open thread – May 13-14, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,132 comments… read them below }

  1. Gladys*

    My team consists of me (a Llama Grooming Manager), Imogene (Cutting Manager, Wooly Llama Grooming) and Claude (Cutting Manager, Wooly Llama Grooming). We work on different types of llamas, and while my position is above them, I don’t have any authority over Imogene and Claude. The issue is that Imogene constantly asks Claude and me for guidance and clarification on how to do her job. Our manager, Leroy, recently quit, but he ignored how Claude and I carry most of the weight of the work while Imogene does the least amount of work, makes careless errors, needs to be reminded of things she has been told and how she would just not show up to certain mandatory meetings Claude and I go to. With the current example, our grand-boss Ralph, told Imogene to reach out to someone in finance to get the status on something. She said okay! But then immediately chats Claude and me asking what the latest email is (in an email chain she is on) and what the people in finance need. She is over complicating the situation, she just needs to ask the status of something, but she doesn’t want to read through the email chain and is basically making Claude and I tell her what she is supposed to do. And last week, we had an optional external training course for llama grooming and Imogene made a big deal in the team chat room (where our grand-boss could see) how she would send out a calendar reminder to all of us to block out the time for this training. She sent out the calendar invite, but then she didn’t even show up to the course! You can see who attends, and she didn’t even go!

    You might be thinking, this woman lacks confidence and is only asking questions. Well! While she is very lazy with her job, she is one of the most entitled people I’ve ever worked with. She started a year and a half ago, and the first time I trained her, she went on about how this role was a step down for her and how she is used to a more senior role (which, eyeroll…). That’s been her attitude since then as well. I think she genuinely thinks she is at a director level and that Claude and I are there to “assist” her.

    The entire time she’s been here, she’s REALLY good at saying the right things in front of managers and people in high positions but then quietly asks for our help. The end result is that SHE looks competent to management, when in fact she needs constant guidance to do basic things. For reference I’m in my mid-30s and both Claude and Imogen are in their early 30s, so I’m not sure why she thinks she is so much more experienced than us.

    Now that Leroy is gone, we are getting a new manager next week, Ollie. At this point, I’m exhausted from dealing with her laziness and entitled attitude on top of doing my job. I’m going to try and push her questions towards Ollie, but I’m also worried by refusing to give into her “helplessness”, it’s going to make me look like I’m not a team player to Ollie. I’m also like, “does anyone else see what she’s doing? Am I crazy?”

    Any advice?

    1. irene adler*

      There’s a difference between “team player” and “carrying someone”.

      After Ollie has settled in, you might answer say, the first 5 questions from Imogine. Then, rope Ollie in with “I’ve been telling Imogene to do X steps when we need to carry out task Y. Ollie, maybe you should impart to Imogene how to approach task Y. ”

      No you aren’t at all crazy. Be glad you can see that “the emperor has no clothes.”

    2. Someone in BioPharma*

      Stop helping her. Send her to Ollie. If Ollie is competent she will work out the issues after a few conversations with Imogene.

    3. Mostly Managing*

      You are not crazy.

      Refer Imogen’s questions to Ollie, once Ollie’s had a bit of time to settle. Maybe give Ollie a heads up first – “I’ve been fielding so many basic questions from Imogen, it’s impacting my ability to get my own work done. I’m going to send her to you, and maybe you can figure out where the training gaps are.”

      And then just hope Imogen doesn’t somehow burn down the grooming she’d with a chemistry set. :)

      1. rage criers unite*

        I would do this … let Ollie know whats been going on so they know its been happening for a while!!

      2. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Oh I really like this! Makes it clear that it’s an ongoing issue, it has productivity impacts, and that Imogen needs active management.

      3. Khatul Madame*

        Be very vigilant with the heads-up. Imogen will also give Ollie a heads-up that will paint her in the best possible light at the expense of you and Claude. Your own heads-up should present you as a team player and rebut any negatives Imogen may put forward.
        Also prepare for the scenario where Ollie buys Imogen’s theatrics, at least for a brief time. Do not assume Ollie will be on your side or even on the side of getting things done.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Continue showing Imogen the same have you’ve been doing for a little while, so she won’t get to Ollie first and pre-empt you. If she doesn’t know there’s any reason to worry that you might change your current approach, she won’t try. Then tell Ollie how concerned you are about the fact that ever since you trained Imogen, she continues to need your and Claude’s constant guidance on very basic things, and you’re concerned about the impact it’s causing to your and Claude’s work to keep carrying her to this degree.

            1. Gladys*

              I want to tread carefully when it comes to putting words in Claude’s mouth. I’m not sure what he thinks about it because we’ve never talked about Imogene. He might be annoyed with her, but he’s extremely professional and I’ve never heard him complain once about anything. He’s also really nice so he might not think it’s as big of a deal as it as. I don’t know how to bring it up to him either, because him and I have a good working relationship and I don’t want him to think I’m a snake or being difficult. I also don’t know how Claude’s and Imogene’s relationship outside of me is.

              So I don’t feel comfortable telling Ollie outright, “she’s taking up Claude’s and my time with basic questions she’s been trained on” especially if he’s never complained to me about her.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                Fair enough. Then say she’s taking up yours. If she asks about Claude, you can tell her that your own impression has been that he’s also been helping her to a significant degree, but that you haven’t checked that with him and so can’t be sure.

      4. JSPA*

        I like this. If you just send her over, she has extra time to blow smoke up his ass.

    4. ferrina*

      What if you just….don’t answer? Maybe “miss” her email or not get back to her in chat right away. Give her a couple hours while you do your own work. Then when you do respond back, make it vague “I’m not sure, maybe it’s in the email”. Then when she inevitably responds back “What email?”, you don’t respond for another hour.
      If your boss asks you to help her more, at that point you can clarify how much time she’s historically needed on your help and confirm that that’s time that he’d like you to spend helping her (instead of doing your own work)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Slowing down the cycle is an excellent idea, even if the LW is not willing to be completely unhelpful.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Sometimes it helps to loop in a third party. So for example, you might take the opportunity of a new boss to CC Ollie “for your information” on a thing. Two things might happen – one, that she stops emailing you things she now knows you will cc to her manager and two, that he might quickly come up to speed not just about the tasks but about her response to them. Could be something like “Imogene, you asked for the last email in this thread. Here is the last one I had. You can use it as a jumping off point to your conversation with Bill in Finance, per Big Boss’s data request from you.” You will be a Team Player for helping, but not fully doing her work.

        1. Cj*

          Without Ollie knowing the reason behind it, I think he would be baffled and probably unhappy if the OP does this. Most people get way too many e-mails as it is, and wouldn’t appreciate being looped in on these sort of things.

          In normal circumstances it would actually be out of line, and he has no reason to believe that these aren’t normal circumstances.

          If you meant that the OP should do this after she gives Ollie a heads up, that’s a good idea. Both to let Ollie know what and how much this happens, and so that the co-worker knows that Ollie knows.

    5. Mockingjay*

      Just stop helping her. “Sorry, I don’t know who to contact in finance.” “Sorry, can’t help, I’ve got to finish my task.” Ignore her chats. You’re not obligated to respond. Or send a quick response to cut her off: “sorry, can’t talk, busy today.” Let her fail.

      I suggest that you focus on your own work and establishing a good relationship with Ollie. If you do talk to Ollie, keep it on process, not personality – Imogene doesn’t do X, which results in Y impact.

  2. Done.*

    Mostly a vent this but what do you do when your seemingly unemployable? I’ve had 30+ interviews in the last 18 months and can’t do any more. I’ve had a few good ones where I’ve been beaten by someone seemingly perfect, and a lot I’ve bombed – my interviewing anxiety is getting worse and I’ve started asking for accommodations for internal interviews. Honestly not sure where I can go from here but I’ve been working 9 years and I’m barely above entry level. Any tips on how to learn to cope with this?

    1. NeevousNellie*

      If you haven’t already, have a professional look at your resume and your cover letter. Consider working with a recruiter for the industry you want to work in, so some of the work isn’t on your shoulders. Get a frank assessment of your appearance and how you conduct yourself.

      You may, unfortunately, need to move to get a step up position. Could you do 4-5 years in whatever your closest big city is?

      1. Cj*

        Since they’re getting so many interviews, I don’t think the resume or cover letter are the problem.

        Doing mock interviews with a professional or friend that would give them honest feedback would be a really good idea, as well as frank feedback on their appearance and conduct in general.

        I really don’t think these are all internal interviews. I can’t imagine anyone not getting a job after that many interviews at their current company and not looking outside their company along time ago.

        I’m actually wondering if this was meant to be a reply to a different post? So much of it doesn’t fit, like your comments about the industry they want to work in when there is no indication they are trying to switch industries, moving to a different city, and a potential problem with their resume and cover letter when they are getting so many interviews.

        1. Cj*

          I paused writing this comment while it was in progress, and wrote that I don’t think they were all internal interviews before I realize that by move you meant move locations, not companies.

    2. OptimisticPessimist*

      First of all, my condolences. That sounds difficult.

      Second, I think one thing that might help is doing some sort of temp work, like subbing, where it’s almost like volunteering with subsidized gas money. (At least, that’s how it is where I live. Subs aren’t paid s***.) That will at least be something financially, as well as recent experiences you can add to. You can also feel good about helping where there is real societal need. Also, subbing for high school leave plenty of time to type cover letters and job search. Most teachers just have kids working on their Chromebooks. Temping also may be good for similar reasons.

      Third, I’m sorry again. That would suck so bad. I hope it resolves quickly. Maybe reach out to a nearby university or government employment group and see if anyone will practice interview with you or read your cover letter to check for blind spots.

      This just sounds like a long bout of bad luck. Wishes for all the good luck to come to you soon!

      1. Cj*

        That many interviews without being hired sucks no matter what, and I know that the OP says they think they are unemployable. But I am a little confused as to if they are actually unemployed, or just under-employed.

        They said they’ve asked for accommodations for internal interviews, which I understood to be internal interviews at the company they are working at.

    3. K C*

      First of all congrats on putting yourself out there. It’s hard.

      I’m not sure how others interview, but what I did was to write down their questions during the interview or immediately after. Then I’d go home, add them to the list, and come up with an absolutely perfect story to reply with next time.

      Those stories need to include a previous situation at least tangentially related. And show a lot of my own positive qualities. Then I’d practice it until it was fluent, and not read from a page. It has to be in your common speech words. And you’ve got to believe it.

      After doing this for a little while interviews became extremely easy for me – but there’s still other factors that I don’t know about or understand which mean not getting the job.

      Anyway IF you don’t do that maybe you could try. If you do that already then great and hopefully someone else has a better idea.

    4. Not My Usual Name*

      Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. Seriously. I have no advice to offer, just solidarity. I was a casualty of a round of layoffs in January, I’ve applied for more than 40 jobs since, most well within my skill set, and…I’ve had 2 interviews, one of which went nowhere and the other of which was not something I wanted to pursue because I am in no way interested in sales.

      Can we please talk about how it’s clearly not “an employee’s market” for everyone? I go on LinkedIn, find a job I might want, and see “over 200 applicants.” Which to me says “don’t waste your time.” Multiple jobs. Every day. It’s incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. It doesn’t help that, if I’m being honest, the “traditional” job search process has never worked well for me.

      I’m beginning to think I might have to go back to admin assistant work, which I really do not want to do because, let’s face it, it sucks because the admin is too often one of the least appreciated and most exploited/abused person in the office…unless there’s a receptionist. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.

      But the reality is, I can’t even seem to get an interview, I hate job searching with the fire of 10,000 suns, and….argh! I’m trying to use Alison’s advice to the best of my ability, but yeah, not a lot of results right now. So…what do you do when you seem to be hitting brick wall after brick wall?

      1. Anna Badger*

        one thing I would say is that “over 200 applicants” is distinct from “over 200 viable applicants” – especially on LinkedIn, a lot of the applications may well be scattershot approaches which are quickly ruled out. if you’re a good match for the role it’s still worth applying!

        1. Glitter*

          I agree with this! I have a phone interview today with a job that had over 600 applicants on Indeed, so I didn’t really expect to hear back. But if you have relevant experience and/or the qualifications they asked for, that might put you at the top of even a large hiring pool

        2. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. So many applications never go further than that because they are clearly just spitballing. Go through the archives here for tips and write up a good cover letter. I get so many crappy applications where I don’t know why they want a job, but will look twice if they have a well crafted letter to clue me in.

        3. voluptuousfire*

          It could also mean 200 clickthroughs to the job application but that doesn’t necessarily mean application. I know I’ve clicked on several job listings on LinkedIn that went to the listing on the company site and not applied.

      2. Harried HR*

        If you have experience in the job posted and have the required skills then please apply.

        Once of my roles in HR is Recruiting and if there are 200 applicants for a role 150 meet ZERO of the criteria. So in reality you would be competing against 50 viable candidates not 200 .

        Just my 2 cents

      3. Aggresuko*

        In all honesty, I quit job hunting. I just don’t fit what people want these days and I don’t *want* to become a finance/payroll person, or a money person, or a front desk person. I don’t want those jobs and those jobs don’t want me. I just don’t see anything else out there.

        1. Pascall*

          What sort of things ARE you interested in pursuing? I may be able to assist with at least providing some ideas.

      4. May 2022*

        Agreed x 1000, right down to the admin work. I don’t know what “employee’s market” all these articles are referring to, but it’s not one I’m a part of.

        No employer sees my career advancement as advancement, because it wasn’t with their company. It’s like it doesn’t exist.

        It’s demoralizing.

        1. Not My Usual Name*

          “Demoralizing” is a understatement. But it does help to know I’m not the only one having this experience.

          I was telling my spouse the other day that I feel like I could find a job…if I was willing to make $25,000 a year…which I’m not. Job hunting just sucks.

      5. Sherm*

        I was underemployed during an era where supposedly you could walk into any place of employment and be hired on the spot, if you were to believe some news reports.

        Job searching sucks. And even when it’s a job-seeker’s market, employers can hold their breath longer than an applicant can. Many employers are refusing to change. They want someone who can both groom llamas and paint teapots, all for a modest wage in a high cost-of-living area. They would rather be short-staffed to the point of absurdity than update how they operate.

        Hang in there, y’all. But it’s okay to take a little break. If you take a vacation, even a mini 3-day staycation, it’s time well “spent” if you emerge from it recharged and ready to make another go at it.

      6. Pascall*

        One thing I discovered is that if LinkedIn has an “Easy Apply” option, I almost NEVER do it that way- that’s how they get those “Over 200 Applicants” label.

        Go to their website instead and apply there. I applied to one opportunity that had the over 200 applicants marker on a whim, just out of curiosity, and now I’m on the final round – it’s below what I want, but I’m not counting my chickens with my other interviews just yet.

        The Easy Apply makes it very simple for everyone under the sun to apply to it and many of them are not qualified or haven’t taken the time to ensure that the position is even something they’re actually interested in.

        Give it a go.

      7. Not My Usual Name*

        Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the support and the suggestions so much! I’ll definitely try applying through the employer’s website directly – it’s for sure worth trying!

        This is one of my favorite comment sections on the Internet for very good reason – you guys rock!

    5. Overeducated*

      I always kept getting beaten by someone seemingly perfect too, until I was the one seemingly perfect. I’ve gotten rejected for most of the jobs I’ve ever applied for. And then once in a while, I’m just the best candidate. Luck is a huge part of this, it’s unpredictable, but it can hit you too – the fact that you’re currently employed means you are employable.

      If it’s making you so anxious it’s getting hard to interview well, maybe it’s time to take a month off from applying and give yourself an emotional break? Or rehearse some answers with a trusted friend or colleague so you’re more on autopilot during actual interviews? I’m sorry it’s such a long process, it’s exhausting.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I have a kind of dumb trick that worked for me in in-person interviews. When the other person is talking, I lean forward a bit. It looks like I’m hanging on every word they say. Then when it was my turn to talk, I’d lean back a little, which made me look relaxed and confident. I was even told by someone I wound up working for, after the interview with his boss, that I interviewed better than anyone he’d ever seen. It helps to think of it like an acting job.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I can relate! One thing that getting to be on hiring committees (after I finally found a full-time job at an advanced age) taught me is just how random the hiring process can be. Luck *definitely* plays a part.

        I believe I wound up getting my first full-time job because I just happened to have taken a particularly awesome training program in my field a good decade and a half before that interview — one of the hiring committee had done the same training program, and I think that’s what got me the job. So random.

    6. Lana Kane*

      It’s not directly related to interviewing, but if you are having trouble with interviews then perhaps joining an org like Toastmasters could help you with feeling more comfortable with speaking with others, and help you polish up your delivery? This in conjunction with resume help and practice interviews to get feedback. Perhaps even a trusted friend can help you practice as well.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        Yeah, if you’re getting interviews but not doing well in them, the solution has to involve working on your interview skills and/or the anxiety that is blocking your ability to succeed at then. Have you considered seeing a therapist specifically for help in preparing for and doing interviews? Getting someone to practice interviewing with you can also be immensely helpful.

    7. Irish Teacher.*

      I really doubt you are unemployable. I haven’t any advice, but it might be a bit…well, you might like to hear that I spent 13 years doing short-term subbing while applying for year long and permanent jobs. I had way more than 30 interviews that I was turned down for. Then I got a year long, part-time job in my current school. That was 5 years ago, I’m still there and am pretty valued by my colleagues. Our principal told me, “a lot of people aren’t suited to your role, but you definitely are.”

      (I will add in my country subs are paid the same as full time teachers and have the same qualifications, but are paid only for days worked, so no pay over the summer holidays or if you don’t get any subbing work some weeks.)

    8. Nethwen*

      I’m sorry. That sounds so, so hard.

      Adding to others’ advice to practice interview questions and so on, I just heard an interview with Rich Gallagher about his book Stress Free Small Talk. He has a section that focuses on small talk specifically for job interviews and how being skilled in small talk can help someone in the interview.

      Before people start thinking Gallagher is saying interviews are decided on how much someone likes you (he’s not, in my opinion), listen to an interview or read the book. He focuses on teaching people quantifiable, learnable skills, not on developing “personality” or something else amorphous.

    9. anonymous73*

      I feel this so much. I’ve been working professionally for over 25 years and my career took a turn in 2011 and I haven’t seemed to be able to dig out of it. I was a Business Analyst and then forced into a support position. I was given an opportunity in 2015 to be a Project Manager with a former manager, but then was laid off in 2020 without having gained a whole lot of experience. I finally found a PM position last August (after nine months and many many interviews), and while my manager is great and very supportive, I don’t have much work to keep me occupied, and I’m not learning anything new to give me a leg up on a new job. If you have a way to take courses or gain more knowledge to help you advance, start there. It’s very competitive out there right now – they say employees have the upper hand, but so many have left crappy jobs that there’s more competition for the good ones. Keep your head up, don’t take anything personally, and keep trying. The right job is out there for you somewhere.

    10. Dragonfly7*

      If your current company has an EAP plan, they might be able to refer you to a counselor who specializes in career development, or anxiety and coping in general.

    11. RagingADHD*

      You mention internal interviews – does that mean you are currently working? Because that changes the answer of “what do you do.”

      If you weren’t working at all, then what you do is literally anything legal that you’re physically capable of, to get an income. Because piling up debt, missing meals, or being insecurely housed are just going to make it harder and harder to follow through effectively on finding the job you want. You can deal with the other steps once you are on your feet with steady money coming in.

      If you are working and just not moving up or around in the way you want to, then at least you know you are not actually “unemployable.” Same thing if your resume is getting you calls for interviews on jobs that are a good fit. In that case, you need some help leveling up your skills.

      Step one would be to deal with the anxiety, since it seems to be the main factor you cite in having problems with interviews. There is medical help for that, and the place to start is with your current employer’s EAP or through your health insurance to find a provider in your network.

      Step two would be to work with that provider on strategizing what you can change or approach differently in the job search overall. Maybe apply for a different career track. Maybe cultivate your professional network.

      The anxiety and stress of the job hunt and interviews seem to be the main things in your way, so best to tackle them head-on.

    12. Parenthesis Dude*

      I’ve been in your shoes before including the entry level part and turned things around. The main thing to keep in mind is stay positive. This happens to most people even if it feels like it only happens to you. If you feel like it only happens to you, you start choking.

      The other thing is to just keep on working at getting better. Just keep on making your case to move up.

    13. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I feel this hard. Long story short, my last job search was about two years. And I felt just like you. That I was fundamentally unemployable, to the point I considered making a podcast called “Unemployable”. I’d get plenty of interviews, but would just fall short in the final round. It sent me into a pretty deep depression, and the clock was ticking, I needed to find something very soon. I took a chance and interviewed for my current position. I actually did not think I’d like it, but the company had a good reputation and the job was in my pay range so I took the chance and got the job. Looking back, of all the jobs I was rejected for, that I though I wanted, this was the one that was actually the best fit.

      All this to say, it sucks and I know there’s a point you feel you’ll never find anything. But you are not unemployable. And I’m saying this for myself too. Changes at my company have made it so I’m back on the job market. And I’ve had a ton of interviews in the past 4 months. No offers. I had an amazing one today, and of all the ones I’ve done this is totally the best fit. But I’m also starting of feel the residual effects of my last search creeping in. Because it was traumatic. Some people seem to get every job they interview for. And then there’s us who seem like perpetual runners up. It can really take a toll. As to how to cope, self care when you can, and keep going if you want. But if you want to take a break and don’t need a change right now, do that!

      All the best. And WHEN you do find something, please update.

    14. Sloanicota*

      I hate to suggest this, but I wonder if employers are being crappy about the accommodations you’re requesting, and that’s why you’re not seeing better results. It should never happen but not every company follows the law if they can get away with it, and hiring is one of those places are hard to prove. Can you tweak your approach to these accommodations?

    15. IrishEm*

      I feel you. I was deeply underemployed and then unemployed for many years, and nothing was working until I got put in touch with a great local (un)employment assistance group. They arranged mock interviews and gave me sound advice about how I conduct myself in interviews.
      I was in an unemployment course but they also did courses and classes for people who were underemployed and/or having trouble with interviewing. It ight be worth seeing if there’s something like that where you are (Jobnet.ie if you’re in Ireland).

      It is definitely a skill that is really hard to master. I’m an otherwise good-with-people person but interviews, man, they mess with my head. I wish you luck.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Seconded.
        I was always in luck in that I happened to be in a field that was in demand at a time, although that was partly my own doing by keeping my eyes open and learning new stuff that looked interesting at the time – which then converted into marketable skills. Reading stuff on the internet counts (more if it’s business or science than sports or celebrities’ shenanigans, though). So stay curious and flexible; casting a wider net (field, roles, location, non-traditional hours…) can help a lot. My current job was, at the time, way out of my existing career trajectory and comfort zone – that was 12 years ago and my current role is quite different from what I was hired for. A bit of regularly reinventing myself.

        For the interview anxiety, consider getting an entry level job in sales. An interview is just a sales talk (matching customer’s problems with what you have to offer).
        Mock interviews help most if they are done with a partner experienced in hiring who is compassionate but honest – sugarcoating will not help you at all. Many interview failures happen in the first few seconds, unfortunately, so more based on appearance and poise than anything else. But you can work on that! Practice, I’d suggest taking a video on your phone so you see how you appear to the other person. Include entering the room and greeting participants in your practice.
        In my last interview, I brought a 2″ by 3″ card with my resume condensed to a few years and keywords on one side and questions I wanted to ask on the other, written out by hand just before the interview. That gave me some added security in not messing up dates.
        If you make that one page with white space for notes, you can hold on to a pen to calm your hands.
        I’m bad with names so I write them down like they are seated around the table, unless business cards are exchanged that I can arrange on the table in front of me.
        Sorry for rambling!

    16. The Jobless Wonder*

      I get it — it’s hell out there and it often feels as though potential employers see applicants as less than human. Not all, but too many. It’s not a jobseeker’s market for everyone. I felt unemployable during a multi-year job hunt, and the despair that comes with that. You aren’t alone (although it feels that way) and I know it doesn’t look like it, but there is hope. In my case, the work I’m doing now isn’t what I trained for at all. It’s something I’ve done casually for years and I was able to make a case in my application, and then the interview. Throw whatever you’ve got at the wall and see what sticks.

      Above all, remember you’re not a loser, and you’re not unemployable. Sticking with the search means you’re tenacious AF. Get advice, and take a short break if you can, and be sure to give yourself some regular downtime from the search-application-interview grind.

    17. lurkyloo*

      Speaking as the partner of someone going through this….It’s so hard to watch and I’m so sorry. My partner has made it to the final 2 six times in six months…and keeps losing out. And has had a remarkable number of companies interview him, be enthusiastic and then ghost. I can’t imagine how tough it is and I’m sorry it’s happening to you. :(

  3. How to recover professional confidence?*

    Looking for tips to build yourself up when your professional confidence has been shredded. Any and all advice is welcome. I am in therapy, but also value hearing about other people’s experiences and what worked for them.

    (It’s the not entirely uncommon tale of an unpleasant boss tearing you down in a “death by 1000 cuts” kind of way. Intellectually, I know it’s them and not me, but still struggling not to internalize all the negativity and combativeness.)

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      This has never worked for me, but they say to write down your accomplishments. What if you described what you did like someone taking credit? Like you may have turned in a report, but that guy is pretending he increased shareholder value 2% lol

    2. Purple Cat*

      Well the obvious solution is to start looking for a new job.
      To go along with that, someone I know has made their own “brag book”. Every “good” thing that they do at work gets noted and so whenever they’re updating their resume, prepping for an interview, or just need a boost they go back to their book to remind themselves of all the good work they have done.
      You have to proactively combat their negativity with positivity of your own. Bonus points if you have a coworker in a similar situation and you guys can act as cheerleaders for each other.

      1. How to recover professional confidence?*

        That’s a good idea. I have an interview next week so that will also help me prep for it (honestly, I have some interview fatigue going on right now… but I got praise from a high level executive just last month and I need to remember that!)

      2. Also not a fan*

        I have an email folder called ‘testimonials’ where I park meaningful feedback. It has been really helpful during downturns when job/program cuts are happening or I’m feeling like my job is just back-office paper shuffling.

      3. Quiet Liberal*

        My spouse and son, both teachers, have files they label “Proof I don’t suck”. They put accolades from peers, administrators, students and parents in it as well as notes to themselves about accomplishments.

        1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

          I think this is a good idea. But what if you have a boss or manage who you know will refute it?

          Me: “I ran a marketing campaign that resulted in xx leads and $xxx,xxx revenue.”
          Manager would say: “Oh, they ran some marketing campaigns that never resulted in anything in the way of new business. Sales did all that, not Cat and her marketing.”

          Obviously, I would not give them as a reference, but when job hunting sometimes people will call or reach out on LinkedIn anyway. I know I”m not the only one who worries about sucky ex-managers like this. And really, how can you prove it? Not like you can share a former company’s revenue.

    3. Not Today, Friends*

      I’m so sorry. When I went through it, I clung to successes outside work – a hobby that brought me recognition and pleasure. Then when I was getting out of that situation, I prioritized a soft landing. The job I took wasn’t super fancy or anything, but it was full of really nice people who always mean well. That has worked wonders.

    4. Crying Is A Free Action*

      When I worked for my previous boss who was like this I focused on how I would coach myself. When I needed feedback or resources I would approach my boss directly and with specifics. She would try to cut me down but because I was asking for specific things it was easier to see that *she* was actually the one failing by not helping to provide resources/training/support/etc. It still sucks, but after doing this for a while it freed me up to reach out to other contacts for help and that’s how I really was able to improve in my role which was a confidence boost in itself. Unfortunately, it took a new boss to really undo the damage. I hope it gets better soon!!

    5. K C*

      I’m also in therapy thanks in good part to a lifetime of unhealthy workplaces. Snaps for us!

      I’m extremely experienced and fairly accomplished. I mean nothing huge but I’m very competent and trustworthy. It doesn’t always feel that way though especially since the apocalypses going on.

      What has always helped me, and I’m so glad to see others recommend the same thing, is recording my accomplishments at work.

      It sounds sappy but starting about 7 years ago I started working for companies that require you to set yearly goals and to meet them. But… most also let you just fill in the goals at the end of the year just before submission.

      So I’d go through all of my email and tickets and message contents and computer code logs for the year and extract it all out to a massive list. And I think having a truly massive list of fine detail is a good part of the process. Like… it’s a lot!!!

      Then you can whittle it down to the important stuff (and IMHO it’s not just shareholder value stuff but to me anything that simplifies or makes something beautiful, is just as worthwhile). But seeing just the volume of work is a real confidence booster.

      Because it’s all forgotten so easily.

    6. How to recover professional confidence?*

      I’ll add that I’m definitely looking for a better job! The search has been slow and I’ve had to turn down a couple of low ball offers. I deserve better than how I’m being treated, but I also deserve to be paid my worth!

    7. Nethwen*

      What helped me when I felt like a professional failure was to look at qualities requested in job descriptions, not hard skills, but things like being a team player or good at adapting to new situations, and writing out examples from my work life that show I have shown those qualities. For example, I have no desire or qualifications, to work in finance, but I have examples from my work life of how I meet everything in the job description except for the finance-specific ones. That made me feel better, for some reason.

    8. Cookies for Breakfast*

      “An unpleasant boss tearing you down in a “death by 1000 cuts” kind of way” is exactly where I was a year ago. Sending virtual hugs if you want them, and best wishes for things to improve.

      I can’t claim I’ve been good at staying sane throughout 2021 (very much the opposite). Still, I had some very welcome “keep the faith moments” that felt like bright spots, and I have two things to thank for them – one work-related, one not.

      Work-related: no matter how unemployable I felt at times, once I made the decision to start job searching, I knew my situation had an expiry date. The hardest part was not knowing how many minutes, hours, days or months the clock was counting down, until a new job offer came in. Even so, once I started taking steps towards getting the hell out, I knew that reframing from “this is the bad job you deserve and you’ll be stuck here forever” to “this is only temporary because you’re doing what it takes to change” was always available to me. That, and not getting any more invested in some of the dysfunction around me, because I knew at some point I wouldn’t be around to deal with the fallout.

      Non-work related: music I love. It helps me process, reflect and heal. Last year, I was lucky to come across a few songs that were new to me, at exactly the right time – they spoke to the way I was feeling (quite literally! I discovered most through the artist interviews in the Song Exploder podcast, and I’ll be happy to recommend some episodes if that sounds up your street). Where I least expected it, I found words that helped me define the feeling of not being enough and not fitting in I couldn’t quite express, realise that one big reason I believed it was my own brain lying to me, and gain some hope I could build a different relationship with myself to make it through.

      I hope this can help a little bit. And well done on the therapy. I don’t know if this is the issue that got you started, or you’d been doing it for a while, but as someone who should have found a therapist yesterday and is paralysed by worries about not finding the right one, you’ve got my admiration, for what it’s worth. Keep going :)

    9. Khatul Madame*

      Make a STAR (situation, task, action, result) table for commonly asked behavioral interview questions, for example “Tell me about a time you had to deliver bad news to management”. This will help you recall situations where you did well, and help prepare for a STAR interview.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        This is great advice!
        We do something similar for each client project (client needs, what we did, value provided) and it really helps.

    10. The Lion's Roar*

      My main advice is to get out. You don’t have to feel like this!

      This might not happen to you (I had existing anxiety issues that were manageable until this situation kicked them into overdrive), but I stayed under a toxic manager who hated me for YEARS because I loved the work, I loved the team, and I thought I could handle her. Eventually, though, it completely destroyed my confidence – even after my grandboss got concerned and had me moved to another team, I couldn’t recover. I left the company and took time off, and when it was time to job hunt I had a really hard time believing anyone would even want me.

      I have a new job now and things are much better, but I’m still really untangling all the ways that manager messed me up. In terms of rebuilding…really try to focus on your successes, your results, and the feedback you’re getting from anyone BUT this manager. In my experience, though, as long as you’re still under that manager all that can do is help you tread water. It’s a lot easier to build back up when you’re not being cut down anymore.

    11. Anonymous Koala*

      Honestly just give yourself time and grace. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight, and healing from it takes just as long (or longer). Lean on your support system, put in as little mental and emotional energy at work as possible while you try and find a new team, and (if you can) cultivate new hobbies or activities so you can feel a sense of accomplishment in a supportive environment and remind yourself why you are amazing. :) But mostly recognise that healing will take time, and give yourself grace.

    12. matcha123*

      I have been in your position for decades. I knew that my work was good, maybe not perfect, but very good.
      However, the feedback I received from direct supervisors was poor. I could tell they were being nit-picky. They would be okay with others turning in poorer quality work, but mine would be criticized.

      It breaks down your confidence and makes you feel stupid.

      If you are able to extract yourself from the situation that’s putting down your mood, do it asap. I was pushed out of my situation. Things have been so much better now that I don’t have to think about judgement from another person.

      If there are are other people around you who speak positively of you and your work, lean into that. It is hard. I had people around me who were telling me they were impressed with my work, impressed with what I was doing, praised for my work, etc. And none of it was getting through to me. I was so focused on the, usually one, person who was making it their job to make me feel like garbage.

      On an intellectual level, I knew it wasn’t me. But because other people weren’t speaking up for me, I felt like I was dumb. It’s not you. Others know that the person putting you down is in the wrong, but they aren’t confident in their own abilities to step up and speak out. If you can get out or take a long break, do it.

    13. Lily Rowan*

      Probably not helpful, but after I got fired, I just went to grad school full time! I had already been thinking about it and planning it “for later,” but it was amazing to have a full break to rebuild my confidence (I am a good student). And my next job paid enough more to cover the student loan debt.

      So don’t discount crazy ideas, is I guess my advice.

    14. Hey Nonny Nonny*

      I don’t know if I have real advice here, but I have definitely been there. Ten years ago, I worked in a really toxic environment for about 7 months where I was nitpicked and talked down to and expected to be a mind-reader. And even that doesn’t sound as bad as that place made me feel. “Death by a thousand cuts” is the perfect description. I was just so miserable. After a lot of angst where I struggled to define why it was so bad, I finally accepted that I didn’t need to justify whether it was actually an abusive environment when I could just accept that it was toxic for me, and make a move to get out. I was very lucky that my previous employer was happy to take me back. So in my case, in addition to the sheer joy of getting out of the toxic job, I was back on familiar ground, which made it a lot easier to get my feet under me again and rebuild my confidence.

      I think getting out of the bad environment/away from the bad boss is the most important thing, though I know that takes time. Beyond that, hoard every bit of good feedback you get and every time you have that “I got this” feeling. I also tended to remind myself that I’ve worked with plenty of people who think well of me, even some pretty difficult personalities. So the fact that I couldn’t work well with the boss at the toxic job? I’m putting that more on her than on me.

      I don’t know if any of this is helpful, but these are my thoughts from when I was there. Do your best to keep your head above water, and know that when you get to a new job, things will get better (though be sure to do your due diligence on the new job to make sure you end up in a better environment).

    15. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve had that boss, and yeah – it’s hard not to internalize it, even when you’re 1000% sure you’re not the problem. What kept me sane until I could escape: making sure there were other things in my life that I cared about. Yeah, work sucks and I suck at it, but I just hit a new personal best in the gym / learned a tricky new technique for my craft project / etc. My entire life doesn’t suck, I am capable of not sucking, it’s just my job that is a ginormous pit of suck right now.

      I did get beaten down to the point of having to go on anti-depressants, which meant going to therapy also (required by my healthcare system in such cases), which I desperately did not want to do. But I went, and the guy spotted it immediately. “You seem to have good coping skills, but you don’t use them when things go badly at work. Why is that?” “But if I can’t do my work, I’m worthless. I suck at everything else, but I’m good at my job, that’s all I’ve got…oh. That’s why I’m depressed, isn’t it?” Yeah, it was. And I had to fix it. Wasn’t an overnight fix by any means, but I made a point of expanding my life, and it worked.

    16. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ugh, I had a manager like that in my very first non-temp job out of college, so I DIDN’T know for sure if it was him and not me. Getting a new job and interacting with a decent manager made all the difference. If you’re lucky enough to have more work experience than I did at that point, it might help to write down your accomplishments from other roles, and maybe all the praise you can remember getting from previous managers.

    17. Hillary*

      This is a situation for fake it till you make it. Try to reframe the a**h*** in your head to what your best friend/partner/mom/biggest cheerleader would say. So-and-so would say I’m awesome at TPS reports, I don’t suck at this, boss is just a jerk. As others said, get out if you still work for unpleasant boss, they aren’t going to change. Practice your interview questions & answers, especially framing with I (not we) and taking full credit for your accomplishments. And not disparaging your boss even though he’s a jerk.

      I focused a lot on what I can and can’t control when I was going through this. Ultimately I was able to let some of it go, but it took a new job and better atmosphere to get to a better place long term.

    18. Jax*

      Freely compliment others around you at work.

      While you’re creating your own brag book, start looking around and noticing the great work others are doing around you, and sincerely compliment them. You’ll be on the look out for positivity, while also throwing your own positivity back into your workplace.

      You likely aren’t the only person miserably suffering death by 1,000 cuts from your boss. Boss goes low, you go high! Make it your mission to be the exact opposite of your boss, and encourage those around you. It takes a certain bravery to offer a compliment (especially in a toxic environment) but each little step you take to BE THE CHANGE you yourself need will help rebuild your confidence.

    19. irene adler*

      Ouch!
      A round about way would be to undertake some task that you don’t normally do and make a success of it. Sure, bad boss may not think much of the accomplishment. But you will.

      My story:
      My boss of over 2 decades was not one who supported any kind of professional enrichment. Never had my back either.
      When I completed additional education/certification in my field, my boss ignored this. So I never had a chance to put my knowledge to work.

      Tried for years to find other employment. No dice. Even applied to entry level positions because I figured I didn’t qualify for anything higher. Nothing.
      Boss retired. No replacement. The position eliminated.
      Now I report to the CEO.
      And all the tasks my boss used to do?
      Well, I split them with one other person.
      So I got the chance to put my knowledge and certifications to work. Turns out, I have some mad skills in that department.
      CEO very impressed. Gave me a $10K raise (sure, that doesn’t even come close to what boss earned).
      Yes, I’m still looking for another job. I have fresh accomplishments on the resume. I feel like I have the ability to accomplish more. And no more entry level jobs for me.

      1. Hunnybee*

        That’s awesome, Irene Adler! Congrats on making yourself seen and valued in a tough situation.

    20. Green Goose*

      First, get away from that boss. The healing cannot really start if you continue to work for someone like that. I had a confidence shredding boss for 18 months and I felt like I was stuck, since my confidence was so low working for someone that micromanaged and belittled me and put me in a near constant state of unease. It was only after he was fired (hooray) that the fog cleared and I realized how bad it was, and things immediately got better. I still needed to heal but I truly could not think clearly when I was working for him. So if there is an option to leave, I’d do it.

    21. Really?*

      I had one of those. I was totally demoralized replacing someone who was infallible according to the boss and I was just a pale imitation. Funnily enough, I finally met my predecessor who told me she had the same experience with boss. That’s when I realized it was a “him problem” not a “me problem.”
      In any case, my best suggestion is to keep in touch with any former colleagues you got on well with and respected and talk to any prior bosses that you may have worked well with. Tell them you are looking for new opportunities and ask them about your strengths, and what they would recommend as next steps. For me, this was the easiest form of networking. And my last three jobs came about when prior bosses/colleagues realized I was looking for another position. I would note it also helped that I was willing to move.

    22. Hunnybee*

      Thank you so very much for posting this……same situation. I ended up quitting (with nothing lined up) to get away from the nightmare boss, and still feel both completely defeated and exhausted although it has been a few weeks since I left.

      I will say that my self-confidence is slowly returning, but it’s not a constant. Some days I start to feel better, other days I feel completely depressed. I’m hoping that the better days will increase over time.

      I hope you’ll find something to reaffirm who you are and reconnect with other things that have meaning for you in life. That job and manager shouldn’t be allowed that control over your emotions…although I fully understand how that happens.

    23. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Honestly, I read AAM as a lifeline. There is advice here to observe the chaos as an indifferent observer, like get out the popcorn and watch the show. That helped some. It took a while to develop that sort of indifference but practicing it was helpful on its own.

      And really, the best thing has been getting a job somewhere else. I almost withdrew from the process for the job I have now because I did not believe in myself. But I am so happy I stuck it out and so many of the problems just lifted for me now that I am in a new environment!

      I still catch myself doing things that are a holdover from the toxic. But over time I am weeding them out.

      I wish you the best! Be kind to yourself, its a process.

    24. tamarak & fireweed*

      I had to crawl out from under confidence-destroying situations a few times. It was hard at the beginning because I wasn’t prepared for it. These days, I’m a lot more vigilant…

      There’s no surefire recipe, but what I’ve found to be key is to remove yourself from the presence of the confidence destroyers as much as possible and seek out the company – personally and professionally – of people who value you and build you up. Therapists and professional mentors can be helpful on the way. In retrospect, the main thing I’d do differently is to set my bar for what’s an acceptable situation to keep persevering in much higher – I should have gotten out, not joined an opportunity etc. much earlier when these opportunities were poisoned. Good luck!

  4. UX writing*

    Anyone break into UX writing from another field? I’m a technical writer looking to make the jump. I have experience writing UI text, but only in an ad-hoc informal way.

    Scouring job ads tells me I should teach myself Figma, but any other suggestions would be appreciated from people in the industry.

    1. tamarak & fireweed*

      I would look in the direction of a lightweight certification, plus personal projects, plus making sure you know the relevant toolsets – since you presumably don’t have time to intern somewhere.

  5. Frankie Bergstein*

    What do you do when you’re at the BEC stage with a few coworkers?

    Here’s my issue: I’m going to a department retreat next week — it’s on Zoom. It’s two days, 6h/day. The dynamic of my department is that the same few folks do ALL of the talking — they really do hog all the air in the room! They also repeat themselves a lot. It makes me feel so annoyed. I really want to hear a greater diversity of perspectives. In particular, I’m so interested in what the newer folks think.

    Here are constructive solutions:
    -when the talkers interrupt, call them out. “Hey [talker]! I was really interested in what Grace was saying – – Grace, do you want to finish your thought? That was such a good point.”
    -at the beginning, say that I’m so very interested in what the newer folks have to say. Encourage them to speak up by naming that no one has the skills and experience that they do, that if they joined during the pandemic (we are all remote) they’ve had a unique experience and their perspectives are so so valuable.
    -Turn off my camera and take breaks as I need
    -In the sessions I organize, I will be using multiple ways of engaging folks — audience polling, mural/jam board and the like.

    Unconstructive solutions/nonsense:
    -when the talkers get going, take that as my cue to multitask. Occasionally check back in to see if the conversation has moved to someone I do want to hear from. (I don’t want to do this!)
    -curse the talkers under my breath silently

    What is your advice? How do I keep from getting angry with my floor-hogging loquacious colleagues?

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          If you want to hear from everyone, similar to “going around in a circle” or “going around the table” in-person, you can also tell everyone to raise their hands, wait for them to do so, and then have them lower their hands as they speak to get a running queue of who hasn’t spoken yet. Anyone who re-raises their hand after it was lowered automatically goes to the bottom of the hands raised list, so it makes sure that everyone gets a chance to speak before anyone’s second chance. (In a large group, there’s no good way to detect someone who chooses to lower their hand to drop out of the queue because they don’t want to speak, but that doesn’t sound like the problem you’re having.) Since Zoom unfortunately puts each person at the top of their own participants list people can’t easily see where they are in line, though, so it’s helpful for the facilitator to say things like “now we’ll hear from Fergus, and Wakeen is on deck after him, followed by Jane” to keep people aware of when their turn is coming.

    1. Purple Cat*

      A 2 day zoom retreat sounds like absolute torture.
      Is there a moderator of sorts running this event? Unfortunately it’s really up to them or someone above you to manage the conversations. Attempting to interrupt the interruptors will not go well. (I’ve been struggling with this with a coworker of late). Proactively asking the newbies for their input might help, but also might put them on the spot in an uncomfortable manner – like they’re being “called out” rather than “called on”.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        There is, but they’re not the types of folks to proactively manage the conversations. In other words, they’re just not very good facilitators (they have other strengths, they’re good colleagues, etc.).

        Good point about making the newbies feel uncomfortable – that’s very much not my goal.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          You have some some great ideas! Could you volunteer to be the facilitator, if the meeting leader is open to it? Also, what about laying out meeting norms at the beginning? People shouldn’t interrupt, make sure you aren’t hogging the air time/let others speak, etc.?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My company has a policy that big video calls have a presenter and a moderator. The moderator reviews incoming chat questions and mutes/ unmutes people as needed. The presenter is the one who hits the important points and then asks the leading questions, selected from ones the moderator shares as most relevant or interesting. Both people are ideally going to have 2 monitors. The second monitor allows them to view administrative stuff without sharing it with the whole call. It is where they will set up their private chat and emails to display, in case someone messages them saying Fergusena is being too noisy again.

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        Also – tell me more about interrupting the interruptors not going well – I’d love to hear more! I’m sad it’s not working though.

    2. NeedRain47*

      Your constructive solutions are good!

      Who is leading the retreat? What would be most helpful here would be to have a moderator, preferably someone from outside the department, who can ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to talk by simply taking turns calling on people. If there’s no external person who can do it, maybe talk to whatever supervisor or higher up will be there if you have a relationship where you they won’t think you’re picking on the talkers.

      1. soontoberetired*

        the leader of the sessions really should be stepping in, if your not the leader. Have you talked to them? I know some places people are reluctant to cut off those who take up more than their fair share of time, but someone’s got to do it.

        and condolences on the all day zoom things. We have two day zoom planning sessions and they are torture.

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          Thanks :) I have told the leaders that sometimes our discussions are less-than-constructive because the same people take up all the airtime — but I can be more direct about it and say “and you should do something about that.” (I do have enough social capital/the relationships where I can say that sort of thing now.)

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        This is a good point. This shows me that what I *can* actually do is quite limited if the moderators can’t/won’t do much. For the sessions I’m leading, I will be calling on folks as you’ve suggested, in addition to taking anonymous feedback in writing.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          For the sessions you aren’t leading and have no control over, frankly I would take your unconstructive idea and multitask. The ability to do something useful when the meeting devolves into blather is the one advantage of Zoom meetings. Embrace it. If the people who are supposed to be running the meeting aren’t keeping it on track, it is wasted time. Use it to catch up on your email.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A side thought for you. You are running a couple of these sessions… could you declare one of yours to be a zoom break and turn off the video? If it goes over well, maybe the other presenters would do the same thing. And then you could do what I do in long no-video meetings and pick up a craft project to keep my hands busy. (A lengthwise scarf is my favorite because it’s the same stitch for three feet no thought needed. And it doesn’t show tension changes anywhere as near as much as baby blankets!)

    3. irene adler*

      How about issuing an agenda – with the start/end time indicated for each item?
      That way you are perfectly justified to interrupt and state things like:
      “we’ve only got a few more minutes before 9:15 am when we move along to agenda #2.”
      “getting close to the agenda #2 item that begins at 9:15. So how about we give the floor to Mavis and then Jake? I know we are all interested in their take on this topic.”

      Or, make a rule that discussion goes in order. That is, when the topic is introduced, each participant gets 1 minute to talk. Then move down the order to the next participant. Move down the attendee list in alphabetical order- or assign numbers to each attendee. No talking out of order. Get an hourglass or other visual aid so folks can see their one minute time passing by.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        This is a great idea. I think the second suggestion – where each person gets one minute – would be so different than what this group is used to doing that it’d be hard to make them take to it for 1.5 hours out of two days, but the first idea is perfect. I’ll use that for my sessions :)

        1. irene adler*

          The 1 minute time limit is arbitrary.

          Just make sure folks get an agenda and can see for themselves the time periods.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’m full of silly ideas today period What about aiming your camera at a sand timer and keeping track of the people who finish their comments within that time period? And then give an ‘efficiency award’ to the people who make at least one comment and don’t go past the dial…

            1. irene adler*

              I like the camera on the sand timer.
              Betting those who receive the award are the ones who chafe when the chatterboxes go to town.

        2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I have used that with mixed results. We got a lot of repetitions plus many people furiously thinking what to say instead of listening.
          I make it a point of calling the ground rules on not hogging the floor atvthe beginning. If necessary, I’ll call out the worst offenders (my boss and me, in that order, but I’m very conscious a out it and rein myself in).

    4. ArtK*

      The problem here isn’t the talkers, it’s whoever is supposed to be moderating the call. Can you reach out to them in advance and discuss the problem?

      1. tamarak & fireweed*

        Yes, THIS. The OP needs to incrementally change the way Zoom meetings are moderated.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Get buy-in from your manager to mute everyone until they raise their hands.

    6. Elizabeth*

      Could you all take ~10 minutes at the beginning of the day to establish group norms? I have found it’s a great way to break the ice or get people warmed up, and then you have something to refer back to (if not in person, a notetaker could post them to the chat or share with the group in some other way) and hold people accountable.

    7. Double A*

      Do you start meetings with norm-setting? If you’ve never done it, discussing norms can be helpful. If you do have norms, do you have one that relates to monitoring your airtime and ensuring everyone has a chance to contribute?

    8. Dinwar*

      Part of the problem is that new people are going to be uncomfortable speaking in front of a crowd. It’s part of being a newbie–you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. If you want their perspectives, it may be better to schedule time to talk with them individually. If that doesn’t work, you may want to do break-out sessions with each group having a mixture of more senior and more junior colleagues.

      One thing that I do is have sidebar conversations via IM with folks during long Teams calls. Mostly we discuss things on the call–like “Okay, Joe said we need to do X, so I’ll call Alice and you work with Janet to do Y and Z that we’ll need to do, and is Bob available?” Active listening, in other words. (Well….mostly.) You can encourage the junior staff to do likewise. They probably would be more comfortable sending you an IM than speaking in front of the whole group.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes about some folks who are uncomfortable speaking in a group. Sometimes that’s why you end up only hearing from a small group of people – they’re the only ones willing to speak up.

        I’ve been in big group meetings where you can watch the folks who’ve been doing all the talking try to stop – the leader or moderator will ask a question and then wait for anyone to respond, and the three folks who’ve been talking are actively holding themselves back, but no one else starts so eventually the silence is too much and they start talking. I don’t know how you fix that without having to just call on people who aren’t choosing to talk.

    9. Triplestep*

      In my personal life, I might interrupt and my closest friends also do. It’s fine – we’re just talking animatedly and everyone always gets to finish their thought. I’ve learned that if I get interrupted more than once, I’m just being boring and I don’t circle back.

      I have one family-member who also speaks this way, but she doesn’t realize it. So she will STOP the conversation to point out that she’s been interrupted. It has a chilling effect on the conversation, and I personally find it humiliating. I will then not only stop interrupting, I will stop even interjecting and commenting, which removes any chance of there being a back and forth dialog. Suffice to stay she does not notice.

      So my suggestion is that you not use the method you outline to stop someone from interrupting. It creates awkward moments and hard feelings, and the people who are getting interrupted might feel embarrassed that awkward moments and hard feelings were created by someone else (you) their behalf. If someone wants to say “wait, hang on” and then finish their own thought, that’s fine. But calling out interrupting by stopping the conversation defeats the purpose of calling out the interrupting.

    10. Really?*

      Establish with the other moderators a time limit for individual comments so that you can get as many perspectives as possible. Then volunteer to be the timekeeper. As everyone starts talking start a timer. When the timer goes off ( make sure it’s audible) interrupt if they don’t finish within a few seconds. It’s done at our local public meetings and it works – no one got more than 3 minutes on any individual topic without arranging it with the moderator in advance. We also request folks not to repeat other peoples points.

  6. Ducky*

    Does anyone have any good resources for how to negotiate charging by piece instead of by hour? This would be for writing work.

    1. Pro Writer*

      Creative Revolt is a great place to start! But also, you don’t have to negotiate anything. If you’re a freelancer, you’re a business owner who gets to set their own prices.

      I usually say, “For a piece in the 1,000-1,200 word range with image sourcing and SEO optimization, my fee is $XXX with a one-week turnaround.”

    2. Maryn*

      The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) shows rates for various kinds of writing at both hourly rates and by-the-word rates. Visit https://www.the-efa.org/rates/ and scroll to the lowest part of the rate chart.

      As to how you’d negotiate, you’d need to have a solid idea on how long it would typically take you to write X words that meet your client’s specifications. If you know it will take you two hours of writing, you can set a price based on that chart, beginning at the higher level per word, and setting the lower level as the rock bottom price.

      You can consider discounts for large jobs or regular clients, but at the same time you need to be sure you give yourself a fair wage.

    3. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      For most freelance writing, it usually goes by the word count.
      $x,xxx.xx for 1,000-1,500 words or $xxx.xx per 50-100 word emails.
      For social posts, it’s $xx.00 by the post (go up higher if you’re also making the graphics).

      Unless you’re being asked for some additional kind of research. But then you just add that time in like this.
      $xx.00 hourly rate for research – X-research hours estimated for this project = $xxx.xx

      You can of course work the research rate into the final piece, and it is common to see higher prices for a white paper versus a blog posts or shorter pieces.

  7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I have two questions today. What are the paths for people who can’t handle a full time job? I need insurance and don’t have the stamina or mental health for retail. I’m kinda stuck here.

    Also, what are professional ways to register that you’re very distressed? I tried to explain to my boss that my health is failing and I’m overwhelmed but got ” why don’t you write it down?” And ” vitamins?” So ….

    1. It's Time To Get Goin'*

      Camping this thread because these are good questions I probably should have asked myself long ago!

    2. irene adler*

      “Vitamins”?
      Your boss is making health-related suggestions? I trust there’s a medical degree on their wall. Otherwise, this isn’t their place to make such suggestions.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I can’t think of a professional way to say ” lady, I got Instagram too”

    3. Minimal Pear*

      I am very disabled and can’t work full time and I found that temping worked very well–now I’m in a non-temping part-time admin position! However, while I was temping, I did not get health insurance through the temp agency. I believe I would have been qualified if I was working more hours, and/or if I worked there for longer? Not sure. At the place I am currently working part-time, I could get insurance if I wanted to. It would be about a quarter of my income, though.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Interesting. I’ve never gotten a job temping. I put in my resume and like…nothing happened?

        1. Minimal Pear*

          I found that I had to send mine to several temp agencies, before one temp agency called me in for an interview. In limited quantities I can be pretty charming, so they liked me enough to set me up with an interview for what became my first job pretty quickly. I also had some specific expertise that was useful for that job, so that helped.

          1. ferrina*

            This is really common. Sometimes the first temp agency will work out, but it’s pretty normal to be on file at several agencies. Usually one will eventually latch onto you- the more work you do (and do well), the more work you’ll get.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            The drawback to working through multiple temp agencies is that it is harder to hit the magic point for insurance coverage. You need to ask each individual agency about their requirements for becoming insurance eligible. I bet it will be a little easier to hit that point now due to the current job market.
            Also, practice typing. An easy way to stand out fast is to score ridiculously fast on your typing test with few transcription errors.

            1. Minimal Pear*

              Again, I didn’t end up qualifying for insurance because of how many hours I worked, but while I submitted my resume to multiple agencies I actually only ended up working for one–it just took some work to find that one.

        2. Lady_Lessa*

          Years ago, when I was having trouble finding a job, ( guess partly age related), I finally convinced a temp agency to send me to a warehouse. Worked there, got some confidence back, and was hired where most of the higher ups were also near my age.

        3. RagingADHD*

          You gotta call. Temp agencies are the exception to the “don’t bug them” rule. If you don’t bug them, you drift to the bottom of the pile and they never get around to you.

    4. Anon for this particular question*

      What I did:

      Find a company/position with good cross-training and backup coverage plans. Bear with it by the skin of your teeth for the first year, making use of any and all benefits offered (schedule regular PTO once you have it, doctors, therapist, etc) and then once you qualify, start the FMLA process.

    5. Cottage and Cider*

      I find you get better responses from supervisors if you’re specific about what you need from them. Saying that you’re overwhelmed or distressed doesn’t clue them in to what you need–hence the general, non-helpful advice about vitamins or getting more sleep or whatever.

      Do you want to reduce the number of hours you work, or shift some projects to other people, or change your schedule? Think on what might actually help you cope at work. Then go to your supervisor with that request: “I’m dealing with some health issues that are making it difficult to manage X. Can we talk about changing my schedule/getting someone to help out with X/etc.?”

      You’re not always going to get everything you need, but you’re more likely to find a compromise if you start the conversation with a clear action plan.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        What I need is less work or for people to understand that my work capacity is probably permanently reduced, but I have no idea what the parameters are here or what is possible. ( creating complex plans with no information is almost impossible for me, but apparently everyone else can do it?)

        1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          You probably don’t need to create a *complex* plan, just request something your supervisor can answer with a Yes or No or “That won’t work, but how about this instead?”

          “My health is failing and I’m distressed” isn’t actionable, something like “due to health problems, it’s becoming difficult for me to do [job duty/expectation], can we arrange for [suggested accommodation]?” is. The suggested accommodation could be anything that would make it easier for you to fulfill job duties. Less work is an okay thing to ask for, especially if you can suggest a way that would play out in your specific job. For instance, “Health problems have reduced my physical stamina, so it’s becoming difficult for me to groom 20 llamas a day without a break. Can we pass some of my llama grooming responsibilities to other groomers, and can I bring a chair to my grooming station to sit while grooming and rest in between llamas? I think with that adjustment, I will be able to groom 10-15 llamas a day to the high standard our company expects. Is that workable?”

        2. rosyglasses*

          In my experience, unless you have a really understanding company/manager, they probably will not be able to do much to address permanently reducing your work capacity AND keeping you on benefits. It really depends. Most companies have structured their agreements with medical plan providers to have a minimum threshold for hours worked in order to stay on the plan (most commonly 32 hours is the baseline). However you may find one (like ours) where we structured ours to accommodate down to 20 hours of work a week and still stay active on the medical plan.

          Using FMLA:
          The caveat to this is if you are working with a credentialed therapist or doctor that will certify that you need a reduced workload. This can help support an ADA accommodation, and could buy you 12 weeks of full FMLA coverage or 480 hours of intermittent FMLA coverage (one example of this is you work 4 hours a day, the other 4 are under FMLA and will be unpaid but your job is protected and they can’t fire you for not being at work). This doesn’t really solve for the underlying problem though which is that you need a permanent solution.

          ADA Interactive Process:
          By law if a company 15 or more employees they have to work with you to try and find reasonable accommodations, if they discover you have a disability or come to them and say you need an accommodation. You would need to bring them a summary of what your request is, and again, you would need to engage with a doctor or therapist to support your request. The downside is that if they can show that the essential functions of your job cannot be met with your request and there is not another reasonable accommodation that you both can agree to, then you’re out of luck (generally).

          Askjan (dot) org is a great resource for both employers and employees on how to seek accommodations (which in your case could mean a permanently reduced work schedule) and what the laws are in your specific situation. They have advisors you can email/chat with and are extremely responsive.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yes, my main problem is that I can’t tell if I’m going to have a good productive week or if my brain is going to be mush. My main problem is executive functioning and cognition speed. I’m hoping to see if they can keep me on prn while I’m looking or maybe they’ve seen a more sensibly paced job in the company.

        3. Hen in a Windstorm*

          You have to start somewhere though. I noticed you did this last week as well; every time someone makes a suggestion you immediately say why it won’t work. Nobody is suggesting a complex plan except you, so try to stop telling yourself this is impossible, complex, overwhelming, etc. Break it down into smaller chunks that are manageable.

          So. If you need less work, start with a number. What’s the hardest/worst? Ask for less of that. 5% fewer hours, 5 fewer reports, 5 of whatever. Try that for 2 weeks to a month. Are things better? Yes/no. If yes, stay there. If no, ask for 10 of whatever. Obviously, I’m making this up because I don’t know what you do, but you can figure it out if you take a few minutes and stop telling yourself you can’t.

          Another suggestion: write this down, get it out of your head. My SO has ADD and used to struggle with the same idea of seemingly endless options paralyzing him. But there aren’t truly 1,000 options. Start small.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Dude if you see my username again just scroll on by. If you don’t like how my life is or how difficult things are for me, you can go to some group where everyone claims they were cured by using a planner

      2. Picard*

        ^^^ this this this

        Your boss doesnt know what you need. They’re not a mind reader. Be specific. The more solutions you can give them, the more likely they re to grant them.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      For insurance, look at the plans available on the Health Insurance Marketplace (assuming you’re in the US and need health insurance). I think availability/cost/coverage vary a lot depending on the state you’re in, but it’s definitely worth a look to see if any of the plans work for you.

    7. All the words*

      Can you handle a 30 hour week? That’s all it takes in many companies to qualify as full time & get benefits. That’s really all I’ve got. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’ll eventually be in the same predicament as my future seems to be to work until I drop.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is what I was going to suggest. My company offers full remote positions, and we have plenty of part-time salaried folks who work 30 hours for full benefits. It pays less than a full time position, of course, and the vacation/sick time accrual is based on the number of hours worked, so it accrues more slowly than it does for full-timers.

      2. Veronica*

        My company did the same. There was a scale for the percent of your healthcare they would cover if you worked less than 30 hours. So if you only worked 16 hours, they would chip in some but not as much as a full-time employee. I spent 2 years working at 24 hours before I went back up to my current schedule.

    8. bunniferous*

      Try the Marketplace. What I didn’t know is depending on income you can use your insurance tax credits ahead of time. Right now we pay nothing out of pocket for insurance (My income was heavily influenced by the moratoriums and has not gotten back to normal yet and my husband is retired.) Check it out!

    9. Burned Out but Cautious*

      I work for a hospital that offers insurance to part-time employees that work at least 20 hours per week. You might look into your local hospitals and see if any have similar policies. Because hospitals run 24/7 they seem to have a higher need for part-time employees to fill in schedules. At my hospital a lot of the employees in secretary and front-desk type roles have retail backgrounds.

      1. Miel*

        A friend of mine works half-time as a clerk at the hospital. It’s union so it pays well ($20/hr), has a regular schedule, and good benefits. Apparently hardly anyone at the hospital works 40 hours/wk – many do 20-32.

      2. Also not a fan*

        My partner works 20 hours a week for a municipality and gets full benefits, barring being able to add family members to her health insurance.

    10. As per Elaine*

      This is rough. I recommend the word “untenable” in discussions with your boss.

    11. Aggresuko*

      It’s entirely possible that your boss does not want to hear your saying that you are distressed (mine certainly can’t take hearing it), though. They may just not acknowledge it unless you start oh, screaming/crying/having a breakdown. Which isn’t great either, though.

      1. Stuckinacraxyjob*

        Yea, you can’t win! If you try to talk business its fine and nothing changes but if you start crying you’ll get fired

    12. Need More Sunshine*

      Many insurance carriers won’t allow employers to have part-time workers on their medical plan, even if the employer wants to extend it to them. (Part time is under 30 hours average per week, for insurance purposes.) Definitely check out the Marketplace and if you’re not working enough hours to be offered insurance through your employer, you’ll get a subsidy on your Marketplace plan. It sucks so much that it works like this in the US, but we’re stuck in it for now. Good luck!

    13. Anonymous Koala*

      The health insurance piece makes this difficult. My advice would be to look for 30 hour/week positions or flexible full-time wfh positions that really cater to your strengths – I’ve always worked full time, but in many of my jobs I could finish my work in under 30 hrs/week without trouble, and since I was wfh no one was looking over my shoulder to ensure that I worked 40hrs / week as long as my stuff got done.

      If healthcare from the market place works for you, I’d advise you to look into contract work in your field. In my field (regulation) it’s usually very flexible, wfh, and allows you to set your own hours.

    14. Aphrodite*

      I work in higher ed in California. We are a unionized college. Hourly (or temp) workers here must work no more than 19.5 hours because of PERS, the Public Employment Retirement System, and they get no benefits. But there are a number of permanent part-time workers who work 20 hours or more. And then we also have employees who are ten-month and eleven-month employees (and work 40 hours the other months). Everyone except the hourlies gets full benefits even if less than full-time ones have to pay more for them. So look into education too.

    15. AllTheBirds*

      Some library systems offer benefits to part-time staff. I’m talking non-librarian roles, like Circulation staff.

    16. Spearmint*

      Many public sector jobs will provide benefits to part time employees. I know at least one state where all employees working at least 20 hours per week got health insurance. I’ve heard anecdotes they public university staff positions may be similar. That said, I can’t say how common or easy to get these jobs are.

      1. Also not a fan*

        My public university offers pro-rated benefits plus insurance to part time employees, but part time jobs are extremely hard to come by.

    17. just a random teacher*

      Depending on the specifics of what kinds of tasks and workload will or won’t work for you, you might look at part time classified jobs in a public school. (Jargon: “certified” jobs are the jobs you need a teaching license for, “classified” jobs are the ones you don’t.)

      We are consistently unable to hire enough part-time SpEd assistants, bus drivers, and custodians, and in the current job market also are having trouble with hiring for some of the more “office-y” classified positions as well. These jobs do not tend to pay particularly well and may also be too overwhelming for you depending on your specific needs, but in my state they do come with benefits eligibility and are part of a union, which can be important if you have a hard time advocating for yourself since your union rep can get involved to help you navigate a lot of situations you’d otherwise be arguing on your own.

      1. Cascadia*

        Private schools too! I work for a private school and everyone above half time is eligible for health insurance, though it is pro-rated. It’s actually hard for us to find part-time people since so many people want full time jobs. And there are lots of jobs in schools that aren’t directly teaching. Not sure where you are in the US, but each region has its own independent schools accreditation network. Find the website for your region and then they usually have a job board that lists every available job that they are hiring for right now. Another suggestion, if you are struggling with jobs that involve executive functioning, is to look for jobs that require less of that skill. Maybe it’s a job working for the postal service, or bring a bus driver, or something that gets you out of an office and into a more active role. Good luck!

    18. Green Goose*

      I’ve never used them but I’ve heard good things about The Mom Project where they find roles that fit within your availability.

    19. AnotherLibrarian*

      At my Uni, you get benefits as long as you work at least 50% time- so 20 hours a week. It’s actually a great option for a lot of people. I’ve had to hire two part time positions recently and I know the access to full benefits (though PTO is prorated) was a big draw.

    20. Zee*

      If you’re only interested in full-time work because you need insurance… I hate to break it to you, but full-time jobs don’t automatically come with health insurance. Fortunately, you can get insurance for yourself on the marketplace. I highly suggest doing that so you can take that one burden off your mind (even just knowing you can walk away from your job if you really need to without losing your healthcare can make it easier to cope with your job day-to-day).

      If you’re looking for part-time work outside of retail, try looking at smaller companies and non-profits for admin work, as they often don’t need a full-time position.

    21. letsbekind*

      In my state, CO there is a Medicaid program called Working Adults with Disabilities program. It’s straight up Medicaid kind of coverage, so dental, vision, and medical including full mental health coverage. It’s a “buy in” program so you get charged about $25 a month. You can work as many hours as you can, you can save money, and there is no cap on your income like regular Medicaid. I had to have my therapist help fill out paperwork, but you resubmit once every 3 years. It has completely changed my life as I’m not able to work full time hours bc of a PTSD issue. I’ve also dealt with going from a full time job to ordered to part time by a doctor. It’s possible and yes it takes some work. Good luck!

  8. It's Time To Get Goin'*

    Maybe weird question: has anyone here worked as a plant merchandiser? I’m a person with severe social anxiety, doing a front desk reception job at a dysfunctional company that is destroying my mental and physical health. I’m fulltime with full benefits, getting $14/hr ($3 over current minimum wage). All these plant merchandiser jobs seem to be seasonal and part-time, but I’m lucky in that I don’t need to work fulltime. I’ve seen this job recommended for people with social anxiety who are good at self-supervision, and I’m athletic and have a lot of experience with plants anyway, so I was wondering if anyone had any knowledge/prior experience of the ins and outs of the job.

    It’s looking like it’d be a lot less stressful than answering phones, buzzing doors, and greeting close to 400 people per day (also…having to ask permission and sometimes waiting for hours for a response to go use the bathroom, eat food, or anything that doesn’t involve smiling at people and answering phones. I’m an adult in their 40s, not a gradeschool kid!) I’m just…so, so exhausted after thirty years of being pigeonholed into the admin-assist type jobs I’ve always hated and that trigger my anxiety attacks.

    1. Professional Merchandiser, Retired*

      Don’t know specifically about plant merchandising, but I did all kinds of merchandising work for over 20 years, it’s great for self-directed people. Depending on what kind you do, you may have to work with other people occasionally, (doing a department reset and other large projects) and you do need to interact with department managers some. A couple of times a year your supervisor may come for a work with, but other than that, it’s mostly do your own thing and set your own hours (within reason.) For instance, the last company I worked for asked us to not come in before 6am and be finished for the day by 6:30p
      The downside is the pay isn’t the greatest; 10-15 dollars an hour depending on what company and not all of them give benefits. My husband had good insurance and I have a small pension from another job so pay was not my biggest concern, and the flexibility was worth it.
      One more thing: if this is seasonal work, it’s possible that it’s contractor instead of regular employment. You get into having to get a tax number and pay quarterly taxes. I didn’t care for that, so I turned down contracting positions.
      Now, where do you find these jobs? I’m not sure anymore, I was recruited for my last job and I worked there for 10 years. It’s possible you could go to Indeed or Monster and input merchandising positions and see if you can find anything. There used to be a job board specifically for merchandising, but last time I looked it was no longer active. If you see someone doing something that looks interesting to you, ask them how they got started, is their company hiring, ect. I had people asking me all the time, and I was always happy to answer questions. Hope this helps you some.

      1. It's Time To Get Goin'*

        This is way more than I was expecting to get on the generals of merchandising when I asked ’cause it’s a fairly narrow topic, so thank you!

        1. Professional Merchandiser, Retired*

          Ha! Ha!! Yes, I’m sure this may have been more than you really wanted to know!! But this IS in my wheelhouse and I was so excited to see a question about merchandising, that’s nothing I’ve ever seen discussed on AAM before. If you have other questions, bring them on!!

          1. It's Time To Get Goin'*

            I wasn’t expecting to get any responses at all haha! I will definitely reply back if I think of anything. I’d never even heard of this job until this week, where I saw someone on an expired social anxiety thread post about how it was a great job for their anxiety because it was largely self-supervised, slow-paced, and plants are very low-stakes; no one is going to make a federal case out of a few petunias dying off in the store display because they got root rot. Contrast that to my current job, where absolutely everything is an emergency, every project was supposed to have been done five minutes before you were told about it, and dropping the ball CAN lead to actual federal court cases. (You can see why I’d want to get out of it!)

    2. Happy at work, finally*

      Funny you bring this up! I recently started as a permanent part-time merchandiser for a company. First time doing a job like this and I Friggin.Love.It. I considered doing plant merchandising because I love outside and plants as well, but I can’t do the early hours the ones by me need and they wanted close to full-time hours for the season. Anyway, I’m a lot like you–40s, been stuck in admin hell, more than done with people, and now anxious and stressed as a result. Today I worked–got in, got my stuff done, got out, done and dusted and I actually feel good and energetic vs sucked dry and wretched. I’m in complete control of my area, my schedule, and how I move through tasks. I’m also adhd, so the constant movement and processes work really well for me. The only interaction I had today was to ask a couple customers if they needed help finding something–and they didn’t, so yay for me! Everyone I’ve interacted with at my company has been wonderfully helpful and kind. I don’t know if I’ve just landed a unicorn or what, but if something about this work is calling to you, I’d definitely recommend you at least explore it.

      1. Happy at work, finally*

        Oh, one more thing. As Pro mentioned above, the pay isn’t the greatest. My teen makes more in fast food. However, I’m not being yelled at by unreasonably angry people several times a shift. For me, the pay cut is worth it.

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          Amen, Happy!! You just hit on all the things I loved about merchandising. I would still be at it, but I got a new manager and…let’s just say we didn’t geehaw too well. (That’s a Southern term for we didn’t see eye to eye.) I decided life’s too short and I didn’t HAVE to work anymore. Come to find out I wasn’t the only one: I think maybe one person from the original team is still there.

          1. Happy at work, finally*

            I truly feel like I finally found the job meant for me! I’m sorry about the icky manager. It’s so sad when one person ruins a good thing. I hope your retirement is going well!!

            1. Professional Merchandiser, Retired*

              So far so good (retirement) but some days I miss working. I spent many years in another career that paid a lot better, but when I was laid off I kind of fell into merchandising.
              I was like. “where has this been all my life?” Even though I made less than half what I did at former job, it was worth it.
              On behalf It’s Time; where did you find your job? (If you can say with anonymity) I’m wondering because as I said earlier, I was recruited for my last position, but I used to be on a merchandising job board that would reach out to me whenever they had something they thought I would like. That site is no more, so I really don’t know people find out about positions now.

              1. It's Time To Get Goin'*

                Thank you again so much for your contributions to my question! I’m totally willing to take a paycut and loss of benefits if it’s something I can do well and happily long-term. Actually wouldn’t be losing that much if the job turned out to be minimum wage part-time. My current pay is $3 above min, and I’d still have healthcare through Healthcare.gov rather than my current employer if I left, so I’d mostly be losing tangential benefits I’m not really concerned about at this point.

                Re: your question: I haven’t found a plant merchandiser job yet! I Googled the term after I saw it mentioned for the first time a few days ago, and saw job listings through the usual suspects like Indeed and LinkedIn and a major nursery distributor for my state. I’m not sure how reliable those sources are, but they’re what popped up immediately in my search. Since I’m having to wait until I have my own vehicle rather than carpool, it’ll be a while before I can even start to apply to these positions, sadly.

      2. It's Time To Get Goin'*

        THANK YOU so much for this, Happy! You sound like my alternate-universe twin. :) I’m definitely going to look into merchandising as soon as I have reliable transportation. I’m having to carpool with my partner (we work at the same toxic office), but once I have my own ride…look out, world!

        You know, I was so excited to see a job working with plants, it didn’t occur to me until I saw your and Pro Merchandiser’s posts about other types of merchandising than plants. What sort of merchandising jobs would you recommend? You sound very much like your working tastes align with mine–I hate sitting around; I want to go in, do my job and be paid for actually working, and then be done for the day, rather than sitting around waiting for work to come in. (At current job, it’s either ALL HANDS ON DECK CATASTROPHE or do absolutely nothing for an hour or more while stressing over what disaster is going to come next. I HATE it.) The best job I ever had was route delivery for a local parcel service that doesn’t exist now. They didn’t care when I started my workday or how long it took me to do my work as long as I arrived no later than 8:30 and finished no later than 5:30, no micro-managing, hardly ever talking to anyone unless I wanted to. I got paid for a full day regardless of how long it took to sort and carry my route, but I was very suited to the work and efficient, so the long days were well offset by the short days. And I didn’t mind long days because I loved the work so much, anyway.

        The self-supervision aspects you describe highly appeal to me, too! I’m terrible at working under people’s noses and make a lot of mistakes if I know others are around keeping tabs on me, but I do really well when I’m left to my own devices and allowed to handle things on my own terms.

        Again, thank you so much for enlightening me on this!

        1. It's Time To Get Goin'*

          Also, I’m very much a night owl, the kind who goes to bed at dawn to mid-morning if left to my own schedule, so I appreciate the heads-up on early days. XD

          I CAN make myself get up early for something I love, but I’ll be much more effective if I can find something that works better with my natural body rhythms!

        2. Happy at work, finally*

          Hey, my pleasure! And sorry about the delay, I try to unplug on Saturdays! I now wish someone had clued me into this years ago, would’ve save a lot of heartache, so happy to help point you in a direction that might help!! And, we might very well be twins, lol! Before the 08 recession I had part-time job delivering newspapers for a tiny, local news agency–had basically the same set-up as your delivery service, but earlier hours. They don’t exist anymore either. Ah, memories!

          Anyway! So, I found my job on Indeed–I just did a search simply for part-time work, no specific industry as I was just randomly looking with no real purpose or intent–but I went to the company’s website to apply. I’ve also been really picky about what I’ve been applying to. My last two jobs were total “your manager sucks and isn’t going to change” type situations and I refuse to go through that again.

          This is my first RM job and honestly, I didn’t know offhand what all is out there either! I just jumped on the posting I saw and it just worked out beautifully. Since I like rabbit holes, I did a bit of digging around this evening and found that (at least in my area) Google jobs seems to have more postings than Indeed. But you can also trawl through Glassdoor and Zip Recruiter to find postings as they seem to have a lot as well. Sometimes they’re called Field Service Representatives, too. Sometimes they’re listed as merchandiser, but actually cashier positions, so read carefully. Also, I’d recommend searching job postings directly on company websites to see what’s there–pick a product you really like, go to their corporate site, and see if anything pops up!

          If you’re looking for placements outside of plants, I did find postings for the following companies. I am at one of them. Some offer full-time and they all seem to be permanent rather than seasonal.
          American Greetings, Frito-Lay, Hallmark, and Hasbro are the big ones I’ve found so far. There are a couple small places local to me, something similar may come up for you. There is also a company called Anderson Merchandisers that’s nationwide that seems fairly decent, too.

          There is also Retail Odessey/SAS that’s nationwide, but their reviews aren’t that great. I’d proceed with caution there. Could be great though, I can’t say either way for sure.

          I know the place I am at discourages late night work, mainly because a store manager might not be onsite. Personally, I don’t start before 9 am, and my supervisor has been working afternoons/early evenings at the moment. On the whole, they don’t monitor start times much as long as the work gets done! Other companies may prefer a midnight shift, it’s definitely worth asking about!

          All the best to you!! It’s been a really great experience for me so far! I hope you find the place that suits you best!

          1. It's Time To Get Goin'*

            Thank you so much for all of this! Please don’t feel like you have to apologize! I would’ve originally replied Friday myself, but there was yet another (completely preventable) disaster at work, so I stayed thirteen hours, then came home and slept for another fourteen. And that’s another reason why I gotta get out, hahaha.

            Retail merchandising! THAT’S the term I was looking for! I do appreciate the warning about cashier jobs branded as RM positions. RM in general is not a field I’d ever considered before because the job descriptions I’d seen before sounded very different from what you actually do, including a lot of, yes, cashier duties. To learn that there’s actually a very different side to it, and where else to look, has opened up an entirely new world for me, so thank you very much!

  9. lilbrowngal*

    Does anyone have recommendations for blazers or general colors that look good on camera when interviewing on line? (Links extra extra appreciated!)

    I own a black blazer but most of my business wear is black underneath as well, I have black curly hair, and I am dark-skinned, so I’ve found all that black fabric just looks way too dark on camera.

    I thought of finding something charcoal grey but not sure if that would still be too dark, and I haven’t been able to find something light grey that isn’t too boxy anywhere. In a fairly conservative field (finance, law, etc) if that matters.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      What colour is your background? I’m immediately thinking of some kind of ivory + maybe a gold necklace to break up the black a little bit. Not sure where you are, but a ton of the stores around me are super into the spring/summer clothes so they’ve got a lot of options in white/ivory/cream!

      1. lilbrowngirl*

        My background is the Landlord Beige walls of my bedroom so Ivory sounds like a good suggestion!

    2. Pinkbasil*

      I’m in tech so YMMV but I would recommend jewel tones – sapphire, emerald, ruby – still very professional, but a good contrast to a black blouse.

      1. lilbrowngirl*

        thank you! do you have any suggestions on where to find jewel tones in the summer? Totally understand if not, I’ve just literally only been able to find white linen so far and I am terrified of scorching it with an iron

        1. Mockingjay*

          Ann Taylor/Loft stores and their outlets have tons of jewel-tone shells with different necklines – boatneck, crew, v-neck. I just bought a nice red one last week. These are mostly wash and hang dry/tumble low, easy care synthetic tops.

          1. Mockingjay*

            Also, AT and Cato also have business-y, sleeveless tieneck or button-up tops that would look great under a blazer. Again synthetic easy care (not my favorite fabric in summer, but fine to get through an interview or the arctic AC of the main office).

        2. TotesMaGoats*

          I bought several soft buttonless blazers on amazon. 3/4 length sleeve. Polished enough to throw over a shell and wear to work stuff or just to polish up for a zoom session. I have them in 4 colors and will get more. It’s also my go to conference wear with some ankle pants.

          1. All Het Up About It*

            Second these buttonless blazers from Amazon! I’ve got some in basic colors and will be adding a few more to switch things up. They are extremely stretchy and comfy and perfect for an Zoom situation.

      2. Llellayena*

        Do not use green! Green-screen effect is real! If you try to use any kind of digital background or blurring it’ll affect your clothing too…

        If you’re looking conservative, cream or light blue could work. Maybe something in the rust/orange/fall colors range.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Don’t use a digital background if you want to look your best! The virtual background creates a halo around your head that
          I painted the wall behind my desk a light, very slighly warmer than neutral grey and put up a large 4x3ft cityscape picture printed on canvas (so no reflections; I actuallytook the picture myselfin a rare event of a clear autumn sky). This gives a clear and crisp background without the halo.

      3. ferrina*

        This was my thought as well. I went to Stitch Fix, but there’s a lot of flexibility. The great thing about interviewing remotely is that you don’t need high quality clothing- the cheaper stuff with a decent cut and good colors show up really well on camera.

    3. lurkyloo*

      Dove grey tends to be universally flattering and sets off so beautifully against dark colours! I own a blazer and a cardigan and they’re great on camera. I’m not sure which gender style you’re looking for, but do a google search :) That and I’m also not sure which country you’re calling from, but I’m in Canada. lol

      1. lilbrowngirl*

        I did not know what dove grey was but I looked it up and it looks lovely – thank you! And I’m on the east coast of the US :)

        1. lurkyloo*

          Ah, SO many shopping options there! I hope you are able to find what you need. Good luck with the interviews!

      2. pancakes*

        That’s a good tip, that is a pretty flattering and definitely professional color.

    4. might be outdated info but...*

      If you can afford it, consider buying that boxy suit and having it tailored to fit. Cost really depends on what you need done but compared to the cost of a nice suit, the tailoring to take it from “meh” to “great” can be really worth it. In my experience it’s usually cheaper than I expect (though to be honest it’s been ~8 years since I took something to a tailor)

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Oh, definitely!
        And have the tailor do the alterations so it fits well when sitting, in the posture you’d use in a Zoom call. I had a favorite sports coat altered for Zoom and it makes a huge difference (but men’s coats tend to be a bit stiffer so the effect may be less for ladies’).

    5. FloralWraith*

      You might also consider getting something like a ring light. If it’s a conservative field where you would assumed to wear dark colours, this might help in your interviews.

      1. Hillary*

        Even indirect light is key here. I switched to two lamps borrowed from bedside tables, one on each side of my monitor. I tried a ring light, but it reflected in my eyes and even the softest color did weird stuff to my skin tone.

    6. OneTwoThree*

      Not exactly what you were looking for, but I have a suggestion to avoid. Don’t get anything with a noticeable pattern. The pattern tends to “dance” on camera. I have a black and white small checked blazer that I wear with black shirts underneath. It looks great in person. However, I can’t wear it if I’m doing video calls. It’s too distracting.

    7. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’d avoid pin stripe unless they’re large. Sometimes very small patterns can appear to move on camera, so solids or bold/big patterns are better to avoid that effect.

    8. Manchmal*

      You can get blazers in a rainbow of colors at Talbots.

      But a cheaper option would be to keep the black blazer but get a jewel-toned shell or blouse for underneath of it. Maybe that would read as more “professional” too given your field.

    9. Dr. Anonymous*

      Boxy probably won’t hurt you in video interviews as long as it fits your shoulders. A medium blue that’s not too bright also reads conservative. Good luck!

      I don’t have links; haven’t bought a blazer in a long time.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m inclined to agree, particularly if it doesn’t stand out from your desk chair. Do a test with a friend or another device or whatnot, and if you look like a floating head, add a light or bright top underneath. And/or a necklace, scarf, something to break up the big area of darkness. If you have a blazer that’s ok but doesn’t have the most contemporary tailoring in the torso, try not to worth about it because that is going to recede into the background during a video interview or call, unless you’re so far back from the desk that people can see your lap, basically. You’re going to be closer than that, and people aren’t going to see what it looks like standing up.

        If you do your test set-up and it seems like it would be more flattering to raise your computer or camera, keep in mind that the other callers aren’t going to be able to see whatever you use to do that. If the most stable thing at the right height is a grubby box or a couple cans of beans or whatnot, fine, they’re not going to see that. If you’re distracted by it, lean a notepad against it. It doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to be sturdy.

    10. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I second the suggestion for better lighting behind the camera. I notice when I only have an overhead light on (or especially any lighting behind me) I look terrible and shadowed, but brighter lighting around/behind the camera makes a huge difference!

    11. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I think a white shirt under the black blazer breaks it up.
      Or you could try a blue blazer. Medium blues tend to look good on camera. Definitely stay away from stripes or prints or plaids though!

  10. ThatGirl*

    My husband is a mental health counselor at a small urban university. The administration is dysfunctional and his department is slowly falling apart. He’s underpaid and unappreciated. But he felt stuck, for a variety of reasons.

    I finally convinced him to start looking seriously, and he applied for one position two months ago and another a few weeks back. The semester ended and all of a sudden – interviews for both jobs this week! One is this afternoon — send out some good vibes :)

    1. Tired Social Worker*

      Everyone is desperate for LPC’s and MSW’s right now so he should have an easy time landing a job, and has some leverage to negotiate salary and benefits.

      1. ThatGirl*

        He could find a new private practice job in a SNAP, but he wants to keep working in a college setting, so those jobs are a little harder to find and a little more set on pay. That said, either one of these would be a HUGE raise and offer good benefits, I’m sure.

  11. Notfunny.*

    Any management training recommendations besides the Management Center? I am a new manager and would like some training as my academic institution doesn’t do a great job. The Management Center’s options look great but they are all full and I’d like to make a request for this to be funded but need to do so with some lead time.

    For context, I manage a small interdisciplinary academic research center which includes postdocs, some students, and now a part time coordinator – I manage the activities of the researchers but don’t have hire/fire authority. Let me know what you’d suggest!

    1. cubone*

      VitalSmarts! Crucial Conversations is a great course and everyone I know who took them has enjoyed it. I don’t think you need to restrict yourself to “management” training specifically – look for things like leadership, communication skills, diversity, time management for leaders etc. as well. Especially communication. Not to oversimplify other important skills like strategic thinking and problem solving, but I really think a lot of good management hinges on the ability to communicate clearly (as this site shows time and time again).

      Also, while not everyone likes these, I actually loved both a full day MBTI training for leaders I did, as well as taking CliftonStrengths (this was an internal training though, not sure if they also offer open stuff to the public). Reflecting on my own strengths and skills and emotional intelligence was really helpful for me as a manager.

  12. Aspen*

    Hi everyone, a university question here from a student on the spectrum.
    I’ll be off to uni next year and I’m probably going to need to live in halls, due to cost. I’ve never lived away from home before and I’m terrified. For example I’m a huge control freak in the kitchen. If someone else washes up dishes I need to wash them again before I can use them due to fear over not being done ‘properly’. I have some anger management issues and am generally a very anxious person and my rituals help me keep control but I’m concerned that this will be disrupted when living with others (e.g. needing to cook/ use the toilet at a certain time but someone’s using it already, going to make dinner and finding a mess, needing to sleep and have silence but there’s a party.)
    I also have OCD and am really worried for what happens when someone gets sick. My parents understand my seemingly insane reaction to someone coming down with a cold etc (panic attacks, refusing to leave my room and sterilising everything) but strangers will probably view this as rude. Mess makes me anxious, clutter around me feels like clutter in my dead but at the same time I have ADHD and often struggle with executive functioning and when I have bad episodes of depression or anxiety cleaning can be too much.
    I know this makes me sound like I am not mentally well enough to go to uni but I am doing really well right now, it’s just I’m concerned that living with others I’ll have to mask my coping behaviour and end up having a relapse on some of these issues. I genuinely don’t understand how to share living space and whilst my natural response might be to write up a list of rules for everyone and times to use kitchen/ toilet, I’m guessing this won’t go down well.
    I’m sorry this is so long but please if you have advice about shared space at uni, help me.

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Due to your saying “uni” and “halls” I’m wondering if you’re in the UK. If so, my US-specific advice won’t be super helpful, but I will say that generally this sounds like something that absolutely would qualify for disability accommodations–no roommate, maybe putting you on a hall with fewer people, maybe they would even have some kind of on-campus apartment thing, etc etc.

      1. lurkyloo*

        Seconded (from Canada). Alternatively, is there a way to get a small apartment of your own close to school? From what you’re describing, I can’t see you being able to thrive in a dorm-college-too many people situation, unfortunately. :( It’s tough having to mask and I’m sending you all the supportive vibes!

      2. londonedit*

        Halls in the UK don’t tend to have shared rooms – the setup is normally a corridor of 6-7 individual single bedrooms (with doors that lock) that’s referred to as a ‘flat’, with a shared kitchen and sometimes shared bathrooms (though as I noted below, it’s become quite common for each room to have its own small ‘en-suite’ loo/shower/sink pod).

        I was definitely thinking more about things to do when Aspen gets to uni, and not so much beforehand, when I answered below – and I totally missed out the fact that they could absolutely contact the university’s support services and ask for help or accommodations with halls.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          Yeah, I wasn’t sure if the hall I stayed on when I studied in the UK was typical or not! We all had our own rooms with bathrooms, and a shared kitchen.

      3. Minimal Pear*

        Oh one thing to add: my experience with US accommodations has taught me that you’ll have the best chance of success if you get whichever doctor knows the most about your disabilities to fill out the paperwork, and if you discuss with them what you need rather than just giving it to them to fill out.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Have you connected with the student services department at your school? You definitely want to get mental health providers setup sooner rather than later.
      TBH, it sounds like living in a single might be a much better option for you if you can financially accommodate it, not sure if that might be covered under a disability accommodation. By your use of “uni” I’m going to guess you’re not American, so I’m not sure how schools are structured abroad. Here, most freshman would be in a dorm where there are no individual kitchens, it’s all dining halls. How do you do in restaurants?
      It’s good that you’re thinking of these issues ahead of time. I hope you come up with a plan. Also remind yourself that this is a huge adjustment for every student. You won’t be alone with the transition.

    3. brainstorming*

      Coming at this from a US-based perspective, so apologies if these resources are not available where you are. These recommendations are for bedroom/restroom. Reach out to your university to see if they can help accommodate some of your needs in this situation. You may be able to be assigned a private room which could help mitigate some of the stress/anxiety that could come from mess and sickness. I think that it is less likely that you can be assigned a private restroom, but there might be some schools where this is an option.

      Depending on your location, there may be off-campus student housing that affords for more flexibility at a reasonable cost. For example, there are many apartment complexes near my local university where students can rent a full apartment on their own. A downside might be that the apartment complex itself is a bit more rowdy/loud on the evening and weekends compared to a non-student area complex, but you would at least have your own full space.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        My dorm hall had a private restroom for disabled people who needed it. I (disabled) was not given access even though I asked for it and the restroom was right next to my room. Oh but when someone broke their arm they got access, no problem! Ugh. I mostly wanted it because it had separate washer/dryers and it was a trek to the communal ones, plus I’m allergic to fragrance and the communal dryers always had scent left from other people’s products.
        Anyway, my point is that some dorms will have private restrooms haha

    4. londonedit*

      It sounds like you’re in the UK (forgive me if I’ve got that wrong) – it can all definitely be quite overwhelming living away from home/with other people for the first time even without your extra challenges in play. So be kind to yourself!

      Have a look at the options for halls that your uni offers. Even 20-odd years ago when I spent a year in halls, I had a room with what they called an ‘en-suite’ bathroom – it was basically a wet-room pod in one corner of the room but it was my own loo, sink and shower and there were no communal bathrooms. I think that might be helpful for you if you can swing it! Halls in general seem much posher than in my day so you might well find there are private facilities. The kitchen was communal in my halls but we all had our own mini-fridge in our rooms and while basics were available in the shared kitchen, most people kept their own set of plates/bowls/mugs and a couple of pots and pans, and you’d wash up your own things and keep them in your room. Yes it can be challenging working out cooking/cleaning and I think suggesting a rota is a good idea – but be aware that people may well not pull their weight. Also be aware that everyone is most likely dealing with living away from home for the first time, and everyone has their own quirks and standards and ways of doing things that they’ve learned growing up, so you will encounter people who have different points of view when it comes to cleaning etc. You definitely can’t write up a timetable for people to use the kitchen/loo (if you do end up somewhere with shared bathrooms) I’m afraid.

      Another option might be catered halls, if that’s available at your uni – there might still be a small basic shared kitchen, but you’d be eating in the canteen so you wouldn’t have to cook or wash up if you didn’t want to. Most of the time you won’t be allowed to keep small electrical items like a toaster or kettle in your room, but you could also keep a stash of no-cook snacks and food in your room (in a tin or a secure Tupperware) in case you don’t feel up to going into the kitchen.

      I’d also suggest speaking to your doctor about coping strategies – it’s a big change for anyone and it might help to have some ideas in your back pocket for if things do get on top of you. Also reach out to your university’s health centre and support teams once you get there. And I’d suggest letting your housemates know that you can struggle occasionally – keep it light if you want to, but ‘Sometimes I get overwhelmed and I need to spend time by myself; don’t take it personally if I stay in my room!’ or ‘I have a few mental health challenges around cleanliness, so don’t mind me if you see me washing up or cleaning the kitchen’ might go a long way to help the people you’re living with understand where you’re coming from.

    5. Foxgloves*

      Hi Aspen! The best thing to do would be to contact your university’s halls department/ housing office (they will have one!) and the disability office. In fact, I’d probably contact the disability office first, and explain your needs to them. They almost certainly will have come across this before, and might be able to offer things like an en suite room at the cost of a shared bathroom room, etc.
      I will say- most people won’t think you’re being rude, but they will be concerned for you, or might not understand. Hopefully, the housing & disability teams will be able to help you navigate this though- it’s literally what they’re there for. Good luck!

    6. NeedRain47*

      It reads to me like you’re mentally well enough to go to uni, but living in a dorm (as we call it in the US, I lived in them for four years) might not be mentally suitable for you. Does your uni have a mental health office or a disability office? I’d look up either one of those, or even just contact the housing office for the halls and ask them who you can talk to. The fewer people you live with, the better, as it’s less difficult to communicate with one or two other people than with a hall full.

    7. Midwestern Scientist*

      Check out you university’s housing website! Where I went there were several options (for bathrooms: suite vs communal; for bedrooms: single vs double). I had a suite (shared a bedroom with a friend) and we shared a bathroom with another suite. 1 bathroom for 4 people was sometimes a challenge timing-wise but we could control the cleanliness somewhat. My best friend lived in a dorm with a communal bathroom – lots of stalls/showers so no issues with timing but definitely limited control over cleanliness (her roommate moved out though so she ended up with her own bedroom). It may be beneficial to you to really think through which scenarios you can live with if there are multiple options. You can also get in contact with the staff in charge of housing and see if they have any accommodations for your situation. I knew a couple of people who got single rooms instead of sharing (without being charged for it) because they had medical issues that required privacy

    8. EMP*

      Hi Aspen,
      First, I think everyone’s comments to find out what resources your uni has is spot on – ask for help now before you get there and are even more stressed, and see what groundwork you can lay down while you’re in a good space. It sounds like you have good reason to believe living with a group of strangers will be challenging for you and I hope your uni can provide some kind of assistance.

      Second, I would try to focus on what *you* can control about *your* behavior that will bring you comfort. You’re right that writing down a list of rules for your house mates will probably not go over well and ultimately you can’t control their behavior, even if you start out on a good foot.
      What I mean by this is for example, buy your own dish, cup, and set of silverware that you use, wash, and bring back to your room after meals. No need to worry about other people’s germs on your plate, and minimally disruptive to your housemates. Will this look weird? Yeah, probably a little. If people ask you can say you have OCD if you want or just say you’re “germaphobic” and feel better with your own plates, but at least for me this kind of interact would be a net benefit. You may not be able to get your own shower, but can you bring your own mat to stand on when you go to communal showers? That kind of thing. Obviously this won’t work for everything! But planning ahead for what you can control might help how you feel about this upcoming change.

      Good luck! Moving away from home for the first time can be really stressful and not all of us are great with strangers, but at the same time sometimes we overcome challenges we wouldn’t have thought we could handle once they’re in front of us.

      1. Generic Name*

        Honestly, folks in shared living situations having their own set of personal dishes is pretty common, especially in the college years. Those of us on the cleaner end of the spectrum learn that everyone else is gross pretty quickly, so this happens more often than you would think. :)

        1. EMP*

          This is good to know! I lived in a shared-interest dorm group in college which included communal cooking, so slightly different situation/expectations there with plates and food!

      2. pancakes*

        Yes, I was going to say something similar. Rather than writing up a list for rules for others to follow, consider writing up a list of alternatives and coping strategies for yourself that you can consult if you find yourself in those situations. I don’t think you can realistically impose many rules on others, beyond the basics about cleaning up messes after oneself, etc. There are almost certainly going to be people around you who fall short of those on occasion – leaving out the remains of late night take-away food after having friends over, etc. Maybe you can make a list of options for yourself in those situations – a small stash of food in your room that doesn’t need cooking, for example, and a schedule for replenishing it, so that you always have something easy on hand if you need it.

        When I was at school in the US it was normal for us to leave some pots and pans in the shared kitchen, and that was fine in my experience. People were pretty respectful at my school but I didn’t and wouldn’t bring anything fancy or irreplaceable.

        Whenever you’re sharing a refrigerator with a group of people, I think it’s important to have a conversation and come to an agreement about rules for how long things can stay in there before it’s reasonable for others to throw them away if it’s getting crowded or something is going bad.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m not sure strangers would view staying in your room when somebody is sick to be rude at college/uni. In my experience, a lot of people had times when they stayed in their rooms a lot, either because they were shy and preferred not to be around everybody or because they had a lot of work on. If somebody avoided the common areas for a week or two, well, firstly, I probably wouldn’t have noticed as about 70 of us shared them, and if I did, I would have assumed that person had an important assignment due and wanted to avoid any distractions.

      You can probably bring your own dishes, cutlery plates, etc and keep them in your room and just bring them down when you are going to eat. Then you won’t have to worry about anybody but you washing them.

      Admittedly, my experience is in Ireland, and given your use of terms like uni, I’m guessing you are in the UK or Australia or anyway, not the Republic of Ireland (think they use the British terms in Northern Ireland), but generally, in my college (uni) days, it was perfectly OK if you wanted to stick to your room when at “home”. People varied in ther use of common areas and for some people (I was one of these), they varied from week to week. If I was busy, I spent a lot of time in my room. If I had an easy week, I spent more time hanging out.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I will add that in Ireland, the norm is for students to go go home for weekends (to the point that my college tended to finish up early on a Friday – around 2 or 3pm, instead of 6pm – and then a fleet of buses ran from the college to a number of small villages that hadn’t great public transport). My impression is that this may be less common in the UK (and possibly other countries?), but it sounds like it might be a good idea in your case, if it is feasible. It would mean you would always know you were going back to somewhere you are more comfortable in a couple of days and you wouldn’t have whole days with no classes hanging around the halls.

        Will you have to share toilet facilities? When I was at college, we did, though even then it was 7 or 9 people sharing two toilets, so the odds of one being in use when you needed it were low (I think I could count on one hand the number of times it happened my four years at college, and even then you could always go and use the facilities on the next landing), but I thought that in today’s world, en suites were pretty common.

    10. Generic Name*

      I’m so glad you came here to ask this question! My son is on the spectrum and in high school, and we are preparing him for living independently/in dorms after high school. It’s scary for everyone, so in that you’re absolutely not alone. :) One thing you can do is call campus life or talk to the university’s mental health department and ask them about who you should contact about pursuing disability accommodations for your living arrangements. One thing you could ask for is a tour of the halls prior to moving in. You don’t necessarily need to see your exact living space, but it will give you an idea of what to expect. Dorms/halls could be anything from a room shared with one other person with no kitchen facilities and shared bathrooms, to more apartment-style living. I actually don’t think drawing up a list of rules is a terrible idea if it’s a group effort between you and your roommates. Meaning don’t come with a list that could come off as demands, rather sit down with the people you’ll be living with and come to an agreement on things like quiet hours/lights out, if overnight guests (friends or romantic partners) are allowed, etc and write all that down. You could even sign it like a contract. Back in the day when I was in college, the university sent me a questionnaire asking questions like if I was a smoker (this was 20+ years ago), what time I went to bed, when I planned to study, etc. to help “match” me with an appropriate roommate. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself, and if you aren’t sure how to do that, you can ask someone for help. When I was in college in the US, everyone was assigned an advisor, so if you have a point of contact with the university, that would be a great place to start.

    11. FloralWraith*

      Hi Aspen,

      In addition to all the other very useful ideas, you might want to consider the possibility if you could move into something like a postgraduate dorm. Those might have more privacy barriers than the usual undergrad halls. I know that some unis over here have the possibility of choice available, and you might want to see if this is something the housing department at your university can offer.

    12. RagingADHD*

      Certainly, ask about accommodations as others mentioned. And find out the specifics as far in advance as you can. As some mentioned, cooking and dishes may not even be a factor, since many dorms/residence halls don’t have kitchens or allow cooking in the rooms.

      As for dealing with others when you do have to share some areas, the main thing is communication and mutual respect. No, you cannot write up “rules” that other people have to follow. But you can tell people about your needs and ask them to collaborate with you on setting up a schedule or making agreements that work for *all of you.* Most people will likely be able to be flexible. The biggest factor in getting buy-in for people to work with you, is to make sure and acknowledge that their needs are also valid and worthy of respect.

      People are unlikely to think you are rude for isolating or cleaning things if someone is sick — as long as you are not doing things that impinge on other people’s space or belongings. For example, wiping down the lightswitches and doorknobs – great. Most people would thank you. Taking someone else’s things off their desk to clean them, or throwing them away? Not okay.

      Re-washing dishes before you eat? Nobody will really care, if they even notice. Spraying Lysol in someone else’s space, or fogging a common area with chemicals? Not okay, because other people may be sensitive to the smells/fumes.

      It comes down to the boundary between doing things for yourself, and doing things that impact others. In any area where you are sharing, talk things out ahead of time.

      Good luck!

      1. Not A Manager*

        “But you can tell people about your needs and ask them to collaborate with you on setting up a schedule or making agreements that work for *all of you.* Most people will likely be able to be flexible. The biggest factor in getting buy-in for people to work with you, is to make sure and acknowledge that their needs are also valid and worthy of respect.”

        I’m a bit dubious about this. If uni in the UK starts at about 18-19 years old, I think it can be hard to corral young folks into making and following agreements like this. They might agree to set up a schedule for kitchen or bathroom use, but then they forget or something more immediate to them arises. Now the LW is faced with both an intrusion into their expected routine, AND a perceived rules violation. I think LW is better off trying to address their own needs at the university level, and privately, and save any conversation with their dorm-mates for issues that are universally understood to be violations, such as loud noise on a late week-night.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          Speaking from experience as someone who was in a similar situation but with certain needs around cleaning for my physical health: yeah, not to be a downer but it was impossible and everyone was mad at me for asserting my right to a mold-free kitchen.

          1. starfox*

            I would’ve hard a harder time with Aspen’s executive dysfunction on days they can’t clean when I was in college. I’m not a neat freak but I get overwhelmed by clutter and easily grossed out by things like dirty dishes.

            1. Minimal Pear*

              I feel this, it’s such a catch-22. For executive dysfunction reasons I can be kind of a slob, but for physical health reasons I need a really clean environment. I’ve found living alone helps a lot because at least I’m not seething over how messy other people are, and I have more control over the mess/more understanding of when and how to clean it up because I know what went into it.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Yes, I said up front that they should start with official accommodations.

          My point was that in any areas where accommodations are not possible, they should talk to their roommates and try to work things out. No, it won’t be perfect, but it puts them in a better position to manage things relationally and maximize goodwill.

          You don’t overcome the challenges of black-and-white / all-or-nothing thinking by trying to assert it even harder. You ask for help and understanding. That leads to conversations where you may also find the ability to be understanding of others.

          “This is challenging for me.” “Can we work on this?” “Can you help me with this?” Having phrases like this in your back pocket can de-escalate potential conflict.

          1. peasblossom*

            This is great advice, and, as someone who works with college-age students, they are fully able to approach life collaboratively! That doesn’t mean it will happen immediately or perfectly, but, once Aspen has gone to student services, approaching working with any dorm mates as collaborators much more likely to be successful than more rigid methods like imposing rules.

        3. starfox*

          Yeah, honestly, sometimes it’s hard to maintain a strict schedule in college. Classes are at all kinds of different times, and there are always required or social events to go to, etc. It might be easy to agree for Aspen to, idk, have the kitchen at 20:00… but then the roommate has to go see a play for their theatre class and gets in at 20:00 and is hungry.

          Also, unfortunately, I would’ve had issues with Aspen’s anger issues and executive dysfunction on days that they can’t clean when I was in college. I’m not a neat freak by any means, but I’m easily grossed out by things like dirty dishes.

          I agree that getting disability accommodations will probably best for all involved.

    13. Not A Manager*

      I strongly agree with all of the suggestions to contact your university in advance to arrange some structural accommodations.

      For whatever is not covered by the accommodations, I suggest that you try to figure out your own workarounds that do not involve asking your dorm-mates to change their behavior and that don’t require you to just endure something that’s difficult for you. Examples would be: keep your own minimal set of cookware in your room and only use that to cook with. In addition to one set of plates/flatwear, keep a small backup of disposables so you always have something to eat off of that feels safe. If you need to clean a shared bathroom before using it, get small sized containers of products and keep them in an unobtrusive shoulder satchel. Noise-canceling headphones. It sounds like you will have your own sleeping space, which is great. If a lot of noise is bleeding in, sometimes just covering open spaces can cut that down. A rolled towel across the bottom of your door, a piece of cardboard over any vents, a heavy curtain over the window.

      Basically, when small intrusions occur on your own practices and comfort, think of them as individual problems to be solved systemically so they don’t keep happening.

      I’m most concerned about the anger management. I’m very sympathetic to this being an issue for you, but see if you can practice techniques now and work on coping mechanisms. I think you can absolutely manage these issues of communal living, but it will be more difficult if you appear to be requiring your dorm mates to manage them for you.

    14. Zephy*

      You may be able to apply for a single room in a residence hall as a disability accommodation. Contact your school – if they have an Office for Students with Disabilities I would start there, or the Housing/Residential Life department. If you’re not comfortable calling those departments directly, or if you can’t find contact info for them on the college’s website, start with Admissions and they can direct you from there; if there’s a person you’ve been working with to get enrolled, call/text/email them. It is 100% OK to do that, helping you navigate the school’s policies around stuff like this is literally their entire job, you are not doing anything wrong by asking for this.

      What the single-occupancy room looks like is going to vary from school to school, but it sounds like your needs would be best served by a single room with en-suite bathroom, if such a thing exists on your campus. You may need to share kitchen facilities with other residents, but the general expectation in most residence halls that have kitchen facilities is that you bring and use your own food and cooking and eating utensils – the room with the stove/oven/sink is the communal resource, not the pots and pans and plates and such. The other way around your kitchen-related anxieties is simply not to cook, use your meal plan and eat in the cafeteria, but I understand if you also have food issues that make that difficult or impossible.

      Even if you can get approved to live in a single dorm, though, you will also need to develop some flexibility with your routines – I am also on the spectrum and my brain also makes the Google Maps “recalculating” noise if I go to do something and can’t because first I have to do x and I also get agitated and throw tantrums unbecoming of a thirty-year-old lady when there are too many tasks in my task queue, I get it. If you have access to professional mental/behavioral health support, please lean on them and proactively start working to develop strategies to handle deviations from your routine. Because in college, and in adult life in general, your weeks and days are not going to be the same as they were in K-12. Your classes will not meet every day. Even if your high school was on a block schedule with A-days and B-days, you will not be “At School” for a single seven-hour block that still starts and ends at the same time every day. Everyone else on campus is also dealing with schedules that are not the same day-to-day, so you will need to figure out how to do what you need to do in the time you have, and to be okay with it if that means lunch is at 12:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays, but has to be either 11:00 or 2:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays because you have a class, for instance.

      Best of luck to you. It’s hard out here for us.

    15. Anon for This*

      For context: I am American, but studied abroad in the UK about 8 years ago, where I lived in a catered hall (that catered only breakfast and dinner). I have OCD, too, and my therapist has mentioned to me that I might be on the spectrum (but that’s not confirmed). Here are some of my thoughts on a) how I coped and b) what I wish I had known back then (when I was not yet diagnosed with OCD). And forgive me if this is already trivial information you know or not quite relevant to your situation!

      Some of the things I did to cope back then:
      – I scheduled phone calls / Skype calls with my parents / friends back home on a regular basis to have some support / see familiar friendly faces.
      – I had a private room with a sink, so I kept dish soap and sponges in my room, and, after scraping the food off & rinsing my plates in the kitchenette, did the real scrubbing and drying in my bedroom, where I then also stored my clean plates.
      – The bathrooms were all single person, gender neutral bathrooms which were cleaned by a cleaner, which I found much nicer than American bathrooms. I didn’t end up having any issues with them being occupied when I needed them – you could go to another floor if that was the case. But you did need to remember to have toilet paper, since they would run out sometimes over the weekends.
      – The laundry room had a website where you could check how many machines were in use and plan to go when they weren’t busy, so I did that.
      – I kept shelf stable snacks and food in my room, like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, biscuits, peanut butter, bread, tinned soup, etc in case I wasn’t feeling up to facing the kitchenette/dining hall.
      – I spent the first few weeks exploring the university campus to find quiet spots where I felt safe and also to map out my routes to classes so I wouldn’t be lost/late.
      – I used lots of calendar reminders on my phone to help me remember appointments/classes (that morning, then when I had to leave for the appointment, etc.)
      – I planned out large projects/essays and broke them down into weekly tasks, then also used time blocking to help complete projects/essays on a timely basis.

      What I wish I had also known / had access to:

      – Starting OCD-specific therapy (like ERP) with an OCD specialist before going – if you have access to this, you can ask your therapist to specifically work on the things you’re most afraid of having to deal with before getting to uni.
      – Joining an OCD support group (even if virtual)
      – Like others said, requesting accommodations!
      – I wish I had given myself more grace and understanding. I can’t tell you how many times I cried alone in my room and that was okay – it was hard for me, and it was okay to feel frustrated and overwhelmed sometimes. It was still a great experience overall that I learned a lot from.

    16. Manchmal*

      You seem very clear headed about what your issues and behaviors are that might be difficult or even incompatible with congregant living. Can you work on turning down the dial on some of those issues? I don’t know what kind of therapy or medication you’re on, but it might be worth a doctor’s visit to see if your treatment plan is the best it could be or if it needs an update. Second, could you ask your parents to stop or gradually turn down whatever they’re doing to help you cope so you have experience losing a bit of control, not being able to control your environment as much, etc as a form of exposure therapy. Perhaps that would give you practice drawing boundaries, asking for what you need, or finding other coping mechanisms.

    17. Nancy*

      You need to discuss this with the appropriate department at your university. They can let you know your options for a single room, quiet dorm/floor, etc. Every school is different in what they have for housing options. My dorm in the US had a kitchenette on every floor, but everyone provided their own dishes and whatever else we needed, for example.

      No, you will not be able to write up rules for a dorm to follow or a schedule for kitchen/toilet use, that is not a reasonable expectation.

      1. squeakrad*

        Maybe I’m seeing this a little out of proportion but I also see that you’ve mentioned yourself you have anger management issues. I think this might be a bigger issue than you’re assuming now. Even with accommodations, acting out in anger inappropriately may cause the school or your dormmates to call for you to be expelled.
        You say you’re ready for Uni and you’re just trying to anticipate the kinds of things that would come up. And I think that’s a great step. But honestly I would wonder about the possibility of going to school near your home so you could live at home at least for the first year and then transferring somewhere else. I think the change of living away from home and the added expectations of a university student might be a serious problem for you. And I say this as a college instructor who deals with students with accommodations all the time.

        1. Aspen*

          By anger management issues I don’t mean flipping out at people (I’m generally quite mellow) but more that my emotions can be overwhelming and if something triggers me I might be violent toward myself or have meltdowns (so anger targeted toward myself not others) I’ll try to get out of the situation and calm down, by leaving the room etc but that could be logistically challenging in a shared space and it could be quite alarming for others.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            That in itself can beat pretty big concern for those around you, if you do melt down in other students’ presence and alarm them. This is the piece I’m most worried about for you, Aspen… the fact is that most people who are going to be with you at Uni won’t already know you, so they won’t have the background to realize that when you scare people with your reactions, it doesn’t mean you’re going to hurt anybody. And some of them will have their own mental health concerns, including traumatic backgrounds that could make them panic badly if they saw that kind of a reaction.

    18. Calliope*

      I think this is all good advice but one thing I’d add since I haven’t seen anyone else mention is it that you need to be prepared for everyone’s schedules to be different every day. It wouldn’t reasonable to ask for a bathroom/kitchen schedule anyway but I think you also need to expect that your hallmates won’t even have routines. They will have different school hours every day, different work hours at various times, probably want to bring unexpected guests home, and you’ll probably have at least one parties who comes in at odd hours and then sleeps till odd hours. So I’d factor that into your thinking – if Jane works till 9pm on Mondays but is home all day on Tuesday then stays out till 3am on Friday, sleeps until 1pm on Saturday, and then brings her boyfriend over to spend Saturday night and hang out all day Sunday, will that create additional challenges you need to think through in advance?

      1. Aspen*

        Holy cr*p I hadn’t even considered that, I’ve been working on the assumption most people have fairly consistent sleep/ wake/ eat schedules but obviously that won’t be the case for many students and yes poses more challenges.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Not in uni. Also, if you’re in a multi-person space like the halls described above, you and all of your hall-mates will have their own separate not-schedules to deal with. Someone will put all of their classes on Mon/Wed/Fri and spend Tue/Thur around the dorm studying. Someone will have mostly late classes, someone else will have mostly early classes. People will have work or clubs one or two evenings a week. The way that someone’s schedule lines up with friends’ schedules will affect where they spend their time. Some people just… don’t need or want routine?

          Most people do fall into routines more or less, so in a few weeks you’ll start to learn who you can expect to see around at various times, the pattern of when the kitchen gets used, etc – but expect even that to be more of a framework versus being set in stone.

          Some dorm groupings are very friendly and close. Some are distant but it works. Some you’re just trying to get through the year. Sometimes you click with one or two other people and avoid the rest. It really depends. I think the other recommendations to ask for accommodations from the school and get a single if possible are very good. If you are sharing with other people, remember that you can ask to move if it’s awful. It’s worth making an effort to try and get things to work out, but if you’re just a bad fit for the other people, it’s ok to find somewhere else. The school will do their best to match you up with compatible people, but they don’t always get it right.

        2. Cascadia*

          Yes, and it might not even be the case for you! Your schedule will be different every quarter/semester with classes. If you have a job, that will also change quarterly along with your class schedule. Some will prefer to study in their rooms, some in common areas, some in the library. I had days where I didn’t have class until 11am and other days I started at 8am. And at my school, almost everyone stayed out late to party on the weekends and slept in late. In fact, our cafeteria had totally different weekend hours. They opened at 6am for breakfast during the week but not until 10am on Saturday and Sunday, so you literally couldn’t eat there earlier even if you wanted to. College students are all living away from home for the first time and many tend to use their newfound freedom to go crazy. At this age and stage in life, most people just don’t have a lot of routines.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I didn’t think the scheduling issue was that others have to use it on a particular schedule, but that they are willing to let OP have a consistent “slot.”

        IME, there is usually at least 1 person in a group who does have a predictable schedule (whether due to work, sports or temperament), and the others who are more freewheeling usually flow around it. Like, “Susie always gets up early for rowing practice, so don’t make her late by hogging the toilet.”

        1. Calliope*

          I didn’t read it that way but I certainly think that ask is much more likely to go over well.

          1. Calliope*

            (Though I do think it makes sense to prepare for someone coming home drunk and disregarding it too).

    19. Bagpuss*

      I agree with the recommendations to speak with the university- both the housing/ accommodation office and the student support services.
      Most halls (assuming you are in the UK) will be mainly single rooms.
      Some are flat-style where you have a private room, shared living room and kitchen and maybe a shared bathroom, others will be self-contained rooms with an en-suite shower&toilet. Either way will have a shared kitchen but while the university might provide some basic kitchen items it’s common to take your own crockery and cutlery and if you chose to take your own pans, and keep things in your own room, you can. (When I was in Uni we all had an individual cupboard and could chose to buy a padlock to keep it secure)

    20. AcademiaNut*

      I second (third) others recommendations to talk to your university’s accommodations office to find out options and start the process as early as possible. If you can get a single room with ensuite bathroom that will help a lot. If there’s a quiet dorm option, go for that (my university had a dorm that was for more study oriented students – it wasn’t quiet, but it had fewer giant parties). Schedule wise, living in a dorm that has meals in the cafeteria would minimize the amount you need to use a communal kitchen.

      Outside of that, I’d come up with strategies that help you manage without depending on other people – first year university students are, frankly, not great in general about things like following schedules, cleaning up after themselves, or being quiet. Depending on other people to keep your environment a certain way will end in frustration for everyone involved. Also, keep in mind that they’re all living away from home for the first time too, and many will have never actually cleaned or cooked or done laundry before. Their adjustments will mostly be smaller than yours, but still real.

      Keeping a set of dishes in your room would be unremarkable – remember to take them back with you immediately, or they’ll get used by others. Ask about what appliances you can keep in your room (there may be fire code restrictions), but a small bar fridge, a kettle and some ready to eat meals and maybe a microwave would give you an option if you need to eat and the kitchen is disgusting. Staying in your room while sick is also normal; doing extra cleaning is not likely to be noticed, but disrupting other people’s stuff, or spraying chemicals all over the place will cause problems. Good earplugs and noice cancelling headphones are a must. Shifting your sleep schedule might help – go to bed when the dorm quiet hours hit, and sleep in later, rather than trying to get quiet at 9pm.

      For things like schedules, it’s easiest when it’s with a couple of people, and when you inconveniencing them as little as possible. So asking for the kitchen from 5-5:30 every night (fairly early) will be much more useful than asking for the kitchen from 6-7:30 (peak hours, longer time). If you’re sharing a kitchen with 3 people, a schedule might work, with 10 it won’t.

      Regarding meltdowns – I would tell the people you interact with regularly that sometimes you get overwhelmed and need to retreat to your room suddenly, so they don’t get alarmed, and know not to follow you to see what’s wrong.

      From what you’ve said, I would very strongly recommend that you not do a shared bedroom situation, even if it means waiting a few years while you save up money to afford a private room. It would be miserable for both you and your roommate, and likely to implode messily before midterms.

    21. HallsReply*

      Hi Aspen! I have OCD, including some of the symptoms you mention, and I had a great time living in dorms at my U.S. college, and in halls when I studied abroad in the U.K. Here are a few things that helped me:
      1) I thought of the first few weeks as a transitional period. I told myself that I did not need to set up any rules or routines right away—I just needed to see how everything worked. I mentally pretended to be a scientist observing the habits of my peers. If things were weird or hard during the transition period, that was ok because I was just gathering data! Then, once I had a better sense of what daily life was like, I set up more stable routines that worked for me.
      2) I really, really tried to get to know people even when it was hard. There is this magical time at the start of the year where everyone is awkward and no one has friends. It is a lot easier to talk to anyone then than it will ever be again. And people who knew me as “the girl who asked about my necklace and told me a funny story about her dog” were much more likely to be accommodating than people who just knew me as “the girl who is really picky about the bathroom.”
      3) I accepted that I could only control my own behavior, and got creative. I was never going to be able to get anyone to clean the bathroom, but I always wore shower shoes so that the mess did not touch my feet, etc.
      4) I did not waste a lot of time on masking the rituals I really needed. People took their cues from me. If I acted like washing a pan when I took it out of the cupboard was a big, shameful secret, they might have thought it was weird. But a big smile and the phrase “oh, I am just quirky like that!” made it no big deal. No apologies, no blame, just as breezy as you can be.
      5) I had an escape plan. When a situation was too triggering for me, I just left it, set a timer on my phone for ten minutes, and went for a walk around the building. It really helped me manage my frustration and respond to things appropriately.
      6) I discovered that I was really not alone. Everyone you live with will have their own idiosyncrasies. Some will be related to diagnosed conditions, and some will just be part of who they are. I had a guy in my freshman hall who only ate with a spoon—never a fork! A girl who could redirect any conversation back to Harry Potter! A boy who struggled to hide his lisp. When you live with people, everyone lets their guard down as time goes on and you discover that we are all unique humans with unique needs doing our best.
      I hope you have as much fun as I did. It will all be ok even if it is hard initially.

      1. Aspen*

        Thank you this is really good advice especially around everyone having idiosyncrasies and not making a big deal out of it. I have found that to some extent people ‘take their cue’ from you, like if you make something seem like a big deal they react like it’s a big deal and if you act like it’s normal they’ll assume there’s nothing to worry about. (as for spoon boy I went through a phase of only eating my bran flakes with a teaspoon! I didn’t like spilling them)

        1. Mannequin*

          Does anyone actually eat with those spins that are bigger than teaspoons? AFAIC, they are for serving food, not eating it.

  13. Everybody's working for the weekend*

    There was an article in the Guardian recently (“Finding it hard to get a new job? Robot recruiters might be to blame”) which suggested, among other things, using an online resume scanner to make sure your resume matches the keywords in a job description. Have any of you used a resume scanner, and do you think it helped?

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I haven’t, but my sibling is in IT and they used one recently to check and make sure their resume wasn’t likely to just get thrown out at first pass. It did flag their resume, so they rewrote it until it didn’t but still read like a normal resume to a human reader. They did get a bunch of job offers, but I don’t know whether the scanner made a difference.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’ve gotten auto rejected for not having keywords before. it’s pretty common unfortunately. I try and keep a skills section at the bottom of my resume now and chuck keyword guesses from the listing in there. Also try and match how they refer to things, “extremely proficient with Microsoft suite” vs “solid excel skills” for instance.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Second comment to add – you can usually tell by the speed. If it’s immediate or within 15min of submitting and you get a form letter rejection, it’s a robot.

        1. Raboot*

          15 seconds, sure. 15 minutes? The person doing the screening might just be online right then. Alison often says it doesn’t take very long to decide to reject a resume.

      2. Chaordic One*

        This! I got to a point where I just regurgitated the job description in my resume and in the online application with extra information added on. Surprisingly it worked and I got a lot more interviews.

    3. Pascall*

      Jobscan was recommended to me. It basically matches your resume up with job descriptions and could be useful with helping you re-word things or find keywords that align with the types of positions you’re looking for.

  14. Minimal Pear*

    I usually like my job a lot, but I’m really frustrated right now and need to vent. Everyone here is busy and overworked, so I’ve always had issues getting timely responses from people. A lot of my work depends on getting info from others, and I am low-level so I don’t have much authority to really press them for answers. However, this week is something else entirely. Every single thing on my (extensive) to-do list requires info from someone else before I continue with it. Some of these are as simple as a yes or no, but even after following up multiple times, I haven’t heard anything! I’ve decided to start working on the lowest-stakes one, where making my own judgement call should turn out fine. This means that there are a number of more important tasks I’m not working on because the stakes are higher if I guess the wrong answer. I have had so much downtime this week. In general, I have more downtime than a lot of other people at this job, because of stuff like this. I would be happy to be delegated upon, but there’s another problem there. I find that generally, when people delegate tasks to me, they do not give me enough information to do it with confidence. I will take my best stab at it, check with them that it’s correct, and… you guessed it! Silence. I had that happen this week with one task, and only once it was already finalized and very visible did the guy point out I’d made a mistake. (I had sent it to him two days before it was finalized so that he could check it for edits. No response.) He did at least admit a lot of it was due to his unclear instructions, although there was one thing that should have pinged as “something is weird here” to me that I totally missed.
    I was thinking about why I had missed that, and I realized it goes all the way back to when I started at this job. At the time, I thought everything was pretty normal. However, we now have a new employee, and the way we’ve treated them is a big contrast to what things were like when I joined. I did not get an orientation. I did not have one-on-one time to talk with my coworkers and learn what they do. I did not get a crash course in the weird and complicated way our organization is put together. I didn’t even have a boss for the first few months I worked here! This new employee is getting all of that, and while I really like them, I’m also jealous. Not having that info and support has been a huge part of why I’ve struggled so much when people give me certain work to do. The thing I missed is something that was linked to information I should have been given if I had any kind of orientation. Or, if not at orientation, then later when I first started to be assigned tasks that related to this area. I’ve managed to kind of figure out the necessary information on my own, but I’m clearly shaky enough on it that I didn’t catch this one error.
    I’m just really frustrated, and this week has been a really bad one for these problems, which are normally at a much more tolerable level. I don’t know if there’s anything I can do, since there’s no way I can change the culture here (too low-ranking). And I do try to ask for more information when people are giving me new tasks to work on, but the problem is that there are so many gaps in my knowledge that I don’t even know what I don’t know. Plus no one has enough free time to give me in-depth info. I’m just feeling really cranky about it right now and wanted to complain, honestly.

    1. Overeducated*

      Can you try to ask for some of those onboarding supports your coworker got? Like “hey, I realize one on one meetings and a crash course in how our organization works would be super helpful in filling in some gaps I’ve struggled with since starting, can I set up those meetings and join the next new employee organization?” Working someplace where onboarding is spotty, it’s fairly common for employees who’ve even been around a year to jump on new employee orientations to catch up.

      In general, I’ve been there (supporting busy and overworked people, too low-level to insist they follow up), am often still there, and it can be really frustrating! As you get more active projects, you will probably have less down time as you can shift work between things while waiting for answers and reviews, and become much more pessimistic about timelines.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        We are having some, uh, hiring problems, so I don’t know when or if there’ll be anyone else I can tag along with for onboarding stuff. New employee already got most of it done, I think. I may try to ask about this kind of stuff–for context, though, I’ve worked here for a while. Normally I do have active projects and I can shift work around, but for some reason this week has just been CURSED.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      How long have you been working there? Could you ask your manager if you could be included in some of the new person’s on boarding activities? In my office we had several “new” hires during the pandemic who were given a reorientation now that we are back in the office. We also invited anyone else who wanted a refresher to participate. It was very well received. Even for our more experienced people, there were tidbits that they missed on the first go around, or things that had changed that they hadn’t been updated on.
      It’s frustrating to not know what you don’t know! If your manager is even a little bit effective, they will want you to be able to increase your productivity and may be able to help you make a plan to get caught up on the missing information.

    3. ferrina*

      Oh man, I’ve been there. It’s rough!

      A couple thoughts:
      -Make a game out of following up. Mix it up between emails, phone calls and dropping by their desk (if applicable). “Hey, I’m here for my biweekly follow up! Please tell me there’s good news? No news? Ah well, you can’t blame me for dreaming. See you in a few days for my next follow up!” I’ve also been known to send jokes or limericks to frequent offenders (who are good sports about this- I def wouldn’t recommend this for everyone)
      -Only work on the things you like. So if they aren’t getting back to you, take a stab at the things you feel are a good match for you or interesting to you. Sometimes doing a mock up can get them to finally give feedback. If you’re worried about missing things on the mock-up, ask someone else to take a quick look at it for a gut check.
      -Find the person that knows things. Every company has a few. When I was in your spot, it was our SysAdmin. She was constantly busy but always knew everything- if I didn’t know where to start, I’d sometimes drop by her desk and say “Random question- I was just assigned XYZ. I’m not really sure who would be the best person to ask about that- who would you recommend?” and I was always very thoughtful and respectful of her time (offering to help on boring tasks for her if I had time). But give it a couple years, and that person that knows everything will likely be you.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Haha I don’t think gamifying it like that would go over well, unfortunately! This is a busy company that does important work and everyone is overstretched doing that important work and/or dealing with family stuff, sooo…
        I definitely do tend towards only working on things I like or things where I think I have a pretty good chance of my mockup being partially correct. Obviously that… doesn’t always work, such as the mistake I made this week.
        I have been TRYING to find the person who knows everything! I had such a great time at an old job because the one there was my Best Work Friend, but oh man, I have NO idea who it is here and I’m stumped! I’m basically our only admin person because blah blah blah small org weird hyperspecific problems.

    4. Order of the Banana*

      How frequently do you have 1:1s with your manager? I was in the same boat as you re: higher-level people not responding (and it was pretty bad because I was front-facing, so our clients would assume that I was the one dragging my feet on responding to their inquiries, when really I’ve been waiting 6 business days for a director to provide guidance). I’ve been using my manager to escalate things–if I’ve emailed someone twice and it’s been more than a week, I ask her to reach out to that person and usually that ends up netting me a response in about a day.

      Alternatively, if it’s feasible, establish best practices and create SOP guides. At work, we made several flowcharts to follow so that if someone wasn’t responding, we’d still have a 90% chance of figuring out the right course of action. We’ve also been doing knowledge seminars, where we meet with different teams to learn more about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. And this was all done while we were still down like 30% of our team. It makes your schedule a lot busier in the short-term, but helps in the long run.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Haha are you psychic? Guess what I’ve been writing today–yet another SOP! I love writing SOPs. I definitely had a semi-formalized flowchart at an old job that was super helpful… Part of the problem is that I really don’t know everyone well/know this kind of stuff because we’re remote and everyone’s kinda hands-off/busy with their own stuff. I meet with my managers (I somehow have three–don’t ask) regularly and honestly this last week has been bad enough that I think I am going to bring it up with one of them. Of course my managers are the most regular offenders for all of this. The thing is, none of these tasks are urgent for anyone except for me? And they’re only urgent for me because if I’m not doing them then I’m not doing anything. Most weeks I would have other tasks to work on, this week just worked out terribly so ALL my tasks are ones where I need replies. But for other people they’re very low priority/minor things (because that’s what was easiest to delegate to me).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Could you get a meeting with the three of them together? You need someone with authority to set your priorities and reinforce people giving you answers in a timely manner.

    5. Zee*

      My job (and previous jobs) have been like that too. It’s sooo frustrating! But here are a few things I’ve learned:

      1. When following up with someone, send an email. Make it short. Bold actionable tasks. Even if you need their input on multiple projects, don’t put them all in the same email, because a) they won’t read long emails, and b) they might do one of the tasks and think they’re done, ignoring the rest. Make the subject line very clear. Bad: “Hey, just following up again!” Good: “Project X – decision on Y needed by Z.”

      2. Save up the things you don’t need oversight on to work on (any routine tasks) when you have large amounts of downtime. Yes, it may feel weird to not do something when you have a small gap that is enough time to do it, but it’s much better to at least have *something* to work on instead of a having a whole empty week.

      3. Let people feel the consequences of their inaction! If they ask why something isn’t done, you can point to the several emails you’ve sent them. I know it can feel like you’re shirking your responsibility/blaming others for your mistakes – but it was *their* responsibility to get you in the information you needed, and they’re the ones who dropped the ball. Do it enough and they might finally paying more attention.

      Lastly… talk to your manager. Bring a list of all the projects you’re currently working on that are stalled, and list each of the things you’re waiting on for each project and from whom. Make it clear this is a big, ongoing problem. It’s their job to make sure you can do your job.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I kinda do #1 but the subject line thing is a good point–although a lot of this is happening on our messaging app. One of the people who’s a problem in this regard has stated that email is better, so when emailing that person I can definitely keep this in mind. #2 is a great idea although I haaaaate being bored so I don’t know how well I’ll actually follow it haha! #3 I definitely do, in fact I did get to watch one of my managers faceplant slightly the other day because of this exact thing.
        And yeah, with everyone saying to talk to at least one of my managers, I think I’m going to bring it up in my next meeting with one of them, if I have time. (If no time then I’ll do the NEXT next meeting.)

  15. Watermelon*

    The recent question about gendered washrooms at a resort (if I remember correctly?) got me thinking about the layout of my office. There are gendered washrooms with multiple stalls, and a larger, private washroom designated as the all-gender washroom. According to the sign on the door, it is also meant for anyone with disabilities who may need or prefer to use this washroom.

    I am an able-bodied cis woman. If I occasionally (once in a couple of days maybe) use this washroom instead of the gendered women’s, will I be:
    1. Helping to normalize its use and signalling to management that there is demand for all-gender spaces?
    2. Possibly inconveniencing someone who may not be able to use a gendered/smaller washroom?

    Would your answer change depending on if the washroom for disabled persons was separate from the all-gender one?

    Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective!

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      We have a similar set-up and it is extremely common for able-bodied cisgendered employees to use the private restroom. That said, it seems like we have a lot of restroom capacity and there aren’t issues with people waiting to use restrooms.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Key question – is the “smaller” washroom still multi-stall? If so, then #1 makes sense. If not, then I haven’t seen any need to normalize the use of a single-stall bathroom. People tend to want to use those which makes #2 an issue.

      So if it’s multi-stall, all-gender -> yes, please use it.
      If it’s not, then save it for the people that need it. But if by all means you’re having a bathroom emergency and all the women’s stalls are full, then don’t feel like you CAN’T use it.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      My thoughts are:
      Yes, using that washroom normalizes its use. Signalling demand to management could be more directly done by saying “hey, next time we do a building renovation it would be great to add more gender-neutral washrooms.”
      Yes, using it more increases the chances you will inconvenience someone else who wants to use it (for gender, disability, privacy, etc. reasons). Not saying you can’t or shouldn’t use that washroom for this reason, just pointing out that the more often it’s occupied increases the likelihood someone will want to use it while it’s occupied.

      There’s some similar discussion on the comments from the post “asking an exec to stop using the only gender-neutral bathroom, new manager loves ice-breakers, and more” from March 17, 2022.

    4. Nonbinary lil guy*

      Speaking as an able-bodied nonbinary (so a disabled person will definitely have better perspective on that front) if the facilities that accommodate gnc/nonbinary/disabled folk are limited and you’re fine using the women’s toilets then use the resource that is less scarce. Not a lot of normalizing value in potentially making someone else wait or use a space that isn’t comfortable for them. If you want to be an ally:

      1. Introduce yourself with your pronouns when meeting someone.
      2. Politely but firmly correct others when they misgender someone else.
      3. Put your pronouns in your email signature.
      4. Back up marginalized folks when they bring up issues in the workplace. You don’t need to “signal” to management with your choice of bathroom, just use your voice and say “hey we need to have any/more gender and ability inclusive facilities”
      5. If you mis-speak or make a mistake, apologize quickly and without fuss then simply don’t do it again.

      Ty for asking this question it’s appreciated when cis folks are curious and seek out how to be polite and respectful.

    5. S*

      Both, probably. I use non-gendered washrooms and I don’t mind waiting when someone else is using them. It’s a public bathroom, that’s what happens. But if I were cis and able bodied and consistently noticed people waiting who might not be able/want to use the ‘regular’ ones, I’d probably go back to those. Be sensitive to your surroundings and I think it’s all fine.

    6. Gnome*

      I had to use that sort of restroom when I was pregnant. It definitely got more traffic than the regular women’s restroom and I had to wait a couple times. So now I only use the regular women’s restroom so I don’t make others with more need wait.

      1. Becky*

        This is key! At my work the private restroom gets a lot LESS traffic and is almost never in use when I need it and I have never had anyone waiting when I got out. It does greatly depend on the usage and situation of your company.

    7. Becky*

      My work has a similar setup–multi-stall gendered restrooms and a single private restroom for all gender/disability/family (per floor). I am a cis woman with invisible disabilities and the privacy and space afforded by the single restroom sometimes makes handling my disabilities easier.

      I would say go ahead and normalize its use, but don’t use it for an inconsiderately long time (brushing teeth, doing makeup and hair, changing outfits etc). (You probably don’t have that problem, but some of the letters we’ve had before on AAM indicate there are some people who would miss this nuance.)

      If there were a disabled restroom separate from the all-gender space, I would probably lean towards not using the disabled space but normalize using the all-gender space with caveats mentioned above.

      But in general, just be aware of those around you and their patterns and adjust accordingly. If when you use the private restroom there is sometimes a person or multiple people waiting outside when you are done maybe reconsider.

      1. allathian*

        It really depends on the size of the stalls. Pretty much no multi-stall washroom has stalls that are big enough for me to change clothes in. I’m fat, and I’ve had the experience of having to back into a stall because it was too small for me to turn around in. This hasn’t happened at work, though, all our washrooms are single-stall ones. Normally I’ll use the women’s washrooms, but if they’re all occupied, I’ll use the all-gender/disabled one.

        This isn’t the case at work, but in my area it’s becoming more common for combined all-gender/family/disabled single-stall washrooms. This is great, because the trend is for dads to take a larger amount of parental leave. Even 10 years ago it was hard to find changing tables in men’s washrooms, and there were almost no all-gender bathrooms.

    8. SnappinTerrapin*

      Don’t overthink it. A facility that is available to all is available to all.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, I think people are being kind of rigid here. I’ve definitely had wardrobe malfunctions at times where the ability to go into a single-occupancy bathroom — with a mirror and sink behind a door that locked (as opposed to a multi-stall one where those are in the public section outside the stalls) — was a total godsend. Not setting foot in there unless you’re disabled seems like overkill.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Nobody is suggesting that (‘don’t set foot unless you’re disabled’) in the thread here. The wildest take is ‘be considerate when taking up limited resources.’

    9. starfox*

      I always use the family/disabled single-seater at work because it’s cleaner. Seriously, the women’s restroom in my office is utterly disgusting.

    10. tamarak & fireweed*

      For me, it depends how much use the washrooms get. If there is a realistic, significant chance (> 20% or thereabouts) that by my using the all-gender accessible washroom I’d be making someone wait who can’t use the gendered inaccessible one, I’d use the latter. If however things are less busy I’d totally use the all-gendered washroom. I do think that normalizing its use is desirable.

  16. Ann O'Nemity*

    Advice for writing an annual performance evaluation for a recently transferred employee?

    Last month an employee from a different department was transferred to my team. Prior to the transfer, I knew very little about Wakeen and our work did not intersect. From his HR file I’ve found that he received performance warnings five months ago and ten months ago for faffing around, cutting corners, and being dishonest about it. Due to restructuring and turnover, I cannot get much information beyond the HR file. Before reporting to me, Wakeen didn’t have a real manager for three months! To his credit, he had admitted that he’s had a terrible year but wants to make a fresh start and get back to his pre-pandemic performance levels. During the month I’ve managed him, I’ve noticed that he spends a lot of time socializing but is getting his work done.

    I’m wondering how much grace to give Wakeen in the annual performance evaluation, which directly affects raises.

    1. Ness*

      I’m surprised you’re tasked with completing his performance appraisal and not his old manager. At my job, his old manager would have been asked to appraise his performance before he transferred.

      Given that he’s been getting his work done since transferring to your department, I would probably just rate him as “meets expectations” or the equivalent and have a discussion about your expectations for the coming year.

      1. ferrina*

        Also surprised that they haven’t looped in his old manager! I’d try to have a 1-1 with his old manager (or old colleagues, if there wasn’t a manager). Tell Wakeen that you’re doing this- “I’m working on your annual eval, and since I obviously haven’t worked with you for most of the year, I’m going to be chatting with a few people that did work with you more closely to understand more about the full year.”
        I think I’d be honest as I could without putting him on PIP path. If he didn’t do a great job, he knows that and knows it may impact his compensation. And it’s not fair to other employees to gloss over that. If there are mitigating factors, definitely note those and account for them in the evaluation (like if he didn’t have a manager).
        I’d also definitely note that what you’ve seen in the last month has been solid, and you see a lot of potential in him and you’re looking forward to helping him grow his skills and responsibilities.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        All the turnover has made this harder than it should be. The two people who could have best commented on Wakeen’s performance left the company months ago.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        LW says awaken didn’t have a manager for three months, so nobody’s really any better placed to evaluate him than LW.
        I agree with “meets expectations” in general.
        Since he’s new to this department, the socializing may be getting to know his new colleagues. It’s worth watching, maybe even a light mention when you discuss the review, but not writing into the review at this point.
        Does the review process allow you to schedule an off-cycle review for a few months hence, when he’s had a chance to settle in, and you’ve had more time to observe his performance?

    2. Purple Cat*

      Give him as much grace as you can.
      I’ve “inherited” and “given up” employees mid-year and in both cases have coordinated with the current and former manager to give a unified review of the year. If there was improvement (or in some cases a decline) in recent performance, that was also noted. I would evaluate him based on what you’ve seen, and not feel like you have to count his previous performance if HR doesn’t already have a method for factoring that in.

    3. Lana Kane*

      I’ve had this happen a few times as when I was hiring, I was usually hiring internal candidates moving up a step. I would make it clear in my comments that the person was new and I was assessing on that level. If the person was moving along as expected in their training, I’d give a meets expectations-level review. I would discuss the socializing thing off the record, so to speak, since it’s only been a month. Or, see if it wanes as he gets more trained and therefore busier with assigned tasks.

    4. Green Goose*

      Your company should really have the previous manager write your evaluation. Most places (like mine) do this.

    5. Science KK*

      You said he gets things done, but how’s the quality? If it’s fine or better then in with Ness & Dancing Otter, meets expectations or something to that effect is fine for the official record, and if you have any sort of meeting with him bring up the socializing then.

  17. Email Guy*

    Very minor, but there’s someone at my company whose full name is basically a shorter version of my name. Think John Stevenson vs. John Stevens. People always email me instead of him, I guess I come up first in suggestions for some reason.

    I’ve sent out like 8 “hey, I think you meant the other guy, I have no input on this” emails today for this reason. :)

    1. Katie*

      I am not sure if you are ever not going to have this problem until one of you leave unfortunately. I know someone whose name is the same as someone else (rather high up in the org) and their emails are constantly being sent to the wrong one. This has been going on for 10+ years.

      Maybe you always have a stern message about data security to freak those people out a bit…

    2. Lana Kane*

      Using my handle as an example, at my org my email address is kanel@job.com, and there is a Larry Kane whose email is kanela@job.com. I have been getting his emails for yeeeaaarrrssss. At this point it’s just external emails (internally we use Outlook, and people just type our names), but I eventually set up an email filter to catch his emails separately.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I worked at a large company where two people had the same name. They worked in different locations, so one appeared as “John Doe” in the email system and the other as “John Doe (Atlanta).” Could IT do something similar to your email? If you work at the same location, maybe they could put your job title so people realize they want to email John Stevens the accountant instead of “John Stevenson (Sales).”

      1. Email Guy*

        Good idea! Nothing I’ve gotten is sensitive info, just confused/rushed people thinking they got the right person since they’ve never chatted with me. I’ll ask our IT specialist.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          It may be worth asking if they could put the brackets and job title/location in both of your display names. I remember at my old job where my coworker had a name doppelganger in HR, initially they just displayed the new one as “Smith, Bob (HR)” and left my coworker as “Smith, Bob” which came up first in the directory. People would see our Bob first and send him all the stuff like people’s sick leave. HR Bob eventually asked if our Bob’s job title could be included in his email as well, and IT were happy to accommodate that.

    4. ND and awkward*

      I used to work in a tech department with a (changed names but same concept) James Thomas who would constantly get phonecalls meant for the sales guy Thomas James.

      I don’t think he ever found a solution, but I gather it’s an irritatingly common problem.

    5. Not a College Student Anymore*

      Record a video to the tone of “I aprove this message” sayinng “Hi, I am John Stevenson and I have no input in this” and send it everytime.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      My sympathies. I had the same name as one of the professors when I was a student, and the campus nurses’ office would repeatedly email me, or CC me, on all of the paperwork when a student needed to miss their class.

    7. anonymous73*

      I’m not sure there’s any way to stop this. A few jobs ago I worked with my cousin. Same last name, very similar first names. We were both in IT – he was a manager, I was not. I got emails and phone calls for him all the time. It’s an honest mistake and can be annoying, but I think you just need to roll with it. When I got sales calls from the front desk who accidentally transferred them to me I played dumb. It was fun.

    8. Jay*

      Nothing to do except create a cut-and-paste response. We have a Jennifer Doe and a Jennette Doe in our org. They both use Jen as a nickname and they are in different regions so their emails both start jdoe@ with different regions in the regionorg.com part. I work with Jennette. Eventually Outlook “learned” that when I typed jdoe I meant her, but that took a while.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have a stock Outlook signature saved which is the full message — roughly “Please contact this person whose email was misdirected to (my department).”

    9. Striped Sandwiches*

      We had something similar where two women working in the same area and looked a lot alike. They teamed up and did a fun promotional video to explain who’s who.

  18. Katie*

    How do kindly tell someone that they are calling you the wrong name? There is this one person who constantly calls me Kathy. People in general are bad about calling me Kathy when we first work together or don’t work together much. I let it slide, as they figure it out and take the cues that everyone else is calling me Katie and I sign my name Katie. It has been months and this person still is calling me Kathy. It annoys the me now and I get testy answering him when he calls me by the wrong name.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I think starting with, “Oh, it’s actually Katie!” and quickly moving on to whatever he asked you about will take care of it if he’s at all kind/reasonable! If not, just keep pushing back, and make sure you’re clear that it’s not that you *prefer* being called Katie, it’s that your *name* is Katie – sometimes people get weird about preferences and ignore them. But hopefully you won’t have to!

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        After the first, nice correction, it’d be fine to parrot “Katie” each and every time they call you or reference you as Kathy. Send the annoyance back to the offender until they finally stop.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Just correct them. Nicely, but just correct them. You don’t have to let it slide–it’s your name.

      –person with a weird name who is fed up to the eyeballs with people half-a**ing it.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Just say it. “I’ve noticed you call me Kathy. I let it slide, thinking you’d notice the error, but it is actually Katie. Thanks. Now how about those TPR reports!”

    4. Lana Kane*

      I have a name with the same issue. Once I had a particularly forgetful person and I corrected them with “It’s actually Katie!” maybe 2-3 times. After that it went something like this:

      “Hi Kathy, I was call…”
      “Katie”
      “Huh?”
      “It’s Katie”
      “Oh ok”

      Didn’t solve the issue right away but he got it eventually. I think the abruptness did it.

      (Or, pretend he is talking to the wrong person if you’re up to that sort of thing!)

    5. S*

      I can’t tell from your post, have you actually told them your name is Katie? If not start there.

    6. Buffy will save us*

      I have a two name combo first name (think like JeanMarie but without the capital letter) and have long since given up correcting people sine I get MarieJean, Jean, Marie, JeanLousie, etc. As long as it’s close enough, I just answer. I think that’s also a byproduct of having a difficult to pronounce complicated last name as well. Over 40 years of wrongness just exhausts me to the point of not caring.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      “It’s actually Katie, not Kathy” and then just quick corrections every time after that. If he gets annoyed or defensive or makes it YOUR fault for not correcting him sooner: “I did, I’m just reminding you” (if that’s true), “I’m telling you now” (perhaps with “I kept thinking you’d self correct” or “most people pick it up quicker” if he’s being REALLY obnoxious about it)

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        However, if you haven’t ever corrected him, or did it like once and then allowed him to call you Kathy for a long time after that … he’s not a mind reader! He doesn’t know he’s wrong and he may not have any reason to think he’s wrong, so of course he keeps calling you what he believes to be your name.

        If he’s pleasant/apologetic about it, it would be nice to put the awkward on yourself, like “I should’ve said something before but I felt silly for letting it go on so long”

    8. Ope!*

      Oh god, please tell them! I messed up two coworkers names this week – one because I’d only ever interacted with them via email which used a non-preferred legal name (Think Josephine vs. Jo) and one because I had to pronounce their last name in front of them for the first time ever and it was a different vowel stress than I thought. While it was mildly embarrassing, I’m glad they both corrected me immediately instead of letting me make a fool of myself moving forward.

      From the flip perspective, I have a name that people think they know the pronunciation of because of a similar named brand (For example, if the car name and my name are both spelled Kia, but name is pronounced “Kay-uh”) and I have to correct people regularly. I usually forget right away and it doesn’t impact our relationship at all moving forward, so it ends up being a very minimal issue, not at all as big as you might fear if you don’t have to regularly do it.

      1. Jay*

        My first name is a common nickname for a common longer name. For my entire working life, I have dealt with people who seem to think they don’t know me well enough to call me by a nickname and so use the other name – which is not my name. I used to let it slide and then it got awkward when they realized they’d been using the wrong name, so now I correct them immediately (usually with some kind of joke or reassurance that everyone does it) and move on.

        More annoying: when I started my current job, IT apparently ignored all the paperwork I’d filled out including the I9 and Social Security forms and entered me into the system with the wrong first name. They then informed me it could not be changed. My job requires state and national licensing and the licensing bodies take it VERY SERIOUSLY if the paperwork submitted to then doesn’t match the license (I had, of course, also provided a copy of my license when I was hired). Still took my boss calling the head of IT to get them to fix it.

        1. Becky*

          My first name is a common nickname for a common longer name. For my entire working life, I have dealt with people who seem to think they don’t know me well enough to call me by a nickname and so use the other name – which is not my name.

          Same for me!! For example people see my signature “Becky” but assume it is a nickname and call me “Rebecca” but no my name actually is “Becky”

          Real name not used, just an example based on my screenname but my real name has MULTIPLE longer names it could be derived from if it were a nickname. So I have been called all of them. Including OTHER near nicknames (Like “Becca” rather than “Becky”).

    9. Unkempt Flatware*

      I have no idea why but it embarrasses me to no end when I’m called the wrong name and embarrasses me even more to correct them. Why? I hate this about me. When I see someone else use the wrong name for/to another and even when I am corrected by others for using the wrong name, I am much more gracious and cool about it. Why can’t I be that way for myself?

      1. allathian*

        Good question. Are you generally embarrassed if you have to correct other people’s misunderstandings, or can you be matter of fact if someone asks you to do a task that’s not a part of your skill set (say you’re a teapot painter but someone asks you to design a new teapot from scratch)?

    10. Zee*

      Also, if you have any coworkers you’re comfortable with mentioning this to – ask them to correct this person as well. Example:
      WrongNamer: Have you seen Kathy today?
      FriendCoworker: *look dramatically confused for a minute* Do you mean Katie?

      More reinforcement always helps in general, but also… some people are real weird about names. Having other people reinforce it too can help it really seem more like “her name is Katie, not Kathy” rather than “oh she prefers Katie, but Kathy’s a nickname for Katherine/Kathleen/(whatever your full name is) too so it’s fine for me to use that.”

    11. k8orado*

      The worst, drives me nuts when people do this. I’m a Kate who’s legally a Kathryn, and it’s wild how many times people have decided it’s cool to just pick a nickname (often Kathy!) despite how I introduce myself, sign my emails, etc. Totally concur with everyone here saying that you just have to correct people, even if it’s been a while of them calling you the wrong thing. I’m very direct but also very friendly, so just kind of smile and cheerfully say “Kate! It’s actually Kate!” and that’s completely fine 99% of the time. If anyone gets weird about it, that’s firmly a them problem.

  19. KofSharp*

    Is there a way to tell someone in my network I never want to work with them again?
    I left a toxic job environment, and some of the upper management that’d been making it toxic ALSO left and started a new company… and they keep calling asking me to come work with them. I don’t want to. While the money they’re offering is huge and over market value, it’s just not worth it.

    1. Email Guy*

      Do they not listen to “Thanks, but I’m good”?

      If they don’t, give em a final “no, seriously, I’m doing well here.” and then stop responding.

      1. KofSharp*

        Fun fact, they have not taken “Im good” for an answer, and they keep having my “old friends” they’ve hired call me to ask if I’m interested.
        They’re also using “More Money” as why I should leave since I cited “You are paying me WAY under market value for what I’m producing” as one of the reasons I left.
        But now I’m in an environment I love, and getting paid market value, and while I DO want more money, it isn’t worth it to go work for those people because “it won’t be like the old days”

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          I think you’re in a great position to just say part of that last line – you’re in an environment you love. There’s more to choosing a job than just money, and while the higher salary might be tempting, you’re happy enough in the environment you’re in that you’re not willing to move companies at this time and will let them know if that ever changes.

        2. Ama*

          Honestly at this point the next time they have someone call you, just say, politely but firmly, “I am not interested in ever working over there, I like where I am now, please tell [Old Manager] that no is my final answer and I will start blocking everyone’s calls if you continue to ask.”

          You’ve tolerated this for far too long, I get it because you have prior relationships with these people, but you don’t work for this manager any longer, they need to back off.

        3. ferrina*

          Just “I’m really happy where I am, thanks! But how about that local sports team?”

          This topic is now off-limits. Anyone that pushes it will be told that you’re not interested once. After that, you’ll suddenly realize that you have somewhere else to be and need to end the conversation. They’ll learn pretty quickly (and if they don’t, maybe don’t talk to them as much).

    2. Katie*

      Right after graduating college the store manager of where I was working pestered me a lot about applying for management positions where I would make lots of money. My response that finally shut her down was that I would rather not be miserable.

    3. Perpetual Job Seeker*

      I have this situation with a former employer. They reach out probably monthly even if I don’t respond. It’s fascinating that there is never any conversation about why I left, just won’t you come back??

      I would say stop answering entirely.

    4. anonymous73*

      Assuming you’ve declined and they keep calling, and there’s no concern about needing these people in the future for a reference, or them blackballing you in your industry I’d just be honest. “I’m not interested in working for your company and I’d appreciate if you’d stop contacting me.” If you don’t want to go there, don’t answer the phone and block numbers. But if you’ve been beating around the bush and not giving them a definitive “not interested” you need to say no first.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Next time they call, say “I really don’t see this working out. It was kind of you to think of me, but you can just assume the answer will continue to be no, and move on to other candidates.”

  20. Rayray*

    I have officially reached the point of “I hate my job”. I also survived a recent round of layoffs and my team was cut in half. I’m so over it.

    I’m starting to job hunt again and forgot how much I hate it. I feel like I have a good resume but I get rejected from all the positions I’m actually interested in. I did a phone screen for a job yesterday but it pays less than I make now and I am barely getting by. Wages are. It keeping up with COL in my state.

    Any tips for getting past the ATS? I’m always gettin zapped by big companies it seems. I really think something in my resume is messing up when it goes through those systems.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Are you applying directly through company websites or through job boards like Indeed/LinkedIn/etc.?

      I have a friend who works in hiring and they say the resumes that come through Indeed and LinkedIn always have wonky formatting. It’s clearly the website’s fault, not the applicants, but it could introduce some unconscious bias on the part of HR/the hiring manager to focus on the resumes that came directly through the company website and still have good formatting. Changing this up will probably be a small boost, if any, for your job search but it’s worth a shot.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Can confirm, the Indeed resumes look terrible. I think it works fine if you write up your own resume, save it as a PDF, and attach it with your Indeed application.

        1. ferrina*

          Yes!! Always save your resume as a pdf to avoid layout issues. (and never, NEVER rely on a third-party resume format like Indeed or LinkedIn. Always include your own traditional resume in addition to whatever they have you fill out)

  21. TimeBlind*

    I feel like such an idiot. I’m in the onboarding process for my dream job, with a dream org I’ve wanted to work with for, well, over a decade. I was hired after two interviews and my onboarding process has been going smoothly, until last night.

    I received an email yesterday from the org’s HR saying they couldn’t verify my employment with one of the orgs on my background check, could I send in a W2 to confirm. I wasn’t too surprised since the org that I worked with previously was a side-gig, very intermittent, sometimes volunteer (whether I was paid for my time or not depended on what I was doing for them, think picking up community Free Clinic shifts when regularly scheduled employees wanted time off) and VERY unorganized (when I started, payroll was a lady writing and signing paychecks by hand.)

    When I grabbed the earliest W2 I had from them I looked at the address and realized I had misremembered the whole-ass YEAR I had started with them, and had put the wrong one on my resume and background check. (I remembered having to scramble to get registered to vote in the 2008 Presidential election at that address immediately after moving in, and that I had started at the org about a year after moving in, so I put that I had started in the autumn of 2008 instead of 2009.)

    I sent in my W2s and an explanation and expressed it was an honest mistake and not an attempt to deceive them (obviously there’s no benefit for 1 year difference after all this time for a very, very part time job that I certainly did not do for the money!) I don’t even know how I got “2008” lodged in my brain as the year I started there. But now I’m pretty certain they’ll rescind the offer, I know it looks like I lied. I’m just sick about it, this job was going to be double my current salary and allow me to move back near my family. Ugh.

    1. CTT*

      I don’t think they’ll rescind it! You did actually work there and quickly got them the requested information plus an explanation. Unless there were other red flags they were concerned about, I don’t think misremembering the year you started a part-time job is rescinding-worthy.

    2. Minimal Pear*

      I mean, they certainly could rescind it, but if they’re a good company I would hope they’d understand an honest mistake!

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I mean, they certainly could rescind it, but if they’re a good company I would hope they’d understand an honest mistake!

        And likely an immaterial one as well. That year didn’t reduce your tenure from 15 months to 3 or anything silly like that, does it?

        1. TimeBlind*

          No, I worked with them from 2009-2019 when I went to grad school and then I moved away. But it’s weird – some years I had <$1000 W2's, because I wasn't needed to pick up many shifts, some years I didn't pick up paid shifts at all, even though I was active with the org doing unpaid stuff, so I didn't get a W2. It's a really weird half-way spot between volunteering and paying work for a non-profit. It was truly a labor of love, as the mission of the org was to bring crisis services and healthcare to the most vulnerable people in the community. But part of it WAS work and related to my current field (life science/medical research) so I can't just leave it off my resume/background check stuff.

    3. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Oh no! Fingers crossed that they recognize it’s an honest mistake and don’t rescind the offer. It was so long ago that personally I could understand it happening and I’m hoping they do, too, but I definitely understand the fear.

    4. Procrastinating at work*

      It sounds like you made an honest mistake and any decent company would recognize it as such and not pull your offer

    5. lurkyloo*

      :) I think you might be being too hard on yourself! It’s completely understandable to be off by a year OR MORE! when the role was that part time and….13/14 years ago!? Truly. If they’re that miffed by a one year difference, I’m not sure that’s a good place to work to begin with. Please take a deep breath and let it go. (I’ve even messed up by mistyping by a number. It’s ok!)

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        I agree. It was so long ago! It’s easy to misremember the year. FWIW, last employment background check I had to have done… I got a copy of the report, and one of my short-term contract positions from 2014 was off by nearly a year (i.e., the background check company got it wrong), and it still came back as “match”, plus my company didn’t seem to care, so…. I think you’re fine!

      2. TimeBlind*

        Thank you for the encouragement – I’m trying to not be doom and gloom, but the radio silence this morning is playing havoc with my anxiety. What gets me is that I *have passed* previous background checks with those mistaken dates in them! (It looks like I first made the error in my resume in 2019, and I’ve just never caught it, and I’ve applied for and received jobs with background checks since then!) I’m just worried because there was really no way to say what type of job it was, whether it was part time, per diem, intermittent, etc just start and end dates (but the system did accept NA if you didn’t know the exact DAY of the month, but it yelled at you) and names of who to contact in the company. (Which I had to guess, since the people I worked with back then are all off to other things and they don’t have an HR, really, since it was a charitable community aid org run by anarchists. Not kidding. At first I thought they were having trouble getting a person on the phone because it’s festival season and most everyone will be off running medical aid tents for a few months around the country)

    6. Purple Cat*

      Ooh, deep breaths. I commiserate with thinking a mistake is the end of the world. But you didn’t lie about working there, you only made a mistake about the timing. It would really be a stretch (and a sign that this really isn’t a dream org) if they were to rescind the offer over this. An error in years over a job 13 years ago….

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I COMPLETELY messed up the dates of my master’s degree on my background check. I was off by months, and because it’s school, you would think I would know the difference between December and May. No one even called me about it.

      You’re good. A mistake is not a lie. “I worked at A” when you didn’t? That’s a lie. Try not to sweat it!

    8. ecnaseener*

      Like you said, there’s no real difference in that 1 year – so why would they think you’d bother to lie about it? The most likely explanation, to them, will be that you goofed.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      When I was getting my I9 set up for my current job I put the wrong social security number in and had to email both HR and the background check people to let them know that they’d have to update it. Mistakes happen and any reasonable company won’t penalize you for them, or assume that you are a liar.

    10. Hen in a Windstorm*

      It’s just a typo. Honestly, *you* made it a bigger deal when you told them “I’m not trying to deceive you”. Why would anyone think that? This is your brain weasels running rampant. Talk back to them and try to relax.

      1. TimeBlind*

        Thank goodness, I sat on the weasels just in time to delete the “trying to deceive you” line before answering the HR person – I basically just said “Oh my goodness, I’m sorry, I’ve copied a mistake from my resume over. It was actually from ’09-’19 in a per diem/intermittent relief role, here’s an 8 year old W2 (the oldest I’ve kept, I usually throw away the 8 year old tax stuff when I do the current year’s taxes) and my last W2 from them, please let me know if you need anything else.”

    11. kiki*

      I feel like you may be more worried than you have to be about this! If you had fewer years of experience and the year in question was much closer to present, somebody could perhaps think you were lying to seem more competitive, but that’s not the case here at all! I used to work as a background check researcher (for employment). I primarily focused on criminal records (which is a whole thing, don’t get me started), but the company did employment verification too. It’s fine! People make mistakes all the time. Being a year off about a job from over ten years ago is not a big deal and I never heard of a candidate being rejected for anything like that.

  22. Riding Off Into the Sunset*

    How does one decide how far in advance to announce upcoming retirement?

    I have worked at the same place for over 25 years, doing largely the same job. I don’t have authority over anybody, but I’m someone the company has come to rely heavily on. My technical skills don’t make me all that hard to replace; it’s the institutional knowledge. I’ve been central to so many projects over the years, that reach into so many departments besides my own, it’s made me the go-to person for lots of answers.

    I’ve had my target retirement date set for a while, but haven’t shared my plans with my employer yet. I didn’t want to bring it up way ahead of time, because I don’t want it to become a filter that my coworkers and management see me through. I want to avoid drama. But I also feel, strongly, that I owe this company substantial notice.

    Some similarly long-tenured people at the company provided a year, or even two years, of heads-up. That seems really long to me, but it appeared to go well in their cases. It’ll soon reach T-minus 12 months for me, so if I want to provide a year’s notice I am running out of runway.

    1. BlueBelle*

      I think it largely depends on how long it will take to replace your position or if there is someone already in line and ready to take over your duties. Usually, executives give 12 months, mid-level leaders 3-6 months, and technical experts 3-6 months. It really depends on how difficult it is to replace someone in the position.
      Congratulations on your retirement!

    2. Hester Mae*

      I’m in a very similar situation. I think one year is too long, with certain exceptions. For example, you have a contract (or union) that means you won’t be let go before you are ready, or in a country (not just a company) where this is common (not the USA). Or if you’d be happy to leave when you let them know.
      I do NOT have a bad experience to report. I gave 4 months notice and it worked out, but it isn’t easy.

    3. Purple Cat*

      I would start dropping hints that your time is coming to an end, but probably wouldn’t officially give more than 6 months notice. A coworker gave YEARS notice, but people didn’t really seem to believe her, leaving us scrambling to cover the gap – when she left on the day she was planning to leave all along :( All that to say, it might not much matter WHEN you give notice if your company doesn’t act accordingly.

    4. After 33 years ...*

      August will mark the end of my 33 years here. For me, it was a combination of:
      – when do activities normally start and end within a typical year’s cycle;
      – how long might it take to start the process of getting my replacement;
      – how long might it take to “break in” colleagues to fill my other roles (committee work, etc.);
      – what timing of institutional knowledge transfer is reasonable, given everything everybody else has to do;
      – what date would work for me (so I could count backward to the notice point);
      – how much notice I contractually had to give administration.
      For me, that turned out to be about 12 months informal notice to colleagues, and 8 months for formal notice to the administration.
      Also for me, given my age and tenure, my colleagues weren’t surprised when I shared my plan.
      Best of luck!

      1. Riding Off Into the Sunset*

        Congrats on such a milestone. I’m a little wistful that I won’t hit 30 years if I stick to my plan, but I’m really looking forward to the next phase.

    5. NeedRain47*

      You should be able to tell HR and/or your boss, and have them not announce it company wide. Of course that will depend on your specific HR/boss/company. People will eventually find out when they hire a replacement/reassign your duties/etc., but it doesn’t have to cause a sudden change to the way people see you. (also, if it does, that’s on them, not you.)

    6. soontoberetired*

      I warned my manager that I am not working past march 2023. I support a system they were going to replace, but they discovered it isn’t easily replaceable and now are keeping it. But because they thought it was going to be replaced, they did not think about the issues of long term support. I am doing my best to “knowledge transfer” but in my job, you have to be willing to take a chance and figure things out on your own. So I gave them a year , and we’ll see what happens. Reality, if someone is vital, they need a backup plan because who knows what will happen.

    7. Lady_Lessa*

      Our technical director, from 4 years ago, gave 2 years notice, but I wasn’t hired (to replace the man who moved up to technical director) until the end of that time. A lot of tribal knowledge was lost, since the man who would have been my boss died less than 2 months after I started.

      We still have not recovered a lot of that knowledge (think old style lama clippers).

      So please, please document, document, and document again.

      (the retiree came in and did some extra training, which was necessary.)

      1. Riding Off Into the Sunset*

        You are 100% correct about documentation. It will be challenging in my case because the technology evolves so much faster than business processes. But, yes. And I will.

        Thanks.

    8. Haha Lala*

      If you have a manager or HR that you trust not to freak out about it, you could ask them what sort of notice they’d like to see. You say you’ve been there over 25 years, so if you’re at/near normal retirement age, it shouldn’t catch them off guard. “I’m making my future plans, and retirement is in my not-to distant future. How far in advance do I need to clear my retirement date with you?”
      (or if you have a well documented company handbook, you can see if there’s any requirements in there too).

      And keep in mind, clearing the date with HR or a manager doesn’t (necessarily) mean everyone in the office needs to know at that same time. You could get your retirement date ‘on record’ with HR a year in advance and then announce it to the full company only a month or 2 before, when it’s time to actually start wrapping up projects or transitioning them to someone else.

    9. Aggresuko*

      That one depends entirely on situation/job. Will anything go poorly for you if you announce early? I can’t tell from your post if that’s an issue or not, so I’d say to protect you first. Or if you want to spend time on your own documenting things before announcing, you could do that.

      I’ve had coworkers give notice months to a year in hopes that their replacement would be hired before they left and that never worked. I did have one guy come into work on Monday and the next day his supervisor announced it was his last day and he’d retired. That was pretty weird all around.

      1. Riding Off Into the Sunset*

        At my workplace there has actually been a good pattern of bringing replacements in while the outgoing person is still around to train them. That being said, it’s unclear (to me) whether they’d hire a direct replacement for me. The department’s headcount might be optimized through attrition.

        Relevant side note: there’s another member of the team retiring pretty close to the same time, who’s already gone public.

        I don’t think there’d be any negative consequences apart from awkwardness.

        Thanks.

        1. Hillary*

          At most of the places I’ve worked folks give a year or more notice when they’re in complex roles. Knowledge transfer and planning takes time, and leaders always appreciate it. If you’ve seen colleagues successfully give a year plus notice, you can trust your leaders to handle it reasonably well.

          I don’t know if your employer does this, but at my company the first question to many people is asking if they want to go part time instead.

    10. Jay*

      I just did this and I gave six months notice. Not formally – I didn’t submit my resignation until 90 days which is standard in my field. I told my boss and grandboss six months ahead in hopes they would be able to start the hiring process for my replacement. It typically takes at least 90 days from offer to start date in our field due to credentialing issues and I really didn’t want to leave my team in the lurch. It worked out just as I’d hoped; my replacement started about two weeks before I left. She wasn’t fully up to speed by my last day but at least she was there and I had a chance to meet with her a few times.

      There was some awkwardness because they didn’t want me to make an official announcement to our whole region until 90 days and I felt obligated to tell my team, so word of course sort of leaked out. I know it should be flattering that people were upset to see me go, but it was also exhausting to feel like I was comforting people for six months.

      1. Riding Off Into the Sunset*

        Thank you for the detailed sharing. My tolerance for awkwardness is low, so your story strikes a chord.

        I had been thinking I’d do 12 months informal notice, and dreading it, but based on this thread I’m leaning toward reducing that to 6. I can probably survive 6 awkward months.

    11. Snow Globe*

      Minimum at my long term company was 90 days. They need that time to process all the related paperwork (retiree health insurance, 401(k), etc.) There is way more paperwork than you think. But I wouldn’t provide longer notice unless you feel confident that they won’t push you out before you are ready. (Although a layoff could result in a nice severance package, so maybe you’d just retire earlier.)

    12. OtterB*

      I’m thinking about this too. I tentatively have two years from now as my retirement date, but haven’t mentioned it to anyone yet. I’ve been here going on 18 years. My main project has a strong annual cycle to it, so we will want to hire my replacement with that timing in mind, and summer will be the best time to leave. Possibly someone internal will be interested but it’s more likely it will be an outside hire. We have a new big boss starting soon who wants to sit down with each of their reports to do goal-setting for next year, and I think that’s probably the time for me to bring it up. I wouldn’t want to make a big announcement that soon, though. I have one big makeover for my project that I’d like to do before I leave, and a WHOLE lot of cleaning up, organizing, and documenting. I am pretty much a one-man-show; there are people who could back me up if absolutely necessary but nobody down in the weeds on my stuff.

    13. Purple Penguin*

      There’s a difference between providing a year’s notice and providing some hints a year in advance. At your next manager conversation (review, goal-setting, checkin, appraisal, whatever you do) ask a hypothetical like “Is my position a role that you’d want a direct replacement if I retire or would you fill the role differently?” and they may panic and ask if you’re thinking of retirement, but you just shrug and say “it’ll happen sooner or later, yes, I’m not planning on working into my 90’s” The point would be to get a sense of whether they’ve already considered this in their long-term planning and if so how they envision the timeline – are you training a replacement, working with junior employees to had off specific tasks, writing up large manuals, or what, or maybe just that you’ll leave and they’ll recover eventually. If they don’t have anything in mind they don’t need much lead-time to implement it.

      1. Riding Off Into the Sunset*

        I like the feel of this. I can picture how my boss might respond, and it is a conversation that ought to happen. I mentioned above that another team member has already announced retirement plans in the same general time frame. We’re a fairly small team, so the impact of another departure could be significant.

    14. Girasol*

      I was a technical project lead when I retired. I read that it should be 6 – 24 months if you’re senior leadership but no less than 3 months for an individual contributor “unless you intend to insult your boss.” I did not, so I announced three months in advance. That was terrible advice! The company waited until two weeks before I left to hire my replacement but they started right away to leave me off meetings involving projects that I was still working on. I was the butt of so many rocking chair jokes. People my own age who had always treated me as a respected peer suddenly acted like I’d announced that I was headed for the memory care home. So my advice is to go as short as possible, weeks not months depending on how much catch-up work you need to do on documentation. Institutional knowledge is very important but people tend to learn it better by experience than by explanations anyway.

    15. Riding Off Into the Sunset*

      Again, thanks everyone.

      There’s an emotional level to my fretting over how to handle this. The company has maintained a very low turnover rate during my time there, so there are many longstanding friendships. It feels like family. Sometimes family aggravates us, and that’s true here too.

      But they’re awesome. They threw me a surprise “this is your life” kind of thing for my 25th employment anniversary. When I turned 50, they used about two miles of black streamers to decorate my desk (which I loved). Come to think of it, they made a big deal about my 40th birthday too.

      So, rationally I just need to pick a horizon. It’s the irrational part that’s making that hard to deal with. I don’t know how people will react. How other people will react is always mysterious to me, about everything. Case in point — the response to my question on this forum! I didn’t think anybody was going to care.

      I think I have a plan now, although I do need to sleep on it. I appreciate all the advice and information. Take care.

  23. Forkeater*

    Can anyone tell me if it’s possible to balance having to travel for work, when you have kids and pets and your spouse also travels for work? I’m interviewing for a consulting position that I’m very interested in, and they seem very interest in me. I’ve been wanting to do consulting for awhile because I enjoy variety and get bored with all my jobs after a few years. This position is mostly at home but could be 8-10 overnight trips a year. Which seems doable, but my spouse also is a consultant and travels much more than that (well, they used to before covid, and may need to again soon).

    In the past I’ve pulled myself out of the running for consulting jobs feeling like I just couldn’t plan on being able to travel when I might need to. But this seems like such a small amount it may be possible. My kids are older but still can’t be left alone overnight and we don’t have family close by, so we would need to be able to have enough control over our schedules to not have overlap.

    As a complicating factor, spouse is in the final rounds of interviews to move to a different firm so who knows how flexible they will be. He currently has a fair amount of control over his trips but that could change. Could this ever work out? Has anyone out there succeeded in making this kind of arrangement work?

    1. Overeducated*

      I only know of people making it work out with family help, or well-paid professional help (i.e. overnight nannies). I think if you try to make sure your trips never overlapped, you’ll find more conflicts than you expect, pretty quickly. So if there’s no family nearby, the consideration for me would be whether it paid well enough for me to afford a backup caregiver.

      1. Rara+Avis*

        I concur — my cousin and her husband make it work with an au pair and an occasional emergency to call to us, as the closest relatives, or flying grandma cross country.

      2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        Truly, the only way I can see this situation working is if you have dependable family members (grandparents, sister, brother, etc.) willing to come and babysit. Otherwise, you’d need a nanny, au pair, or live-in housekeeper type of help.

        It’s not impossible. But you’d have to consider if it’s worth being away so much.

    2. kbeers0su*

      I’m in this position currently. My husband and I work in the same field, but for different organizations and both have to travel for work. Our travel includes day trips to other sites within our region (so up to 2 hours of driving one way), and overnight trips (sometimes one night, sometimes multiples). Our closest family is 1.5 hours away. Our kids are 4 and 9.

      So far we have not run into any issues. We were both up front with our supervisors about the fact that we both have to travel. I started my job after him, so when I got the offer, that was one thing we discussed (as well as general flexibility to WFH some days, policies on comp time for travel, etc.). My husband and I always talk to each other before booking any travel, including details (i.e. will the other person have to get the kids to school, from school, make dinner, take them to swim/soccer/camp, etc.) so that we’re both fully in the know about what that will look like for both of us. The one time it will likely be an issue is this summer when we both need to go to the same event, which will require overnight travel for both of us. But we’re being proactive in trying to find a solution.

      TLDR: We’ve made it work for two years, so hopefully you can, too. But I’d be up front in any offer/negotation conversations about it so supervisors can tell you if they have concerns/you can feel out any red flags.

      1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        I guess if most of the trips are somewhat flexible to schedule, this can be done so that both parents aren’t away at the same time. It would be something to ask about.

    3. CG*

      For both you AND your husband (really! It’s not just default *your* job to solve this problem by sidelining your career – your kids have two whole parents!): “my spouse is already traveling at this time and I need to stay with my kids” is a completely valid reason to miss or reschedule a work trip on occasion. IMO, if you’re excited about the job, you can always talk with your manager after you accept (or start!) about their preferred approach when it looks like a potential work trip might conflict with a time when you are the sole parent available to watch your kid – but I don’t think you should take yourself out of the running for a job you’re excited about because of a rare possibility!

      (Related: have you talked with your husband about this, and about how you might alternate responsibilities/taking a work hit if you do ever have conflicting work obligations, so that your job isn’t the only one impacted if there is overlap in your travel schedules?)

      1. CG*

        I repeatedly used “husband”, but I just realized you used “spouse”, and I recognize your spouse may not be a husband – apologies!!

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      You can get a overnight nanny for short stuff like this. Plenty of doctors, pilots, and other careers need overnight care. It can be pricey though. You need a place for them to sleep, food etc. Usually pay one rate for hours kids awake and separate rate for hours kids asleep, some people do just do flat rate per day.

      Also sometimes can just stack sleepovers for the kids. If you’ve good friends with a family local to you (want same school for easier drop off) you can ask the parents about it (and offer to trade childcare another time too).

  24. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    I was going email Alison this, but whatever.
    My office is desperate to get everyone back to the office. I get it, rent is expensive, but employees’ opinions on home office changed in the last two years.
    So far, they tried
    * giving out branded goodies
    * reinstating snacks
    * an LinkedIn campaign with (more) branded goodies as prize
    * after hour meetings with alcohol
    People still don’t come back, and those who do are very few. Yesterday we got the results of a survey my department was never asked to fill, and had statements like “out of 500 people who answered, 86% wants hybrid work, 92% remote and 93% onsite”. Notice the numbers don’t match. I go at most twice a month, and only for very specific reasons, like a Department meeting.
    I guess they won’t stop until they force us to go back or they understand enforcing this would cause the entire IT Department to leave.

    1. K C*

      I feel you. There’s a lot of that going around. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I don’t think the companies “winning” is as easy as some people think it is.

    2. Elle*

      When are employers going to learn that free snacks, meals and giveaways are not the answer to problems such as retuning to the office or unhappy employees? Now more then ever it’s coming off as so tone deaf.

      1. Aggresuko*

        I can get snacks and meals at my house without having to leave my house. Think about that one.

      2. TangerineRose*

        Seems like it would be cheaper for them to have a much smaller office so that most people can work from home.

    3. Massive Dynamic*

      That is some interesting math right there. I hear you – we are solidly hybrid now with a formal “request one or two days at most from home” policy. Last Friday there were only four of us in the office, which was remodeled last year to be HUGE, and one of the higher-ups was griping to us about how empty it seemed. Then this week we had waves of both bad colds and the actual flu hit the office (and covid tangentally, but no interoffice exposure that we know of yet). And it was once again proven how GREAT IT IS when people are in recovery but still want to work a part or full day, they can do so safely from home. That higher-up got the flu and wasn’t able to come in at all last week.

      I feel fine but am WFH today because germs.

    4. AnonToday*

      That’s happening at my company too. The snacks have always been a staple, but the latest has been a cornhole tournament that has dragged on for months (presumably because nobody wants to come in for their matches). Work-hour events with alcohol seem to bring in the most people, but it’s still a small portion.

      I feel like single offices (we have an open plan), child/pet/elder care stipends, or honestly a factual, mathematical explanation of why on-site work is beneficial would go further towards getting people in.

      How does that math work on your survey though? Did they explain that?

    5. Miel*

      They’re trying to avoid conflict and make everyone happy, which is clearly not possible.

      Sounds like they need to make the expectations around being in the office clear – and the reasoning behind that – and then accept that people who don’t like it will leave.

      (Hopefully, the higher-ups will think long and hard about what the in-office expectations are.

      1. Aggresuko*

        Yeah, pretty much. Nobody WANTS to, but they can certainly insist/demand that everyone come back and then lose some people over it if they like.

    6. Warrior Princess Xena*

      The office needs to either require people to come in as a condition of employment or stop trying to push. And if they want people to come in and continue working for the office, they need to provide some reasonable data beyond ‘we want to use our fancy office’.

    7. Alex*

      Lol my office seems to be doing the same thing. They *said* we are all free to work fully remotely if we want….but then they try to get us to come into the office by offering free food, or trying to have us engage in really dumb “community building” activities and seem disappointed that hardly anyone actually truly wants to do anything but sit on their couch, do their work quietly, and have their own non-work lives be a bigger part of their lives again.

      If you want us to come into the office, require it so that we can all look for other jobs. But of course, that is what they are afraid of.

    8. Random Biter*

      I’ve often wondered what a business could offer that would actually entice people to return to the office. My office has never been anything except in-person due to the nature of the work, but I can’t think of too many things that would make me want to return to the office if I didn’t need to. Free on-site child care? No hoops to jump through for time off? More money? I just can’t think of anything sufficiently rewarding to make not working from home desirable.

      1. Dinwar*

        I think there are plenty of justifications. For one thing, not everyone has room, internet connection, or the right equipment. Some equipment–plotter printers, for example–can be quite expensive, yet absolutely necessary for the job.

        There’s also the fact that different people want different things. There’s a strong current of “I don’t want to talk to people” in the comments of this blog, and WFH is fine for that. But some of us are more social creatures, and enjoy the random chit-chat with coworkers that you simply can’t do online. You can’t randomly bump into someone, ask how their day was, talk on the way to a coffee pot, and in the course of the conversation save a project thousands of dollars, something I’ve seen happen a number of times in the office. Nothing short of termination of employment will convince many commenters here to return to the office, but I think it’s fair for a company to want to accommodate both types.

        Something I’ve found particularly amusing is that as the pandemic has waned, people are starting to get fed up with their home offices. I’ve read about more and more people renting space away from home, in order to increase focus. Such people are, in fact, re-inventing the wheel–we already have a perfectly good solution to this, called the office!

    9. Dinwar*

      I’m an oddball for the commentariat here: I like going into the office. I like having a physical and temporal separation between work and home. I still would find this annoying.

      First, they’re clearly dishonest about the survey. I don’t know what your company does, but mine is scientists and engineers–lying about data is a cardinal sin.

      Second, the methods they use are bad. There are reasons to want to return to the office–easier to collaborate, easier to separate work from home, better equipment/set-up (early in the pandemic a LOT of people on this site were complaining about not having space), etc. Free food isn’t one of them. And they need to address the negatives. Open office plans, and even cubicles, should be things of the past now–with fewer butts in seats they should be able to give people better work spaces! Commutes can be a pain, and companies need to accommodate that (pay for parking, for example).

      I think ultimately we’re going to see firms built around three different methods of work: WFH, hybrid, and butts-in-seats, with hybrid being the most common. It’s going to become a cultural thing, just like dress code is, and companies will attract those who fit the culture.

  25. Lioness*

    Absolutely a vent, but I just got a hard rejection from a dream job that advertised as fully remote, said nothing about being in office or even the geographical area at any point during the three-plus hours of interviews I did, one of which was with the CEO. The rejection email, after the opening platitudes and telling me I’d otherwise be a great fit, contained the phrase “We have always had a local preference in hiring this position, and we want to honor that.”

    I want to scream. Why did they even let me try?

    IDK what I’m looking for here, tea and sympathy I guess. I’m already back on the horse with my fourth interview this week later this morning, I’m just going to be salty about this one for a while.

    1. Saraquill*

      My guess is they weren’t thinking beyond “We’ll put things that sound appealing in this job description,” and didn’t think further than that.

      Four interviews in a week? Congratulations, and make sure to use your downtime to rest. I’ve been finding one or two interviews a week for several weeks exhausting.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Grrr! *passes over a cuppa*
      They should have put that in the job ad, if they didn’t.

    3. Ama*

      Ugh that sounds like the job I applied to that included in the job description “we know candidates often self-select out if they don’t 100% match the description, we encourage you to apply even if you only have some of this experience.” When I got the form rejection letter (I did not make it to interviews), it said “we’re only interviewing candidates who were a close match for the job description.”

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Oh, that is horrible! What a waste of everybody’s time. Did you ask about it in the phone screen too?
      It seems so many companies are outright lying about WFH and Remote now, just to get candidates in the door.

      The have no intention of honoring it.

  26. ItsNotOver*

    I work in an open-concept work area. Recently, I complained about being seated near a new colleague who wasn’t wearing a mask often at work, due to my living with vulnerable people. We didn’t have a clear policy for staff masks at the time (it’s public service, and our customers aren’t required to wear masks, but not much was said about staff). Admin responded by rearranging the workroom so that nobody was sitting within six feet of anyone anymore, added some air purifiers, and then announced the mask requirement for staff was officially lifted.

    The problem is, there is one service point where I have no choice but to sit near a coworker, John, who I know to be unvaccinated. They added an air purifier but did not make any other accommodations, and then they made John full-time, with his desk being permanently located at the service point. John stopped wearing masks despite knowing about my family situation.

    Yesterday, John found out someone he lived with tested positive for Covid. He did not put on a mask, did not notify a supervisor, did not tell me (I overheard him telling a colleague), and proceeded to sit close to customers for an extended period of time until I went to a supervisor and complained. He was sent home, but now I have no faith that the next time this happens, he won’t just refuse to tell anyone at work that he’s been exposed. For one thing, he had already been asked to stay home in the same situation in the past, so it’s not like he didn’t know that was what was expected.

    So where I was uncomfortable sitting near him while he was unmasked before, I’m extremely uncomfortable now. I don’t have any trust left, so I want John masked when I have to sit near him. Any tips on addressing this with the higher ups? (Unfortunately, changing jobs isn’t an option.) I’m afraid they’ll try to pull me away from that service point, which I really do not want.

    1. Esmae*

      Are those higher-ups aware that John came into work and interacted with customers unmasked when he knew he’d had a COVID exposure? Since your first complaint didn’t lead to people having to mask around you, maybe emphasizing the possibility of John spreading COVID to customers will be more effective.

    2. Miel*

      Ugh. Unfortunately, it seems that Management believes that COVID is over (this is true at my company too). I don’t see an easy solution here, besides continuing to wear an N95, and considering switching your work responsibilities (which I know you don’t want.)

      Best of luck. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    3. Alice*

      I’m sorry, though situation. What a jerk.
      If it helps, CDC guidance still says that known close contacts who are not fully vaxxed should quarantine for 5 days and wear a mask for five more days post exposure. He’s just blowing that off. Maybe if you approach management with that specific info, they will take stronger action? I will paste the specific link in a reply. Good luck.

    4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      I don’t just have vulnerable people living at my house: I am a vulnerable person myself. I’m not an epidemiologist, biologist, or other Covid expert, but I do work with some, and I follow the science closely for my own self-preservation.
      High-filtration efficiency masks on everyone capable of wearing them the entire time they’re in shared airspace PLUS air purifiers and space (room for the air purifiers to work), and universal vaccination, would be gold standard risk mitigation. But just filtration and spacing (and organization of services such that work can be accomplished without close proximity) are not insignificant, especially in conjunction with encouraging vaccines and masks for those who want or need them.

      If you yourself consistently wear a correctly fitted high-filtration respirator mask whenever sharing airspace with people of unknown (or known risky) health status, and follow general hygiene practices, you are at very low risk of catching anything even from an unmasked person who is actively contagious and ill, not just exposed. John is a source of risk, but he’s only one you are currently focused on; if you’re interacting with unmasked customers or other coworkers, any number of them could be as much a risk as John –or more since you don’t have the protective default distrust of them that John has earned.

      Emphasising the possibility if spreading illness among customers might encourage management to be more consistent about their risk mitigation policies and measures in general, even if it doesn’t result in John being made to mask. Being diligent about your own protective behaviors (especially wearing a high-filtration respirator consistently and correctly) will protect you and your vulnerable family even if John isn’t made to mask, or John IS but you have to work with a customer who’s actively ill.

  27. A Non Ymous*

    My job is not that hard to do, pays the bills, and leaves me time and energy to do other things in life.
    I do very good work and would be more than capable of taking on a higher-level role if I chose.
    I do not so choose.

    Crises keep coming up, though, and I solve the problems so we can get the project done. That seems to be leading to a certain amount of “responsibility creep,” where management expects me to do more than others in the same role simply because I am capable. It’s also meant that management hasn’t solved issues that are really theirs to solve because my short-term solution just sticks.

    Have you any scripts or techniques for resisting this sort of boundary pushing?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      “I’m sorry–I have too many other things going on right now. Ask Wakeen if he can handle it.”

      1. A Non Ymous*

        That would be helpful except that this happens on the projects I’m assigned to.

    2. ferrina*

      Ugh. No, I don’t know of a script. Unfortunately this is something that your manager needs to protect you against or you will keep running into because you’re a good worker who likes to get their job done. You can draw some clear lines in the sand, but those may affect your projects- “Sorry, Linda handles those sorts of things, we’ll need to wait for her to step in.” (followed by project paused for two weeks).
      Ideally you could go to your manager and say “hey, I realize that I’ve been doing a lot of X recently. That’s really not what I want to focus on, and I’d like some help taking it off my plate. Can we talk about how to make that happen?”
      But if your manager isn’t doing this, your options are really, really limited.

    3. Filosofickle*

      Commenting so I can follow. I’m being pushed into more leadership…and that’s not what I want! I chose a contributor role on purpose! But the projects are struggling and somehow it’s falling on me to fix. Officially, they say it’s okay for me to opt out but I know it will keep creeping back and I believe it will hurt my reputation.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m sorry this is happening to you. I don’t know if a good way to stop the responsibility creep, but I think you have really good grounds for a raise (even if you don’t want your title to change). If the responsibility creep is inevitable, you could consider trying to adjust your compensation to reflect that.

    5. anonymous73*

      Not a specific script, but have you talked with your manager about the underlying issue outside of when it’s happening? If not, I would schedule a meeting with them to discuss it. If they don’t have your back to push back (or if they’re the one who is doing this) I’m not sure there is a resolution outside of finding a new job. If you’re taking care of issues that are normally done by management, at the very least they owe you more money because you’re doing higher level work and not getting paid for it.

    6. A Non Ymous*

      Thanks, folks! You’ve given me some insight into how to frame this for my supervisor.

    7. Cocafonix*

      Be careful you’re not the one setting or fostering these expectations. Not that you should be less “capable” but you should set expectations like “Oh, you’ll need to work with Jane on that. That is her area.” (Oh, but you’ve done this before…) “Yes, and she’ll let me know if she needs my help, but I’m sure she’ll be fine” Or being too quick to answer seemingly urgent requests. “Oh sure, but I won’t be able to look at it until tomorrow. The procedure is documented. Why not follow that first and reach back if you’re still stuck.” Or… “Yes, that’s a big issue. Jane is managing it and she’s aware I’m pulling reports for investigation, but she’ll have the big picture and is the one to work on the plan to resolve it.”

    8. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I had this happen this week and brought it up with my manager.
      “You know, on that call with Wakeen the other day, I was somewhat taken aback that I was asked to do X, Y, and Z because my understanding was that Wakeen and the company we were hiring were going to take care of that aspect of the project and this is the kind of work we’re paying this company to do for us.”

      She fully agreed! And she said that Wakeen has a habit of trying to over-delegate, when in fact Wakeen is the one responsible for directing the company we’re working with and the project.

      This kind of thing happens a LOT to me at my company. I’m often told I’m going to get “help,” but then that help ends up with me doing a whole lot MORE to explain and spoon-feed to 1-2 people than if I had just done the work myself. SIGH! So few people are proactive nowadays. I have quite literally had people take all I gave them to bring them up to speed, and then just add a paragraph and say they did it all. I’ve become very wary.

  28. Teacher123*

    Hello! My boss (Head of School) has set up a sort of handover meeting with him, me and the new teacher who will be ‘replacing’ me while I’m on maternity leave for the next school year.
    I’m happy for my boss to make the introductions but don’t particularly want him to stick around for the rest of the conversation, because I will just be walking my replacement through the course, the school’s policies and expectations, as well as a Drive folder that I’ve created with everything needed for the year. I can’t think of any reason why my boss should stay, and he almost certainly wouldn’t be there for other conversations between outgoing and incoming teachers.
    How do I politely tell my boss that he is free to – and should – leave? If it helps, I am meeting with my boss a couple of hours beforehand and could perhaps mention it then.
    Thanks :)

    1. CakeDonut*

      Hi! Former teacher here. Could you shift the location (start in HoS office and then “let me show you the space and walk you through what I’ve set up online…”)? You could also ask HoS earlier (“I imagine most of this meeting will be me walking X through the Drive–are there additional topics you’d like to be present for?”).
      FWIW, it might be nice for someone to overhear your boundaries (whether they are please don’t email/I’ll check once a week/for emergencies, reach out to Y) and the expectations for what happens/how flexible you expect curricula to go while you’re gone.
      From my perspective, it might be nice for a higher-up to hear about how well you’ve prepared, the content you teach, etc–just to leave a good impression before going out for a bit.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Yes to all that. Boss might be quite happy to learn that you have a well-thought-out plan, and therefore they can leave matters in your capable hands! (Written as one formerly in the boss position on several occasions).

  29. a good mouse*

    Timesheets stress me out, especially on projects that have few hours but a lot to do, and I just started a job where hours are tracked really closely. Are there any suggestions to a) ease the anxiety around this, and b) make it an easier part of my routine? Since I never want to think about it, I wait until last minute and enter everything which makes it harder, then I want to take a break for a few days because I just spent so much time filling in timesheets, and it piles up again. Honestly it’s like doing the dishes for me (another chore I hate to do).

    1. Presea*

      Maybe make it a habit to do your tracking at the very end of the workday, or do yesterday’s tracking at the very beginning of the day if you’re an “eat the frog” type of person. It might also be worthwhile to try digging deeper into why timesheets are so stressful for you that you procrastinate to this extreme – are you nervous about being monitored (and are these nerves grounded in reality or not), is there something from your past or personal life that makes time a sensitive subject for you mentally, are you scared your use of time will be judged… I can’t answer those, but maybe you can!

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Just curious: Any idea why this is so anxiety-inducing?

      I’ve always had timesheets in varying forms so it’s always just been something you do. Are yours particularly complicated?

    3. Minimal Pear*

      Honestly I update mine every time I switch between tasks. Just got out of a one-hour meeting? Log that. Spent literally fifteen minutes on updating one thing? Log the fifteen minutes. It makes it feel like a fun game for me almost, I get to count down my time adding up until it’s all my time for the day and I’m free.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        I do that, too. I took an excel template and organized it/tricked it out with formulas to my needs. This is what I use throughout the day every day, and then I enter that into our official system (which logs you out after inactivity, so you couldn’t reasonably directly enter things throughout the day).

      2. Massive Dynamic*

        I do this too – log a task as soon as it’s done. In the same excel spreadsheet I keep a to-do list which helps me focus and jump to the next thing. I log all my time on our own time tracking app at the very end of the day.

    4. Saraquill*

      It was my job for a short while to collect timesheets and type in the information. If there were blank spots, I’d remind the person to fill it in. Is there anyone like that around who could help you?

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Would it be easier to track your time on an app, then at the end of (whatever time period) export the information in one fell swoop? ATracker is an app I’ve used before. Once you set up your categories, you just hit a button to flip from one to another, and at the end of the day (or whatever) you can export a document with the overall breakdown.

    6. Generic Name*

      How often are you filling out timesheets? I don’t love time sheets, but as a consultant, I’ve made my peace with them. I keep track of how long I spend on stuff on a small notepad as I’m working, and we are required to fill out time sheets daily. It takes less than 15 mins at the end of the day to fill it out. When you let it pile up, it’s easy to forget how long you took doing something.

    7. ferrina*

      You could try calendar blocking. That’s where you mark certain parts of your day for certain tasks. If you like to plan your day in advance, you can put this on your calendar (marking it as “free” if you’re interuptable) or keep it on a notepad beside you. That way when you go back to fill out your time sheet, you already have a list of what you were doing (way, way easier to fillout a timesheet when you already have a list and don’t have to try and remember).

    8. pancakes*

      Do it every single day and don’t let it pile up. It’s so much more annoying a task to do all at once! Would it help to write down your hours by hand first? That makes sure you won’t lose track of your hours even if there’s some sort of tech problem with the site or app you log your time in, and it might feel easier to break up the task of time entry that way. When you enter your time in the system after that, all you’re doing is transferring your notes into it and making sure there are no typos.

    9. anonymous73*

      I’m old school so I would keep track of it throughout the day on paper and then enter everything into the system at the end of the day. If you put it off, it will create more anxiety. But why do timesheets make you anxious in the first place? Figuring that out may point you to the right solution.

    10. Purple Penguin*

      I saw a really cute timesheet hack where you assign each project a color of lego brick and assemble your time log out of legos over the course of the week, then just add it up at the end. Concept being that it’s kind of fun to add a brick so you won’t mind doing it. I don’t think I can post a link but just searching ‘time tracker lego’ should be enough.

    11. SP*

      I created a form for myself that I fill out as I go through my day. It’s got spots for notes and required follow ups so it’s multipurpose! I’ve been enjoying it, but may also check out the tracker mentioned below.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I wish I had gotten online on Friday, because this is related to a problem I’m having… how do you record multitasking?
      I am doing an excessive amount of task switching because of management issues beyond my control.
      I had decided to move on more than once, but each time, there were corporate changes that made a difference.
      Time tracking will be a positive change because it will demonstrate that we are understand with unreasonably tight deadlines.
      I just need that balance point where I know I am accurate and I am not spending too much time.

  30. Burned Out but Cautious*

    I have worked for a healthcare staffing/temp agency for a bit more than a year now, in non-clinical but patient-facing rolls. I like working for the agency because the assignments have a variety of flexible, atypical schedules, which works well for me because I’m also a fine arts freelancer. Since I have joined the agency, I’ve never gone more than around a week between jumping from one assignment to another or picking up per diem shifts.

    My current assignment is ending next week because the location I was working at is closing to fold with another. I’ve already asked the staffing specialist I work with and there’s no open assignments in my current department, but I will remain eligible to fill in when other employees at different locations call out and have already agreed to cover someone’s vacation. I could ask to go through training to move to another department with openings.

    The thing is…I’m considering stepping back from the temp agency for a month or two (which I could easily afford), and only casually picking up some open shifts and only putting myself up for consideration for an open assignment if a really good fit comes along, instead of aggressively seeking a new assignment like I have in the past. The reason I want to do this is that being a healthcare worker during a pandemic has totally burned me out and I’d like a break, and I have a lot of deadlines for my art freelance coming up later this year and this seems like a great opportunity to get ahead of them.

    My questions are:
    1. Do I need to communicate this to my staffing specialist/the temp agency? I don’t want to take a full leave of absence because I’d still like the opportunity to pick up shifts casually or to jump on the right open assignment.
    2. If I need to communicate this to my staffing specialist/she asks after me, what’s a good script to explain what I’m doing? “I’m burned out and want to focus on my art” feels…less-than professional.
    3. I’ve worked really hard to try to cultivate a reputation that I’m reliable and responsible, because I want to stay at this agency long-term. Is this likely to hurt my reputation?

    1. ferrina*

      1. I wouldn’t. I’d wait until it comes up (if it comes up), and only if it becomes an issue I’d let them know that you’re for the next couple months you’re hunting less avidly than you previously had. I definitely wouldn’t call it a leave of absence or even “stepping back”- anything that implies you’re taking a break may put you on the Unavailable list and you won’t get any calls (and they don’t always remember to take you off of that list)

      2. No. Again, if it comes up, I’d frame it in the positive. “I’m taking some time to do some work with [art]. It’s something that I’ve been doing on the side for a while, and I’m excited to have this opportunity to focus on it more!”

      3. No. This won’t hurt your reputation (probably), but it will mean that you aren’t top of mind. I’ve found that temp agencies like to have the same few people that they can call, and will go through that list before they go down to others

      Your plan sounds really cool! That’s awesome that you’re able to take some time to focus on your art (and on yourself!)

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      Hi! I’m in staffing for a healthcare staffing agency, though I only just passed four months there. Based on my (limited) experience…

      1) You can if you want! My employer requires me to reach out to you every two weeks if I haven’t spoken with you, but if you give me a heads up that you can’t work then I can justify leaving you alone and won’t reach out as much. YMMV depending on your agency’s rules for their specialists!

      2) Depending on your specialist, some version of, “I’m busy with other commitments until [date], so I won’t be able to pick up until then,” would be fine. If you said that to me, I’d let you be until the date you told me, but some other staffers might continue checking in periodically.

      3) I don’t think so! If you’ve been professional and reliable up until this point, a brief time away shouldn’t change your reputation at all. Trust me, we know who our reliable folks are and we’re happy to work with you when you need it! You make our lives SO MUCH easier!!

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      If you feel like you need an explanation “I’m going to take some time to concentrate on some family stuff for a month or two” is neutral — it doesn’t indicate anything wrong with you or your enthusiasm for the job. And it’s true — you are your own family!

    4. Hillary*

      Writing it out, my one hesitation is the “right assignment” part. It’s straightforward to tell the agency you want to just do casual shifts for two months so you can focus on your freelance art commitments, but it’s complicated to say “I still want to interview but won’t accept everything.” Can you quantify what right assignment means in terms of practices that you’d like to work at? Essentially, can you give them a list of clear parameters?

      to ferrina’s point, you’ll need to bring yourself back to the top of their minds when you want to come back, but if you have a good reputation now that won’t be a problem. You’re demonstrating responsibility now by working your break into a natural space in the schedule instead of demanding it in the middle of an assignment.

  31. Presea*

    I feel like I really need a deep-dive crash course into time/energy management during the day when in a flexible position. I usually work ~35-40 hours a week but sometimes meetings and other demands can lead to 9-10 hour days on some days and 5 hour days on others, which is sustainable but doesn’t feel good and can leave me drained if a crisis or last-minute meeting pops up. I feel frazzled when I have to try to pencil in something like a 2 hour doctor’s appointment, even though in theory in my job that shouldn’t be an issue at all. I feel like I never have a chance to take a break during business hours, but that doesn’t match the reality most days; I’m just stuck in some weird, rigid thinking I need to identify and unlearn. My brain “understands” schedules like “I work 9am to 5pm with a 1 hour lunch at 1pm”, but trying to create a schedule like that is impossible in my position for a number of reasons (sudden crises, accommodating other people’s schedules for meetings, etc).

    Of course I can google and look for resources on my own, but if anyone here has any worthwhile resources to point me to or advice on this topic, I’d be super appreciative! Thank you!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Much sympathy. My coworkers like to move meetings *at* the start time. 10am meeting, 10:02am oh hey lets move this to 11:30. I do best with a rigid schedule too. What helped me was putting it into excel so I could just click and drag chunks of time around. Use cells as 30min slots. Meeting moved back 1.5 hours? insert 3 cells, everything shifts down, cut 3 cells lower down and paste them into the new cell. That visual representation of my day helps too. I put all my meetings in at the end of the week for the next week (copy from outlook etc), then first 15 min each day I adjust it to that day, and look over what I need, then fill in the open slots with work goals.

      1. Presea*

        Oooh, I really like the idea of using Excel for this – I’ve tried stuff like Google Calendar for visual time-tracking before but it always felt like a PITA to set up. Something like Excel seems much more manageable, thank you!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      One thought I have: for doctor’s appointments and other similar things, can you block off that time on your calendar? Not “pencil it in” like “I’m free at 3pm on Thursday right now but if something comes up at work I’ll have to reschedule the appointment” but put a two hour “out of office” meeting on your work calendar and refuse to move it for hell or high water. Do this for important things in your personal life that happen outside of normal work hours too, if you can (friend’s birthday party at 7pm? close your laptop, leave your company cell phone at home, and enjoy!).

      My job is mostly 9-5, so I don’t have any more helpful tips, but carving out some time for your personal life should help a little bit.

      1. Presea*

        That’s great advice, thank you! I think you’re onto something here with me… I do tend to feel pressure to be ready to hop back into work during my downtime. I’m lucky enough to work with people who are willing to respect my out of the office messages, thankfully, but I also need to respect them more! Finding a way to carve out more time that’s 100% mine no matter what is probably a good step.

    3. cubone*

      seconding Hlao-roo’s point (also the best username)! Try to change your mindset from WHAT the thing is to just “unavailable”. Have to log off by 5 to ensure you have enough time to get ready for dinner with a friend? You’re unavailable from 5 on. Doctors appointment 2-3? You’re unavailable 2PM on (or 1:30 if you need to travel, etc).

      Other note: Most of us can get a LOT less done than we think, frankly. Instead of judging, try to just notice it. 10 hour day with 5 meetings left you drained? Okay, so that’s a maximum limit for you and drains you so much that you’ll almost certainly need a lower key day the following. Or if you have a week of crazy days, a week of slower time etc. I think a lot of folks in “flexible” jobs actually aren’t actually conditioned to be flexible at all – they expect every day to be productive and efficient, but if the nature of the work means that one day is 150%, then another day has to be 50%. Not 150% and a 100%. Hopefully that makes sense?

      1. cubone*

        oh I wanted to add as an example for the second paragraph: there’s a concept in chronic illness/disability circles called “Spoon Theory”. I want to respect it as something for people with chronic illness and not appropriate it, but I think it can be a helpful example of what this means if you’re having trouble conceptualizing it. The underlying idea is you only have so many “spoons” (in a day, week, etc) and activities cost spoons, so you have to quantify the effort you’re expending and prioritize your efforts. You won’t just magically find more time or energy.

        1. Presea*

          Yeah, I completely get what you mean. I’m familiar with spoon theory, and its definitely an interesting paradigm to consider here… I have some health conditions that I’m juggling on top of everything, not quite to the point where I would call myself a spoonie but definitely to the point where fitting both work and basic life tasks into the week can be a challenge…

          I appreciate your points about how people in flexible jobs where the demands might be different day to day might put too much pressure on the slow days. I guess to some extent I feel like I’m failing if I have a 50% day, and that’s a problem I must solve via better time and energy management, but… you’re right, there’s going to be an ebb and flow in what I can give on a day just like there’s an ebb and flow to what the day needs from me.

        2. CatMintCat*

          I am badly affected by medication in the energy department, and tell people I have so many “steps” in me per day and if I exceed that, I pay for that. So, a big day on my feet all day? I’m good for nothing the next day or possibly two.

          My own variant of spoon theory I guess.

  32. Not a Mrs*

    Any scripts for getting someone to stop calling you “Mrs.” in an email? “Please just call me Janet” has not worked. This client is a known difficult quantity, so usually I try to ignore things like this from them, but it’s sexist and gross and bothering me to the point I need to say something. I know that they will push back with “I’m just being polite” but it’s not polite to call someone by the wrong name. I want to convey that 1. this is the incorrect way to refer to me specifically, so STOP and 2. there are reasons why you shouldn’t make calling all women “Mrs.” a general practice. I have plenty of capital that I don’t mind spending on this, so it’s okay if there is blowback to the content of what I say, but I do need it to be impeccably professional.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I mean, it’s not polite to keep using a title or name that someone has asked you not to use. Is that something you could point out?

    2. irene adler*

      This is probably not a kind thing to do, but I’ve misaddressed them right back. Usually I call them “George” -something way different from their correct name. And I make a point to put it into the opening line.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I’ve done this too! Someone repeatedly got my name wrong after I corrected them so I intentionally called them Malt instead of Matt

        1. Not a Mrs*

          Oh I would LOVE to do this, but it doesn’t meet the bar for “I did nothing wrong” when it comes back to my boss.

          1. Temperance*

            What about responding to the group and calling only him Mr. (or Mrs., if you’re feeling particularly salty)? You then have the defense of feeling that he might have preferred it that way, because he keeps addressing you that way.

    3. Purple Cat*

      It sounds like you’ve tried to move it to “casual” communication, but they’re a stickler for formality. So have you suggested “Ms”? Or is the gendered marker an issue altogether?

      1. Not a Mrs*

        The gendered marker is the issue, because they only use it with the women in our office, i.e. the emails are “Dear Matt, Dear Chris, Dear Mrs. Smith”. I’m not personally opposed to the formality or being called Ms., but it’s the automatic assumption that every woman in the office is only the property of a man that I want to stop.

        1. Purple Cat*

          Oh, ewww, gross.
          Can you try – “I expect consistent communication from you to all of our employees. Since you address “Tom” as such, I expect you to address me as “Janet”.”

          This is a tough one, definitely worth sending it to Alison separately to see what she says.

        2. rage criers unite*

          oh no… i hate this.
          Maybe too direct, but I would be very tempted to call him out “hi George, I noticed that when you address emails to the men you use their first names, but when you address emails to the women in the office you use their last names with Mrs. attached. Its strange to make a distinction like this and I would like to ask you to stop doing so. Please address anything to me with my first name only.
          Thanks”

          1. pancakes*

            No, I think that’s good language, and anything less direct than that, they might not pick up on.

          2. LadyByTheLake*

            I would go with this language. Direct, to the point, gently points out the sexism without calling it that, scrupulously professional. I like it.

        3. Purple Cat*

          I wonder if you can also do a firm “play dumb” while bringing your own company values into play.
          Dear Client, As you know “firm” is committed to gender equality, your choice to address me by “Mrs” while all of the men on staff are addressed by their first name feels like it runs counter to our values. I trust you understand that my marital status has no bearing on my ability to do my work, so can you please be consistent in how you address our team.”

          This is so so hard. It sounds like you are worried about pushback from your own management on how you address this. is there a senior woman that you can run this by?

        4. The New Wanderer*

          “I do not use Mrs. as a title. Please address me by my first name as you do with the men.”

          Alternately, “Please extend the same courtesy to me that you do with the men and address me by my first name.”

        5. allathian*

          Sounds like the client believes that there can be no truly informal relationships between people of different genders, unless they’re family members of a similar “rank,” such as siblings. He’s an anachronism if so, I thought that sort of attitude had disappeared by the latter half of the 20th century, but apparently not.

    4. NeedRain47*

      If you’ve only tried “please just call me Janet”, try “Please don’t call me Mrs., I prefer Janet.” This is more direct but still polite. If it carries on after that, don’t bother to engage with any “I’m just being polite” or other argument b/c this person clearly is not trying to be polite, they’re trying to be a sexist jerk.

    5. Temperance*

      That’s so weird! I would respond and say that it’s most polite to refer to all people of all genders the same way, so if you’re calling men by their first name, you should do same for women and NB folks. And that Mrs. is NEVER appropriate in a work setting, because it solely defines women by their marital status.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        +1 – death to Mrs. Ms. should always be the norm in business for anyone female-identifying.

      2. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        Agree. And agree with what Massive Dynamic wrote, too. Frankly, if someone is using Mrs. as default, I’m going to assume certain things about them.

        Slight tangent: I’ve seen some people include Mrs. in their signature block, which seems…weird? (I use Ms., but I would never have “Ms. Slightly Less Evil Bunny” as my signature block – it would just be “Slightly Less Evil Bunny”.) I’ve seen it in military offices though, so maybe they’re compensating for not having military rank? Dunno, but it definitely seems odd.

    6. RagingADHD*

      With someone like this, focus on changing the behavior because changing their attitude is beyond the scope of what you are capable of influencing.

      “I am not a Mrs. I have told you repeatedly not to refer to me that way. You are being very rude, and it needs to stop.”

      Send this message by itself, not included with anything else. If you have the authority to do so, don’t respond to any other part of their message/issue until they have acknowledged that they will stop doing it.

    7. Need More Sunshine*

      There’s something about “Please just call me Janet” that can make it easy for this type of person to push past. But if you rephrase to “Please do not call me Mrs.; I go by Janet” that is more direct and definitive, giving less room for this person to stomp your boundaries. And also gives you something very concrete to refer back to when they inevitable stomp those boundaries again – “I’ve asked you not to call me Mrs. Is there a reason why you cannot respect that request?”

    8. cmcinnyc*

      I point out that I’m Ms., as my husband’s name is not my last name. Mrs. My Last Name is my mom. If she won’t call you Janet make her switch to Ms. Janet. If she won’t, she’d doing it on purpose because she knows it bugs you. I’m sure you can find a professionally unassailable way to make her life slightly difficult in return.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        Oop, realizing it’s a he and he’s def doing this to be a jerk. I might ask him to address me as Admiral or Majesty in this case.

    9. DarthVelma*

      There have been several good suggestions for both kind and more firm ways to address this.

      If none of those work, the nuclear option is always open – don’t answer any email or other form of communication where he addresses you as Mrs.

    10. Hillary*

      I usually hear it from either people from the south who were taught that it’s a sign of respect or people from Germany where they weren’t taught Ms. in school. The people from the south usually respond well to jokes (don’t promote me, I’m still a miss or Mrs. LastName is my grandma, please call me Hillary; always over the phone or face to face, this wouldn’t fly on email), Germans get a polite and factual did-you-know about titles and American business English.

      A lot of ESL speakers haven’t been taught the miss-mrs-ms distinction, especially if the equivalent words relate to age/respect versus marriage in their first language. I usually decide to let it go, it’s rarely worth the effort for me.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, adult women are addressed as Frau, Madame, or Señora in Germany, France, and Spain respectively, regardless of marital status.

          1. Hillary*

            they’re still used, but just for girls and young women. The distinction is closer to US-ian miss/ma’am than miss/mrs.

    11. Cocafonix*

      “Please call me Janet. I really do not prefer ‘Mrs. Flibbernibbit’”
      “Oh, I’m just being polite.”
      “In that case I’m sure you would not mean to cause offence by referring to me incorrectly. Please call me Janet, thank you.”

  33. Eric*

    A professional acquaintance asked me for a referral to my company, did one round of interviews, and just cancelled the second, that’s supposed to be in an hour, by texting me. Because “your company’s mission isn’t exciting enough for me.” C’mon man, have some tact. That’s such a rude and self-aggrandizing thing to say. And he texted me this! I asked our recruiter and she hasn’t heard from him. Ridiculous.

    I want to tell him to stop being dumb and unprofessional. But he’s mid-career so he’s definitely bailed/ghosted an interview because he thought the job might be “boring,” and super active on LinkedIn, so it’d just get spun into a “you don’t owe anyone anything, never stop grinding, #hustle” viral post.

    1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      What can hurt by telling him he’s being a dink? Do you care about burning the bridge?

      1. Eric*

        Yeah. This guy has a ridiculously inflated sense of self importance, so I don’t him blowing it out of proportion and trashing me. There’s also the question of whether I’m acting as a representative of the company, since I referred him.

        1. Eric*

          “This guy has a ridiculously inflated sense of self importance, so I don’t want him blowing it out of proportion.”

          I accidentally a word. Sorry!

          Also he’s kind of messy on Twitter. I may be acting too meek but I don’t want to be on the radar of a guy who thinks he’s God’s gift to our profession and chronically overshares on his socials.

          1. pancakes*

            I think that’s exactly the right call with someone like that. It also doesn’t seem likely he’d take advice from a peer to be more professional to heart at this point (more so than the loss of job opportunities, at least).

    2. EMP*

      Sympathies! But your best bet may be to just write this guy off as a loss. If he asks for a referral again remind him that last time he put you in the awkward position of referring him for an interview he ghosted, and don’t make another introduction.

    3. anonymous73*

      Assuming you didn’t setup the interview, tell him he needs to contact the person who did if he wants to cancel. And you are well within your right to tell him he’s being unprofessional.

    4. Jean*

      Live and learn. Next time don’t refer people, even friends, who are terminally online egomaniacs.

      1. Eric*

        Live and learn indeed. Thought he’d be a decent referral because I know he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk, but I guess he wasn’t. It’s obnoxious but not the end of the world.

        The guy used to work for Pepsi, so “your mission isn’t exciting” is both bull and incredibly rude.

    5. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I don’t see anything wrong with deciding a job or company isn’t a good fit for you. Whether it’s the company’s mission, the hours, the money, or just whatever.
      That said, if you are going to bow out of the interview process one should always be professional about it!

      I’m assuming here that he wasn’t as glib with the HR team? So, perhaps he feels he can be more friendly/chummy with you for some reason? I would tell him that was an unprofessional way to respond to anyone who gives him a referral.

  34. Nethwen*

    About six months ago, someone interviewed with my organization. They were career-changers in grad school for our profession and ended up not having the skills we needed for the role, but I was so impressed with their preparation and how they handled the interview that I wished I could have created a role for them.

    If I see an opportunity that seems like it might benefit from a merging of skills from the person’s previous and current professions, is it okay to email the person and mention it, especially since it isn’t a formal position so much as a “here’s a need that no one’s filling; I think your skills might be the missing piece; maybe you could create a side gig out of it” type of situation? The opportunity has nothing to do with me or my organization, but probably wouldn’t even be known to someone who hadn’t spent significant time in our profession.

    Basically, I really liked the candidate and want them to succeed, but also don’t want to overstep or give the wrong impression about how I’m able to help them.

    1. EMP*

      This seems fine to me, as you can consider them a professional connection. I would just make sure that someone like HR has closed the loop with them about the position with your current place so they don’t think this has to do with an outstanding candidacy.

  35. Quinn*

    Hi Quinn, this isn’t something that this forum is able to handle here. Please call the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

      1. Quinn*

        Thanks. I want to quit, but my family needs me to work. I will feel instantly better once this job is behind me. I just wish my spouse would support me wanting to quit without another job lined, but he doesn’t want to work so I am stuck.

        1. Jessi*

          I’m really sorry to have to point this out but why do your spouses wants get to trump your needs? I didn’t see your original post but it sounds like you have a job problem and a marriage problem- at the very least your spouse is thoughtless, which may or may kg be better than them choosing to ignore your suffering

    1. Hello from similar boat*

      Just wanted to comment to say hang in there. Toxic jobs can make you feel so awful about yourself, but you will find something better. In the meantime, just do your best and try to emotionally detach (I know it’s so hard). I am in my last week of a toxic job and my supervisor has been shaking my confidence as I head to the next one, but I just try to remind myself that I’m not perfect but I do my best and that nothing I do for work has to do with my value as a person, and that all the stress and petty drama will be eventually be forgotten once I’ve moved on.

      1. Quinn*

        Thank you. I decided that if I can get another job that I will not give any notice and pretend the last 5 months never happened. I will never need them as a reference. Every day I have panic attacks thinking about how doing some aspect of my job or needing my boss’s approval or tell her something – will have her saying something to cut me to nothing again. Every day you find out another batch of people quit across the entire organization. I just keep saying to myself – I know it isn’t me.

        1. cubone*

          I didn’t see your original post but I think I have roughly some idea. I wanted to share something a friend who is a career counsellor told me (I wish I had a reference to the research but forgot to ask!) that I can’t stop thinking about. Basically, research has shown for a long time that unemployment has negative health impacts (mental and physical)… but we’re starting to understand that precarious employment (poorly paid, unprotected, insecure) and also very likely employment that is deeply toxic and/or overworked has the SAME negative health impacts.

          In other words: being in a precarious/bad job appears to impact humans as badly as not having any job.

          This isn’t to convince you to quit when you financially can’t swing it – many of us know that experience and it’s very frustrating and isolating. But just that the way you’re feeling and the impact this job is having is very, very real and we are starting to understand that more and more scientifically. I hope you can find ways to cope with it (however possible), but it’s clearly not a lack of effort or ability on your part. I hope things get better soon.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      You may feel that you can’t afford to get out, but it seems to me that you can’t afford NOT to get out.
      I am willing to bet that your experience counts a heck of a lot more than you realize…that your toxic company is using that to gaslight you indicates that they know it too.
      Sending you positive vibes to move up and out soon.

  36. matcha123*

    I will be starting a new job in a few weeks.
    Any tips on how to make a good first impression? For background, I graduated college over 10 years age (eek!) and have been working pretty much non-stop since then.

    The work I will be doing will have entirely new subject matter, but in my field. Think going from designing sedans to designing mini vans.
    I’m not sure what level they are expecting from me, either. Since some parts will be entirely new, ie- working with Slack and some other programs, I expect there to be a bit of a learning curve.
    How would you all expect a non-managerial, mid-career transfer to act when they join your place? (I always try to keep a pleasant demeanor and stay on good terms with all I meet!)

    As a follow-up, are there any boundaries that you all try to set early in a new position? If so, what are they and how to do you about introducing them?

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Sounds like we’re in p. different work situations but in general I try to immediately establish that I’m that work-life balance person. Yes I am taking a lunch break no you will not see me during it. I am logging in at this time and out at this time and I will not change that unless it’s urgent. If you try to contact me outside of my usual hours it will not work. Etc etc.

    2. Hillary*

      Take a look at the book The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watson.

      At that level, we expect reasonable self-sufficiency (you know how to use the phone and email, you’ll figure out how to use the systems, etc). Beyond that the most important thing is humility – framing things as “that’s interesting – why do you do it that way” not “you’re doing it all wrong.” The more complex a job, the longer it takes to be immersed and productive, don’t get down on yourself if you feel unproductive 3 or 4 months in. The learning curve is much steeper here. Make networking a conscious activity, schedule time to get to know people and keep doing it. Building relationships is key to success in many roles.

      For boundaries, I try to identify the gossips and stay out of it. I’m friendly and polite, and I share business info back and forth, but I don’t/won’t talk about peoples’ personal lives beyond reasonable public updates.

      1. matcha123*

        I’ve never heard of that book, thanks for the recommendation.
        I definitely stay away from the gossips.

  37. A nonny non for this*

    How do you list SEVERAL position titles at one employer? Do I need to denote what I did in each role? Do I even need to list them all out? Like is it important to know I started as a manager and then was a senior manager – should that just be collapsed into manager?

    Director, Alpacas & Llamas 2021-present
    Assistant Director, Alpacas 2016-2020
    Senior Mgr, Llamas & Alpacas 2015-2016
    Lllama, Alpaca, Related Animals Manager 2010-2014
    Llama Manager 2009-2010

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I don’t think Manager to Senior Manager is a big enough thing to point out unless your role actually changed. I might put them both in the title section but keep one job description, if that makes sense.

    2. londonedit*

      Might not work for you but what I’ve done is put the company name and dates as the headline, then my current position, and then explained under:

      ‘Llama Grooming Experts Plc 2009-present
      Director, Alpacas & Llamas

      Having begun my career at Llama Grooming Experts as Llama Manager in 2009, I have since worked my way up to Director, Alpacas & Llamas. Key responsibilities in my current role include managing the grooming schedule, developing strategy for growth and providing line management support to the junior Llama Managers (with 6 direct reports in total).’

    3. Purple Cat*

      It depends on how different the work was under each title. I have this 2 ways in mine
      Where the work/accomplishments are completely different, keep them as different jobs/bullet points.
      Where I only got a promotion, but the work is exactly the same I have:
      Senior Lama Groomer 2018 to present.
      – Promoted from Llama Groomer Feb 2022
      – Accomplishments.

      Where I got a promotion and kept responsibility for the old stuff I have:
      Manager xxx
      – continued responsibility for Y
      – more accomplishments

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mine have been mostly progressive enough that I did list them separately.

      Manager, Whole-Ass Tea Services, 2021-present
      Team Lead, Sugar Bowls and Creamer Pitchers, 2016-2021
      Painter and Polisher, Coffee Cups and Saucers, full-time 2014-2016 (PRN to present following 2016 promotion)
      Teapot Lid Inspector, 2014

      with anywhere from 1-4 bullet points under each one. (The two oldest, when I was an individual contributor, only have three bullet points between them, the management jobs have more bullet points.)

    5. Joielle*

      I’d list all the titles the way you have them, but do one job description encompassing them all. I think the phrase “increasing levels of responsibility” might help you out in talking about some of the general duties. Aside from that, I’d probably focus most on your Director work, since that’s really what matters for purposes of your current job search. But if there were any particularly significant accomplishments or projects from your earlier positions, could include those too.

  38. Elle Woods*

    I’ve had a lot of recruiters reach out to me the past couple of weeks, which has been nice even when it’s a mixed bag. Some positions are a good match for my skills and interests; others are not. In a couple of instances, the positions they were trying to fill were either outside my area of expertise, required relocation, or offered abysmal salary and/or benefits.

    For the positions that are of interest to me, I obviously follow up. But, for those that are definite no, do I need to–or should I–send a reply essentially saying, “thanks, but I’m not interested in this position. Best of luck filling the role”? I tend to be err on the side of closing the loop.

    1. Jay Rce*

      I was just ignoring those ones however I have now started to respond stating I am not interested in that specific role. It’s opened up some conversations which may provide a new lead down the road.

    2. Scott*

      If these contacts are coming via email, I think it’s definitely appropriate to email back to thank them for contacting you but the particular position would not be a good fit for me. I think ignoring them may result in not being contacted in the future and they may have a position you would want.

    3. ecnaseener*

      You never *have* to – recruiters are very accustomed to their initial messages going unanswered. You won’t upset them.

      If you get the sense they genuinely think it’s a good fit and just missed the mark, it might be worth it to reply so they’ll be more likely to circle back with other postings.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Forgot to finish my thought – as opposed to if you think they’re just blasting out messages to everyone with a relevant keyword in their resume, in which case don’t bother.

    4. ArtK*

      I try to respond to everyone. It doesn’t take much to say “Thanks, but no thanks.” I *will* however snark at someone who clearly didn’t read my profile. Think: Job is for a sanitation engineer and I’m a software engineer. I view that as a favor to a rookie recruiter and to all of their future contacts.

    5. anonymous73*

      Nope, no need to reply unless you’re interested in the position. I get tons of emails from recruiters and it’s clear with a large majority of them they never bothered to actually read my resume. If it’s for a position that I have no experience in or haven’t held in over 10 years, I mark it as spam. The others I ignore. IME most recruiters only care about numbers. They use computer programs to look for key words, but never bother to verify that you’re actually required for the job. You owe them nothing.

  39. DeeDee*

    I have a colleague who sends emails with statements or ideas and then follows them up with “Thoughts?”

    He’s a great co-worker, but this drives me crazy.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      What kind of job? What kind of thoughts? It could be acceptable in some jobs. We have loads of room to increase productivity and efficiency so I don’t necessarily mind these, as long as the person is willing to actually help with some of the work.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      “Sounds great dave”
      “No problems with that dave”
      “Ok dave”
      “Let me take a closer read through this tomorrow and get back to you early next week Dave”

      Thoughts don’t have to be anything deep. Sometimes its just verifying nothing looks weird. My one boss used to do that and it sometimes just meant he wanted a second set of eyes on it, making sure nothing got mixed up (“Dave, you wrote the ABC cell line but I think you may have meant to use the DEFG cells instead”).

    3. Bernice Clifton*

      I’m kind of a smartass, so depending on the relationship I would reply with totally random shower thoughts.

      “The client wants the option to switch from chocolate to vanilla teapots. Thoughts?”

      “Do you realize one day your parents put you down and never picked you up again?”

    4. HannahS*

      Really? Why? I always thought that was shorthand for, “What are your thoughts on this matter?”

    5. anonymous73*

      Why does it drive you crazy? Is it because his generic “Thoughts?” is unclear as to what he actually wants in reply? To me it just means he’d like feedback. But if it happens every single time he sends an email, as if he can’t make a decision without input from others, that is a problem and would drive me nuts too. I’d just ignore the email unless you actually have valid thoughts to contribute.

    6. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I do this. I also work in a creative area. It doesn’t mean anything except you’re trying to INCLUDE people in the process and solicit their opinion or input. I mean, what else are you supposed to say? Because, sure as shit, the one time you don’t include or ask people about their “thoughts” they get mad and say they were “never informed” or had “no input” into whatever creative thing it is you’re making and they suddenly, definitely have thoughts.

      If you do not wish to be included, you can always respond with something like:
      “Thanks Wakeen! It’s good with me, but you don’t have to include me or ask me for my thoughts on this topic unless it’s something you need a definite decision about.”

  40. Saraquill*

    Is there ever an instance of micromanaging being a good thing? Pre COVID, my last position was ok when I was in office, and pretty hands off the years I was remote. When I returned to the office post lockdown, post degree-finishing sabbatical, things were very different. Both Boss and Manager would look over our shoulders several times a day, and we, mostly me and another long timer, would get criticized or yelled at for things big and small, like a slightly crooked tag, following instructions, not following the instructions no one told me, etc.

    I’m no longer working there, just trying to make sense of things. I figured the reason behind this behavior was in service of making better teapots, yet Boss and Manager took me off the assignments I was good at and gave me minimal to no training on new work. I don’t know how anyone could make a better teapot under the circumstances.

    1. Bernice Clifton*

      In my opinion, it’s not “good” but it’s better than bosses who expect you to read their mind and penalize you when you don’t.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I feel like “micromanaging” is the word for being TOO hands-on, so by definition it’s bad. Hands-on is good in moderation.

      Sounds like what you’re describing was the bad kind! Even if it produced better teapots sometimes, it demoralized employees who could’ve otherwise gone on to make good teapots with less hand-holding. And on top of that they were yelling at you, which isn’t inherent to micromanaging but is very much crappy management.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I agree with this. “Managing” is the appropriate level of managing for the situation — “micromanaging” by definition is too much. If the question is whether there is a time and place for a more “hands on” management style, the answer is “yes” — when some is new, struggling or the team is working on a project that needs a lot of management input and direction, a hands on style, that still allows people to do their jobs, would be fine.

    3. anonymous73*

      Nope, never. As a manager you treat your employees as adults. You trust them to finish their work and come to you when necessary. If they prove to be a problem or take advantage of your trust than you work with them to resolve the issues, but that resolution should never include micromanagement.

    4. PollyQ*

      Only in the very earliest stages of training, where the new employee really doesn’t yet know how to do anything. Even there, many people learn better by being hands-on and learning from their mistakes. And no, the behavior isn’t really in the service of making a better product. It’s usually in the service of making the manager feel like they’re doing something, or perhaps as a way to manage their own anxiety.

    5. tamarak & fireweed*

      Micromanaging is bad enough, but even that term doesn’t include overly critical attitudes, yelling of any sort, or unclear / contradictory instructions. (I don’t know what a crooked tag is – in my field I am complete master of any of my tags, and whether they are crooked is no one’s business, insofar as they can be crooked anyway. I have a hard time imagining what could possibly justify harsh criticism.)

      Even when a new, or underperforming, employee is managed closely for a while, this may look like micromanaging if it was applied to an experienced professional – but wouldn’t be because it’s a temporary specially justified measure. And it still would not include all the other bad things.

      I think your management was highly insecure, in disarray and lacking strategy, and took it out on you.

  41. Persephone*

    Any advice on hiring bonuses, or whatever we call cash for new hires? I’d like to move on from my current job and I know these are A Thing, but has anyone ever gotten one? How did you negotiate it? Did it come with terms?

    1. EMP*

      I asked for a hiring bonus to compensate me for a “retention bonus” I would have to repay if I left my current job. I gave them the number I’d have to repay and asked them if they could cover half, which they agreed to. This was after I had an offer (and was trying to negotiate salary for the first time). I forget the exact terms but I think I’d have lost the hiring bonus if I left within the first 3 months (or they didn’t pay it until I’d been there 3 months?) something like that, which I think is pretty normal.

    2. Miel*

      At my company, there are sometimes referral bonuses, new-grad hiring bonuses, moving allowances, and hiring bonuses (for important hard-to-fill roles, like production).

      I haven’t ever negotiated one, but good luck!

    3. Purple Cat*

      Like most things, you just have to *ask* as directly as possible.
      When you get an offer, if you’re asking for more money for the annual salary, I would start there, but you can ask for a sign-on bonus “instead”. If you’re giving up anything at your current job like a bonus, or you have to pay back training $ definitely ask for that as a sign-on bonus instead. At my company our vacation payout is higher if we leave in Q3 than it is in Q2, so if I were to leave now, I’d ask new company to pay me that difference – or accept they’re not getting me right away.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I once got one when I was moving from a temp to perm role and my new company coudn’t meet my salary request. The hiring manager got me a little signing bonus instead. (In retrospect, this wasn’t great, because my base salary was low for a long time.)

    5. Miel*

      Terms: yes, I think I had to stay with the company for a year, otherwise I’d have had to pay back my hiring bonus and relocation bonus.

  42. Management approaches*

    I have a high-performing employee who recently came out as non-binary. My organization is pretty good about changing names and pronouns in systems, and I arranged for new business cards etc and worked with them to communicate the change to colleagues. I know “Chris” is working with a therapist and I have been as proactively supportive as I can. I’ve also told them that I will advocate them, which is one of my cornerstone values as a manager, for all my reports. In every 1:1, Chris has said they don’t always feel included and are the victim of microaggressions. Examples from Chris include “Meghan” referring to them by their former name (in the next message, Meghan profusely apologized and has not repeated the mistake), and Bob and Sally not inviting Chris to lunch (except Bob and Sally never ask anyone to lunch), and my grandboss not immediately recognizing them in a meeting (it was the first time the grandboss had seen Chris in person since the announcement, and Chris had cut their hair very short, changed their wardrobe pretty dramatically in the transition, and was wearing a face mask.) When asked what they’d like me to do, Chris says nothing, they “just want you to know what’s going on.” I lean hard into being empathetic and validating their feelings, but they seem unsatisfied. Chris is our first openly non-binary employee and I’m sure this is hard, lonely experience. But, ugh, are these even microaggressions? I’m really not sure how to navigate these conversations which always seem to end with both of us frustrated.

    1. Minimal Pear*

      I would count Meghan’s as a microaggression–not just because of the name mistake but because of the profuse apology. A lot of times when someone uses the wrong pronoun/name, they make it a million times worse by making a huge deal out of the apology, to the point where it becomes all about them instead. Like, they can just say “sorry, didn’t mean to do that” and move on. I’m not saying that Meghan did the full self-centered apology, but I can practically guarantee that Chris HAS gotten that from at least one other person in their life, and so any profuse apology probably isn’t gonna feel great right now.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        To add a little more, a lot of times microaggressions aren’t meant to be, well, aggressions. They’re meant to be compliments or neutral statements or honest mistakes. Unfortunately, when you’re the person who’s getting hit with the same type of thing over and over again, it gets old quick and it really wears you down.

        1. Management approaches*

          I think that’s it exactly! I’m sure Chris is exhausted by the constant, ‘small’ things that happen. None of our colleagues seem to be repeat offenders (well, aside from Bob and Sally). I’m not sure how to respond in a way that’s helpful to Chris, and Chris doesn’t know either.

          1. Temperance*

            It could very well be that Chris is experiencing a lot of microaggressions in their daily life, so things like the lack of lunch invites might stand out more as discriminatory to them, if that makes sense. Even if it’s not wholly accurate.

            It sounds like they want to feel heard and seen. I can’t imagine how awkward and difficult transitioning at work is, and especially if it’s binary to non-binary rather than binary to binary.

            1. Minimal Pear*

              Agreed, as a disabled person I can find myself being a little oversensitive to this because I really DO face so many microaggressions. But then I’m also like… is it internalized ableism that’s telling me I’m being oversensitive? Love to go in circles about that, ughhh.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Sure, but when the people around you are trying, and not being perfect in the way you want, it doesn’t look good for you to expect all the grace but give none of it.

    2. Anon for this*

      Kudos to Chris and your rapport with Chris that they feel comfortable bringing these concerns to you! I’m in a similar boat. Came out last year and some of my very, very well-meaning, wonderful colleagues (one of whom has a trans child and has never slipped up with that child’s pronouns!) still use the same she/her pronouns, often in the same breath as my new masculine name. They do it without thinking and only a few catch themselves. It’s actually kind of funny to hear “If you need more information, reach out to Chad* and she’ll help you.”

      I know they/them is hard for some folks, but every time it happens, even when they apologize and move on, it does send me into a bit of a tailspin. It is bruising every time it happens no matter how well-intentioned the person making the mistake is.

      It’s wonderful that you recognize this is an issue and want to solve it. But I truly think there is only so much you can do, and what you’ve done–helped change Chris’ name and pronouns in the system and helped communicate the change–is great. I would take Chris’ “just want you to know what’s going on” at face value, reiterate that you’re there to advocate for them, and then advocate–when they give you something actionable (e.g., Meghan keeps messaging me to apologize profusely, and I would like her to stop), which so far they have not. A lot of this is something we nonbinary folks have to wrangle with ourselves. (And with our therapists. I have one too. I save my gripes about the gender binary for our sessions.)

      *Not my real name, of course! But along those lines.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think listening and being understanding of Chris’ mindset right now is what they need and what you can do.

      If Chris were demanding that you do something inappropriate (like file a formal complaint about not being recognized), it would be a situation where you need to correct them. Chris needs to feel heard, and the fact that you don’t have to jump up and do something about every single thing, is part of giving them a safe spot to unload a little.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Meghan accidently called her coworker by the wrong name and then apologized (which yes could be considered a microaggression but it’s also a very common thing to forget a name, or forget the name change, and let’s not assume malice when simple explanations are perfectly adequate). Bob and Sally did what they always do – not invite people to lunch with them (which isn’t all that friendly, but they’re being equally and impartially unfriendly). Grandboss didn’t recognize someone who they hadn’t seen in some time AND who had changed their appearance quite a bit AND was wearing a mask (good luck getting me to recognize you the next day).

      Chris needs to chill. I get that things are likely very raw for them, but they are also jumping to “everyone hates me” when the situation really sounds (for now at least) much more like “humans are imperfect and make mistakes but it’s not personal”. Now, if the situation changes where people are discriminating or being nasty, then that’s not ok and you deal with it if it happens.

      1. Anon for this*

        Now THIS is a shining example of a microaggression (maybe even an overt aggression!) and something you could address if any of Chris’ colleagues came to you with this mindset, Management approaches. “Just saying,” being nonbinary is not a trend. I’m sure it must feel that way, with the internet acting as a magnifying glass. But we nonbinary folks have been around for a long time.

        I do agree that Chris needs to extend some grace to their colleagues as they adjust to the new look and pronouns. I’m sure Chris feels like they’re under a microscope and the whole world is against them. Especially if they’re encountering attitudes like this online. But it’s on Chris to manage those feelings, not Chris’ manager.

      2. Lyuda*

        Being non-binary is not a trend, non-binary and other trans ppl people are in fact part of ‘reality’, and this should have stayed in the drafts.

    5. Persephone*

      So, my name is, say Sharon. I go by a completely different name, say Rebecca. It has nothing to do with my gender identity. However, people mess it up. A lot. My boss did it in a meeting yesterday because he saw Sharon on the virtual meeting screen (client uses legal names, on their system, whatever). The apology was more annoying than the error. But I share because name screw ups are really common and I think more of a people-gonna-make-mistakes thing, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

      I think the Bob and Sally stuff is a bit ridiculous. I never invite people to eat with me. I like to eat alone, at my desk (and read AAM). Bob and Sally just might not want to socialize at lunch. They might just be introverts who use the time to decompress. Or whatever. But it’s their lunch, and they get to eat it with whomever they want (or by themselves). Now, if they were inviting the whole group but ignoring one person, that would be different.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Is it possible Chris just wants this stuff on record in case a pattern emerges? Like they’re not sure if Meghan deliberately deadnamed them or not and they want it on record in case she continues to do it?

    7. Miel*

      OP: kudos for caring about and supporting your employee! It sounds like this is tough on everyone right now.

      Being nonbinary is tough, no matter what, and I don’t think that’s realistically going to disappear overnight.

      But I do think it might be helpful for you to get some support. Does your company have an LGBTQ employee resource network, a trans-competent HR person, an EAP that can help with management issues, or any other resources? Maybe you could hire a local org to come in and do a “trans 101” training. Ask around for ways to make your workspace more welcoming to LGBTQ (particularly trans and nonbinary) employees. [Note: try to make sure your employee is comfortable with anything you do – they may not want to feel singled out.]

      Again, nothing is going to be solved overnight, but with some additional resources/ education/ support, everyone on the team might feel a little more comfortable.

      1. Miel*

        A few thoughts on making a more gender- inclusive environment. It sounds like you may already be doing many of these!

        – interrupt hurtful comments or jokes
        – enforce dress code fairly (don’t punish someone for wearing clothing that’s not typical for their gender; have a gender neutral dress code)
        – try not to make assumptions about people’s gender, family, etc
        – try to use less-gendered words (instead of “hey guys” say “hey everyone”; don’t use male as the default gender)
        – respect people’s privacy (don’t out someone without their permission, don’t ask invasive questions)
        – refer to people the way they want to be referred to (name and pronouns)
        – if possible, designate all-gender restrooms (single stall restrooms can be made all-gender with just the change of a sign!)

        Google or search this blog for more ideas! Nonbinary inclusion at work has come up before.

        Thanks again for all you’re doing.