marketing.
    But if the tasks are things like sending someone a file they could have easily got themselves off the website, or generally just people being unable or unwilling to look things up or do things themselves… that’s another story.

    I have a lot of this myself right now because we have a ton of new people in marketing and a lot of salespeople and executives who can’t be bothered to make their own PowerPoint slide. SIGH. Unfortunately, the “marketing person” can become a dumping ground for a lot of work others don’t want to do themselves. I can’t tell from your letter, so this is something you really need to discuss with your manager. Keep a list for a week of the “interruptions” and your regularly scheduled project work and ask whether or not you should be doing all of this, and if so, how to best prioritize in regard to your normal projects. It’s NORMAL to ask this! There are companies where the executive or sales or client interruptions will be deemed first priority–despite that not making sense (and you’d have to decide if that works for you or not). But if you don’t get help prioritizing, or are pushed-off or treated like you’re crazy for asking, something is wrong and you’re in a dysfunctional situation.

    >>Agency or In-House?
    Working in marketing at an agency is completely different than working in marketing in-house at a company.
    The pacing, pay, and expectations will be very faster at agencies and likely the pay will be lower at entry-levels.
    Likewise, working B2C marketing is different from working B2B marketing too. In my experience, B2B tends to be more strategic and planned versus the responding to the rapidly changing consumer market.

    You don’t say what type of company you’re working at currently, so I would say that if this is an agency, you might want to start looking for an in-house marketing position that might provide a bit slower-pace and has more structure until you get additional experience under you career-wise.

    Marketing is a strange beast. Roles can vary a lot at different companies, but generally the smaller the company, the more the “marketing person” will be asked to do. Large companies tend to silo marketing tasks where the person does only one aspect of marketing (social media, content, digital, website, strategy, product, analytics, etc.). Deciding what you want, like, and feel comfortable with is a personal and professional choice. Being newer to marketing as a career field, it might take you some time to figure this out and find the right place to thrive. I’ve moved around a lot in my career.

    There is nothing wrong with saying your current job isn’t the right fit for you, and you should not feel despair that you picked the wrong career — there are plenty of other marketing roles at other companies to be had!

  49. Alexis*

    LP#1 – Reading your letter I immediately thought “this is how I felt in my last teaching job” down to the calling out sick, feeling angry, depressed and just miserable in a toxic, overwhelming environment. I read that you were in education, so my experience may be less relevant if you are not a teacher, but in education in a different capacity. For me, I approached management and was honest about why I was overwhelmed and that I wanted to come up with some solutions with them. My administrator was not the best to begin with (she would ‘jokingly’ be mean, not show up to work, didn’t communicate, and gossiped about people behind their back). While she listened she wasn’t willing to work towards a solution or acknowledge the safety issues or toxic aspects of the job (e.g. not giving people lunches, being understaffed, bullying). So, for my mental health I left and did a complete career change. I definitely recommend talking to someone in the same line of work, as this helped me articulate myself and decide what was best for me. Sometimes a simple “hey, this is too much, can we work on some solutions together?” is enough , or maybe even some extra time off.

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