open thread – May 20-21, 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.

{ 1,166 comments… read them below }

  1. Miss. Bianca*

    I have a skip-level meeting with my grand-boss this afternoon. I am a Llama Grooming Manager and trying to get information on the next role up from me (Senior Llama Grooming Manager) and frankly it’s been a frustrating process. For more context, I’ve been with the company for over 2 years and my grand-boss has only been with the company about 6 months. I’ve mentioned to him before that I need this information so I know what I need to work on in order to get to the next level. A few months ago he said he would get the job descriptions for both for me, but then never did. A few weeks ago I sent in a request to HR asking for both job descriptions, when I hadn’t heard anything after a week I let him know and he said he would ask the HR person later that day, but again I never heard back. What makes it extra frustrating, is that I had a manager who refused to go over my 1:1 in detail (so why I got a “good job” instead of an “excellent job” and what an “excellent job” looked like) and only said the difference between the positions was salary…Thankfully he quit a few weeks ago.

    I’m really frustrated at this point. I have a feeling our company doesn’t know how to differentiate between those 2 positions, making it that much harder to make a case for a promotion or more responsibility. Again, I’m not demanding a promotion, but I’ve been with the company over 2 years, have continuously been given more responsibility and am able to lead projects without my guidance so I think it’s fair I’m asking more on what I need to do to get promoted.

    I plan on asking him what he heard back from HR. I also think it’s fair I express my frustration with the lack of clarity on this, is there a way to do so without coming off bratty? If he comes back without clarification between the roles, how should I tell him that I really need him to articulate to me what I need to do to get promoted?

    1. a tester, not a developer*

      If he comes back without clarification, what about writing up what you think the differences are, and making a case that you’re working at the more senior level?

      I know at my company the only real difference between a regular tester and a senior tester was that the regular tester role was one job grade lower than the senior. So if you had been a regular tester for long enough to max out the pay for that job grade and they didn’t want to lose you, you got ‘promoted’ to senior. Senior hadn’t existed until a bunch of us were looking to transfer out because we weren’t ever going to get raises again otherwise.

    2. Murphy*

      I’d think I’d try not to describe is as “frustrating” (though it is and I’d be frustrated to!) but I’d stress that it’s a big priority for you and how important the information is to your career goals.

    3. user4279*

      I need a quick reality check. I work in a profession that’s in high demand (think tech).

      In the past I used to change my job after 1-2 years at every company and companies do ask about that during job interviews, although that also made it possible for me to progress in my career very quickly. It’s not untypical to switch jobs frequently in my field either.

      Now I’m in a job that resulted 1) too junior but also 2) very demanding – the expectation is that I work 12h/day without additional pay. I’m basically super busy but doing silly tasks during which I don’t learn anything. I just got a symbolical salary raise this year despite a very good performance review and an extreme amount of unpaid overtime done. It just covered around 1/3 of the inflation rate. In my field most companies give you +10-20% a year unless they are ok with you leaving.

      I’m thinking about switching jobs since conversations with my bosses didn’t bring anything. At a new company I can get +30% salary straight away. I actually already got an offer like that a few months back but turned it down. I would quit after a 1.5 year at the company. Is that very bad?

      1. KateM*

        When you calculate the pay increase, do take into account that your current salary is for 1.5x full time…

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        A year and a half isn’t bad. It sounds like your career hasn’t been hopping from job to job without advancing, but instead growing in skills and responsibilities with each new role. Leaving a position after 1.5 years because you aren’t learning anything new and don’t feel like you’re growing professionally–something you’ve always tried to do with each position you’ve held–would sound eminently reasonable in an interview. And really dig into what the responsibilities of a new position would be when you interview, so you don’t get stuck in the same kind of thing again! (Also, as someone in a field where a 3% increase annually is normal…damn, 10-20% per year? I’d have maxed out my pay band ages ago!)

      3. TheRain'sSmallHands*

        I do back end for IT consultants and a lot of our higher end developers consult for this and other reasons. They like to go into a company, stay a year or eighteen months or maybe two – then get out. They like to solve problems and not become entrenched. (I also have a few guys who have been at their client sites going on a decade – so this isn’t universal). They like to be able to say – once their six month or a year initial contract is up “this isn’t a good fit for me.” It isn’t uncommon in IT – although being a regular employee and switching jobs every year or two is a little odder.

        I don’t think its that unusual, its normal right now when people can get easy raised to switch (I was in IT myself in the late 90s when you switched jobs four times over three years and quadrupled your responsibility and pay) and hiring managers in IT tend to have been through it.

      4. Honor Harrington*

        Nope, that’s fine in tech. And given what the tech job market is like now, you should consider asking for more than +30%.

      5. Momma Bear*

        I wouldn’t stay for an arbitrary amount of time if you’re deeply unhappy. In some sectors, 12-18 months is the length of a contract/Period of Performance and no one would blink if you didn’t stay on after that. That said, though, I’d think about what you do want/need other than money and if this company would provide it so you’d be inspired to stay 2 years.

        My company wasn’t able to keep up with inflation this year but I have a decent work/life balance. If the 12 hr days are killing you, then make sure you’re clear about workload with any new employer.

      6. Unaccountably*

        People who are hiring in your industry should have a feel for what the average turnover is like in your industry. Other than that, it sounds like your current job isn’t keeping up with the market. That’s as good a reason as any to leave, and hiring managers should understand it. If they don’t, they’ll probably underpay you too.

    4. David's Skirt-Pants*

      At our company, we are *actively discouraged* from giving out too many “excellent job” vs “good jobs” in our reviews. Others have had corporate come back and say, “I’m sorry, you need to change at least some of those ratings.” It may not actually be personal–it may be the result of bad policy and/or unwarranted bell-curving.

      As for “senior” vs non-senior, taking on more responsibility, getting projects done efficiently and effectively, and setting yourself apart from colleagues are ways to be seen as a natural leader. Do this with a good attitude–if you need to vent about work or workload or whatever, vent to someone outside your workplace.

      If that doesn’t prompt results, apply for “senior” positions at another company!

      1. Unaccountably*

        My company does the actively-discouraging thing and I hate it. HATE.

        I’ve been in my industry for a very long time. I’ve worked at a lot of companies, I know at least 75% of the people in my field, and I know better than my HR department what constitutes excellent work and what doesn’t. Now I’m in a leadership position, and I have the luxury of not having to hire people who aren’t exceptional in the context of the field. The person I have to give “meets expectations” because my expectations were high could probably go to work for another perfectly decent company and get “exceeds expectations” ratings with the appropriate salary increase.

        But too many employers think their business exists in a vacuum and they don’t care what the market looks like or what other opportunities their best employees have. Or they think “exceeds expectations” is a metric that makes sense (whose expectations? How much does the person doing the expecting know about the job? How difficult is the job compared to similar others in the field?) or that is somehow better than “Does an excellent job” vs “Sweet Jesus the number of hours I have to spend managing this person.”

        I could rant about this for a very long time. I wish HR people were expected (ha) to have a broader background than just what labor laws say.

    5. Jopunzi*

      If you can’t get the job description of the next higher level, go the other way. Look at your own job description and identify the items where you do more than that in a definable and significant way. Then use that to argue for your promotion.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This is what I was thinking. Show them what you’re doing outside the scope of your on paper duties.

    6. Sylvia*

      If your organization is large enough, sometimes you can figure out what the job descriptions are for each level by looking at the open positions that they’re hiring for.

    7. Manchmal*

      I think you may be overly focused on the job descriptions, but just having those doesn’t guarantee a promotion. I think the conversation with your boss needs to be more in the vein of “Now that I’ve been doing well in my position as Manager, I’d like to position myself for a promotion to Senior manager. Can we talk about what that path looks like?”

      You might also talk to some people who are in that senior position, and ask them how long they were in your position and what they had to do to get promoted.

    8. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      This is a slightly different perspective, but if your skip level has only been at the company for 6 months, this may just not be a high priority for them right now. One option is to use your skip level 1:1 to focus less on the specific job description, and more make sure you’re on their radar to loop into higher-level assignments.

  2. Kelly Kapoor*

    I have a general question and a specific question for this thread, both related to work-appropriate dressing. Thank you to the AAM community for helping me navigate business casual dress codes!

    I’ll put my specific question in a reply to this comment, because it has Instagram links, and also because I am not sure if this thread is the right place for it :)

    How do you express your individuality in terms of your style (whatever that means in your context – a love of bold patterns, statement jewellery, makeup, body modifications, etc) without it feeling like ‘too much’ or being the thing that you’re known for? I work at a business casual office, but I’m interested to hear from people at more (or less!) formal offices as well.

    Happy weekend!

    1. Kelly Kapoor*

      Here’s my specific question, please feel free to delete if this is not the right thread for it

      Could I get a reality check on whether these ear setups, minus the tragus and forward helix piercings, are appropriate for a business casual office? If they’re not, please feel free to suggest any edits that would make them more so :) planning to show these images to my piercer as inspiration. I currently only have the standard lobe piercings and I tend to wear mid-sized earrings in them, so I want to keep everything else understated.

      https://www.instagram.com/p/CdNtCZsIdTl/
      https://www.instagram.com/p/CdQ9EBwoYnd/

      We are not client-facing and the dress code doesn’t mention anything about piercings. There are other people in the office with body modifications so I’m definitely overthinking this, but I’m wary of being known as the woman with the earrings. Fwiw, I am new-ish here but my boss is happy with my work (also they’re in a different country so they’ll probably never see my ears)

      1. Lilith*

        In my opinion, those are really nice piercings that wouldn’t be especially noticeable at a glance , especially not to the level of being ‘my colleague with the earrings’

      2. Zephy*

        To address your specific question:

        First, you just want the second and third lobe and the helix, do I have that right?

        I think if you keep it subtle you’re good – similar to the jewelry in the pictures, tasteful studs and a simple fine hoop. You might become “Kelly with all the earrings” to folks who don’t interact with you much, like others have said, but you can’t really choose what stands out about you to people and if they never have reason to see your work or really talk to you, there are worse things for them to latch onto as an identifying feature.

      3. Ali + Nino*

        These are super subtle and especially with the dainty jewelry, I can’t imagine anyone noticing or making a big deal about it. Non-lobe piercings are super mainstream now : )

      4. JP in the heartland*

        When I read your post, I was expecting something much more in your face. I looked at the instagram photos you attached. It’s very modest body modification. Cute, really. I wouldn’t think twice about it (and I’m a middle aged female boomer)

        1. Unaccountably*

          Yeah, none of these even stand out to me as notable piercings. I can only see them being an issue if OP is working for some super-conservative religious sect that still isn’t okay with women piercing their ears. Otherwise you have to have your lobes gauged up to 0s before anyone even notices.

      5. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

        I don’t see any problems with those piercings in a business casual office. We’re business casual/casual in my office, and one of my coworkers has more ear piercings than that’s you’re showing. I’d keep the earrings more simple for work, like medium-sized earring in the lower piercing and studs/smaller in the uppers and you should be fine.

      6. Lizzie*

        I think they look fine. They’re subtle, not in your face, and not offensive. And honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed anyone with piercings like that where I am, or who has or doesn’t have them.

      7. mreasy*

        These are fine even if you include the tragus & helix, unless you are in a wildly conservative office.

      8. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I work in academia (which can be a little more relaxed and ‘out there’), but these are very similar to the ear piercings I have. I don’t think anyone has ever even noticed them, much less commented on them. I think as long as they’re clean, maintained, and don’t pose any kind of safety hazard by catching on things, you’d be good.

      9. WantonSeedStitch*

        I’ll agree with those who say, unless you’re in a super conservative office, or wear really ostentatious jewelry in them, you’re fine.

      10. Actuarial Octagon*

        I think you’d be absolutely fine with these in a business casual office. I work in a laid back west coast city but in a stuffy client facing industry and these would be completely acceptable. And very cute I might add!

      11. Imaginary Number*

        I work in a business casual office that is sometimes customer-facing and requires more formal business attire. I have a tragus, helix, daith, nostril, and triple lobe piercings. I think it’s more about the jewelry choice than the piercing itself.

      12. Tris Prior*

        I think those are really subtle and would be fine. FWIW, I have a rook ring and no one cares or has even noticed it as far as I know. Business casual office in creative-ish field (publishing).

      13. Generic Name*

        I think those look adorable! I have a double piercing in my left lobe, and I’ve thought of getting more. I think it would be totally fine for a business casual office.

      14. Unaccountably*

        I work in a fairly stuffy business-casual-at-least office. I have an industrial and a tragus piercing in my left ear, and a double helix and two forward helices in my right ear. My hair mostly covers them. I honestly do not think anyone has ever noticed in the ten years I’ve been here.

        People jst don’t look that closely at other people’s ears.

        1. Unaccountably*

          Oop, forgot I have a conch piercing in my right ear too. No one has ever noticed or said anything about that one either. Do you know what kinds of piercings the women in your last workplace had? Or the ones in your current workplace? I’m asking because I feel like there’s a little bit of invisible-audience thinking going on here. You and your ears are the main characters in your story, but you’re only side characters in everyone else’s. It’s very unlikely that anyone will be as interested in how your piercings look as you do.

      15. Data Bear*

        Those would be wholly unremarkable in my workplace (scientific research lab).

        They’re the kind of thing where if someone couldn’t remember your name they might say “you know, in Pat’s group, she’s got long brown hair and a bunch of earrings,” but it definitely wouldn’t result in you being The Earring Lady.

    2. Tired Social Worker*

      I take a look at something and determine if it’s appropriate (not too much skin or too sexually proactive) or if it would offend someone. If it checks these boxes it’s okay. Some places have a rule about no clothing with words so this might narrow choices.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think this calls for incrementalism. Your style is what you feel comfortable in, right? But if your style makes everyone in the office gossip about you, that’s not very comfortable.

      So start moderate, and add things until you find the happy medium.

      And I would distinguish strongly between “too much” and “that thing you’re known for”. The second is pretty benign as far as I’m concerned. I like to wear classic mens hats outside – fedoras, homburgs, etc. So it doesn’t bother me that I’m known as the hat guy when we grab our stuff and walk to lunch. Of course, it helps that I’m not self-conscious about it. I like hats, I think I look good in hats, and I really don’t care if there is somebody who has an irrational grudge against fedoras.

      1. Lizzie*

        My office is very business casual, and I wear a LOT of Lilly Pulitzer. I am “known” for my bright prints and colors, even before I got into LP, but not in a bad way. I always get compliments on what I wear. Nothing is too reveling, or tight, etc. either.

        1. Unaccountably*

          Ooh, I love Lilly Pulitzer. I wish I could wear her clothes but bright colors make me look awful and sallow.

    4. CTT*

      To address the “only thing you’re known for” part, there will be some people who will only know you for it if their interaction with you is very limited, but for the people you work with/see everyday, it should hopefully go from “Kelly who always wears bright lipstick” to “Kelly who always wears bright lipstick, likes to go hiking on weekends, and is our in-house expert on [topic].” People will know you for more than just that by virtue of getting to know you more.

      1. Nela*

        I thought of the character Abby Sciutto from NCIS who is “the goth chick” among the straight laced feds in suits, but the main thing everyone knows about her is that she’s an A++ scientist. So having a trademark look doesn’t have to draw attention away from your expertise.

    5. Popinki(she/her)*

      My office is very informal. The office manager shows up in leggings and sneakers more often than not. Most of my clothes are solid color and fairly plain. I use these as a background for some kind of “pop” whether it is a chunky pendant or pin, a bright cardigan, blingy shoes, etc. The trick is to limit it to one big pop or two complementing ones so you don’t look like you got dressed in the dark.

      I also have short hair and a square face so I like big dangly or hoop earrings, as well as bold eyeglass frames. The big earrings are definitely something I’m known for, as they’ve been my jam since high school, but I’m careful to coordinate them with whatever else I’m wearing so they don’t look out of place.

    6. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I love having very bold hair colors (pink, blue, purple), but I limit them to an underlayer or chunky highlights and don’t do my whole head. It seems to thread the needle of letting people know I’m a little quirky without becoming a defining quality.

    7. G*

      Fun accents are the way I tend to do this. For instance, my work is v. casual especially footwear-wise, so today I am wearing bright crocs and a black jumpsuit.

      1. Interview Coming Up*

        I originally read this as you doing “fun accents” with your voice and I was like, oh no. Lol.

    8. Murphy*

      I work from home now, but I just do what I want and don’t worry about it (while remaining appropriate and within office norms.) When I was in the office I’d try to do a bit “less” than I would outside of work. Maybe one or two bold things (I also have fantasy colored hair and tattoos that can be visible in some office attire) whereas I might pair more bold things together outside the office.

      The few times I’ve had to go in recently, it was something like a black dress, a bold colored cardigan, and black shoes. Between the cardigan, my hair, and my leg tattoo that was probably enough. I didn’t need to also wear the big black moon earrings or patterned shoes.

      I’m also not worried about being “known” for it though I can understand not wanting the focus to be on your appearance ahead of your work.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      My style is classic and simple—pants, t-shirts, and tailored blouses you don’t have to tuck in. So it’s scarves and jewelry for me. I started collecting scarves a few years ago. They make great souvenirs if you travel somewhere—they’re usually cheap and fit easily into your suitcase, and when people ask where you got them, you can airily say, “Oh, I picked this up in Zanzibar,” or whatever, heh heh. Plus they dress up even a plain outfit.

      I guess maybe I would end up being known as the scarf lady, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      1. starfox*

        My style is really simple, too… Like, even before I had to dress business casual… I basically dressed business casual. I’m now at the point where I’m trying to make my style more fun…

    10. Liz*

      Be good enough at your job that it doesn’t matter. And also have some common sense.

      In terms of personal expression: I am heavily tattooed and pierced, but when I started my career 20 years ago, I always made sure that no one at work saw the mods. I had a huge collection of cardigan sweaters :-).

      These days, fortunately, there’s less need for all that, though it really depends on your industry and office.

      Everyone at work knows I have tattoos and I don’t bother taking out my piercings, but I still “dress down/cover up” at the office mostly when meeting with outside clients/associates. My industry is both very liberal and very old fashioned (think academic adjacent).

      Regarding “appropriateness”: I tend to go with the general “if I’d wear it at the beach to get a tan” or “if I have to worry about flashing someone when I bend over/sit down”, maybe it’s a bit too casual/naked for the office guidelines.

      Regarding personal style (colors, hair, patterns, jewelry, etc) I don’t see it in my industry as anything people get uptight about. The cooler and more expressive the better.

      I’m glad things have relaxed since I started my career and that you don’t have to look like a drone (if that’s not your thing!)

    11. soontoberetired*

      One bit of advice I received years ago is to see how management dresses, and take clues from there. Strangely, my manager at the time dressed horribly so I used other people. do look at the culture in your office for other clues. I’ve always worn bolder jewelry than other people at work, and it isn’t a bad thing to be known for. the biggest thing is to look put together.

      when my company was “business casual”, our handbook had pictures to help – ie no shorts, no revealing shirts (they liked things with sleeves). the biggest complaint filtered down was people looking messy – aka too big jeans, ripped jeans, so even with the more casual dress code they don’t want people looking like they are out for a day on the beach.

      We also got more relaxes about tattos and piercings. No one cares about tattos as much as they did before, but you need to see how your co workers and managers respond to tattos now. Piercings can very in response, but are also generally more accepted than when I first started working. Again, the biggest thing is to read the office atmosphere now.

    12. angstrom*

      Being known first for being good at your job gives you more freedom with individual style. “Mary, our top expert on llama grooming, who likes to wear bright colors” will get more respect than “Mary, who always wears those garish outfits”.
      Not dwelling on your own style in conversation also helps others focus on your work instead of your appearance. If someone mentions it, acknowledge and move to a work topic. “Fun earrings!” “Thanks! Found them at the craft show last month. Hey, did you ever get that report on….”

    13. Nethwen*

      I gauge by imagining the worst things I have to do for work (e.g. firing someone, publicly responding unexpectedly to negative PR, etc.) and asking myself if I would feel confident doing those things in what I’m wearing. The answer to that has changed as my roles and my confidence have changed.

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I color my hair in bright unnatural colors from the shoulders down, wear bright colored patterned skirts that look like paint factories exploded, wear jean jackets for blazers, and put Disney pins on the lapels of my jackets/cardigans. (I also occasionally wear mismatched same-style shoes – I usually wear mismatched shoes OUTSIDE of work, so if I forget and do it AT work too, then I don’t worry about it too much.) I also have a thousand and twelve tattoos, but most of them aren’t visible in regular clothing. (twenty-something actually, but I forget the exact count at this point.)

      My office is business casual, more or less, but I am a manager, not an individual contributor – I don’t know if that makes a difference for what you’re thinking about. I also work primarily remote and only go in-office about once a month or so. When I was still an IC, our executive director did know me as “that girl with the peacock hair” for a couple years, but I’ve been promoted twice since then so it doesn’t seem to have become an issue :)

    15. Dragonfly7*

      I find that people will know you by the thing they choose to mentally categorize you by, which may not be the same thing for everyone, but getting to know them better will help diversify it. Example: Some coworkers know a colleague in a neighboring department by an apparently annoying behavior, but I have them mentally filed away differently because we grew up in the same part of the country.

    16. Constance Lloyd*

      I reeeally love over the top lipstick and brightly colored eyeliner! At the office, I choose either a bold lip or a bold eye, stick to red, neutral, or berry lipstick OR a jewel-toned purple or navy eyeliner. I pair my one bold makeup look with muted, minimalist, classically professional clothes, like a nice crew neck sweater in charcoal or something. I work for a government agency and a colleague of mine dyes her naturally brunette hair purple. She doesn’t bleach it first, so it’s more subtle but still very definitely purple. The earrings you shared would look perfectly at home in my office.

    17. Policy Wonk*

      Old Fogy who doesn’t have Instagram here, so I couldn’t see the photos. But where I work the standard is: when you meet with someone is the conversation about what you are meeting to discuss, or about your (insert issue here)? So if whatever you are thinking about is distracting, then its inappropriate. If it is simply eye-catching, but people then move on, it’s fine. (Here is mostly comes up with over-the-top tattoos or extreme piercings.)

    18. Momma Bear*

      Business casual is such a minefield. It really depends on the company.

      I wouldn’t even think twice about the earrings you posted in the links. Unusually placed, maybe but those are very low profile and cute. Other things you can do is wear a button up or dress but in a fun pattern or color to show your individuality. Or wear fun shoes. Or unusual nail polish. Etc. You might be “known for” something but as long as it’s not a bad thing, don’t worry about it. “Jim in Accounting with the sleeve tattoo” is still considered a professional and no one really cares other than people ask who his artist was. As long as it’s not outright banned, try it. You’ll soon figure out the line for your particular office.

    19. Stripes*

      I work in a business casual setting and I am 100% The Goth Coworker. I don’t really care, I’m not wearing things that aren’t appropriate on Zoom meetings, but my eyeliner is pretty much always just sharp cat-eye and smokey eye shadow to go with. I’m positive everyone has seen my tattoos on my arms, I don’t think anyone realizes I have about 17 earrings in my ears, and nobody makes comments about my house being very clearly Halloween themed. (They can see behind me in Zoom calls). The HR guy who helped me do onboarding when I got hired is a long haired metal head. Some offices are much cooler about appearances than others.

      One of my previous jobs, I was The Goth Coworker, but never violated the dress code in any way that mattered. (I once got told to stop wearing turtlenecks because they emphasized the size of my chest too much. Miiiind blowing.) That one definitely was more of a stickler for caring about appearances, but ultimately start kind of small and work your way into more “intense” things. I have a cardigan that’s got bats on the collar, so if I was trying to test the waters I might wear that and see what the reaction is. If nothing, add a neat necklace. Maybe try out something super boldly patterned on a Friday? If you’re trying out one new thing, or one article of clothing that might be “out there”, don’t put it with a bunch of “out there” things until you can gauge where you’re going to be comfortable and where the office is comfortable.

      I’ve found, what really helps, is your attitude. Some people who don’t know who you are might refer to you as “Wednesday Addams over there”, or “That one with the Earrings”, but once they get to know you or your work ethic, those comments sort of dwindle away. Once you’ve proven yourself very competent in your position, it’s easier to not have to think twice about it.

  3. Green Snickers*

    I’m looking for hotspot recommendations for Verizon service. I’ll be working from Mac laptop a lot on the bus in NJ for the next few months with either none or very unreliable WiFi and need something that will keep me connected for emails and internet browsing. Don’t anticipate too many video calls but could happen. Trying to save and not pay for the one Verizon is selling me, TIA!

    1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      Maybe I don’t understand the question, but I just use my cell phone’s cellular service as a hotspot for my laptop when I need it. I use AT&T but I can create a hotspot in a few clicks and connect my laptop. Granted this would rely on the cellular service you get along the route and how much data you have.

      For calls etc can you use the cellular version of teams or webex to take them directly on you phone?

      1. Sunflower*

        Verizon told me using my phone this would eat up all the data on my plan and paying for the $20 service would be a better choice. How often do you use it? I would be needing it for probably 10-20 hours a week.

        1. Imtheone*

          Our Verizon plan needs to be upgraded for us to get the hotspot option. Very irritating. We are thinking of switching carriers.

        2. Cj*

          I’m a little confused. Are you the OP on this thread and just have a different username for this comment, or somebody else with the same Verizon issue?

          My comment would be the same either way, I guess. I have a Verizon smartphone that is $50 a month (plus all those annoying taxes and fees, of course) and has unlimited text and data, so I can use the hotspot all I want with no additional charges. I’m not sure of that smart phones without unlimited data are all that much cheaper, especially not $20 cheaper that it would make sense to buy if the separate hotspot.

          My husband and I each have this plan, but they are sold as separate plans, not a family plan. Maybe with a family plan you are paying a lot less.

        3. Unaccountably*

          That depends entirely on how much data you’re planning to use over wifi as compared to what your data allotment is now. Is your work something you can download, disconnect, and then upload? Are the files huge? Do you have to be connected to streaming audio or video? There’s not really an answer here that doesn’t require information about how much bandwidth you’d be using vs how much you’re already paying for.

    2. Warrior Princess*

      Slightly off topic but could you ask your workplace if they have anything? Mine has company provided hotspots for when we travel to low wifi places. Yours might have something or be willing to reimburse data charges

    3. Liz*

      I just use my current verizon data plan. There’s a limit, I think, but I just turn on my use my phone as a hot spot setting. (Im in NJ too)

    4. Double A*

      We have specific Verizon “jet packs” with like 15gigs a month. It’s like $100/month, plus you can add a second for $20/month, which we do. (I don’t have a Verizon cell phone). It’s stupidly expensive. But we live in a rural area and while my internet is good, it goes down with some frequency so I need a back up.

      The hotspots are reliable and work well. I’m not sure if this was what you were asking about. However, if you can use your cell phone as a hot spot (maybe upgrade to unlimited data), it would probably work fine and cost less.

      1. Cj*

        I have Verizon internet, but it’s not a jetpack. I think it’s called Verizon LTE. It’s $40 a month has unlimited data since I have a Verizon phone, $60 a month if you don’t have a Verizon phone.

        I’ve never had it go down. A few years ago we had any not a type of Verizon internet that didn’t work worth a crap. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it had its own phone number and something installed on the outside of the house.

  4. Melanie Cavill*

    Can anyone shed any light on the phenomenon of recruiters/HR/hiring managers being as loud as possible on the phone? They call during business hours, which is understandable, but then it typically goes like this:

    Me (turning my phone down to the lowest possible volume): Melanie speaking.
    Them: HI MELANIE THIS IS BRUNHILDA FROM HR AT GUNTER & GRISELDA INC!!!! WE RECEIVED YOUR APPLICATION, DO YOU HAVE A MOMENT TO TALK???!!!

    I can’t mess with text size here, so the absurd punctuation is my method of emphasis.

    I’m not sure if I’m merely extra sensitive to it because I’m trying to conduct a job hunt while working in-office in a building with few opportunities for privacy, and I do understand none of that is the fault of the person reaching out to me, but it’s starting to be an immediate turn-off. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

    1. calvin blick*

      I have worked in phone sales before. They train you to be very loud so to project your emotion over the phone. The idea is to get you talking and engaged so you don’t just hang up, and showing excitement and enthusiasm helps with that. It might not sound like it matters, but it really does work.

      Not sure why the hiring managers would be loud, but for the first level recruiters and HR phone screen people, that is probably why they are being so noisy.

    2. Binky*

      I bet they’re making a bunch of calls and doing it on speaker phone. A lot of people unconsciously yell on speaker phobe. Annoying, but unfortunately common.

      Can you wear headphones to avoid people overhearing?

      1. Zephy*

        I’m thinking this is most likely and I’ll +1 the suggestion to wear headphones if possible.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        I have also seen people do it because they have noise canceling headphones, so they don’t get feedback about how loud they are.

    3. Echo*

      Some people just have a loud “phone voice” (my mom and partner among them). I think it comes from getting used to taking calls on systems that didn’t work very well so it was difficult to hear them unless they talked loudly, and now they’re just used to it.

      1. Unaccountably*

        This is me. People can never hear me over cell phones so I just got used to yelling. I hate it too. I’m going to lower my voice until people can’t hear me anymore and work my way back up to a new normal.

        1. Zephy*

          You were probably holding the cell phone with your finger covering the microphone. The number of people I’ve seen–young people! People who grew up with candybar-form-factor smartphones!–who have no earthly idea how their phones work is staggering. Sound comes out the long hole at the top. Sound goes in the little hole at the bottom, next to where the charger goes. If you talk into the f***ing camera hole and listen at the charge port of course everyone’s going to have a bad time. This stuff is pointed out on the first page of the manual that came with the phone.

          1. Unaccountably*

            Not unless the microphone has moved to the side of the phone, I’m not. And I’ve never seen a young person, or any other kind of person, holding their phone upside down when they talk into it.

      2. starfox*

        I’ve realized that, because I struggle with ADHD-related auditory processing, I have trouble hearing on the phone. Even though that isn’t a volume issue, I’ve realized that I tend to just… scream into the phone because I feel like the other person can’t hear me….

        1. starfox*

          Oh I also talk really fast, so people often ask me to repeat myself, which also ends with me using a loud volume when actually, I could probably just slow down, not…yell.

    4. Sylvan*

      My company’s recruiters sit in cubicles beside each other and speak loudly to hear themselves.

      I don’t think this seating arrangement is great, but it’s not up to me. Just glad not to be part of it!

    5. quill*

      The alternative is “Hi Melanie I’m *mumble* from *mumble, phone ringing, sound of someone shuffling paper* “which is the majority of outside recruiters I have dealt with.

    6. Nela*

      In-ear headphones can eliminate that (if you set the volume to a comfortable level). I always overhear my partner’s phone conversations at normal volume, but when I talk with clients he can only hear my side. It’s more comfortable too, if you can find a good fit. So that might help if you’re trying to get more privacy in your office.

    7. IrishEm*

      This is not helpful in the least but that description just screams: “Hey Joey! It’s Estelle!”

  5. Sunflower*

    Sunday night routines to get you in a good mindset for the work week and beat the scaries?

    I recently started a new job and despite liking the work/my team so far and having a very low workload (for now), I’m still getting a mild version of the Sunday scaries every week. I’m hoping if I can get myself into some sort of routine for Sunday nights that will help combat them. I prefer to do meal prep and grocery shop throughout the week so those are out but looking for a mix of mix of chill and productive activities.

    1. Tired Social Worker*

      Counteract the “what if’s” with statements about what has been going right (evidence that it will be okay).

    2. Dino*

      My profession involves people looking at my hands all day, so I make sure to give myself a basic manicure (clipping, filing, cuticles and buffing) on Sunday afternoon. It’s relaxing and makes me feel more put-together the rest of the week.

    3. the cat's ass*

      I’ve started doing these things as a distraction on Sunday afternoon/nights to decrease the angst: making sure i have 5 days of clean clothes for the week; setting up/planning my lunches for the week, some of which are frozen; and taking a yoga class on Sunday afternoon, which shuts my brain off a little and gets me relaxed enough to sleep well and face the week prepared. Rewatching something enjoyable (like Ted Lasso) has also been helpful. Good luck!

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you choose your outfits for the week on Sunday night? So that’s one less thing to stress about/procrastinate over during the mornings.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      On Friday afternoons, I map out the next week in terms of priorities and then schedule time In my calendar for them. I also go over my schedule for the next week, noting any early or late meetings and anything I have to prepare for (and scheduling prep time if necessary). I also update my to-do list. I find it really helps me to know in advance what is going on and what I need to focus on, so I’m prepared for Monday morning. Jotting down all the random things on a to-do list also makes me less worried that I’m forgetting something.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I pick out my outfit, including accessories and shoes, and pack my work bag (laptop, chargers, planner, etc). I’m hybrid, so my Sunday Scaries actually happen on Tuesday, but having a feeling of being prepared helps mitigate the anxiety for me.

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

      I try to do all of my prepping for the next week on either Friday night or Saturday morning so that by Sunday night, I’m NOT prepping and stressing about Monday…sounds like you are already doing that part…but Sunday I focus on my plants/garden. I’m not a big social media user by any means, but I have an IG for my plants because there is a huge plant community on IG, so weekends I take photos of my plants (photography is rapidly becoming another hobby) and post them, and go through posts from the people I follow etc. from the last few days; the rest of the week I just don’t have time. I listen to new podcasts that I missed during the week too.

    8. SansaStark*

      I feel you with the new job and how it comes with a whole new set of Scaries. I’ve just recently started doing a “Sunday Reset” which means doing some light cleaning/straightening up of areas that will help me throughout the coming week. I WFH so that means making sure my desk area, the kitchen (which I can see from my desk), kitchen table, and bedroom are all free from extraneous clutter. I put on a podcast or YouTube video while I clean. But I **only** do cleaning and activities like jotting down a few meal ideas that I feel like will help me next week; I’m not scrubbing the floors and stuff like that. This has really helped me feel “ready” for Monday morning and since I’m watching YouTube while doing it, it doesn’t feel like a big chore.

    9. Twisted Lion*

      I do self care Sunday nights! I break out my foot spa and give myself a pedicure and sometimes paint my nails. Then I will do a face mask and usually watch some show. Othertimes I play games to keep my mind distracted.

    10. Melanie Cavill*

      I make sure all my weekend chores etc. are done reasonably early on Saturday, so that by the time Sunday evening comes, I’m not doubling up, “ugh work,” with, “oh shiz I DIDN’T DO LAUNDRY!” Then I can have a guilt free Sunday evening watching a new movie or documentary, or playing video games while giving myself a facial.

    11. EMP*

      I actually like to check slack Sunday night. I don’t do anything about it, just check. It reduces the anxiety because now I know if anything came up over the weekend/what to expect on Monday morning. But I realize this is not a solution for everyone! I think part of why it works for me is because I very rarely see anything I actually need to work on/fix/think about.

    12. Mimmy*

      The only truly productive thing I do is that I try to plan out my outfits for the week on Saturday or Sunday. I also make sure I have everything I need ready to go so that I’m not scrambling Monday morning.

      You may find this silly, but watching America’s Funniest Videos on Sunday night helps. I find that laughter eases some of my anxiety of the impending week.

    13. Lizzie*

      What’s helped me, and may not apply for you, is i can choose which days I go into the office, and I choose NOT to go in Mondays. Of course if that changes, I will do it, but right now we’re pretty flexible.
      So what I do now, is try and have everything ready, so I just have to get up, make some coffee, and I’m good to go.
      When i was going in 5 days a week, the same thing. I also tried to have everything done, house wise, etc. by a certain time on Sunday nights, so i could just shower and relax. that also included having all my stuff ready to go the next morning.

    14. Anonymous Koala*

      I like planning out my calendar for the week and putting all my work stuff as blocks on my personal calendar so I don’t accidentally double schedule (I’m on a flex schedule). I also meal plan on Sundays – not prepping, but choosing meals and writing a grocery list. My husband irons all his shirts for the week on Sunday as a kind of ‘work prep’ activity.

    15. Gracely*

      I take a long bubble bath (2-3 hours), light some scented candles, and read something fun most Sunday nights. Gives me something to look forward to instead of dreading that the weekend is over.

    16. mreasy*

      I always try to plan something to look forward to on Sunday afternoon/evening, whether it’s a nice dinner, a tv show/movie I’m excited to watch or bedroom activity w my husband. It sounds too simple but really helps.

    17. Heffalump*

      I find keeping myself busy helps with the Sunday scaries (great phrase btw!). Not doing anything too difficult but definitely trying to distract myself from the impending doom. Cooking a nice evening meal, gardening or crafting – something where I can see a tangible thing as a result. Watching TV doesn’t cut it as its too easy to start thinking about Monday. I also like to make sure the kitchen is clean so I don’t feel like I’m behind before I’ve even logged on.

    18. Quinalla*

      What helps me the most is doing a check of my calendar for Monday/the week, jotting a few notes down in my phone and then I feel like I know what’s coming for the week and can go to bed on Sunday. I don’t really get that anxiousness until I’m about to go to bed.

      Things I do to combat anxiousness otherwise: pick something to purge/reorganize. There is enough brain engagement, but not too much. I also like to do fairly mindless chore while listening to books/podcasts, so dishes, laundry, general cleaning, etc. A walk with a podcast or exercising on my recumbent bike while watching TV is good for me too. I don’t always make time to exercise during the week, so try to make sure to do it on the weekends at least :)

    19. M&M Mom*

      I do my work prep Saturdays- grocery shopping. Cook some chicken breasts and vegetables for lunch. Prep 5 outfits. Light house cleaning. Give myself a manicure. Then on Sunday I feel like I can really relax, take a long walk or read a book. And I’m ready for Monday.

  6. President Porpoise*

    Good morning!

    I’m part of my organization’s high potential talent program, and I’m working on my personal development plan. The very first step of this is to self-assess my professional skills. The issue is I’m finding myself with an enormous list of professional skills that I’ve identified and I feel like I need to pare it down a bit. In your opinion, what are the top three most important professional skills a person can have?

    1. Lemon*

      I’d say this is role and field dependent, here’s what I feel is important for me:
      1. Technical expertise
      2. Presentation and communication skills – specifically, an ability to communicate complex information to laypeople
      3. Relationship building

      1. Well...*

        I’d prioritize 2 over 1, because there’s no point doing something if nobody notices (an academic perspective though, without citations my work escapes into the void)

    2. a tester, not a developer*

      I agree with Lemon – I’d describe it as:
      * Can you do the work
      * Can you explain the work to others
      * If you can’t do the work by yourself, do you know who to ask/how to get help

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      If you are in a STEM field, people skills are critical for advancement. Even such small things as saying hello or recognizing a co-worker/subordinate can make things so much better.

    4. Doctors Whom*

      If I may – I’d recommend taking your big list and instead of cutting it down, collect the skills into affinity groups, that you then describe/name at a higher level of abstraction.

      That way you don’t have to leave out any of the awesome stuff about you!

    5. Ness*

      Ignoring technical skills, since those will vary a lot based on your field:

      1. Effective communication
      2. Effective leadership
      3. Strategic thinking

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Collaboration and communication (to work with others and to explain things to, and learn things from, others)
      Organization/prioritization (to be able to handle a workload that consists of more than a single task at a time)
      Analytical skills (to look at information/situations critically and use what you see to inform strategy or suggest improvements)

    7. Unaccountably*

      Like others have said, this is completely role-dependent. The professional skills my CEO needs are not even on the same plane as the professional skills I need, or our software developers need, or our admins need.

      What do you do for a living? Identify your usual job tasks and delete anything that doesn’t directly relate to them. See if you can group the others into overarching categories.

  7. Not my real name*

    I’m not quite sure how to handle this situation. A couple of months ago, leadership started doing a short interactive quiz during our all hands meetings, with a couple of small prizes. At last month’s all hands, I was announced as one of the winners – for a $25 gift card with a comment that the other winner and I would receive information about the cards ‘soon’. I don’t remember who won the other card, other than vaguely remembering that I thought it was nice that someone new had won. I am in a senior role, although not leadership, and I think the other person would be entry level. I just received the invitation for this month’s all hands, and realized I never did see anything about the card. I really don’t care if I get a card or not and wouldn’t bother to bring it up for me, but I hate that someone new would have this experience where they won something, but never got it.

    The person running these is new, in a newly created position that has a lot of catching up to do. On one hand, I’m sure he’s absolutely swamped busy. On the other hand, in my interactions with him so far, there is a lot of promising to get me information ‘tomorrow’ that never materializes. In fact, now that I think about it, every single time I’ve had to find what I needed elsewhere or in one case, follow up multiple times for something only he could do.

    So, what do I do? Leave it alone? Follow up, and if so how? I did check in with one person that I thought might have been the winner who was not, and that was awkward enough that I don’t want to run through the other 50 newish people to see if they may be the ones who won. I don’t want to start a war with the person running these by getting them in trouble, and I don’t want to seem like this is thinly veiled attempt to get my card because I’m greedy. I could take it to my boss, but she is newly my boss and we haven’t really hit it off yet. I’m not sure that this is the first thing I want to take to her.

    1. merope*

      I think you can follow up here, in a light way, with a focus on the possibility that the gift card was sent but didn’t get delivered. So, the tone to strike is not accusatory, but rather curious. After all, this is a company expense which may have gone missing, and if there have been 2 winners at the past three meetings, let’s say, the company is now out $150 if none of the cards were delivered (not that I would include that in the conversation, but if it helps you see this as a corporate rather than personal issue, go for it!).

    2. ferrina*

      Reach out to check in with the organizer. Just a simple “Hey, I realized that I never followed up about the $25 gift card that I won at last month’s meeting. Is there anything I need to do to claim that?”
      Don’t worry about the other person- usually having one person reach out is enough to remind the person responsible “right, I need to do that” and reach out to both of you (I’ve been that person who was supposed to send something and it dropped off my plate).

      1. anonymous73*

        This is a good script. I would add that if after asking about it, you still don’t get anything, I would bring it to someone else’s attention. And frame it that you don’t want others to have the same issue, and them maybe being afraid to bring it up, because if the person in charge of this is dropping the ball, that needs to be addressed (had you not mentioned that their follow through has been lacking in the past, I would let it go after 1 conversation, but this seems to be a pattern).

  8. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    I get almost NO feedback from my boss three months into my six month probationary period unless it’s to fix something in a document (I’m an Editor). She’s not easily reachable (we’re all remote), and while I don’t need positive feedback necessarily, I would kind of like to know if she’s overall pleased with my performance thus far. Alison has addressed this previously, but I can’t find the scripts? I’ve got no way to gauge my performance against my peers either.
    Thanks for any advice!

    1. Tired Social Worker*

      I would ask for a meeting to touch base and see how you are doing. You can actively seek feedback. A good boss will take this opportunity to tell you where your strengths as well as areas of improvement are.

    2. Seeking second childhood*

      One of the podcasts addressed this topic, which might make it easier to find in the archive. Also Alison added transcripts.

    3. anonymous73*

      Do you have regular meetings with them? Do you ask for feedback? If the answers are yes and yes, maybe schedule another meeting with them and let them know that you need more feedback especially if you’re in a probationary period. Calling out mistakes is not feedback.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Nope, only one twenty minute group meeting each Monday as boss is so busy and that’s just where we report our ongoing projects.. hmm.. you’re making me realize I definitely need to at least get face time once!

    4. Quinalla*

      I get very irritated when people aren’t easily reachable when remote, you have to work to be even more reachable since people can’t see if you are at your desk. I would definitely reach out however you can or just invite your boss to a meeting to check-in and see if you can set something up regularly to check-in. Even if it is once a month, it would be better than nothing that you have now, but more frequent when new is not a bad thing.

      And is there a peer or anyone else you can ask for feedback? Not sure of your work set up, but that can be helpful!

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        This is a great point and I think i will ask some peers who have been around longer. They’re really friendly and will definitely be objective. I never considered it because I thought boss’s opinion mattered most but it doesn’t mean someone who has been doing the job four years won’t be really helpful! Thanks!

  9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Two thoughts today. First my therapist insisted many people are not good at their jobs and feel fine. What are you worst at in your job? For me, if it requires me to fill in steps that I don’t know, I have a lot of difficulty. My mind doesn’t naturally fill in the steps.

    Also on your resume, if you do informal training, like people shadow you or you give a lot of advice or you often do the ” so this is what we do here” spiel, what would you write? I’m sure that’s a skill?

    1. EMP*

      I’d call that training or on boarding new team members. Possibly mentorship depending on what the informal training consists of.

    2. Dirty Twirls*

      I personally hate having to jump in on tasks that blow apart my day (I posted on this below) or where I don’t actually have the authority to make decisions but people are asking me to follow through on their work, with things that have financial implications. A miscarriage of those finances is serious (gov’t), so the stakes are very high and problems with this that feel like my problem have left me crying at my desk a handful of times since 2020, in instances where I wasn’t sure things would work out (they have, and within policy, though it sounded scary and I was a contractor at the time).

      I do informal training often! I usually phrase that in some kind of “mentoring of new staff in the following capacities: …” I’m weirdly good at corporate/gov’t resume lingo now, so if you have any other ones, ask away!

    3. Bernice Clifton*

      1. When I pass something off for approval or review, I’m not great at remembering to follow up if the person doesn’t complete it and send it back to me in a day or two. So I set reminders (typically making a note on a post-it) to follow up.

      2. “I was the point-person for new employees to answer questions and explain processes and best practices.”

    4. Lizzie*

      I’m pretty sure I have ADHD, so for me, its staying focused on the mundane tasks, the ones that don’t have a hard and fast deadline, but are ongoing, like updating our webpages, and other things that get done weekly, monthly, etc.

      I also struggle with starting a project or task when I have no clue, as I easily get overwhelmed. ONce i figure it out, or get some guidance, I’m good to go.

      so i guess generally, procrastination is my worst enemy.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. I have ADHD too and people will be like ” I told you to play phone tag two weeks ago” and I forgot I was supposed to be playing phone tag every day

      2. Dierdre X.*

        Same-same. Super ADHD and trying to figure out the right meds. Wishing you and all my other ADHD siblings the best.

      3. Fabulous*

        Reason #4,682,865,442,156 that I reeeaaaalllllyyyy need to get screened for ADHD. This is me 100%.

      4. Quoi*

        Also ADHD, and alongside the boring-but-necessary-with-no-fixed-deadline tasks, I suck balls at minding the fine details. I just cannot get myself to do it. People have talked about getting the adhd brain to do that kind of thing is like making yourself touch a hot stove, and that’s not a bad analogy for the No fixed deadline stuff, but for fine details – checking whether a report has the right date formatting in sharepoint vs excel desktop edition, that kind of thing – it’s the way it’d never even cross your mind to lick the underside of your fridge. It just does not enter my mind to consider it as a potential option.

        And since my boss is a) hyper detail focus perfection woman b) we lost our team analyst and now it falls to me to handle the reports they used to handle, I am now dealing with an uncomfortable volume of rejection-sensitive dysphoria when they come to me for the nth time today and note that “yet again the underside of the fridge remains unlicked and honestly I know you can do better than this why is this happening it is very concerning”. And she isn’t wrong! I have not licked the underside of the fridge! The TPS report does have the wrong font and it doesn’t look good to our external partners that I keep making these small but apparently very obvious to everyone other than me errors. But it still never crosses my mind to lick the underside of the fridge.
        (I may have rather more emotions about this than I initially thought)

        1. Momma Bear*

          Feeling bad about things can also be part of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, which likes to hang out with ADHD (as does Anxiety, and other things with acronyms). If you know you have a blind spot, sit down and try to figure out how to mitigate it. I currently have a doc printed with all comments because I was not tracking in the electronic version. Sometimes going between two screens is enough to get sidetracked with attention/focus issues, so maybe print one out.

      1. Cj*

        It is absolutely a skill. I was just job today, and I listed mentoring on my resume. I also discussed it in quite a bit of detail in my interview because I know they hire a lot of new grads that needs someone to guide them.

        1. Cj*

          *offered a job today. Hopefully I proofread my cover letters and resumes better than I do these comments.

    5. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’m not good at on-the-spot decisions. 99% of the time, my first reaction is not the best option, and when I’m pushed to share it and act on it, I invariably end up wishing I’d said and done something completely different within just a matter of hours. I need data, I need to hear from people with different points of view and expertise, and I need time to reflect. I’ve worked with plenty of people (especially men in more senior positions) that valued quick speaking over considered approaches, and those have been some of my most stressful experiences.

      Also related: at all my jobs, I’ve quickly established myself as someone self-sufficient enough that people assume I can figure out most things on my own. The reality is I, too, need guidance. Especially at the start of a new project, or I’ll get overwhelmed fast. Usually, it’s enough to talk through what I’m doing with another person (preferably my manager or a peer with a different skill set), and as long as I can hear from someone with a different approach or see how they work in practice, I get enough ideas to start working out my own. I’m not shy about asking for help, but I’ve seen many people act surprised or put off, in a “you’ve doing this long enough, you’re on your own” kind of way. In my role, no two projects are ever the same and there’s a lot of uncertainty to wrangle every day, so the implication that I should be the one person to always know it all tends to make me nervous and defensive.

    6. Gracely*

      I hate putting things on public calendars. I don’t know why, it just always feels so…off-putting. I never want to do it. I have no problem accepting invites, etc., though.

      I also am not great at ending conversations with coworkers when I need to get back to work.

    7. quill*

      Worst: remembering non-word sequences of letters and numbers, which is surprisingly common when I have to do document control.

      I’m very good at the written word, so I assumed I’d be pretty good at document control – but actually so much of it in practice is acronyms and my brain just doesn’t hold onto the idea that TPT-HDL22-0003 is the third teapot handle report of 2022, which needs to be routed to department xyz with protocol qrs, but HDL_RPT22-0003 is a completely different document that goes to a different department

    8. Mouse*

      My worst skill is doing things that I’ve already let slip a bit. Once something falls a bit behind, I get a paralyzing anxiety about the fact that it’s behind, which makes it harder and harder to return to it. I haven’t figured out a good workaround for myself yet.

      For your resume: what about something like “often a go-to colleague for my high degree of institutional knowledge”? Someone can probably wordsmith that better into achievement language but I like the “institutional knowledge” phrase.

      1. Dirty Twirls*

        known as a subject matter expert, particularly for institutional knowledge relevant to mentoring of new colleagues and decision-making

    9. Former Gremlin Herder*

      I think it is very normal to be bad at asepcts of your job, or even to not be great the job as a whole. Personally, I struggle with extended projects that have lots of fiddly details and with dealing with conflict, even when its low level. But I’m very good at creating certaing types of multi-media content, training people, and public speaking.

      You didn’t ask this, but some ways to deal with the parts of your job that aren’t your strengths are to put supports for yourself in place (for me, it’s carefully chunking my work, creating external deadlines, and asking specifically for other eyes on things with fiddly details) and actively seeking to improve (for me, this meant pursing an ADHD diagnosis) or even choosing to work towards jobs that have more of what you’re good at/enjoy doing-though this is definetely a long term solution.

    10. Unaccountably*

      Just about everyone is not as good at certain *aspects* of their jobs as they are at others. It’s true that many people are not good at their jobs in toto and feel fine about it, but… do you really want to be one of them? Is your therapist one of them and that’s why she insists on it? Because that’s a very, very low bar to clear.

      Work is a big part of your life. Is there a way you can start figuring out what jobs suit you better than the one you discussed with your therapist?

      For the second, it depends on whether it’s something that was part of your actual job description or just something you would up doing. If training and mentoring were on your job description, put training and mentoring on your resume. If they weren’t and you just wound up doing them, I’d save it for the interview and bring it up then.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Eh I think that was actually a good technique. I’m always worried about being bad at my job so pointing out that perhaps it is fine to not do a great job every day. He also knows that I have job search trauma and probably am not in the right headspace for something that tanks your self confidence. The job system is broken but I blame myself.

    11. IrishEm*

      I hate talking to people on the phone. I work in a call centre. Those two things feed the Imposter Syndrome really well.

      I know there’s a lot of stuff I’m really fricking good at but I always assume I’m only mediocre at best, I am my own worst critic. I am the person your therapist was talking about lol

    12. Disco Janet*

      I’m terrible at responding to emails in a timely manner. Hard to fit it in when I’m spending my entire day at work (and then some more time at home) teaching, lesson planning, grading, prepping materials, etc. But I have to be careful to not take too long to respond since obviously parents and admin don’t appreciate it! (Neither do my students, but hey, they see me five days a week. They can ask me in person.)

    13. allathian*

      I’m a translator, and the texts I’m expected to translate can be anything from a single word or phrase (such as a job title) to a 100-page report. My ideal is work that’s between one and twenty pages. Longer than that, and I get bored, and while I can set intermediary goals for other things, somehow I’ve never been able to do that for my core task. Extremely short assignments are annoying, because the admin (communicating with the client, tracking, documenting, etc.) related to the task takes up a relatively long time compared to the task itself.

      Mentoring is a skill.

  10. Remote meeting snafus*

    Recent giggle during a remote department town hall: I had to apologize and ask people to ignore the gunshot sounds in the background while I was presenting. I live near a quarry, and they were doing blasting that day.

    Anyone else have good virtual meeting stories?

    1. hamsterpants*

      At Former Job, I had a daily virtual meeting with the same people at 4 pm. We knew it was time to wrap up when we could hear one of the attendee’s cats meowing for dinner.

        1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          I’m pretty sure I could be that coworker and unmuted on purpose.

    2. LadyB*

      I also had to apologise for machine gun fire (staged fortunately).
      They were filming a car chase for Batman that ended with the Batmobile screeching to a halt under my office window.

      1. Alice Ulf*

        I’ve got to admire your dedication, since I’m pretty sure I would have been too distracted by BATMAN(!!!!) to do anything related to work. :D

    3. Murphy*

      My desk is right by a window and is very close to trees. Last spring there were multiple comments on the bird background noise (all positive, but still!)

      Otherwise, my dog has tried to protect me from dangerous package deliveries.

      One time I was muted for most of a meeting, but as soon as I unmuted to talk my husband and daughter (who had already told me they were heading out) both started yelling “BYE MOMMY WE LOVE YOU MOMMY” etc. Thankfully it was fine.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I do occasional phone meetings with someone who always has birds singing in the background. I assumed she had pet birds, but it turned out she lives in a coastal city and works outside a lot. So now I always picture lots of trees and birds in her yard.

    4. AdequateArchaeologist*

      During a business call my husband’s cat was being very chatty. Unfortunately the pitch of his voice and his preferred noises to make sound like a toddler babbling. He was really ramping it up and I was trying to shush him in what I thought was a discreet manner. Our sales guy paused and asked “oh, is that your baby?”. Had to explain that nope, just my cat.

    5. OyHiOh*

      A few weeks ago, we had a virtual site visit with all staff and like 20 external stakeholders. In the middle of it all, a hail storm hit downtown City. About a dozen of us had to suddenly adjust volume controls to account for three inches worth of pea size hail piling up on the windows.

    6. Let me be dark and twisty*

      My house was three-quarters of a mile away from a river with a dam. The dam has a warning siren for when/if the dam fails that the county tests twice a year. It’s a very loud siren. (Also a little creepy, not gonna lie. I always feel like I need to prepare for some kind of invasion when they do the tests.)

      When I’m in virtual meetings on those siren-test days, the people in my meetings can hear the dam sirens going off too. And I have all windows and doors closed to my house. It made for some fun conversation.

    7. Everything Bagel*

      Had a call today with a local government official. At a crucial point in the call, a group of ducks gathered outside my home office window and apparently were having quite a disagreement. Robust quacking ensued. I don’t know if the guy on the phone could hear what was going on in the background. I was trying to talk loudly over the ducks. I did have a laugh once I got off the phone though.

    8. mreasy*

      I was giving a virtual presentation to a few hundred folks in my industry and my cat decided to jump up in front of my screen and LICK MY MOUTH on camera. She never does that any other time so I guess she was just showing off?

    9. Chaordic One*

      I live near an air force base and fighter planes are frequently flying in and out of the area and sometimes they even do maneuvers over the area in which I live. It’s funny because during meetings you can hear the planes flying over the area where other people live and then a few minutes later they’ll be flying over my house (and vice-versa). Sometimes we have to pause our meetings for a minute or so to allow a plane to fly over and then pause again when it gets to a different team member’s house. One of my coworkers quipped, “It’s the sound of freedom.”

    10. small towm*

      Dear younger son was practicing his bass clarinet and Best Old Dog started singing along. We had Tchaikovsky plus (loud) accompaniment. Thankfully everyone just started laughing and we moved on.

    11. Moths*

      I live right next door to a cemetery and very frequently have sounds from services that come in (or from heavy equipment as they’re preparing a gravesite). At the start of work-from-home, it was a bit unsettling, just because I realized just how many funerals there were, but I came to get used to it as background noise (if still a little sad every time).

      One day I needed to record a training for work and the recording was being coordinated virtually by our production team. Of course, that was the exact time that a service had been scheduled for. With no where in the house to go where you couldn’t hear it, I just had to apologize for the constant bagpipes in the background! Luckily, they were able to cut them out post-production!

    12. The OG Sleepless*

      I’m a veterinarian, and I was on the phone with a toxicologist from Poison Control when I heard a distressed screech in the background. It was his cat vomiting. Poor kitty.

    13. CatPerson*

      In the early days of the pandemic I chaired a meeting that started at the same time that the Air National Guard was doing a flyover to honor health care workers. :-)

    14. tamarak & fireweed*

      Ours can be very laid back. The most giggle-inducing event was when we gave a complicated tag-team presentation to a panel of evaluators from one of our funders. One evaluator (who asked me a bunch of incisive questions) had their cat on the desk, and the cat pointed her butthole at the camera for long stretches of time while I was trying to give coherent answers…

      Today we had our unit’s (~100 people altogether) all-hands on Zoom. Two visiting scientists from an Asian country were mentioned, but they weren’t on the call. Our director noted that they may have left for field work and indicated the site – an instrumentation site in the middle of a forest about 40 miles away. A little later one of them popped up, and it turned out that they were connecting via cell phone from their pretty remote forest site, which was very picturesque.

  11. AnotherSarah*

    Sartorial question: I’m traveling business class for a red-eye to Europe soon. I’ve never flown business overnight! Is it okay to wear yoga pants and sneakers? Or will people dress up?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have taken many overnight flights to Europe (in coach) and pretty much anything goes, as people know they will be sleeping. Just wear something comfortable and bring extra layers for warmth.
      I think some airlines even give out free pyjamas in first or business class, but at the least you’ll get a nice cozy blanket for free.

    2. Raboot*

      People in business class look pretty much the same as coach on any plane I’ve been on.

    3. A Poster Has No Name*

      Are you checking luggage? My only thing would be to make sure you are either wearing somewhat business-appropriate attire or have some in a carry on, just in case your luggage gets lost.

      In business school I had a class that spent a week in Brussels & London and business dress was expected. One of the attendees wore a t-shirt and shorts on the plane and checked the rest of his luggage, which they lost for several days so he had to scramble to buy something appropriate before our first site visit so he wasn’t the ugly American in shorts.

    4. Well...*

      Sometimes in Europe, people class it up on planes but my ex-pat American self does. Not. Care. I’m wearing yoga pants on planes (even short flights) until I’m in violation of the law and get arrested.

      On long international flights, there’s enough of a mix that you won’t stand out. Also if you transfer in CDG make sure you have carry-on clothes to get you through a few days of work. They aren’t very efficient at getting bags transferred for tight connections. Good advice in general but some airports are less reliable than others.

    5. Well...*

      Also you may want to ditch sneakers for comfortable flats (big enough to wear with socks for warmth). The sneakers take up a lot of space under the seat in front of you. I change into flats right before boarding, then put all my stuff overhead except what can fit in the seat pocket. It gives you more space to stretch out and move positions while you sleep.

    6. Hillary*

      For work or pleasure? I’ve stopped even bringing sneakers when I’m going to Europe for work – I never have time to exercise anyway. I have a couple dressy boot options that are comfortable for walking and professional enough. My European colleagues may wear dress sneakers to work, but never the bright colors or sport styles that we see in the US.

      If you don’t have status, dressing up a notch may get you better treatment. It’s not an issue when things go right, but when things go wrong unfortunately those little indicators change things. For me that’s usually good shoes (not necessarily designer, just a polished look) and a recognizable purse/tote. One of my male colleagues always wears a blazer for the same reason.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Came here to say this! Neat jersey separates, flats or danskos and a cashmere wrap are my travel-to Europe/Japan uniform. I add lipstick and a nice scarf before disembarking. Not that Ive actually gone anyplace recently!

    7. Diluted Tortoishell*

      You should ask your coworkers. Every place is different and no one here can answer this for you.

      1. AnotherSarah*

        No coworkers! I know the dress code on arrival, just nothing about business class.

      2. Disco Janet*

        People from other places can’t possibly have flown business class overnight to Europe?

    8. Dr. Prepper*

      As a million miler myself, for overseas trips you can literally wear anything and no one cares. Some show up in business clothes, change into PJ’s and then 45 minutes before landing change back. Others show up in PJ’s with their own pillow under their arm. The advice to have business clothes in your carryon is very smart, also emergency toiletries.
      In business you usually get a goodie bag usually with some oversocks – I put my shoes overhead, put on the socks for on the plane and bathroom, then ditch the socks in the trash before landing.
      The biggest issue will be how you sleep on planes, especially if you have business meetings the day you arrive. Your body will think it’s 2:00 AM if you have a 8:00 AM business meeting. In business you generally get a full recline, sometimes even a lay flat which is great. Bring ear plugs, headphones or whatever works (I have noise cancelling buds and white noise I play from my phone.) Bring a comfortable eyeshade as the cheapies in the goodie bag may not work as well.
      Above all, tell the cabin crew NOT to wake you if you sleep through dinner or whatever, if that’s what you want. Definitely tell them TO wake you for breakfast and coffee.

      Finally, know you will have to crawl over your seat mate if you have the window seat to get to the bathroom while they are sleeping. That’s why I always ask for center aisle seats.

      1. Imtheone*

        Planes to Europe in the summer tend to be very cold, so plan on a few layers, even if it’s 95 degrees when you leave!

        1. Chaordic One*

          So very true. You probably don’t want to use an airline-supplied blanket because the cleanliness is kind of questionable.

  12. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

    Hi! Can I get some good job-hunting vibes? And some advice….

    I’ve been applying for jobs outside the library field since January and it has not been going well. I know 5 months really isn’t that long, but without even getting interviews, moving from libraries is starting to feel like a lost cause.

    I’ve been applying for quality assurance/document control positions in or near Chicago as of late (remote jobs and not), and have also done a few research assistant positions. I have recently bought Alison’s book and have been using this website for advice – particularly with cover letters and resumes! I try to show how I have experience doing when they’re asking for, usually in my professional life, but personal as well (I have a small Google sheets care guide for my plants).

    How transparent should I be about why I want to leave libraries? The burnout is very real, but it’s more than just that. Right now, in my cover letters, I say that the pandemic has made me consider how I can better use the skills gained through libraries, which is true. But I’m also wanting to leave because most of the jobs in public libraries are part-time and I am not comfortable being a safety net for things the government doesn’t want to or can’t help with, I am not a social worker. Plus librarians don’t make a ton, which would be fine, but I don’t want to have to worry about money, or to assume that one day I’ll have a significant other to help. I do have my MLIS and I wonder if people see that and think I’ll eventually go back to libraries? (I am in my 30s and honestly don’t plan on it at this time, but never say never.) Obviously I wouldn’t mention everything in a cover letter or maybe even an interview, but I’m wondering if I should be more transparent.

    Would a recruiter be beneficial to those switching careers? It’s very possible I don’t have a full understanding of what a recruiter does….

    1. ferrina*

      Your cover letter should be less about leaving libraries and more about why you are excited to start in the new field. Focus on how the past has prepared you for the future- “My work in library cataloguing made me realize how much I love data organization. I’m intrigued by New Role’s focus on data entry and organization- this is one of the things that attracted me to this job!”

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Ooo I like that last sentence! I say part of that in my intro, but I like looping it in to specific things in the job description. Which I try to do, but am probably not doing it the best way. Thanks!

      2. Another hopeful former librarian*

        I agree with this tactic.

        I’m trying to make the shift into copywriting, and most of the jobs I’ve applied for so far are things like writing product descriptions for ecommerce sites. In my cover letters, I’m making the point that being involved in direct customer service for so many years has helped me understand how customers search for things and what kind of information they want to have included when they’re searching. No interviews yet, but I’m still refining my writing samples and I’ve only been searching for about a month, so I’m not super worried yet.

        1. Product Person*

          Another helpful former librarian,

          I had to hire people for the job you want, and what you wrote about learning how customers search for things is GOLD!

          I am sure soon you’ll get an interview. Good luck!

      3. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, 100% this. I’ve hired a lot of non-MLIS people for library adjacent jobs (think Museum/Anthro/Linguistics/Comp Sci people) and what I want to see is not “Why I am leaving anthropology” but rather “Here’s what about this job that makes me want to do it and here’s how my anthropology background will make me a better candidate.”

        1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

          Thank you! In making this post, I’ve learned that I’m doing the right things, for the most part, but I need to do better with showing why I want the specific job I am applying to, and what I bring, not just a summary of my experience.

    2. Pop*

      One sentence on why you’re looking to switch is fine, which it sounds like you have. You don’t want or need to focus too much on the negatives. Instead, focus on transferrable skills and why you want to move TO the field you want to move into. You don’t want to start an interview by essentially badmouthing the field or employer you’re trying to leave (even if it’s true)! And DEFINITELY don’t mention what you think the role of government should be, ha. I suspect I agree with you and your thinking but mentioning that in an interview would make me question a candidate’s judgement.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Oh god no, I wouldn’t badmouth anything in an interview!! This post is kind of me partially venting, but I do know not to badmouth in an interview. :)

    3. Bonne chance*

      Re: transparency, I would frame the shift about what you’re hoping to find (such as opportunities to apply XYZ skills) rather than what you’re hoping to leave, if that makes sense. Can be the other side of the same coin, but will make it more about the job you want.

      I think it’s fine to mention that you’re looking for stability during your search, though I wouldn’t spend time on that in a cover letter. When I was looking to leave a similarly precarious industry and interviewers asked what I hoped to find in my next role, I was honest about wanting a job that fostered stability/would provide better work-life balance (in addition to mentioning why the role in particular suited my professional goals).

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Thank you!!! If I make it to the interview stage at some point, I’ll be sure to handle it like you did.

    4. irene adler*

      Recruiters don’t really specialize in candidates. They are hired/used by companies to fill positions.

      That said, there is value to getting your resume into their resume system for subsequent searches as they work to fill positions.

      You can indicate that you are leaving the old career because you find the new career/position attractive. Don’t bring up negative reasons (” I’m burning out!”, “no full-time work!”) for the career change. This statement: “the pandemic has made me consider how I can better use the skills gained through libraries” is good if you can flesh it out to explain how your skills can be utilized in the new career/position. Frame things in terms of “moving towards” a new career or position and not “running away” from a bad situation. Tell ’em what attracts you to the position you’ve applied for and how you meet the job description requirements.

      RE: QA / Doc control positions
      Have you connected with your local ASQ section? That can be a source for networking.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Your comment on my very first post about job searching and roles I could apply to was so helpful!!! :) it gave me a lot of hope, which I really needed at the time.

        Anyway, thank you for your response! I’ll keep ASQ in mind, I haven’t looked at that a ton (because I didn’t remember it was a resource).

        But thank you for this, I’ll def frame things as why I’m interested in the current role, but why I’m leaving libraries.

    5. NeedRain47*

      IMO (I am also a librarian) you should be *less* transparent, if anything. Like pretty opaque. Basically I wouldn’t mention anything you don’t like about libraries, at all. Employers want to know what you can do for them and why you belong in their field. They don’t care about your (very reasonable) life concerns. And I’d be afraid that it could be seen as negative which you don’t want in your application materials.

      You can just say something in your cover letter about being excited to use your skills in a new field, you don’t need to explain why you’re applying out of libraries. (although, if you get interviews, be prepared to say a few words about it). It sounds like you are already highlighting how the skills you have are the same as the skills they’re looking for, so keep doing that! I wish you luck.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        I’ll remember my post for if I make it to interviews! I’ve gotten a lot of solid advice. In hindsight, I think I was asking more for how to handle it in interviews, but the advice here still applies regardless: focus on what I can bring to the role, not why I’m leaving.

    6. Just a Manager*

      I’d say it’s common knowledge that library work is hard with low pay. As a hiring manager, I would be interested in what you could bring to our organization.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Yeah I’m not trying to bash my field or employers, but it’s really hard. A lot harder than people think.

    7. Dragonfly7*

      Support staff person here commiserating with you. I’m focusing on the skill(s) I want to take from the library into my new work because it is my favorite part of what I do, so I share that in one sentence of my cover letters. I am hoping for an entry-level help desk/technical support type of role.

  13. Lilith*

    There’s a discussion point that’s come up at work recently about our notice periods and the possibility of changing them, and I am interested in knowing what others think! This is a UK company and we’re talking about UK norms for notice periods, I understand (from reading AAM) that the US especially has very different expectations.

    In my experience, the standard notice period I would expect a permanently-employed office worker to give if they are moving on would be 1 month. Higher-up managers might have to give 3 months, directors and CEOs give 6 months. I have mostly worked for non-profits and local councils, in case the private sector is different!

    I am not a manager, but my contract says I need to give 3 months notice. My viewpoint is that this is unusual and might be difficult – when I interview for my next job (when the time comes, I am currently happy where I am) having a 3-month delay before I can start would knock me out of the running for most posts. HR’s viewpoint is that having a longer notice period is a benefit as it means the company will need to give that much notice before sacking me or making me redundant (also hypothetical, they have no plans to do this!). My rebuttal is that I’ve chosen to leave way more jobs than I’ve been made redundant/sacked from, so I should have the notice period that’s most likely to be beneficial to me.

    Has anyone else had to balance this? It is just a matter of choosing which risk I prefer?

    1. londonedit*

      Will you be able to negotiate a different notice period just for yourself, or is it a company-wide policy change that they’re talking about? In my experience this sort of thing is usually a company decision and there isn’t much leeway for individuals to negotiate (unless you’re very senior).

      The company I work for did a review of notice periods a couple of years ago – previously, everyone was on 3 months apart from the very senior people who were on 6 months. They’d been getting a lot of feedback from junior staff that this was hindering their careers, as a standard notice period elsewhere in the industry is 1 month, and potential employers were being put off by a notice period that was outside the norm. So they reduced the notice period for everyone below a certain level of seniority. Everyone was happy with the change – as you say, it’s going to be vastly more likely to affect your ability to get a new job rather than your notice period if they decide to get rid of you!

      1. Lilith*

        Unusually, I’m only looking to (potentially) change my own terms – the company is looking at everyone’s contracts because of Reasons but it’s being split by team and job title. I am not at all an important person, but it’s worked out that I am a one-person-team now so don’t have any exact peers to compare to.

    2. Lama counter*

      I’m from Belgium where we also have longer notice periods, generally longer if you are with the company for longer and it can be multiple months as well.
      As far as I noticed, this also means that the companies you apply to also expect you to only be able to start after a longer period than the two weeks always mentioned in this blog, so it doesn’t become an issue if you stay within the same country. My company for example expects any new hire to take multiple months to start: the searching process but then also the hire to start time added to it.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It sounds like the norm in that country for this type of job is one month, whereas current-job wants 3. That’s the problem. NewJobs will expect them to be available in one month but they won’t be available for 3 and the new job won’t necessarily be willing to wait.

      2. Been There*

        From Belgium as well, and I’ve noticed you can negotiate your notice period down to 2-4 weeks depending on your job.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      1 month is for entry level and first career professional jobs, 2-3 months is mid-range, 3-6 months is management, upper management and senior leadership 6-12 months, possibly involving gardening leave.

      The notice period you’re describing here, as long as you’re not entry or low level? Completely normal even if you’re not management.

    4. anonymous73*

      What can they do to you if you leave with less than 3 month’s notice? I’m in the US so I’m not sure of the norms in the UK, but can they punish you in some way – take money from your pay/sue you? If they aren’t able to enforce any consequences for leaving with less notice, I wouldn’t worry about it. In the US most companies say they require a certain amount of leave but they have no way of legally enforcing it as far as I know. It’s more of a courtesy. And here your notice period is meant for you to wrap up and/or transition any projects, and document processes if needed. The point of it is not to allow the company to find your replacement and have you train them (which as we’ve seen here, many managers don’t seem to get).

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Your notice period is outlined in your contract and leaving early would be a breach of contract. A lot of employers can be open to negotiation or wouldn’t take it to court, but it will reflect incredibly badly on you for not working your notice period.

      2. Cj*

        Like LDN Layabout saids, in Europe they have actual contracts, so both the employee and employer are legally bound to the notice period.

        The longer notice period doesn’t allow them to train their replacement either, because the replacement is going to have to give the same months long amount of notice to their employer too.

      3. allathian*

        In Europe, we also have long vacations. The long notice period is partly required so that the old employer doesn’t have to pay out accrued vacation. It’s very common for people to start their new job when the vacation they’re due at their old job starts, or shortly after. So if a notice period is 2 months, and the employee has a month’s vacation accrued, they’re essentially free to start working at the new job a month after giving notice.

    5. Bagpuss*

      UK private sector (law) here.
      3 months is absolutely standard in my field .
      Our norms are:
      1 month for non-legal/support staff (reception, secretarial & admin etc)
      3 months for lawyers at all levels including paralegals, plus senior support staff (Office manager, head cashier)
      6 months for senior people (Heads of Department, Saleraied Partners

      We sometimes come across people with shorter notice periods – one of the lawyers we recently employed was on 2 months notice (we do have one who had a much shorter period, but that was becasue they were escaping from a towering infernoof red flags and their previous employer had never manageed to issue them with a contract in the firtst place, so not normal, and meant they were just giving their statutory minimum)

      Based on friends in other types of job it varies a bit but 3 months is not unsual for professional jobs, in my experience. Did you sapply through an agency? If so you could try asking them about industry norms for the private sector in your field, as I think it does vary

    6. Quoi*

      I’m in the UK in a mid-seniority role, and I’ve had a 3 month notice period for my last few roles – public and private sector. It’s fairly common once you’re a way past entry level and would be unlikely to put you out of the running, except possibly for time-limited roles like maternity covers or some fixed term contracts.

    7. Yay, I’m a Llama again!*

      I worried about this when I was at risk of redundancy- couldn’t understand how a new company would happily wait three months for me. But it seems to be very, very typical in the UK.

  14. Stressed*

    I learned a bit more context today re: my problem employee.

    Short recap: her writing is borderline incomprehensible:

    ““As I thought it was send at 9:10,when I send you the response that it was updated in the FI calendar. Going forward I will double check to make sure it is always sent. To be honor felt your tone was harsh. As you said it was a honest mistake. I am glad we cleared the air communication is very important. ☺️”
    (In response to her manager saying he was frustrated that an internal 1:1 wasn’t rescheduled despite him asking 3x)

    “(Colleague) is out on vacation until Tuesday April 26th . I would happy to help what kind of lunch would like me to ordered?”
    (To an external client)

    “I am new to Company Team, I would like to thank you’ll for the lovely flowers.”
    (To our entire team)”

    ….and 7 months into her employment she still needs training on basic outlook functions despite claiming 20 yrs of admin experience at a bank.

    Here’s the rub: She is one of three black employees on our NAMER team who are performing below expectations. 1, my employee, is incompetent. 2 is screwing up on really simple things and is so slow to complete his work that his other, already overworked team members are having to take it on (and are getting resentful about it, and making the manager aware). I haven’t really seen any of 3’s work, so I don’t know what’s going on there.

    According to the manager
    1. My company’s HR is very wary of the optics of three black employees on one team being placed on a PIP/getting fired
    2. Apparently 2 is *even more incompetent* than 1, and between the two he’d be let go first.

    1 is going to be sent to intense remedial training, on *everything,* including very basic outlook functions, in addition to intensive writing classes. Remedial to the degree of “make sure you answer every question asked when responding to an email!”

    I completely understand HRs hesitations and concerns. I also feel totally screwed.

    1. Mom of Lucy the Hound*

      I wonder if one would benefit from an evaluation for reading disorders like dyslexia and accommodations such as speech dictation?

      1. Stressed*

        The problem is that this isn’t a job that someone with reading and writing difficulties can do to the degree that we need. I’d liken it to an engineer needing to do remedial math- there’s a fundamental fit issue.

      2. RagingADHD*

        A manager can’t send an employee to get tested for learning disorders, FCOL. Nor should they suggest it. That would be wildly offensive and inappropriate.

      3. fueled by coffee*

        I had the opposite thought — is she *using* speech-to-text software to create these emails? “To be honest” > “To be honor” and “Thank you (y’all?)” > “Thank you’ll” don’t come across as standard autocorrect/typos to me but seem more plausible as errors from a speech recognition system.

          1. Eukomos*

            I could see a sufficiently weird typing of “thank you all” getting turned into “thank you’ll” by autocorrect, might be worth double checking it’s turned off on her computer. Not that this will fix everything, but better than nothing if it does help?

            1. Stressed*

              Ok…but this role needs someone who can immediately see “oh, that’s not correct grammar/spelling.” She isn’t capable of that.

        1. Siege*

          That was my thought, but I see that Stressed has clarified. But that kind of weird error does sound like speech-to-text.

        2. Cj*

          I thought it seemed like speech-to-text too, and am surprised that it’s not. It actually looks like what I’ve ended up with when using speech to text and haven’t gone back to edit properly. Sometimes on this very site.

          ( I used speech to text to do this, and somehow instead of “what” I got “Saltines”).

        3. quill*

          I wondered if she’s relying on some sort of autocorrect / autocomplete that word-salads some sort of problem she has with arranging a sentence coherently? I could see how that would potentially mess up the verb tenses and some of the wrong word problems.

          OP, this may not help, but have you ever seen her compose a sentence on paper? It might give you some information if this is a literacy thing or a typing thing.

          1. Stressed*

            It’s just a regular old laptop, dock, and keyboard setup. It’s not autocorrect, it’s her brain. Trust me. I’ve been with her 7 months at this point.

            1. quill*

              I would be soooo tempted to ask her if she wanted dressing for that word salad.

              I don’t believe she would get the joke, though.

    2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      Is this employee from the examples a native English speaker? If not, I would cut some slack for sure and focus on other performance issues.

      But I would also stop grouping these employees together. Focus on giving clear direct feedback on what needs to change and follow up when it happens again with specific examples. “I wanted to raise the issue of the 1:1 not being rescheduled after we spoke about it yesterday. Is there a system issue that is preventing you from getting this done?” If it comes up again “this is an example of the lack of follow up we discussed last week. In order to be successful I need you to complete this task within the next two hours.”

      1. Stressed*

        English is her first and only language.

        1 is the only employee I have any jurisdiction over, so I’m just going to be watertight and honest in my evaluations of her. To be blunt: she’s a kind woman, but she’s not at the level we need for this job. I just need to make the documentation as airtight as possible.

        1. Cj*

          I’m curious to know what her cover letter and resume looked like. Although I supposed to be probably got help with that, at least with proofreading.

          1. Cj*

            Speech-to-text just got me again. That was supposed to be “she probably”, not “too be probably”.

          2. Stressed*

            Coherently written; I am 99.99% certain someone else wrote it for her. The gulf in finesse is HUGE. The skills listed on her resume do not at all line up with the quality of work we have seen in person in the office.

      2. Observer*

        Is this employee from the examples a native English speaker? If not, I would cut some slack for sure and focus on other performance issues.

        I doubt that this is possible. For one thing, she’s sending really problematic emails to *outside people* who are CLIENTS. That’s a significant problem. Even the emails to inside staff are problematic, because they are so hard to understand; it’s not just minor usage / grammar errors.

    3. Cat Lover*

      No advice, just sympathy. I work with a lady (at a chain of doctor’s offices) that types like this, including in emails to patients. English is not her first language and I think it’s just a writing in English thing, because her speaking is fine. It’s frustrating though when I get incomprehensible notes about pts.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you keep incompetent employee because RACE you’re actually perpetuating some weird assumptions instead of potentially hiring a competent employee of color.

      1. Stressed*

        I’m not her manager, which makes this all a lot tougher. Her actual manager has been complaining about the quality of work but has not done his due diligence with feedback. It’s the problem with having non-administrative people managing administrators.

      2. Well...*

        3 events rules out 0 signal at 3 sigma for a poisson distribution… Meaning something is up here. It’s hard for this to just be an incompetence coincidence that has nothing to do with race.

        Granted, this could be systemic problems beyond OPs control. I’d argue we all have an obligation to put some extra effort in to correct for that as well.

        1. Stressed*

          The only quality of work I can speak to with any knowledge is 1’s work, which is indeed bad. It’s absolutely possible that 2 and 3 are being judged unfairly: I don’t have any way of knowing beyond what I’ve heard, and I can’t bank on the reliability of it. I just don’t know.

          As I wrote below part of the problem is that our company isn’t offering appealing pay or flexibility, so the best candidates are (understandably) going to the companies that are.

          1. Sunflower*

            This sounds like a major organization problem. You said there are more than 3 people on the team having performance problems that warrant being on some sort of official list- That seems extremely high.

            I have to ask- are people actually interviewing for these jobs? It seems like any of this would have been picked up if the applicants were writing cover letters. It kind of sounds like HR is just hiring people without doing their due diligence but also isn’t allowing for quick cuts if it’s not working out.

            It’s pretty common for companies to have 3 month probationary periods where the policy states employees can be let go without need for an improvement plan. If HR refuses to change their hiring practices, perhaps instituting this and having the applicants sign it can help skirt their worries.

            1. Stressed*

              3 people. Not more than 3 (that I’m aware of)

              Yes, she was sent to us by HR. We (stupidly) assumed that she had been vetted, because that’s what HR is supposed to do. At some point during the Panera, HR stopped doing these tests…but didn’t tell anyone. We assumed she had been vetted because she should have been.

              As I wrote elsewhere her manager is content to complain about her but has consistently dropped the ball in doing something about it. My colleague and I both gave him honest, detailed feedback at 90 days highlighting her serious issues. She still made it past 90.

              1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

                See how easy it is to have this happen? “At some point during the Panera, HR stopped doing these tests…”

                1. Stressed*

                  …it’s a meme, people using different words starting with P instead of pandemic.

        2. Observer*

          It’s hard for this to just be an incompetence coincidence that has nothing to do with race.

          “hard” does not mean impossible. We obviously can’t speak to the others, but the examples the OP is providing are definitely examples of unacceptable writing that affect performance. This is not about using non-standard grammar / usage.

          It’s also possible that the people who do hiring are just really bad at the job, and are focusing too much on race when hiring without thinking about what aspects of race they should be thinking about. eg It’s good to think about the possibility that a Black candidate might not have a degree (that is really only marginally relevant anyway) because of lack of access rather than lack of intelligence and discipline, but it’s not OK to figure that you can’t hold out for competence because that’s “the best you can find”. The former is appropriate and recognizes real disparities. The latter is flat out racist, whatever anyone intends.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          If N=3 you can’t apply a Poisson distribution and come to reasonable conclusions! Small number statistics are very difficult to do well.

          If you have a job that isn’t competitive in pay and benefits, *and* where they’re not screening for basic competency in the hiring process, as the OP describes, getting incompetent employees is not that surprising.

          1. Well...*

            Poisson distributions only apply for small numbers, when the numbers get larger they are well approximated by gaussian distributions.

          2. Well...*

            This is why it’s a big deal when experiments observe 3 events in extremely low background regions.

            My assumption of low background is probably the shakier part of the argument here.

        4. linger*

          Statistics points to existence of a systematic problem, but not directly to a cause.
          One likely causal chain starts with the plausible assumption that the company currently does not pay enough to attract candidates with the skills they want, and/or is performing inadequate testing for those skills when hiring. Therefore their recent hires are drawn from a pool of candidates who have fewer other job opportunities they can successfully apply for, likely because they are under-educated, under-skilled, and lacking in self-confidence, all of which correlate with membership of lower socioeconomic classes and/or minority groups. Under such conditions, a systematically higher probability of ethnic minority status among subpar employees is guaranteed, even if there is no conscious racial bias at play within the company.
          This does not rule out the possibility of there also being some unconscious class/racial bias, e.g. in assuming that any “native speaker of English” must logically be perfectly able to use a given standard written variety of English.

    5. WellRed*

      It sounds frustrating but I think your plan for now is your best bet because I also see why HR would be wary. I also wonder what hiring practices need to be fixed going forward but understand that may be out of your control.

      1. Stressed*

        They didn’t give her any kind of skills test or writing test, and didn’t check references. Part of the trouble we’re having is that our company isn’t offering appealing enough pay and flexibility, so the best candidates are (understandably) going to those companies that ARE providing more appealing packages.

        1. PollyQ*

          Then you don’t just have an employee problem, you have an employer problem. Sure, go ahead & do what you need to so that you can let this employee go, but I’d have every expectation that the next employee will be no better. You might want to think about how much of your career you want to spend fighting against your company just to do good work and have competent co-workers.

      2. WellRed*

        To clarify though, eventually your employee may need to be let go. Document, document. I second the advice above to separate these employees in your mind.

        1. Stressed*

          2 and 3 are on another workline (I’m the top ranking assistant, 1 is another admin and 2 and 3 are associates)

    6. Warrior Princess*

      How has she reacted to the remedial training so far? Is she engaging and willing to learn? A little confused but up to it? Or pushing back and complaining? Because that should be a factor in your decision making. If she’s pushing back and complaining, I think you’d have grounds to go back to HR and make your case that she also needs to be let go.

      1. Stressed*

        She is willing to learn, but not able. I also don’t get the sense that she fully grasps HOW behind she is.

        1. Cat Lover*

          I used to work with someone like that. It’s a whole different beast- you don’t know what you don’t know.

    7. Girasol*

      Have you looked into a business communication course for her as part of a professional development plan?

      1. Stressed*

        As I said above, it’s like suggesting remedial math for an engineer. It’s a fundamental fit issue.

    8. ferrina*

      There might be a few things to help support this employee.
      1. Templates. Is there copy/paste language she can use to just fill in the blanks? ( I love this for trainees)
      2. Bullet points and agendas. When sending her emails, put them in bullet points. Ask her to respond to each bullet point in bolded text. This can help her organize her thoughts. In meetings, end by reading back the action items and who is responsible for each.
      3. Restructure responsibilities. What is she good at? Can she do more of that?
      4. Shadowing or having people shadow her. This can help her get practice and see how other people effectively communicate.

      I’d also take a second look at the organizations hiring and onboarding practices. It sounds like the majority of your black employees aren’t meeting expectations. What’s happened at your company that’s led to this? Is your recruiting process not attracting diverse candidates? Does the training program have some unconscious bias (assuming social capital or knowledge)? This is incredible common in a lot of institutions- my own very well-meaning company struggles with this (we’re actually redoing our entire training program to help combat this)

      1. Stressed*

        Put bluntly: she’s not good at anything. Her skills range from mediocre to extremely poor.

        We’ve tried templates for outlook meetings, she doesn’t understand them or won’t consistently fill them out. 2mos of feedback with minimal progress. As for business communication, templates will not work. You need to have the judgement and skill to write without one, as this job is fast paced & high level.

        She’s being so shadowed by the third team admin that it’s starting to cause a massive work backload that’s so large it’s causing delays for OTHER teams. I’m doing work that should be going to my other admin, but other admin is busy shadowing and re explaining simple concepts to 1.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          Since you mention you’re not the manager, what exactly is your role in all this? Sounds like the actual manager needs to be looped in (and maybe look at the hiring process too?)

          1. Stressed*

            The actual manager IS looped in, but isn’t doing his due diligence in actually MANAGING her. I have a similar role to hers, so the third admin and I have been the ones writing up her progress and evaluations. It speaks to a larger problem at our company which is that the admin staff is managed by people who don’t understand admin jobs and don’t put the same effort in that they’d put for the people working on the analytical/business end.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              Can you and the third admin put some pressure on the actual manager here? Be blunt: “her work is so bad that it’s taking X amount of our time just to try to straighten things out that she messes up/retrain her on things we’ve trained her on repeatedly/etc. If she’s allowed to continue to work in this role with this kind of performance and not have any consequences for it, it feels like there’s not much incentive for Admin 3 and me to continue to perform at a high level, or to take up her slack.”

              1. Stressed*

                We did do that, which prompted the response from HR. they know how bad it is and keep suggesting band aids for a very broken leg.

                1. WellRed*

                  I’m not being facetious when I say, maybe putting bandaids on a broken leg is exactly how you should put it.

                2. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

                  @WellRed I literally did :( I’m very frustrated with HR and her manager.

                3. LilyP*

                  Have you talked to *your* boss about how much of your time this is taking & the impacts it’s having on other work, and does she agree that this is a good use of your time and energy? If not, can she go to bat for you with this person’s manager or HR and insist that something has to change? If they don’t want to fire her, can they change who is responsible for her work or reassign her somewhere so that she’s not *your* problem?

                  Also, if you’re documenting stuff, focus hard on the consequences of this *to the business* — are meetings getting missed? Deadlines misunderstood? Clients complaining? What, specifically, are you or other admins not getting done because of the time you’re spending training or cleaning up after this person? You feeling annoyed or embarrassed is not a business consequence, so try to keep it all very dry and factual.

                  Honestly, I get the vibe that you are very detail-oriented and conscientious and having to deal with this persistent incompetence is bothering you on an emotional level, like nails on the chalkboard of your soul, but for right now you don’t have the authority to fix this and the people with authority have decided not to act. I think you need to give yourself some emotional distance from feeling responsible for this situation. Can you keep the running list of impacts but otherwise try to mentally shrug/laugh/roll your eyes at her word-salads? Maybe a private bingo game out of what creative misspelling she’ll come up with next?

                4. Stressed*

                  @Lily We are high level global finance dealing with sovereigns, so it’s really really REALLY important that *everyone* is competent.

                  My boss is aware of all of this, but it wouldn’t be the person in her position dealing with this, and her plate is full with more important things than staffing. My boss is team “document so that her firing is watertight.”

                  Her mistakes, particularly with clients, make our firm look bad at a time when we cannot afford it.

    9. Tired Social Worker*

      Is this a difference in communication in their socioeconomic class of origin? Often times those from a lower socioeconomic status struggle with the unspoken rules and communication styles of middle and other upper classes. I would recommend looking at some of Dr. Ruby Payne’s work where she explains the culture of poverty and how to support students and professionals with this concept.

      1. Stressed*

        Yes, but she’s (according to her resume, which I strongly suspect she didn’t write / exaggerated her skills on) an admin with 20 years of experience who claims to have years of experience on the exact same softwares we have been unsuccessfully training her on for months. Her skills and claimed experience do not at all line up to a really extreme degree.

        1. Tired Social Worker*

          Ugh that’s hard. Here is how I would sit approach it. I would not make a PIP but I would start doing biweekly meetings with a strength based approach. Ask her what she thinks she is doing well and you tell her what she is doing well. Ask her what she thinks she needs to improve on (she may know she needs improvement but is in over her head and is afraid to ask) and then tell her what you think she needs improvement on. Set a goal for improvement by the next meeting and provide specific examples of what what she is doing and what you want it to look like. This can help determine a skills deficit (can to) versus a willingness deficit (want to and that is why I fudged my resume). If things don’t start to improve then you have standing to start a PIP

          1. Stressed*

            She’s 7 months in and still asks how to CC someone on an email. She claims 20 years experience as an admin. I’m tearing my hair out trying to get anyone at my company to understand that they’re suggesting putting band aids on a broken leg.

              1. Stressed*

                Even if I could, I wouldn’t have any agency to make it change. I wrote explicitly in my evaluation of her that I don’t think she wrote her resume OR cover letter because there is such a massive difference in quality, and a difference in the skills we’re seeing vs the skills she says she has.

                1. Cj*

                  If you call her former employers to verify her experience with the software she claims to have used, and it turns out that she lied, would that HR “cover” to fire her without worrying about the fact that she is black?

                  Also, the examples that you gave are such egregious errors that if she did try to sue for discrimination, I would imagine her attorney with the drop her case immediately as soon as they saw your documentation.

                2. Stressed*

                  @CJ That’s assuming they’d tell me. Finance people tend to be overly cautious with that kind of thing.

                3. Cj*

                  Oh good lord, it’s really embarrassing in this particular thread that I keep using speech to text and keep missing errors on edit.

              2. Stressed*

                I personally think HR is trying to cover their ass because they know they screwed up the vetting entirely.

                1. Sylvan*

                  :( I suggested verifying your resume because I thought, if the resume was fabricated, you could show that to her manager or HR. But if HR is covering their butts instead of solving the problem, that’s not going to help.

      2. Sylvan*

        I know you don’t mean it this way, but this may come off as a little condescending towards people of lower SES. We’re adults and can definitely grasp basic literacy and job responsibilities.

      3. Cj*

        Isn’t that usually more along the lines of using a different vernacular, though? The examples given are typos, like honor instead of honest, and punctuation (or lack thereof). She typed honest correctly in a different sentence, so that’d not a socio economic difference, it is a typo.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Can you (or her manager) require her to use a grammar checker on written communications? I just pasted those samples into Google Docs and the built-in grammar check caught most of it. I bet Grammarly or something similar would catch even more.

      Probably not worth it on thank you notes, but for external communications or anything that should convey important information to management, it seems like a relatively easy fix.

      That isn’t going to help with other parts of her performance, but it could at least make a big improvement in the writing. And compliance with the requirement will be a good indication of how trainable she is.

      1. Stressed*

        We’ve tried that, but her writing is so bad that there’s no program that could catch every error. Several programs & no improvement.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I’m not talking about enough improvement to make sure she keeps her job. I’m talking about making it easier to understand what she’s saying and so that she doesn’t embarrass the company with clients.

          If there was literally zero improvement then she is not actually using the program. So that’s a data point you can document.

          1. Stressed*

            The thing is: she IS using the programs. I watch her use them. The writing is so incomprehensible that the programs might as well be sending middle finger emojis in response.

            1. Everything Bagel*

              I feel terrible for laughing, but my word. I feel for you, too. Does she speak coherently and follow along in conversations in person? It’s hard to imagine someone fully alert and sober writing like that, or not reading it before sending it and realizing how wrong it is.

              1. Stressed*

                She speaks coherently enough most of the time, but I don’t get the sense that her …processing? Is that great. Between my speaking and her brain…something gets lost. You can tell she’s nodding along but not understanding. It’s really frustrating.

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

      How does she communicate verbally? Is it the same? From what you wrote, it sounds like she has an idea that she must be overly formal in her written communication and then it ends up stilted and garbled. I have a colleague like this — she can be strangely formal in her written communication, like she got out the thesaurus and used the biggest fanciest words she could find — because she’s been criticized in the past for being much too informal and then “coached” by someone who really just didn’t like her personality.

      If your employee is completely incompetent in all of her job duties, then you need to let her go, but if it’s really just her (written) communication, then I think, just a little, you might be too harsh. The bits about “make sure you answer every question…” could apply to just about every person at my university top to bottom IME…even if I bullet point 3 questions, I might get the first one answered. And this one, “engineer needing to do remedial math” — a phenomenon I’ve seen often in my university are that people who have advanced knowledge in a subject, can struggle with going back to basics because they have progressed so far beyond them.

      1. Stressed*

        Here’s another example: manager asked 1 to reschedule an internal 1:1. This is an incredibly quick action for a skilled admin, it takes maybe less than 30 seconds. manager had to ask 1 3x to reschedule this meeting before it was done. 1 claims (above, the “to be honor” Teams msg) that she thought she had completed the request at 9:10am, and the changes were reflected in the calendar. In this role, you are looking at the calendar portion of Outlook constantly throughout the day. Over 10x an hour. 1, if she were looking at the calendar as often as this role dictates, would have *seen* that the meeting had not been rescheduled. She also told her manager to watch his tone with her. I reviewed the exchange between 1 and manager, and all I saw from manager’a end was understandable and office-appropriate frustration that this simple request had not been filled despite asking 3x. Also – if she thought this was done at 9:10am…. Why did she not ask herself why manager asked her two more times, after 9:10am, to make sure it was done?

    12. Anonymous Koala*

      I wonder if this is a spell check issue. Maybe her spelling is terrible and she’s just clicking through Microsoft’s spellcheck without actually making judgement calls about each correction. Could you get her to consider each change individually? Also see if she can read everything she writes out loud before she sends it. Sometimes people are much better at catching mistakes when they hear them.

      Also Grammarly is amazing at correcting this type of thing if your company’s security system allows for it (a lot of IT departments won’t allow it though). Can you recommend the free version to your employee if that’s an option?

      1. Stressed*

        This goes deeper than spellcheck. We’ve tried several programs and none of them are able to catch her errors. It’s that bad. Furthermore, because she’s so awful at her job, my colleague and I are already overworked and don’t have the time to look over her shoulder to proof each email.

        1. Emma*

          I’m sorry you’re feeling stressed and that this is happening. This seems to be frustrating and weighing on your very heavily. You don’t seem to be in the frame of mind to be considering the suggestions presented here. I wonder what you would feel helpful to you at this time.

          1. Stressed*

            I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s not that I’m not receptive: it’s that the suggestions are band aids on a broken leg, or things I’ve already tried.

            1. ResearchalatorLady*

              I agree that you seem to be more worried about 1 making the company look bad than her manager or HR do, and that’s because you care about your work… but it’s time to take a mental step back. Unless you’re about to be chastised for not magically making 1’s work better, that’s a mental burden you are taking on that you don’t need to. Your boss, 1’s boss, and HR have more responsibility for her impact on clients than you, and if she makes a bad impression, that’s on them. Good luck!

          2. Cj*

            I don’t think there are any suggestion we could make to help improve the employee’s performance. I think the only thing that would be helpful would be suggestions on how to convince HR that this person needs to be fired.

        2. Disco Janet*

          English teacher here, and these kind of mistakes still being made in adulthood likely indicate that she would need a remedial course helping her catch up on grammar – and it would still likely be tough. Perhaps in the future, part of the interview process could be emailing the interviewer a (very brief) sample memo, so you can check for proficient literacy and technology skills?

          I’m curious about what her role is. I’ve been thinking about trying to shift fields to something better paying, but figuring out what else to do with an English degree and secondary education experience is tricky.

    13. Eagle*

      My first thought, based on the writing examples, was that the EE wasn’t a native English speaker. If they are a native speaker, I’m not sure you can fix that. While the optics may be poor if you have to fire the three of them, is there any way to transfer them to other jobs that don’t require the skills that the three EEs are lacking?

    14. anonymous73*

      I can’t speak to the others, because as you said it’s all hearsay, but if 1s performance is that poor and you have documented samples and proof that you’ve tried to help her improve by providing clear expectations, there should be no issue with letting her go. If they’re simply NOT letting her go because of race, that’s no better than not hiring someone for that same reason. The bottom line is that she’s not a fit for the role.

    15. Everything Bagel*

      Does your employee use a speech to text application? These types of errors are exactly the type that I see when I use speech to text on my cell phone.

    16. calvin blick*

      I have some good rules for OP–the Black employees are not the only incompetent ones at this company! Based on OP’s responses, HR and OP’s manager are also doing their jobs very poorly.

      1. Stressed*

        Turnover in HR is *insane* right now. Everyone competent has left. The people who came in to replace the competent people have left. It’s a nightmare.

        1. calvin blick*

          If it makes you feel any better, we had two similar employees (both white) at my previous job. One somehow managed to stay on for years in spite of the fact he did minimal work poorly (although he was at least competent enough to eventually produce something useful) and would do stuff like email the CEO of the whole company to try to persuade him to implement a theocracy. The other one was even less competent, made it very clear he did not care at all, and eventually left without any warning. The last we heard about him he was arrested for stabbing someone in the neck at a McDonalds.

        2. SloanGhost*

          Maybe…you leave? If they wanna let 1 drive off high-profile clients with her word salad, let ’em flop.

    17. Observer*

      I completely understand HRs hesitations and concerns. I also feel totally screwed.

      You feel that way, because you ARE. HR is not doing it’s job. Neither is your manager.

      You’ve gotten some good feedback, but from what you say you’re very much up a creek without a paddle. I would seriously start looking for a new job. And, I probably wouldn’t even look within the company for a transfer because it sounds like some of the problems are company wide.

      1. Stressed*

        1 and I don’t share the same manager. I am the assistant to the global head of our department, which includes 5 teams. 1’s manager is the NA regional head for one of the 5 teams- so the manager is a direct report of my boss’s direct report.

        As for leaving—- I adore my boss, she is awesome. I’ve worked for some assholes before, and the fact that she herself is such a pleasure to work with is no small consideration for me. If I leave, I might have more money or competence, but this is finance in NYC: I’d almost definitely work for an asshole, and that’s not a dynamic I’m willing to work with again. She is so great that the “stay” column still far outweighs the “leave” column.

        1. TPS reporter*

          Is there any way to distance yourself from the sphere of responsibility for this other person and just focus on your duties? Can you cordon off her assignments specifically to her so there’s no overlap and just let them fail if that’s what happens?

          1. Stressed*

            I wish, but without going into too much detail the structure & intersections make that method unfeasible :/

        2. crazy tuesday*

          given that yo like your boss, it’s time to bounce this issue to your boss: #1’s performance issues cost me 5 hours per week. What would you like me to move to lower priority until I get those hours back?
          The other admin needs to go to her boss with the same statement.
          If your company doesn’t pay as competitively as other places, this issue is bound to happen.

        3. Maiden of the Spear*

          OP, how on earth does someone with the communication deficiencies, which you’ve described as your direct report having, ever get hired at a global finance company? Isn’t there at least a degree requirement?

        4. Manchmal*

          If I understand what you wrote, your boss and this other admin’s boss is not the person. In that case, your boss should care immensely that her admin person’s time and sanity are being severely disrupted due to her colleague’s lack of attention to his reports. I think you need to go to your boss and enlist her help in solving this.

          1. Stressed*

            She was the person who told me about the 123 issue. In so many words, her guidance is “document, and make sure it’s watertight”

    18. Jarissa*

      Stressed, I agree that you are in a tough spot here, and that it’s time to start leaning heavily on your own boss (since it reads to me that you and she value each other) to lean hard on 1’s manager to take action. I suspect that 1 is not going to invest her own efforts into solving her problems until she has the specific outside motivation of having obviously upset a person whose reactions matter to 1. You and 1’s manager, for whatever reason, are currently in the category of folks who do not matter to 1. Only 1’s manager has any possibility of fixing that, I think.

      The “too long” anecdata:

      I once had to train a woman who was a lot like 1, as far as task competencies and learning go. I’ll call my ex-problem “Liz”. For context, though, this administrative job was not in the financial sector. Liz was hired to be _my_ boss, meaning that the idea was I should be teaching her one set of processes that were shared tasks in our office and then giving her an overview of the other processes specific to my job so that she could accurately make “big picture” decisions for our department.

      (Also: Liz was a middle-class white lady, fifth generation US native, roughly 20 years older than myself, probably would have used the word “gumption” to explain why her listed job history did not leave any room for why I had to teach her how to use so many basic office supplies universal to our field of work.)

      I spent months patiently teaching her the job that my grandboss hired her to do. I asked her about her hobbies, and related fundamental processes to the same thought process by which she would knit a towel or prepare a volunteering schedule for her Pinewood Derby racing club. I walked her through a middle-complexity invoicing process fifteen times over the course of two weeks, each time pointing out exactly how I was figuring out which line item went where, and then had her walk me through the same thing again while literally putting her finger on what she thought was the deciding factor and why it meant that it went in a particular stack.

      At the same time, I worked 11 hour weekdays and all weekend in order to get the actual work done; more than four-fifths of it had tight deadlines each day, especially Mondays, and if I was 3 minutes late then that put Payroll or other affected departments more than half an hour late on getting their subsequent work accomplished.

      Her boss, my grandboss, spent most of his time out of office — he was as much Chief Salesman as he was Branch Manager. I requested appointments with him once every few weeks to meet, to update him on how the training of Liz was going. At the third appointment, I asked him to try teaching Liz the invoice thing, because I was out of ideas on why she couldn’t wrap her mind around it.

      At the fourth, I handed him my notice, because I had developed a bizarre medical condition that, in retrospect, came from that discouraging workload. Going back to normal was not going to be enough for me to recover. I needed to go haunt a specialist’s office until they figured me out.

      By my last day, Liz seemed to be figuring things out for the most part! She could do a whole day’s tasks without having to be taught them all over again from scratch, three days of the week! She was aware that if she missed that one o’clock deadline each weekday, it created snowballing troubles in several directions across the company! Someone else could think up new ways to teach her the remaining stuff her resume had claimed she already knew.

      My last day was a Friday. The very next Monday was a federal holiday, but not a company holiday. Still, lighter workload day due to the bank and some of our business partners being closed.

      And on that Tuesday, I got a phone call from the head of a completely different department, asking me to walk him through how to open the time-clock application — do whatever needed doing — and tell it to forward its information to the main computers of the company. Liz heard from people who were not standing in front of her, people who could not be dismissed as “that nice salesman who needs me to look after him” or “that young woman who I can’t consider an expert because she’s only my daughter’s age”, that she honestly did need to be able to think her way through all these tasks in a timely manner, and get them right the first time. These people said on the phone that she needed to do her job because she was already making significant trouble for fifteen other people, all of whom would have to stay late to fix this mess.

      Liz waited until her boss walked into the building to ask why was his boss calling about her, whereupon she promptly quit. Effective instantly.

      Don’t let 1 be Liz, Stress! You deserve better than I did. You do not deserve Mystery Biological Problem. All too often, Mystery Biological Problems lead to ADA accommodations, and then nobody’s having a successful day. Ask your boss to help. Ask your boss to order 1’s manager to handhold her, or to transfer her directly to HR’s daily to-do list, or to figure out for you what you can do instead of dealing with 1 yourself.

    19. Snarky Snarkerson*

      Can the company purchase a Grammerly extension for Outlook for this employee? Then, someone would ostensibly teach them how to use it. Might save at least some embarrassment with client communications. We did this for an employee, but they recognized their issues on their own.

  15. korangeen*

    Bear with me as I give some background info before my question.

    I’m working on a small team, and at the moment there are only three of us—myself, the team lead, and a coworker. I’ve only been working with them part-time for the past three months, but they’ve been pretty busy for years now, so the co-worker scheduled a workshop for us this morning to talk about burnout. I’m not burnt out because I just got here, but with such a small group I thought it would be weird for me to not join. But the calendar invite my co-worker sent had very little info, just a title (The V.U.C.A. Reframe: Burnout to Resilience) and the email address of who she was referring to as the “guest speaker.” So I tried asking for more info—what is this going to be covering, and is there anything we need to prepare? She insisted that’s it’s not something you need to prepare for, but said it would be an interactive workshop where we’re expected to have our cameras on. Yikes, my nightmare, having to have my camera on in a small group and interact but not knowing what to prepare to talk about. So I started doing some google searches trying to figure out who is this guy, what the heck is VUCA, what is this workshop going to entail. It was very confusing, it seemed this guy worked for a housing organization and a faith-based substance abuse treatment center, which has nothing to do with our work, and I couldn’t find any info about him hosting workshops on burnout. Is he getting paid for this? Where did we find him? No clue. I found some info on VUCA, and a lot of it was focused around healthcare (again nothing to do with our work), some of it basically trying to convince people they shouldn’t be emotional about covid. I relayed my findings in our slack chat. My coworker explained that this guest speaker owns the treatment center where she used to work, and assured me that the workshop wouldn’t be “telling us not to be emotional about the state of the world.”

    Cut to this morning: I join the workshop, where it’s just the three of us and this guy, and he’s droning on and on as he slowly goes through his slides, and about halfway through, he says, “Fun fact about me: my daughter’s in this workshop.” HE WAS HER DAD!! This whole time! I privately message our team lead saying that this is super awkward, and it was really bizarre that I didn’t have any of this context. The team lead replies saying “sorry, probably because I’m so burned out I didn’t even register this would be bizarre without context.”

    So my question is: do I need to address this somehow with my co-worker? Or can I just pretend that this awkwardness never happened?

    1. korangeen*

      And now the co-worker is asking me in the slack channel what I thought of the workshop. I mean, personally I hated it, but I doubt there’s any value in telling her that. I’mmmm just going to pretend like I didn’t see her question…

      1. the cat's ass*

        YIIIIKES. Talk about no due diligence! Wonder what that cost your company. re the co worker, I’d go with “that was interesting.”

        1. korangeen*

          I assume he did this for free. We’re government contractors, so it’s a real hassle to pay for anything.

      2. Twisted Lion*

        What a nightmare. Sounds like you were the Dad’s test/practice for his workshop. I wouldnt be brutally honest but maybe just say it didnt apply to you since you arent burnt out yet. And then suggest less screen reading of slides. LOL

      3. JustMyImagination*

        If she asks again- “I’m still digesting the information” or something along those lines, maybe?

      4. WellRed*

        I would have voted for not addressing this but I doubt she’ll stop pestering you about what you thought. Your team lead doesn’t look to good either first for allowing this, second for her telling you she’s burned out and that’s why this went through. What are you even supposed to do with that?

      5. anonymous73*

        I would be honest with them. “In the future when you set up something like this, I would appreciate having all of the information so I can decide if it’s right for me to attend. I honestly didn’t find any value in this particular workshop.”

        But it’s completely understandable if you don’t want to rock the boat with your small team. I just hate letting inappropriate things just go by the wayside like they never happened.

    2. Warrior Princess*

      It sounds bizarre, and I would be strongly on team ‘pretend it never happened’. If your coworker pushes I would say something along the lines of ‘I haven’t been feeling super burnt out but I hope you and COLLEAGUE got some benefit’.

      But also, use this info in thinking on your workplace. Your whole team is burnt out. There are clear boundary issues (inviting a coworkers parent for a small seminar like this seems kind of weird, since they’re not some sort of super-speaker). Their solution to burnout is weird workshops. This is not an environment that promises good things for your mental health.

      1. korangeen*

        “Pretend it never happened” is definitely my inclination! And, yeah, you’re not wrong on the boundary issues and weird solutions. What on earth was going through her head to not say that this was her dad when I was asking who this was?? Dunno.

    3. ferrina*

      What a nightmare! And so bizarre! I’d find an excuse to casually mention this to HR or someone higher up that could have a word with this colleague about how ridiculously inappropriate this was.

      For what to say- “I appreciate the intent behind this, but it didn’t really meet where I’m at. I’m not feeling burnt out at all! If we do anything like this in the future, it would be great to have more context about this.”

      1. korangeen*

        You know what, I think she and I actually are on the same subcontracting company, but I don’t think this company has an HR. I could mention it to the guy who’s technically my supervisor for the company, but I doubt he’d know what to do with it. (The organizational structure for all the contractors and subcontractors at a government agency has always been super confusing to me. Essentially the company is just there to cut you a paycheck.) I do have a one-on-one meeting later today with the civil servant who’s the lead for the broader team, but he’s not really the best at interpersonal issues, so I’m thinking through whether telling him would be more trouble than it’s worth.

    4. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Yikes. I’m not really sure. Maybe connect with your team lead to find out if this sort of thing is common? It’s so strange!

      I’ve worked at a place where a coworker’s family member was invited to be a speaker (one of many) but it was public knowledge mentioned in the blurb when you sign up – and the speaker was also relevant to our field.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I probably wouldn’t say anything, but I’d be really tempted to name the awkwardness – “why didn’t you tell me he was your dad?”/”It threw me off to find out you’re related, you should’ve mentioned that when I was asking for more info!” Could be a good way to dodge her actual question while also seeming interested, lol

  16. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    I’ll be traveling to my company’s HQ in July for Six Sigma Yellow Belt training.

    Anyone here who’s been through it recently? Just wondering what to expect, as I’ve never trained in any formal quality process before.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        This is oddly specific advise. Would you mind elaborating, Liz?
        Please please please please? xD

        1. Sassafras*

          This is from the Six Sigma episode of 30 Rock! To be honest, until today I thought Six Sigma was some ridiculous business concept made up for the tv show!

    1. SoloKid*

      I did mine over a decade ago but hopefully the mathematical foundations are the same lol. Good luck! I really liked it from a theoretical/business POV.

      To make it useful though you really need to have a black belt that is committed to capturing/analyzing data and having the authority to make changes if needed. Management sent us for the training but didn’t expound further on what kinds of projects they thought could benefit from 6S. Too much “well get it done anyway even if it’s not efficient” going on.

    2. Sandra Dee*

      I have gone through Green Belt and Black Belt training offered by my company, in conjuction with a local university. It is a very intense week of training. My green belt class did have a lego project. My black belt class built helicopters and did an activity with wind up cars. Expect to be mentally exhausted at the end of each day. If you think are going to be able to do some of your regular duties in the off hours, don’t. It is a lot of information tossed at you in a single week. Additionally, I had to pass an exam, for both Green and Black Belt, plus complete 2 projects for Green Belt certification and one larger project for Black Belt. These requirements could be specific for my company, so don’t count on this as gospel.

      Good luck. I enjoyed the classes.

  17. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I have two thoughts. First my therapist insists people are bad at their jobs but feel fine. What skill are you worst at? I’m terrible at filling in the gaps- if you tell me what to do I’ll do it, but if you require me to construct it myself I won’t be able to

    Also on resumes how do you write about informal mentoring? Like I do the ‘ so this is what we do here” spiel for new employees , they shadow me and I explain the easier bits of the job.

    1. hmmmmmmm*

      For informal mentoring, I usually focus on the skill involved that I’m passing on–for example, I’m good at teaching employees the ins and outs of using Windows/our printer/our software, so I put something like “known for expertise in [industry] technology and troubleshooting, and a go-to resource for other employees on [industry software].”

    2. Ali + Nino*

      OK, I’ll bite. For my current job: I don’t think I’m great, and there are parts of my job that I haven’t been good at for a while. (In particular, the creative/coming up with new ideas part. I feel like I’ve lost motivation. Give me a task, and I’ll do it, and do it as well as I can, like you said.) Overall, I think I’m doing a mediocre job, in large part because I just don’t prioritize work the way I might have before having a family, and certainly before the pandemic. In terms of feeling fine – yep, this is fine for now. I keep my job. I want to ask for a raise based on increased output, but I don’t know if I really merit it. My philosophy right now is, “If I’m doing such a bad job, go ahead, fire me. I will find a new job.” Not because my skills are in such high demand, or because I think I’m so great, but because I believe that there are enough jobs out there that I am CAPABLE of doing, not hating, and earning a “good enough” salary/benefits, that I am not going to be married to any one job. It doesn’t define me.

      Tbh, I think if you’d told me this was what I’d be like when I was in college, I would have been extremely disappointed in myself. But life happens, we reprioritize, and I no longer want to let “perfect” get in the way of “good enough” (to riff on Brene Brown). Good luck, I hope this helps.

    3. Diluted Tortoishell*

      I wouldn’t consider what you do, showing them around, having new hires shadow you, training on the basics/foundation of the job as “informal mentoring”. I’ve seen that phrase mainly used to describe being available for coffee once a quarter with a promising new hire to discuss questions about the industry and company.

      I’d say something like: Trained new hires on X, Y, and Z processes.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Well, I’m not that great at my job and I don’t feel good about it. Of course, most of my coworkers who do the same thing aren’t great at their jobs either, but quite a few of them feel fine about it. The questions I get from customers are just so incredibly random and frequently very bizarre. Just the situations they get themselves into. And I’m not so hot at looking up what to do to resolve their problems in our badly-written and pathetically slow online manual. I find it very stressful when I trying to do that while I have a customer on the phone looking for service. I’m reluctant to put them on hold because our phone system is the pits and there’s a good chance they’ll get disconnected.

      You can certainly include something like onboarded, trained and mentored new employees on your resume.

    5. Purple Cat*

      1st question – absolutely there are plenty of people who are mediocre at best at their work and just don’t give an F. I’m the opposite and objectively perform well, but I believe I suck. My biggest struggle is with long-range planning, I love structure and short-term deadlines, managing things that drag out forever, or squeezing those “above and beyond” projects into my workload is rough.

      2nd question – You are absolutely doing “training and mentoring of new employees; including initial job introduction (without all this crazy alliteration) and job shadowing.

    6. Your local password resetter*

      I’m bad at thinking on my feet. I can do fine with scripts and lists, but throw me a curve ball and I need to take some time to formulate a response. Also my writing isn’t that great.

      I tend to be very self-concious and guilt driven about my job performance, so if I screw up I try to keep perspective and focus on being good enough. Even if it took some messing around and help from people, if the basic job gets done then all is fine. And if it doesn’t, then its not the end of the world either. Life happens, and I try to move on.
      Easier said than done of course, but its better than guilt-tripping myself.

    7. Merle Grey*

      I can always find room for improvement in how I work, but bosses and and other higher-ups say I’m doing a really good job, so I don’t worry about it except if it makes things easier for me to change anything. I work with a handful of people who are struggling with very basic things in a fairly basic job, and they don’t seem to be too bothered by that. I’m also earning less than I was 8 years ago, and I wasn’t overpaid back then, so meh? I am not letting myself get emotionally invested in this job.

      I saw something recently where someone (a comedian?) said for most people, paychecks are the ultimate participation trophy, and they are probably right, based on my observations from many years of work in various fields.

  18. Jellyfish*

    All the recent discussion here about voicemails and phone calls has me much more aware of how often I use the phone at work. This morning alone, I made two directly work-related calls and received a third. I don’t work in reception, a call center, or any position that would automatically include heavier phone usage. Sometimes it’s just a better option for making contact.
    While I check my voicemail (both at work and on my personal phone), I don’t generally leave them for other people.

    Am I a weirdo for calling occasionally, or does the commenting population here skew more toward phone aversion than average?
    I’m a Millennial in the US if that makes any difference.

    1. Terrible as the Dawn*

      If you are calling in a business capacity, please leave a voicemail. I recently had some work done on my car and I didn’t find out until later in the day when I was calling in a panic to see if my car was going to be ready in time for me to drive home that the two missed calls from earlier that morning were the repair shop telling me my car was ready.

      Calling for work purposes is not at ALL weird.

    2. CatCat*

      You’re not a weirdo. Sometimes it is faster to get things sorted over the phone than in an email exchange. If I need to make a call, I make a call. If the call is to someone internal, I can see their calendar status and make sure they are not showing as “busy” or “in a meeting” before calling.

      The thing that I don’t like and maybe it’s just because I am not as used to it as phone calls are Teams calls. I never know if I am supposed to turn my camera on or not. And I have to scramble to get my headset on to answer it.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      In general, the commenter here hate phone calls. I much prefer written communication myself, but sometimes it is just easier to talk to someone. (I hate voicemail, though.)
      I’m also wondering if folks would consider a Zoom or Teams meeting where all attendees are audio-only (cameras off) to be the same thing as a phone call. I think it may be, unless you’re doing screen sharing or something more interactive.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ha, that should be “commenters”… not just the one commenter! Oh, and I’m Gen X, the generation that confuses everyone technology-wise.

      2. Jellyfish*

        I’ve never had an unplanned Zoom call and would find that very weird. Phone calls are different in my head – an unscheduled medium that doesn’t require a technological paper trail and never includes the pressure to be on video.

        1. Pam Adams*

          I have quite a few unplanned Zoom calls- I’m an academic advisor, so my Zoom is up and running all day. Students will drop in after emailing me or sometimes just dial in if they’ve seen me before. Hooray for the Zoom waiting room!

          To make them more phone-like, many students leave their cameras off. The ability to screen-share is what makes it work.

      3. A*

        I 100% consider Teams meetings (audio only) to be the same as a phone call. I can count on two hands the number of calls I’ve had in the last three years that weren’t through Teams (internal or external). Either it’s a prescheduled meeting, or if it’s in the immediate we’ll send a message first asking if they have a few minutes to chat and then hop on a call, which I consider to be the same as a Teams meeting.

    4. The Dude Abides*

      I think it very much depends on the context of the job.

      When communicating with a member of the public that my agency works with (I’m in a state gov’t agency), 90% of the time it’s over the phone since the people I am communicating with might not have an email, let alone check it regularly. Anyone else, I prefer email because I want something in writing to lean on when it hits the fan.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Exjob mostly used email and IM but clients would call if they had an issue downloading their reports. I knew to answer my phone when it rang since it was either a client or my team lead who liked to verbally process certain things. My boss used email. All these people ran the gamut agewise, so I think it’s less a generational thing than just a shift toward new technology and IM/text in general.

      I second Terrible as the Dawn; if you call, please leave voicemail. People are much less likely to call you back if you don’t. They might just assume it was a spam call or a misdial if they don’t recognize the number.

    6. Little beans*

      Personally, if someone wants to call me, I prefer that they send me a chat to ask if it’s a good time first. I’m in meetings most of the day, so if someone just calls me without notice, they’re going to have a hard time reaching me. Our unit recently moved and didn’t bother installing phones in our new offices, so that tells you how much we use them here. I have to give out my cell number when a call is really important.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same. I don’t mind phone calls and routinely have hour+ long conversations, but I do like the heads up through chat or text first rather than cold calling. When it’s up to me I’ll set meeting times with people to have what is essentially a phone conversation because I like to be able to plan for it.

        What I don’t like is people telling me I need to call people rather than rely on email, when that directive is coming from a third party who just thinks calling is the only way to do business.

        FWIW GenX here.

        1. allathian*

          I’m the same way. I’ll use the phone for business when I have to, and sometimes it really is the only option. But I find cold calls really disruptive. I’m very bad with names, and on cold calls, more often than not, I have to ask the person their name again before the end of the call, unless I know the person well enough to recognize their voice. When people start their call with “Hello, this is…” I don’t retain the name long enough to write it down, because if it’s a cold call, I’m still scrambling to collect myself from the shock of the phone ringing… Luckily I only have internal clients, but there’s no automated contact list in our system (which I think is asinine, to be frank), so only people I’m in contact with regularly enough to warrant putting them in my contacts manually show who’s calling.

          For me, Teams is definitely not the same as a phone call, at least on Teams I can see who’s calling even if it’s a cold call. That said, most people who want to talk to me do ask on IM first.

          Gen X.

      2. A*

        Same. I don’t even have a work landline phone. I have my work cell, which the folks who need the number have, and Teams. My work cell is really only for when I’m not at my desk / travelling / the few external stakeholders I work with that don’t use Teams. All my internal stakeholders just send me a message since it alerts on my phone the same as a text.

    7. Sundial*

      My perspective, as someone who works with heavily regulated products, is that documenting something in writing means it will be kept literally for as long as the company exists. In e-mail, on Teams, anywhere on a corporate-issued device: my typing is eternal. So verbally conversing with someone is critical for certain types of conversations, and it gets prioritized moreso than it would in other industries.

    8. Sandie B*

      I’m a millennial in the US too. I prefer written communication where possible but can also appreciate a phone or video call when necessary.

      Since we use chat a lot at my company, I prefer when someone reaches out over chat first to say, hey, do you have 5/15/etc minutes to talk about X? So I’m more prepared and not in the middle of something.

      Sometimes people will call out of the blue and i can’t pick it up because I’m away from my desk. In that case, i don’t mind but i wish they would leave a voicemail or chat message so i can prioritize and prepare properly.

      In my personal life, i actually use phone calls a lot to set up appointments and keep in touch with people, and i always use the phone etiquette my older boomer parents taught me.

      So, long story short, although I’m not a huge fan of unscheduled calls, i can still see why you like them and I’m personally open to compromise

      1. Jellyfish*

        I think there’s a geographically based cultural component too. When I lived in a much different area of the US, I mostly relied on email, and it was fine. Since moving to my current location in 2019, I’ve found the phone is more effective.

        Asynchronous communication is easier and includes a paper trail, but if I have a clarifying question, need a quick fix, want to make first contact with another organization, or schedule something, I’ve learned I get better results with the phone.

        No one listens to voicemails anywhere I’ve lived.

    9. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’m in sales/recruiting. I’m on the phone for at least 2-3 hours a day lol. I’d be screwed without the phone. I, too will always leave a voicemail but will also follow up with an email as well.

    10. SaltedChocolateChip*

      US Millennial. I also prefer emails, and unless you’re someone I work closely with and we’re having a back and forth about something, email>IM. One part of it is definitely an aversion to phones (though once I’m on the call I’m fine and totally personable, have done it in many jobs). Also now that I’m fully remote with few meetings, jumping on a “quick call” if it’s Zoom means being camera presentable without notice.

      But more than that it’s about:
      1. wanting to have a question/request documented (and easy to add to my to do list, rather than having to remember someone asked me something in an IM),
      2. wanting the person to have the question/request clearly stated right away so I don’t spend a lot of time discussing something that really is a simple question/request, and
      3. that it’s easier to loop someone else in/forward to get an opinion, with the requester/questioner’s exact request on record, than to say, “Oh let me go back and ask so-and-so about this” and then have to write the email yourself and hope you haven’t misconstrued the request.

      1. quill*

        This, also: written messages allow for copy paste. Which isn’t that critical until you start dealing with things like “part number BSQ4A9Z” and “Document adskflaglt2408” where a missing or transposed digit or letter can make finding out information in a database impossible. If you copy paste from the document to the email and I copy paste from the email to the database, there is MUCH less room for human error.

    11. JimmyJab*

      I have to use the phone semi-regularly because there is some stuff that is informal but shouldn’t be put in writing (nothing bad, just work for government and everything is a public record). So for me, using the phone occasionally is necessary. Since working remotely though, I usually email and ask if there is a convenient time for a short call.

    12. A Feast of Fools*

      I don’t mind business phone calls but I prefer a heads-up before someone calls. When other people at my company call me out of the blue, I have to switch my audio devices from a bluetooth speaker to a headset, shut down my NPR stream, and pull my brain way up out of the deep work I was doing.

      The call will be much more productive for both of us if the person pings me in Teams before calling me in Teams (our only intra-company communication option).

    13. WantonSeedStitch*

      Not weird. For voice calls in my office, it’s more common to use Slack calls (with video off) for voice calls, as we don’t have work-issued phones and most of us are working remotely so we don’t have desk phones. It’s a good option for anything confidential where we DON’T want a record of what’s discussed (for example, a conversation containing personal health information on a donor–I’m at a nonprofit–that stuff shouldn’t be recorded in our database but it might be important for a fundraiser working with them to know). It’s also good when something would take a lot of writing to explain–anything where there’s a lot of background.

    14. ND and awkward*

      Also a millenial, though in the UK, I don’t think you’re a weirdo. Though I’ve only used my work phone twice in the last 3 years, and one of those was a misclick by a coworker. Pre-pandemic my office had much more of a culture of stopping by someone’s desk, and now it’s a quick IM to ask for a videocall, which I much prefer due to being able to lipread. Judging by the other replies you’ve had I think that makes me the weirdo!

    15. Melanie Cavill*

      I’m a non-US millennial in an Anglo country and I don’t think you’re a weirdo. I have no issue calling people if I can’t get a useful or coherent answer over email. In my previous jobs, I dealt with a lot of defensive engineers that I would need to talk to in soothing tones to make sure they gave me the information I needed… instead of flipping out that an admin was fact-checking their inaccuracies. The phone made that a lot easier to do. I find email preferable because it’s not in real time and I’m Very Busy And Important, but I don’t think someone is weird if they call me instead.

    16. quill*

      So, I hate voicemail. Here are things you can do to make people not hate checking their voicemail.

      – Always make your calls in a quiet, indoor space, with the phone receiver actually pointed at your mouth. You’d be surprised how many people leave voicemails that are incomprehensible because the phone only picks up traffic / the cell phone mumble where the microphone is nowhere near your mouth / the phone ringing and muttering of the entire rest of an open office.
      – If you need to spell something unusual or recite some numbers? Email is usually best. Can’t tell you how many people who have left a voicemail that instructs me to call them about the Bee Cee Tee but on further inspection they just don’t enunciate and it’s actually the Vee Cee Dee.
      – Make sure that when you call it’s into a system where people will actually get their voicemails. At my last six jobs, I had an office phone at four of them and there was no training or instruction whatsoever about how to even get into the voicemail. At current job I don’t even know how to call out from the system because nobody wrote that down anywhere and I’ve had to do it once in a year.
      – If people don’t follow up on a voicemail? Assume it’s either incomprehensible, inaccessable, or they are nowhere near their listed office phone and email instead.

    17. A*

      I prefer email over calls, but despise voicemails above all else. I spend 90% of my work hours in meetings, and if I’m not in a meeting I’m available to accept calls as they come in (and the second my status turns green they come in quickly). If someone calls and I’m not able to pickup – if they follow-up with an email I can multitask and respond accordingly to setup a work block in the upcoming days to address if it’s more complex. I’m often only able to go through my voicemails 1-2 times a week (not an issue as the expectation at my employer is if it is time sensitive they will reach out via Teams in addition to any other communication platforms they’ve tried).

      Definitely depends on the industry, internal v. external stakeholders, and the type of function the individual you’re reaching out to is in. So I guess it’s more of a ‘know your audience’ kind of thing.

  19. Murphy*

    Low stakes question, but I feel myself getting self conscious sometimes. I work from home so I have a lot of zoom meetings. It’s hot where I am, so when I drink a can of LaCroix or other sparkling water, I put a can coozy on to keep it cool. The coozy I have is for a brewery and I’m wondering if people will think I’m drinking a beer.

    It’s completely inoffensive. One side says “Drink [city] Brewing” and the other has their logo which is a big [first letter of city] and then the name of the brewery. Should I be worried about this or am I over thinking it?

    1. Popinki(she/her)*

      People probably won’t notice as long as it’s not sitting right in front of the camera when you’re not drinking, and your hand probably covers up most of the logo when you are drinking.. If it bothers you, if you have an old sock laying around just cut off the top part with the ribbing and put it around the coozy. Any kind of fabric or even paper would do, but the sock works well because it’s already round and stretchy.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Can people see the can/coozy when you’re not drinking from it? If so, can you put it somewhere else on your desk where it’s not visible on camera?

      Can people see the label when you are actively drinking from the can? I think that depending on how much your hand covers and how good the video quality is, most people won’t be able to read the text on the coozy and there’s no reason to worry.

    3. Sadie*

      I’m obsessively private and want to seem unremarkable all day on screen, so I pour my seltzer can into an insulated coffee thermos tumbler thingy, so it stays cool and is more generic than a brand of seltzer. Maybe that would help?

    4. Scott*

      1. I think you probably are over thinking and need not worry.
      2. Some might think you are drinking beer and think nothing of it.
      3. Some might think you are drinking beer and think “What a great idea! I’m gonna get a beer.”

      Drink up!

      1. metadata minion*

        2 & 3 really depend on your field! If someone had a brewery coozie on their selzer in my office I doubt anyone would look twice, but if someone were obviously actually drinking a beer this would Not Ok, on a possibly-firing-worthy level of not ok.

        Unless you were joking? Sorry if I missed tone!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, there are industries (tech for example) where it’s very very normal to have a beer at work, but in most you Do Not Do That openly, at least in the US.

    5. No koozie for me*

      I would skip the koozie myself, or cover it up. I took flack for pictures of me holding a *root beer* that comes in tall brown bottles. It was a small celebration when we reopened our building after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Continuing aftershocks meant days of bad sleep, and apparently people thought I looked drunk. The jokes went on a little too long to be comfortable for me.

        1. allathian*

          They have, but not necessarily for the better, at least when it comes to perceived alcohol consumption on the job (from the drinker’s perspective).

    6. Excel-sior*

      Is it possible to turn it inside out without breaking it or reducing it’s effectiveness? Or poor it into a glass with some ice cubes?

    7. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would just buy a different cozy. Target and Meijers and Kohls all have summer ones out right now in the seasonal sections. It probably doesn’t matter but on the off chance someone does take away that impression why risk it?

    8. Mockingjay*

      If the company offers a branded koozie, get one of those. Or get a non-branded one; my favorite is a hibiscus print from a dollar store.

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

      I think you are overthinking it. The coozy would not be a big deal in most industries — maybe if you work for a very conservative employer or industry that is known for eschewing alcohol. But if you are self-conscious about it, can you make sure the coozy is angled so that neither the logo nor text is fully visible?

    10. Miel*

      I think you’re overthinking it, but you could easily eliminate the problem with a new, neutral coozie or by drinking out of an insulated water bottle.

      Enjoy!

    11. Bagpuss*

      I think it probably depends a bit on who your meetings are with and how good your camera is. I think you are *probably* overthinking it and that anyone who can recognise a brewery logo from a partiall, covered by fingers cozy is probably not going to be overly worried about you havbing brewery swag.

      For instance, I personally might notice, because I notice patterns and familiar shapes, but wouldn’t assume that you were drinking beer, (unless your behaviour otherwise suggested that you were)

      I am however aware that of the people who would notice, there will be a subset who will care / make assumptions. So I guess it’s a case of whether any of your managers fall into those groups and whether they would see it as a major issue of a client / third party noticed and complained, and whether they would take your word for it that it was entirely innocent if someone complained to them.

      Personally, I’d buy a different one or turn it inside out if it’s going to be visible, just so I didn’t need to worry about it.

    12. RagingADHD*

      If anyone cared they would have said something already. Everyone is familiar with the existence of coozies, that they are branded swag people pick up for free in all kinds of places, and that they are not the label of the drink inside.

    13. Purple Cat*

      I don’t think you should be *worried* and I think the actual likelihood of blowback over it is low, but the reality is you ARE thinking about it. So, give up the real estate in your head and go out and get yourself a cheap cute fun coozy and banish this thought.

  20. CakeDonut*

    Question for anyone who can offer advice: I am about 10 months into a job, and I’ve already been promoted once (about 4 months ago). A different office within my company has offered me a job — a slight salary increase (10%) and a VERY different title but still fairly low on the overall hierarchy. This new job aligns more closely to my graduate degree but is on a haywire team–lots of turnover, new-to-managing manger, severely understaffed (1 person there now when a fully-staffed team is 5), and generally responsive to the needs of the company president’s whims alongside outside requests from clients. There’s no question that work-life balance would be terrible; this has been made clear to me by that office’s VP.
    My current position is 75% fluff work (aka I don’t need a graduate degree to do it) and about 25% work that is really fulfilling and meaningful to me and aligns with my degree. I feel like I’ve made a name for myself over the past few months–hence the job offer out of the blue–and have no reason to think this will change in the future. My hope is that I will get more work along the lines of that 25% as time goes on, and I’ll be able to shift the 75% to others, but there’s no guarantee.
    Here’s where I’m looking for advice (and maybe reassurance): Is it reasonable to turn down a salary increase and a title (that is very nice and –could– be hard to get as easily in the future) in order to stay on a team with an excellent manager, keep doing this work, and tie up some loose ends before considering another role, even if the majority of my work right now isn’t quite as compelling or challenging as I’d like?

    1. Binky*

      Don’t jump into a terrible work situation for anything other than life changing rewards. From your description, I’d stay where you are.

      1. Honor Harrington*

        +1000

        The older I get, the more I realize a high quality manager is critical to my overall quality of life. I only take a bad job for a limited period with a clear plan to make it a stepping stone to something else. Otherwise I get so burned out in dealing with the awful that I get stuck.

    2. a tester, not a developer*

      It’s totally reasonable to turn it down! It’s much easier to change your fluff to interesting ratio on a well run team that you like than it is to try and keep your sanity on a team that sounds like a bit of a dumpster fire.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yes, absolutely. If you need a reason to give the HM of would-be-new-job, it’s completely understandable to say you want to stay put awhile longer and really learn the ins and outs of your current work.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Does anyone have any good books or articles on feeling less worried about your work performance? I always feel bad because I am not good at working ( I lack energy, the ability to guess what to do when not told, even not eating for a few hours can ruin my whole day(

      Also if you do informal mentoring at work how would put that on a resume?

    5. anonymous73*

      You’ve named several CONs for the potential new job that would steer me far away from the opportunity. An increased salary doesn’t make up for the position being an active dumpster fire. I would stay put and see where it leads you. I’ve stayed way too long in roles before because it was comfortable (and regretted it), but I’m talking years, not months. I’d give it at least 6 more months, and if nothing has changed and you don’t see any possibility of it changing, start casually looking for a new job and see what else is out there.

      1. CakeDonut*

        Oh, six months– what a good idea. That takes away the “stay put and do stupid crap forever OR move into a hectic environment” dichotomy that’s happening in my mind (that I know isn’t real/logical!). This is helpful. Thank you!

    6. The New Wanderer*

      Think about it this way, if you calculate your equivalent hourly pay with the new salary against the longer hours you’ll be working, is it really a raise at all?

      I’ve watched people leave for the new job under similar conditions (trading a salary increase and theoretically more enjoyable work against chaotic environment and longer hours). Some thrive, others bail within a year.

      I think it would matter if the new group was actively working to fix their culture, but it sounds like they want to throw more bodies at the problem and they’re looking to find the best, most capable bodies. That doesn’t have to be you.

    7. Jora Malli*

      I think it’s great that you’re being mindful about what ramifications this potential new job may have for your personal life. A job is more than just your title and your paycheck, it’s where you spend the majority of your waking hours and a whole lot of your mental and emotional energy. It looks like this new job would require a lot more of that energy and leave you with less to put into your actual life, and it’s really smart of you to factor that into your decision. It’s totally reasonable to turn down a job because it won’t offer you the kind of life you want.

  21. ThatGirl*

    Bless my manager, who is doing her best to help us feel appreciated – she gave us some bonus freebie days off and made it clear that she does not care if we “make up” our summer hours as long as the work gets done.

    How do you prefer to have your manager appreciate you?

    1. ferrina*

      I love freebie days. Also interesting work and having a manager that proactively seeks out professional development and projects that I’d be interested in, then making sure I have the resources I need to participate.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Flexibility with work hours, time off, making sure to tell me when I’m doing well as opposed to just addressing problems, and more pay is always good.

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Flexibility is amazing. I also would like verbal praise and free food, covid permitting

    4. AdequateArchaeologist*

      Money, time off, and praise. Pay me what I’m worth, make it possible for me to have some extra relaxation time, and tell me I’m doing well. The last one is especially important if the other two aren’t possible.

    5. the cat's ass*

      More $, time off, and free lunch occasionally. Alas, my company is doing none of that.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      I wod love some actual constructive feedback. My department isn’t allowed to do raises or extra time off, but I appreciate flexibility with my schedule. We have also held field trips to departments we don’t often interact with, or our same department at other organizations, to learn more about what they do and get ideas for ourselves. We have a very broad definition of what counts for professional development.

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Comp time is the best! Last manager allowed me time off 1:1 for all hours I worked past 8 a day.

      Senior Engineer position.

  22. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    Say your company makes teapots. An employee says, “My current job is to paint teapots, but I’m interested in becoming the designer of the patterns that get painted on the teapots.” The typical response from certain managers goes, “We already have people who design teapot patterns, and you don’t have the skills for that. Stick to painting other people’s designs.” (Forever, I guess?)

    Suppose also that you work in a fast-paced field where career growth is generally expected in the industry, and employees who aren’t moving up are prone to feeling like they’re stagnating and becoming flight risks (and at least one person has actually rage-quit over this).

    Is there an askamanager article or articles that talk about why managers should support high-performing employees who want to develop new skills and work toward promotions?

    I can make arguments of my own, and have, at length, but I’m looking for “Alison agrees!” evidence, aka an argument from authority. ;)

    Thanks!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I found two places where Alison talks about why it’s bad for managers to block internal promotions:

      #2 here: https://www.askamanager.org/2015/11/manager-blocked-internal-move-salary-when-moving-to-part-time-and-more.html

      https://www.askamanager.org/2011/04/manager-wont-let-me-take-internal-promotion.html

      I think the arguments against blocking internal promotions are the same arguments FOR supporting high-level employees developing their skills (even when that progress takes them away from their current team/role).

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Thanks, this is exactly what I was looking for! All hail Hlao-roo!

    2. Warrior Princess*

      I don’t know about Alison specifically (I’m sure that she’s written on it somewhere) but your company has employees quitting over this problem and they still haven’t changed it. It might be better to assume they won’t change it and find someone else who will provide that challenge for you.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Oh, I would totally have quit by now. Fortunately, this isn’t me, or the company culture as a whole, but other employees with specific other managers that I’m trying to help out. (Helping out with this and related issues has explicitly fallen into my job purview recently, so I’m putting together some documentation of good managerial practices.)

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

      I don’t think that finding an ATM article is going to give your argument much weight. If your org or industry doesn’t think that painter-to-designer is a natural promotion track (it doesn’t sound like it, but maybe your org is out of step with industry norms), you aren’t going to sway them with an article. You will probably need to change employers in order to move into a new career path.

      Is painter to designer the norm in your industry? Or is it more that a teapot painter could expect to get a promotion from junior painter to senior painter to painting lead/manager, to Director of painting, etc., but would not expect to become a designer (a completely different skill set)?

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Oh, my spontaneous teapot analogy may not have been a perfect fit, lol. Senior painter to designer, i.e. going from implementing other people’s solutions to coming up with your own solutions, is a very standard career path in my industry. The idea is that once you’ve been exposed to a bunch of designs, you understand the trade-offs of various designs, and it’s a natural transition to coming up with the best one for each project.

        Once you’ve been a senior painter for a while, you’re traditionally offered one of three career paths:

        a) Stay a senior painter forever; and try to get your challenges by working on different kinds of projects and keeping current in the field,
        b) Acquire the remaining skills to become a teapot designer, who decides what designs get used for what projects,
        c) Become a manager of teapot painters and work your way up the corporate management ladder.

        This is the standard not only in our industry, but even in our company. I was able to point to a specific employee who made the leap from senior painter to designer (because they had a different manager). The catch is that in order for career path (b) or (c) to work, your manager has to first allow you to work on a bunch of different projects with a bunch of different designs, so that you become a senior painter with a lot of experience. Then the manager has to allow you to develop your design skills or people skills according to whether you want (b) or (c).

        The problem is at my company, we have some very inexperienced managers who start parroting “That’s not your job” at their reports. Which in turn means various frustrated reports have been prevented from getting the exposure to a bunch of different designs they need to become senior (it’s standard in our industry to get much broader experience), from getting the skills they need to transition from “implementing designs” to “choosing/creating designs”, and/or from getting the skills they need to transition to painting lead/manager.

        In fact, I would argue that painting lead/manager or Director of painting is just as much a completely different skill set from painter as designer is! (Even more obviously different in my industry, which is very much not teapots.) It’s just that our corporate society tends not to see it that way, so managers are just handed teams to manage, without ever being told that, say, supporting promotions and not just maximizing daily work output is your job. I’ve seen Alison say much the same thing.

        Fortunately, as I said to Warrior Princess, my own boss believes in promotions and letting his reports acquire relevant new skills, which is why I’ve recently been promoted into a role where it’s my job to produce documentation and training for some of these inexperienced managers. But since I don’t outrank them, I can only offer suggestions, which is why it’s nice to be able to point to a recognized expert in the field agreeing with what I’m putting in my documentation.

  23. A Poster Has No Name*

    Small question, re: meeting schedule etiquette.

    If you schedule a meeting on Topic X, and you need to schedule a follow up meeting to keep discussing Topic X, do you reuse the original meeting notice (in Outlook or wherever) and just update the date & time or do you create a new meeting instance?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Personal preference for project meetings and updates but I create an entirely new meeting request – that way the original one isn’t amended in anyone’s calendar.

      However, I’ll combine it with a follow up email that is essentially the minutes of the original meeting and the points that should be raised at the follow up. Often I’ll include the original meeting’s agenda so people can see if we overlooked anything.

    2. CTT*

      By re-use the meeting, do you mean you open up the original meeting and then re-schedule it? This may just be me, but that would drive me bonkers, because that would mean the original meeting is no longer on my calendar and if I need to refer back to when it was, it’ll be gone.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        Yes, that’s exactly what I mean and why I’m asking. I always create a new meeting, but someone in my group consistently reuses them and it does drive me batty (because the original meeting is gone and the notifications are now off, and I need those or I will never be at a meeting on time). Not sure if I’m the outlier, though, which is why I’m asking!

    3. Raboot*

      New instance. If it makes sense to create a series do that going forward, but moving past concluded meetings to the future is odd imo.

    4. Sunflower*

      I always create a new meeting and basically use the same details except add Follow-Up at the beginning of the subject

    5. darlingpants*

      Please do a new meeting! I try to use Outlook meetings as a record of what I actually did in the previous weeks/months and disappearing meetings would make that super confusing. Plus I find that meeting updates randomly go to my trash folder vs my inbox so updated agendas sometimes get lost.

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      I create a new meeting. Our calendars need to be accurate for reporting reasons. But I also sometimes go back to reference when a discussion happened, so I also have a preference here.

      And if the meeting was forwarded or originally declined by anyone, they might not get notified of the update.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      I would personally create a new meeting, but others I work with don’t and it doesn’t really matter

      1. Observer*

        For most people it actually does matter, because it’s a way to keep track of past events. Not in a nefarious or gotcha type way. But because many people simply have too many things going on to remember when various things happened and most of us are unlikely to remember specific dates without something like that. Leaving events in their place provides a very simple way to get that information.

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

      Depends…if the subject is expected to be ongoing (beyond 1 follow up) and future meetings will be at the same time/place etc., I might amend the first meeting to become a reoccurring meeting (that won’t erase the original meeting). But if it’s just one follow up and/or the details change, then it’s a completely new meeting.

    9. Purple Cat*

      I copy the existing meeting into a new one and schedule a new meeting. I hate it when the old meeting *that actually occured* gets wiped off the calendar. sometimes I need to go back and review when something happened. Or more importantly, follow-up with somebody on *why* a meeting didn’t happen.

  24. Cj*

    I’m wondering how long I should wait to contact a potential employer regarding a job offer that they said was coming.

    They do seem to be moving really quickly. I applied on April 29th, had a phone screen the following week, a zoom interview with two managers on May 10th, and with two partners on May 13th. On Wednesday the recruiter called me and said that they would like to offer me the job, and she would call me that afternoon or yesterday with details after she talked to the two partners, and then send a written offer once we’ve come to an agreement. Yesterday morning she emailed me to health insurance information I requested, and said she would call me later that day with the offer details. I did not hear from her.

    I know these things always take longer than expected, and I know it’s way too soon to contact her now. I’m thinking of waiting until next Wednesday afternoon, and if I haven’t heard from her email and ask if I should still be expecting an offer. Does that reasonable, or is that still too soon, or shouldn’t I contact her at all and just wait for them to contact me? As people have said here before, if they want to hire me their not going to forget.

    I am very good at putting jobs out of my mind and be pleasantly surprised if they contact me with an offer. This case is a little different because they did say one was coming, and if they change their mind for some reason I would like to know.

    1. Binky*

      Since you’re dealing with a recruiter I’d reach out on Monday asking asking for an ETA. You don’t have to be aggressive, but you don’t have to be quite as careful with a recruiter as with a hiring manager. Good luck!

    2. Cj*

      I guess I could have skipped this post. They just called me with the offer. I know a guy should always negotiate, but they offered me the top of the range that I had requested, so I can’t really argue with that.

      I did think about trying to negotiate for additional vacation days, but they already offer 22 days which is pretty good for the US. I also get Fridays off from June through September. Plus you get four paid days to do volunteer work. So I can go walk the dogs in play with the cats at the Humane Society in get paid for it.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I think “always negotiate” is an unhelpful mindset. Ideally, I’d like all employers to do what this one just did for you and make their initial offer reasonable and fair enough that people don’t feel the need to negotiate.

        Congratulations on your new job!

        1. Cj*

          I think the always negotiate mindset is how you can end up with serious salary discrepancies, often with women on the short end of the stick because men seem to have less hesitation about negotiating. I wish too that employers would just offer a fair salary from the start.

          1. Justin*

            I “negotiated” an extra 2gs out of my new job. Mostly to prove to myself I wasn’t scared to ask. :)

  25. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Polite ways to stop invasive questions at work?

    To context: I logged on to email remotely (yeah, I know) while I recover from surgery on a malfunctioning uterus. I’ve been pretty open about being off for probably a couple of weeks minimum, what the surgery is, and why I’m having it. I logged on because frankly I’m getting bored at home and just wanted to cast an eye over things (kept my status as ‘offline’ on Teams though).

    There’s been a series of emails from my boss – the director of IT – to me asking if I am sure I know that this means I can’t have kids afterwards (yes! And I never wanted them anyway), then progressing to ‘what does your husband think?’ and finally the one that got me writing here: links to adoption and surrogacy services. She KNOWS how long I’ll be off for and knows I do not have or want children.

    But in general she’s rather pleasant and good at her job (has gone to bat for me on several occasions) and I don’t want to torpedo our working relationship by telling her to eff off.

    So: a ‘thank you for your concern but never raise that kind of bs again to me under any circumstances’ but, you know, without my habitual swearing?

    1. Raboot*

      Those emails are out of line, and it’s none of her business. That said, can you ignore them? If it escalates to her raising the same topics in person then you’ll need deflection strategies but emails while you’re on leave? Delete and put out of your mind for your own sake. I hope your recovery goes well!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I can and will just delete them and I’m kinda embarrassed I didn’t think of that.

        I’m not so worried about in person because I can just walk out the room when things get offensive and I absolutely will and have done just that.

        Thank you :) *hits delete*

    2. Cj*

      You asked for a polite way to respond, and I don’t have one for you because I wouldn’t be able to be polite about it. I don’t have and never wanted kids either, and these comments would drive me insane. If you did want kids and no are unable to have them, I think the comments would be even more upsetting.

      I always read your posts and really enjoy them, and if I remember correctly it seems like you have quite a long work history, and are therefore probably old enough that if you wanted kids you would have had them by now. That absolutely doesn’t matter as far as what your boss is saying, it just happened to cross my mind.

        1. doesn't comment often*

          Surely they understand that most births have occurred by someone’s late 40s???

        2. Disco Janet*

          You’re in your late 40s, with like a 3-4% chance of pregnancy even if it was something you wanted, and your boss is repeatedly emailing you about whether or not you’re able to have children?

          That’s…strange.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, that was my thought – those comments could be incredibly upsetting if you were someone who wanted kids and were coming to terms with the fact that that would no longer be possible (except via adiption or surrogacy), and pretty patronising either way – I mean what was she expecting you to say “Oh my god, no, no one ever mentioned I wouldn’t be ble to have kids, I can’t belive no one told me. !” or “Oh, I fon’t know what my husband thinks, I didn’t think major surgery with a two week recovery time was something he needed to know about. He jusst thinksI’m having a lot of Duvet days right now”

        If you feel up to uit it might be worth you mentioning it either to her or to HR once you are back in work, but you don’t have toif you don’t want to.

    3. the cat's ass*

      Congrats on finally yeeting your ute! Sorry your boss is intrusive and clueless; some folx just don’t get that you are OKAY with no kids. I seem to remember this being a thing from your previous letters. maybe, “thanks for your concern and support, no need to send me kid-related links, especially at this time” because you want to maintain the relationship. Wishing you a quick recovery!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Yep, it’s been from a few people I have (okay had) friended on Facebook who are coworkers of mine as well. I don’t add anyone on FB who’s my staff or my managers though.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Also, thank you! While I’m still in a fair amount of pain and discomfort it is absolutely worth it to know that I am never going to have the monthly agony again for the rest of my life :)

        1. the cat's ass*

          Had similar issues but went through an early menopause (at 38), and it’s been awesome ever since! It’s been SO nice not to suffer tho everyone weeping over my lost fertility was a drag. I so get it. You’re going to feel so much better!

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          I’m glad you finally had your surgery, and best wishes for a speedy recovery!
          I agree that deleting those emails is the best course of action, then you can just pretend you never saw them because they got buried in your inbox while you were off.

        1. the cat's ass*

          Courtesy of my former beloved 25 yo housemate who yeeted hers last year and is SO much happier and healthier. Appreciate the youngs keeping the olds UTD!

      3. Observer*

        some folx just don’t get that you are OKAY with no kids.

        Honestly, I’m not even sure that’s relevant. As others have noted, these comments would be at least as upsetting, in a different way, if someone DID want kinds. As for “what does your husband think”, that’s just. . . What do you even say to such an outlandish question?

    4. Rosie*

      Here’s my stab at it. I’m not sure it’s fabulous, but: “Thank you for your concern; I really do appreciate your good intentions, but because of this recent surgery I’ve already had a lifetime’s worth of discussion regarding my uterus and reproductive options. My brain is done, so let’s stick to other topics of conversation :) ”

      Yes, with the emoji. Softening my emails as a woman to seem more friendly and all that.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        That IS fabulous!

        While I’m going with the option Raboot suggested upthread of just deleting the emails for now I’m going to keep your wording in the drafts folder in case of further emails when I get back.

        (I love this community! Seriously I’ve got so many great responses over the years)

    5. a tester, not a developer*

      I’d go with a slightly disingenuous “I’m sure you can imagine what a difficult and sensitive topic this is for me. I know your intentions are good, but I really need to focus on my recovery instead of thinking about so many different possibilities. I’m sure you understand.”

      Doesn’t matter that the ‘possibilities’ are all terrible ones that you would never want… let her read whatever she wants to into your message.

      1. President Porpoise*

        This is also what I would do. But, uh, file this away in case you need to discuss with HR at some later point. Don’t delete.

    6. Popinki(she/her)*

      Since it’s your boss, dumping her into a tank full of man-eating pirhana is probably out of the question because you’d probably get stuck with a worse boss as her replacement.

      About the best I can think of is “I appreciate your concern. My husband and I understand the ramifications and are fine with them” (which you shouldn’t have to include because it’s your body and your health on the line, not your husband’s, but we’re trying to be nice to Ms. Intrusive here) followed by “I’d rather just put that all behind me and get back to my routine” when she inevitably starts nagging you when you go back to work.

      I would just ignore the adoption/surrogacy bit because that’s so far beyond the bounds of appropriateness it might as well not even exist. Good lord.

    7. whistle*

      “I would prefer to not receive further information or questions on this topic. Thank you for understanding.”

      Ew, those emails are SO inappropriate.

      1. ferrina*

        or “I’m recovering well and expect to be back on [DATE] as planned. I’m not interested in discussing reproduction. Thank you for understanding.”

        And +1 on “Ew”
        So, so wildly inappropriate.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Also in favor of Delete. (It’s truly such a simple, elegant solution to so many things.)

          But if you must respond to Her Intrusiveness, don’t JADE. “I’m recovering well and expect to be back on [DATE] as planned. See you then.”

          Best wishes for a swift recovery!

    8. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Jesus Christ. I’m sorry that is terrible.

      I’d say “We are well aware of the long term impacts and this is the best choice for my health. This is not something I will be discussing this anymore, as I consider this matter closed” Or something.

      But I’d rather write a expletive laden rant how my health and reproductive choices are not ever welcome nor needed.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        But I’d rather write a expletive laden rant how my health and reproductive choices are not ever welcome nor needed.

        Ahh so you’ve seen my drafts folder ;) I did actually write what I actually felt, with Malcolm Tucker level swearing, on my personal computer here at home but made darn sure I did not put any address in the ‘to:’ field. Cathartic but…errr…yeah, career limiting if that got out.

    9. Anonymous Koala*

      This is so ridiculous that I would actually be inclined to keep that email and start a file on my boss because with one incident so egregious, there have got to be more out there/ coming. Then if/when things got worse, I’d file a formal HR complaint. But then I’m combative. Deleting or ignoring the email is a perfectly reasonable option.

      1. Sylvan*

        Like don’t talk to her about this further, don’t try to have another conversation about it with her, she’s clearly not going to be normal about it. Don’t tell her that you’ll bring it up with HR if she doesn’t stop. Just go to HR.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’ve otherwise got a great working relationship with her – Ijust think she’s got this view of the world where kids is the most important thing in her life and therefore cannot see that it’s not true for everyone. She has, IIRC, 5 children.

        This is the same boss who fought for equal pay in the department, got me everything I needed for disability access, has been brilliant in getting us the budget. I really don’t want to sour her.

        1. Observer*

          This is a perfect example of people being complicated and imperfect. But, it sounds like overall, more pluses than minuses, if she stops poking her nose where it doesn’t belong.

        2. All Monkeys are French*

          I guess it wouldn’t be cool to tell her that she’s had more than enough children for both of you, so you’re all good.

    10. RagingADHD*

      “I am sure you mean well, but these comments are very intrusive and inappropriate. I value our positive working relationship and would like to keep it that way. Please do not ever bring this subject up again.”

      I’m a big believer that “no” is a perfectly polite thing to say. You can be completely civil while also being clear and firm.

      Anyone who gets bent out of shape over this or considers it “torpedoing” the relationship is not, in fact, a pleasant person at all. It’s questionable as to whether she is a pleasant person by saying this in the first place. You have ample reason to go to HR already, if you were so inclined. This is so very not okay.

    11. A Feast of Fools*

      If it comes up in person (since you’re deleting the emails and acting like they never happened), I — personally — would do my best to talk to her kindly and like fellow manager / confidante. As in that’s the tone I would I aim for when I said something like, “You know, child-bearing and becoming a parent can be a really sensitive and private topic for a lot of women. I don’t have children and don’t want any, but I can see how pointing out that an employee won’t be able to birth her own children could be perceived as stepping over a line. I 100% know that you’re just genuinely concerned for me but it could be really painful for people to talk about this at work.”

      ^^That’s way too wordy and shouldn’t be considered a word-for-word script. I’d try to land it in the same area as when Alison suggests people tell their managers that “we” wouldn’t want run afoul of the law by not paying people or requiring women (but not men) to decorate for office parties and clean up afterward. Clearly the meaning is, “I want you to stop this behavior,” but it’s said in a way that lets the other person save face and hopefully make the change going forward.

      If you didn’t like your boss, I’d send the emails straight to HR. :-)

    12. Hillary*

      ugh, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I deflect the kids stuff with “yeah, it didn’t work out” said in a slightly wistful tone. It implies I’m sad about it (I’m not) and shuts down the line of questioning because they don’t want to hurt my feelings.

      For this, maybe “yeah, we spent a lot of time talking through everything and this is best for our family.” You’re acknowledging that she cares (she does, and she’s expressing it horribly) while shutting down follow ups. Of course she doesn’t want to raise a difficult subject.

      This is less direct than others are suggesting, more direct is the next step if you need it.

      1. Cj*

        Keymaster said she is in her late forties. How many people are able to get pregnant at that age anyway? Which makes the bosses comments that much more bizarre.

        1. Your local password resetter*

          My mom actually did, but it’s irrellevant either way. Boss is way over the line and inserting themselves into extremely personal issues of their employee.

    13. Can't think of a funny name*

      I would be tempted to respond with something snarky like, “yep, I’m in my late 40s…by now I know where babies come from.”

    14. Your local password resetter*

      Ye gods, I’m sorry you have to deal with the busybodies while recovering from surgery.

      Adding my voice to the better writers above, I’d go with acknowledging she’s trying to help and then pointing out how inappropriate these comments are and how they could be really hurtful to people. Specifically people who want kids but can’t get them for medical reasons, since those seem easiest for your boss to identify with.
      And I’d just avoid the subject on why you don’t want kids yourself. Too much chance for derailing, and Boss seems too likely to get blinded by her good intentions and personal preferences.

    15. allathian*

      Oh dear, I’m so sorry. For now, maybe it’s better to just pretend you never saw the messages. If she keeps sending you things like links to adoption and surrogacy services (WTF?), ignore them while responding to the rest of the email, if there’s anything you need to respond to in it.

      Wishing you a speedy recovery and congrats on finally getting rid of your malfunctioning uterus.

      If she corners you at work, some snark might help her to get the message that this subject is out of bounds, something like “I know my limits, and no child deserves the terrible parenting they’d get from me” just might do the trick. Or it might not. If it doesn’t, and you’re willing to bring out the big guns, you could try saying something like “I know it’s probably difficult for you to understand this because you love kids so much and love being a parent, but getting this surgery was a dream come true for me. I don’t expect you to understand, but I do need you to stop sending me links to alternate ways of becoming a parent, because that’s not in our plans.”

  26. Ann O*

    My department, A, has a shortage of workspaces for staff. Earlier this year, my small team of five was moved to offices in another building in the suite of another department, B. It was a little awkward at first, as we realized that the B Dept didn’t really want to give up the extra offices. Last month, two of the five of us were moved to offices in yet another building, this time in Dept C, because Dept B needed their offices back. More awkwardness. The Director of Dept C clearly did not want to give up the offices and expected us to be falling all over ourselves with gratitude.

    Now my boss is saying the other three employees of my team need to move from B to C as well, but there’s no room. My boss thinks that we can take over some of the tables in an open area, and if not we can get creative with office sharing and hot desking. We have a meeting next week to discuss it with Director C. I find this whole thing incredible stressful and I’m sick of feeling like my team is unwanted everywhere we go. I had a nightmare – a literal nightmare – of how the conversation with Director C was going to go and at the end of the dream I resigned.

    I’m struggling to find a productive way to share my feelings with my boss, and if I should even bother. I don’t think she realizes how we feel, but I also don’t think she has much power to change it. I also don’t know how to make my team feel better about it. Any suggestions?

    1. Ann O*

      One other thing to (bitterly) mention – no one else in Dept A back in the other building is being asked to use tables as desks, office share, or hot desk.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I think this is an important thing to include when you talk with your boss. Your work group’s morale is being harmed by the constant moving and the pushback from company leadership who don’t want to give them adequate workspace, and on top of that they’re the only work group in the department that’s being asked to work in these kinds of substandard conditions. It’s not unreasonable for you to point out that your work group needs to be treated in a way that is equitable to the other work groups. If everyone else in the department has independent desks to work from, asking one specific group to share or cobble together some tables (!!!) is not equitable treatment.

    2. Binky*

      I think you can be very candid that all this moving about/splitting up the team/friction with other departments is super disruptive and tanking morale. Try to be dispassionate about it, but it very clearly sucks and you can express that to your boss. You can also be very up front with your team about the fact that you share their frustration. And you can ask them to come to you with any potential solutions they may see.

      Is there an option to ask for WFH or renting a coworking space until your office issues are resolved?

      1. Ann O*

        Thanks. I like the advice to be dispassionate about the disruption and morale.

        Right now we’re allowed to WFH one day a week. Only two of the team do. Our work is primarily in person but there’s some planning, data, and documentation work that can be completed off site. I think we’d have to increase the WFH days as much as possible, but we’d still have issues with having more staff than desks. It may end up looking something like: come in for customer meetings but find somewhere else to work in between (go back home? find a random open conference room?), with a different schedule everyday and making sure no more than 2 customer meetings are scheduled at the same time because that’s how many offices we have.

        1. Ann O*

          Ugh, I find myself getting more stressed out just thinking of the logistics of trying to schedule five of us sharing two offices without cutting back on service delivery, which would then jeopardize our jobs.

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

          In addition to having more WFH days, is there any possibility of permanently commandeering a conference room into a large shared work space for your department, or would this be impossible for the customer-facing work you do? I can say that one thing my org has done (that’s more of a culture shift) is to establish and remind all departments across campus that there are no “department spaces” — it’s ALL university space and they will allocate it as needed. That attitude shift may help a bit on the other departments creating an unwelcoming environment for all of you and prevent you from being kicked around so much.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      If there’s no way to get the space at your current offices and/or your manager literally can’t do anything about it – would suggested alternatives like WFH or a rented office somewhere be acceptable? I had this when my team were moved to a new building and were then told they’d have to hotdesk across 4 different floors which I pointed out is absolutely NOT how you run an IT department. For one thing some specialised setups are needed (quite aside from my special disability needs we have a lot of computers) and communication between staff needs to be easily accessible.

      I was lucky in that my boss actually did have the authority to get the additional office provision for us though. Do3s your boss have any budgetary authorisation like that?

      1. Ann O*

        Thanks! It’s worth asking about renting an offsite office. I don’t think leadership would go for it because we’d have to direct customers to another location, but who knows. At least it would show that we’re trying to think of additional solutions.

        1. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

          If that is an option, what about a portable office? Trailer offices designed for construction sites can be really spiffy. And you can set it up right in the parking lot outside Department of your choice.

    4. ferrina*

      Agree with Binky- if your boss is at all reasonable, I’d be candid with her.

      Also seconding the remote/hybrid option. It seems like a good solution (since apparently there’s not enough space)

    5. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Since in your replies you mentioned that your team has customers come in, I think you have a very good pressure point when talking to your boss for making sure your team has an appropriate working space – “what will customers think of cobbled together tables?!?” or the likes.
      I am, admittedly, appalled by your company’s unwillingness to find appropriate working space for your team (*especially* because you are client facing) and can completely understand your team’s morale taking a deep dive. And the directors of the other departments are being uncooperative idiots, too, since your department is probably just as important to the running and well-being of the company as theirs are but they behave as if you are stepchildren in a fairytale. I am annoyed about all this on your behalf!

  27. SloanGhost*

    How big of a red flag is revocation of BBB accreditation? Is it a major issue, or something that can happen in the normal course of business sometimes?

    As far as I can tell the reason is that of 12 complaints in the past 3 years, only 6 have been marked as resolved. The revocation occurred in January of this year.

    It’s a law firm that has been in business for 10 years, employee and client reviews are decent (most review venues are at about 4 stars but the yelp reviews are atrocious), according to glassdoor there are less than 50 employees.

    I’m interviewing for an entry level marketing job that I am wildly underqualified for but I’m a strong writer and their copy is horrible (not computer-generated or outsourced-and-run-through-google-translate level horrible but still very weak), so I can bring value even without the analytic and research knowledge I’m missing.

    Is it worth a shot to get a foot in the door and actually get the word “marketing” on my resume/build my portfolio, given I don’t usually get a second look when I apply for marketing work, or should I run screaming? How bad for my resume is working for a slightly-shady law firm, if I’m not involved in any of the lawyering/paralegaling/billing/customer servicing aspects?

    (Obviously the above is also pending what I learn from the interview itself but if I should just cut bait NOW it would be helpful to know)

    1. Maggie*

      The BBB is essentially meaningless so I wouldn’t take it very seriously. We got BBB complaints constantly at my old job because of things like shipping took a day longer than quoted or “I just don’t really like the product and the website should have pictured it better”. The BBB is not a governmental or even recognized institution beyond anything other than itself. It’s as meaningful as getting a badge on your website that says “my uncle Jim loves us!!”. The BBB just strong arms businesses into buying special levels or business or paying to get accredited by threatening them. They probably got sick of spending hours dealing with ridiculous people making BBB complaints because they didn’t feel like paying for their product or service. If attorneys were getting disbarred left or something that would be a red flag.

    2. whistle*

      You have to pay a monthly fee for BBB accreditation, so maybe they just stopped paying?

    3. Elle Woods*

      I don’t BBB accreditation seriously. Businesses pay to be part of the BBB; if they stop paying, the lose their accreditation and the ratings are essentially meaningless. I could start a new company today, apply to be part of the BBB, pay my BBB bill, and get an A+ rating almost immediately. The other reason businesses may lose their accreditation is if they are unable to resolve a complaint to the BBB’s satisfaction.

      I’d put far more emphasis on how things go in the interview and if any red flags appear during that or the hiring process than what the BBB or Yelp reviewers say.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I wouldn’t take lack of a BBB accreditation as an indication that a law firm is shady or slightly shady.

      Look up the lawyer(s) on your state registration website and see if they have any disciplinary history. That will tell you more about them than any status with BBB or their Yelp reviews. And regarding Yelp reviews (or any other online review), note that a lot of lawyers won’t respond to them because doing so can engage confidentiality issues, and also because lawyers have better things to do with their time.

      1. SloanGhost*

        This is great advice that I wouldn’t have come to on my own (zero knowledge of the legal industry), thank you so much!

    5. FisherCat*

      I have no idea about the BBB thing but if you’ve not previously worked in law I’d be very, very wary. The field is full of big egos, people who assume mastery of one domain is expertise in all, and every kind of workplace dysfunction you can imagine.

      Not that all law firms are bad! But take red flags very seriously, including the apparently mixed online presence. Also, look up the attorneys’ state bar disciplinary records. It will give you a sense of if the online reviewers are disgruntled or if there’s a documented pattern of unprofessional behavior coming out of that org.

    6. Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein*

      The BBB is meaningless, and in the era of Yelp increasingly obsolete. Don’t waste a second thinking about it.

    7. Purple Cat*

      As others have said, BBB is meaningless. It’s a marketing gimmick (I was going to say “tool” but I think that overstates its impact).
      But to give you a pep talk, by definition you really can’t be “wildly underqualified” for an “entry-level marketing job”. Sure if your degree is in engineering, you might not have learned some basic marketing concepts, but most things are learned on the job.

      1. SloanGhost*

        Well, my background is in wild animal husbandry, so it IS kind of a sharp pivot but I have a writing degree and an autistic splinter skill in verbal (in the sense of language-based) communication. I was more thinking that the listing asked for things like SEO and social media management and I have nothing but common sense to guide me there.

        That said, I had the interview and it turned out that they are specifically looking for someone really copy focused, so I think I have a solid chance.

        1. Fikly*

          Common sense is highly uncommon and by definition makes you highly qualified.

          Coming from another autistic job searcher.

  28. darlingpants*

    I’m hiring for the first time and I feel like I messed up the process, but I’m not really sure what I should have done instead:

    We’re in biotech so the market is extremely tight and pro-candidate. We posted the job in February. We got almost no candidates for a month, and those that were very junior. In late March/early April we started getting more candidates and it felt like each one was more experienced and a better fit than the next, so I kept having a tech screen, thinking “you’re the best candidate so far” and then the next week having another tech screen with an even better candidate. I also reached out to someone I’d worked with before and asked her to apply. She was by far the most experienced person in the pool. I moved her to our second step (interviews with the team) and everyone liked her. Here’s where I feel like I screwed up: everyone had positive things to say about her, I’d worked with her before so she was a known quantity, and she was the most experienced candidate, so HR said we should send her an offer immediately, and I didn’t move anyone else through the second step. HR kind of lowballed her (in the name of internal equity which I have complicated feelings about but I pushed as hard as I felt I could for a higher salary), and she’s been sitting on the offer for two weeks now while she waits to hear back from other interviews for higher level positions, and HR didn’t want to give her an ultimatum because we don’t have a second choice candidate. Obviously everyone I interviewed in March and April has gotten another job by now.

    I’m starting to look at candidates again, but I feel like this was super inefficient (and it’s taken 4 months so far and is going to take 5-6 before we actually get someone on site which is a pain for me because I really need help). Is there something I should have done better or is this just how hiring goes some times?
    * Obviously we (as a company) could have offered a higher level/salary to my old colleague and gotten her to sign (although it also seems like she wants to work at a smaller company)
    * Should I have kept moving people to team interviews even though we had a really good candidate? I didn’t want to waste the team’s time when we were already extending an offer
    * Any other tips for rolling applications when people who looked good a few weeks ago are now much weaker compared to candidates that just applied?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Used to work in biotech (virology side) and yeah, the requirements are tight.

      I am in the UK so this may not be applicable in other countries but when I’m hiring (I work in senior level IT nowadays – third line) I’ll keep looking and scheduling interviews until I get an acceptance of an offer. I’ve had several times where I’ve made an offer and then heard nothing for a month and then a ‘sorry, found someplace better for more money’ so I can’t stop the whole recruitment process after making an offer.

      With highly skilled jobs like the ones we’re hiring for when you have a limited pool it *is* a lot trickier to ensure things don’t drag on so long that your second or third choices don’t get bored and move on. I’d suggest seeing if there’s any way you can a) shave time off the process, b) definitely try to get some more money and c) if you have a specific set of criteria that applicants absolutely must have (experience in equipment X, trained at biocontainment, etc) then that plus the salary should be spelt up front.

      In my experience in the UK at least if you don’t put the pay/benefits/hard qualifications in the advert then you don’t get as many of the skilled people applying.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      At this point I would just keep moving on with your hiring process until you find a second choice candidate. At that point give your first choice a deadline by which to respond, explaining you have another candidate to whom you’d like to make an offer. And yeah, I would have kept up the interviews. Teams generally understand that they might have to conduct a few interviews with candidates even after an offer has been extended, especially when the market’s so pro-candidate.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yes, I think you should’ve kept people moving if you thought they could be acceptable second choices. If talking with your former colleague made you realize all those other candidates were mediocre, and you specifically decided to hold out for someone of that caliber no matter how long it took, that would be one thing, but it sounds like you would rather have one of the earlier candidates now than someone fantastic down the road.

    4. Parenthesis Dude*

      I wouldn’t have moved people to team interviews once you made an offer to someone. However, that’s why you give someone only a week to decide. In this case, if you know she’s looking at other positions, you probably shouldn’t have stopped your process.

      The thing you need to consider is that you need to pay enough for the job. You don’t control how pay works. Your company has told you what they’re going to offer. Complaining about how they’re not paying enough to get your top choice won’t help you. You need to find candidates that will accept your offer, and that means settling for one that isn’t as good as your friend. Those people that looked good a few weeks ago are the ones that might accept your company’s offer.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I think you have some valuable information based on what happened: the company is not willing to pay to get the most qualified candidate(s). Based on what you know now about the max salary for the position, can you reframe what you are looking for in terms of candidate skills? So, the earlier candidates may be weaker compared to the later, more skilled applicants you saw, but you aren’t going to get those more skilled applicants if they can earn more at other companies. Rather than think of the earlier candidates as weak, recognize that they’re less experienced/skilled but more appropriate for the position/pay you have.

    6. Observer*

      * Should I have kept moving people to team interviews even though we had a really good candidate? I didn’t want to waste the team’s time when we were already extending an offer

      Because even without a lowball offer, this was always going to be a possibility. And your current situation is going to wind up wasting far more time than even bunch of extra screens would have taken.

    7. PollyQ*

      Obviously everyone I interviewed in March and April has gotten another job by now.

      I wouldn’t assume this is true, certainly not for every candidate. Other companies may not be moving very quickly, for a variety of reasons. I’d go ahead & try to bring in the 2nd & 3rd best candidates for interviews now to see if they might suit.

  29. Murfle*

    An amusing situation: After I left my previous employer about 8 months ago for a new gig, the floodgates opened for the rest of my team, and at least 4 other people (on a team of 20-25) have also left since then.

    I’ve joined a WhatsApp group chat composed mostly of these former colleagues. Tahani, the ONE person in the group chat who is still with OldCompany is actively looking for a way to get out, since she’s stressed out — and an upcoming corporate merger isn’t helping things.

    We’re already looking out for her and one of my former colleagues is referring Tahani for a spot on her new team. Of course, I’m jealous because I wanted Tahani to join MY company! It’s fascinating seeing the whole maxim of “It’s not what you know, but who you know” playing out in front of my eyes.

    The cherry on the cake is that my former BOSS, Janet, just left the company this week, and has joined the group chat as well. It’s going to be interesting hearing her perspective on things.

    Workplace gossip. Love it!

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Love your name choices! (And I agree it can be fun to hear gossip from a former workplace.)

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I’m on a discord server with several former employees of a previous firm and a couple who are still there but looking to leave (was the firm with an incredibly toxic boss and HR department). There’s a real sense of justification when someone else goes ‘I’m out’ because it’s kind of like validation that my decision to walk out was the right one.

      (We founded the group just because we all get on really well and didn’t want to lose touch. It’s been over 8 years – started the group on Facebook, moved to Slack then discord)

    3. Shiba Dad*

      From 2015 to 2017, seven or eight of us left OldJob. Others have left since. Pre-pandemic we were having “alumni” meetings. We’d get together quarterly, have some food and a couple of drinks. Yes, there would be gossip about the OldJob.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        The company my Dad started his career with went bankrupt after he worked 28 years with them. (Family owned business, the grandchildren borrowed too much during a period of high inflation in order to buy out the second generation.)

        Thirty years later, alumni of that company were still having an annual “reunion” that involved traveling to various sites to spend a day or two reminiscing. I’m talking about dozens of people who had already worked together for half their careers, staying in regular contact with each other through the rest of their careers and into retirement. Some of them are still in communication with each other, although the reunions have gone by the wayside as they aged or died.

  30. Lady Dedlock*

    Happy Friday, all! I’m job hunting after 12 years at my current organization, so I’m a little out of touch with current norms, and I’d love to get your thoughts on a couple of things.

    First, I’m in the late stages of interviewing with a company for a mid-senior role. I’ve already had six 30-minute one-on-one interviews, and I just got word that they want me to have a 15-minute conversation with one of their executive team members next week. Is this a typical number of interviews these days, or should I be concerned that this is an overly bureaucratic company with byzantine decision-making processes? I’m assuming it’s a good sign that they want me to meet with an executive team member.

    Second, assuming I do get an offer, it will be coming through a recruiter. How do I go about negotiating in that context? The recruiter quoted me a salary range up front, but I have more and higher-level experience than the job description asks for, so I’m wondering if that gives me some room to ask for more.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I had a two hour interview with a company a few years ago (for an entry-level position). The total two hours were broken up into 4 thirty minute 1-on-1 interviews: one with the hiring manager, one with a senior team member, one with an entry level team member, and one with HR. I didn’t get that job, but the interview(s) felt reasonable, not overly bureaucratic.

      Some questions (you don’t have to answer here) that might clarify if the six 30-minute one-on-one interviews were normal or red flags:
      – were they back-to-back or all scheduled at different times/on different days?
      – was the schedule and decision making process clearly communicated to you up front (“after the phone screen, we’ll do interviews with various team members, and if you move on from there you’ll meet with an executive”) or has it been “oh, surprise, there’s one more step after this interview…and one more step after this one..”?

    2. Purple Cat*

      I don’t necessarily think 6 30-minute interviews is egregious. Especially if your schedule was easily accommodated during the process. COVID complicates things, would these have been a panel interview in the past, but this time was separate zooms? That factors in. Definitely a good sign that you’re meeting with executive. You negotiate with the recruiter the same way you would directly with the company. Unless they’re offering you some outrageous amount above their previously communicated maximum, then there’s always room to ask for more.

    3. BRR*

      I don’t think that amount of interviews is anything to worry about. I’ve also not personally found a super strong correlation between hiring procedure and company culture. At least when it comes to there being more bureaucracy.

      You negotiate just like you would with a hiring manager. If they gave you a hard number range, I wouldn’t ask for anything above the max.

  31. Mach 10*

    I’ve gone four rounds (with seven people) in an interview process. I was an internal referral, every single interview has been a home run, I did a great work sample for them — so, a lot of reason to think I’m a strong candidate here.

    I was told before the 4th round that there would be a final 5th round. After the 4th round (on a Wednesday), I heard nothing until the following Friday, when I got an email apologizing for the radio silence and “we’ll have a decision or next steps for you early next week.”

    “Early next week” was this Monday/Tuesday. Now we’re at Friday. Should I follow up or just hold steady? If I follow up, what should I say?

    Yes, I’ve sent thank-yous for the previous rounds; no, 4+ rounds of interviews isn’t really necessary for this role [mid-level Llama Stylist].

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Wait until Tuesday. Stuff comes up all the time, references take longer than expected or other candidate couldn’t interview immediately or George forgot to hit submit on his feedback about you.

  32. Butternut*

    How do you be patient with an intern when you are burned out? I did not ask for an intern, he was simply assigned to me. Intern generally is bright but also seems to be taking a while to learn things, and sometimes I get frustrated when he asks the same question multiple times or doesn’t connect concepts. I try really hard to not show my frustration, but working with him, honestly, can feel thankless.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you create training documents for intern, then you can c/p relevant instructions instead of having to keep repeating them?

      Can you pawn intern off on a coworker for a day to reset your frustration levels? We used to do different departments etc (RD interns visit QC for a day). Or just take a sick day and reset?

      If they’re not connecting concepts and asking same question multiple time it’s worth revisiting how you’re explaining and checking their understanding.

      Final thought, are there any projects/tasks they are competent in? Or reading they need to do? Maybe setting a specific time for challenging tasks that create questions and a specific independent time might help you feel less overwhelmed?

      1. hamsterpants*

        Maybe it’s the burnout talking, but writing even more detailed instructions feels counter to the purpose of the internship for both of us. My industry has a lot of niche practices and being able to take your own notes so you can effectively learn from others is a really crucial skill.

        1. Dragonfly7*

          Would it be useful for the intern turn their notes into a draft training document to check their understanding?

    2. Miel*

      I think the rule of thumb for interns is that their work output is typically about equal to the output their mentor would have had with the amount of time spent training the intern. In other words, it’s a wash, at best.

      But! It’s probably a valuable talent pipeline for your company. And it’s definitely a valuable experience for the intern, too.

      It’s not shocking that this young person is taking a while to pick up on things. Looking back, I cringe at how clueless I was as an intern! I was still learning so much.

      Anyway, some ideas:
      – encourage them to set up informational interviews within the company to learn more about other functions
      – shadow another person/ another team for a day
      – work on the production line for a day
      – do some self guided research (hand them a couple journal articles or research reports to read)
      – give them a pretty easy project (organizing the extra supplies, labeling drawers)
      – have them get together with other interns. At my company, the interns publish a monthly newsletter, go on field trips, etc.
      – ask your colleagues if they have projects that the intern could work on
      – ask your intern if there are certain ways that they learn better! Maybe he’d catch on quicker if you take a different approach to teaching
      – recommend some online training courses (if your company has a training platform, or just see if there are relevant videos on LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, etc)
      – speaking of: some professional societies have a LOT of good content! If you’re at all science related, have them sign up for American Chemical Society webinars. They’re free and well done. At least one a week.
      – seek out management training for yourself
      – remember to put all these skills on your performance evaluation/ resume!

      Best of luck. And thanks for your patience with your intern – know that it means a lot to them to have this opportunity.

    3. ferrina*

      Can you share the training? Do you have coworkers that he can do a 2-week stint with? If you could do 2-weeks on, 2-weeks off, that would allow you to prep training documents (or just bulleted How-To lists to refer him to) and stockpile work that he can do largely independently.

  33. Panda (she/her)*

    Looking for advice on negotiating job offers! I am a decade into my career and have worked for the same employer since I graduated – and I have never negotiated a job offer! I now have one offer on the table and another hopefully coming in the next two weeks. When they asked for salary requirements, I told them a number which is about a 25% pay increase for me, and right in the middle of their posted salary range. If they give me what I asked for (and other things like vacation, benefits are good), then should I still negotiate? Or would that be weird, like I’m going back on what I said? And since my first choice job won’t have made a decision by the time I need to sign back my second choice offer, is it really horrible to accept the job and then back out a week later if I get my first choice?

    1. Purple Cat*

      Definitely not weird to still negotiate. If they offered you x, why not ask for X + $5K or whatever. The worst they can do is say “no”. They’re not going to rescind your offer.
      IMO it’s not great to accept if you think you’re going to reject a week later. For sure, you’d be burning a bridge with me, but also in today’s workplace you absolutely have to do what’s best for yourself. Have you reached out to the preferred company to let them know you have an offer in hand and see if they can accelerate their timing? Alison has a bunch of scripts for that.

      1. Panda (she/her)*

        Thanks! Yes, I have let them know I have another offer, and they have accelerated their process as much as they can. I am trying to drag out acceptance of my first offer to try to at least get past one of the interviews for the other, but I may be risking no offer (and staying in a toxic job) if I turn down the first and don’t get the second.

    2. Cj*

      If they offer you what you said you wanted, I think you need concrete reasons to ask for more, not just that you changed your mind. For example, if during the interviews you learned at the hours or longer, the job at a higher level indicated in the original description, etc., you can bring those up those things as a reason you are now asking for more.

      From your comments below, it sounds like you haven’t even had an interview at your first choice company yet. I won’t consider that to be an offer I’m expecting, and sounds like you probably shouldn’t pass up currently in hand.

      If you accepted this offer and then received an offer from a company that you already completed all your interviews with and they just didnt have the offer ready as soon, that’s not nearly as bad of a look as if you accept this offer and then start interviewing with the other company. You don’t want the company that made you an offer to keep interviewing other candidates and then decide they want them instead, right?

      Signed offer isn’t a legal contract, technically it could. Dog oh, I think it would certainly burn a bridge with that company. And depending on how small your industry is, it could get around, or you could run into the hiring manager at a different company you apply to later on that remembers that you backed out.

  34. GarlicMicrowaver*

    Do you ever feel like things would be much more efficient if everyone else on your team had the same sense of urgency as you!??! Zero patience for slowpokes and last-minute cancelers today who have no regard for my time. Argh.

    1. hamsterpants*

      I wish that my team were organized with clarity of purpose. When I cancel a meeting last minute it’s usually because something else more important has come up, sometimes dropped on my lap by a manager.

  35. Typing All The Time*

    Last month, I shared a hotel room with another conference attendee where via Facebook DMs she agreed to splitting the cost. The total would be around $430.

    Except for one dollar sent to my PayPal account as verification, I have not received any money from her as of yet.

    She had sent an email last Friday asking if I had received the payment. I told her no. I called and checked with PayPal and no record has been found. I have a tricky-spelled last name, and the PayPal customer service rep said that the record number can be checked to see if a payment had been sent.

    I have not gotten any reply to this suggestion. She seems to be seeing my DMs but not answering. I am getting scared that I might not see this money. I am debating about contacting the conference organizers, as they also run a related professional networking community, to see what they can do. I only have an email, Facebook page and phone number for this person. I also know the name of her business.

    I cannot just write off the amount as a loss. Please help.

    1. Sunflower*

      I would contact the conference organizers. It might be in their community guidelines that something like this will get them kicked out of the group.

      I would reach out to her again and say if you don’t receive payment in the next 3 days, you’ll have no choice but to report her to the group/conference organizers. I also would say you’ve been in touch with lawyers and will plan to bring suit to small claims court with her business cited in public record if she doesn’t comply (I have no idea of this is legit or what wording to use but threatening legal public action usually gets people nervous)

      Otherwise, I don’t think you have much recourse. I would say that next time, get the full amount as soon as you book the hotel or at least before the cancellation date.

    2. Mercie*

      Try to get on the phone with her to let her know she needs to pay what she promised you by X date or you will have to involve the conference organizers as she is putting you in a difficult financial situation and this needs to be resolved. Be prepared to leave a voicemail since she’s ignoring your FB messages. Then email her a summary of either your phone conversation or the VM you left. Also, screenshot those FB messages where she agrees on payment ASAP just in case.
      I’m not sure how much the conference can do if they’re not in charge of the rooms, but perhaps invoking them will make the person realize she’s jeopardizing her professional reputation with this behavior.

    3. WellRed*

      If she sent you a dollar I’m guessing she can send the rest and it’s not a PayPal issue. If it were there are a dozen other ways she could pay you, including Venmo, Zelle, money order or handing you cash before you gave her a room key. I’m not sure how the organization can hel but you have nothing to lose by asking. Ultimately, You fronted money to a stranger. People can really suck.

      1. Jora Malli*

        If nothing else, the postal service exists and she could mail you a check.

        I would check with the professional organization, and give some serious thought as to whether attempting to contact her through her employer would feel reasonable. I would normally never recommend that, but if this was a professional conference that she was attending in a professional capacity, that would make it a work issue.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m so sorry this happened to you! If you’re ever splitting a room again, most hotels will split costs evenly on two cards – I’ve done this for conferences before. Sometimes they divide it up so the hold goes entirely on one card and the rest gets divided up, but you shouldn’t have to have one party entirely front costs for the whole thing. Best of luck.

      1. Typing All The Time*

        Thanks. We arrived at different times so I paid because I got there first.

    5. RagingADHD*

      How many times have you messaged her about this since verifying that you did not receive the payment? You should certainly follow up.

      If it has been more than 2 days and she has ignored your DMs, find her business email address / phone number and contact her there. This is a business matter. It’s not stalky to contact her there.

      If she doesn’t get back to you within 48 hours of contacting her business, escalate to the conference organizers.