{ 408 comments… read them below }

  1. New job*

    I’m starting a new job tomorrow. I was at my last job 5 months and the one before that for only 3 months. I’m not a job hopper but the last 2 we’re really bad fits. Hopefully the new job is awesome and I can stay for a long time. Wish me luck!

    1. English Rose*

      All the luck in the world to you New job, sometimes things just work out like that! Hope it goes well and let us know.

    2. kittymommy*

      Yay, good for you. Wishing you the absolute best of luck and good new job vibes!!

    3. Anon for This*

      Break a whatever [appropriate appendage for whatever your role happens to be].

  2. kittymommy*

    Welp, like the first poster, I’m starting anew job as well (Monday though). After 11 years in the same company I went to a place that is starting me out at $15K more, less responsibility and more room for growth. People are pretty shocked (and upset, but the happy for me type of upset) that I’m leaving. Here’s the question though: normally our company/department has a goodbye get-together. Nothing big, just something, ya know. However, unless it’s a surprise (which I doubt since I can see EVERYONE’s calendars) there’s nothing planned for me. Am I being overly sensitive, because if I’m honest, it kinda hurts.

    1. Six years later, new job still rocks*

      If you’re in the U.S., it’s most likely the three day weekend that has caused this to slip people’s minds.

      And if you’re not in the U.S., the same still applies. Leaving your current company is the biggest thing going on for you; for everyone else, their own lives are their biggest thing :-D
      So while it might sting that you feel left out, it’s almost certainly not personal. Go live your best life at your new job!

    2. mlem*

      I hope it’s just that they haven’t had time to plan for you *yet* and are trying to find a way to put something together.

    3. Gnome*

      Hopefully you are in a situation I was in a few years back. I was getting all bummed out, but it turned out they planned it as a surprise. I know, how much of a surprise can it be? But still, I didn’t figure it out until right beforehand.

    4. Academic fibro warrior*

      My last job threw one together for me at the last minute when they realized I was the only departee who wasn’t getting one. Except for a couple genuinely nice people it was awkward because the one person decided to continue our ongoing fight there. At lunch.

      It might be the holiday, it might be a total surprise (fingers crossed for that), but not having one might be a blessing in disguise?

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Is there a specific person who makes the party plans? (Are YOU that person in the past?) Could you approach them directly and say something like, “I don’t want to encroach if something has already been planned for my going away, but as a suggestion, I’d like to meet at restaurant/pub/breakroom for drinks/cake with everyone on my last day.” If that’s too bold to ask, you could announce your intention for your own small thing (donuts at the coffee pot on Friday morning) and see if they pick up the baton.

    6. eons*

      If you can see everyone’s calendars it would make sense for them not to have it on there if it is supposed to be a surprise!

    7. Storm in a teacup*

      It’s not overly sensitive to be hurt that a place you’ve worked at so long isn’t doing something for you when it’s expected.
      Usually wherever I’ve worked the onus is on the person leaving to organise something – usually drinks in the local pub.
      Maybe if you have a particular colleague you’re close with ask them?

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Yep, it hurts. But that with the pay increase are reminders of why you are moving.

      Wait until the last day and send them all a pleasant good-bye email, “enjoyed working with you all”, etc. It could be a brain fart and they could be even more upset at their own mistake. Or it could be that they will pull something out of thin air. I hope they do.

      Not much consolation but people are really not thinking clearly right now. Make a plan with friends/family after work.

    9. Avid Knitter*

      Overly sensitive, nope, not at all. We want recognition that we will we’re important and that we will be missed. I’m seconding offering to bring donuts or something. Covid restrictions and issues have affected how these things get handled where I work.

      When I got transferred to a new location, I didn’t mention it till my last day, and that wasn’t completely by choice. I was terrified they’d do an exit interview and I’d have to choose between pretending like everything was fine, or letting them know how miserable one person was making me and that no one would do anything about it. (It’s too complicated to get into here.) After the fourth person stopped by my desk to verify that I wasn’t going home early, I twigged that they were throwing something together. I’m shy and I HATE being the center of attention. So for me, last minute and low key was fine. I did actually want to say good bye to some people and it was nice to know I’d be missed. And since there was cake and snacks, there was something for people to do besides just stare at me. I hope you get a chance to say goodbye and feel appreciated.

  3. 57 Cheese.*

    I’m a machine operator in a factory. Our HR insist that sick days are not normal in large global companies. They say sick days are only normal in smaller /union companies. Right now we are only allowed to use 2 vacation days a year as call in days and they black out January and February and every Monday. Are they right ? This can’t be the normal.

    1. Jellyfish*

      So corporate workers magically don’t get sick in their fantasy land?
      In my experience, the public facing workers at giant corporations are usually kept just under the hours-per-week border that means companies don’t have to offer paid sick or vacation days. I don’t see they can just… refuse to allow people to stay home sick though? Do they fire everyone who has the misfortune to get the flu in February? That’s very weird.

      1. 57 Cheese.*

        Factory workers. The office personnel is covered under different rules since they are mostly salary

    2. AustenFan*

      This is not normal. People get sick every day of the week and you can’t prevent yourself from being sick or having sick kids on all Mondays, and throughout January and February.

      1. Hazel*

        Right! I’m still recovering from covid, but I started feeling sick on a Wednesday and ended up taking Friday and Monday off because I couldn’t get out of bed. People need sick time when they need it!

    3. mlem*

      That’s deeply abnormal. My company has 3400 people, international service, no union, and 10 days sick time annually.

    4. Clarita Bogdonovitch*

      Nope. I work for an employer with ~35K+ employees and we get 13 sick days standard and can bank up to 300 rollover hours and contribute a couple to a “bank” that covers over-use due to illness for other staff. We also have mandated 75 hrs of COVID-only leave that is separate and protected. Plus we get tiered seniority-based vacation leave separate. That also rolls over. These benefits are the big-standard basic ones that start for even minimum wage workers just out of high school. And yes, I am in the US.

      Your company is lying to you.

    5. Asenath*

      Absolutely not normal. People get sick in companies of any size, and larger companies are often (but not always) MORE not less able to plan for this. Moreover – you don’t say where you are, but in my part of Canada ALL employees who have been with the employer for more than 30 days are entitled to 7 days a year (unpaid, I admit) sick/family responsibility leave. Anywhere I’ve ever been employed has had paid sick leave; the amounts have varied, but they were invariably more generous than two days taken off vacation, and never on Mondays or in January or February. It might be worth checking your local labour laws. But whether it’s legal where you are or not, it is not normal.

      1. 57 Cheese.*

        USA so sick days are not mandatory. The state I live in lunch breaks are not even mandatory. We only get 15 minutes for munch

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          That sounds like some horror story you would hear about a factory in a low income country where they treat their staff so poorly and you get calls to boycott their products….

        2. Observer*

          Check your local laws.

          Many localities have instituted sick leave laws, and not necessarily on a statewide level.

    6. Russian in Texas*

      This is so not normal, it’s downright crazy. In my experience, the larger the company, the more generous benefits are, including sick time.

    7. Artemesia*

      Just the opposite. Usually large companies offer MORE in the way of sick leave and other forms of leave; it is small companies that often do not. It is a great advertisement for unions though that they basically are telling you, that because you don’t have a union, you can die in the street or starve for all they care.

    8. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Every company I’ve worked around has sick days, and accepted that sometimes people are too sick to work. I’m pretty sure we have legally required employers to give a minimum amount of sick days too.

    9. Double A*

      It’s only normal inasmuch as corporations have a reputation for being inhumane and treating humans as disposable robots.

      Is HR quietly telling you to unionize?

    10. iglwif*

      Whoa, that is SUPER not normal. I work for (a smaller company within) an absolutely massive global company, and while sick day, vacation day, personal day allotments vary by country within the organization, even the least generous allowance (in the US, of course) is a minimum of 12 days/year of “paid time off” including both sick days and vacation days.

    11. OperaArt*

      We accumulate 1 sick day a month for a total of 12 per year, and they roll over indefinitely. Some people who have been here for a long time have months of sick leave saved up. And yes, we are encouraged to use our sick leave.

    12. Irish Teacher*

      That makes no sense. They are telling you you can’t be sick on a Monday or in January or February? What do they expect you to do if you get sick on a Monday morning? Or God forbid, get in an accident on the way to work?

      And honestly, January is probably the month where people are MOST likely to get sick. What did they do LAST January? If the US was anything like Ireland, covid was rampant at that time. Or is covid a separate issue from normal sick leave?

      1. 57 Cheese.*

        Covid is covered under FMLA. Living in Ohio January and February are also know for snow and ice. We had one winter storm in February and since our call in day was blacked out they gave everyone a point that called in. They suspended so many people that had to stagger them

        1. Support your local street cats.*

          Holey cheeseballs, this sounds like a place to get out of if possible. They suspended so many, they had to stagger them? So they screwed themselves with a shitty practice? Yall need a union or just everyone walk the hell out on day.

    13. Internist*

      Ehhh what??? I work in a large global company. I work in an office, not a factory, but…yeah, we get sick days. I’m sorry, their policy is insane and what they are saying is just factually incorrect.

    14. Gnome*

      The US Federal government, arguably one of the largest employers in the world, has sick days.

    15. MassChick*

      Has your HR heard about the pandemic? Did it magically skip “global” workers? It isn’t normal.

    16. WindmillArms*

      Well, you have some important information now! Either your company’s HR is lying or incompetent…

      1. pancakes*

        When people are telling outlandish lies it’s generally because they’re trying to be manipulative. Saying they’re inept is giving them too much credit in these circumstances. In the extremely unlikely event HR is unfamiliar with how other companies handle this, there’s no excuse for not looking into the matter.

    17. Banana*

      Hey, I work for a large non-union manufacturer. It’s not normal. My company is getting less and less generous about everything every year, but an hourly machine operator get five unexpected absences per rolling year before anything disciplinary happens at all (just a verbal warning and ineligible for transfers or promotions), and 9 before you get fired.

      There’s a complex calculation for earning sick pay, but essentially the more you use the less you earn, and it can be used as vacation time if you are never sick, it’s an incentive for people to work sick and avoid calling out when they’re not sick (yes the rules were adjusted for the first year of the pandemic.)

      There are no blackout days, but you don’t get holiday pay for a holiday if you take an unplanned day off on the business day before it or after it.

      Hope that helps! Not sure how you’re supposed to get through winter without being sick, that’s absurd.

    18. RagingADHD*

      That is simply untrue. It’s the other way around: larger organizations tend to have better benefits and PTO.

      1. Rayray*

        Agree 100%. This is one reason why I have very little interest in working for a small company ever again.

    19. Joie de Vivre*

      I’ve worked for a fortune 300 company that manufactured computers and printers. All full time employees at the company accrued sick leave and vacation.

    20. JSPA*

      Not normal. Combining sick and other leave isn’t that odd. Requiring a doctor’s note (or that, for high demand times) is “old skool,” but still a thing in some companies. But, “you can only get sick on a schedule?” That flies in the face of logic (and basic humanity).

    21. *daha**

      It’s their version of normal. Put in applications with other shops and find out what their normal is.

    22. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Nope. That is the strangest thing I have ever heard. HR either doesn’t know what they are talking about, or are being very malicious. Either way, that is a load of hooey!

      1. Chris too*

        Weirdly enough, I once worked here in Canada for a big global company headquartered in the US – the sort of company that probably would have employed lots of machine operators – and didn’t get sick pay either. Sounds familiar, and ridiculous.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      Call your state’s Department of Labor and find out what exactly they should be doing.

      Two days a year sounds like accidents waiting to happen. How’s their safety record? You could try giving OSHA a call, too.

    24. Observer*

      Our HR insist that sick days are not normal in large global companies.

      Either your HR is totally incompetent of flat out dishonest.

      Google not only pays sick time, it requires that it’s contracting companies provide at least 8 paid sick days per year to their employees.

      McDonalds offers paid sick days.

      Walmart offers paid sick days.

      They don’t offer a LOT of sick time, but all of them offer more than 2 days. Also, lots of other companies offer time based on local laws.

      Which is to say that depending on where your employer operates it could be that it’s legal to not offer paid sick time. But it’s because they are too garbage to do so, not because that’s “normal”.

      1. Anon for This*

        If their HR is that incompetent, they need to be careful that they are administering benefits correctly.

        I vote for dishonest. They may be counting on people in Ohio being more compliant than people might be in places like NY or California.

    25. PollyQ*

      Entirely false. I worked for a company that had 150k employees all around the world, and we had unlimited sick days (although if you took too many in a row, you needed a doctor’s note). And 2 days a year vacation days? Also not remotely normal. Your HR is either massively incompetent or (more likely) flamboyant liars.

    26. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fortune 100 here. Non-union factory attached to our engineering design center. There’s separate sick leave & vacation time for hourly line workers and two floating holidays.
      Your HR is full of it.

    27. nonegiven*

      That is how you end up having to shut down your factory because COVID took over.

    28. Autumnheart*

      Not normal. Sickness doesn’t stick to a calendar, especially not in the middle of a pandemic.

  4. mlem*

    What financial weight should I assign “time off”?

    By salary numbers, I appear to be wildly underpaid for my actual title and duties, especially for my market, but I’m constrained by being limited to a coding language that isn’t used almost anywhere else. However, my company does have what I think are fantastic time-off benefits for the US:
    – 34 days PTO/year (for 20+ years in service, and I’m at >25; use-or-lose capped at 160 hours; balance paid out by state law if employment ends)
    – 10 days sick/year (use-or-lose capped at 160 hours)
    – 6 federal holidays
    They make all the right noises about using your time rather than losing it, and my particular management team is very good about honoring that ethos. Those are all in addition to jury duty time off, recently improved bereavement time off, and newly introduced “living donor” time off.

    It’s hard enough finding market comps (30k-730k is NOT HELPFUL, Glassdoor!), but I’d definitely sacrifice some amount of formal pay for good time off benefits. I know some of it comes down to what time off is worth to me *personally*, but does anyone have a good rule of thumb for how much salary is reasonable to sacrifice in exchange? (To use round numbers, would $100k plus benefits like that reasonably be worth $125k, 2 weeks PTO, 1 week sick elsewhere? Do most folks think that’s off — and if so, in which direction?)

    1. ThatGirl*

      I dunno, this seems like a personal calculation to me. That is pretty generous time off; by comparison I have 3 weeks (15 days) PTO, unlimited sick time and 2 personal days plus the standard holidays. I think you should have a minimum you’re willing to accept for both – and more PTO is often easier to negotiate than more pay.

      1. mlem*

        Prior attempts suggest “not effectively”, but I’d pretty much have to if I wanted to move to another company. I don’t really have a coherent question, but I’m partly trying to decide how much of an increase to push for to feel fairly compensated, when I’ve always thought that time off is one of the greatest possible benefits and I really would be prepared to sacrifice something for it. I just don’t know if I’m putting too much weight on it.

        1. Banana*

          For the purposes of negotiating with your employer, I’d ignore the emotional value of your PTO, and calculate the value how they would, as 34 days of your payroll cost, and handle my approach accordingly.

          And the language you know is obscure and makes it hard to find jobs. How many job hunters on the market are going to know it, then? And keep in mind if it’s not commonly used or known, anyone they hire to replace you, if they can find someone, is going to essentially be putting their career progression in reverse while they work there, or is going to have to work harder to keep their skills current, as more commonly used technology keeps progressing and they’re stuck in a backwater working on obscure stuff. What sucks for you sucks for your employer too, make sure you see both sides of it.

          1. mlem*

            That last point is very important — the company mostly only hires entry-level, and that means seniority loss is hitting *really* hard right now.

    2. Sam I Am*

      I know some rather underpaid staff at the closest “State College,” they get great PTO though and have chosen to stay there for this particular benefit.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      I think the problem is that you’re trying to quantify something that’s both cultural and personal, then link it to salary, which at the end of the day just can’t be linked that way.

      Rather than doing it that way, it might be worth thinking about what your person limits are e.g. you now have 34 days PTO, what amount of money would it take FOR YOU to work somewhere PTO is at 20 days.

      1. mlem*

        Ha, yeah — and if I do that, I end up with wildly unrealistic salary requirements. It really is worth a lot to me, but I want to make sure I’m not assigning it *too* much weight when I’m trying to figure out how much of a raise I’d need to be approximately fairly compensated.

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          I think if it’s something you value and you know that you need it to be happy and thrive where you work then the value you are assigning it is appropriate for you.
          Another thing to consider is what other benefits would offset the generous leave? Better healthcare cover or if you can work from home more?
          Personally I left a role with 33 days paid leave + 8 public holidays and 10 days sick leave for a role with a 25% increase in salary and better room for salary growth. My leave dropped from 33 to 20 initially but it’s now at 25. The increased flexibility I have in my hours and working remote make the trade off much easier

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I think it at the end of the day, it depends on how *you* value it. Personally, I value time off pretty highly as it’s a benefit that’s really important to me. If you want to give a monetary value, you can think in terms of how much you get paid each day you’re out (salary / 260 then * 34 for the total salary for days you’re not actually working). If you want to translate that to salary, you could add the value of “extra” PTO days you’re getting compared to other jobs to the salary figure.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        A similar approach would be to calculate an hourly rate based on the time off.

        For example, assume a $100k salary and a total of two weeks off. That’s $50/hour (2080 hours per 52 weeks, -80 hours PTO). So you could estimate that the two weeks of vacation is worth about 80×50=$4,000.

        Compare that to $100k with a total of four weeks off. That’s an hourly rate of $52.08/hr for the 1,920 hours you’d actually be working—about 4% higher than the one that only gives two weeks off. And you might say that the value of the PTO at this job is about $8,334.

        Of course, to do the calculation properly, you’d need to factor in holidays, PTO/vacation days, the number of sick days you actually think you’d take, etc. But I find that estimating the number of days I think I’d actually be working given the time-off benefits to be a decent way of coming up with a dollar value for the PTO—or at least for comparing two jobs with different salaries and different leave policies.

    5. Ranon*

      If you want to be strictly mathematical about it, you could take the number of working days in a year, subtract all leave, and then divide the pay by number of days worked to give you a $$/ day rate of your job and comparable jobs.

    6. Double A*

      I’m a teacher, so I just did the math on it. I calculated my weekly pay, then calculated how much my time off would pay if it were “paid.” I would make like $10k more of I didn’t get summers and other breaks off. To me, a 10k raise would not offset that time off.

      Money vs. time is a personal calculation like others are saying, but if you just put it into stark money terms it can be easier to assess imo.

      1. just a random teacher*

        Yeah, the increased time off and the increased protection of non-work hours that come with teaching versus the low salary definitely came out “become a teacher” for me when I was figuring it out at the time. I recommend that people weigh both of those factors when deciding if computer-related jobs pay enough.

        Protection of non-work hours: my father worked in mainframe computer stuff, and he was on call a LOT while I was growing up. He’d get paged and have to walk out of movies to go try to deal with it over the lobby pay phone, or later let his food get cold at a restaurant while he tried to troubleshoot over a cell phone, and I always knew that any father-kid activity could get dropped suddenly in the middle if he actually needed to either drive into work or drive home so he could dial in to work. (We had a computer with a modem at home starting in the 1980s to limit how often he needed to go into work on evenings/weekends.)

        In the event of a major disaster in our city, his job told him he was to report to the airport ASAP to be on a chartered flight to Florida where the backup site was. (He made it very clear to both his boss and his family that yeah, that wasn’t happening unless they had seats for the family too, and that he would not actually be showing up no matter what the plan said otherwise. There were not seats for us even after he made that clear, but I always wondered what he’d think of as “safe enough” to leave us. Fortunately, we also didn’t get an earthquake during my childhood so this disaster plan was not tested to see who would actually win.) After the divorce, there were times when I woke up alone on dad’s weekend because he had to drive in to work to physically fix something on a Sunday, and he was in the server room and unreachable by phone until he was done so I just had to figure out my day by myself. (I was in high school, so old enough to be left alone, but suddenly alone in a neighborhood you don’t know with no car and only bachelor groceries is very different than left alone with warning in a neighborhood where you know how to walk and take the bus to restaurants, grocery stores, and the homes of people you know, with food in the house bought with cooking regular meals in mind.)

        I didn’t pursue this field, despite liking “computer stuff” a lot and being good at it, because I wanted a job where you would never have an on-call situation like that. Teaching has many stresses, and I am grading stuff today even though it’s a holiday, but I have never once had to walk out of a family event because the classroom crashed and I have to restart it. The advent of email, and particularly everyone figuring out that teachers can WFH during COVID, has taken away some of this freedom outside work hours, but it’s still less than I saw my dad deal with growing up.

        1. mlem*

          That does matter a lot, and I didn’t mention it — while nights/weekends are a possibility in my current position, and I was once called to help fix an issue while I was driving on Cape Cod, they’re quite rare and get made up for. That’s also of high value to me.

          1. just a random teacher*

            That’s one of the reasons that it’s so hard to cross compare computer jobs. Whether or not “the job will come first” means that you are supposed to just drop everything without issue and drive into work/I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH, JUST HOP ON A PLANE AND ABANDON YOUR YOUR SMALL CHILDREN IN THE MIDDLE OF A MAJOR DISASTER TO GO MAKE SURE THE SERVER IS HAPPY is a thing to consider when taking computer jobs.

            The fact that [local utility] was cool with literally leaving me, as a small child, to die without even my father there to help support me in the aftermath of a major earthquake while my dad flew without his family across the entire country by himself to fix their stupid mainframe has not exactly left me with warm fuzzies even decades later.

    7. Gnome*

      I’m insanely curious about the coding language!

      Also, I find it terribly difficult to learn a coding language without concrete things to try and do/apply it to. So if you WANT to learn a new one, maybe try looking for small projects to do with it would help. I’m doing that right now.

      As for the actual question, I think it really depends. I would gladly trade direct compensation for more PTO. I am a religious minority and none of my holidays are on the US Calendar (for that matter, I wouldn’t mind working July 4, Thanksgiving, or Dec 25 if I got comp time for my own holidays!). HOWEVER, since I’m also using my salary to pay for private school, I can’t drop below a certain point. So, that’s a lot of my own personal decision pathways, but I’m sure there’s something you have in mind. Like, if you prefer to take two 2-week vacations and have a handful of days leftover, then a place with 18-days of vacation won’t be ideal. On the other hand, if you are generally just having the extra days pay out, then you could just add that to the salary you’d want.

      1. Clisby*

        Could be something like IBM assembly language or Cobol (both of which, I can assure you, are still in use in legacy systems.)

        1. Gnome*

          I’m sure. I was also thinking of recent places where FORTRAN has come up, as well as VBA (which is still more “out there” but quite niche). It’s more that there’s a good menu to choose from than lack of imagination.

      2. mlem*

        Proprietary language in my case — I came in as customer support, but I picked up the language well enough that they switched me over to development after a couple of years, even though I otherwise had no background.

        And yeah, without a specific goal to use the language for, a new language wouldn’t stick for me at all. (The hardest part in my case, though, is that learning new syntaxes makes me feel shaky in my mastery of my existing coding language. I know how to do if/then/else/lo0ps in one language, and my brain doesn’t like the idea that there are other ways!)

    8. Flash Packet*

      If it were me and my salary was paying my bills and had also let me save for retirement, I’d stay and take advantage of the generous PTO.

      The older I get (I’m 55) the more I value having time to enjoy the things I’m working for. And 10 days a year plus Federal holidays just doesn’t cut it.

      At my current job, I have three weeks (15 days) PTO, all the Federal holidays, 3 floating holidays, and functionally unlimited sick time. And I hate how little time off I have, full well knowing that it’s more generous than past jobs.

      To get me to change jobs and go back to 10 days of PTO, 5 sick days, and most (but not all) of the Federal holidays, I’m pretty sure I’d need double the pay I’m getting now. Anything less wouldn’t be worth it.

      1. mlem*

        That’s the rub — my savings aren’t where they should be, and retirement *really* isn’t, and I’m pushing 50. I’ve been underpaid for a long time. But I’ve been recovering ground lately, and contributing small amounts to an IRA (though all of this year’s contributions have been wiped out my market fluctuations, ugh).

        1. Anon for This*

          Since you are not quite 50, your losses are all on paper. Since you won’t be taking the money for many years and the market tends to recover, you have a long time to make up the difference. The good news is that with the market down, whatever you contribute will go further.

          If the company has a 401(k), at least contribute up to the match and try to put away as much as possible in your own IRA.

        2. Flash Packet*

          Well, then… in your shoes — if it were me — I would do what I could to get a job with a significantly higher salary but keep my expenses the same and sock the difference into retirement savings.

          I would also play the “seasoned professional changing jobs” card and negotiate for, at minimum, the next-tier level of PTO (like, if you have to be there for 5 years to get three weeks off, negotiate for the three weeks).

          But, again, that’s me. Your calculations might be different. And if the job you can get isn’t a huge bump in pay, it might not be worth it.

    9. Beebee*

      I think that is a personal question only you can answer! But for me, a $25k difference in salary with those benefits would be worth it as I know I would use them all. 34 PTO days especially is awesome because even if you can’t or don’t want to take a trip somewhere, you could still use it to just relax at home or explore where you live. And 10 sick days would make a huge difference for my mental health (my company just went from 5 to 10 and it’s great).

      But also the two salaries you listed are decent wages — if it was say, $50k with all those benefits or $75k without them I’d take the higher salary as COL in my city is wildly out of control and benefits won’t pay my rent :~(

    10. Bread Addict*

      Thats very much personal and will vary but that sounds like a good time off amount. The salary is up to you if its acceptable or even livable.

      If you need to find a number you can take salary/number of working days per year. Think Mon-Fridays (or whatever your scheudle is) that arent holidays or closed days (do not remove your leave allowance from this number) = Your salary per day (on average). That number x amount of leave days you get = leave value. You can add that to your salary to calculate what you total earnings really are money wise.

      But only if you must have a money number. You cant put a number on being able to disconnect from worth, healthy work life balance, or peace of mind. So remember that to.

    11. mlem*

      Thanks, everyone! At this point I lean towards thinking that I am definitely underpaid, but the time off is worth enough to me that it’s not an automatic “get some random certification and then ragequit” situation or anything like that. I’d rather not work full-time at all, honestly, and the time I do get off goes a long way to making that less of a problem than it otherwise would be.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I have had it happen to me but I have also seen comments here about similar stuff. I worked at an NPO. I had saved up 400 hours of sick time (10 weeks) I had about 4 weeks of vacation time, plus holidays and bereavement time.

      The biggest pocket of time was the sick time. For me, I landed that I had NO plan on being sick for 10 weeks therefore the sick time was mostly useless. However, with the job being so toxic I might need sick time plus a funeral.
      Next the vacation time was nice. Too bad I did not make enough to take any real trips. We took short trips or visited family.

      The rest of the time off they offer is specialized and may or may not be useful to you.

      So what I found and the comments I have seen here is companies can offer lots of PTO instead of actual pay.
      I decided I wanted actual pay because the finances at home were stuck in a rut and that rut had my company’s name all over it. Time off is great. But if your finances are flat then this is a problem.

      Instead of assigning a dollar value to excessive PTO, take a hard look at your budget and your goals in life. Will you achieve your hopes/wishes if you continue to stay here?

  5. Dark Macadamia*

    I finally made myself contact my references to apply for jobs! I’m a SAHM and my last position ended in 2016. I was applying for jobs in 2019 but didn’t have much success and then Covid happened and I had a big kid in remote learning and a little kid with no daycare so I gave up. I’ve been feeling really down about my career in general and embarrassed that my references are so outdated, but one said yes and hopefully the other will answer tomorrow!

    1. Invisible today*

      Good luck with the job hunt. Remember that the last two years are a time warp for many people. Y9ur references are really only 3 years old… which isn’t that much at all.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Thanks! Yeah I’m hoping the pandemic disruptions will help kind of smooth out my resume a bit lol

    2. Artemesia*

      Things are so disrupted right now in the employment markets that it is a very good time to be looking without recent employment. Hope it goes great.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Now is the absolute best time to jump back in as many people have gaps and no one is thinking about it that much.

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      A good start, well done! I’m in a similar situation, but at the moment it doesn’t seem like there any jobs that would add to my family’s quality of life, even if it did add some money. Good luck with your search!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Thanks! The main reason I originally stopped working was because I wanted to be picky, and I still will be, but it’s been toooo long and I miss my job!

  6. Melanie Cavill*

    My co-worker keeps getting upset that I don’t ask her questions but when I do, she gives me incoherent answers. Aaaaaaargh.

    1. Gnome*

      Why do you need to ask her questions at all? I mean, I sometimes ask questions, but usually only for work I’m overseeing (like a project lead). Things like, “are you running into any problems with X?” or “How is Y going?”

    2. mlem*

      Do they have to be work questions? “Hey, how was your kid’s game last night?” “All mimsy were the borogroves.” “… Okay, well, gotta run!”

    3. Clumsy Ninja*

      I’m assuming that she’s upset because you direct questions to others? If she wants to be the SME, she needs to give coherent and helpful answers. That’s on her.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would tend toward just saying nothing. Or maybe you could say that you don’t have that many questions if you feel like you have to say something.

      My former boss was assigned a mentor who did not know his stuff. He gave the wrong answers. Mentor would ask my why my boss did not call him. I would shake my head and say I didn’t know. Eventually he stopped asking.

    5. PollyQ*

      Quit asking her questions, and let her manage her own emotions. It’s a silly thing to get upset about anyway, IMO.

  7. Invisible today*

    Have my yearly performance review tomorrow. First one at this org. It’s been made clear to me that the performance review has nothing to do with my compensation (only raises are COL given separately – wish I’d knew to ask about that before joining).

    Not sure how seriously to take the process – we have to do an online self-evaluation – ranking ourselves on a scale of 1-5 on predefined categories, more than half of which have nothing to do with my actual job tasks. The job description isn’t one that lines up with my work either… and the person doing the review has only been in a supervisory role for 4 months. At some point, I have to wonder what’s the point ? HR says these reviews are “optional” depending on department. Great-grandboss apparently wants these done, but it seems like collection of garbage data – not sure what he would ever do with the info. Oh well… let’s see how it goes.

    1. Artemesia*

      Prepare to do well on this and use this as a time to reflect on how to revise the resume and package yourself for the job search. You don’t have to stay with a company that doesn’t value its workers or their performance. You have a job, so no rush, but start the careful process of finding something better. Don’t worry about how long you have been there. When you leave for something better, let them know that it was the lack of rewarding performance that caused you to job search.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I’m in the same boat! First time process with my org. They said the self-assessment would take less than a half hour but took me way longer than that. Made me anxious. Boss is currently away so grand boss (I think) is covering for my review. No idea what to expect and not looking forward to it.

    3. Manager 2*

      My recommendation on performance reviews at my company, which seem as useful as yours, is to figure out how to check the box for the powers that be but also use it to toot your own horn and highlight accomplishments so it is useful to you and your manager. So in your case, for the rankings that having nothing to do with your job, you are somewhere between satisfactory and great and just pick a value and they’re all that. For the ones that do apply, put effort into those and if you can add comments, list out the things you did well. That can then serve you for promotions in the future or finding another job or whatever.

  8. Chaordic One*

    You don’t say where you work, but generally, “no,” they’re not right and “no,” this is not normal, at least not in more developed countries. Is there a high rate of turnover where you work? It is more likely to be like what you describe in smaller non-union companies, the kinds of companies that don’t have an HR. I think your HR is gaslighting you. I don’t know what the employment situation is like where you live, but I’d start looking for another job if I were you.

  9. Hotdog not dog*

    So my company (very large, many thousands of people) has decided that they really want our butts in seats. For many of us, that’s a no-go. Last week one of the managers asked me what she could do to make people want to come in 5 days instead of the mandatory 3 and I answered her honestly that unless she had a serious budget to increase pay, probably nothing. (I’m not currently a manager, but a high level individual contributor with a pretty unusual collection of qualifications.) There is no business need for any of us to be onsite; we interact with people all over the country and even pre pandemic rarely met most of them in person.
    She doesn’t have a budget, and the firm’s requirement is 3 days per week. Other than cash, I can’t think of anything that would make me want to go to the office 5 days a week. (I don’t even want to go for 3, but that’s a whole other thing.)
    Is there anything that would make you want to work from the office?

    1. Yaz*

      Haha my company does hot desking or as they call it “hoteling.” Terrible system. I might consider going back if I had MY OWN FRIGGIN DESK.

      1. Sleepy cat*

        Whereas I am totally fine with this. I have no need for a fixed desk – happy to just plug in my laptop and go (so long as I have a locker for my stuff)

      2. Gnome*

        Yes, that can very much be A Thing. Like, as a woman, I want to keep feminine hygiene stuff available. As an allergy and migraine sufferer, I also want that available. And I don’t want random people to be able to take it. I was more in-office during the pandemic when I had a set space to be.

      3. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        Agree, my previous company did this. I like having my pictures and post it notes and other junk to make it my space.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I like being in an office a few days a week, but there’s nothing that would make me want to be there full time.

    3. Chaordic One*

      No, there’s nothing that would make me want to work from office. That said, the actual office we are expected to work from is horrible, although it does make a good first impression appearance-wise. The office is cold all the time. The restrooms are far away and there are not enough toilets in them (Sometimes you go in and all of them are in use and you have to run to the other side of the building or up or down to a different floor.) The lunch rooms are cramped (and seem like a good place to catch COVID). The security features that allegedly protect us (electronic gates and door activated by badges that have electronic chips in them only work about half the time) and it is impossible to find a security guard when you need one.

    4. Ranon*

      I voluntarily work from the office three days a week, at a company where quite a lot of people do actually feel there are benefits to working in person and make an effort to come in for those benefits, and I still can’t see much of anything making me want to be in the office five days a week (or anyone else, for that matter, I think maybe 1 or 2% of employees actually work from the office full time).

    5. Pisces*

      I like going into the office. It helps strengthen my work-life balance and keep me from working 24/7. It isn’t something I need an incentive for. Although I do like working from home too, because it means I can get to the gym in the mornings before work. So maybe if the building had a gym? Yeah, that’s my answer!

    6. Golden*

      It would go a long way if they converted our open office plan into individual offices with walls and doors. Last time I went in, the person behind me and the person on across me had a loud conversation over my desk about their workout routines. When I work from home, I don’t have to deal with that, or our resident scream laugher, or the maze of chairs to wade through because I guess nobody ever learned to push them in after getting up?

      I realize this isn’t feasible for many offices, but on-site affordable day care would also get me (personally) in office 100% of the time.

    7. cubone*

      this is really it for me: “There is no business need for any of us to be onsite”

      If there was a legitimate business need, then yes. If there isn’t, then insisting on something that doesn’t actually serve any functional purpose makes me question other aspects of their judgement and decision making.

      1. JSPA*

        Instead of taking the win that is dropping the commuter carbon footprint by 2/5, they’re trying to justify the costs of renting a keep and utilities for the building… harder to do that with less staff on site. But that’s a darn good reason to rethink how you do business; not a reason to become the seat-butt monitor.

    8. Alexis Rosay*

      Free lunch every day. My company is trying a ‘gentle sell’ on getting people back into the office and the week they provided free lunches had by far the highest attendance. It honestly makes no sense because a good percentage of the people I work with are super highly paid and can easily afford to buy their own lunch. But people like getting free food.

      To your point, without a dedicated budget I don’t think your manager can do anything to make people ‘want’ to come in.

      1. Sue*

        Anecdotally, I know people in tech who go in because FOOD. But they have 3 high quality meals on schedules that encourage long days. The grocery savings can be pretty significant but the cost to the companies have to be pretty significant as well.

        1. Gatomon*

          If they’re working odd hours in tech, cooking is just hard to do around all the other life stuff. Sometimes I work 8-5, then 11 p.m. – 3 a.m., then log on again at 9 a.m. and work to 5. If it’s a choice between making a nice breakfast for myself and 30 more minutes of sleep, I’m taking the sleep on those days. And by the end of the next day, I’m too burned to make a good meal. It may be different for people with SO’s who can cook, but ugh. I’d do a lot for free nutritious meals.

    9. Art3mis*

      More money, lax dress code, and make it more like a sports bar with TVs and servers bring me drink refills and mozzarella sticks all day.

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      I would want a clear understanding of the business reason for me to be in the office.

    11. Ali + Nino*

      Pay me to commute, either reimbursing gas mileage or compensating me for public transit. Otherwise I agree with on-site gym and affordable on-site daycare.

    12. Beebee*

      Currently my job is hybrid and I go in very rarely. Most people are fully WFH as our jobs involve a lot of remote work with people in a different country anyways. The office has kind of pushed more return to work, but until we have an internal project I don’t think they are really going to make much of an effort.

      To go in person I think I’d need:

      – To know other people are going. I don’t want to go and sit by myself, the only thing I really miss about working in person was the socialization and how easily I got to know my coworkers. I do miss having work friends (online it’s just not the same) and how easier it was to get to know people. It made my job a lot easier to be able to have face to face relationships.
      – To feel safe, so if the company is pushing a return when COVID is high in my city I would not be interested in going in as it says to me they don’t really understand safety.
      – Some form of benefit that makes giving up my comfort of WFH worth it. WFH allows me to wear comfy clothes, hang out with my cat all day, and take breaks as I want to (easily my biggest plus as I am a fast worker and when I’m at home, will try and do everything quickly so I can chill out at the end of the day). So I would need something to make me feel like those things were not as valuable. Money would definitely help but it would have to be substantial. Free food in the office is always nice to have because it helps keep grocery bills low but it would not be enough on its own to make me go in every day (I would go in on days currently they plan for a staff lunch, aka the point is to be social and meet people! But not every day).
      – Maybe better flexibility around my hours? If my job said I could work less than 8 hours a day but get paid the same so long as I went in every day, I would probably go in every day. However my job allows for that and I know they trust me, so that would not work for everyone.
      – If pay increases weren’t possible, a 4 day work week with no salary reduction would be enticing. As in 4 8 hour days, not 4 10s. I think this would really make me consider working in the office every day.
      – I’d need to know that they have a strict policy on people who are sick being required to WFH until they are no longer sick and contagious
      – I walk to work so not an issue, but if I were commuting I’d want either a gas or transit rebate and free parking.

      If my job told me that I would get a $10k raise, free parking on the days I drive plus a gas rebate, and could work flexible hours (as in sometimes yes, less than 40 hours) or only 4 days a week then I would highly consider going in. If on top of that they also provided lunch every day and I could get to know my coworkers better, then I would likely say yes to going in every day. But my commute while walking is 15 min and driving is 5…. if I had an hour+ commute then even all of that likely wouldn’t be enough.

    13. Epsilon Delta*

      Why does she want people in the office 5 days instead of 3? What benefit does she anticipate that bringing? If she can’t clearly articulate that in a way that gets her team to agree and buy into it, and if the company policy is 3 days a week, then there probably isn’t anything she can do to make people “want” to come in. She would have to convince people that it’s better *for them* to come in 5 days a week. For example, if their role is highly collaborative and the meeting software drops calls all the time, it probably is better for everyone to be in the office 5 days a week because their workday would be smoother. But if the team was already geographically distributed before Covid and virtual meetings work well, that argument won’t fly. And if her reason is “I just want to see them at their desks,” then she has no leg to stand on and convincing them it’s better to be in the office won’t work.

      If she can’t convince the team based on the merit of her reason for wanting them in the office, the only other thing I can think of that others haven’t mentioned yet is a perk like additional flex time. For example, being able to leave early on Fridays or come in an hour late every day or take an extra long lunch. She may or may not have the authority (or desire) to offer that though.

    14. mlem*

      Want? Literally nothing. Right now my division expects us to go in “if it would be meaningful” — group brainstorming meetings, performance reviews, working with specific hardware. They could certainly bribe me to go in more often, but I’d need a significant bribe. Like a time-and-a-half equivalent significant.

    15. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I can’t really help – I prefer going in to the office, hate WFH. Currently I’m going in 3 days because that’s what most people are doing, but I’d be there every day if everybody else was.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, but I wish I could broadcast this into the mind of every job-seeker (especially the entry-level ones) so I hope at least a few people see it who didn’t already realize:

        If you get a chance to talk with your prospective coworkers without the hiring manager present, for the love of god take advantage of it! I interviewed two people last week who had ZERO questions for me because they’d already asked the hiring manager all their questions. (Not separate “rounds” of interviews, just the previous half hour.) Such a missed (rare!) opportunity for them to get candid responses about the HM, team culture, etc. Not that I was burning to warn them about anything in particular, I like the HM, but they didn’t know that!

    16. Square Root of Minus One*

      In my office 100% remote doesn’t work well. I’m not sure why, but people accumulating WFH days tend to isolate a lot.
      I like hybrid for myself. Some conversations are much easier face-to-face, so “one day remote one day in” works well for me.

    17. Gatomon*

      Well, they could provide me a private office with a window and a private bathroom and a private kitchen like in my house… but that won’t happen at my level.

      I think I’d be willing to go back to the office full time if I could work 32 hours a week. So 4x 8 hour days. But I want my same rate of pay. The flexibility and convenience of working from home is just too good to give up. And now that I’ve figured it out, I don’t know how I worked in a noisy office with people constantly interrupting me or walking behind me (it freaks me out and all our half-cubes are set up so we’re facing away from the walkway). But I’m not cut out for a 4×10 schedule, so it’d have to be 32 hours a week.

      My work apparently has realized that demanding we all come back into the office won’t fly, but the big cheese wants us to come in office for meetings more often now because “culture.” Except, my team is split up among multiple office locations, so we’d just be driving in to meet on Teams anyway. It honestly works better to have everyone individually on the computer than to have a group in a conference room and others remote. So I’m waiting to see what my boss decides to do.

    18. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      The answer is that you will agree to go in 5 days a week if they offer you a 40% reduction in workload and 104 more PTO days. Then just take 2 days off every week and stay home! Everyone wins!

  10. Yaz*

    How the heck do you concentrate during back to back virtual meetings? Lately I’ve had a lot of these where my day is super busy with meetings but incredibly unproductive because I’m constantly in catch up mode from the last call, trying to answer urgent IMs and emails, and just generally mentally zonked from all the calls.

    1. Hazel*

      I have discovered that when I’m in the mode you described, I need to decide what HAS to be done and do that. The other things have to wait. You’re one person, and there’s no such thing as multitasking. It might mean postponing the next meeting or the one after that. Or forwarding the urgent thing to someone else to handle. If you suddenly got a migraine or felt nauseated or whatever and couldn’t do the next meeting or the next task, it would have to wait. So if you can’t do everything in the hours provided, then stuff has to wait, and people will adjust their expectations. It helps if you have a manager who will back you up, but regardless, you still need to take time to prioritize. Until recently I thought that not actually producing work was “not working.” But I now have so many projects I’m working on, that if I don’t take time every week (or usually more than once a week) to look at my To Do list, I end up wasting time looking for meeting notes and feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. I hate that feeling and want to avoid it at all costs. Plus, of course I want to do a good job for my coworkers who rely on me. It didn’t help them if I’m frazzled.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      I do it the same way I did in in-person meetings: I don’t. I can’t pay attention for that long and most cannot either. If people thought that in person meetings meant people were paying attention, they were wrong. Get your work done on the calls.

    3. RagingADHD*

      It’s not really feasible to maintain that, but you can somewhat improve your chances by

      1) Minimizing or hiding your video view as much as possible so that you’re primarily treating it like an audio call. Processing and reacting to screen faces in lieu of live faces is uniquely exhausting to the brain. If you must see the other person for some reason, minimize or turn off your view of yourself. Again, seeing and monitoring yourself drains mental bandwidth even if you’re not consciously thinking about it.

      2) Keeping your own camera off as much as possible so you can get up and move around. Even if it’s the norm to be in video for most of the call, try to use presentation mode or brief blackouts to give yourself a break.

      3) Get up from your desk between meetings for a proper break, however brief. Go outside and get the mail. Just walk to the other end of your home and back. Anything.

      I know it’s hard when you have other work to catch up, but even if you have to take your phone and return messages while you’re outside for 5 minutes, that’s still better than being stuck at your desk straight through.

      Good luck!

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      To the degree that your work culture lets you, try to make it clear that you won’t be able to work on the tasks from Meeting A until [later time] because you have to go to Meeting B right after it as they’re figuring out task assignments during the meeting, and if it’s a small group of internal people who will be emailing you and leaving messages you can give them a heads-up that you similarly won’t be getting back to them until [later time] that day because you’re in back-to-back meetings. If there’s a way to set a “busy” or “in a meeting” status in IM, use it and don’t take it off between meetings if you only have a short break rather than enough time to accomplish things that have been accumulating in IMs.

      There are some virtual meetings that you can “multitask” through because you don’t actually need to be in that meeting so you can read the slide deck to make sure that you know what does and doesn’t apply to you and then tune out the speaker (these are the meetings that should be emails), but if you actually need to pay attention, well, you’re in a meeting and therefore can’t be doing the other things, just like you couldn’t during in-person meetings.

      I also schedule at least a full hour mid-day for lunch as “busy” in my Outlook calendar even though I really only take a half hour for lunch. The other half (or whole hour, depending) is for skimming through the morning emails/IMs/phone calls and dealing with anything so urgent that it needs doing before the afternoon meetings start. (I’m salaried and no one looks at my Outlook calendar to figure out my work hours. If you need your calendar to accurately distinguish between lunch and work you’d probably want to call this half hour “email catch-up time” or something instead.) Protecting some time mid-day, if possible, for catching up on things so you don’t have to do it mid-meeting or at the end of the day can make a difference.

    5. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      If I am setting the meeting I now make 30 min ones 20 or 25 mins and hour ones 45 or 55 mins. Or I tell people I have a hard stop 5-10 mins before mtg ends at the beginning (depending on my role in the meeting) and I just ping in the meeting chat in Teams that I have to drop. No one has challenged this and now I can catch up, use the restroom, stand up and move, etc.

  11. Pisces*

    Any accountants in the house? Specifically in auditing or forensic accounting? I’m sitting the CPA exam soon and I’d love to hear about what your day-to-day is like.

    1. Lifelong student*

      CPA here. I started in my mid-forties and had to do the then mandatory two years in public. Always thought I would love internal audit- discovered I hated actual audits and became a tax geek. After 4 years in public, went into non-profits as director of finance- but also volunteered as a VITA tax preparer. Got an MBA- at 56. Eventually moved into academia and taught at local universities. Short version- except for the mandatory slave labor period required for licensing- you can do almost anything with a CPA- or successful candidate credential!

      1. Pisces*

        What was it about internal audits that didn’t gel with you, if you don’t mind my asking?

        1. Lifelong student*

          It wasn’t internal audit- it was audits of other companies. What did I hate- having to fill out check lists that said I did something that I did not feel I had done- or at least not done as well as I thought it should be done. Believe it or not- there is a lot of wiggle room in audits. Its called materiality and I am a bit of a perfectionist- so not 100% correct means incorrect to me.

      2. Flash Packet*

        I bailed on becoming a CPA after getting a Master’s in accounting specifically because of how much I hate tax. :-)

        I’m an internal auditor and it’s my 4th career. I love it. The standard thing we do, SOX testing, is notoriously boring after you’ve done the same tests a couple of years in a row… BUT… if SOX testing is interspersed with enough other projects, then it can be a great brain-dead-but-still-productive break.

        My department of 14 people does, on average, 10 internal audits a year where we pick a part of our business to do a deep dive into. So we’re learning other people’s jobs, how they fit into the company, what risks there are in their processes that could affect the company, and then coming up with ways to mitigate those risks.

        Each internal audit lasts 3-4 months and by the time you wrap one up, you’re exhausted and never ever want to hear about that part of the business again (only slightly joking) because you’ve been up to your ears in it 5 days a week without a spare moment to do anything else. SOX testing looks like a pleasant vacation afterward.

        And then SOX testing gets boring and you start fantasizing about using your brain again and — bam! — another internal audit is starting up and you’re off to the races again, looking at and learning about something else that is completely new.

        As for the day-to-day… whether it’s SOX or internal audits, you’re dealing with spreadsheets and reports that can be hundreds of thousands of rows long. You’re either reperforming someone else’s math, or re-pulling the data they’ve been using to make their business decisions and verifying that they’re at least working off a complete set. And you’re documenting as you go, so that anyone else who comes in after you and looks at your work will come to the same conclusion that you did.

        I’ll also note that you don’t have to spend a single day in public accounting to be either a CPA or an internal auditor. Four of my team members who are CPAs have only ever worked in industry. The requirement (at least in my state) is to work for two years under another CPA. And since the managers on our team are all CPAs (plus our VP), that counts.

        I chose to get my CIA and CISA, instead. And I’m currently studying for the CFE exam which I plan on taking in October after I get back from auditing our manufacturing facilities in France.

        1. Pisces*

          You’ve pretty much just described my dream job! Know that I am deeply envious. Best of luck on the CFE! :)

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Not a CPA, but have a Bachelor’s in accounting & half of my MS tax completed (stopped going after I got all my tax classes….was burned out and sick of racking up student loan debt…convo for another day.) Currently work for the IRS as an auditor (tax). My current position is unique to a degree, although many of the skills you learn in audit, ether internal or external, are used.

      There are so many paths in accounting that you are sure to find one that you like. I completed an internship in internal audit for a large city. With internal audit, you have to be prepared for that fact that most people in most other departments will not like you and will not associate with you. Your job is to find what they are doing wrong, be it deliberate or inadvertent, and there are almost always consequences to your findings which may range from a slap on the wrist or memo or procedure change all the way up to disciplinary action. Audit, in general, is an adversarial position. You will have to deliver the results of your audit report and despite the fact that you may be delivering it to people who work for the same company, some of those people will view you as the enemy. Also, audit is very detailed and tedious and there is writing….lots of writing. If these don’t sound fun to you, audit may not be for you.

      The only true forensic accountants I have ever known either worked for firms that specialized in defending individuals or firms facing criminal charges or the they worked for the FBI. Either of those are good gigs, but I don’t know about the day to day.

      My best advice, if you are working in or plan to work in public accounting, is to circulate through the different departments, audit, tax, assurance, etc. and see which one is the best fit for you and go from there. As the other commenter said, you may think that one area is going to be a good fit only to find out that you don’t actually like the day to day.

      Also, to get your CPA, you don’t necessarily have to work in public accounting, but it is the quickest route to meeting the experience requirement and allows you to gain exposure to so much in a short amount of time.

      1. Pisces*

        “With internal audit, you have to be prepared for that fact that most people in most other departments will not like you and will not associate with you. Your job is to find what they are doing wrong, be it deliberate or inadvertent, and there are almost always consequences to your findings which may range from a slap on the wrist or memo or procedure change all the way up to disciplinary action. Audit, in general, is an adversarial position. You will have to deliver the results of your audit report and despite the fact that you may be delivering it to people who work for the same company, some of those people will view you as the enemy. Also, audit is very detailed and tedious and there is writing….lots of writing. If these don’t sound fun to you, audit may not be for you.”

        While I imagine you meant this as a warning, to me, all of that sounds like the occupational equivalent of free Starbucks for life (as in, something that would make me delightfully happy).

        Thank you for your response! I appreciate the time you took to share all of that. :)

      2. Flash Packet*

        The university I went to is one of a handful of “Centers of Excellence” for internal audit and I was given the same warning about no one else in the company liking you and. . . I just have not found that to be true. Not at my internships [brand name consumer goods] nor at the two full-time jobs [F1 global company and F600 international company] I’ve had since graduating.

        The people who aren’t happy with us tend to be the ones who are slacking off or breaking rules “just because”. It’s OK that they don’t like us and they’re usually managed out.

        Everyone else is making mistakes because the process they’re forced to follow is crappy or they haven’t been trained properly or their grand-bosses suck and are making everyone miserable and getting in the way of people doing a good job.

        THOSE people are thrilled when they learn that the crappy-process-that-can-only-be-changed-with-monetary-investments is going to get highlighted to the Board of Directors and the C-Suite. Ditto for the C-Suite getting a report about the sucky grand-boss.

        In other words, the vast majority realize that we are there to *help* them do a good job, not to admonish them for not being perfect.

        And because we touch all aspects of the company, we’re seen as a central hub of knowledge. So if the controller of the plant in, say, Midland TX wants to know if any other business units are doing X because she’s thinking of implementing X at Midland, she calls us.

        If the company is toxic or poorly managed to begin with, i.e., the “tone at the top” is punitive, then, sure, Internal Audit could be hated because mistakes are punished instead of being seen as learning and process improvement opportunities. But that company sucks. And there will be more things wrong than just people not liking the auditors.

        1. A Frayed Knot*

          This. I am an internal auditor. My departments (led by me or by others) work hard against the “gotcha” model. We are business partners, here to help remove roadblocks to your efficiency and effectiveness. If we find something you’re doing wrong, we just explain the rules and move on…unless it is intentional. It’s very rarely intentional.
          The best part of my job is that no two days are alike. You never know what problem or ethics complaint will come in the door. You also get to know upper management pretty quickly, which is helpful when a client needs help getting a process changed. You can be the hero for lots of people when you get a requested change approved!

          1. Princess Xena*

            I’m in public audit and feel the same way. I’m not trying to catch people out and making their lives harder – I’m helping to try and find legitimate, serious mistakes that could lead to big legal and financial troubles.

    3. Princess Xena*

      I’m an auditor! I’ve gotten my CPA exams done and am working on hours now.

      People complain about public a lot. Huge amounts. Some of that is justified (I’m looking at you, Big Four) but I have found that it’s not so much that the whole field sucks as it is that a lot of people are not interested in being public auditors long term. One thing public is great for is giving you an in-depth look at why all the controls/processes/financial systems are in place, plus a good look at how a whole bunch of different companies handle their accounting and financial systems.

      Public is all about holding companies accountable for their finances. I work at a firm where we have mostly private clients, so the position I’m in is rarely adversarial, but every now and then I’ll come up against someone at a client who doesn’t like that the public guys are coming in and telling them how to do their jobs. Every time I’ve had this it’s been an internal audit person. This is not common in my experience and does not go beyond some mild griping as to why we want this document, we didn’t ask for it last year so why do we need it now.

      My day to day is a lot of documentation. A lot of what you do initially is looking at similar clients or the same client’s documents from last year and copying the work. I found that at about 6 months in I began understanding what I was doing well enough to generate my own explanations/work papers myself rather than getting a lot of help from a senior/manager. Once you can make that transition to following the big picture it gets easier and more interesting. It’s still a lot of doing some sort of test and then writing in specific detail why and when and where and how you did the test.

      Last thing – the faster you can get your CPA done the better. I have seniors who are still pushing through them now and it’s much harder to do once you’re learning management + handling clients yourself + teaching new staff + working on clients. And due to liability/state law reasons they can’t get promoted to manager until they do pass.

  12. Csw*

    So 2 week s ago my temporary GM (who’s been around for 2 months) mentioned that I’m going to get a raise in July – but without a title bump. I’m thinking of going back to her tomorrow to ask for a title bump (from junior teapot specialist to teapot specialist). Any tips on how to approach it?

    I don’t know how much of a case I should make, but I have been without a teapot director for the past 7 months and can probably make a decent one, even though I’ve only been here 1 year and 3 months.

    1. mlem*

      Is there a typical timeframe for the bump from junior to non-junior within the company? And can you demonstrate you’re fully (or 90%) already performing at a non-junior level?

      1. Csw*

        They usually don’t give bumps before the 2 year mark, but I’ve basically been operating as the only specialist in my department without a director for 6 months (usually it would be a single director in my position, I was actually brought on because my previous director had too much work on her plate). So even the raise is early, but I probably have a decent case on why I should get a title bump.

      2. Csw*

        Trying again because the message disappeared… I’d say its slightly early, but I’ve been handling the teapot speciality for 6 months without a director – usually it would be a junior (me) and a director. The raise is pretty much to make sure I don’t leave, which is probably necessary since I was job searching before this news came in…

    2. Gnome*

      I’d look into it by asking around more first. Some companies do annual raises for performance or cost of living, and July is a fairly common time to have a company fiscal year change (not always tied to this though). Is this a merit raise, a cost of living raise (with inflation it is possible they are doing those to retain people)? This is not to say that you shouldn’t look for a title bump, but to know the background. If it’s a cost-of-living thing, you may come across a little weird. FWIW, in my line of work, it would be normal to be “junior” for at least two years, typically more. Having background can impact how you best phrase things.

      1. Csw*

        It’s one of those cases where it’s unusual to give a raise at the mid year mark (if any raises are given, it’s usually at the end of the year). But my boss left I’m November and my interim boss (who’s a teacup director) left in April. This is pretty much a bid to ensure the specialist division doesn’t lose all its talent, and I’ve been holding up the teapot side of things by myself for 6 months. They’re only (finally!) Bringing in a new teapot director at the end of next month.

      2. Csw*

        My message seems to have disappeared so let me try again… they’re giving my a raise outside of the typical end of year cycle because my department has been shedding people. I’ve been without a boss for 6 months now, and my interim boss (let’s call her a teacup director) also left in April. Usually I’d say it would take 2 years for me, but I’ve been handling the teapot speciality by myself for a while and they’re only (finally!) bringing in my director’s replacement in next month.

    3. PollyQ*

      15 months is too soon for a promotion for many companies/roles. You might try a conversation that starts with “What would you need to see from me for me to be eligible for a promotion?” though.

      1. Csw*

        I’m aware of that (I’m in a junior role but I’m also a job switcher), but I’ve been handling the speciality for the past 6 months without a director. So I have a decent case to for a title bump, considering I’ve already been doing the work.

  13. Chaordic One*

    A relative of mine works at a smaller upscale grocery chain that is something of a rival to Whole Foods, although much smaller. After a series of management shakeups and hiring freezes there are rumblings among the staff of a move to unionize. My relative is undecided, but what really bothers them is that the current president of the corporation has repeatedly sent out letters that falsely claim that the chain is the leader in wages paid to employees and this is blatantly false. If she believes that this is true, it makes her look incompetent. If is is knowingly making false statements, it makes her look dishonest. Why would the president keep making these false statements? Doesn’t she know that this is completely undermining her credibility? My relative is now more inclined to support a union because of the dishonesty of the current president, than if the president had been honest and not lied about it.

    1. Russian in Texas*

      Because the employer will do and say anything to prevent unionizing? Even the outright falsehoods.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That tends to be a two way street. Unions can also tell stories.

        OP, brace yourself for story telling.
        Since this one point bothers you why not mention it to the people trying to unionize. Maybe they can get out documentation that proves the CEO wrong.

        Unionizing is not fun. Even changing unions can be dicey. We changed unions and the lies in the newspaper were amazing. Those of us in the situation knew the truth.

    2. cubone*

      unions are a threat to the president’s ability to wield power like a weapon for their own personal/financial benefit. So, therein lies the answer: the president cares much, much, much, much more about holding on to power than preserving their credibility.

      You know that saying: when people show you who they are, believe them? Yeah, this is that. Good luck to your relative and the union fight.

    3. Raboot*

      > Why would the president keep making these false statements?

      Because they’re scared of unions and want people to believe them. Your analysis is based on the assumption that people will immediately fact check these claims, but I assume plenty of people don’t, and in any case that’s presumably what they’re depending on regardless of the reality.

      An acquaintance of mine is a union employee at a supermarket and their union been invaluable lately as they’ve been dealing with a workplace injury. Hope your relative gets that union!

    4. pancakes*

      You and your relative should read up on how common it is for employers to discourage unionizing. Tactics like these are typical.




      Many employers are particularly on edge right now because of changes at the NLRB.



      And because unionizing is becoming more popular.



  14. Miss. Bianca*

    I posted the below last week. HR ended up sending the wrong job description! I’m so irritated at this point. I asked him what the people already in the Sr. positions do to get them at the level and he couldn’t give me an answer. I’m assuming there isn’t any criteria that shows a difference in my level and the Sr. level.

    What can I do at this point? Frankly, if it’s taken MONTHS to get a job description and NO ONE can tell me what I need to do to get to the next level, it’s not going to happen and I’m going to continue to get more work dumped on me and have to lead the most complex projects. However I can try to put together some ideas on what I need to work on, but I’m tired of trying to guess. I don’t care, management should be able to tell me in 5 minutes what a brief difference is between my level and the level above!

    It also clicked with me this weekend that my former boss who quit probably never told my grand-boss about what I’ve done the past two years so he probably doesn’t know! And the things I’m already doing above my level, my grand-boss doesn’t know they are above my level because he doesn’t know what I *should* be doing!

    Previous Post –
    I have a skip-level meeting with my grand-boss this afternoon. I am a Llama Grooming Manager and trying to get information on the next role up from me (Senior Llama Grooming Manager) and frankly it’s been a frustrating process. For more context, I’ve been with the company for over 2 years and my grand-boss has only been with the company about 6 months. I’ve mentioned to him before that I need this information so I know what I need to work on in order to get to the next level. A few months ago he said he would get the job descriptions for both for me, but then never did. A few weeks ago I sent in a request to HR asking for both job descriptions, when I hadn’t heard anything after a week I let him know and he said he would ask the HR person later that day, but again I never heard back. What makes it extra frustrating, is that I had a manager who refused to go over my 1:1 in detail (so why I got a “good job” instead of an “excellent job” and what an “excellent job” looked like) and only said the difference between the positions was salary…Thankfully he quit a few weeks ago.I’m really frustrated at this point. I have a feeling our company doesn’t know how to differentiate between those 2 positions, making it that much harder to make a case for a promotion or more responsibility. Again, I’m not demanding a promotion, but I’ve been with the company over 2 years, have continuously been given more responsibility and am able to lead projects without my guidance so I think it’s fair I’m asking more on what I need to do to get promoted.I plan on asking him what he heard back from HR. I also think it’s fair I express my frustration with the lack of clarity on this, is there a way to do so without coming off bratty? If he comes back without clarification between the roles, how should I tell him that I really need him to articulate to me what I need to do to get promoted?

    1. Artemesia*

      they have just told you they don’t want to compensate you well or promote you and they don’t care about your skills — you are a cog, ‘we got you — so whatcha gonna do about it?’ They don’t care; they think you will keep doing what they pile on you.

      The only cure for this (you have already taken the appropriate steps if it were a matter of clarifying job roles) is to start a focused low key job search and when something attractive that rewards your abilities comes along take it.

      1. Miss. Bianca*

        Yep…would it be petty of me to just decline the skip-levels with my grand-boss lol? He doesn’t deserve an explanation lol. My new boss actually just started anyway.

    2. BRR*

      I went through a similarly frustrating experience at my last job and based on that and what you’ve posted, you’re grand boss is not going to do a sudden 180 and say you need to do x, y, and z to get promoted.

      I believe you’ve posed a few times about this (my apologies if I’ve confused you with another commenter) and my advice would be to proceed as if nothing is going to change. It doesn’t sound like they would be bothered by the lack of clarity they’ve given you.

      I would strongly recommend putting your energy into job hunting over putting your energy into getting them to outline what you need to do for a promotion. You could try asking for a promotion and differentiating between the two levels yourself. Maybe you can bring this up to your new boss and they will be able to help. And if you haven’t been 100% clear and said something along the lines of “what specific actions do I need to do complete be considered for a promotion?” do that. (It’s frequent on AAM where someone thinks they’ve been direct when they might have said “I would like to see the difference between the two job descriptions so I know what to work on” which is not as clear as specifically saying you want a promotion.)

      But these should be in addition to job hunting and don’t let yourself spiral over the promotion. As someone who went through this, i became hyper focused on my promotion, or lack there of, and the only thing that resulted from it was a lot of stress, anger, and wasted energy. You won’t make them realize and regret that they handled this wrong.

      Two other thoughts: maybe there’s nothing hard and fast that separates the two levels. At my last job, the difference between a regular llama groomer and a senior llama groomer was how well your department head advocated for you and how visible you could make yourself. If that’s the case, it’s not going to help you to continue down this road of getting a clear distinction between the two levels. And 2) grandboss is six months in so this might just not be a high priory for him.

      And I want to be clear, your grandboss and others at your company should be able to easily say what the difference is. You are a casualty of their cluelessness.

  15. Your Local Password Resetter*

    Question for the comments: how do you stop stress from your coworkers and managers from affecting you?

    Our company isn’t very well run, which causes a lot of people to be stressed and overworked, and a lot of venting in turn. But I’d like to disconnect from that, since we can’t actually fix it and it’s affecting my mental health.
    What are strategies people use to deal with such a stressed team?

    1. Hawk*

      My work is very similar right now, and my previous workplace was that way.

      1. Prioritize caring for your own mental health. Whether that’s therapy, taking time away from work, or something else, you have to take care of your own mental health. Because as you say, you can’t actually fix the cause of the stress, and unless you’re a manager, you really can’t fix your team’s stress either. You’re not responsible for fixing other people’s emotions.
      2. Physically remove yourself from the venting or change the conversation. Alison has said before that venting just doesn’t help in certain situations and it can actually make things worse because you get a culture of upset venting (my previous workplace).
      3. It may be time for a new job.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      Ugh, I’ve been there. Do whatever you can to separate yourself from the venting…it makes a huge difference. If the venting is any online channel or space, leave or mute the channel or conversation. If the venting is in live conversation, make yourself unsatisfying to vent to. You can simply respond to vents with something noncommittal and change the subject like “Hmmm, yeah. Did you watch the game last weekend?” Or if the person won’t stop talking about it, say “What’s your plan to address that?” If there is anything genuinely positive to say, that can also stop negative spirals: “Actually, I find Bob is really receptive to addressing these issues.” (But only if that’s true.)

      Maybe the most important thing, though, is realizing you are not anyone else’s emotional receptacle. I fell into the trap in the past of feeling like I had to let my coworkers dump their grievances on me–you don’t!! Good luck!

    3. Beebee*

      If you can afford to do so, therapy is a great outlet for venting about work in a healthy setting. I try to leave the major venting to there, especially if there are things I cannot change. It can help you make sure your stress is handled which can make it easier to deal with other stressful people.

      If therapy is not an option (or even if it is!) it definitely helps to set limits with coworkers. First ask yourself — what are you okay with dealing with? And then make sure to clearly communicate those boundaries. I find it helps to be able to vent and hear from coworkers about legitimate issues that can be resolved, especially since a large part of my job is resolving day to day problems. But if they want to complain about something I have no control over (either someone being difficult, or larger company issues) I am okay to listen only if I am not already stressed and only for short periods of time. And only if they want advice… I am not interested in being vented at for any period of time unless the coworker is a REALLY good friend.

      If you don’t want to hear any venting at all, you can definitely say that! And if people keep venting anyways, ignore them if possible, completely stop listening to the conversation so they get the message, say you have to leave the call/meeting immediately, say something non-committal like “it sounds like a real issue, I hope you can solve it!”. And like Hawk said… maybe find a new job if you can.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I never realized until I read here that more and more people are in therapy because of their jobs.
        Alison, I hope you catch this one and can do a column on it. How many people are in therapy because their job sucks?
        Employers should hang their heads in shame.

        OP, understand that there is no real substitute for finding a new job. I know sometimes that is not possible, but start looking anyway.

        Meanwhile what I did with one job was identify sources of stress. and there were many.

        Boss lies. I would write down what the boss said and hang it over my desk. (No emails in those days.) Put summaries of what was said in emails and send the email to the boss for confirmation.

        Boss set us up to fail. They said of choice A or B, do B. Then when we did B the yelling would start. Predictable pattern. I began repeating back, “So you want me to do B, not A?” When she called me on it (predictably) I would say, “This is why I repeated it back to you. YOu said you wanted B. I don’t care if I do A or B, I have no preference here. My only preference is to do the task once and do it right the first time.”

        People forgot stuff. I kept lists of who to follow up with. I would even say, “Last call! I am going to start task X and I need to know if you have any additions before I start!”

        I made sure my stuff was in order. I kept control over my own deadlines. If someone wasn’t giving me material I needed to meet my deadline, I’d let the boss know. I did this by noting the time frames, if I needed all Y’s on Tuesday, I would mention on the Friday before that I was not getting the Y’s I needed.

        Fake crisis. Oddly there were many days when I did not have what I needed on the rush item and I was relieved. It wasn’t my fault and I could just move on to something else. Rush items are only actual rushes if management makes sure everything is in place to accomplish the rush. With this in mind I started understanding that a lot of the rushes were smoke and mirrors. Management that does not know how to manage will create synthetic crisises to keep people moving. I remember one of my so-called rushes sat, completed for FOUR months. Yeah, that was a rush, riiiiight.

        Boss belittled cohorts. Here you can chose not to engage. Try to teach yourself that this is what incompetent management looks like. Bosses should be fixing problems NOT talking to cohorts about problem people.

        Understand something here, you can line up an answer for each type of stressor and there will always be more stressors. Some bosses actually use chaos as a management tool. If everyone is in upset it is much easier to get them to do whatever-whatever, because there is no time to figure out the right way or the most efficient way. These bosses think they get more work completed this way, but it’s basically a house of cards.

        Which brings me to why getting out is important. The place is a house of cards and will probably bring about its own downfall. Sometimes a big picture focus with a reality check can be enough to help float above the chaos.

        1. Beebee*

          I never thought going to therapy because of work was something people did until I talked to a counsellor through my job’s health care program. She said that it’s very normal people will go in for even just a few sessions when their job is particularly stressful or to recover from burnout! Definitely a good message to put out there for others who might not know it’s totally normal :)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is a problem. We (society) need to collectively say that needing therapy to cope with work stress or burnout is a problem that should not be happening. There’s no way this is acceptable behavior from any employer.

            1. pancakes*

              It seems pretty widely accepted that work is a source of stress for many, many, many people. More importantly, the idea that therapy is only for people who are somehow badly damaged is pretty old-fashioned and stigmatizing. Most people benefit from it, period. We can say that and also say it’s unacceptable for people to treated badly at work. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    4. Anono-me*

      Establish a life that includes people outside of your work environment.

      All too often people get into the habit of going out for drinks after work with coworkers or getting together on the weekend with coworkers or joining the company softball team with coworkers and work takes over your life outside of the office as well in the office.

      It is super easy to become friends with coworkers. Most of them are nice people, with similar interests and backgrounds and they are already conveniently in your life at the office. Additionally in a massively dysfunctional office, the stress and trauma can inflate the speed and intensity of feelings of bonding and friendship.

      I’m not saying don’t have friends from work, I am saying don’t have all your friends and your entire social life be work related.

      If you do socialize friends from work have some sort of a limit on shop talk of venting. (You should limit
      how much venting you do to outside friends too, but it is usually less common.) Maybe make a rule that people can only vent about work until the first appetizer is served. Afterwards, if someone work whines, they have to pay for the appetizer or sing a karaoke song chosen by the group.

      Additionally -Figure out how to leave and what it would take for you to leave. Do you need a new resume, additional certification? What would the new position have to offer for you to make the leap? How bad would it have to get for you to leave no matter what?

  16. Hawk*

    Is cultural fit in a field as important as cultural fit in a company? I feel like I fit less in my previous field’s culture, and I fit more in my current field’s culture. I think I would be happier, though, doing the type of work from my previous field.

    1. Gnome*

      That’s hard to say. In my field, I can work in lots of fields (think stuff like HR, accounting, programming). Some fields are very different from others (e.g. working for government vs companies that build widgets). In my case, the most important thing is the most immediate team culture

      1. Gnome*

        and somehow that posted when I wasn’t done?

        as I was saying… immediate team culture, because that’s where I spend my time. However, that can definitely be influenced by the overall field.

    2. Filosofickle*

      For me it’s not. I kinda hate my overall field — especially the values/priorities — but there’s a type of work and company within this industry that fits me quite well. It does limit my options! But I look for the right culture fit in my clients/employers, and ignore the field as a whole.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I agree with Gnome that the most important thing is the immediate team culture. That said, in my experience it can be hard for a team culture to be maintained. People will come and go and that will change the culture. Changes in management can be especially disruptive and turn a great job into one that isn’t anymore. OTOH, you can’t worry too much about what might happen in the future. I feel like if I have a job where there’s a great team culture and the job and/or the culture lasts for 2 or 3 years, I’ve done O.K.

    4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      It depends on the field and how much diversity there is in all the categories — gender, race, age, nationality, economic status, etc. — if the field is very homogeneous then you’ll likely keep encountering the same “culture” wherever you go with little variation. But if the field is large and diverse enough, then company or team fit becomes key, and more likely to change from one company to another, or over time within the same company due to turnover.

    5. Flower necklace*

      I agree with those saying immediate team culture is most important. I’m in a field (public education) where people are leaving left and right, but my department hasn’t lost anyone since the pandemic started. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

  17. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    I’m on a volunteer committee at work with no end in sight. This was supposed to be a strategic performance committee (SPG) started around May of 2020 to address some institutional issues…we are mostly an advisory group. We were always directly told an SPG has a specified goals and end date. We’ve, in my opinion, done a lot of work and made progress on an institutional level. The issue is that the goals seem to be morphing now that we’ve accomplished several of them, and the end date has evaporated from discussions. We were supposed to be wrapping up January 2021…then June…then November… …welcome to June 2022! I’m committed to this work and WANT to continue…but as “volunteer” might imply, it’s not my job…it’s not really even adjacent to the work I normally do, it’s in addition to and I don’t get any extra compensation and it isn’t factored into my performance evaluation. I’d like to address that part because I consider it a pretty significant accomplishment and want it added to my performance review as such…and maybe lobby for a raise especially because it’s Not Ending. Anyone ever had something similar at work? If it makes a difference, I’m in Academia but not an academic position.

    1. Chaordic One*

      How do the other committee members feel about this? First, I think you need to bring it up with the other members and develop some kind of consensus about the future of the group. Review what you originally set out to do, what you accomplished and what you did not acoomplish. Then review the goals that were added to the committee after it was established. Ideally the committee will meet with management and decide what to do going forward, be it to dissolve, work on the remaining unfinished goals or to carry one with new goals.

      It might also be a good time for the committee members to reassess what they want as individuals. You and other members might choose to resign from the committee if you feel you no longer have anything to contribute, or if it is just too much for you after all the time you’ve put in. And yes, do make a record of what you did and accomplished in the committee and bring it up during your next performance and salary review.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you have a department of business professors? IF yes, journey over and talk to them about what “strategy” means. You will find this interesting I am sure.

      I don’t think “strategy” is a few-month-project. I think it’s an on-going process and it does not have an end. But go find out from real people. They will help you find wording to express what you want to say. Here’s my lame attempt: “Strategy is not finite. Strategy is a continuing process because of variables that need to be adjusted for and because of unforeseens. A useful strategy advisory committee technically cannot be disbanded because their work is on-going.” But talk to people smarter than me. It feels like TPTB don’t really understand the concept of strategy and you might have to explain it to them.

  18. Freelance Anything*

    So I trained for a specific job (that is currently in high demand) at the start of the year and then proceeded to struggle to actually get employed. I took an open-ended short term assistant job (with very similar duties but in an adjacent industry) with a company I’ve had a good relationship with in the past.

    After a few weeks, I got promoted to the lead position! Big pay bump, but still fixed-term so after a year I could go back to the job hunt for the High Demand work. Hurray!

    Then a few weeks after that I was approached for a job in the High Demand position. Starting in about 2 months and lasting until the new year.
    What to do?

    Well I took a gamble and spoke to my boss about it (they are aware of my training and career ambition).

    They said they’d be sorry to lose me but completely understood this was a great oppportunity and assured me they’d never tell me not to take something like this.
    So I reached out to the High Demand Opportunity, sent in some references and now I’m just waiting to hear!

    1. Flash Packet*

      That’s great news! Both the potential job offer in the thing you’re trained to do AND your current boss who is a reasonable person and doesn’t take your career growth elsewhere as a personal affront.

  19. Business Narwhal*

    How do you choose a career? I’ll be finishing high school in a few years and I’m interested several careers in separate industries. How/when do I decide which to follow?

    1. cubone*

      the magic question! Honestly, everyone will likely have different answers on the “how” but maybe some principles to keep in mind:

      -know yourself: think about what you enjoy doing, what interests you, what makes you feel excited. there’s lots of “skills assessments” online you can take to get started (but I recognize it’s hard in high school when you may not have had as many opportunities to develop a broad set of skills)

      -get accurate info: find labour market information for your country/area. In Canada, the government posts this, I’m sure USA and UK do as well (no clue beyond that). Search “labour market info” and look for well-researched sources. Usually this will have average pay and/or lower/upper pay limits, and ideally a growth prospect (how likely is this career to grow/shrink?). If you know people working in the areas you’re interested in, ask if you can ask them what they enjoy/don’t enjoy/what a student interested in this career should know about it.

      -find resources: I know high school guidance counsellors get a bad rep, but there are usually a lot of resources out there for younger people to explore careers. Search for community centres, libraries, and government provided tools or services for “career exploration”.

      -working in career development, the new concept is less “choosing a career” and more “building a career”. In other words, linear career progressions (choose a field -> study in field -> get job in field and work there forever) are less and less common. People have MANY jobs in their lifetimes, often in different areas. Some jobs you might have/want don’t even exist yet. So don’t stress so much about “choosing” one as much as building your skills, knowledge of options, and network of people and resources.

      ……and also maybe read “What Color is Your Parachute” if all else fails. Good luck!!! Keep us updated :)

    2. Asenath*

      Well, first of all, let go of the idea that you will have only one career throughout your working life – people change careers for all kinds of reasons – disliking it, burning out, unable to make a living wage or find steady employment, occupation undergoes massive tech change which means they need fewer people etc etc. This also means there isn’t One Perfect Career out there for you, so you don’t need to stress about finding it. Begin by being flexible with your ambitions.

      Then, make a list of the sorts of careers that interest you. Research them carefully – types of positions available, demand for such positions, salary ranges, competition for positions, education required. You can often get a lot of this data from a guidance counsellor or online. Consider your own skills and interests in as unbiased a way as possible. I once said straight out to a career advisor who was helping me through the process of matching me with possible work that I preferred working in a kind of “back room” environment rather than working with large numbers of people. She said I was one of her few clients who didn’t automatically say “Oh, I love working with people!” I knew myself well enough to know the kind of working environment that suited me best.

      Once you get your options narrowed down, plan out a broad high school course selection that will qualify you for more than one of the possibilities you are looking at, or for further education which will lead to employment in one or more of your options. This is particularly important in some fields – you don’t want to delay your acceptance to an education program for a scientific field by doing the wrong math or science courses and then having to pick them up later.

      Finally, check into getting some practical entry level experience in some of your possibilities. This won’t always be possible, but many employers hire students for part-time or summer work. Some types of volunteer work can also give you a taste for the work (although there may be age restrictions). For example, if you want to work in a medical field, you can volunteer in a hospital, or in a veterinary field, with an animal shelter.

    3. Gnome*

      This is a great question! And a very good time in your life to ask it.

      There were a LOT of things that I wanted to try, but when I learned what it really looked like, on a day-to-day basis, most were NOT for me. For that matter, I am technically in a career I like right now, but the day-to-day work is not in my sweet spot and it’s made it a LOT harder. So, my advice:
      1.) Be aware of what you like, are good at, and tolerate well
      2.) Keep in mind that “Llama Teapot Specialist” may have different day-to-day jobs within the same organization, so you might enjoy SOME types of being a Llama Teapot Specialist (or whatever) but not others. That is ok!
      3.) As much as you can, volunteer, intern, shadow, or talk to folks in areas you think you might want to get into. I thought I wanted to do environmental research.. then I got ticks and decided that, no, I much prefer an air conditioned office! Similarly, I love animals and wanted to be a veterinarian until I realized that would mean seeing sick animals all the time (I volunteer at a shelter helping them find Furever Homes instead).
      4.) If there are any activities that you can accidentally spend 4 hours doing without meaning to… those are good candidates or clues to the TYPE of work you might be best at (e.g. designing invitations, programming a website, proofreading your sibling’s college essays, explaining the Pythagorean Theorem to your classmates, etc.)
      5.) There’s a lot of stuff out there you may not have had exposure to yet. So keep your mind open.
      6.) Some colleges (University of Maryland, for one) that have summer college courses for high schoolers. The good ones will focus on areas you won’t have exposure to in school (e.g. international relations, criminology, etc.). If you even look over the course offerings, you might get ideas.

    4. Gnome*

      I typed out a 6-bullet reply that has disappeared.

      Summary: think about what you like, consider talking to people about the day-to-day reality of a job, and keep your mind open. Hopefully, my full comment shows up later :)

    5. Calm Water*

      There are tons of interesting jobs out there that you likely haven’t hear of yet so keep an open mind. Know that post secondary education is a great route to a career but not the ONLY way, so keep diploma or technical trades training in mind. Having a summer or part time job is super important because the only way to learn about the working world is to do it. And it’s way easier to get some of the learning curve out of the way in those ‘starter’ jobs rather than later on.

    6. Angstrom*

      You’ll be surprised at how many adults will be happy to talk about their work with a young person who shows sincere interest. Ask parents, friends and teachers if they know people in the fields you’re interested in that you might contact.
      As for choosing a path, don’t think yet about job titles. Think about that kinds of things that bring you deep satisfaction — not necessarily “fun”, but the kinds of problems and challenges where doing the work and coming up with a solution is rewarding. What are you interested in? Where do you think you might have skill? What do you want to learn to do?
      In high school you should think about building a broad, solid foundation of basic skills. Communication skills are vital in any field — it doesn’t matter how good your work is if you can’t communicate well and work well with others.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Best career finding question I ever heard was: what problems or kind of problems are you most interested in solving?

    8. Beebee*

      Some of this is more general career advice rather than finding what to do specifically. I hope it helps!

      Let go of the ideas that:
      – passion for your job = it’s not really working, it’s fun! This is not true even with the most fun and interesting jobs… they are still jobs
      – your career has to be one linear path that you pick at 18
      – your job has to be your whole life. It’s awesome to like what you do and be passionate about it, but it is just one aspect of who you are

      And then I would also say:
      – have a job that you like actually working in, don’t just fall in love with the idea of it. A lot of people think they like the idea of a job (Owning a restaurant, sounds so fun and glamorous! Cooking every day! Designing a menu! Sharing your story!) but actually hate the real aspects of the work (Managing difficult people! High turnover! Low profit margins! A lot of money spent with little chance of return! Long work days!). The boring stuff of a job is still part of it. You have to at least be able to tolerate all aspects, you can’t expect to just do the fun stuff all the time
      – try to be conscious about your career path as you are in it. A lot of people I know let their career manage them, so they would passively stay at places or take promotions that came up without a lot of consideration as to whether or not they really wanted to do it. It’s okay to not know what you want and to try things out, or take what’s available because you aren’t sure! Just make sure you know why you’re doing the things that you want and that it aligns with what you want out of both the job and life itself.

      And so with all of that… maybe think about what skills you have that you’d enjoy monetizing. Maybe you like being organized, or producing creative work for others, or math, or coding. Think about what you could realistically enjoy doing for others daily for long periods of time. And then start there! If you feel like that applies to all the industries you’re interested in, try to learn more about the actual day to day life of working in them. Maybe one field will have extremely common burnout and OT and you know that’s not for you.

      Good luck !

    9. Irish Teacher*

      That is a difficult one. I will say that firstly, you often don’t exactly just make a decision. If you choose to go to college, there are only a small number of degrees that lead specifically to a particular job, and if you are in the U.S., it seems like there are even less that do there, and that a lot of the ones that do are post-graduate. If you are going for an apprenticeship, it is more likely that you will have to narrow your decision earlier. But many degrees, even ones like law that SOUND specific let you go in a lot of directions.

      And a certain amount of the narrowing might happen naturally. For example, if you study law, you might find certain topics interest you most and that will influence what area of law you want to go into.

      Some things to consider:
      Are you an “indoor” or an “outdoor” kind of person? Are you somebody who would rather spend your days say in an office or outside doing something more physical?
      Are you somebody who prefers more “intellectual” typed tasks or more active or physical ones?
      Do you find it easier to work with people or on your own? Do you hate being interrupted while studying or are you somebody who needs the stimulation of others and just finds that you get bored and do nothing on your own?
      Are you externally motivated or interally? This basically means like do you do your homework because YOU want good grades or do you do it mostly so your parents and teachers will be pleased/will reward/won’t punish you?
      Are you good at deadlines or do you procrastinate?
      Do you like making decisions and taking charge or are you somebody who prefers somebody else to take the lead?
      What subjects do you enjoy at school?
      Are you somebody who likes a lot of variety in your day or do you rather routine and knowing what you are doing?
      How do you feel about uncertainty? Are you somebody who loves the challenge of the unknown or are you better with set tasks where you know what you are doing?

    10. Flash Packet*

      I’ll pile on to the “keep an open mind” and “you don’t have to pick something at 18 to do for the rest of your life” answers.

      I’m on my 5th career (I miscounted, above, in another thread). I have been an admin/office manager/executive assistant; an IT person who built and installed server racks and networks; an IT B2B software sales person; a small business owner; and now an internal auditor.

      I didn’t even know Internal Audit existed until I went back to school to finally finish my Bachelor’s. I chose accounting as my major because I enjoy doing the books for my small business. One of the courses I took (solely because the professor was everybody’s favorite) was Financial Statement Auditing. It was mostly about external auditors but the professor said something about internal auditors and how, if their department is of a certain quality, external auditors could rely on internal audit’s work. And I was like, “Back up a minute. INTERNAL auditors?? What do they do?”

      I for real had thought that a degree in accounting meant that I would either have to be a glorified bookkeeper or do people’s taxes for them. And, holy smokes, there’s so much more than that available to someone with an accounting background / degree!

      And all of those other careers have served me well in my current one. I can perform financial, operational, and IT audits. I know how to think like a business owner, which helps me understand why a certain process might be more risky than another, and what the likely losses would be if that risk goes unchecked.

      My sales background helps me *talk* to people, and to give presentations and lead meetings. Because I approached sales as “How can my products / services help my prospects?” I am able to carry that mindset over into internal audit. If my work isn’t helping the person I’m dealing with, the department they’re in, *and* our company, then I’m doing it wrong.

      And Angstrom is 100% right in that the vast majority of adults would be thrilled to talk to an interested teenager about our jobs.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Something I wish someone had said to 18 y/o me: Pick something that will get your adult life launched. Pick something you think you have a good chance at some success, something you are good at. This will help keep you employed if you have a natural ability for the work. For example, car repair causes me to have that deer in headlights look. However, working with people doesn’t send me running to crawl under my bed. I do okay with the latter and LOUSY with the former. Put yourself where you stand a good chance of having some success. Start by looking at your courses, where have you routinely done well? The negative of that is where have you routinely had knots in your stomach? Chemistry was it for me.
      Look at the books you read. When you read to expand your knowledge pool, what do you pick up? I read a lot of history type things and I was even fascinated by historical fiction. Big clue.

      Go with your natural abilities and interests.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Related to the idea of “something that will get your adult life launched,” I’d like to add that the less debt you take on to get into your future career, the more options that will leave open to you in the future.

        OP, if you think you want to go to college after high school, definitely take a good look at state schools and scholarship options. There are lots of ways to earn a great education and have the “college experience” that don’t leave you in a pile of debt after four years (no matter what the brochures for the expensive colleges try to tell you).

    12. Anono-me*

      Think about what you need from a career. Need, not like or want.

      Do you need to feel like you’re helping people make their life better? If so maybe a medical career is better than a career as an internet scam artist.

      Do you need a great deal of security? Maybe a civil service position would ne better than a sales commission.

      Do you need to interact with people, nature, art? Do you need solitude, structure, prestige, intellectual challenges, independence, physical activity, temperature control etc.?

      Does the expected salary outlay the cost of the education or training? A friend’s child spent 40k a year of mostly loans on a 6 year degree for a career with an average salary of 50-60k.

      Do you have any physical limitations that would now or eventually impede your ability to do the work at the level you would be proud of? I have a very strong family history of arthritis in the hands, brain surgery would likely be a career with a shorter length for me than most.

      What kind of home life do you want? Long haul truck drivers see the country, but don’t usually spend much time at home with the family.

      What sort of resources are available to you for training and education? What sort of sacrifices are you prepared to make to overcome whatever resource limits you currently have? Becoming a pilot costs 10s of thousands of dollars in flight time on top of normal college tuition. If you have family money available, that is great. If not, many people join the military to receive their pilot training. (I consider military service to be many things including a honour and a sacrifice. )

      Also please think outside of the box. One of the most successful people I know who is happy with a good work life balance got a business degree then Hvac training and now owns their own heating and air conditioning company.

      Most importantly, please remember that you are allowed to reinvent yourself.

      1. Anono-me*

        It should be “Does the expected salary outweigh the cost of the education or training?”

        I just realized that aside from the typo my post looks like a continuation of tha from “Irish Teacher”. Oops.

    13. Overbooked*

      Take a look at O*NET (onetonline.org), especially the tools in the “I want to be a…”) box on the home page, which can help match your skills and interests with different jobs.

  20. Squeebird*

    I’ve been Acting in a supervisory role for 2+ years (due in large part to the pandemic). The role was recently officially posted, and I applied, although to be honest I was a bit ambivalent about continuing in the role. It was a stressful couple of years. I wasn’t surprised, or even particularly upset, when I wasn’t the successful candidate.

    Soon, the announcement will be made about our new colleague who will be coming from outside the organization. I am ok with moving back to my previous role, but I have a lot of coworkers who I know will be upset on my behalf. It’s almost unheard of here for an internal candidate (who has been acting in the role for so long, no less), to not be the successful candidate. I am dreading the litany of “Are you OK?? You should grieve this! (we are unionized) What happened??” questions that I am definitely going to get from people.

    Any suggestions for how to address this with people? It seems overwrought to send a department wide email being like “ACTUALLY I AM FINE WITH THIS”, but I am not looking forward to addressing this individually with every colleague who asks. Or do I just have to suck it up and wait for it to pass? Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

    1. BRR*

      Ugh this type of thing is terribly annoying. Unfortunately you can’t preemptively email everyone. I would just very cheerfully say you’re fine with it, you weren’t entirely sure the role was a good fit (optional to add in specifics like added stress, managing vs being an individual contributor, or anything unique about the role added; just don’t make it sound like a terrible job), and you’re looking forward to *new person* starting.

    2. Gnome*

      Find the biggest “talker” and tell them you are SO RELIEVED to get back to your old job because X (too many meetings, don’t like supervising, didn’t realize the pressure until it was off your shoulders, etc.). That should help.

    3. Calm Water*

      Be super excited to concentrate on certain aspects of your job. Wonder aloud if new person will have a better way of approaching annoying/problematic task or process. Be vague about your feeling about the job – it was a learning curve. Rejoice that it will free up time to do other non work activity. That will hopefully set the tone amongst your coworkers and the new person will feel welcomed and have a resource to draw on.

      1. Squeebird*

        Thank you! Making sure the new person feels welcome is a very high priority for me.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Ask someone to help spread the word that you are doing fine and you welcome the new supervisor.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If your company sends welcome emails… what about breaking standard AAM practice and send a reply to all?
      Cheerfully & publicly welcoming them might deflect a lot of questions.

  21. Eff Walsingham*

    In my new (since Feb) self-employment adventure, I’ve reached a milestone with a client where I’ve said, “I put in all the data you gave me, and each individual spreadsheet adds up, but your balance sheet does not balance by X amount. Can you please look it over and suggest any changes you’d like made?” And the client has come back with “Could you check this? Could you check that? We don’t mind paying for more of your time!” And I said, “Sure, I don’t mind double checking anything you want” but…

    Can any bookkeepers or accounting types offer me any advice on how best to communicate, “Either there’s something wrong with your initial data, or *you ran out of money*, Dave.” I don’t need them to love the numbers, I just need them to accept the numbers so that I can move on to the current fiscal year.

    I enjoy bookkeeping for not-for-profits, and I like this client and would like to keep him happy with my work, unless he has in fact run out of money and would not be able to afford to keep me anyway. The last couple of years have been rough on almost everybody. It seems like this is the sort of news I’m going to have to learn how to deliver effectively: “It’s not me, it’s you. Your data, your bottom line. My part is not the issue here.”

    Yes, I’m going to check it all again.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Did the initial trial balance they provided actually, you know, /balance/? That’s where I would look first.

      If they gave you raw transaction data, did the beginning balances balance? If so, can you roll forward one month at a time until you find when it started to be out of balance?

      You say that you “put in all the data”. If you were keying in numbers, could there be a typo somewhere? Could there be a cell formula wrong somewhere, like inserting a row and not having it roll into the running balance in the row below? Or did a formula got switched to a value somewhere?

      Even a negative cash account shouldn’t throw the statements out of balance. They might look strange with negative numbers on the asset side, but assets should still equal liabilities plus fund balance (non-profits don’t call it capital or retained earnings, IIRC).

      Are you doing accruals, depreciation, amortization, or allocations that you might have mis-entered? Could there be a mistake in your closing entries?

      Do the bank statements match the activity and balance in the cash account?

      Are they recording encumbrances but not relieving them when things get paid? (Though I don’t think that would throw the statements out of balance; they’d just be wrong.) I’m running out of ideas.

      As for your “going concern” issue, I’d start with the bottom line on the income statement (using the old name). Point out to the client what the net was for last year, income/expense and cash flow, both. Point out not just the cash balance, but the working capital. If they’re running a negative cash flow, how many months’ reserve do they have at the current rate?

      But first, you need to identify where the statements went out of balance.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        We were going from the numbers from the previous fiscal year end, which were reviewed by an accounting firm. But I subsequently found that one asset account was off (short) by the equivalent of about $8000, which is why I’m suspicious of the other values.

        They receive donations in multiple cryptocurrencies, which the Treasurer sells through an exchange at various intervals. There’s not a lot of useful documentation on these transactions, or not a lot that’s been provided to me, anyway, and I’ve asked repeatedly in a number of ways. Ultimately, I know how much came into the cash account on what date, and how many units of crypto were sold. A certain amount of semi-predictable hocus-pocus seems to occur in between. I’ve been encouraged to guesstimate how much the exchange rate must have been on any given transaction. This doesn’t bring me joy, but they’re paying for my time at a rate we’ve mutually agreed upon.

        Everything touching the cash accounts balances. I’ve checked for typos, faulty cells, and improper totals. Their depreciations are few and simple, and they balance. The general ledger balances, meaning anything that’s wrong in the debits is equally wrong in the credits, for whatever that’s worth. And the gain/loss on foreign exchange balances internally within each transaction, for whatever *that’s* worth.

        It is generally known that the organization is running at a deficit due to the pandemic, and the exchange gains are less than the exchange losses. But none of that explains why the assets do not equal the liabilities. I think some of the entries for which I have no statements or receipts are just… wrong.

      2. Eff Walsingham*

        I made a big reply, but either the internet ate it or it’s stuck in moderation. I may have triggered a filter.

    2. Princess Xena*

      I will ask the world’s dumbest troubleshooting question, since I got caught out on this earlier this week: have you made sure they are sending you the entire balance sheet and not some sort of filtered account setup? Alternatively, when you get their spreadsheets, have you checked to make sure those don’t have odd hidden tabs/columns/rows?

      Apart from that, I can only offer my deepest sympathies and that the situation you described has made my blood pressure go up in sympathy because this is the worst.

    3. Accounting Gal*

      Do you mind if I ask how you got started doing freelance bookkeeping/accounting? I’m an accountant and would love to make extra income on the side in this way but I don’t know where to begin or how to find clients!

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        I originally went to school for theatre (tech). Started working in retail, transitioned to admin, all the time volunteering with arts orgs in different ways. One of my corporate gigs paid for me to learn bookkeeping, and eventually these pursuits merged. I was Treasurer for 2 different arts organizations over the years. Then this winter when I was between jobs, an old friend introduced me to his old college roommate who is Treasurer of an arts org that needed a professional bookkeeper. I’m only charging about half of what my last corporate gig made because I’m just starting out and they couldn’t afford to pay any more (I know this!) Thank goodness my spouse is still working full-time.

  22. FromasmalltowninCanada*

    I’m travelling to Tennessee for the first time ever. My husband is going for a conference and I’m going to attend a virtual conference – virtually from there. I plan on taking in some sessions from a shared workspace in the conference centre / hotel (apparently there are some facilities) or maybe a coffee shop – not sure yet. I would like to not spend 100% of my time in the hotel room if I don’t have too. I’m sure I’m overthinking this – but what the heck do I wear to not stand out like a sore thumb? Here, I could wear almost anything that isn’t athletic wear and be fine but this is the south – so I’m thinking maybe I need to be more dressed up. I’m a woman so I also find I get cold with the A/C often so that complicates things for me a little. Thoughts?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I doubt you’ll stand out in whatever you normally wear, unless you plan to go to high tea or something. They don’t all wear Lilly Pulitzer. Just wear clean decent clothes – shorts and a t-shirt, summery dresses, capris, leggings, whatever. Maybe one dressy outfit just in case. Take a light cardigan for heavy ac environments, but it’ll probably be pretty warm.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      We vacation in eastern Tennessee every summer (Gatlinburg/Great Smokies area). You can wear any casual clothing and blend right in. Even in “fancy” restaurants, people wear jeans, capris, maybe a casual sundress (and yes to a jacket or cardigan, lots of places are abundantly air conditioned.

    3. Support your local street cats.*

      Wear whatever you’re comfortable in depending on weather. Summers can be hot and humid, but cools down some in September. We don’t all wear cowboy hats and boots…In fact, that’s how we tell who the tourists are. But yeah, whatever you would usually wear. Jeans and a t shirt, shorts, lighter dresses.

    4. Trixie Belle*

      I am in Memphis, TN and I don’t quite understand the question. I’m sure the things that make it into continental news makes the state sound weirdly conservative or kooky in some ways but it’s just the United States. and people in the south don’t dress more formally than anyplace else. You could certainly wear athletic wear and not stand out at a conference center/hotel, as long as it looks clean and orderly.

      If you don’t want to ever get sucked into weird conversations, don’t wear slogan tee shirts or sports team tee shirts, but that would be my advice for almost anywhere.

      1. Clisby*

        Seconded, from SC. I don’t really understand the question either – I’m not sure how the poster thinks people dress in the South. Wear whatever you want. I mean, you’ll probably stand out if you’re wearing a bathing suit, or a lawyer-like business suit, but other than that? Doubt it.

      2. CTT*

        I’m on the other side of Tennessee (Chattanooga) and agreed – this isn’t the 1950s. As long as you are clothed, no one will notice what you’re wearing.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Most of Tennessee is very suburban, and therefore homogenous to suburban areas pretty much anywhere in the US. Certainly anywhere that there’s likely to be a conference hotel you’d be absolutely fine wearing anything you’d wear to go out shopping/sightseeing anywhere else.

      People down here in the south tend to dress up a bit for work or social events, but for going around running errands or visiting museums, etc they dress for the heat and expect to sweat and be rumpled.

      If you’re coming between now and late September – October, the main thing you’ll need to prepare for is heat and humidity. Eastern Tennessee is part of the Appalachian temperate rain forest. You’ll probably feel like you’re stepping directly from a steam room to a walk-in fridge as you go in and out of businesses. Wear something light & breathable and bring a light sweater or jacket to throw on indoors if you need it. Unless it decides to pour rain, of course.

      Shorts and tees, capris, sleeveless tops, jeans if you can stand it — all fine. Athleisure is really popular. The only thing I can think of that would make someone stick out is if you were wearing a really extreme aesthetic like Goth or E-girl, or if you were dressed much too warmly for the weather. If you wear dresses, a lightweight sundress or maxi will take you everywhere. I spend 80-90% of my time in either a sundress with a denim jacket, or bermuda shorts.

      If you are particular about your hair, come prepared with accessories. Many people’s otherwise well-behaved hair becomes unmanageable in this climate.

      Caveat: IDK if this applies to you, but POC down here tend to put a *lot* more effort and polish into casual outfits than average white people do, and to a greater degree than I’ve seen in places like New York, Florida, or California. My understanding is that it’s to try to head off racist assumptions and discrimination. I’m not sure how to advise you on making adjustments for that, if it’s relevant to you. I do see plenty of casual outfits with the same type of pieces I already mentioned, but the general level of coordination, accessories, and looking put-together is significantly higher.

  23. My Roomba is Vacuuming While I Write This*

    I have a very public-facing role. I see tons of customers a day – not retail. My customers have seemingly been very happy with the job I do. They usually compliment me and say thank you. But I see many customers a day – several hundred really.

    Anyway, my boss spoke to me the other day that apparently someone wasn’t too pleased with the job I had done. This was surprising to me because I have no recollection of anyone being upset. No one showed disappointment. No one said anything to me. I told my boss this. They said the customer in question went to my coworker first – the first person they saw in fact which was someone not even 10 feet away from me at the time (and since it’s not always the same person and we have a big staff, I don’t know who that was either). But then after that, their details got muddled. Somehow – either the customer or the coworker – told another boss, who’s equivalent to mine and that’s how my boss found out. Furthermore, my boss could not tell me when this happened…not the date, not the time…nothing. Just that it happened over a week ago. His advice was just to keep this in the back of my mind and watch the customers’ reactions more closely.

    While I know that no one can make everyone happy, that customers bring their lives with them, etc., I am upset by two things – 1. I am receiving feedback over a week later on something I do everyday, seeing hundreds of people, and have no recollection of anything that remotely describes what my boss said, and 2. If the customer had in fact spoken to my coworker, I feel my coworker should have given me the professional courtesy to say somebody wasn’t happy (and/or rather than running to a boss about it). I was also told that the other boss could not say anything to me since I’m not their direct report; yet when it is good news, that particular boss writes up kudos to anyone, direct report or not.

    All I said to my boss was that I don’t remember and I told them how I do my work. They didn’t seem to have any problems with it and just told me to be more mindful. Does anyone have any advice on how to otherwise handle feedback that isn’t given timely like this situation? How about for coworkers that go running for the boss?

    Just a side note – I work in a clique-ish environment. Those in this particular clique protect their own and aren’t afraid of reporting others. The workplace condones snitching.

    1. London Calling*

      This thread is useful.

      It’s interesting that you say you work in a cliqueish environment. I did as well (note the past tense) and when I raised this issue with my manager (and incidentally, one of the clique leaders) the conversation swerved onto me being rude. This was the first I’d heard of it. Now, I’ll admit that I can be a bit short when under pressure, but based on what was said in this thread I actually said that I was sorry to hear that, please let me know who I’ve upset and I’ll apologise. In fact, I offered to sit there in the meeting and have the person upset brought in so I could apologise. Oddly enough, this ‘rudeness’ of mine that was causing such an issue wasn’t significant enough for her to do that. So I wouldn’t be too worried about it if they can’t give specifics; ‘be a bit mindful’ is utterly daft advice if your manager can’t even tell you what you have to be mindful about. I would however start watching my back with the clique, because it’s likely that not to put too fine a point on it, someone is making trouble for you for some reason.

      And my manager? that reversal away from my issue with the cliqueyness was the start of realising she didn’t have my back and I couldn’t trust her. (A conclusion subsequently borne out by her behaviour during WFH in the first UK lockdown). It was so transparently obvious that that was what she was doing that it was actually amusing to sit there and watch her try and swerve it and not address my issue.

    2. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I would say this is potentially concerning. Has it happened before, i.e., where you have been given vague and untimely feedback? I worked in an environment like this, where we also dealt with the public, and, in particular, a segment of the public that is known to be unpredictable. Whenever there was a customer complaint, unfortunately, the staff member was considered guilty until proven innocent. It was a toxic environment.

      On the plus side, it doesn’t sound like management came down hard on you, although telling you to be more mindful isn’t necessarily taking the side of the employee, either.

      The second aspect that concerns me are your co-workers who enjoy (and may even be rewarded for) snitching. I worked in a couple places like that. I ended up with a couple co-worker confidantes that I knew I could trust, but beyond that, I was *extremely* careful of anything I said to anyone else.

      You may want to consider the overall environment where you are, and whether you can accept and live with the culture, or whether you’d be better served in a new setting.

    3. Why worry?*

      Honestly? I would forget this ever happened. It sounds like this is not a big deal to your boss – there’s no follow-up, it doesn’t sound like there will be any negative consequences for you, your boss just said to “keep it in mind.” As you surely know, when you see hundreds of customers you’ll get an unhappy one from time to time. Your boss and coworker may just not have mentioned it because it registered as background noise to them.

      If it were me I would just shrug this one off, frankly.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I agree with this, assuming it’s not a pattern. It could be that your boss wants to say “yes I mentioned to OP” if it was raised through ranks. It’s not great management but sometimes in the absence of any details other than “upset customer” and under company culture they need to tick the box that they raised it (again not great but as a one off not horrible). Don’t dwell on it and let it take an outsized place among the hundreds of great interactions you have with customers (so much easier said than done I know!)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You can believe your coworker should have told you, but for your own peace of mind, please try to understand that most times they will not tell you. They will run to the boss.

      It could be the boss does not want people telling each other things. It could be that the coworker is a crybaby running to the boss every two seconds. It seems to me that the boss definitely rewards kindergarten behavior.

      What you can do is get on your profession voice and physical posture. You can say, “Gee, boss I am sorry to hear this. While I don’t remember such an event, I am indeed concerned about our customers. Please encourage this cohort to come to me right away any time, I want to make good on what ever needs fixing. And I would truly appreciate it if you could tell me about these things sooner so I can correct course, I want to be a good, solid employee.”

      FWIW, any time I have been in an environment like this, once I found out what it was my days were numbered. I can’t work with tall children who think they are adults.

  24. CreepyPaper*

    So I had major surgery last week and I’m at home recovering. My company has sent me the most wonderful bouquet of flowers, a care package with snacks for me (and my dogs!) and puzzle books and the like. My husband is working at home so he can look after me, and recovery is going well so far.

    I’ve been in touch with my manager and as far as she’s concerned I’m to work from home when my sign off period ends, as I adjust to life with a stoma, and she’s asked me to put together a list of things I’ll need when I come back to the office.

    HR have also been in touch and asked me to scan over a copy of my sick note (no problem there) and they’ve told me they’re putting me back on the keyholder schedule when my sign off ends in three weeks. Which means that I will be expected to go into the office to unlock and lock up at least one day a week.

    My manager is NOT happy about this but HR have said it’s ‘policy’ but you bet I’m on to my doctor for another letter saying I can’t come in until eight weeks are up. I shouldn’t have to get a second doctors note but HR can be total jobsworths at times!

    Which leads to my question, has anyone else had their company try and hurry them back when they’ve been signed off sick? And is a second doctor note the way to go? My initial note says I can work after three weeks but ‘with adaptations’ which my doctor clearly ticked on the form and she even wrote ‘patient is to work from home until further notice.’ I guess our HR is kind of rubbish, right?

    1. WellRed*

      Your HR sucks. Your boss should be pushing back harder, including kicking it up the ladder if need be.

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      I would strongly challenge with HR and ask how you can lock up when you’re medically WfH.
      I bet they probably haven’t read your letter clearly missed the medical accommodations part.
      It’s probably worth you going up the chain with HR if there is someone. Definitely get your manager to escalate if you cannot.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You may have to get a second doctor note because some people are dense. Tell them you are confused, the doc means for you to wfh for x period. Then ask how they would like the note better worded so this point is very clear.
      Tell them it’s no problem to get that clarification.

      I would go as far as asking the doc to write, “Patient may not go to work to lock/unlock the building.” I have had to get specific wording like that.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Creepy Paper! I don’t have a twitter account myself so only read what is publicly available on twitter feeds, but enjoy browsing about – and recently came across a young woman called Lottie Fyfe who has a stoma and who chats about it in a happy way, another woman (Adele Roberts) has called her stoma Audrey and is similarly very positive about it – they are both just generally involved in normalising and accepting stomas in general. This seems like such a good thing, and I thought you might find it interesting. Such a difference from say 25 years ago when a friend of mine had a stoma and it certainly wasn’t something that was acknowledged or that there was much support for.
      Here’s to a smooth recovery and good health to you!

  25. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Curious to know – at what age did you get an idea of what your parents did for a living?

    1. Art3mis*

      Probably 5 or 6. I knew my dad was a telephone repairman. There was a character on a TV show called Alice that was a regular at the diner Alice worked at that also worked at the phone company. So I kind of thought my dad just sat in a diner all day. It was probably a couple of years later that I got a better idea that he actually fixed people’s phones.

      Around the same time my mom became a real estate agent, selling people houses was a little easier to understand.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Yeah, there’s definitely something to be said for how easy different jobs are to explain to younger children! My parents are both in easily-understood and frequently depicted occupations in children’s media, so I knew pretty early on. But I imagine there’s probably a difference in how many kids understand that their parent is a [doctor/firefighter/mail carrier/teacher/nurse/dentist/train driver] than, say “account executive” or “HR rep” or whatever.

    2. Kowalski! Options!*

      With my mom, it was easy because she sold Mary Kay and did makeup artist work on the side. My dad, however, worked in defense and I didn’t know what, exactly, he did until I had to get a secret security clearance myself. My father had passed away two years before so I called one of his former co-workers to get my dad’s job title. I also got a veeerrry awkward pause before said co-worker exclaimed: “Howd’ja ever go this long without knowing what your dad’s job was?”

    3. Filosofickle*

      I’m guessing it was even earlier, but definitely by 4 or 5 I knew where they worked and what their role was

    4. Banana*

      I knew where they worked as long as I can remember (nationally known household name employer.) They’re retired and I’m 40 now and I still only vaguely know what their jobs were, lol.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My dad was a pastor, my mom worked as a preschool administrator when I was small – so pretty early, around age 3-4. I also went to work with my mom sometimes (it had been my preschool), so I didn’t necessarily understand what she did in detail but I knew she worked in an office.

    6. Macaroni Penguin*

      I was about 3 or 4. Dad was a mechanic in the Canadian military. So every weekday morning I’d see him go to work in his uniform. It’s rather distinctive from civilian clothing, so I guess it made an impression. At the time, Mom stayed home to take care of the kids. When she returned to work, I was much older and able to automatically understand what a cashier did.

    7. Liane*

      Somewhere between 2 & 4. My dad was a small business owner (a painting and carpentry contractor). So my earliest memories of him are running to share his after-work Pepsi and trying in vain to get into the pigments he used for mixing colors. (Nope, paint/hardware stopres didn’t always have machines to do that. As a middle/high schooler, during school breaks he’d sometimes take me on jobs if it was a private home or he knew there were women crafters – not so common in the 1970s – on site.

    8. Beebee*

      My mom is a teacher. Pretty easy for me to understand even as a little kid, so I’d say once I started going to pre-school around 4 years old. My dad is an engineer and to be honest even now I am not fully sure what his job entails….. as a kid I think I thought he was some sort of geologist or did work related to rocks until I was probably 10 or so.

    9. Eff Walsingham*

      My dad had been hired right out of high school, by the local utility company that had the first computer in town. For the young or non-nerdy folks out there, early computers ran on punch cards which were generated manually by people who were basically typists in binary code. If a mistake is made, the card is useless. So my dad would bring home boxes of discarded punch cards for me to scribble on in crayon or whatever else I wanted to do with them. Also that wide printer paper with the green lines / stripes on it. Gradually I osmosed information on what computers were and what they did, and by the age of 11 had my own computer and could program in basic.

      My mother went back to her former job at the local library when I started full-day school, and I spent many happy after-school hours waiting for her shift to finish, often in a hidden place under the stairs where I could read while eating a smuggled-in chocolate bar. I started shelving books myself at my school library when I was 9 or 10. They actually paid us! I think it was something like a buck an hour… I remember receiving a cheque for two dollars and change at least once!

      So I feel like I always knew what my parents did for a living. Or at least, I don’t have any memories from before I knew.

    10. Trixie Belle*

      I almost want to say “never.” My dad’s been gone for thirtysomething years now and I could tell you where he worked and what his job title was – he was a regional vice president at a corporation – so I guess that’s an ‘idea’ and I probably understood that by the time I was 11 or 12, but I think a lot about how I have no idea what he did every day or what his part was in the company’s work.

    11. just a random teacher*

      My dad worked in computers. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t understand that his job involved making sure the computers are working, but it certainly got more refined over time as I learned the distinction between, say, a mainframe versus a PC. (It helped that back in the 80s security was much less strict, so I got to visit him at work and tour the actual server room as well as see his cubicle and the desktop computer he mostly used, and that he frequently had to dial in from home, so the idea that you used a PC to emulate a terminal to connect to a mainframe to do the actual work was something I learned early by watching and had a clear mental picture of.) By middle school I could more-or-less recite his job title and give an overview of what kinds of systems he supported, which was more detail than a lot of the adults asking me knew what to do with anyway, but I’m sure I missed some nuances. (The thing I mostly remember telling people is that he was a CICS Systems Programmer and being able to describe a bit about what CICS was and how it was used, but I know he also supported and maintained other things.)

      My mom’s jobs during my early childhood were things like working at the specialty fabric store (which I also got to visit, and it was pretty easy to understand that this store only sold upholstery fabric rather than clothing fabric since I’d spent lots of time at other fabric stores with my mom by then), selling Avon (where I was often expected to tag along), or that sort of thing. As I got older and she got office-type jobs, I generally understood her job title and at least one job function, but she was doing pretty comprehensible things like working in purchasing or estimating in the construction industry. Understanding that a company that builds things needs to figure out who to buy stuff from to get the best deal or make a good guess about how much it will cost them to buy stuff to do a job so they know how much to charge are things that are pretty reasonable to explain to an elementary school kid.

      I think I visited my parents fairly regularly at their various jobs until my dad’s job got outsourced to a more security-focused company (they were also a defense contractor), so that probably helped too.

    12. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      My mom was an elementary school teacher…luckily at a different school… so I knew very well what she did from an early age; my dad not so much until I was almost an adult so mid teens. He worked in Trusts and Estates, but not a lawyer.

      Funny enough, I don’t think my parents still 100% understand what I DO as a graphic designer and I’m 25+ years into my career. They just know I’m on a computer all day…so I must know how to fix their computers …and phones.

    13. Flash Packet*

      As soon as I was old enough to read a map (a Mapsco, actually), my mom put me in the passenger seat while she drove around to sites for her commercial real estate appraisal job.

      My dad was in sales, so that one was easy to grasp even before I could read a map and give an adult real-time driving directions.

    14. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Let’s just say I had been married for a couple of years before I realised my father and my spouse did basically the same job. All software/development jobs sound the same to me, because I just don’t understand any of it.

    15. Dragonfly7*

      Dad- 3 or 4 because that was when I was judged capable of helping (agriculture work).
      Mom – Maybe 6-7. I knew she was a secretary at that time, but I didn’t really understand what a secretary did before then.

    16. Annie*

      I don’t remember a time before I knew. Mum didn’t work after I was born. Dad was a musician and I grew up in a tour van, hanging out backstage or wandering around during gigs. I saw him performing from when I was tiny so I always knew what he did, I suppose.

    17. Clisby*

      Maybe … 8 or 10 for my father? He was an engineer for a paper company, and I knew where he worked but until then didn’t know much about what he did. My mother stayed home with us 6 kids until the youngest started first grade, and then she went back to teaching. I knew for a long time that she used to be a teacher, so I had a pretty good idea of what she did.

    18. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Sometime later in elementary school, probably. My dad did “government stuff” at an agency that deals with highly classified information, so it’s still fuzzy to this day (I’m in my late 40s). My mom went back to school for nursing and took me and some toys to class once in a while. She worked in a hospital in various departments and the morgue first so that’s when I realized what she did, when she came home and her uniform had “gross stuff” on it. She ended up becoming the supervisor for clinic nurses in the school system, so occasionally I’d see her at school when she did her rounds!

    19. Not So NewReader*

      Never really. My father was a draftsman. He designed things. I tried to learn what these things are. I looked at the blue prints for his patents. I did not understand. I asked my super geeky husband what the blueprints were. He stared for quite a while and then said, “I dunno.” I know sometimes my father would have to go test stuff. This meant blowing it up. Literally. It was electrical stuff and they had to check how well it would hold up. I remember one time he talked on the phone to a person in Australia. This was back when calling out of state was a bfd. My father got a kick out of the call. He never said what the call was for.

      So he designed things. I have never met anyone who can explain to me what those things are.

    20. Princess Xena*

      With my mom, pretty young, since she’s a surgeon and I would sometimes go with her on weekends to the hospital when she was on call.

      My dad – I knew he worked in an office pretty young, but I didn’t really get what he did till later – maybe 13-14? In my defense he’s an actuary and the vast majority of people who ask what he does follow up with ‘what’s an actuary’ so it’s clearly not just me.

    21. pancakes*

      I can’t remember not knowing. Take Your Daughter to Work Day, in hindsight, seems to have had its heyday when I was a kid.

    22. Dragon*

      Jamie Farr, who played Klinger on M*A*S*H, said his being on the show was actually very difficult for his children. They were young school-age then, and had to explain to their classmates why their dad had to wear dresses for his job!

  26. Need a New Direction, Any Advice?*

    I hope I’m allowed to ask for advice like this, but does anyone have advice for what kind of job names/titles/keywords/how-ever-I’d-find-listings for jobs like I’ll describe below? People in my life keep telling me there’s no such jobs, but these same people also have been giving me lots of bad advice in general so >.>;; I don’t feel quite like I can 100% trust it.

    I’d love an office-style desk job, because due to health reasons I really kind of need both AC and the ability to sit as much as I need, and what I would really like is like, data-entry type work, or scanning/filing/sorting type stuff. I’m not terribly smart, but I’m good at straightforward tasks and actually enjoy repetitive, “boring” tasks. I don’t really enjoy working with customers, and really struggle with anything phone-related, but would love to have a job I can kind of have some comradery with my coworkers? I’ve only ever had jobs where no one talks to each other (too busy to stop to chat), or I’m the only person on the shift (very lonely and draining), or where there’s just such a huge political/ideological/general gap in everything that it’s hard to get on with people (being the only closeted-queer person in a job where everyone else is very conservative is both stressful and scary). I do not have a degree, and I very much would not do well in a leadership position. I just want a comfy, secure job that I can actually do and will pay me enough money to survive (I’m barely scraping by currently, and have had some mystery health issues crop up recently, so there’s definitely some pressure to try to find something better asap!) I currently work part-time, and I’m a bit worried to move to full time due to mental/physical health reasons, plus having time for doctor appointments, but I also understand that avoiding full time might make me miss out on better job opportunities.

    I’ve had no luck searching so far on my own, maybe because there really aren’t jobs like this? Or maybe (my hope) I’m just not looking the right way or in the right places. I’m kind of getting disheartened because whenever I’m looking for some nice, non-customer office jobs, the only search results are like… retail, or call centers. :(

    1. Asenath*

      I would have said there were tons of non-customer office jobs. Universities and hospitals often have tons of workers in back offices. Then there are banks, insurance companies, well, practically any business has some office workers; but it sounds like you’re not looking for a job in a smaller place where you might be the only worker. They’re not generally really well-paid jobs, but you can get a living wage and some security with the right employer. Of course, the only way you’re going to find out if a specific office contains unfriendly or cliquish people, or people who are too different from you ideologically is to try them. When you’re inside an organization, you can often spot warning signs of trouble, like the way the Widget Office never seems to keep new employees very long; I wonder why? Someone will tell you, and you don’t apply to transfer there. From the outside – well, you can keep trying until you find one that suits you. I’d think searches for admin and clerk jobs would bring up something useful.

        1. Csw*

          Seconding the admin/clerk positions, I’d throw in HR roles so long as you filter the job description!! Some like HR ops may be what you’re looking for, but others may not be (for such a catch all title, HR sure is varied).

          Also just another suggestion, how about going to some of the big companies and browsing their careers site? Some might have interesting jobs tucked away somewhere. My ex colleague became an inpatient operations specialist at a hospital. I still don’t understand what her job is, but it sounds interesting and definitely something that would never come up without a very specific Google search.

          1. Eyes Kiwami*

            Thirding admin/clerk and seconding HR roles. I think some of the HR admin-kinds of roles are open to people without degrees, at least I’ve seen many that only ask for 2-year degrees. Definitely things like HR operations, admin, payroll even can be very rote work and you’re not often dealing with customers (and those “customers” are fellow employees). Just stay away from anything involving recruiting or reception as it seems like you won’t enjoy that and those tasks are often bundled with lower level HR roles especially in smaller companies. A smaller company might be more willing to look past your lack of degree though.

    2. Colette*

      I think you’d want to target bigger companies in industries that still use a lot of paper – insurance, government, etc. – think places where you might need to fill out a form.

      Another option might be a call-centre type job – ideally something in chat support, not phone. I know you don’t prefer dealing with customers, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a first choice, but the work is pretty straightforward at the lower levels.

    3. CallTheBagelShop*

      Depending on how much work communication with other colleagues you’re open to, there are a lot of roles in project management and operations, as well as quality assurance. There’s some repetition but also some flexibility of thought required.

    4. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      In my office, that job would be called “records clerk,” and ticks all the boxes you mentioned.
      Good luck!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Friends of mine had jobs exactly like that working with insurance application processing, document digitization, and document production teams for litigation, but that was back in the days when everything was paper. It may or may not be similar now.

      This is exactly the sort of situation temp agencies are great for. Larger firms that need pools of people for “boring” clerical type work tend to outsource hiring for them rather than doing job listings directly.

      Get in touch with a temp agency or placement agency, and tell them you’re looking for temp-to-perm, back-office clerical, archives, or data entry work. Back-office is a key phrase to use. I’ll bet they will be happy to place you, because those type of assignments are not many people’s first choice.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Since you don’t have a degree, you might particularly look for office jobs in the corporate or large branch offices of trades that don’t tend to require a degree. Construction, commercial/industrial plumbing, manufacturing of various kinds, those sort of fields. Look on the websites for those sort of companies to see if they have any office-job type openings that don’t seem like they involve answering the phone much (so not reception or sales), then use those job titles as a starting point for your research to learn more about those kinds of jobs and whether or not you might be a good fit for them to narrow it down. (That first part, where you’re just collecting job titles that look possible, you don’t even need to keep your search local since you’re just trying to find keywords for future searches.)

      I also enjoy scanning/filing/sorting type jobs, and used to get them through temp agencies. This was a while ago now, but a few notes to keep in mind of you go that route:

      Filing often involves a lot of standing and moving around, depending on how their space and cabinets are organized. I worked places where it was all 2-drawer lateral cabinets and I could pretty much pre-stage the files on top of each cabinet and then roll down the hallway on my office chair while filing, but I also worked lots of places with the taller 4-drawer cabinets where you have to stand up to file were the norm. If that would be Too Much Standing for you, I’m not sure the best way to filter for just the ones that would be mostly sitting down. (Also think about whether reaching/bending over a lot is a problem for you.) I also once had a “deal with our filing backlog” job that involved dealing with bankers boxes of “10 year archive” files on high shelving units accessed by ladder in a non-climate-controlled basement that also had mice, but that was an exception rather than the norm.

      Data entry is a good thing to emphasize if you want to sit all day, and try to get both your general typing speed and your 10 key (numpad, for entering strings of numbers) speed as high as possible if you’re looking for those kinds of roles. Teach yourself the basics of how to use Excel if possible, at least as far as how to enter a bunch of data into a spreadsheet works. (Quickly navigating to the next cell using a keyboard rather than a mouse, that work of thing.)

      I had to be very clear, repeatedly, with my temp agencies that I would not take receptionist jobs. One of the common things people call temp agencies for is if their receptionist is out sick, and I had to turn down those kinds of jobs several times (which I’m sure moved me down on the overall call list) because I knew I am absolutely not going to be good at reception work. You may burn some bridges with agencies over this, because for some reason I always had the hardest time explaining to them that no, I could not be a receptionist, which is why I wanted filing work.

    7. Gnome*

      Maybe data entry. Also, you might do well with something like government office work. DMV, small business licensing, and the like are all form heavy. I think the guys who do marriage licenses and records offices might be good fits.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      I would maybe look at Payroll Accountant and Accounts Payable jobs. They are very repetitive with not a lot of external contacts. You would need good attention to detail and accuracy. But you don’t need special degrees or anything like that.
      Good luck!

  27. Art3mis*

    Good luck! I’ve been at my job for a month and I’m already looking, it’s definitely not a good fit.

  28. Internist*

    [Posted this too late on the Friday thread so reposting here…]

    I’m in a low-level position (intern) because I’m changing fields, but I have a lot of experience in another industry. I like my team and my boss, but running effective meetings is not my boss’s strength. Our team meetings are pretty unstructured and people are coming away from them confused. For example, at one meeting our boss stated that he wanted us to move in X direction, and after the meeting I hear someone say we should probably look into moving in Y direction–the exact opposite. I wonder if it could have to do with the fact that I’m the only native English speaker on the team–everyone’s English is excellent, but having worked in my second language, I know it’s exhausting and makes it easier to miss details.

    I would love to say something like, “Could we summarize the key takeaways and action items at the end of the meeting?” But I’m afraid of coming off as an ***hole who is new to the team and thinks they know best. Is there any way I can gently suggest some improvements to our meetings without looking like a jerk?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Are you sure that’s connected to the meeting? They could have heard and understood the boss wants X direction, but personally think Y direction makes more sense and want to look into that.

    2. Flash Packet*

      Since you’re an intern, I think you could get away with typing up meeting notes because you “want to learn” and then running them past your boss afterward to see if you got the gist of it right.

      Then you could say something like, “Would you mind if I sent this summary to everyone? I know that other companies have someone take notes who sends them out afterward.”

    3. ecnaseener*

      As an intern I probably wouldn’t make suggestions for anyone else to run the meetings differently…but you could take your own notes, so you’ll be able to offer them up as a helpful thing if anyone needs them.

  29. Helenteds*

    I am a currently a college student majoring in history and I am wondering about applying for jobs when I graduate, or rather when I have completed all of my coursework, which will be in March 2023 (I won’t have my degree until June after taking a final exam). I would like to start a job in March and I am wondering how early I can start applying for jobs (I would make it clear when I could start in my application). My other question is how much experience I need. I know that Alison has said that you don’t have to meet all of the requirements, but I don’t want to seem out of touch applying for a job that I am too underqualified for (I understand that getting these jobs is a long shot). For example, one of the jobs asks for a high school diploma and 1 year of zoological collections experience. I have only a small amount of volunteer experience in history museum collections, but I also have completed the coursework of a four year degree, so I don’t know if it would be ridiculous to try to apply.

    1. Gnome*

      There are places where you could be a full-time intern while awaiting your degree. Actually, we had an intern at my company who is finishing their degree and got hired full-time permanent when a new position opened up they were a good fit for.

      The worst thing that happens if you aren’t a close enough fit is they throw out your resume. If you are interested, go ahead and apply. I promise I have seen further stretches than what you just suggested. Like, a resume showing 30 years in AC maintenance applying for a Llama Teapot position.

      1. Helenteds*

        I may go that route, I noticed during my unfortunately unsuccessful internship search for this summer that there were quite a few internships in my field that started in spring. The only issue with the job I just mentioned is that it is posted now and I couldn’t start until March 2023, there is a way for me to easily indicate that that is the case on my application (they literally ask when you can start), but I don’t know if this is too far ahead of time.

        1. Gnome*

          That might be a bit far out. However, I know that my company starts looking for summer interns in late Dec/January. So, maybe start looking in the fall.

    2. fueled by coffee*

      Can’t speak to history specifically (and if you’re finishing your coursework in March, it sounds like you may not be located in the US, so YMMV), but to start a regular entry-level job in March 2023 I would suggest starting to apply a few months out from your expected start date. The exception to this is that there may be formalized internship/fellowship/training programs that have application deadlines earlier than this, so I’d keep an eye out on job boards throughout the upcoming academic year just in case. If your university has career fairs, it can also be really helpful to go to those (AND you can also ask the recruiters there about a good timeline for applying to any positions that sound interesting at their companies).

      I wouldn’t worry about applying to jobs that you’re underqualified for – they’ll just toss your resume and forget about it. But also! I got my first post-college job because I applied for a position that I didn’t realize was not actually entry level, and the very kind hiring manager emailed me a polite form rejection that also directed me to positions at the company that were actually looking for new grads — and I was hired a month later. So you never know!

      1. Helenteds*

        I am actually in the US, my college is on the trimester system, but I have transfer credits from high school dual enrollment at a different university so I don’t need to take any classes during my final spring quarter, but graduation is not actually until June.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          Ah, okay! I would be very clear in your resume and cover letter that you’re available to start work in March, then, since employers might not realize that you’ll be done early. If you can figure out how to format it, something like:

          B.A. History, Llama University – Expected June 2023 (all degree requirements completed March 2023)

          1. Helenteds*

            Yeah, I will make that clear. I might say something about completing coursework because there is a short final exam in June, but from what I have heard, it isn’t too hard to pass.

          2. ecnaseener*

            I wouldn’t interpret “requirements completed in march” to mean “available for full-time work in march” so definitely spell that out!

    3. Csw*

      Ohhh man as a former history graduate I feel you.

      Off the top of my head, for an entry level position where they’re not looking for highly skilled people, I’d say applying now for March 2023 is a stretch. They probably want someone who can start much sooner. You can apply, but chances are your CV will get dumped.

      Also not sure if this is a country thing but the zoological collections here prefer someone with a science-y background, not history collections. So it might not be a good fit (again, apply if you want! The stretch isn’t bad or completely out of touch, but I’d say a pretty long shot).

      Finding a position with museums/collections is hard (speaking as someone who tried then left the industry), so all the best in your search!!

      1. Helenteds*

        Yeah, I wasn’t sure about that, it did seem from the job description that the job duties were more general museum collections ones, but it did cross my mind that they might want someone with knowledge specifically about zoology. That is good to know.

    4. TheDisenchantedForest*

      I used to be in the public history field (museums and archives), and it was difficult to find a job. It took me 2 years to find a full time job in the field, and I had a masters degree plus volunteer work and a part-time job in the field.

      In general, the history field is very competitive, because of scarcity of jobs. I think you’ve made a good start by looking at job descriptions, because they will tell you what employers are looking for. So start there, figure out your gaps, and do what you can to fill them. Can you volunteer at an organization or get a part-time job in the field?

      Also, network, network, network. History is a small field – everyone knows everyone. So build those relationships now, because they will be critical in finding a job.

      Also, start applying earlier than you think, because it may take you awhile to get a job. I also recommend having a Plan B so you’ll have income while you work to get a job in history.

      It took me 2 years, and I eventually left the field completely because there was no career advancement opportunities, limited pay, and ungodly competition for a handful of jobs. I hope things go better for you, but learn from my experience and have another plan in place, so you’ll be supported/have income no matter what happens.

  30. Embarrassed Anom for this post*

    I ended up walking off of a temp job after about a month. There were lots of red flags that I ignored, until I couldn’t ignore them anymore.

    Walking off was very unprofessional. In hindsight, I should have told the temp agency it wasn’t going to work my first day.

    How do I explain walking off a job, while being honest, yet not badmouth the job site?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Explaining it to the temp agency or future jobs? For the latter, I’d leave that job off your resume.

      1. Embarrassed Anom for this post*

        Both situations.

        I know Alison has said people can leave short term jobs off their resume, but there are ATS that ask for all jobs & require an electronic signature – if I didn’t include it in the applicant tracking system & an employer found out later, I’d probably be terminated.

        1. WellRed*

          you worked for the temp agency and would list that not every placement you had under them.

      1. London Calling*

        I meant, leave it off the CV but tell the agency so they can raise it with the company. A temp’s good reputation with their agency is gold and you don’t want a) a reputation for unreliability and flouncing or b) the company bad-mouthing you.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Definitely have a sit-down meeting with a placement specialist or whatever they’re calling them at your agency. You have information about that client that is valuable for them to have; and if they try to browbeat or gaslight you, then you’ve learned something valuable about them.

          I’ve worked at two places (one hospital, one resource sector) where there was one particularly nightmarish VP. It was understood between client HR and the agency that the assistant position would be hard to fill. Some temps walked into HR, laid down their badge, and said, “I’m sorry, but this isn’t working out.” Some fled at lunch on their first day and didn’t even submit a timesheet. In each case, there was eventually a successful temp-to-perm candidate who overlooked or didn’t mind all the chaos, yelling, and inconsistent demands, and flourished in the role. I would not have worked closely with either of those executives for any form of compensation.

          In order to function successfully, a temp agency needs to know what sort of environment they’re sending people into. And they need to realize that only someone who’s worked there can tell them what went on. If you don’t tell them, the client could say anything about why they think you left. The bridge with the agency may not be burned, if you are honest with them and if they value that. A good agency should tell you, “Next time, please tell us right away, and we’ll find you a different placement.”

          1. Embarrassed Anom for this Post*

            Thank you.

            All of the contact with the Temp firm has been via e-mail. So I sent a email with high-level reasons of why I left – including that the (client company) lead’s supervisory practices weren’t a good fit for me.

            I’ll give them more details if they ask.

            The client company was ok, but the lead thrived on drama and was the most negative person I’ve ever worked with. One employee under the lead had already left, and the other was looking.

    2. RagingADHD*

      If there are issues with the way a client is treating temps, the agency needs to know. Your agency contact is supposed to advocate for you and handle problems with the on-site supervisors.

      I think the best way to handle it is to tell your agency contact, “I owe you an apology for leaving so abruptly. I was in a difficult situation because of X, Y, and Z and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I realize now that should have reached out to you to discuss it, but at the time I tried to just deal with it, and then I got so stressed that I bailed out. I know it was very unprofessional but if you might consider working with me again, I can assure you it won’t happen again.”

      For an ATS for future jobs, you don’t need to list the client company. Just list the agency that employed you, and if anyone asks why you left the assignment, it’s because it wasn’t a good fit. It’s a temp assignment – they end early all the time.

  31. Elizabeth West*

    So the state is once again offering free training—this time, it’s Coursera. A lot of the courses recommended are very basic stuff. This is all very useful for people making a transition from, say, retail to office work, but I already know all this. And there is no course in the universe that will make me any better at Excel than I am now, thanks to my stupid dyscalculia (believe me, I’ve tried and I can only go so far). I don’t think I could get through the heavy data analysis ones without targeted help. I’m not interested in something that puts me in an endless round of freelance gigs; I want a permanent employee-status job I can actually live on.

    Most of the offerings are free stuff I could take anytime I want; I don’t need to do it through Workforce Development. The only thing I’m even slightly interested in is the Google UX Design courses. Are these worth anything? What kind of jobs could I get with a PM cert and a UX cert? Could someone with this LD even do these jobs, or am I doomed to never get off the front desk?

    1. Mountain lake*

      I work with a bunch of UX and PM folks- from what I know about both of those professions, they often are pretty competitive and although they may not REQUIRE experience, the candidates that end up getting hired have at least a few years’ experience. It might be worth pursuing some sort of volunteer opportunities in whichever field seems to suit you better- UX and project management are completely different fields that require different skills.

      That said, there is no shame in working the front desk! I know many people who started their career working at reception who were given opportunities to grow into other roles/departments- if you focus on doing a good job in the role you have, people notice :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hmm. Thanks for the insight. I do like doing project support work; it’s basically what I did at Exjob. However, they didn’t really have a track into anything else unless you were a programmer or good at accounting. Maybe it’s not really worth taking any of the courses.

        Of course there is no shame in front desk, but I’ve done it so much that I hate it and it makes me want to cry. I worked hard on that certification hoping to get away from it. Also, the pay is crap—companies keep saying, “The front desk is the most important person in the office!” Great, then pay them more than $12 an hour! :P

    2. RagingADHD*

      I have not worked in UX design, but I worked on a book about software design systems, and it seems that there is a pretty wide variety of skill sets in the software design community, with a range of focuses from the more artistic and visual parts of design, through the user-needs focus, and then going deeper into the technical and programming end of the spectrum.

      Related to that, I came across an article on Medium from someone with dyscalculia and other learning differences who was learning UX design. His name is Leejay Heller, and he had some interesting things to say about the experience that you might find helpful. I’m linking the article below in a separate comment so it doesn’t get hung up.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          So, as has been most of my life, my skills in human communication, public speaking, and writing have saved me from having to deal with my inadequacies with math, design, and just plain being able to pay attention.

          Oh wow, this is TOTALLY me, especially in music school, where I did all my sight reading by ear, lol. Reading a single staff line or a chord? Great! Invert a chord? Nope, it is now gibberish. Except I don’t have ADD / ADHD as far as I know; I can pay attention for quite a long time unless I’m physically uncomfortable.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve taken a couple of Coursera courses for fun, so my view is a bit skewed, but I wouldn’t take one with the aim of getting truly certified for anything. As in, they’re great classes and useful as skills introduction, but except for the JHU data science certification, I don’t know how “serious” they are. As far as I know, project management eventually requires a PMP– a certificate might show interest in the work, but it won’t get you an in for a non-entry-level job that requires experience.

      If I were hiring and someone told me they had a Coursera certificate in my area, I would appreciate that they took the time to get some basic knowledge, but it wouldn’t automatically get them the job. This is not to say Coursera is useless– if something sparks interest and you have time, take a free class– but I don’t think it’s an automatic “in”. More like a stepping stone.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I’m mostly targeting coordinator jobs, not PM jobs. A lot of them are asking for CAPM. Project+ is the exact same study material; it’s just CompTIA instead of PMI.

        I did take a Coursera class in basic HTML once. It was just that….basic. I emailed the person I talked to and withdrew. Honestly, most of the classes are such newbie stuff that I’d much rather my spot went to someone who actually needs that.

    4. Nancy*

      Depends on the industry, but at my org all PM jobs require work experience; the entry level jobs are program/project coordinator. We also have managers who started as a receptionist or admin assistant and worked up to a manager position.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what I’m looking for, project coordinator jobs. I do have some experience in a similar role; just need to find the right industry.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It is if you’re tired of it. Like I said above, I worked hard on that certification hoping to get away from it.

        1. Mountain lake*

          Sure, but given that you’re currently working at the front desk and not at whatever the next job could be, it’s in your best interest to make the best of it. Like I said before, being at the front desk can be an awesome stepping stone to bigger and better things, but you’re not going to get those opportunities if people sense that you think you’re above the work you’re doing (and it’s SO easy to let those feelings come across in your body language and attitude).

          Unfortunately, a certification with no experience to back it up won’t get you super far- even during this time where job seekers have the upper hand, there is still a decent amount of competition for most roles. That brings you back to getting more relevant experience, and the best way to do that is to be so awesome at what you’re currently doing that people at your company are excited to give you other opportunities.

          Look, I get it- front-desk work can be tough and demanding, and not everyone likes it. You’re entitled to your feelings about it! If those feelings come across to the people you’re working with, though (and given how strongly you seem to feel about it, it’s possible that they do), then they’re not going to be willing to give you a shot to try something new. If you’re able to suck it up and do a great job with a great attitude, you’re much more likely to get what you really want.

    5. Bluephone*

      “ I want a permanent employee-status job I can actually live on.”

      I want my cat back (I missing since 12\22), a solution to bankruptcy that begins and ends with “powerball winner,” and for Virginia DMV’s computers to suffer catastrophic viruses for the next 20 years but we can’t always get what we want.

      Dyscalculia is not a valid excuse for throwing up your hands at any and all Excel tips, especially the very basic Excel content on places like Coursera.

  32. GraceC*

    I know people enjoy epic quitting stories, so I thought I’d share this one from Reddit here!

    Link in thread since it’ll get caught in moderation, but it’s “AITA for uploading evidence of sexual harassment by management to the work server before leaving?”

        1. GraceC*

          If you filter by oldest first, the in-case-of-deleting bot copy is still there, just checked! Or at least it was when I last refreshed…

          Basically, the OP was repeatedly harassed on two occasions (first time it was their immediate manager and HR took no action, it only stopped with the manager doing it quit due to injuries; the second time it was a great-grandboss and OP knew HR wouldn’t take action) and OP quit with no notice.

          Their boss panicked when OP refused to stay for two weeks and asked that they upload their entire file system to the server, yes all of it, today before you leave, go do it now, etc etc… And OP just so happened to have the copies of harassing texts and emails, email exchanges with HR etc, plus multiple drafts of their resignation letter detailing the harassment, now all uploaded as read-only files (plus outsourced IT that OP knew would take forever to delete them).

          When a former coworker got in touch a few days later to say “Um, I think you uploaded a bunch of HR complaints? And pretty much everyone has read them by now?” the OP played innocent and said it was a mistake in their haste to upload all the files like their manager had asked, oops, how embarrassing!

          They’re asking AITA for sharing the whole backlog of complaints and HR discussions with the entire company as malicious compliance, and pretty much everyone is saying NTA

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Bot copy is still there. But this is an excellent summary of what happened.

  33. Lattes are for lovers*

    How do you successfully transition out of a retail career?

    Asking this on behalf of my husband. He worked a golf professional pre-recession for a few years but lost his job during the 2008 Recession. To make ends meet, he took a retail job. From there, he continued to retail management roles at a few different companies.

    Last year, he had the opportunity to take a training type of role within his current company. He loved it and thrived in the role. His company very abruptly ended the program earlier this and he had to go back into store management. He has found it very difficult to get employers to take him seriously, even though his metrics are great and he gets awesome feedback.

    1. CallTheBagelShop*

      Would he be interested in training or client-facing roles? A lot of tech companies have roles in customer engagement/training/learning and customer success management (in some cases, CS folks also work closely with sales).

      1. Lattes are for lovers*

        Yes, definitely. Interestingly enough, this is very similar to what he was doing until recently. I told him that he needs to restructure his resume to focus more on these skills versus being retail heavy.

  34. Beebee*

    I have a question for other non-Americans. Are intense job background checks common where you live (outside of things like government jobs that require security clearances)? I am in Canada and have never had to provide every job I’ve ever had, I’ve never had to do a drug test, I don’t even think my employers have been able to go and verify where I’ve worked before asides from getting in touch with the companies / references I list on my resume.

    I don’t lie on my resume or anything like that, I just always find it weird when I read about people needing to provide every exact bit of information and if it’s wrong or not included then they could be fired or not hired? But I wasn’t sure if this was just my industry as an outlier. For me if I don’t include it on my resume, the only way the place I apply at will know about it is if they know someone who worked with me at the not-included job and even then it will have zero effect on whether or not I’m hired unless I have a bad reputation (which I thankfully do not!)

    1. Kiwiapple*

      Non American here:
      In the UK I’ve had background criminal checks when working with vulnerable people, children and records.
      In New Zealand, where I currently live, my most recent role I had a background and financiak check.

      1. Kiwiapple*

        In some apps I have had to provide every job and every address. I have never had to take a drugs test.

      2. Bagpuss*

        UK here, and no.
        We get criminal record checks (as lawyers we both deal with finances and work with vulnerable people)
        And it’s normal to check with our regulator that anyone claiming to be a lawyer actually is one.
        Drug testing may be required if you are an airline pilot or train driver, I think , but it’s very rare for other types of job.
        You do have to provide evidence of your right to work for most jobs (basically that you are a uk citizen or have the appropriate visa etc)

    2. Asenath*

      Also Canadian – I’ve never had an intense background check; never had my financial background questioned. I have had to get police certificates of conduct, when a job (or volunteer work) involved children or other vulnerable persons. I have also never had to do a drug test, although I’ve also never worked in jobs that typically require them, like some in the transportation industry. I’ve been asked for my work and educational history, of course, but as life goes on, my earlier jobs tend to be dropped so that only the most recent ones are given, along with my highest and most relevant levels of education. I don’t think I’d do well in the US job market – the procedures involved in applying for and getting jobs seem so daunting and complicated.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I’m Irish and nope, not as far as I know. When I qualified as a teacher, back in 2004, there was no background check at all. There is now, but that is a case of providing the Gardaí (our police force) with all the addresses you’ve lived at and having them confirm that you don’t have a criminal record. Definitely no drug testing or anything like that!

    4. Eff Walsingham*

      Canadian. My last job asked for a credit check, which I thought was pretty cheeky as well as completely irrelevant to the position. However, every employee is automatically given a charge account for products supplied by the company, and occasionally given a bit of bonus “store credit”. (Think “It’s your birthday! Buy something for $10 on us!”) They also asked for 3 work references, 3 personal references, and a whole bunch of other odd and outdated stuff. The application was 6 pages long, and included consent forms for 2 different background check companies. Very OTT for a company that isn’t very competitive in the industry anymore, that was basically asking me to please apply, because I’d been temping there for ages and they loved my work. I didn’t handle cash, wasn’t going to be a keyholder or a decision maker. And they seriously wonder why their applicant pool dried up during Covid. It’s simply not worth the effort for most people to jump through those hoops for that money.

      Probably government work would require a complete background check? I’d have to ask my uncle who worked for his province before his retirement.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Oh! I think I also had to sign something saying I’d be ok with being drug tested? Although I’d already worked on the premises for a year and a half; and I never heard of anyone being drug tested the entire total time I was there. I think they mainly wanted to underscore that they are really really not ok with people coming to work under the influence, since the place is full of forklifts and whatnot.

    5. Russian in Texas*

      In the US, and nope. The only places, in my experience, that require you to list EVERYTHING EVER are federal government, or federal government contractors. Or places where specific security issues can happen. Not just any job.
      My current job is in small company and there was no drug test nor credit check.
      My previous job had a sensitive government contract and I had to get fingerprinted and had to provide a list of people available to be interviewed about me.

    6. Princess Xena*

      So I’m American and did have to go through an actual background check and credit check for my current job, but I’m working as a public accountant which means I’m constantly handling sensitive information (bank data, employee data lists, customer lists, even PHI every now and then) so that seemed pretty reasonable. When I worked in food service I had to provide a listing of other jobs I’d worked but only as part of the resume, not as a background checking process.

      1. Princess Xena*

        Edit: I also had to sign a note saying that I would be OK to be drug tested, but we work with govt clients and heavy machinery too so that’s part of our client contracts.

        I did also go through a reasonably stringent background check when signing up to volunteer with a children’s summer campy but that’s just sense.

    7. londonedit*

      UK, and no. I have a DBS (criminal record) check because I have a qualification as a running leader, and a DBS check is part of that certification. But as far as jobs go, I’ve never had to provide more than a couple of references, and I’ve never had the sort of background check other people talk about here where a company goes through and verifies absolutely every bit of your employment history, or a credit check. The only person I know who did have a full background/security check was a friend who got a job in the civil service doing something in IT for the Ministry of Defence (in which case it made total sense!) I’ve also never had to do anything to prove my education, like supplying my degree certificate (which I think is at my parents’ house somewhere?!) or school exam results (we don’t have a high school diploma here, we have GCSE results from the age of 16 and A level results from the age of 18). Oh and I’ve definitely never had to do a drugs test.

  35. Goose*

    Just cleared 70ish emails. I took two days off last week for the holiday and the emails kept piling up. I still have nearly 40 more in my inbox. I don’t think I was clear enough with my team that I would be out which is my bad, but having so much to catch up on makes me nervous about taking more time off. None of these emails are emergencies, but I want to provide good CS. How do the rest of y’all manage this balance?

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      I was away for 2 weeks and came back to 800 emails (to be fair about 450 were there before I went away).
      I just got to a point where I looked through who things were from and subject matter and read what looked important. Anything else, they’ll email me again if necessary I figure.
      I’ve also just accepted I get a lot of emails and my inbox is a nightmare despite doing all of the hacks / tips etc… and it’s still a hella better than the 1500 unread I had 4 years ago.
      Also I block out a half day in my diary for just after I return to deal with emails

    2. 653-CXK*

      I usually come back to about 100-150 emails when I return from vacation. It takes me anywhere from 2-3 hours to triage, and then another 2-3 hours to complete them.

    3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Please still take your time off. There will ALWAYS be more work to do, but you only get this one life to live it! I just expect that I’ll have a bunch of emails to go through, and work them based on priority. Did you set an out of office message informing people when you start responding to emails, IMs, etc? I list that in my out of office message to set expectations that the earliest they will hear from me again is “x” date or later.

  36. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Just here to scream about job listings.

    Today’s gold:

    Opportunity for [field] professional to develop their career. [5+ years’] experience required plus [recognised professional qualification]. They’ve marked it as an entry-level position. Red flag for “don’t want to pay what this is worth, will squeeze every possible ounce of work from you”.

    1. Gnome*

      FWIW, my HR tags things at what looks like random. It might be an HR issue. Also might not.

  37. ecnaseener*

    Reposting this after a nesting fail:

    I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, but I wish I could broadcast this into the mind of every job-seeker (especially the entry-level ones) so I hope at least a few people see it who didn’t already realize:

    If you get a chance to talk with your prospective coworkers without the hiring manager present, for the love of god take advantage of it! I interviewed two people last week who had ZERO questions for me because they’d already asked the hiring manager all their questions. (Not separate “rounds” of interviews, just the previous half hour.) Such a missed (rare!) opportunity for them to get candid responses about the HM, team culture, etc. Not that I was burning to warn them about anything in particular, I like the HM, but they didn’t know that!

  38. just a random teacher*

    I’m thinking it may be time to get out of teaching, but knowing I want “out” doesn’t help me actually figure out where I want to go.

    Things I like about teaching: guaranteed multi-week chunk of time off each year to decompress, no weekend emergencies, hard deadlines beyond which I no longer have to care about whether or not [thing] got done because now it’s a new semester or school year so whatever you got done is good enough, getting to talk to people a lot but not on the phone. I also particularly like it when I can help people better understand my subject area and feel like I’m making an impact, but I’m not attached to that subject area particularly and don’t care if I don’t use that content area knowledge in a new job, I just like being able to explain things to people and help them learn stuff.

    Things I don’t like about teaching: the constant upending of plans due to COVID, having no control over my working conditions or schedule, being constantly caught between unrealistic demands from the district/state/feds and the on-the-ground reality, can’t take my dog to work, have to carefully plan bathroom breaks, can never take vacations at certain times of the year, [assorted political factors not for this board], and the general sense that nothing makes sense anymore but we’re going to do it anyway.

    Are there other fields where you mostly get to talk to people rather than write all by yourself that I should look into? I don’t want to make or receive phone calls, and I don’t think I’d do well in a job where I needed a “polished” appearance like a lot of high-end sales. (In teaching, you can get away with dressing pretty casually as long as you dress very differently than teenagers do.) I also am terrible at self-promotion. I can do complicated, technical work as long as I’m doing it in a group where I get to talk to other people (I enjoyed doing things like the mathematical modeling competition in college), but give me a task, an empty room, no one to check in with, and a long-term deadline, and I will get nothing done until the last minute. I’m looking for something stable and that makes at least as much as teaching does.

    Or should I just hope that teaching gets better again in a few more years?

    1. Csw*

      How about some sort of training position? Maybe adult learning academies or the tech field usually has some in-house training positions you may be able to upskill for.

    2. TPS reporter*

      A former co worker who was the training and presentations expert in our department came from teaching. She had no substantive experience in our field but that seemed to helped as she was able to translate our subject matter expert speak to more relatable content. We also have a corporate but fairly relaxed style and the focus is on regulatory compliance in a non profit, not sales or anything like that.

    3. Eyes Kiwami*

      What about the talent/learning side of HR? For example, designing a program for workers to self-skill, designing and executing yearly performance reviews for the org, rolling out compliance trainings, analyzing skill gaps in workforce? You really need to communicate with other teams in order to proceed, nothing is so urgent it can’t wait, and you still get to shape the culture and be involved in learning as a concept.

    4. Double A*

      So I teach at an online school. Obviously it still has some of the BS of schools, but you control your own schedule day to day much more, and can take bathroom breaks whenever you need. And in your own bathroom. You do spend a lot of time on the phone or in zoom, but the majority is with students so it’s like a 1:1 tutoring session that can be just as rewarding as in person work with students. I took a slight pay cut, but I was also transitioning out of special Ed (and also didn’t know I could negotiate….). The benefits are slightly better generally, and massively better when it came to parental leave but that’s California specific.

      Just something to think about if you do want to stay in teaching.

  39. Paddy O'Furniture*

    My big outrage of the week is the news story about those customer service satisfaction surveys that Starbucks asks their customers to respond to. The surveys are horrible. My sympathies to the Starbucks employees.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Sadly Starbucks is not the only one doing this and this has been going on for ages. Retail excels at not trusting the employee to do the job they are paid to do. Hey, maybe people aren’t trustworthy because of the poverty level pay and the crappy treatment. Just a thought.

        A retailer in my area has an online complaint form. Your complaint, complete with name and address is sent to the manager of the store, because what could possibly go wrong here. /s

        It’s my opinion that because of retail’s approach to treating everyone like a criminal, they get even more criminal behavior. It boils down to total disrespect. Look at Walmart. They practically search the customer’s cart before the customer leaves. I’m sorry, but if things are at that level, then it might be time to close up shop.

        1. Chaordic One*

          It really is troubling that the employees are caught between the conflict of trying to be quick and efficient on one hand, and then trying to visit with the customer and develop a relationship with them that will keep them coming back on the other. Most of the time they can’t do both. It just isn’t possible.

          And the part about people of color being rated lower than whites. Argh!

    1. Princess Xena*

      Here’s one that really frustrates me: customer satisfaction surveys for medical personnel. Most of the time if people are in the hospital, they’re going to be having a crappy time. No matter how much care you get for that massive hernia your experience will still not be fun because you had to get surgery for that massive hernia. You’re hurting, you’re in a sterile uncomfortable environment, the medical staff are doing things that are good for your long-term health (like not letting you out of the bed right after coming to from general anesthesia) but that aren’t fun in the short term, and you’re not getting luxury hotel treatment because this is a hospital, not a five star hotel. That doesn’t even count the Covid restrictions on masks, visitors, wait times, you name it.

      Yes, there should be a minimum standard of care for hospitals, but if these satisfaction surveys are already acknowledged as being mediocre at best in customer service (which is about a low stakes as it can get – did you or did you not get your coffee) why on Earth would people think it would work in hospitals?!

  40. Reluctantly Abandoning Atheisure*

    Hi all! Looks like I am going back to an office. A different office that’s business casual. I am plus sized (16 or 18), female bodied, top heavy, and have zero clothes to wear to an office. Suggestions on where to start??

    1. TPS reporter*

      I absolutely love my black pants from Chicos. They are super comfy, look professional, are flattering. I honestly didn’t realize that store would have something that basic, not garish looking. And decently priced.

    2. Russian in Texas*

      Torrid and Old Navy. I find Torrid’s quality pretty decent.
      The Universal Standard – kind of pricey, but you can get pretty good quality basic staples.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Consignment shops, thrift stores to get yourself launched so you can see what works for you and what does not work.
      The thrift stores near me have plenty of clothes in the sizes you are talking about. As an example, I wear mostly black pants to work. It’s different pants but no one can really tell. I decided I might like to branch out into colors. I got brown pants at the thrift store so I could test drive this idea. When it failed, I was out 2 bucks. no big deal.

    4. PollyQ*

      Catalogs like Lands’ End & Eddie Bauer carry business casual separates in women’s sizes.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      You can get knit tops at places like Kohls or JC Penney that are basically t-shirt material but read as more “office-y” due to pattern and neckline. I live in crew neck Croft and Barrow patterned shirts from Kohls, and used to buy similar shirts from JC Penneys. If you need to get more formal, you can dress them up with a cardigan or, for extra dressy, a blazer over them.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      I live in plain t-shirts or various blouses with a open cardigan over them and dress trousers or jeans. Although I used to buy most of my office clothing at Lane Bryant, I’ve been much happier with the quality and available colors of blouses I’ve been buying from Maurice’s over the past year. The plus-size selection in the store in usually pretty slim, but I order a lot from the website. If you have a location near you, I do find it helpful to go see the misses sizes of the plus clothes in person to get an accurate idea of the colors. There are some items I ended up not ordering, and others I rejected online but then DID order, based on the difference between the colors on the screen vs in person.

    7. Rocky*

      Alison of Wardrobe Oxygen (blog) has some great suggestions for plus sized folks and puts together some really cute outfits! She loves Chicos, as well!

  41. No Cameras Please!*

    I absolutely hate the rising trend of employers requiring a short video as part of the job application process. If they want to see me and hear me, they should schedule an interview!

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Urrrgh. This feels like yet one more of the “lots of effort for you, no effort for me” school of hiring. Is my job making videos for you? Ok, cool, here’s a portfolio of videos I’ve made/my twitch channel/whatever is relevant. Otherwise, it’s not a replacement for an interview unless we also get to do the part where I ask you questions about the j0b. Plus, it’s an extra bonus opportunity for employers to decide I’m Doing My Perceived Gender Wrong, or whatever other piece of job-irrelevant baggage they’ve decided to pack today.

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

  42. BurntOutAF*

    I started a new job Friday in state government and as I was setting everything up on my laptop I started installing and signing into Outlook/Teams on my phone and my new boss said “don’t do that… seriously, please don’t, your time is your time when you aren’t at your computer” and I literally almost cried! Happy long weekend, everyone.

    1. Chaordic One*

      Congratulations on the new job AND on your new boss. You’re off to a GOOD start!

  43. Yikes*

    I have an interview tomorrow….the first one in about four years. I feel very rusty and am having a hard time getting excited, even though I would love to move on from my job of 11 years. I looked up the interview panel and the team, and most have either master’s degrees or PHDs…I have a bachelor’s degree. I’ve had interview with different departments of this large county over the years, and haven’t made it to a second round. Any advice for getting over this feeling of dread for the interview?

  44. Peach*

    Hey everyone! I’m starting a new job in about a month and want to ask the readers who worked in a high-pressure, fast-paced job. What tools do you have to keep up? How do you cope during work hours?

    I worked in a chaotic job previously with bad management, but this new job has a system for performance reviews and annual check-ins! Any replies would be great (and if there was a similar question about it on AAM, please let me know.)

    1. Yikes*

      I use my calendar to book assignments throughout the day. It keeps me motivated and on track with what I need to accomplish.

    2. TPS reporter*

      My job has always been like this. I think though it actually keeps me motivated to be under pressure. First is organization- you’ve got to find something that works for notes, pending issues/projects, documents and emails. Just start organizing from day one and don’t be afraid to change up your system as needed. Don’t ever let it slip though from the beginning and you’ll feel so grateful to your past self.

      Always listen carefully and take notes in any conversation or meeting. When I encountered new topics or areas I was not familiar with I would just verbatim right down what people were saying, then go back later to try to figure it out (Google, review references to regulations, search the names they were using).

      Keep a now, medium and later priority list. You can change what goes where but tasks all should go somewhere. I realized my brain space didn’t need to be taken up by remembering little things. If I write them down I remove them from conscious thought.

      Using a calendar not just for meetings but blocking off time for certain tasks I want to do regularly or concentration time.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Peach*

        Do you use an online calendar? Apps? I use post-its with a variety of color pens and paste them where I can see them on my monitor (else I’d forget – I’m in the process of getting an ADHD diagnosis!!!) Or do you use a notebook with a calendar in it? Is the priority list separate or also in your book/app?

        Sorry I’m asking so much! I’ve gotten better at being productive by dividing my task into 3 mini-tasks so it feels less burdensome, as well as keeping track of my own focus by concentrating for 10 minutes then using a minute to check-in before resuming. I know what works for you may not work for me, but the different perspective is helpful!!

        Thanks for answering!!!

        1. TPS reporter*

          I use One Note and have created a bunch of categories with sub pages. I use it to take notes from meetings, make notes for upcoming meetings, and organize my thoughts on different problems or projects. It’s searchable and legible unlike my handwriting. I use calendar alerts too just in the regular Outlook calendar. Which also syncs to Teams which I use for sharing docs that I want other people to edit or vice versa.

    3. Dragonfly7*

      I organize my emails into folders labeled by task, committee, whatever works best for that particular job. Those folders also have draft templates for inquiries that I answer frequently, like details about an ongoing event. At the same time, I have folders in my shared drive (One Drive or Google Drive, whatever the company uses) with the same names. I like to use subfolders with the date and name of each project to organize documents. If it is an annual event or project, I might label those folders 052022_AnnualGala, 052021_AnnualGala, etc. For something that might not need subfolders, I put the date at the beginning of the file name to organize them, like 20220531_StaffMeetingNotes.docx.

      Color coding works well for my calendar. It also helps me keep a balance between different areas of my work (and in my life, for my personal calendar) so I can see at a glance what is being neglected.

      My director required us to submit a weekly report detailing things that were planned, in progress, or completed in 3-4 different areas while we worked remotely during COVID. While this definitely annoyed some folks, I actually found this to be a great way to plan my week. When I submitted my completed report at the end of Friday or on Monday morning, I immediately created the version I planned to submit the following week. I used that document as my task list and just moved my projects between the categories as I started and completed them. Pre-COVID, I had a similar daily version in a paper bullet journal. I’m sitting here realizing it would be useful to resume doing that since I’m feeling disorganized and out-of-sorts this week.

      If you have access to LinkedIn Learning, there is a 2-3 hour course called Time Management Fundamentals that might be helpful to you. I’ve tried to adopt parts of it that worked for me.

      1. Peach*

        Okay! Thanks so much for replying. I’ll look into the course mentioned. I have about 3 weeks of break before I start my next job so I’ll learn all I can.

  45. Environmental Compliance*

    Probably very late to the game, but here goes a two-parter:

    1) I have known for some time that I am in the succession line for my boss’s job, but I didn’t expect it so soon. As in, within the next handful of months. I am terrified. Also, as my name suggests…I’m environmental. This is for full HSE. Do I have some confidence I’d be halfway decent? Yeah. I have no idea if I want to do the H and S side. I’m terrified I’m going to be awful at it. In my brain I would have more time to, I don’t know, get better and H&S? I’m OSHA 30hr certified, I’m HAZWOPER cert’d with Incident Command, I’m pretty good with IH. I just don’t feel as comfortable with H&S and it’s probably causing me more mental grief than anything. Does this sound like imposter syndrome / nerves or maybe there is something I can do in regards to classes (?) to do better for H&S? I do investigations, I’ve done a couple safety reviews, I feel confident in a lot of regards I guess except for authority. I can make decisions based on information pretty quickly and feel confident backing them up, I’m not sure I feel confident as a woman in a very male-dominated space – especially when I’ll be about 15-20 years younger than the entire management team.

    2) I’ve been *heavily* recruited by quite a few recruiters for the past few months. I get probably 2-3 a week. Most of them I completely ignore because they’re either irrelevant or very much a scattershot effort (at least try to get my name right in the message?). However, I’ve had a couple recently that sparked my interest enough for me to throw a ridiculous salary number their way, which they’ve actually accepted and said, yeah, we can work with that very easily. Given the above – I feel bad that I’m considering interviewing. But – one is for a solely environmental regulatory position that’s 40k above what I make now, and fully remote. It *sounds* great, but I really like where I work now, and the team I have. On paper I can say that of course, interview, what’s to lose? but in practice I’m feeling very guilty. Does that make sense?

    1. Raboot*

      2 – it definitely makes sense that you’d feel guilty, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with interviewing and, if it comes to that, with moving to a different job. Maybe for now just commit to applying to something that might be interesting without worrying about leaving quite yet – if something ends up really exciting you it could feel a lot different than it does now when it’s more theoretical.

      1. Raboot*

        To be clear, by “makes sense” I mean “we’ve all been there” not “this is the only correct feeling”. Feel your feelings but they don’t have to dictate your actions!

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I think my anxiety with moving up is clouding over these other roles – and this is one of the first places where I have truly felt valued and like my work, which clouds everything up more.

  46. Wish me luck*

    My bullying boss has just managed to fire me, despite it being outright illegal for him to do so. I am going to take my case to the independent watchdog. Please wish me luck that sanity finally prevails and the last year of him tormenting me has not been in vain, and that I am able to get my job back (in another office, of course!), or that I at least get compensation which means I won’t end up homeless.

    I have officially lost all remaining faith in both managers and HR departments. Bullying managers are a liability. Stop protecting them.

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      I wish you every possible piece of luck in getting what is legally owing to you ASAP. A friend of mine had to take her employer to the Labour Board where she lives, and they were made to pay her money they had wrongly withheld from her. She was worried about the resume gap because she wouldn’t be able to use anyone there as a reference, but that hasn’t held her back and she has gone on to better jobs since.

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