open thread – June 17-18, 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.

{ 1,089 comments… read them below }

  1. Lori*

    I want to get all y’alls opinions on an incident that happened at my previous job 3 years ago that I’m still annoyed over. At my current job, I adore my boss and teammates and feel valued with what I do. However at the previous job, I did not feel even liked by anyone. It had a “kiss-up” and competitive culture I found hard to work in.

    I was originally hired by Jackie, who withheld information from me and would get rude and defensive when I would ask for clarification. I found out later on Jackie trashed my name to several people in upper management. When she quit, my peer at the time, Donna, got promoted to my boss (and the boss of my other peers, Eric and Fez). Another peer, Kelso, was also promoted to team lead. Let’s talk about working with Donna and Kelso. Kelso spent most of his day chatting to people in upper management about ideas (this company was big on “thought leaders”) rather than doing his job and meeting deadlines. Donna was knowledgeable with a vast skill-set, but hogged projects and also kissed up to management. When they got promoted, our entire department got moved under another director in a different department the company, Bob (so Donna and Kelso reported to him). Bob was in another office location than the rest of our department. Bob and upper management loved Donna and Kelso. Kelso had a report, Hyde. Those two bickered all day and seemed constantly stressed out. Donna micromanaged me on everything and would redo tasks that Eric and Fez were supposed to do whenever they did them incorrectly. Donna, Kelso and Eric would joke and laugh all day while Hyde, Fez and I kept our heads down and worked.

    Another coworker, Leo, emailed our team asking us to do a task. A month prior to this, Donna actually sent out a process document for the exact task telling Leo’s department to directly reach out to Kelso. I wrote back letting Leo know that he needed to reach out to Kelso, who then completed the task.

    Donna emailed me the next day saying that Kelso didn’t have the bandwidth for these tasks at the moment, so the rest of us had to help out. I wrote back asking when that was communicated to us and I didn’t mind helping if he was busy but we need these types of issues communicated out. Her response was that Kelso told us this (which I didn’t remember) and she’d grown frustrated with how much I had been pushing back on her lately (this was news to me as I walked on eggshells constantly at that job). I can’t remember exactly what I said but I told her I wasn’t trying to be difficult. She thanked me for apologizing.

    I updated my resume that weekend and thankfully found my current job a few months later. I mean, did Bob even know Kelso didn’t have bandwidth to finish the tasks he was responsible for? Why did the rest of us have to do his job? Looking back it seemed like Jackie and Donna were obsessed with Kelso and put him on a pedestal while he got to do whatever he wanted.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. the cat's ass*

      Perhaps weed, just like the original show? Just kidding!

      Sounds like communication was clearly lacking in this job, and that you’re well out of it!

    2. LadyAmalthea*

      The politics of this place sound as uncomfortable as a double knit polyester leisure suit on a hot day and you did well to get out.

    3. River Otter*

      “ Why did the rest of us have to do his job?”

      I can’t speak to what Kelso did or did not say, nor can I speak to what Bob knew or did not know. Regardless of how pleasant Donna was to deal with, it is not uncommon for other team members to take on a particular persons tasks when that person is overwhelmed. It is good management to re-distribute tasks and balance workloads when that is necessary.
      It sounds like your resentment from the politics and maneuvering might be impacting how you felt about having to take on a task from Kelso. I recommend trying to separate those two things so that you don’t end up having similarly overlapping resentments in the future.

    4. StrikingFalcon*

      It sounds like it was incredibly dysfunctional and there was no way to win that game. I’m glad you found a new job!

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. This is basic bad management where you’re punished because you inconvenienced the favored ones. This type of manager tends to expect a lot of mind reading, expecting you to magically know when to follow their orders and when to stay out of their way (usually based on how good it will make them look to upper management, which you probably won’t have any way of knowing).

        Losing game, good move to get out.

        1. Lori*

          Did you work there too? lol

          Yep. I could never win. If I brought up an idea to my boss with putting numbers or something behind it – “well, where are the numbers? Put some though behind it”; and if I put together a brief written proposal before pitching her the idea – “in the future please talk to me before putting together a proposal”

          Working there really messed up my confidence

          1. enough*

            Sounds a bit like i guy I used to work for. It seemed that his response was I’m a partner and know this, why don’t you know this or I’m a partner and know this and you shouldn’t know this. the first was usually something that really wasn’t a concern for subordinates and the latter was something that subordinates needed to know.

    5. RagingADHD*

      My thoughts are that

      1) there was a lot more going on in this situation than you were privy to, and it is impossible for you to make sense of it because you were tangential to it and didn’t have all the information.

      2) This incident would have been an insignificant misunderstanding that you brushed off, if you were otherwise satisfied in the job and felt a good connection with the team.

      3) Three years is a long time to chew over a very common type of miscommunication, especially since you don’t work there anymore and like your current job.

      1. Lori*

        1) okay fair – but I think my boss could have handled it better

        2) Um did you read the first part of my post?

        3) Why is everyone so focused on the 3 years? Frankly that’s a moot point.

        I fudged the timeline in case anyone I know reads this. sheesh. I bet most people do the same here.

        1. RagingADHD*

          1) Yes, I read the first part of your post, which was all about the context of why you weren’t happy in the job and didn’t like your coworkers. My point being that the incident itself was not that important, it was just the last straw.

          2) Who is “everyone”? At the time of this comment, there is only me and 1 other person who mentioned the timeline at all, and the reason we did so is that the way you fudged the timeline inadvertently made you sound weirdly invested in a distant situation.

          Obviously you’re still hot about it, which is more understandable if it were recent.

          3) If you don’t want thoughts from people who may have an alternate perspective to you, don’t ask for thoughts on an open forum.

        2. Hiding from My Boss*

          I understand how something that “happened a long time ago” can still nag at you like a hangnail. I think there’s something in us that tries to make sense of things that make no sense. 80% of your story could be mine with my former manager and coworkers at my current job. Former Manager just got a BIG promotion. When she was my boss she put wheels in motion to ensure I’d never advance beyond her old favorite’s capabilities. I’m still here because I absolutely cannot risk losing certain benefits (even though I have interviewed elsewhere).

    6. Medusa*

      To be honest, I can’t offer thoughts on the situation because I’m so confused by it, but I can tell you that at a previous job, I had my direct manager and the department head trashing me (untruthfully) to the point that people I’d never met or spoken to were telling lies about me behind my back. Those assholes can go die in a fire :-)

      1. Lori*

        Yeah lol. I tried to make it as clear as possible but it’s a lot

        I’m sorry your name was trashed too. Such insecure people in management.

    7. Colette*

      “Donna emailed me the next day saying that Kelso didn’t have the bandwidth for these tasks at the moment, so the rest of us had to help out. I wrote back asking when that was communicated to us and I didn’t mind helping if he was busy but we need these types of issues communicated out.”

      She informed you in that email. She saw you didn’t know, and told you. And you pushed back.

      It sounds like that place was a mess, but it’s not reasonable to expect to be proactively informed about your coworkers’ workloads. When your manager was aware you needed to know, she told you.

      1. Lori*

        Um, did you see this part –

        I wrote back letting Leo know that he needed to reach out to Kelso, **who then completed the task.**

        Donna emailed me the next day saying that Kelso didn’t have the bandwidth for these tasks at the moment, so the rest of us had to help out. I wrote back asking when that was communicated to us and I didn’t mind helping if he was busy but we need these types of issues communicated out. **Her response was that Kelso told us this (which I didn’t remember) **

        He completed the task and then she said we were supposed to do him job for him.

        ** wrote back asking when that was communicated to us and I didn’t mind helping if he was busy but we need these types of issues communicated out**
        How is that pushing back? That’s asking for clarification.

        1. Colette*

          I did. But I don’t think that’s relevant. Your manager is allowed to decide that Kelso’s time should be spent elsewhere and redirect work. Yes, he did it in this case, but maybe something else dropped – or maybe this incident was the one that made him realize he didn’t have time to keep doing that work.

          It’s pushing back because you aren’t entitled to have proactive communication. When the issue became clear, your boss gave you guidance. And you responded by telling her she wasn’t communicating well, when there’s no indication that was the case.

          1. Max*

            FWIW I didn’t see OP’s actions as pushing back at all. Re: “It’s pushing back because you aren’t entitled to have proactive communication. When the issue became clear, your boss gave you guidance” – okay fair, but how else should OP have approached it? The last thing the boss had communicated out was the Kelso would be handling X task, and when the coworker emailed the team about doing X task, why didn’t Kelso or the boss TELL the rest of the team they needed to help Kelso out if they were copied on the email? Then Kelso did the task, so clearly he was able to do it, and he didn’t tell OP: You are supposed to do this task right now because I don’t have bandwidth.

            OP – Both of them seem awful and promoted beyond their abilities.

            1. Colette*

              She was correct to send the task to Kelso – based on the information she had at the time, that’s where it should have gone. However, she wasn’t correct to complain that she wasn’t told by replying to an email in which she was told.

            2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

              Donna emailed me the next day saying that Kelso didn’t have the bandwidth for these tasks at the moment, so the rest of us had to help out. I wrote back asking when that was communicated to us and I didn’t mind helping if he was busy but we need these types of issues communicated out.”

              I think OP read Donna’s email not as “it turns out Kelso doesn’t have bandwidth right now so please help” but “as “Kelso didn’t have the bandwidth for these tasks at the moment, so the rest of us had to help out AND YOU SHOULD HAVE ALREADY KNOWN THAT”

              And the fact that Donna responded to OP’s inquiry about how these were communicated by saying Kelso already told her is indicative to me that OP was correct in her reading.

              OP, maybe kelso covered his ass in this case because he never told you but told Donna he did. Maybe Donna was supposed to tell you but forgot and then tried to play it off and shift the blame on you. Maybe Kelso did tell you but you forgot.

              I wonder if you feel bad because you were operating in good faith, trying to follow processes in an environment full of both minor and major drama, and your good faith got met with snideness and manipulation to make it seem like you were the one who had done something wrong.

              If Donna owned her actions and apologized, would that feel better to you?

    8. random color picker*

      My thoughts are to stop allowing this incident to live rent free in your head. Why ruminate when you have a great team “I adore my boss and teammates and feel valued with what I do.”

      You’re not giving them your full self when you’re referring back to this.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        I’m not the OP but I wonder if the OP was in an abusive home or was bullied badly. In my experience, people like us are hyper focused on justice and revenge and needing to understand why we were treated badly. OP, do you mind speaking to that? I feel this way about me and I focus on all the times I was done dirty.

        1. Anon for this*

          Yeah, I feel this too.

          And also, I do think people often change the exact timelines to further anonymize their stories. So I don’t put too much importance on the exact timelines they give. I mean, I know I’ll say something happened 3 weeks ago that happened 3 days ago because my coworkers read this site. :)

          1. Alternative Person*


            Sounds like the OP was in a losing game and is trying to analyze something to make sense of it, maybe understand how they could have resolved it peacefully/fairly/reasonably but often there is/was no peaceful resolution because the people in charge were looking for a stick to beat them with.

            I still occasionally ruminate on how I could have peacefully resolved a situation a few years ago but I have to remind myself if I had rolled over like he expected me to, the co-worker in question would have just continued to browbeat me. There was no way to reach a fair resolution because he didn’t set out to have a fair interaction in the first place. Having to defend myself in front of an audience was unpleasant, but he never tried that BS again.

        2. Marvel*

          I come from a similar background and I was thinking the same thing.

          OP, this sounds like a confusing situation. My thoughts are that the actions and reactions of the other people involved probably had less to do with you than you think, and more to do with whatever things those people were dealing with at that time and whatever context they were bringing to the situation that you didn’t have. I find that this is the case most of the time when someone is being thoughtless or acting in ways we don’t understand. For those of us who are often already on high alert for other reasons, it can feel very personal—but it usually isn’t.

          You don’t need to prove who was right and who was wrong regarding a minor incident that happened years ago in a completely different environment that you are no longer in. Instead, I would dig into why it feels like you DO need to prove that, to the point of typing the whole thing up and posting it on a public forum years later. I’m sure there is a reason why it’s still bothering you, but you’re in a better position to discern what it is than we are. You’re the expert on your own experience.

        3. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          @Unkempt Flatware, I’ve also spotted this pattern in myself and people with similar backgrounds — or who occupy a similar location in the nurodivergent trait map. It’s one of those traits or tendencies that can be an asset in some circumstances (or at least *feel like* it is helping protect you from being taken advantage of, or restore justice), and a detriment or handicap in others. I’ve had to work, with professional assistance, on learning how to manage it (and I am still working on it!) so that how I respond to feeling mistreated doesn’t do more harm to me than the original mistreatment did.

          Continuing to ruminate or complain about a situation that’s past and no longer changeable, plotting (much less actually enacting!!) revenge or retribution, holding a sense of injustice or grievance, seeking to place blame or fault rather than take or relinquish responsibility — those are all very tempting and natural. And also generally not helpful, or even counterproductive: they affect my own mood, add to or prolong my distress, impact relationships with people who aren’t even involved and potentially my general reputation, waste my time and focus that could better be spent on something more satisfying and productive, tempt and falsely ‘justify’ additional wrong behaviors (because it feels ‘fair’ or ‘just’ to return wrong for wrong) which escalates dysfunction especially if acted on.

          For anyone else who finds themself frequently dwelling on being done wrong, to a degree that’s uncomfortable, seems excessive compared to the original wrong, or doesn’t lessen with time/ you can’t seem to come to terms with it and move on… Know that you don’t have to feel that way. You can learn to have strong boundaries, prevent yourself from being taken advantage of, recognize injustice and work for justice, without it feeling like an angry and festering wound. Therapy can help.

  2. Quitter?*

    I am considering quitting my job without anything new lined up. I am looking for a replacement that is a little bit specific, so it is taking longer than I expected. Essentially, I am trying to avoid the end of the year craziness in my role. Let’s say that I work with llama dancing and I am the only coach. There are a few other people who are available to help out in an emergency, but they are very busy with the flamingos and otters. Our llamas have a weekly performance of the same routine that is generally pretty straightforward. There’s always some complications, but it works out every time. The llamas also have a huge Thanksgiving pageant every year. And this year it will be bigger and more extravagant than ever before. I don’t enjoy working with llama dancing and would rather do llama grooming. I have a Master’s in llama grooming, but don’t have any experience. (Also, my company does not need a llama groomer.) I am willing to wait for a llama grooming opportunity (with some specific qualifications), but I really don’t want to start the preparations for the big Thanksgiving pageant in August/September. It’s very stressful and I would prefer to not have such a big project to do at Thanksgiving (plus there’s a lot of review in December to wrap up the program).

    I have been in this role for just over 2 years. I lost my previous job unexpectedly at the start of the pandemic. My priorities at the time were extremely different than now and I couldn’t be unemployed for long at that point and I thought coaching llama dancing would be a better fit for me than it turned out to be. (To add, not all llama dance coaches have a Thanksgiving pageant. Some of them do pageants at other times in the year, so I didn’t consider the timing to be an issue when I started.)

    Is it bad to leave my still newish job without a new opportunity? It’s for a combo of my own mental health, to not leave my employer in a lurch as we get close to the pageant, and because I don’t have enough time to do a good job search now. There may also be some (possibly expensive) professional development opportunities that I could pursue. I would be fine for a couple months, but I fear leaving for a not ~good enough~ reason may make it harder or even impossible to find something. (Metaphor aside, I work in a pretty traditional field that involves no artistic pursuits.)

    1. PerplexedPigeon*

      If you can make it work for a few months with no income and can use the months to job search in ways you otherwise wouldn’t be able to if still employed, then go for it. No sense in being miserable.
      As far as leaving folks in the lurch, it’s a job not a relationship. As I learned upon leaving academia, don’t love your job more than they love you – they’ll hire someone to fill your position and life will move on. And as Alison says, people leave jobs for all sorts of reasons, it’s totally normal and just the price of doing business.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Are you asking whether to quit with nothing lined up, or whether you should pursue a job search with the possibility that you will leave for new job in the middle of llama pageant season?

      If you are at the point where going through another llama pageant is undoable, then it seems like it would be better to quit sooner rather than later, giving your job more lead time to make arrangements.

      Either way, 2 years doesn’t strike me as an unusually short tenure at a job. I don’t think a hiring manager would see 2 years as a concern, and current job will probably care more about what time of year you leave rather than how many years you worked there.

      1. Quitter?*

        I am not overly concerned with quitting in the middle of pageant season. I would prefer not to, but if it happens, it happens. It’s just complicated to think through all the factors.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Ahhh, ok. If you’re worried about references or burning a bridge, it would be better to quit before the pageant or after the pageant. Quitting in the middle seems like the worst option for both you and current work.

    3. Older and wiser now*

      I know this isn’t the answer you want, but I would stick it out till a better job as a llama groomer comes along.
      The exception is if your work makes you physically depressed, and you can’t get out of bed or it’s affecting your relationships. Then you need to leave. And a lot of us stay in toxic jobs.
      But the easiest way to find a job is when you have another job. And it often takes longer to find a new job than we expect it to.

      1. Quitter?*

        Thanks! This is what I am thinking will likely need to happen. I appreciate all perspectives.

    4. Michigan mom*

      I quit my last job after 4 years with nothing lined up. It didn’t take me super long to land a new job but I did not feel like I was able to negotiate the salary as I would have liked without being employeed currently. If I had it to do over I would not have quit that job first. Actually I am 3.5 years into current job and again ready to move on (maybe it’s me!!) but I will not quit u til I have something so that I am able to negotiate properly. That said if you aren’t applying to work somewhere miserly maybe it won’t be a big deal for you. Good luck!!

    5. Barry*

      Given the economy, I would stay, look for a job, and work your current job.
      If you are willing to quit, use that as emotional leverage in negotiating your workload (that you have an acceptable BATNA).

    6. Koli*

      Can you just lean-out on the pageant to try to reduce the stress while you look for the new job? I.e., do a mediocre to bad job in your current role rather than quit outright?

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      Since your mental health is a concern, it seems that it would be stressful to leave and face an unknown situation where it could potentially take longer than you prefer to find a job. That sounds like it could ultimately end up being more challenging than what you’re working on managing now. Good luck in finding the right fit for you.

    8. Kittee*

      It is really hard to stay at a job that’s affecting your mental health. Been there, so I understand wanting to quit without something lined up. But….especially since you have a degree but no experience in what you want to pivot to…it may take a while to find a new job, and if you run out of money before that time, that is going to be really bad. I would try to stick it out while you look, maybe find some supportive resources to help with the mental health in the meantime. Best of luck to you!

  3. Jennika*

    How common is it to have a job at a company with stock options available? I’m looking for a new job and I really want to go somewhere that offers stock options. I’m already being picky on where I apply so I wonder if I’m looking for an even rarer unicorn. If a job doesn’t offer stock options, should you try to negotiate a higher salary?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are 2 variations to this.

      One is an established company, that is either publicly traded or expects to be so in a few years. Stock options are granted as a form of incentive pay.

      Another is a start up, which grants stock options as incentive pay, and as a way to compensate for lower salaries and longer hours. You’re making a gamble that if the company does well, and gets acquired or go public, those options will be a real windfall for you. But if it folds, they’re worth nothing. The earlier you get in on the startup, the more likely that the value of those options could be life-changing.

      In either case, they are 2 caveats.
      1) Options don’t vest right away — you can’t exercise them and turn them into stock (and then subsequently sell the stock) immediately. You’ll typically get 20% of them every year for 5 years, or some such formula.
      2) The strike price of the options. If the stock is trading at $30/share, and the options have a strike price of $25/share, then your potential profit is $5/share. Companies will set the strike price when they issue the options, and then if there’s a general stock market downturn or something bad happens to the company over the subsquent years, your options may be under water — it would cost you more money to exercise the options than the stock would be worth.

      Some industries are much more likely to offer options than others (I’m speaking only of the US here, no idea what the general practices are in other countries). Professional service businesses – law firms, medical offices, accounting firms – almost never have options; even if they aren’t legally partnerships, they are run that way, and only the senior accredited professionals have ownership in the company. Tech businesses and investment banks almost always offer options. Large industrial companies may only offer options to senior management.

      1. KofSharp*

        Yeah I’m at a company with an ESOP now: I won’t start getting stock until later this year because I joined right after their cutoff date to start getting options for last year. I already hit the reqs for 2022 though, and I’m looking forward to having those.
        I’ve seen 5-6 people retire in the last year at about 60 years old because it paid off. They’re so excited.

      2. mandatory anon*

        I fondly recall my time at an old-fashioned dot com start up back in the day. Stock options and choose-your-own-title were offered in place of raises, so Director of R&D I became and felt so cool waiting to be vested for stock options.
        Cue the dot com crash and most of the company was laid off, no stock options, just a little severance pay and a resume ‘counselor’.
        I’ll take cash on the barrel any day. Can’t spend it if it’s not actually in hand/bank.

    2. ThatGirl*

      What’s the appeal of stock options for you, specifically? I’ve never had them, but I’m a lowly Midwest copywriter, I feel like they may be more common in tech companies?

      1. AnotherOne*

        I’ve always felt it was to get people to work to make the company successful on the idea that if you own part of the company who have a stake in the company being successful. Particularly when you are talking about start ups and trading lower pay and long hours for stock- you are betting on the company going public or being bought, and really hoping that it’s a unicorn.

        Because $20k in stock could become $100k, or if it does unicorn- easily $1 million. For a year or 2 of work- that could be really worthwhile.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Sure. I’m just not much of a gambler and to me, stock options (esp in lieu of higher pay) feels like gambling. I will personally be getting some company stock once a merger my company is going through is final, but that’s kind of a bonus as far as I can tell. And I honestly don’t expect it to amount to much.

        2. Ginger Pet Lady*

          $20K in stock could ALSO become $0 – and I think that’s far more common.
          I wouldn’t use stock options as a deciding factor unless you like gambling.

          1. WellRed*

            Yep and it varies by company of course, but it could be several years before they vest.

    3. Maggie*

      I had stock in my previous company but it was tanking lol, and I felt they used it as a big talking point to give microscopic raises all the while their stock and thus my stock was plummeting.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!t*

      Very common in biotech to get restricted stock units (RSUs) as part of the compensation package, but can’t speak to other industries. It’s a bit of gamble, though, especially with the current volatility of the stock market. I’ve lost more than 1/3 of the value of my RSUs since 2021, even though

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Very common in biotech to get restricted stock units (RSUs) as part of the compensation package, but can’t speak to other industries. It’s a bit of gamble, though, especially with the current volatility of the stock market. I’ve lost more than 1/3 of the value of my RSUs since 2021, even though my company is doing well.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        I was coming here to say this. RSUs are great because, unlike options, they’re free (still need to be taxed: once as a form of income when you get it, and twice when you sell it if it sells for a profit [capital gains]). So even if the stock price goes down, you’re not losing money that was actually yours (just losing the potential to earn more).

        But you are right- biotech and pharma stock is VERY volatile- it reacts dramatically to every bit of good or bad news.

    6. Moonlight*

      So since someone’s already addressed how stocks work, and someone else has why you want stocks, I’ll pitch my own different angle from what I know.

      From what I can tell, stock options tend to be more common in the finance world and maybe even in tech. I know plenty of people who work for insurance companies and banks who get stock options as a part of their job. I also see this as a benefit/incentive sometimes when I look at tech job postings/friends tell me about having stock options at whatever tech company they work for. Obviously I can’t speak to how universal this is, and “finance” and “tech” are hugely broad fields. But I guess I hear about it more than other areas like the broadly general non profit, education, health care, manufacturing, law worlds – though I am sure it is periodically a perk some offer, particularly if it’s something that intersects with a more businessey/ finance/ tech company (eg medical company that makes medical technology… though that is so vague, sorry).

    7. CatLady*

      You’ve got to ask yourself *why* you want those stock options. Are you hoping that you’ll be able to cash-in at some point and get rich quick? If so, let me lay out my thoughts as someone who has been in the tech industry for almost 30 years:
      * If you want those types of stock options – look for the startups. Be aware though that startups can be h3llish places where they pay you little and expect a LOT of work beyond the 40-hour work week. Thus the stock options – which are promises that you’ll cash in when/if they make it big. They thought is that if you put in the excessive work *now* you’ll get a commensurate reward later.
      * While the media may hype up the super-big IPOs and how the ones who got in early are making it big, know that those are very rare. Most startups crash and burn and you’re left with having spent the last x years working yourself to the bone with nothing but experience to show for it. Is that something you’re willing to risk?
      * It all boils down to what’s your risk to reward threshold?

      Personally I got stock options a couple times but they amounted to almost nothing because I got in late. Conversely because I got in late I didn’t do the crazy 80 hrs/7 days a week work thing. I used to bemoan the fact that I always got into a company after that big(ish)-money event, that my timing was always off. What I realized is that I never got “in on the ground floor” because I wasn’t interested in the risk. I want a steady check, regular hours, and good bonuses. Take some time to think about what you want to get out of your job and what you are willing to tradeoff on to get there.

    8. My heart is a fish*

      My first employer offered an ESOPP, and I’m forever kicking myself that I didn’t go in on them — publicly traded company that has done VERY well over the years since I left! but alas, I was pinching all my pennies til they screamed at the time, so I couldn’t afford it, and in my early twenties didn’t understand the value.

    9. Chestnut Mare*

      Each time I’ve been offered stock options, (working in finance) they’ve been out of the money at expiry.

    10. Pool Lounger*

      Amazon and other large tech companies often offer them, in my experience. Of course, it’s a gamble—sone years you could make bank, but right now… not so hot, and your take-home goes down thousands and thousands of dollars.

    11. Usernames are optional*

      Just be very careful about making sure the company is financially viable. I had stock options with my old company. My boss got his at a strike price of $3 as he was at the company at the beginning. I came in 2 years later and my strike price was $26. I had options that vested over three years. I made $50,000 the first year and the remaining 2 years were worthless as the stock price dropped like a stone.

    12. Parenthesis Dude*

      Very rare. It’s primarily done for startup companies or if you’re high ranking. A director, vice president or “letters” position (like a CSO – Chief Science Officer, or an CIO Chief Information Officer) might also get stock options.

      It’s more common for there to be an ESPP or an ESOP, which allows for discounts on shares.

    13. Student*

      A couple important things to be aware of:
      (1) If you go this route, make sure you really understand whatever stock option compensation the company is offering. If you don’t understand how it works, and/or if they can’t give it to you clearly in writing, then you’re just signing up for get-rich-quick scheme trouble.

      My brother worked for a tech start-up that offered to pay him in “points”. The devs earned points based on their contributions to the product. They told him “It’s like a stock option! If our product goes big, we’ll pay out everybody based on the points they earned! But with a fun video game twist!” It was not like a stock option. It was a scam, to take advantage of young people who want to get rich quick but don’t really understand finance, stocks, etc. I pointed out to him some of the flaws, like that he had no idea or agreement about how points were allocated or how many points were in the total pool or what value they might be worth. With stocks, there’s some level of transparency about how they’re awarded, valued, and how many are out in the pool, so that you can gauge the value of what you have and compare it objectively with other jobs.

      (2) Lots of stocks don’t take off. For every Apple or Amazon, there are a whole lot more companies that do mediocre or go under. Understand that this type of compensation is a big risk, even if you have a good product and put a lot of personal work into it. Make sure you have the risk tolerance to go along with that, and reasonable support available to you if it falls through.

      (3) Diversify your assets! If you beat the odds and do well with company stock options, make sure you reallocate some of that wealth into something more diversified (ETFs or mutual funds that cover large parts of the market, or even just putting some money into something else like real estate). If your company suffers a setback and both your salary and your savings in stocks are all tied to that one company, you’ll be in trouble. If you diversify your investments, you may lose your job but not also all your savings at the same time.

    14. T. Boone Pickens*

      Some good stuff here. I’d also like to point you to a LinkedIn discussion I saw posted a couple weeks ago that had a good breakdown and builds on the excellent info that Alton Brown’s Evil Twin posted up.

      If you search for “Brooklin Em Dash Nash” you’ll see a post that mentions stock options being a crock of *expletive* in the comments is where the good info is.

    15. Koli*

      Why are you interested in stock options? They’re not really a way to increase total comp – base salary will be lower to balance out the value of the stock options, typically.

    16. Nopity Nope*

      Yeah, I’m super curious about why you are interested in stock options. I worked for a (tech) company that offered them. The three co-owners made out like bandits, the rest of us got screwed. Within a pretty short period of time, all three of them cashed in and bought literal multi-million dollar mansions, which caused the share price to tank to well below the strike price of the peons’ options, and never recovered. So even when you vested, the options were worthless. Great for the owners, though, as they made a ton more money when they sold the company.

      In your shoes, I would be looking for an established company that does stock options, rather than a startup. Because from what I’ve seen from my own experience and others’, if you’re not the person who’s starting the startup, you’re more likely to get screwed than not on stock options. Would definitely only do it if the options were on top of a good salary, not instead of.

    17. Generic Name*

      I have no idea how common it is, just my personal experience with it. My exhusband used to work for a giant defense/engineering company that offered company stock as part of their 401(k) matching. Meaning if you contributed a certain percentage of your salary to the 401(k) plan, the company bought its own stock. He was very diligent at going into his account a couple of times a year and switching away from the company stock so he wasn’t over-represented in one stock in his portfolio. I think it served him/us well.

      I get stock options because my company is transitioning to being employee owned. I have paid nothing so far, and my stock options are theoretically valued at something like $20k at this point. Since I am fully vested, I will get a payout when I leave or retire. It seems like a good deal since I haven’t paid anything into what is essentially another pot of retirement money for me.

    18. TechWorker*

      Depends on sector for sure – they are very common in tech! As someone else said there’s a difference between startup type stock and huge public traded company stock.

      I worked for a startup that was acquired by a huge company so have (sort of) seen both sides. Sort of because the startup was quite big by the time I joined and so my shares on acquisition were ‘a really nice bonus that helped me afford my house’ rather than ‘silly money’, plus I never really had the startup type stress. (And salary was okay already, they weren’t guaranteed to ever sell so the shares weren’t necessarily considered ‘worth much’ by people working there).

      Now I have RSUs. It’s a way for companies to a) give out bonuses in a way that doesn’t impact their opex figure (at least, I think so, not an expert, just what someone vaguely said) and b) use it as a retention tool, because you get the money over a number of years rather than all in one go. I see them as ‘nice’ but if given the chance of RSUs or salary I would take the salary every time. I’m not a gambler! If there was some downturn such that the company was in danger of going under/I was at risk of layoff, then I would rather have the money in the bank than have RSUs that have also been affected by the downturn.

    19. DistantAudacity*

      My previous employer was a very very large global firm, which offered an employee purchase option. It was not part of the compensation directly (vested stocks were, at a very senior managment level) but everyone could by in.

      Basically you could say that I want x% of my gross salary (ie before taxes, with a cap on the x) withheld every month, to be used in employee purchase plan. Stocks were the purchased at a discounted rate – 15% i think – of marker value. No ties, so you could sell immediatly if you liked. Gains and advantages are subject to regular taxation according to local laws.

      This has been quite lucrative for me over time, but as a long-term investment. All risk duly noted, of course. I have sold portions at various points and stuck the proceeds into index funds, in order to balance my risk exposure.

    20. Siege*

      I had stock options when I worked at Amazon in the warehouse. I would rather have had more money. They were part of a deferred compensation scheme (I don’t know if that’s the technically correct title) along with monthly bonuses that were structured so you only earned them when the pace went up in November and December and you earned them by the warehouse, not individually. Amazon likes that setup because they can pretend you’re making more money, but I can’t pay my rent now on stock that will vest in two years. And when they did vest, Amazon was entering a pretty drastic downward slump, so the value was variable compared to what it had been the week before. I sold them within three days of vesting.

  4. Kath*

    Update: Hi there, some of you may remember me from my posts regarding a vile admin who was playing favorites and straight up bullying me.

    I have some good news finally after being through hell. I’ve got a new job! It is a fully remote position at a big international company with a whopping 46% pay increase. I’m beyond ecstatic. People here have been the biggest support to me during one of the hardest times of my life. Thank you so much, honestly.

    And to people who are in a similar situation, I know how bleak everyhing feels right now but please, please have a faith in your abilities. Your happiness and mental health is most important. You’ve got this.

    Let me end this with a question. I will only have a long weekend to unwind before starting my new job. Any tips for releasing the toxic energy from my system to have a frest start? It will probably take months to recover but I’d appreciate any hacks for a swift perspective shift.

    1. jane's nemesis*

      A few months ago, I switched from a toxic job where I was fully remote because of the pandemic, to a toxic job where I was fully remote, forever. I only had a long weekend off in between as well and was worried about the fresh start like you.

      Here’s what I did: I used the long weekend to completely empty out the room I’d been WFH in, painted a brand new, cheerful and energy-inspiring color, and then set up my office anew with a totally different setup. I moved everything around and even got a bigger and better desk. This way, when I started my new job, I felt like I was in a totally new place!

      If you don’t have a dedicated WFH space, this won’t necessarily work for you, but you could try changing up where you work in a smaller way, whether new art around you, or adding a plant, etc.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        ahahahah I did not mean to say the new job is also toxic. It’s not, I promise, that was my fingers getting ahead of my brain. It was supposed to say “to a NEW job where I would be fully remote, forever.”

        1. Purple Cat*

          Phew. I was also worried for you.
          Your post reminds me of the current paint company commercials with “Old you” or “previous owner” still hanging around.

    2. Yvette*

      First CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!
      As far as the rest, have a relaxing weekend but take some time to setup or redo your work space. New office supplies (pens, pads etc). If you can’t be near a window or the view is less than lovely, put up something interesting or pretty to look at. Fresh start all around.
      Again congrats and good luck.

    3. Jean*

      Congratulations. That is huge and amazing news.

      Do something nice for yourself that weekend – a massage and pedi, a new outfit, a fancy meal at a good restaurant. Whatever your jam is. It doesn’t have to be grand or extravagant, just a sweet reward. You earned it. I also like to do some sort of symbolic purge to mark transitions like this (think weeding out and donating old clothes from your wardrobe, rearranging a room, or reorganizing a collection).

    4. SpicySpice*

      If you have any company swag, or letterhead, or anything company branded, do a symbolic burning of it! It’s hokey but it works. If you’re not down with setting things on fire, you can also bury it or dispose of it in some way that is purposeful. Enough to let your brain know that you’re getting rid of all the toxic mess.

      1. Mid*

        I like turning old shirts into rags for cleaning, and taking scissors to a toxic company logo sound very soothing.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Best way to release toxic energy is to spend as much time as possible outside over the weekend.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        After leaving a job once where my old boss was bullying me, I started taking a moment when needed to remove myself that today was better than my worst day at oldjob where the worst bullying incident happened.

        It helped, especially on the inevitable bad days that came up and after the new job honeymoon period wore off. I had to remind my brain that occasional bad days or reasonable work stress is normal and not an indicator that it was going to be that bad again.

        Good luck!

    6. Betty*

      I’d take some time to do something that is physical and self-indulgent to get out of your head and reset. Is there a form of movement that relaxes you (hiking, yoga, mixed martial arts)? Massage or mani/pedi?
      Or, if you have a ‘happy place’ that you can get to for the long weekend without a logistical hassle (e.g., probably not Europe or Hawaii if you’re in the Midwest, but a nearby city/state park/etc. that you love), can you take a mini-break for a couple nights?

    7. T. Boone Pickens*

      Congrats Kath! Terrific, terrific news!

      I echo a lot of what other posters have mentioned. Spa day, a nice walk in nature, renting a convertible and taking a long drive with the wind in your hair. I’d definitely advocate getting outside (weather permitting) and soaking up some Vitamin D. I can’t speak for everyone, but the feeling of the sun in my hair always makes me feel great.

    8. StudentA*

      I like the idea of getting your WFH setup all organized and personalized. Maybe you can replace photos on your desk in the frames, if you have them. Place something small but cheerful as well, like a bobblehead, if that’s your thing. Things that say “New” and “Change.” You can print anything you like that brightens you up, like a quote or a stock photo, and put it up somewhere near your desk.

      And can you invite a few friends and/or family for a celebration dinner? I don’t think you should be cooking unless you want to, so maybe pick out a place that makes you happy. I make and give celebration dinners for new jobs most times!

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      First, congratulations on your new role! I had a comparable quick start from a rough place to a new wonderful one, both remote at the time. I basically pampered myself as a celebration of me and how I had made this change happen. I spent time outdoors, ate my favorite foods, and talked with friends.

      Regarding the old job and contacts, my rituals were to delete names from my phone and disconnect from them on LinkedIn. For anyone where I didn’t want to burn a bridge, I muted their posts so we’re still connected but they don’t pop up on my feed. I had branded gear which I put in a bag and into a closet where I didn’t have to look at them until I could return them to a friend from my former workplace (it was a nonprofit so I washed the stuff and gave it back).

      In case it’s helpful, I found that the effects of the toxic place faded pretty easily because it was obvious on the first day that I was in a great workplace with great co-workers. The one time I had some old anxiety come up a couple months into my role, I was honest with two managers about it and explained my history. Both were incredibly understanding and reassuring, and by talking it out, that old pattern completely went away.

      I hope you have a comparable positive experience and that the ghosts from our toxic workplace vanish quickly.

  5. Cat Pondering*

    Reading the posts about companies with dog policies and how that clashes with employees with allergies, I suddenly was thinking about the popular trend of bookstores and little cafes with cats. Different I’m sure because of it being usually much smaller businesses without the same overseen is larger companies, but I do wonder about that. What about cat cafés? They’re very popular in other countries, but I know there’s so many restrictions in the USA. One open near me and they’re allowed to sell packaged snacks and drinks, but they can’t make anything on site since the cats are there. A bookstore in a beach town that I visit in the summer has two cats inside it. I think they have signs up on the outside warning that there are cats, but what would they do if someone came in, had allergic reaction, and then tried to sue them or something?

    1. ferrina*

      Cat cafes are a bit different, since cats are integral to the business model. It’s like how a dog grooming business would be well within their rights to expect employees to not have a deathly allergic reaction to dogs (and I think would be on firm ground to say that they aren’t able to provide reasonable accommodations to a dog groomer who can’t be around dogs).

    2. Tricksie*

      I would think that having a sign up is enough? Lots of places have a Scentsy going or other things that give me migraines. I wouldn’t sue. I’d just leave.

      Our cat cafe makes and serves foods and drinks, but the cats aren’t in the food area. The cats are in an enclosed room, double-doored like a butterfly house to prevent escapees. You can bring your food/drink in if you want to. Or you can just hang out in the outer area and watch the cats through the glass wall.

      1. Clisby*

        That’s how the one in my area operates. For anyone not familiar with them (assuming they’re all like the one here) the whole purpose of a cat cafe is to promote adoption of cats, so it would make no sense not to allow cats. It’s not like somebody who runs a diner giving a couple of cats the run of the place.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      Seems to me, being a simple minded chemist, that clear signs before the person entered the building/store should be enough to prevent any suits. (assuming that the lawyer recognizes that they don’t have a chance)

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I do think it’s a different situation if the purpose of the business is oriented around cats. Someone getting a job at a cat cafe, or a vet, or an animal shelter, or works as an animal walker, would need to be able to be around animals, and going to a cat cafe as a customer is an entirely optional activity that centres around cats. That’s a different situation than a company that, say, sells insurance and has a pet friendly policy.

      I don’t live in the US, and cat cafes where I am have a back area cats can go to if they want to be alone, but otherwise roam freely. They typically serve pastries and cakes and coffee and bubble tea, which has to be defended from the cats (also, there’s a pub that has resident cats).

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Cats are fundamental to cat cafes, though–you go there specifically to meet cats and get a snack. It’s not like you’re there to do something that has nothing at all to do with cats and the cats are just there as an extra. Presumably if you’re allergic you just wouldn’t go. Most cat cafes are associated with cat rescue, so it’s like, you wouldn’t go to a cat shelter if you were allergic to cats, right?

      (I hate heights, so I wouldn’t go to that restaurant on the top of the Space Needle. There are tons of other restaurants that aren’t a billion feet in the air, and eating in restaurants in general is optional, so it’s not like I’m missing out on a fundamental need if this one doesn’t suit me.)

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      Don’t visit New York then! Bodega cats are extremely common.

      With allergies to common things (grass, tree pollen etc), you generally live your life with the assumption you may encounter them. I personally take daily allergy meds rather than try and avoid all encounters. Also cat allergies tend to be dandruff/fur related, walking into a room with one and back out isn’t going to create a problem, you can take allergy med after the exposure too, nose stuffy pop a pill nose less stuffy. I think you’re picturing like the peanut allergy anaphylactic shock response to cats which doesn’t happen.

      1. BodiesAreWeird*

        I literally carry an epi-pen because of a life-threatening allergy to cats. Don’t assume that because you’ve never heard of anaphylactic shock with a particular allergy that it doesn’t happen.

          1. BodiesareWeird*

            I would cross the street to avoid it! But people don’t think of a cat allergy as serious and that has led to going to visit people’s homes even after asking about a cat only to find I couldn’t stay. They say “oh he’s an outside cat” so even when I try to be careful, I can’t always avoid the allergen.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          Prior to having kids (which made my cat allergy nearly go away?? best thing about having kids to date) I would know the second I opened a door if someone had cats in their house because of how quickly I would react to the airborne dandruff or whatever. It was like a very itchy, lung constricting super power. It’d be a little bit slower in a house with hardwood floors and not much upholstered furniture that was kept immaculately clean, but I’d still figure it out within an hour.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Hey snap, my allergies went away with my second pregnancy. Literally the last time I had a reaction (asthma attack) was when I was pregnant with my second child. Does pregnancy reset things perhaps or this is just a coincidence in that allergies can stop and start at any time?

            1. HBJ*

              It’s hard to say for sure, but it very well could be the pregnancy. I’ve heard of pregnancy curing and/or resetting all sorts of things, including allergies. But it varies by person and isn’t a guarantee.

          2. Maggie*

            Ha! My mother always joked that my first gift to her in utero was us both developing very bad cat allergies – she had none! I am crossing my fingers that my allergies get better if I ever get pregnant (although they have lessened since I’ve been an adult). Same thing that I can tell so quickly if they have cats – it’s just a smell in the air!

      2. Fikly*

        Right, I need to jump in here, because you are flat out not understanding how allergies work. An allergy to anything can lead to anaphylactic shock. And anyone who has an allergy, even if they have never before had an allergic reaction that was severe before, can abruptly have a reaction that is anaphylactic shock, with no warning. And someone’s first allergic reaction, to something they have never had an allergic reaction before, can be anaphylactic shock.

        I used to work in an ER, and nothing put the staff on higher alert than someone coming in with any kind of allergic reaction, even “just” hives or itchiness. Yes, it topped cardiac symptoms for our level of concern. You do not mess with allergic reactions, because they can escalate out of nowhere and go bad fast. (Not a doctor, this is not medical advice.)

    7. AnotherOne*

      I was in one the other day- in NYC- and the cats were in the contained area in the back. They weren’t just wandering around all of the customers. (Resolves those pesky health code issues, too.)

    8. RagingADHD*

      The cat cafe in my town is actually run by a cat rescue, as a way for people to meet potential pets to adopt. They have limited seating by appointment.

      The others I’ve seen are really obviously labeled “cat cafe” and you can sometimes see the cats through the window.

      If someone severely allergic to cats wound up in there by accident, they have a lot worse problems than allergies, and probably shouldn’t be walking around unsupervised.

      As for regular shops who just have a cat on premises, nobody has to touch it or get close to it. They could leave.

      Anybody can sue anyone for anything at any time. In order to win you have to show damages (among other things). “I got sneezy and then it went away” or “I had to leave without buying the book I wanted” are not damages.

      The number of people who are so allergic to cats that simply being in the same building for a few moments would send them to the hospital or cause damage is so vanishingly small that there is no reason to have rules about it.

    9. I-Away 8*

      It would be like if someone with hay fever accidentally entered a florist’s shop. As soon as you realize where you are, you turn around and walk out.

    10. Maggie*

      They could try but there’s no “no cat guarantee” legally enforced upon businesses. Places still sell peanuts and almonds and whatever which some people have airborne allergies to. If you’re allergic to cats and go into a cat cafe, then number one you’re kind of dumb for that, and number two how could you sue them? It’s in the name. Cat cafe. Any reasonable person would surmise that there could be cats there.

      1. Maggie*

        Oh I read this as could the customer sue. I think ability to be around cats it’s integral to operating a cat cafe, like how they ruled hooters doesn’t have to hire men or unattractive people or whatever

    11. Jay*

      My husband is very allergic to cats – not at all life-threatening but enough that he can only spend about 20 minutes in his sister’s home. We would never go to a cat café. We have been in bookstores and coffeeshops that have resident cats and he’s OK as long as he doesn’t directly interact with the cat and we can keep the cat from directly interacting with him (usually not a problem, although some cats seem to deliberately try to sit on his lap while ignoring everyone else…). Unlike my SIL’s house, there are very few soft or upholstered surfaces in a bookstore, and that’s what causes him trouble when there’s no direct contact with a cat. Even if we browse for a while or sit and have a cup of coffee, the chairs and tables and shelves are all wood or metal or plastic and there’s almost never an issue.

      I think he’d prefer every store have a cat if it means they wouldn’t use scented candles or scented air fresheners or whatever else they do to have a “signature scent.” There’s no warning about that – we’ve run into it in every kind of store from card/paper stores to clothing stores. We stay out of candle stores; unfortunately craft galleries and home decor stores often have candle sections we can’t see until we’re on top of them. Ugh.

      1. Siege*

        Most people who don’t want the attention of cats sit very still, hoping the cat will ignore them. This makes them more desirable as furniture. If he does that, have him try moving when he’s around cats – just shifting in the seat, crossing and uncrossing his legs, that kind of thing.

        1. Clisby*

          Plus, a lot of cats (including mine) don’t like strangers messing with them. My cat’s much more chill with people who ignore him than people who are getting in his face (unless it’s one of us.)

    12. Student*

      Lawsuit awards are (generally) proportional to the damage done.

      Most cat or dog allergies are not life-threatening. You feel real crappy for maybe a day. Depending on the severity, it might clear up soon after leaving the store if it’s mild and your exposure to cat dander was low. You’ll pay a lawyer more for an initial consult than that any award you might get for having a bad day due to an allergy.

      Going into anaphylactic shock from animal allergies is possible, but it’s very, very rare and it’s going to require actual contact with the animal, not just being near it. Generally, I’d expect anyone who knows they have an allergy that severe to animals to avoid the animal as soon as they became aware of its presence and to start feeling less-severe allergy symptoms sooner after entering the same room with the animal. Most people would take common sense measures like leaving the area after they start to feel sick, rather than go and pet the kitty to induce anaphylactic shock on purpose in the hopes of a lawsuit payout.

      So, this is really a very niche and unlikely risk to having a cat in a book store. That’s why nobody bothers to take precautions about it. If cat allergies caused more severe symptoms and were more common, then you might see people post signs about it to avoid lawsuits. However bookstores do carry insurance, like most businesses, to cover risks that are more likely or likely to have a big impact on them. That’s why they’d commonly carry insurance against things like fire, theft, and various small personal injuries. I’m not an insurance expert, but “severe unexpected allergic reaction” might even be covered under some business insurance policies in industries where it’s a more common issue.

    13. Jora Malli*

      I’m allergic to cats. If I’m a customer at a bookstore where a cat lives, being inside for 20-30 minutes to do my shopping is fine. But I wouldn’t be able to work there all day every day. As a customer I would think a sign on the door and a notice on the website that animals will be present at this store would be good enough for me.

      For hiring purposes, I think if your business is in a field where people wouldn’t normally expect to encounter an animal in their workplace, you should make sure your job posting includes a statement like “Purrrrfect Books is the home of Sugarplum, our favorite kitty companion!” Make sure everyone who is considering applying for a job with you is aware that there will be an animal present in their workplace at all times so they can make the choice that’s right for them.

    14. Princess Xena*

      I think a lot of it comes down to ‘reasonable accommodation’. If you have a finance business that allows dogs in the office, the dogs are not going to be integral to the business of the firm and requiring everyone to be around a dog might not be considered reasonable. But with cat cafes (and shelters, pet stores, etc) the animal is a fundamental part of the business model. Similarly, commercial drivers are required to be able to tell the difference between red and green, and I believe electrical workers in many places can’t be colorblind either, because those specific physical traits are considered to be a basic necessity for the job.

    15. kupo!*

      I imagine it’s similar to the signs outside of 5 Guys, which warn that they fry everything in peanut oil and have roasted peanuts sitting out for guests to snack on– if you have a peanut allergy and walk in there anyway, that’s on you for not reading the sign.

    16. Policy Wonk*

      I am allergic to cats. Different people have different levels of allergies, so I can only speak for myself, but I would not go to a cat cafe, and appreciate the owners letting me know to avoid it. I feel like that case is enter at your own risk for the allergic.

      RE: the bookstore I can tolerate brief visits. While it really depends on the number of cats and amount of space, I think there would be time to browse and pick out a few books before the cats would get to me. The sign to let me know there are cats is appreciated, particularly if it notes there are [x] cats (presuming a reasonable number, like one or two.) If there are cats on every surface, i would not be able to stay and would turn around a leave.
      Someone more allergic than me could indeed have a serious reaction. In my mind it is a matter of degree. While I wouldn’t sue, we have a litigious society, and I don’t doubt that someone else might try. I’d hope the bookstore has confirmed with a lawyer that the sign is sufficient.

    17. Nancy*

      The point of cat cafes is to interact with the cats, otherwise they wouldn’t have them onsite. If someone cannot be around cats due to allergies, fear, or simply dislike, they should not visit or work at a cat cafe.

      Very different from a random business allowing workers to bring in pets.

    18. bluephone*

      Not an expert but the local cat cafe (which is more of a “place to find adoptable cats first, but we also sell basic cafe options to bring in extra $” second) has a bunch of warnings and disclaimers on their online booking page and such that are basically like, “cats live here. Respect the cats and don’t be a jerk. You can’t sue us if something happens because you were the one who walked in here, dip[bleep].” (Their actual language is much nicer though). Also, the cats are in a separate room, closed off from the cafe area (health code regulations) and the staff cleans that place religiously so I imagine that helps a lot too. But since the place’s primary purpose is to interact with (and maybe adopt) cats, the customer base kind of self-selects towards people who can be around cats.

    19. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The legal phrase you’re looking for is assumption of risk. Anybody entering into a cat café, who then has an allergic reaction that causes them an injury, and who then seeks to sue the café for causing that injury, should have a talk with their lawyer about the rules around assumption of risk in their jurisdiction.

  6. Design Portfolio*

    Anyone who needs a design portfolio for job applications, what do you do if you’ve been at your current job for many years and have only their work to show? IMO that doesn’t meet the usual request of having a variety of samples to show different needs/problems being solved. Should I be making fake samples, like students do?

    1. Niniel*

      When I was applying to jobs, I used my company’s work with no issue. Granted, that was applying to one family-owned business to another, so I don’t think either job cared all that much.

      One way you could get around it would be to, if possible, alter some aspects of existing work to claim it as your own. Just enough that it is “new,” but not enough to take a day’s work to re-do a portfolio’s worth of work.

    2. Filosofickle*

      It’s a real challenge, and I think that’s one reason designers tend to job hop. The issue (usually) is that everything is in one style more than being from one organization. I’d look at a few things. One would be to seek out special projects at work that have the potential to look a bit different. Sometimes internal or seasonal one-offs have some opportunities to explore different styles. Do extra comps for real projects that go outside the lines and show additional range — how would you level up the brand if you had more freedom? But still “real” because you’re basing it on real project and client. You could also pick up some freelance work, or do a pro bono project through an org like Catchafire or Taproot. If you can’t do any of these things, craft a story about how you continuously innovate within set standards. Turn it into a feature.

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

      I’ve been with my org for many years but I do a large variety of projects … postcards and brochures up to magazines and annual reports … so I would still have a variety of projects to look at. You want pieces that reflect your design style and skill but you shouldn’t need to show 100 examples. If you really need to build up pieces because the work you do doesn’t represent your style or skill level, I think freelance (on the side) for a bit is your best bet. If you don’t want the business hassle, you can join agencies like Creative Circle or Aquent.

    4. KofSharp*

      Unfortunately the expectation appears to be “I did this in my spare time to work on a problem that I have noticed.”
      I briefly tried to get back into my design field when I was leaving my first job. I’m… the only “portfolio” work I’ve got now is my hobby work, and it’s just not to the par I’d need to get a job in a design field anymore.
      If you can take time off and do freelance work, you could put it in your contract that you’re putting work into a portfolio?

  7. Warrant Officer Georgina Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    Reposting from last week since I got stuck in moderation for hours.

    Starting a new job soon, and I’m going to be working remotely for at least the first 8 months, with occasional in-person meetings as-needed; the rest of the team is hybrid, in the office twice a week. How can I establish warm relationships with my new colleagues and other people in the company I encounter on projects?

    Relevant context:
    – I am escaping a team culture that was *very* cold and which I hated; before this job, I would have thought of myself as a primarily task-oriented person but these people go too far for me;
    – I’m introverted and on the autism spectrum, so there’s an added level of difficulty;
    – I am very good at small talk about the weather or someone’s pets etc., but historically struggle with the grey area past small talk.

    1. AnotherOne*

      If I was your coworker, I imagine it would be helpful to me to know you were autistic. That way places were you have issues socially- I wouldn’t make judgements.

      But I also acknowledge that you shouldn’t have to tell your boss- hey, do you want to give all of my future coworkers a heads up that I’m autistic or a class on how to work with someone with autism. That isn’t fair to you- for a slew of reasons including that you are more than your autism.

      1. Warrant Officer Georgina Breakspear-Goldfinch*

        Yeah, I absolutely don’t tell people at work I’m on the spectrum; I mask pretty well and there’s so much ableism that it’s not even a little worth it.

        1. Pogo*

          I agree with not telling. As you know OP, there are many people who will relentlessly stereotype/pigeonhole someone once they know they’re autistic (or have ADHD, etc). Some folks are fantastic but many aren’t. I wish I’d never ‘come out’ as neurodivergent at work!

        2. Marvel*

          Definitely this. Maybe just be more understanding with people who have social issues in general? You do not need to know they’re on the spectrum, and not everyone on the spectrum struggles socially in a way that is AT ALL noticeable to others.

    2. wombat*

      Curious what other people think but my reaction to this question is: if you’re good at with small talk about the weather and people’s pets, that’s exactly what you need. Seeming like you’re interested in other people’s pets, kids, vacations and so on makes them feel like it’s a warm relationship. At work, I don’t think it necessarily needs to go deeper than that. With certain people maybe it naturally will, like if you stumble upon the fact that you share an interest. But small talk isn’t easy! If you can do that, you’re off to a good start.

    3. Ranon*

      I started hybrid with my current place which I feel has a warm vibe even though everyone is super busy and slammed and honestly it’s mostly down to folks doing quick “how are you” check ins, adding humor to stress, and complaining about the weather. There’s honestly not a ton of personal talk, just overall concern that everyone is feeling well and supported in their work.

    4. Remote Worker*

      If your company uses Slack or a similar platform, I imagine there’s a good chance there will be chat channels for casual off-topic chitchat. My company has channels to post about pets, games, music, plants, that kind of thing. It’s easy to drop a post, or send a reply, and that can build up enough familiarity with someone that you’ll have some conversation topics in your pocket for when you meet them in person.

    5. allathian*

      Seconding this suggestion. My team’s hired 13 new employees during the pandemic, and our casual chat channel was a great way to get to know them a bit before meeting them in person for the first time. Now we have 15-minute casual morning chats 3 times a week. Attendance is recommended but not mandatory, although I suspect that if someone never, ever attends, our manager will probably notice at some point. That said, we only started this system two weeks ago, so it’s too early to tell how popular these coffee meetings will be in the long run, or when we hit our next busy period in the fall. Particularly popular topics will often continue as Teams chats on the casual channel afterwards. I’m lucky, though, my manager and the whole organization recognizes the importance of community building even when it means we’re chatting rather than working.

    6. Tailorbird*

      I work at a large company on a large team, I handle the contracting for the entire group. What makes me ‘warm up’ to new people is when they reach out to me to ask me questions about how they can best interact with me – ie they want to get an overview of what I do, and how they can make my job easier. Recognizing people, with a simple thank you goes a long way too. As a new person, you may be inclined to stay quiet as you get the lay of the land, and feel like asking questions reveals your lack of job knowledge – but showing interest in how things work and what people do can be a good way to connect to people.

  8. Gingham Altar*

    Office fridges are the same all over the world: I work in the Arctic, and our office fridge often has some blubber/body part/fermented version of a local creature in it. The only thing that’s caused widespread annoyance about weird fridge smells? A local restaurant’s attempt at kimchi. :)

    1. Mid*

      May I ask what you do in the Arctic and how you got into it? I’m considering a stint at a very remote work site and want to know what people’s experiences are!

      1. Gingham Altar*

        Sure! How remote would you be? The experience of being in the Arctic is super interesting.

        I’m in a relatively large town, so it’s a really different experience from, say, an oil rig or tiny community. I work in external communications and moved here for the job.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Whar does in the Arctic mean to you? North of the Arctic circle?

          Because if it’s that, welcome to northern Norway (or Scandinavia) where it is a bit sparsely populated but not really remote!

          Visit the lovely Lofoten Islands! Stop by the great towns of Bodø and Tromsø! This brought to you by the Norwegian tourism whatsits ;)

          If we’re talking Svalbard islands it gets more exiting… Lots of Arctic research work there. Also global grains doomsday vault.

          1. Gingham Altar*

            Ah, hei hei nabo. :) It feels remote sometimes, but it’s probably the “easiest” experience of living in the Arctic.

      2. WellRed*

        There was a post somewhere on this site. An interview with an arctic worker and they also followed up in comments.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I know this isn’t how you meant it but I’m dying at my initial read, which was along the lines of “like all office fridges, mine is full of local fermenting blubber!”

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          It wasn’t a work one, but when I was in a sorority apparently someone kept their NuvaRing in the shared fridge (in its original packaging, which made it clear what was inside), and the old lady who ran the house board was HORRIFIED. She came to a meeting to lecture us all. “It wasn’t even in a BAG!”

  9. Rayray*

    I had an interview last Thursday and was told I’d hear back this week. Would it be too pushy to follow up with them today?

    1. ferrina*

      I’d wait until mid-next week. This kind of thing happens all the time- the interview process always takes longer than anyone thinks it will!

    2. Banana*

      I try not to follow up unless it has been twice as long as the delay they predicted, or at least a week, whichever is longer. Hiring is complex and everything always takes longer than everyone expects.

    3. BRR*

      Yes. As others have said things come up. I also think in general there’s no need to follow up. It rarely makes things move faster.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I agree with BRR — they aren’t going to forget that they need to hire someone, and if they liked you, they won’t forget to get back to you. There is no good served by following up and the potential to be irritating.

  10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    What little things are you guys doing to improve your career? Now that my work performance is ok again ( cross your fingers my boss hasn’t completed my review) I think I want to remember to build next steps but after work I just end up vegging out every day.

    1. Echo*

      If you’re focused on trying to improve your performance within your current (crazy?) job: vegging out is what after-work time is for! Don’t work when you’re not on the clock. How you can get more out of your time *during* work hours? Where would blocking out 15-30 minutes help you continue to improve on your development areas? I’m not sure what areas of performance you’re focused on but this could be anything from “take 30 minutes every week to have coffee with a different colleague at my organization whose work I want to understand better” to “block off 15 minutes every day to organize my inbox and make a list of anything I need to respond to or follow up on”.

      If you’re focused on getting a new job: a good strategy here is asking other people you know where they work, what they do and don’t like about their organization, and if there are open jobs.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s true. I could put it into my plan for the day. I started using this name when I was super frustrated and I am too lazy to change names. I’ll feel the same way when the kids flare up again probably lol

    2. ferrina*

      I agree with Echo- vegging out isn’t inherently bad! Especially if you were recently struggling with work performance, your brain probably needs a rest. Resting is an investment in yourself- it ensures that you are refreshed and ready to tackle the next thing as your best self. I’d give yourself a few months break before you start building out your career more. (Assuming that where you’re at is okay for now).

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      Seconding the vegging out! The thing that improves my job performance the most is relaxing and not thinking about work outside of office hours so my brain doesn’t get fried.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yall are right. i was like but I need to get things moving in case I have another health thing but resting would probably improve my health

    4. Moo*

      Also pro vegging out.

      One of the biggest things in my career has been my peer mentors. We get along with each other so its always a pleasure to interact. If we haven’t met in awhile we put an “away day” in the diary – sometimes its an evening! We’ll take about work or career planning. If one of use is at a crossroads we might focus on that person’s issues. I learn so much from them… and of course sometimes we get sidetracked and talk other things (one memorable evening we ended up talking about the Witcher instead of work!)

      You could look to connect with a few people who are good peers in this way. Suggest an evening or afternoon on a topic or challenge and see if they’re interested (recommend nice dinner be included!!)

    5. New Mom*

      I started becoming pretty active in member organizations and do presentations on a niche topic and I also volunteer for another organization that has people in the same industry. I do this so when I need to leave my job I have connections and people who know about my work outside of my own organization.

    6. Moonlight*

      I think it depends what your career is. I’m in a licensed allied health care profession, so it’s pretty much mandated I do training and research. They don’t say it has to be done outside of work but, well, most orgs don’t pay for me to train as regularly as I feel is important, heck, most can’t pay for me to even do the level required for licensure. (No, it’s not unfair, because I’m often developing skills I plan to use for new roles, and I still get more than generous time on the job for research and such pertaining to my job so it’s fine). I also enjoy it. So it might be worth looking into if there are training opportunities you are interested in. For example, if you’re in marketing, is there a graphic design or photography course you can take, or maybe a course on a subject matter you’d like to specialise in? (Eg maybe you’re a generalist in your field and would love to specialise in llama grooming or maybe you already specialise in llama grooming and would like to be able to do teapot painting as well). It could be worth looking into.

      I also want to validate the importance of “vegging out”. Self-care and relaxation matters. If you feel like you do more vegging than you want, you could always work in a bit of cooking healthy meals, training for a running race, a weekly yoga class, reading a book, or any other number of things.

      Also is your job right for you? I know a lot of jobs are genuinely exhausting ( I get it, I’m a health care professional) but sometimes when a job is just a really bad fit or if you’ve been undergoing stress, it can be even more exhausting and draining. Even if you’re reading this and you’re thinking “my job rocks/love it/whatever” you mentioned recently overcoming performance issues. Without more information, I can’t presume to know what that was like for you, but I can imagine it was stressful because you were probably under scrutiny, worried you’d lose your job, or working long hours to improve, or other similar things. As such, even just addressing your sleep hygiene, if you’re eating healthy, and if you’re exercising, having moments of relaxation, time for yourself. You might find that as your stress levels balance out via being more secure at work and investing in your well being that you get more energy to do those that matter to you, whether that be career development or otherwise.

  11. Echo*

    I recently came across a reference to being subscribed to ‘the lists’ where people share out jobs that are open at their organizations—how does one find these ‘lists’? Is this things like Women in [X Field] groups on Facebook?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A few years ago, Alison had an Ask the Readers Post about niche job boards. Search for “what niche job boards do you use to find job openings?” from May 4, 2017 to find it.

      I don’t think this quite answers the question you’re asking, but you may find that post a helpful resource. I’ll link in a follow-up comment.

    2. Maggie*

      I think you’d need to ask that specific person. There could be a million versions of this.

    3. IT Higher Ed Lady*

      In my field (IT within higher education) there are several professional development organizations specific to different aspects of the work. All of them have email listserves, and often there either a separate list for job postings, or job postings are welcomed to the general lists. (You don’t always have to be a member of the org to be on the email lists). I’d start with looking for professional organizations for your specific field and see if they have listserves.

    4. Firecat*

      This is probably referencing a list-server. It’s basically a huge collections of emails for people who are members of a professional group like Ecological Society of America, and basically members can submit their jobs to be advertised to the group.

      If you want to join some you will need to find the prgamizatios that are well known I’m your field.

  12. ThatGirl*

    I like my job, I like my coworkers, I like my manager. But man, when I was interviewing, they told me it was a very collaborative culture — turns out, what that means is “we value consensus over decision-making” and … well, that’s frustrating when you’re trying to get things done! Plus, we have numerous projects that weren’t properly managed from the start (e.g. we should have had a Project Manager leading these all up and instead it’s very slapdash and chaotic).

    The one spot of hope I have for this is that we’re actually merging with a different company in July, and even though there’s some anxiety around that, they are big on the 80/20 rule – so I’m hoping that will mean we only prioritize the things that matter, and those things actually keep moving.

    Has anyone seen anything like this, and has company culture actually shifted?

    1. JHC*

      I recently left a company with this kind of “consensus over decision-making” culture. This aspect of the culture was on my list of reasons for leaving, but fairly low on it (mostly, I wanted more money). The company was just starting to address this culture, and I am hopeful that they will manage to shift it. The big difference with the story you told: they (we) frequently named this problem with the culture without sugar-coating. The wrapping in euphemisms like “collaborative” was not a thing.

      Honestly, the biggest stop to changing the culture was the problem itself: our lack of capacity for decision-making stymied our decision-making around that problem! But it sounds like in your situation, the merger might short-circuit that loop? I hope so. Good luck!

    2. Generic Name*

      I work for a company that almost seems allergic to just making a decision, dammit, and it hasn’t changed a ton, honestly. We are a “matrixed” organization and is resolutely non-hierarchical, but it hasn’t always worked that great, and we’ve had more growing pains than we needed to as we’ve added staff. There’s a reason that huge organizations (like the military, the Catholic church, and big corporations) have a hierarchy, it’s very difficult to do a job while also managing 20 people. I think things might change when we get a new CEO (the founder is retiring), so we’ll see what happens. I generally like my job, and my coworkers are awesome, so I’ve stayed for a long time, despite the management “quirks”.

    3. Nope nope nope*

      I just left a company where everything needed to be consensus and any type of critical feedback to actually provide comments on how to make something better was considered mean and toxic. Therefore ownership, accountability, and any modicum of urgency even for truly major issues were lacking. Which meant only a handful of people in a very large team ever actually did any real work in between endless self congratulatory and aimless meetings.

  13. Emm*

    This is a low stakes question, but it’s something I encounter frequently and I’m interested in other people’s experiences and opinions.

    Everywhere I’ve lived, one of the big topics of conversation at work is housing. And especially when you’re new, people LOVE to ask where you live. My coworkers aren’t hunting down my address, but they are interested in what neighborhood, what part of town, etc. It always seems out of genuine interest to give recommendations or commiserate about traffic.

    Do other people find this to be true in their workplace? I tend to lie a little, not out of genuine safety concerns, but just because… it’s nobody’s business and people get really judgmental about what others are willing to pay in rent. (I don’t LIKE high rent, but I’m a serious introvert and I’ll live alone at almost any cost lol)

    1. aubrey*

      I think this is regional – some cities are really into this, and others people don’t care as much (or don’t ask outright as much). I also am often vague or lie a little – if people aren’t judging me for living alone and paying higher rent than I could be (serious introvert solidarity!), they’re judging me for not owning a house, or for not living in a neighbourhood they think young single people should live in. I find it kind of weird, but apparently my housing choices are always out of the norm wherever I live?

      I tend to redirect into something they like to complain about like traffic or get them talking about their home reno plans or whatever.

    2. Panicked*

      I think it’s just a bit of small talk and that feeling of commiseration. I live in a very large city and we have staff from all over the area that commute in. Because it’s such a large city, without talking to others about their little corner of the world, you miss out on a ton of really cool recommendations. I’ve found so many awesome parks/restaurants/museums/etc… just from talking to my coworkers.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This is my feeling, too–it’s a common small-talk bullet point and not worth overthinking unless someone specifically is being super weird about it, and then it’s really only worth thinking about how much you share with that person in the future.

    3. Just another queer reader*

      Haha, this is a big topic of conversation at my work too!

      Idk, it’s easy small talk, and if I’m being honest, I DO like to categorize my coworkers into “lives in the middle of nowhere” vs “big house in the suburbs” vs “heart of the city.”

      But if you don’t want to get into it, it’s fine to fudge the details. I do that sometimes, just to make the conversation flow easier. (I maybe have the opposite problem – I generally live in much cheaper neighborhoods than my coworkers, and occasionally they are confused about that.)

      1. Clisby*

        I’ve found it to be a very common question.
        I’ve also consistently been amused by people who think I (and later my husband and I) were living in sketchy areas, when we thought we were in great neighborhoods.

    4. Echo*

      Yeah, this seems common everywhere to me. I think for most people this is just a low-stakes small-talk question and a way to bond. One trick I learned to deal with these kinds of questions is to have a slight redirect ready to go. Like, “I live in the suburbs – and I’ve been biking to work lately! I was surprised how easy it is to get here now that there’s a protected bike lane.”

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      To some extent, but I live in a desirable urban area surrounded by a lot of rural/smaller communities. Also, it can affect whether to expect people to come into the office during bad weather. (Especially during the Before Times.)

    6. Maggie*

      Yes I find this to be true, but it feels like it’s also out of genuine interest and even landed me with an extremely cushy carpool situation so I was loving that. No one’s ever been judgy about costs to me fortunately.

    7. Golden*

      This comes up quite a lot in my workplace. We live in a HCOL city and it’s surrounding suburbs. There’s a lot of diversity in how we all get to work, so like you said, much of it is traffic/public transit/bike safety commiseration.

      I currently rent in the city but would like to move to the suburbs next year. I’ve found that my coworkers have been a good source of info for commute options, school quality, COL, etc. for the nearby towns, so I participate in those conversations a lot. I have never felt judged for being a renter, but I’m sorry that it happens at your workplace!

    8. londonedit*

      It’s a really common topic of conversation in London. Everyone wants to know where everyone else lives, but it’s just so that you can then segue into talking about commutes and the relative merits of the various Tube lines and rib people about whether they live north or south of the river (depending on your own allegiances). But being British, we don’t talk about money, so no one is going to ask how much you pay in rent, unless you live in a notoriously expensive area, then you might get a few ‘Wow, very nice – how do you manage that?’ comments. I usually stick to ‘I’m over in west London’ with people I don’t know very well, but with work colleagues I’m happy if they know the general area (London is so big that narrowing it down to an area still isn’t being particularly specific!)

    9. matcha123*

      I recently started a new job, and almost everyone asks about where I live.
      It’s not too unusual because I live in a large city, the workplace is in a suburb and many/most people commute from the big city, and give them a general area and not an address.

      My apartment also has video cameras and you need a key to get in through the front entrance before even getting to my door.

    10. This Old House*

      I work in the suburbs, and the majority of employees are locals, many of them long-time residents. I think the conversation tends to end quickly if you reverse commute, or live further away, but when you’re from the county, it spirals into “You live in [town]? Do you know my cousin Vinny?” “Oh, I grew up there, did you graduate from [high school]?” etc. Inevitably, someone knows someone who knows someone!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Same here – people from the Chicago burbs love to talk about how long they’ve been in the area, if they know people in common, etc. We do have a fair amount of people who live in the city or didn’t grow up here, but that’s fun to talk about too. It’s not a huge part of our week but it does get discussed.

        1. AllTheBirds*

          It’s all about the neighborhoods here in Chicago, so yeah — good topic for small talk to ask what neighborhood someone’s in, how their commute is, have they been to X restaurant, that sort of thing.

    11. AnotherOne*

      I find it odd that people are going so far in the discussion that what being are paying in rent is coming up. I LOVE talking about real estate.

      Discussing real estate is practically NYC’s favorite past time. Some places talk about the weather. New Yorkers talk about things like- did you see that new condo conversion? or that a doctor from Lenox Hill has put his UES apartment on the market, did you see that listing? (no really did you? it was AMAZING. really great price per sq ft)

      But discussing with my coworkers how much they are spending on housing? That’s not okay.

      1. Emm*

        Nobody’s ever actually asked me how much I pay in rent, but I have gotten a lot of “oh you live in [insert neighborhood]? Wow… must be nice!” before. It’s not necessarily mean-spirited, but it is a little awkward haha.

        1. Koli*

          I find that pretty bizarre. Even in the nicest neighborhoods of a given city, there are typically small apartments in the vicinity, or for all they know you could be renting a garage apartment.

          1. Inkhorn*

            Yup. I live in a suburb with million-dollar houses, but I rent a small unit in a shabby old block without any luxuries like aircon or reliable hot water. I’m not paying anything like what you might assume from my address.

    12. Jessica Ganschen*

      I don’t see a whole lot of it at my job. We’re largely geographically disparate and have been since before the pandemic, so that people can visit different job sites in their territory, but it’s usually on the state level, because that’s the most relevant part. Fergus can visit Alabama because he’s located in Tennessee, for example, but I have no idea what city, suburb, or neighborhood he’s in. Even if I did, it would mean virtually nothing to me, because I’m not familiar with Tennessee!

      When it did come up for my immediate team (just me, a coworker, and our manager), it was because we were hashing out who would go into the office when. We each mentioned where we were located in relation to the office because it correlated with how easily we could get there.

    13. RagingADHD*

      This is a common topic for chat everywhere I’ve ever been, for exactly the reasons you name – it is a jumping off point to talk about traffic, restaurants, local points of interest, etc.

      I’ve never seen anyone actually care what the neighborhood was, though of course they add it to their overall picture of the person as they get to know each other.

      If it’s a very high cost area, that can be another avenue for chat / commiseration. I don’t personally experience that as “judginess,” but some people do like to give unsolicited advice. To me, that’s more about them showing their character flaws.

    14. Flower necklace*

      True for my workplace. I live in northern Virginia and traffic is a big concern. I couldn’t name exact neighborhoods, but I know generally where everyone in my department lives. Living north or south makes a huge difference in terms of the commute.

    15. My heart is a fish*

      I’ve noticed that it’s a bigger topic of conversation since the COVID era began. A large part of it, in my experience, is that people are talking about housing in the context of WFH and return to office concerns. So, for instance, I’m stretching my budget to live in a relatively pricey area that’s close to my office, and people tend much more to comment on my short commute than on whether or not I live somewhere nice.

    16. Koli*

      Yes, this is really common. It’s just something neutral that people can talk about. I doubt anyone is judging your rent – even within a few block radius, there’s likely to be a wide range of rent levels, from studio apartments to 3BR+. I don’t recommend you lie but you can be really vague.

    17. Gnome*

      Where I am, people talk about it, but it more has to do with commuting. Like, if you are on X side of the city, so you want to have early work hours to beet the rush. Or you live close to the office so you don’t mind being on call for something one day where the folks in the opposite side of the city might as well be on Mars for that.

    18. Kayem*

      I work remotely and found that most of my coworkers like to chat about it. Some of it is curiosity about people who live in different regions or countries, some of it is related to the weather. And it comes in handy! If one of my managers mentions she’s getting thunderstorms, I know that we’re going to get that storm system in the next day or so.

      I have had coworkers who were inappropriate, creepy, and sometimes scary and that’s when I suddenly “move” to the opposite side of town in a high rise with 24 hour security and an alligator-filled moat.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        We actually had an alligator in the lagoon here in Chicago. He’s been relocated (no, not Atlas Van Lines), but I don’t think they ever figured out exactly how he got here.

    19. Filosofickle*

      Yes. In my 20s we were more likely to ask explicitly “what does it cost” but I find in middle age people don’t do that anymore — and they shouldn’t. Especially not at work. But we still ask about real estate.

      When I moved to San Francisco from Chicago I found that was THE topic of conversation here. I don’t chalk it up to judgment or nosiness exactly — I find it comes from a real place of wonderment (it’s crazy here!) or benchmarking (is the deal I have better or worse?). I think we’re always hoping someone has found a magical donut-hole neighborhood that is awesome and somehow less expensive. When I do hear the “you pay WHAT?”, again I don’t hear personal judgment as much as a bafflement about the general state of things and a genuine question about how anyone affords it here. That usually comes either from someone who legit can’t afford it or secured a place years ago before it blew up.

    20. Generic Name*

      I think this happens in large metro areas with different towns/cities clustered around a major city (or two) that has it’s own distinct neighborhoods within. Of the places I’m familiar with, I’ve had this exact conversation relating to St. Louis, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Denver. It’s really just small talk, and only share what you’re comfortable with. It’s like asking someone how their weekend went. “Fine” is an acceptable answer same as answering with a brief overview of some outing you had.

    21. Policy Wonk*

      In the DC area this is a huge topic of conversation. Where you live, how you commute, etc. No one asks about how much you pay in rent, or more intrusive questions. As noted, there is lots of commiseration about traffic, or the Metro, and suggestions for have you been to this restaurant or that boutique.

      Not sure I’d lie – I know someone who tried that but got caught out by complaining about the wrong road on his purported commute – but you can be vague about where (e.g., Northern Virginia). If someone ass about rent tell them it’s none of their business!

    22. Audrey*

      Super normal. When small talk is happening, it’s just people being interested in your life. I live in a city, so I just say the neighborhood (ex. “Chinatown” or “near 9th and Main St”) because there’s no way someone can find me from the neighborhood alone. That gives people loads of things to ask about.

      When I lived in an area with lots of small cities, I would just say the city that I live in, and when asked tell them what part like above. It’s not weird for them to ask what area I live in, it’s weird for them to ask what street/house number.

    23. kiki*

      It’s been common everywhere I’ve worked, but especially when I’ve worked in cities with “hot” housing and rental markets. I think more-so than wanting to judge, people want to know more about what potential living options are out there. Like, if I’m currently paying a ton to live in a tiny studio in X neighborhood, hearing that my coworker lives in a 1 bedroom in Y neighborhood, even if they’re paying more than I personally would want to, is useful information, should I ever consider moving. And hearing that most of my coworkers with actual houses live all the way out in Z neighborhood and commute 2 hours every day is also informative.

    24. Sundial*

      My experience with this issue is that the reason for it is heavily tied to location/workplace.

      My job near the state line: people wanted to know if you’re coming in from the other side, how real estate taxes compare, if the toll road and long commute is worth it, etc.

      My job in the burbs: people only cared about what school district you lived in and your experience with it. Being childfree, I increasingly got left out of “where do you live” convos as people realized I had nothing useful to contribute (I say that factually, not with any sense of judgement).

    25. LZ*

      I live in greater Chicago and it’s definitely a popular topic – Chicago is an old, dense city (and some of the suburbs are as old, or older than the city itself) with lots of variability. People (myself included) tend to find the variety of Chicago experiences extremely fascinating. Also, we love our restaurant culture in Chicago and asking someone about their neighborhood is a gateway to finding a new delicious place to eat.

    26. allathian*

      Some discussion, but in my case at least it’s never been judgmental, so I’ve been okay with sharing.

    27. Marvel*

      Very common in my current region, mostly because it’s a big, sprawling metro. Traffic is on everybody’s mind, and it varies a ton based on where you live.

      The last place I lived I don’t know that I was EVER asked this. It was a midsize college town in Ohio, and I was usually asked where I was from originally and how I’d ended up there, instead.

    28. mreasy*

      I just like talking about neighborhoods (New Yorker here) so I always ask what neighborhood people live in just to have that “things in common” discussion. It’s harder here to ID cost based in neighborhood though – whereas yeah I had some surprise thoughts when my LA colleague moved to what is essentially Beverly Hills…

  14. Murphy*

    I’m having a bizarre problem. My department is fully remote, so we communicate through messaging. I’m not a “manager” in that no one reports to me, but I assign and review the work of several people. They’re “llama groomers” and I’m a “senior llama groomer.” Some of those people are in various stages of training so I often review their work and give them feedback, or send them reminders/ things that they need to change. So I’ll send a quick teams message like “Hey, can you add X documentation to this project?” or “Can you take a look at Y when you get a chance? The front legs seem to be missing a few things.”

    Some of my co-workers just….don’t respond. Sometimes they do what I’ve asked, but I don’t know about it until I open up the project and check because they never tell me. Some people will *thumbs up* the message but I don’t know if that means they’ve seen my message, or if they’ve actually done it. And some people just literally completely ignore it. I’ve sent reminders to the team as a whole asking them to let me know when they’ve done something because I don’t know otherwise. I don’t know how else to say it! These are adults and this is very basic communication I’m asking for. Anyone have any ideas?

    1. Rona Necessity*

      Mmm, as a junior llama groomer in this situation, my pet peeve is being assigned work via instant message. It’s inconvenient to go back to compared to an email or our project management software. So, first suggestion, shoot off the same info in another form.
      Second suggestion, could you ask one of them about their workflow? Once they receive your message, how do they implement it, and how do they “close the loop”? It might give you some additional info and also give you the opportunity to lay out what you need from them.

      1. Murphy*

        Oh it’s not assigning work. That all gets done in our system. But if you’ve been assigned X and I find that X needs some work, it’s either IM or email. These are things that will only take a few minutes to fix, not a whole big project.

    2. PerplexedPigeon*

      Can you ask them to do it AND let you know when they’ve completed it? That way you either know it’s done or you have something actionable to report to your manager that they’re not doing (after reminding them a few times since it’ll be a new procedure).
      I was trained to do this as a lifeguard in an emergency situation – “Bob McStuffins, you go call 911 and come back to me once you’ve done so.” Worked wonders for low stakes stuff I needed my guards to do too “Lifey McLifeguard, go check the chemical levels in the pool and come back to me once they’re finished.”

      1. Murphy*

        I don’t do that every time, because it feels very scoldy when I do it. I have done it sometimes though. It doesn’t necessarily have any effect.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          You need to give them a deadline, and ask them to notify you once it’s done. If they haven’t notified you when the deadline whizzes past, you are perfectly justified asking why they haven’t done it. If they have done it and not notified you, well, that’s tantamount to not doing it! It’s not up to you to check on it.
          As a freelancer, there are agencies I work for where you can’t consider the work delivered until the project manager confirms reception. If you can’t fill in the time/date of confirmation, you can’t issue a bill. I know that at least one of these agencies assigns work to be done using software on their server, and that the software notifies the PM. However, I still write to tell them that I just delivered. Very often I’ll add in that I left a note to flag something weird, so the message is not completely redundant.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You may need to specify the “close the loop” action you’re looking for.

      “Can you add X documentation to the project? Give me a quick email when you’re done so I can mark it off the list. Thanks.”

    4. Hlao-roo*

      It sounds like you need a process for communicating the status of changes/feedback. This could be something in Teams itself: “thumbs up” the message to let me know you’ve seen it, send me a message that says “addressed the [change]” to let me know it’s completed. Or it could be a separate tracking system: an excel spreadsheet in a shared location, a software like Jira, whatever you think will work best for your workflow.

      The main points will be (1) deciding what you want the communication to look like and (2) communicating (ha!) your new communication plan to the llama groomers. Depending on your organizational structure, it’ll probably be a good idea to run this by your manager/the llama groomer’s manager first.

      1. Murphy*

        Literally I just need people to respond “done!” or “I thought I did that, can you tell me what else it needs?” instead of just ignoring me.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Do they respond if you send them a Teams message asking “did you update the X documentation?” or “have you had a chance to look at Y yet?”

          Prompting them to respond to you is annoying and more work for you, but asking follow-up questions and creating a formal communication plan are the only two ideas I have at the moment.

          1. Murphy*

            Sometimes, yes. I’m trying to avoid having to follow up with everyone, but that’s what I’m having to do. Thanks!

            1. Mac*

              Would it seem rude to send it as a checklist like:

              1. Fix the legs on llama B.
              2. Revise this paragraph about llama ears on page 59.
              3. Send me a triumphant “all tasks completed!” email once you’ve done steps 1 & 2.

              (Basically something that explicitly makes it part of what you need them to do, but also frames it as something they GET to do –namely brag about how great an efficient they are– when they’re finished.)

    5. Researchalator Lady*

      I think it can come off as passive-aggressive to send a message to the whole team about something like this. Send another Teams message and then an email to that person, saying “Did you see my message about X?” or “Can you please tell me when you have actioned X? (in the case of thumbs-ups) If that doesn’t prompt a response email their boss, forwarding a copy of your last email and saying “I’ve been trying to contact Person about X but they haven’t responded and I didn’t get an out of office message. Do you know what the best way to communicate with them might be, or do they have an admin assistant I should go through?” Don’t go looking in the files to see if they have done it without hearing from them.

      1. Murphy*

        I don’t feel good about sending reminders like that, but I’ve spoken to some of the individuals multiple times.

        There are no admin assistants. It’s me to them on Teams. Their boss is also my boss.

        The problem is that some of our internal clients will get mad if things aren’t done in a timely manner and it wouldn’t be great of me to just let it sit there because Fergus didn’t tell me whether or not he did it.

        1. Mid*

          What doesn’t feel good about those reminders? It’s not scolding, it’s asking for a reasonable work thing.

          Alternatively, can you implement some sort of task management system that will make it clearer when things are done? Like Asana, so you can see who has been assigned each task and when they check it off. It doesn’t fully eliminate the issue, but makes it so you have to check one place instead of several.

          And, have you been very specific with every individual person about what you need from them? Like saying directly to them “Bob, I can’t look into everyone’s individual projects to see when things are completed. I need you to let me know when you’ve completed revisions so I can verify and send things to the next step.” That’s not scolding, it’s clarity.

          1. Murphy*

            Because it feels condescending to tell someone “Hey, I don’t actually know whether you’ve done X unless you tell me” because it feels like that should be super obvious. How on earth would they expect me to know until they tell me.

            But yes, I’ve said stuff very similar to what you’ve said here. Not to every person every time, but to multiple people more than once.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              “it feels like that should be super obvious”
              Think of these people like teenagers. You tell your teen they can go out but they need to be home by midnight. They’re not home at midnight and they don’t answer the phone. They finally stroll in at 1.30 and when you tell them you were worried they go “but I knew I was OK”. Like, no news is supposed to be good news.
              No, you assign the work, you assign a deadline, you tell them you need them to confirm that they’ve done it. Then you chase them up if they haven’t notified you by the time the deadline has lapsed. If they can’t do what they’re assigned and let you know they did it, they’re not being professional.
              As a freelancer, I wouldn’t get paid if I didn’t notify the PM that the work was done!

            2. Fikly*

              Think of this as like when AAM says you have to return the awkward to sender. They are creating the problem by not communicating with you. Don’t make their poor performance make you feel bad about correcting it, and then have those feelings prevent you from doing what you need. If they were performing adequately in the first place, you wouldn’t need to do it.

              Do it with every single message assigning the work to them. If they are annoyed by it, too bad, because this is the consequence of their behavior. If they want it to stop, they have to demonstrate that they can be trusted with basic communication skills.

            3. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

              Failing to address a minor request promptly, or respond explicitly, isn’t necessarily ignoring you. Knowing what response is expected on what timeline, without being told, is not “basic communication” it’s mind-reading.

              They could respond to ask you to specify the priority and parameters of what seems to be a minor request, but that could feel as condescending/scoldy/passive aggressive to them, as you’re trying to avoid feeling. A junior worker could think, Murphy is knows more about how things need to be done; if this it needed to be done by a specific time, or Murphy needed acknowledgement when it’s done, they would say that, just like they say X needs to be checked or Y needs to be revised, right? Shouldn’t that be super obvious & basic?

              You don’t have to be someone’s manager to be an example of the kind of direct, assumption-free communication you want from them, or to request a minor procedure/communication change that improves your shared workflow. Heck, you can even make a request as minor as this UP the hierarchy to your manager or someone above you, with a little softening; I have to do that regularly.

              If you need a response by a certain time, just say so when you make the task request. “Could you do X by [soft deadline] and let me know when you’ve done it?” It is simple, generally effective and well-received.

              When you have to follow up/remind (unavoidable, even the most diligent worker drops the ball sometimes; give up the unreasonable hope that you’ll ever be able to avoid reminders completely), my experience is that a previous explicit communication leads to fewer reminders needed over time, possibly because with a clear priority, the task doesn’t get backburnered for “when I have a minute” or “after things with explicit deadlines.”

    6. Norah*

      Honestly, I’m getting tripped up on this: “I’m not a “manager” in that no one reports to me, but I assign and review the work of several people… I often review their work and give them feedback, or send them reminders/ things that they need to change” vs this “Sometimes they do what I’ve asked, but I don’t know about it until I open up the project and check because they never tell me.”

      Are they possibly getting tripped up on you being someone who is not their manager and, by your description, not someone they report to…but them not reporting to you is your biggest ask that they’re continually refusing to do. Something isn’t aligned there. It sounds a lot like you are managing their work by assigning tasks, reviewing their performance, providing feedback, and expecting follow-up to minor tasks.

      I’ve found this grey area to be one of the biggest sources of friction on teams, and I’ve gotten caught up in it twice, such as when a boss stepped down a notch that was equal to my notch and still expected me to report to him, accept his feedback, and do his assigned work; that was a big “no” and it became a big problem. I’ve also seen it happen more in line with what you’re describing, where you’re more senior and see it as training/project flow but your colleagues may see it more as you’re trying to be their boss when you’re not. Are you all on the same page about roles and expectations, from the top all the way down?

      1. Murphy*

        You’ve hit the nail on the head! My position being in a grey area is definitely a problem. It’s difficult because when I was put in my position I was basically told that I could talk to people about the work, but not disciplinary/performance related stuff and it’s a very fine line. Plus there’s another “manager” (manager-level positions, not actually managing any people) who loves to point out to my and my counterparts that we’re not “managers” in order to ignore our opinions. My new boss is currently working on making me and the other people in my position actually managers, which may help some.

        1. Norah*

          Yeah, it sounds like your boss needs to step in now and address the follow-up issue. Either you’re in charge of the projects or you’re not, IMO, and it sounds like a mess of an organizational hierarchy. I’ve found it to be fairly natural for coworkers to balk at receiving tasks, feedback, follow-up tasks, and hand-slappy “I need you all to confirm when you have completed the follow-up tasks assigned prior to project completion” messages from a person who isn’t their manager, UNTIL a person with actual organizational power gives the non-manager that organizational power. Seniority alone doesn’t get you there with all teams, and it sounds like your team will acknowledge your feedback by doing the corrective tasks (which is fantastic) but don’t see you a person they need to explicitly report to (…because you’re not). I don’t see how you fix that by sending more Teams messages.

          I’m also wondering…if a corrective task isn’t completed and the project is finalized with errors, who does the buck stop with? You? The junior employees? Your boss? Whose problem is this?

          1. Murphy*

            Without getting into details about what I do, in some cases it has the potential to put people at risk of physical harm, or result in my organization being penalized by the federal government.

            1. Norah*

              I get that and have a similar role, where the typical “just don’t do the work and let the organization fail; they should have thought of all this sooner lulz” advice is…atrocious. But who does the buck stop with? Who’s job is on the line if a junior employee says “Murphy’s not my boss and I’m not doing that,” you don’t check, and the project goes out?

              1. Murphy*

                Ah, I see what you’re saying. We have procedures that say what needs senior approval (not necessarily me) and if they ignore that and send it anyway, they would have violated our internal procedures, so it wouldn’t fall on me. If the employee deliberately ignored that and went around us, I imagine it would fall on them. But I’d imagine the director my department could possibly be in trouble as well.

                1. Norah*

                  So, if you needed any leverage to help your boss (if boss = director) care about this issue, there it is. Good luck with all this. :)

    7. Alex*

      Just saying I feel you. My coworkers do this to me too. I’m not the boss of them, but I’m sometimes put in charge of a project that I’m supposed to assign work and track and wrangle, and people just….don’t. I’m either ignored or once I sent a message asking if something had been done (past the due date) and was given a “nope.” And no other follow up.

      So…I’ll be following this thread…

    8. Two Dog Night*

      I can think of two options:

      1. Ask people to let you know when they’ve done things. It might feel scoldy, but if you don’t do it, they’re not going to change. If you don’t hear back in a reasonable time, bug them. With any luck they’ll eventually learn to communicate without prompting.

      2. Put these requests in your official tracking system so the assignees are expected to mark them off when they’re finished.

      From your comments, it seems like you want things to change without having to do anything, and while I completely sympathize… it’s not going to happen.

      1. Murphy*

        I hear you. I’ve tried telling people in the moment to let me know when it’s done. I’ve tried talking to individuals when I have to follow up with them that I really need them to communicate and respond to my messages. I’ve tried sending blanket messages to the team that I can’t be re-opening every project to see if they made the changes I suggested. I’m still having to follow up with people multiple times and it’s a pain.

        I don’t have an “official tracking system” for this kind of thing and creating one would just be more work for everyone involved. We have an internal computerized system where internal clients send us their stuff. I assign those tasks to all the llama groomers. The llama groomers mark them as complete and draft the communication to go into the internal client. More experienced people are doing the tasks and sending the communication on their own and I never have to be involved after I assign it. For those that need more senior review on some or all of their tasks there’s no way for me to tell them in the system when something needs changing (because it’s designed to send the project back and forth between the internal client and my department). So this is when I message the llama groomer and tell them something needs to be changed, or they missed something. These are the messages that they’re ignoring.

    9. Doctors Whom*

      If their manager is your manager and this happens with everyone, have you addressed it with your manager?

      “I’m having difficulty getting responses from folks about closing out tasks and it’s having XYZ effect on my ability to PDQ and we are getting negative feedback from the Jellybean department because I can’t answer their questions. Can you help by working with the team to establish some straightforward expectations for status comms & responses? I’m thinking this is something as simple as reminding people how important it is to respond when I ask for status, but you might have something else in mind.”

    10. Purple Cat*

      I think you need to loop in your collective boss and first have a discussion witht them about the issue’s you’ve been facing. Decide on *exactly* what you want the “done” communication to look like. and then ask for your boss’s help in implementing. For whatever reason, either you’re not as direct with your request as you think, or your peers don’t care about your request, this is a perfect situation to get help with.

    11. TechWorker*

      Side question – what is the sort of stuff they have to do and is it actually the same for each project? Is it stuff they would ideally be remembering to do (/realising needs doing) without your input?

      I used to spend more time having to ping people being like ‘have you done x,y,z’ – and let’s be honest I still have to do that sometimes – but one thing that has helped is having a checklist for each project. There is a template and it’s someone’s job at the beginning to go through each item and work out whether it needs doing or not. The idea then is you can get a really quick status on whether those smaller tasks actually got done, and if you do have to chase it can be a more structured ‘can you get the checklist finished off this week’ vs having to ping for every little thing.

      The idea is also that before we sign the project off, a second person goes through & checks everything got done. (Eg, is the code review link there, is the doc review actually signed off, skim read the wiki changes are complete, type thing). When we got audited this was ideal ;) and it helps to have the set of things that need doing distributed vs ‘in your head and your sole responsibility to make sure they happen’.

    12. New Mom*

      Can you move to a ticketing system instead? That would solve a lot of these issues. We use Zendesk.

    13. AllTheBirds*

      Do you have team meetings? If you have, for example, Monday morning checkins or project reviews, couldn’t you make it an agenda item and explain to everyone what you need?

    14. *daha**

      I’m going to echo the people who say that this is a problem that you need to discuss very specifically with your boss. Come in with two or three suggested methods – for each method, how you would notify the employee what to do and when to do it by, how you would instruct the employee to report back when it is completed, when you should follow up if not reported back as completed, and when you should notify the boss that your instruction is sitting undone. Let your boss approve one of the methods or dictate their own, and then do it that way. You can also request that the boss email each of the employees reminding them that you have been tasked with assigning these fixes to them, that you will be following that approved method, and that you will report back to the boss when an instruction is left hanging.

    15. Dragon*

      Murphy, you’ve nailed the biggest problem with remote work. Remote workers who don’t communicate timely or effectively with others or at all, and that impacts the others being able to complete tasks on their end.

      And some remote workers are so absorbed in their own world, they just don’t get it.

  15. Rona Necessity*

    I’m moving across the country for a new job! Suggestions on rebuilding my local professional network?

    1. Mid*

      Reach out to your current network and see if anyone has connections in your new area! Otherwise, are there professional societies or groups for your field? Networking meetups (if safe to attend in person, or virtual ones)? I’d also try to network within your company–meet your team members but also see if you can interact with other teams as well.

    2. Jay*

      If your college or grad program has an alumni/ae network, see if there’s a chapter or contact in the new city. That can be a great way to introduce yourself to the area and a wide professional community.

  16. Sooo clooooose!*

    Just asking for good vibes that the stars align for me! I’m burned out and so unhappy at my current job. I had a couple really good interviews for a new role in recent weeks. The hiring manager wants to move forward with hiring and we talked about compensation. He’s working with HR to bring me in at what I’m asking for. I’ve turned down two other offers this year over low pay (one unwilling to negotiate, the other only willing to come up an amount that was still too low for me). I feel sooooo clooooose to being able to exit my current situation. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but frankly, having my hopes up is what’s going to get me through today.

  17. Person from the Resume*

    Did anyone catch that yesterday Dear Prudence ran the exact same letter as Alison did last month. Word for word question. Very similar answer. Yay for a Prudence who understands work place norms. (Although Alison did address the illegal independent contractor issue that Prudence did not.)

    Scroll down several questions to “I know I gotta go”

    First question from May 25th:

    1. Mid*

      I think a lot of people submit letters to multiple columns to increase their chances of getting an answer, and I personally enjoy seeing people respond to the same letters to see their different advice.

      1. Cj*

        I noticed that too. There were hardly any comments on it because everybody got sidetracked by the woman who is going to burn her almost finished house down.

  18. New Mom*

    Does anyone have good talking points for interns who are doing their tasks but their overall attitude is not great? It’s nothing egregious but they are coming across as if they do not want to be part of the internship and are not really taking initiative compared to the other interns. There have been some actionable things that I’ve been able to address like no texting and taking personal calls at work but the overall attitude thing is something I know I should address but struggling with how to say it. Some examples, openly talking about being uninterested in the work and getting to know coworkers and asking for excessive WFH and flex time starting the first day. They even sort of asked if they could have permission to fudge their timesheet so they didn’t have to work the full 40 hours and still get paid. These are students that my organization serves so I have to be more accommodating than I would a regular intern and the internship “has to work” so I’m struggling a bit on how to address this.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      “I’m noticing a pattern of general behaviors such as ___ that indicate a lack of professionalism in your attitude and approach. This is important to resolve because, while you’ll be able to complete the internship anyway, you won’t earn the strong positive recommendations that are a big benefit of interning. Let’s talk about how you can send a better message.”

      Hopefully they just need a direct talking to. Good luck.

      1. Important Moi*

        I feel like if this were provided as an answer to posted question, the answer would get pushback because saying “lack of professionalism” would be labeled as harsh.

    2. ferrina*

      Since it’s interns, I’d approach this from a place of educating (instead of managing a grumpy employee).

      “Hey, can we chat about some of the things you’ve said? I’ve heard you saying that you aren’t interested in this work, and some of your behaviors at work have really reinforced that. This concerns me for two reasons- first, as a manager, it makes me worry about your work product. It’s shown that people that aren’t invested in their work produce poorer work product. That may not feel like it matters much right now, but I can’t assign the higher level, more interesting projects to someone that isn’t interested in them.
      The second concern I have is for your career. Even if you have the best work product ever, openly showing that you aren’t interested in this work can be really disheartening to the people around you. This will damage your opportunities over your career- maybe people won’t be as eager to work with you, or you won’t get assigned a high profile project, or you may even be passed over for a promotion because of your attitude.
      “I know you’re just starting out your career, so I wanted to bring your attention to this so you know how it could impact you. I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for in your career. I see a lot of potential in you, and I would hate for this to stand in the way of that.”

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I would also mention that if they do well with the internship, that can be a great source of references and referrals in the future, and saying those sorts of things is making those kinds of positive connections very unlikely.

    3. HRCanada*

      I find in these situations where it’s related to soft skills and can be hard to define, referencing “acceptable social standards” can help along with sharing specific observations and requesting a commitment to change – i.e. “I need to bring some concerns I have with your workplace behaviour to your attention, specifically meeting acceptable social standards and demonstrating respectful and professional conduct. For example, this week I overheard you say XYZ/witnessed you roll your eyes at a reasonable request/etc. This gives the impression that you are not engaged and would not be responsive to colleagues, which impacts whether you are assigned the type of work necessary to succeed here. What will you do going forward to ensure that you are meeting acceptable social standards at work?”

    4. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Can you figure out WHY they are unhappy and do anything to fix it?
      I struggled big time in my undergrad internship because it was full time, I still had classwork for the semester, AND the internship only paid a $500 stipend for the entire 12 weeks and I’d had to quit my job in order to do the internship so there were serious financial issues going on.
      And my boss called my stress “bad attitude” whenever he noticed I wasn’t all cheerful and smiling – so that was frustrating. Paying a living wage – even minimum hourly wage! – would have made things much better all around. And if that wasn’t possible, letting me head home early or do schoolwork when there was downtime would have helped, too. But he would make up work to keep me there 40 hours. Things like “go through the filing cabinets to check everything is in alphabetical order” (it was!) or “go pick up 50 pieces of garbage from the parking lot.” (because THAT was definitely helping me learn my field…)
      So maybe see if you can figure out the core issues and if there is a way to fix it.

      1. New Mom*

        Picking up garbage? Yikes. I unfortunately cannot reduce their hours because it’s a requirement of the internship organization but I did ask today in our weekly check-ins what we could do to better support them.

  19. Paperclips*

    Advice-seeking: I have a coworker who routinely does not answer questions that are asked and does not seem aware that the rest of us are frustrated/confused by answers given.
    Classic example:
    Me: Okay, so we will plan to finish X by the week of July 20-25.
    Coworker: I will be out for my son’s appointment that day, I’m not sure I can do that. I can see if it can be rescheduled.
    Me: Oh–what day?
    Coworker: It’s an appointment we scheduled a while ago, but we may be able to move it.
    Me: Which day is that?
    Coworker: We can probably move it. Maybe. Maybe not. The provider just moved down the street from where he used to be…

    This happens all the time. Questions such as “Which document do you need?” or “What link isn’t working for you?”
    I have approached my boss to ask if *I* am mis-communicating (I do not think this is the case). This has happened in front of boss, too. Is this a ‘suck it up and just expect conversations to go round and round’ situation? I feel like my questions are very clear!

    1. River Otter*

      I recommend trying validating what they said and then asking your question again.

      You: Okay, so we will plan to finish X by the week of July 20-25.
      Coworker: I will be out for my son’s appointment that day, I’m not sure I can do that. I can see if it can be rescheduled.
      You: Oh–what day?
      Coworker: It’s an appointment we scheduled a while ago, but we may be able to move it.
      You: Oh, it’s been scheduled for a while. Which day is that?

      I can’t guarantee that anything will change, but I have found that when a person keeps giving me answers without acknowledging what I am saying, it is frequently because *they* need to get out everything that they had to say or because *they* are not feeling heard. When that’s the case, I have pretty good luck with pivoting to more validation of their statements before asking my questions or responding with what I have to say.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I’d go further since it sounds like “which day?” is apprently not enough with this person.

        Me: Okay, so we will plan to finish X by the week of July 20-25.
        Coworker: I will be out for my son’s appointment that day, I’m not sure I can do that. I can see if it can be rescheduled.
        Me: I’m talking about a whole week. What specific date that week is the appointment?

        If they still land in the same loop of going on about the appointment instead of what single day they’re talking about, then they’re probably unfixable. But adding in a step that not only asks again, but states why their answer was not an answer might solve it. I have a relative who does the things OP is talking about and have decent success with this kind of approach.

        1. River Otter*

          “ I’d go further since it sounds like “which day?” is apprently not enough with this person”

          I agree! I did go further by adding validation.

          “ If they still land in the same loop of going on about the appointment instead of what single day they’re talking about, then they’re probably unfixable”

          I dispute that conclusion BC your proposed script does not include validation. Try it! As I said, I cannot guarantee an outcome with every person. However, I have definitely noticed that many people want to be heard. If you make them feel heard, you may find you get to the answer you want more quickly than adding additional interrogation.

      2. Paperclips*

        I don’t know why this is such a revelation to me but I think it’s a very good try for the next time this happens!! In my mind, co-worker is a bit attention-needy and enjoys being the center of a conversation (doesn’t live/interact with a lot of others regularly aside from work calls).
        Thank you!

        1. River Otter*

          I hope you have some success. I am a primarily Functional Communication person (goes along with being spectrum). I tend to get stuck in these conversational loops myself because to me, they spoke, I heard them, now we move to the next information exchange. Unfortunately, many people have a very different pragmatic communication style and they need that confirmation of reception.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It sounds like this person goes off on their own train of thought without listening. Some people are like that. It’s very annoying. Are you in person with them? I would probably try to make sure I had their full attention and calmly say “Fergus, which day is the appointment? I need to know the DATE.”

    3. RetailIsDetail*

      I wonder if the subtext of the response is “I’m too busy that week, please reschedule” – but your coworker doesn’t want to come right out and say “I’d prefer not to” or “I can’t” and they’re waiting for you to get the message? On the surface, I know it’s an odd take, but hear me out… I ran into a similar issue where a staff member kept saying to me “I can close every night!” and then complained to others that they COULDN’T close certain nights because they had prior engagements and were burnt out. It seemed like my role in the conversation was to say sympathetically, “oh, you don’t have to close every night!” But I tend to miss subtext in conversations, so it went over my head *shrug*

    4. MsM*

      I think all you can really do is be as specific as possible when requesting information, and do your best to clarify that the extraneous stuff isn’t helpful: “Coworker, the only thing I need to know about the appointment is what day it’s currently scheduled for. Can you tell me that, please?”

    5. Betty*

      Does this always happen in situations like the one you described where the coworker could feel like they’re creating a conflict/problem with the direct response? Could addressing that more directly be helpful?
      Like in response to:
      Me: Okay, so we will plan to finish X by the week of July 20-25.
      Coworker: I will be out for my son’s appointment that day, I’m not sure I can do that. I can see if it can be rescheduled.
      Either say:
      “We will definitely need all hands for this the week of the launch, so please let me know by the end of the week if you’re able to reschedule”
      “I don’t think it’s a problem if you’re out for a day that week. Can you send me an email to let me know which day you’ll be gone?”
      And then move on to the next item of discussion– you’ve given her a clear answer (this is a problem, here’s what i am hoping you’ll do to fix it/ no, that’s not a problem, but I need this information), and there’s nothing else that you need to resolve in this conversation.

    6. Student*

      I’m hard of hearing and I exploit it to deal with situations like this. You can use the same trick even if you aren’t hard of hearing.

      “I couldn’t quite hear all of that. Did you say that you’ll be out of office on July 25?”

      Then the co-worker will most likely just correct you to whichever date he actually has a conflict on. You have to be willing to state something wrong and invite the correction, though, which I know is hard for some people.

      1. Student*

        I should’ve said, part of why this works is that most people LOVE correcting someone else.

        1. River Otter*

          That’s brilliant.

          It’s annoying when playing stupid games is necessary, but that’s brilliant game for an annoying situation.

        2. N C Kiddle*

          When my daughter was first learning to talk, I used this trick all the time. If I said “what animal is that?” she would just look at me blankly, but if I said “look at that dog” she would come back “silly mummy, it’s a cat!”

          1. Employed Minion*

            Yes! I do this with my kid as well. If I suggest the wrong answer, it nudges her brain and she gives me the correct answer.

    7. SomebodyElse*

      I tend to be ultra direct with people like this.

      Me: Okay, so we will plan to finish X by the week of July 20-25.
      Coworker: I will be out for my son’s appointment that day, I’m not sure I can do that. I can see if it can be rescheduled.
      Me: Oh–what day?
      Coworker: It’s an appointment we scheduled a while ago, but we may be able to move it.
      Me: All of that is good context, but you haven’t answered the question. What day will you be out, please phrase your answer as a day of the week.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Wish I could use this with family. Unfortunately, they rarely come up for breath long enough for me to get a word in.

    8. Can Can Cannot*

      One possible issue is that you were vague in your dates. You put in a range as a final date, when it might have been clearer to have put in a singe date: “Okay, so we will plan to finish X by July 25.” Putting in a range could imply that the completion date was unsettled, and could be changed arbitrarily.

    9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Silence works wonders here.

      As someone else said, Coworker has a paragraph in their head that they need to get out. Wait for it to happen, then be silent for a good 5 seconds. Doodle something on a piece of paper or mime typing on your keyboard if on Zoom.

      Then, and only then, say “OK, Coworker, just to be clear, what day is your appointment?”

    10. Purple Cat*

      I definitely think you have to
      1) have a side-conversation with her where you express your concerns.
      2) in the moment, ask more bluntly than you feel you should “Thanks for the background CW, but I only need to know the specific date you are concerned about. (Or more bluntly – I don’t need the background CW…)
      3) discuss this specifically with your boss (who I assume is her boss) that this is a performance issue – if indeed it is one. Poor communication tends to cause actual issues not just frustration, so focus on that.

      This would drive me batty – so good luck!

      1. Paperclips*

        Sigh, Purple Cat. I have discussed with boss–under the angle of “What am I doing wrong?” when I know 99% it’s not me–but I do need to learn how to shift/correct the conversation in order to be productive.
        The irony of this is that I was just asking boss 1-on-1 about this a few weeks ago, explaining that I didn’t have similar problems with other coworkers. Then this more recent conversation (when boss was present!) happened and I almost wanted to pass boss a note saying “See my point?!”
        I have discovered that this coworker is more straightforward in person/meetings as compared to over email, so I’m thinking the next time this round about happens over email, we turn it into a meeting and I can say something like “Email just isn’t the best…” yadda yadda about efficiency and getting answers/understanding *each other.*

    11. Audrey*

      My boss does this! It’s incredibly annoying and I understand. When I need the information, I respond showing that I heard him, then I repeat the question until he answers it.

      Boss: I will be out for my son’s appointment that day, I’m not sure I can do that. I can see if it can be rescheduled.
      Me: Oh–what day?
      Boss: It’s an appointment we scheduled a while ago, but we may be able to move it.
      Me: So you have an appointment the week of July 20… which day that week?
      Boss: We can probably move it. Maybe. Maybe not. The provider just moved down the street from where he used to be…
      Me: Let me stop you there! You may not need to move it. Tell me which day is the appointment and we’ll plan around.
      Boss: Umm.. I scheduled it a while ago.
      Me: Can you check which day?
      Boss: It’s Wednesday of that week.

      Takes way too long, but hey, there are worse things he could be doing.

      1. Audrey*

        Ooo I have a story to follow up on this!

        One time I was trying to get my boss to tell me which desk a key was in to unlock a bile lock on some equipment. The staff was behind me holding pliers ready to cut the chain which my boss would NOT want.

        Me: I need to know which desk the keys are in.
        Boss who is terrible at directions: Well so there’s your desk over by the window, and my desk in the corner, and jimmy’s desk at the front. So if you’re looking at your desk…
        Me: Is the key in my desk?
        Boss: The key is in the drawer.
        Me: [looking in my desk] in my desk?
        Boss: NO! Ok. So there’s your desk over by the window…
        Me: I know which desk is which. Which desk is the key in?
        Boss: So there’s my desk in the corner…
        Me: So the key is in your desk?
        Boss: I’m telling you where the key is! So there’s your desk by the windows…
        Me: BOSS! I know where your desk is, and my desk is, I just need to know which desk the key is in, which you STILL HAVEN’T TOLD ME.
        Boss: Oh it’s in my desk.
        Me: Thank you!

        The staff watching me make this call had a whole new respect for my ability to deal with our boss after that.

        1. Lemonlime*

          This gave me a laugh!
          I’ve tended to work for the absent minded professor (AMP) types so somehow I’ve lived what you just wrote out!
          My current AMP:
          Me: Did the samples come in?
          AMP: What samples?
          Me: The samples that we were expecting, they’re scheduled to arrive this morning.
          AMP: No I didn’t see any samples. I only got this Fedex box of samples this morning.
          Me: So they did come in this morning.
          AMP: Only the Fedex sample box.
          Me: yeah those are the ones. The samples. The ones which came in. This morning.
          AMP: Oh, ok. Yeah we got them.

        2. JelloStapler*

          I feel like your boss doesn’t know his desk exists except for in relation to where yours is! LOL. Bless you.

        3. Paperclips*

          This feels very familiar!!! Sometimes I leave the conversation thinking we have exhausted all the answers and then realize I never got THE answer I need. Earlier this year we went back and forth about a document (I heard all about when it was made, who made it, what it looked like, what problems were found when it was made) but then, when I needed the document, realized I never got the name of it to find/use/see myself.
          It’s like Who’s on First but in real life–and not quite as entertaining when it’s habitual :)

    12. rosyglasses*

      I’ve had that in spades with a couple of employees before. I don’t have a great recommendation; but I’m with you in solidarity of annoyance.

    13. Mac*

      Based on this one example it almost sounds like the sort of verbal place-holding you get sometimes when someone is looking something up on a computer/phone, like when they narrate “huh, that’s odd” or “sorry it’s just loading…”, or basically make the human equivalent of hold music (my go-to is a little “da da daaa” when I’m struggling to put someone into my phone as a new contact– why is it always so hard?? Anyway, sorry, tangent.) None of the sounds coming out of their mouth contains the info you need, it’s just that they feel awkward about ignoring you in icy silence while they get it for you.
      I don’t know if there’s any way to make them stop doing it, but it’s possible that if you try n tune it out as a verbal tic rather than an intentional misdirection, maybe you’ll be less annoyed? It’s possible there’s even a feedback loop thing going on where they can sense your annoyance which makes them more nervous which makes them want to fill the silence more… Hm. I guess if it were me, I would probably probably experiment with saying something like, “I’m not trying to stress you out– you take your time to figure out what the date/filename/link is, and let me know.” And then I’d ignore them and talk to the rest of the group for a few minutes (“Anyone else have any timing conflicts?”) and then check back in with them in, “Hey, so did you get that date yet?”
      If nothing else, it gently flags that you see their behavior as a little Up Here when it needs to be Down Here, but that you’re not mad about it or trying to make it worse for them.

    14. Zee*

      I agree with what some other people said about letting her correct you. She seems to have trouble with open-ended questions, so try switching to yes/no options only.

      You: Okay, so we will plan to finish X by the week of July 20-25.
      Coworker: I will be out for my son’s appointment that day, I’m not sure I can do that. I can see if it can be rescheduled.
      You: Okay, so you’ll be out on the 20th?
      Coworker: No, the appointment is on the 25th.

      Yes, it’s a little annoying to have to guess at the answer yourself and have her confirm or deny, but for me I think that’d be less frustrating overall.

    15. Pogo*

      My husband does this and – because my own communication style is different – it’s the most difficult aspect of our very loving relationship. It drives me up the wall. I don’t think it’s possible to change it – you just have to allocate extra time and patience to conversations. I want to add this: My husband does it out of deep, deep set anxiety. He was raised in a volatile household where he learnt to people-please if at all possible; the outcome is that he lacks the confidence to make definitive statements and often hedges around small obligations to others (instead of telling them what he can and can’t do) in order to try to avoid displeasing them or anyone else. Basically, he can’t commit himself to things, even tiny statements, because someone eroded his self confidence. So…..if your colleague is similar, she could be suffering from deep anxiety. Good luck….I know it’s not easy! (Emoji of a drained face!)

  20. Missing mentee*

    I (mid 20s) was matched with a mentee (early 20s) through my department at the start of the year. We met every other week and hit it off.

    My mentee disappeared about six weeks ago. They didn’t show up to our scheduled meeting, hadn’t been online for a few days, and didn’t have an auto response set up. I emailed their manager who said they’d be back soon.

    I assume my mentee is dealing with some kind of health or family thing. I’d love to send them a “thinking of you” card but I have no way to contact them, aside from adding them on Facebook (we have mutual friends) or asking their manager (who likely can’t share).

    I should let it go, right? I don’t want to be invasive, but I am thinking of them.

    1. Mid*

      Can you just send an email to them expressing the sentiment? I know they have an autorespond on, but they’ll likely eventually see it.

    2. Not Australian*

      I would be upfront with the manager. “I haven’t heard from Emily for several weeks now; is this anything I should be concerned about?”

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This. You don’t need to know WHY Mentee disappeared, you just need to give her manager a heads-up that it happened. She should be able to tell you she’s aware of it (or not aware of it!) without spilling too many beans.

        1. Siege*

          She did. The mentee’s manager was the person who said the mentee would be back soon.

      2. missing mentee*

        Thanks! I did reach out to the manager about a month ago. The manager told me that my mentee would be back “soon.” I got the impression that the manager is in the loop, so I guess I don’t think it would be helpful to reach out to the manager again.

      3. Crab Game*

        This but also be very very careful in how you word it, because even this delicately phrased example is going to translate to a lot of managers as “Emily is letting this person down by not being here” and make them a little less accommodating to her.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      Let it go, but when they come back and have had a little time to catch up, check in on them and let them know that you were thinking of them and hope everything’s okay.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “I’m sorry we missed our appointment for our mentoring meeting. I’d love to reschedule for a time that’s more convenient, or just have a touch base conversation when you’re available. Hope everything’s going ok.”

      I wouldn’t start acting on my imagined reasons for the no-contact/off-line status until I learned more. There’s so many ways a mistaken assumption can land wrong.

  21. Mid*

    Briefly: How do you find a job when you know what you don’t like, but are struggling with what you do like?

    1. irene adler*

      Read all the job ads you can find. See what piques your interest. See any commonalities in the job ads that interest you?
      And you may have to try out a few different industries to see what actually works for you.

      A temp service might be of help here- for the “trying out” phase.

      1. Mid*

        I’ve considered going back to temp work, but I’m having a hard time finding temp gigs that meet my salary requirements. (Most of the ones near me are paying $18/hr, which would barely cover rent plus gas.)

        I’ve noticed I’m drawn to jobs with alternative schedules, and ones that are more on the technical side of things–I think largely because that’s a new area for me.

    2. Mid*

      Longer: I have pretty severe ADHD, and I’m struggling hard with my job. I took a mental health leave for 2 months because of burnout, but I’m back and it sucks. I hate my work now, largely because I’m horrifically bored but also still overworked. I’ve talked with my company about areas to grow into and professional development, and they’ve made noises but it’s been 3 years and I’m not growing at all. No new skills or development. Just more and more work that I find painfully boring. Which is stuff that needs to be done, but so much of my time is taken up with rote admin work that I don’t have time to do the work I want to do (more of the legal research and drafting work, which I keep being promised I’ll get more of, but never do.)

      So, I’m job hunting. But I have no idea what I want to do. I’m finishing up my certification in Data Analytics and am currently a paralegal, and have a background in childcare, education including working with learning and other disabilities, community organizing, donor relations, and a bunch of other things. I’ve even done some grant writing, but I feel like I can’t put it on my resume because it was unpaid and for an organization that no longer exists and I’ve lost contact with the people who could verify my work. Also it’s been like 7 years since I did any grant writing. I have a wide skillset, and I’m honestly a super quick learner. I taught myself how my niche area of law works, I taught myself how to write grants, I taught myself how to use HTML for websites, I taught myself Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, I really like learning new things.

      I know what I want from a job: something with really busy periods but also the ability to take large chunks of time off, or even a 4 weeks 0n, 2 weeks off type schedule. I’m happiest when I can be self-paced with my work (eg give me a list of tasks and their deadlines and let me go, I might do them all at 9pm on Tuesday, or spread them throughout the week, but they’ll all get done.) I need something that allows me to grow and learn new skills, but I’m not particularly picky about what skills those are. I’m okay with working solo and with teams. I don’t want anything sales or commission based, because I know that it doesn’t motivate me and I’ll do the bare minimum to get my bills paid and then stop. Same with freelancing and consulting. While I probably have the skills for that, because I’m good at networking, etc, I don’t have the drive to get new business for myself and I don’t really want to be self employed. I also like to be physically active, so something that has a least a slightly active component to it, or the flexibility for me to be active during the day.

      I know my dream job is to work in genocide prevention, traveling around and doing capacity building in communities, but that requires a graduate degree and I don’t have the money for that currently. I’m hoping to be able to in about 5 years, but until then, I need to find something I can tolerate, that has good health insurance, and pays well enough to allow me to save up for grad school.

      So, shorter list of things I’m looking for:
      -Flexible work hours/no requirement to work 9-to-5 because my brain doesn’t like that
      -Deadline driven or some sort of finished product
      -Ideally able to work remotely at least 1/2 time
      -Not sales or customer facing
      -Minimum $60k salary in Colorado
      -Semi-fast paced with lots of different tasks
      -Possibly something semi-physical or outdoors based?

      Things I don’t do well in:
      -Customer facing/super social jobs (working with a team is fine)
      -Butts in seats/scheduled coverage/strict hours
      -Lots of rote/repetitive work

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        If you don’t want to freelance/get the clients, you should probably look at contractor jobs. That way, when a contract is up, you can take a break. I can’t imagine a job that would let you work some weeks on, some weeks off all the time. That’s essentially having months of vacation a year. Data Analytics is really hot, so I imagine this will be easy to find. Try FlexJobs – nearly all their job posting are remote (they were doing this before the pandemic).

        You’re also unlikely to get a job with a physical component that is also a match for your skills. But you can get that part on your own time. Walk/bike to work, go for a ride at lunch, walk/bike home. Take a 5 minute coffee break and go to the other side of the building to their coffee machine. Or walk up the stairs or around the block. CO is outdoorsy, this should be easy to do.

        1. Mid*

          That’s a good point! And when my current job was remote, I often went to the gym in the middle of the day, or biked on a nearby trail, but now they’ve decided it needs to be Butt In Seat and I’m not happy about the change, because it’s truly unnecessary to the business needs.

          And the schedule for weeks on/weeks off is fairly common in like oil rigs and really physical jobs, though I don’t expect to find an office job like that. But I’d be willing to do 24/7 on call for weeks if it meant I got a solid week off after. Or even 4-10s. I’m realizing that 2 days for a weekend doesn’t allow me to recharge well, and I seem to do my best work when I do a long run at once (like doing an entire week of work in 2 very long days.)

          But I should look into contract work!

      2. Moo*

        I’m finding a lot of people looking for a change thinking they need new degrees, but it often isn’t the case. I have some knowledge of the area you’d like to work in and I’ve met a lot of people who are currently in X corporate job, would like Y NGO job. What I’ve seen actually work in practice is people who move steps towards the area that they want. Like you could do data analytics or paralegal work in an organisation that works in genocide prevention. That would give you exposure to the work and the people there, and you could see what is really operationally required to work in the area, whether there is work in the area, and some insight into if you’d enjoy it.

        1. Mid*

          That’s a good point! I personally have worked with/for a bunch of organizations doing the work I want to do/similar work, and I want to do things that would be more research heavy, and the job listings all request a Masters or PhD + years of experience. A lot of them are government funded, so there’s less room to wiggle on qualifications, and I don’t think I’ll be able to get the years experience required without a degree.

      3. WillowWH*

        Hi there! What you’re describing actually sounds like multiple positions I know of in state education agencies. The CO Dept of Education has some really strong data work behind it–and they partner with some orgs that are PhD heavy; those could give you a little exposure to the ‘what if I went back to school’ side of things.
        I know in my state’s ed department, everyone is remote, and aside from the most typical work hours (9-3ish), there’s some flexibility in how the rest of the hours get done.
        I’ll also echo the contractor work–if you know of some orgs whose missions are interesting to you, see if they have temp positions. It’s a good way to get experience + networking in and help narrow down your list of possible future jobs. Good luck!

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Temp work has set end dates and doesn’t require a ton of explanation for job hopping. Might be a good way to try out several types of work without committing.

  22. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I found out recently that my boss is transitioning to a slightly different role, and to replace him, they promoted my co-worker. This isn’t the worst scenario in the world, and I get along just fine with my co-worker, but I love my boss. We have a great relationship and he is exactly the boss I need at this stage of my career. My co-worker is a good guy and plenty qualified, he’s just not nearly as emotionally intelligent as my boss.

    This is my first experience with reporting to a former co-worker. I’m trying to approach this without expectations. I work pretty independently so I don’t see a change in my day-to-day, I’m just kind of bummed and not sure how it’s going to go. Any suggestions for adjusting to the transition from peers to direct report/manager?

    1. ferrina*

      The adjustment period is usually a bit odd for all parties. That’s normal.

      If you were friends, you’ll need to move that to “friendly professionals”. Since he’s not as emotionally intelligent, I’d focus on making this a collaborative transition. How can you help him manage you? For example “This is the agenda OldBoss and I used in our weekly 1:1s. I’m happy to continue using this or change things up, whichever works best for you.” [If he isn’t sure or seems overwhelmed]: “Do you want to try using this for now and see how it works for us?” It’s good that you have no expectations- make sure that you communicate to him that you are receptive to the change and that your goal is to make sure that he’s got what he needs to manage you.

    2. soontoberetired*

      this will probably be easier for you than your co-worker. He is going to have to adjust, too, and it’ll be a bigger adjustment for you.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I had a similar situation, actually, though as a teacher, it’s a bit different, as technically we’re all colleagues, but I’m a learning support teacher and the Special Educational Needs Coordinator left to take a position as Deputy Principal in another school. Like your boss, she was amazingly emotionally intelligent – “Irish Teacher, I want you to work on (insert thing I didn’t even know existed but was delighted to be working on)” – and like you, another teacher in the learning support department took over as SENCO. He isn’t EXACTLY my boss, but he does make out my timetable and stuff.

      I will say, it’s actually worked really well. He and I have sort of unofficially divided up the work of the department and since we have very different strengths and interests, it works out really well.

      My advice is limited, except be open to changes. Our new SENCO is way more laid back and informal than the previous one. There is good and bad to this. He isn’t as emotionally intelligent, so I have to tell him stuff that the former SENCO would have intuited. And he is more hands-off. Again, good and bad to this. I’m probably making it sound like he’s not as good a boss, but that isn’t true. He just has a different style; both are probably equally good, just in different ways.

      I also still maintain some contact with our former SENCO who was a bit of a mentor to me and who even after leaving, occasionally sent things to me or our current SENCO, like “hey, heard of this resource for learning support/this in-service course. It might be of use to ye.” It might be good if you could maintain contact with your current boss too.

      On the whole, given what you have said about him being a good guy and well qualified, I reckon you will find that things work out fine, though there may be an adjustment period.

    4. Workerbee*

      When there was a re-org and I got slotted under a coworker, with whom I’d become friends outside of work as well, we sat down and talked about how we’d each approach this transition from buddy to boss. Such as, because she now had a team of people, not just me, we two can’t go to lunch anymore because that would be seen as favoritism. She was clear on her expectations in regard to my work. We would save any friend-nesses for after hours away from the office. Etc.

      It worked fairly well during her tenure as my boss (there were other issues that made her not the best people-boss), so I’d recommend scheduling that kind of work heart-to-heart so neither of you is blindsided by unspoken expectations.

  23. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    My boss got approval to hire an additional Project Manager, and since we are such a small team (me, him and the open position), he asked me to be part of the interview process. This is the first time I’ve ever been on this side of the table, and I’m very excited! Right now we have 2 external candidates and 3 internal ones we want to go forward with interviewing immediately, but there is a lot of interest in the position so we can easily add to the pool if need be.

    Any suggestions on how to knock it out of the park as an interviewer instead of an interviewee? I’d like to not only find a great fit for the position, but impress my boss as well.

    1. Arachnophilia*

      Oooh, this is a question I can help to answer! I’ve done a ton of interviews (I’ve been director of my unit for more than a decade), and with a lot of trial and error, I’ve found some questions that have been useful in terms of content and that people seem to enjoy answering. Some of these are rather specific to my particular field, but I would focus on “behavioral” questions when you can (what they have done, rather than what they would do), definitely avoid yes/no questions, and make them as specific to your own field as possible – you’re the expert on the job, so use that!

      My favorite question is “what do you like most about your current position?” (if they’re currently employed) or some equivalent if they’re returning to the workforce or just finished a degree (e.g., “what’s your favorite part of your master’s program?”). This tells me a lot about what they are genuinely passionate about, and if they don’t have an answer at all (or it’s something like, well, the benefits are good, or weekends! then I know I should press a little more with some follow-ups).

      Also, we are an office that relies on things from other people and we typically need time to do our part of the job before hard deadlines. However, we have NO authority to require things from people (think, asking for a sign-off from a higher-up who isn’t in our chain of command). So another question I ask is “Tell me about a time when you’ve needed motivate a colleague to do something without formal authority. How did you handle the situation?”

      And another favorite, since we’re in a situation where projects don’t “succeed” by traditional metrics in their ultimate outcome, so I ask, “Can you describe a project you’ve worked on where the outcome was unlikely to be positive. How did you motivate yourself to continue to put forth your best effort?”

      1. ferrina*

        These are great!

        You should also ask follow up questions as you’d like. “Huh, when you were dealing with [situation], did you run across X Issue?” During the interview, I focus on learning about the candidate, not assessing their fit for the position (I reflect on that later). A good interview leaves you with a deep understanding of who the candidate is.

        After the interview, pay attention to how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. You are feeling excited- why? Is it because they have deep subject expertise in X, or is it because you connected immediately because you have the same hobbies? If you’re feeling frustrated, is it because they were condescending or because they were clearly nervous and awkward? Knowing what you feel and why can help you 1) avoid bias as much as possible and 2) be able to articulate to your boss the pros and cons of this candidate.

    2. Mid*

      One thing I love is when the interviewers have clearly actually read my resume and cover letter and ask me questions about work I’ve done/something I said in my cover letter.

    3. Koli*

      I would ask this question to your boss. Some orgs like to have really challenging behavioral or hypothetical questions, but at others that would be culturally out of place and come off strangely. Obviously review the resume and any interview materials. And see if your org has any anti-bias-in-hiring training or materials you can review.

    4. Jora Malli*

      I’m excited for you to have this opportunity!

      I think the way to impress your boss is to take the process seriously. If he’s not already planning to have a pre-interview meeting, go ahead and ask him for one. You should make sure you’re both on the same page about what you’re looking for in this new employee and make a game plan in advance that includes what questions you plan to ask and what kinds of follow ups would be appropriate.

      You’ll probably be asking the same set of questions with each person and sometimes people’s answers can run together in your head, so take good notes in each interview to make sure you’ll be able to differentiate each person at the end of the day.

      Once you’ve been on the interviewer’s side of the table, you’ll have a whole different perspective on going to job interviews, so this will be a great experience for you. Good luck!

    5. Guillermo Buillermo*

      I am a project manager, and one question that I think is really great for interviewing for these roles is a behavioral q about management style: “would you please tell me about a time that you made a change in response to employee feedback, and describe the outcome?” This gets at interpersonal and communication skills, if and how employee feedback is welcomed or solicited, judgement on what can and cannot be changed and in what timescale, and the emotional intelligence of seeing the effect of being heard and actionably listened to on team productivity and morale.

    6. Pisces*

      Since there’s a lot of interest in the position, ask the candidates what interests them about it.

      Not, “Why do you want to leave your current job?” Especially if the external candidates were recruited vs. them applying to a job posting.

    7. Zee*

      Think really hard about what information you actually need to know in order to make a good decision, and not just what the default interview questions are. Part of that is also recognizing that you and your boss will have different questions. When I was hiring for my replacement at my last job, I came up with & asked the questions that were really specific to the duties of the job, and my boss & coworker focused on behavioral questions, how the candidate would fit into the organization, and if they’d thrive in that specific kind of work environment.

      Also consider what you did & didn’t like when you were interviewing for a job. Personally… I’d switch the traditional “tell me about a time when ___” questions to “how would you handle a situation where ___” format. It’s so uncomfortable when, as an interviewee, you get asked for something that you don’t have an example for, and feel like the interviewers are silently judging you. Shatters your confidence and it always seems to go downhill from there. Example: I’ve never had a conflict with a coworker! But when I say that, they seem to assume I’m lying. Nope, just lucky in that my past coworkers have all been decent (I’ve had plenty of shitty bosses though).

      I also like the question “why do you think you’d be good at this job?”

  24. Wondering Jade*

    Let’s say you are an employee, and you get a new direct manager (director level) who is new employee at the company. What are your expectations of your new manager for the first month, three months and six months? What kind of things do you think they should be asking YOU, as their direct report?

    My team had a new manager start about a month ago, and I’m not sure how I feel. For context, my previous director was very clueless and a bad manager who quit a few months ago, and my grand-boss (who hired my new manager) was only with the company 6 months. My former grand-boss recently quit, but he made a bunch of changes he didn’t need to and made a huge mess of everything. So I’m side-eyeing his ability to screen good candidates and knowing what the team/company needed/

    With my new manager, while he seems like a nice person, I’m seeing some things that might end up being yellowish flags.
    – We have several brands using an automated reporting system (like tableau) and a manual excel spreadsheet. The brands are set up the exact same way within both, and they both play into each other. He’s made several comments where he’s not connecting how the reporting system and spreadsheet basically have the same data
    – Re: the spreadsheet, there are daily budget numbers that are necessary for my team to monitor to make sure we hit. It connects what goes to finance each month. He asked me if I look at that, which I told him I do and re-explained why it was important. In the same breath, my coworker (who is terrible at her job), basically confirmed she doesn’t look at that…which she is supposed to. Think if you are a llama groomer, you check the hair you just groomed before moving on to the next area to groom
    – The same terrible coworker only shows up to about half the meetings she is supposed to…I’m not sure if he’s addressed it with her, but it seems odd
    – He hasn’t asked why my career goals are, projects I’m working on, projects I HAVE worked on, etc
    – He hasn’t asked about historical performance, like past tests, learnings, things I do on a weekly/daily basis
    – We have a team of analysts who we (mainly I because it’s another things the horrible coworker doesn’t do she is supposed to) delegate tasks to. My manager recently delegated a project to an analyst for the brand I work on, which is fine, but he never talked to be about it or copied me on any of the details. Just very odd
    – It seems like he didn’t ask my grand-boss (his boss for a short time) the tasks HE was responsible for. For example, there is a weekly deck our team updates with budgets and numbers. He didn’t know who updates what. If I were in his position, I would have asked his boss or tried to figure out what things his predecessor (my former boss) did

    Do I need to reset my expectations? Am I being too hard on him? I’m also really exhausted from dealing with my previous boss and grand-boss, so it might be skewing my attitude.

    1. Emm*

      I’m interested in hearing from other people on this, but I think I’d assume ignorance over malice and give him a little more time to adjust! Based on what you say about your previous manager and director, it’s possible your new manager wasn’t given the information he needed to start this position on the right foot and doesn’t know he needs to be doing these things.

      I think if you’re interested in discussing your career goals and projects with him, it might be prudent to ask for a one-on-one. Maybe framed as “I’d like to check in and update you as my new manager” if that feels too presumptuous.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think 1 month is really early to expect him to ask about your career goals or work history.

      Also, given the amount of chaos that your business area seems to have, it’s completely understandable that he not know everything that he (and by extension his department) needs to do.

      You also don’t know what other tasks have been assigned to him by grandboss et al — they may figure that you & your coworkers managed to muddle through ok before, so maybe the new boss should spend his time on other corporate stuff while you continue to operate on autopilot.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This. You are making a lot of assumptions about what you would do, but they are based on your institutional knowledge.

        To someone coming in from outside, this sounds like there are a lot of things that will need fixing, and a smart director knows to observe and get the lay of the land before changing stuff.

        Your career goals are hardly the most pressing matter for his attention.

    3. ferrina*

      I agree with the others- too soon to tell.

      For learning work processes- there can be a lot to learn, and sometimes managers already know that they want to make changes (but they might need to wait for their boss’s approval, etc. so many reasons you can’t see). Approach it from an attitude of openness and collaboration- “In the past we’ve done X. I’m happy to adjust that, but I’ve found that Outcome/Key Element is really helpful because Y.”

      Learning about Terrible Employees can take longer. A few Terrible Employees are easy to spot, but more often a manager needs to learn the business process and strategies first before they can see how Terrible Employee is a hinderance to that. Unless Terrible Employee is going to cause a lawsuit, give your manager some time to learn the employees on his own. Six months is reasonable for him to learn the employees and begin moving toward some long term strategies (but don’t expect firings yet unless the employee is extremely egregious or the manager has a mandate to change)

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I have found it helpful when a new manager starts to do a quick summary of the primary tasks/responsibilities of the team. Just a quick definition, references to the task flow and any documents that we use to track them (so, basically the mgr level view), and some indication of how much time and priority each task category takes out of the week. This could be your own benchmarks or the team benchmarks.
      Then you can have a follow up meeting where you do a quick status report, asking if new manager has any opinions or new priorities, and once that’s all settled, you could also point out the pain points for your flow when the other llama groomers drop the ball at different points.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      One month is really soon. When I came into a new organization in a senior position it took me quite a few months to just get the lay of the land and that was when I was coming into a functional organization and had a good boss. It sounds like this person is coming into a dysfunctional organization and doesn’t have a boss to help them get the lay of the land. Your role should be to be as helpful as possible — when talking to your boss tell him how things have worked, explain how you do things and ask if he wants historical background, and stop giving him the side-eye!

  25. Minnie*

    I had a phone screen with an outside hr consultant for a job a week ago today. The call was super short. She said she just wanted to go over some logistics to make sure we were on the same page. The only question she asked was why I thought I would be a good candidate for the job. I answered and she said that is fantastic, that is exactly what we’re looking for. She said she would be in touch to set up an interview for the following week (which I took to mean this week). I haven’t heard anything. The job is time sensitive, so I’m surprised I haven’t even gotten scheduled for an interview yet. When should I reach out? What should I say?

    1. ferrina*

      Give it a few days to a week past the latest possible deadline. Interview processes get delayed all the time for all kinds of reasons. Reach out once saying something like “Hi, I just wanted to check in on the interview process for Role. I’m very interested because [Reasons]. Please let me know if there’s any further information you need from me!”

      It can be super short, just enough to nudge and remind them. They’re usually juggling a lot, and sometimes the hiring process is the thing that goes on the back burner.

  26. Retirement Plan Question*

    I’m looking for advice from people who have set up a retirement plan for their small business.

    I work for a six employee business. The owner has asked me to look at retirement plan options. He wants flexibility as to employer contributions (that is, mainly funded by employee deferrals) and also low administrative/setup costs. Is there a plan that combines both these features?

    For example: A 401(k) sounds good because employer contributions are optional, but there seem to be large initial and recurring fees. A SIMPLE IRA has few or no fees but employer contributions (2 to 3% of employee salary) are required.

    How did you decide which plan was right for your company? Recommendations? Pitfalls? Can a 401k make sense for a very small company with no HR or benefits manager? Particularly interested if you have between 3 and 10 employees, but all advice is welcome! Thank you.

    1. Mid*

      My company (9 people currently) has an SEP, or a Simplified Employee Pension plan that I’ve been very happy with. I can choose whatever brokerage I want and my employer simply send their contributions to it, and my own contributions are optional. It’s an IRA, and has a higher limit than other kinds of plans. Also, if you’re in the US, there should still be a tax credit for small businesses to help offset the costs of starting a 401K or other retirement plan.

    2. irene adler*

      Our <20 person company had a pension for many years. Employees contributed nothing; but they had to work for 5 years to be fully vested. Pension funding: A per cent (8%-16%) of our annual salary was taken from the profits and invested for each of us.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I can’t offer plan advice, but I can offer option advice. Select 2 or 3 plans, then compare the pros and cons of each. You’ve already done that in your example! Put the info in a presentation and give it to Boss as a decision tool.

    4. Purple Cat*

      The company’s financial advisor (if they have one) can put you in touch with a Third Party Administrator that designs 401k plans. Or you can reach out to one directly. They will put together proposals for what type of plan makes the most sense for your company. Proposals are typically free.

    5. Ann Perkins*

      I work in finance – a SIMPLE IRA is likely going to fit the bill. I’d recommend talking to a CPA prior to making a decision.

    6. Consultant*

      I’m a retirement plan consultant, although I typically work with plans/companies larger than yours. Others have given you some great responses. I did want to mention that a recent change increased the available tax credit for small businesses opening new 401k plans, so depending on how you set it up the first 3 years of costs may be covered.

      Also, often the reoccurring costs (record keeping, administration) are paid by the plan (i.e. deducted from the plan assets) rather than the business if that’s of concern.

  27. MechanicalPencil*

    I had my midyear review earlier this week, and I’m a bit annoyed about part of it. My new boss has only been with my department for 2 months prior to reviews. Limited exposure to the team.

    He had feedback from other sources that I’m “quiet” with the largest concern being that I’ve run into issues with my work and haven’t/won’t raise the issue appropriately. While I do prefer listening over talking, I feel like I’m absolutely irritating when I’ve run into an issue and am trying to get teammates to resolve it.

    I think I’d be less grumpy about that if I hadn’t also received the lowest score possible for communication skills.

    1. ferrina*

      Ugh, getting a bad score sucks. But since you’re on AAM……this is an opportunity to learn more about your new boss’ expectations of you. What is it that he is hoping to see? What does good communication look like to him?

      If you can do this in good grace, schedule some time to talk to your boss next week. Say, “I’ve been thinking about that low communication score that I got. I really want to focus and improve on this. Where are some things that you’d like to see me do that I’m not doing now?” If you can really listen with humility, this will go miles in establishing your reputation as a dedicated professional who is open to feedback and always striving to improve.
      Good luck!

    2. TechWorker*

      As in, you think when you ask for help on a task you’re irritating your coworkers?

      If so – take the feedback as a guideline that you are *not* being irritating and actually you should be getting more help. When you raise an issue, you’re not necessarily just punting it to someone else to fix the problem – you’re giving them the opportunity to point you in the right direction or sometimes – to conclude that the task is too hard, or too slow, or not worth doing… etc etc. If you find a problem, don’t tell anyone, and then just bang your head against it… that can be really inefficient and frustrating for the people you are working with. Much more so than if you ‘irritate them’ more by getting more input earlier on.

      There’s also ways to ask for help that people can find irritating, and ways that are less irritating :p for example – if you send a mail explaining what you’ve hit, giving details & explaining what you have already tried, that’s quicker and easier for people to respond to than if you say ‘so I hit this thing’, and then ramble for a bit without really gettig to the point of the input you are looking for or exactly where you got stuck.

      (I may have completely misunderstood the situation – so apologies if so!)

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        I think I do a decent job of explaining to the relevant parties that these are the steps I’ve already taken to try to remediate, but Thing is still not functioning as expected. The complicating factor is that both teammates will literally point the finger at each other as to who can actually resolve it, even though they have wildly different roles. I’ve since learned to just add them both to a call or chat and start from there rather than asking individually.

        I think the more annoying part is that New Boss legit said “I don’t see this as a concern, but it was mentioned by others” and then ranked it low. I do like Ferrina’s suggestion about asking how to improve — I already have my 1:1 scheduled for next week, so I’ll bring it up then.

  28. A writer, not a teacher*

    Does anyone have good resources or know of good classes/trainings on editing and developing staff writing skills?

    I’m a writer and editor on a communications team at a nonprofit where there has been a push for more staff across the organization to write BUT not much training or support for staff to beef up their writing skills. Since that’s falling on me and my teammates anyway, I’m looking to develop my own developmental editing/writing coach skills, but have had a hard time finding resources that are geared toward a business context rather than either ESL/adult literacy or freelance developmental editors working with authors to publish books. Any recommendations welcome!

    1. Mid*

      My local community college offers specific writing courses for things like business reports, grant writing, etc. I’d see if your local college has anything similar, especially in their “continuing ed” or “professional development” departments if they have them. Coursera has some interesting looking courses, but I can’t vouch for the quality. An associate of mine did a writing course through “The Storytelling Nonprofit” that they liked, but I’ve never seen their writing so I don’t know how good of a course it is. I’ve also heard good things of Nonprofit Ready (dot) org, but haven’t personally taken their classes.

      Looking for specific keywords when searching for writing courses, not just general “writing for adults” might help. It depends on what kind of writing skills you’re looking to improve! You said communications–are you writing reports for a board? External communications? Marketing? Grants? Fundraising? Narrowing down to more specific areas might help.

      1. A writer, not a teacher*

        Thanks! The challenge I’m having is that it’s not MY writing skills that I’m looking to improve per se, but rather my skills as a writing COACH to help develop my colleagues’ skills. So more of a train the trainer type of deal I guess?

        As far as content format- largely external comms ranging from blog posts to briefs/reports.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Can you find out what kinds of writing or documents TPTB have in mind? Are they looking for general polish and branding? Have there been problems with quality or accuracy in internal or published pieces?

      Writing is not one-size fits all. Marketing, proposal/grant writing, technical reports, business SOPs – all have different audiences, writing levels, and require different SME knowledge. If you divvy up the types of writing, you’ll find far more useful, contextual resources than “Writing for Dummies.” There are proposal writing seminars, media presentation courses, technical writing certifications, and more. A targeted approach will yield better individual skills across the company.

      1. A writer, not a teacher*

        Totally agree, this is helpful. Generally I think they’re looking for program staff to better document and publish all the work they’re doing— so anything from blog posts to briefs and reports.

        Because we’re doing so many things as an organization and there are so few of us comms staff, there have been big gaps in terms of which programs/initiatives get written about, since not all programs have confident writers. I feel very comfortable editing everyone’s writing up to a consistent quality, but a) there are some folks who are too intimidated/busy to write at all, and b) I would also love to feel more comfortable coaching the weaker writers to strengthen their skills rather than rewriting their work to make it readable.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Hmm. Based on your reply, this is a management problem, not a writing problem.

          “a) there are some folks who are too intimidated/busy to write at all.” That’s a manager problem. If they aren’t writing what they are supposed to or need more staff for the work volume, those are things you can’t fix with a writing course.

          “b) feel more comfortable coaching the weaker writers to strengthen their skills.” That only works if they want to learn. I’ve been a tech writer for decades and have lost count of how many times a SME says: “that’s what you’re here for.” Yeah, I am. But again, if management has directed you to assist development of their writing skills, who is held accountable when they don’t master said writing skill? What’s the metric for improvement?

          I LOVE to help people who want to learn to write better. I’ve assisted staff of all kinds at all levels, writing all sorts of interesting documents. I’ve never been able to solve the problem of people who will not improve writing skills because I am not their manager and had no stick to back up the carrot.

          Point them to resources, offer to work with them one-on-one, but be sure that you aren’t held responsible for their lack.

        2. Weegie*

          Look for a professional editors’ association, or one specifically for business editors/writers, or something more particular to your needs. Many of them will run courses for their members, and/or training handbooks. Even just by joining and talking to other members, you will learn from them and augment your skills and knowledge.
          I’m an editor whose job involves a lot of writing coaching. My knowledge and skills come from a combination of teaching, editing and writing experience, plus membership at one time of a good editors’ association.

    3. NancyDrew*

      Take a look at PR Daily or Ragan Communications — they offer lots of different types of writing courses and webinars.

  29. Anonymous Friday*

    Hi, everyone! I’m thinking of starting a job search for the first time in many years. What are the best job websites to use?

    I’ve started looking at Indeed but are there other good sites?

    The last time I searched, job boards were new! So I’m a newbie at this part. Any advice about job websites would be appreciated.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I do most of my searching on LinkedIn or Glassdoor. Depending on your industry/field, there may be industry-specific sites (like HigherEdJobs for university administration, etc.).

    2. Emm*

      Indeed is hit or miss for me, but I think it’s worth setting up a search with the right keywords because things do pop up every once in a while. LinkedIn can be a good one, and I’d second the recommendation for industry specific sites or listservs. Also word of mouth!

    3. Hlao-roo*

      A few years ago, Alison had an Ask the Readers Post about niche job boards. Search for “what niche job boards do you use to find job openings?” from May 4, 2017 to find it.

    4. SereneScientist*

      I would also recommend doing some research into specific search terms. Whether you are changing industries or staying in the same one, the job titles and related language may be different and it’ll be worth to get up to speed so you can identify the roles you want to apply for.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      FlexJobs – almost entirely remote job postings, but also quality (non-scammer) jobs. You have to pay a fee to join, which also limits the crappy jobs. Indeed for nonprofit work. USAJobs for federal jobs. Your local city/state also has a jobs board. Any any company will have a Careers page if you know of a local company with a good rep.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If you are looking in a specific city, I find a lot more targeted results on the local newspaper’s job board than on mass sites, and often see listings that aren’t on the big sites at all. And not little teeny places, either – solid regional companies.

      A lot of places, even for remote or hybrid work, don’t want to sort through a gazillion resumes from people in states where they don’t operate.

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Try a bunch of them. See which ones give you the most actionable leads. Stick with those until they start going dry, then start testing others.

      Importantly though — any time you see a posting that is vaguely interesting, go to the company’s website and read ALL of the postings. If anything seems interesting there, bookmark the employer’s careers page. Then think about if there are any other similar companies in town (if you’re in the US, check out US DOL’s CareerOneStop Business Finder and search for local companies by occupation). Check out those companies’ careers page and bookmark those. (Follow them all on Twitter and LinkedIn for bonus points.)

      Then … once a week or whenever the urge hits you … run through your folder of bookmarks and see what’s up at all of your target companies. You’ll have more access to jobs that are related to the ones you thought you wanted, which might actually get you to an even better option.

    8. Zee*

      I’d choose LinkedIn over Indeed. Indeed pulls a lot of posts from other sites and doesn’t update them when they expire.

      Also, try to find sites that are specific to your industry – e.g., Idealist for non-profits. It can take more digging, but see if there are also region-specific sites within your industry – e.g., the Colorado Nonprofit Association for non-profits specifically in Colorado.

      Facebook groups can also be useful (e.g., the Outdoor Education Jobs group). These have the added advantage of being able to directly talk to someone at the organization and ask questions before you apply.

  30. brainstorming*

    What are your favorite workplace wellness programs, especially for small workplaces? I work for a nonprofit (about 30 staff) that is interested in starting some kind of wellness program, but we haven’t even convened a committee yet to figure out what that would be. I know that there are some bad ones out there, so I want to have some ideas ready to propose instead of things that would be ableist/fatphobic/intrusive/just plain not helpful. I’ve seen Alison’s articles about the topic, but I wanted to crowd-source some ideas as well. We already have ample sick leave and vacation leave, are able to flex our time, and can work remotely part of the time. We don’t have space for a nap room or an exercise room onsite, but we do have a shower for those who would like to go for a run on their lunch break or commute by bike.
    Here’s some ideas I had so far (not sure if any of these will actually be possible with our limited resources):
    -Employer pays higher percentage of healthcare premiums
    -Stipend for medical expenses or costs related to health (e.g. gym fees)
    -Working to lower copays and cost-sharing in insurance
    -Revise employee handbook to specifically allow sick time to be used for mental health as well as physical health
    -Rapid COVID tests provided at the office
    -Incentivize yearly flu vaccines, and/or offer extra PTO to deal with vaccine side effects
    -Info session on our EAP
    -Ergonomic assessment of workstations
    -Offer menstrual products in all workplace restrooms

    1. Echo*

      These are all great! One that my company does is it explicitly provides a certain number of hours of PTO per month for health/wellness – so it could be going to the gym, taking a walk, doing a 30 minute meditation, whatever. Employees don’t have to provide any commentary or documentation whatsoever to use this PTO. It goes beyond flextime because you don’t have to make up the hours.

    2. Maggie*

      Love your ideas! I always loved free vaccines in the office (made it so easy) and would love a stipend on reduced price gym. Obviously better insurance is always wanted. And I strongly agree about menstrual products. To me it’s like toilet paper and it’s weird when a bathroom doesn’t have it!

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yup. I loved going to a place and getting my shot because I don’t have to plan! I also like the covid tests ( my body is weak and I get ill easily)and menstrual products.

        1. brainstorming*

          Yeah, a vaccine clinic would be super cool! I’m not sure if they’d do it for an employer as small as mine, especially since there are probably a maximum of 10-15 people in the office on a given day (due to remote work and fieldwork). But I’ll look into it. Thanks Maggie and Stuckinacrazyjob!

          1. Jora Malli*

            It’s late in the day and I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I once had a CVS manager offer to come do a flu shot clinic for my workplace of around 15 people. You may be able to find someone who will do it!

          2. Inkhorn*

            If you can’t arrange vaccinations onsite, see if you can set up a company account at a nearby pharmacy. My employer does this each year – staff get a specific link to book online and and the company foots the bill.

      2. brainstorming*

        I think menstrual products would also be an easier sell because it’s a lower-cost solution compared to some of the others. It seems like a pretty simple way to make life a little more convenient for about half the population.

    3. Elle*

      I would consider sending a survey out to staff to see what their needs are. Be sure to define what you mean by employee wellness so they know what you’re looking for.

      1. brainstorming*

        Yep, we should definitely do this. I think it would help to have some things to propose in the survey (“Which of the following ideas would be helpful? What other ideas do you have?”)

        1. Elle*

          Here’s something to add to the list-my company pays for the Calm app for all employees. It’s been really nice to have.

    4. MagnusArchivist*

      Seconding free flu vaccines! A former university employer used to have a free flu shots for employees at a location on campus, so the whole office would troop over on our lunch break and get vaccinated. It normalized it and made it less easy to forget or put off.

      I also deeply appreciated having half-day Fridays during the summer at a long-ago employer, which was amazing for my mental health after the rest of the year had ground us into a paste. But that’s probably a bit of a stretch for a “wellness program”!

    5. Gnome*

      Some other thoughts:

      – Offer free filtered/bottled water
      – Perhaps an office fresh fruit bowl or subscription (if you are in person)
      – Perhaps providing wellness screening services or talks (e.g. totally optional services like cholesterol and blood pressure screening or hiring people to talk about how to handle common issues like stress around elder care)
      – if not covered in your health plan, a 24/7 nurse line can be helpful (you call if you aren’t sure if you should go to the doctor, etc)
      – two hours paid time to have a physical exam each year in addition to sick leave or vacation
      – air filters in the office

    6. Mac*

      -If there’s no room for napping, does that also mean there’s no private, comfortable hygienic space for pumping milk?

      -if it doesn’t exist already, I’m always a fan of sicktime banks where people can donate hours for their coworkers to use.

      -honestly, I’ve had a huge number of jobs where people (especially entry-level staff) just plain didn’t know all the rights/benefits available to them because onboarding was rushed/shoddy or because the details were buried in dense blocks of text somewhere, or even sometimes because policies changed but not everybody got/read the email about it. So I think it really can help to just pull out some of the less obvious, but useful benefits and put up quick and easy posters about them around the office (break room, restroom, etc.) Like, “Hey, did you know we cover eye exams? Email Kendrick to find out more!” or whatever.

    7. Girasol*

      How’s your company culture? My last employer tried several wellness initiatives that just didn’t take off. But they had a culture of toxic competition, sexism, bullying behavior, and long hours due to over-promising and under-staffing. I kept wishing they’d ditch their diet advice, step counters, and everything else and get our managers some training on good management, diversity, and prioritizing. EAP is good, affordable insurance is great, but I’d ask for a healthy workplace culture before anything else.

    8. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Many good ideas, but since it’s a NFP, what budget has been allocated for any changes? Is the board agreeable to any new programs for staff? There has to be financial accountability to donors, and, if you receive any local, state, or federal funds, those will also come with restrictions on how they can be used.

  31. Had to Get References*

    Any advice or experience on dealing with not having a good list of references? For context:

    1st Job: My manager suddenly didn’t answer text, e-mail, or a LinkedIn connection request when I was getting a reference check for my current job. (An old coworker told me he changed jobs, so I realized later the work e-mail he gave me was out-of-date, but I don’t know about the cell phone.) He updated his LinkedIn page for the first time in years recently, but I don’t know if I should try contacting him again since he was unresponsive last time.

    2nd Job: When I was pulled into a meeting to be laid off, I asked my manager if I could use her as a reference, and she left the room without answering. The HR rep said the company doesn’t allow references, only employment date confirmation. (I’m not sure I would trust the manager anyway…I only got positive feedback until the day before I was laid off, at which point she suddenly had issues with my work that didn’t make sense and could not provide examples of the issues because the feedback supposedly came from my teammates. When I asked my teammates for examples so I could do better, they said I was doing great and they hadn’t provided any feedback.)

    3rd Job: I only got positive feedback from this manager, but she constantly complained about my coworkers behind their backs and started treating one of my coworkers horribly after I left. I worry she’ll turn against me and give me a bad reference.

    In the application process for my current job, I ended up using two manager references from college internships (which are now over a decade old, so I don’t think I can keep bothering them), and a coworker reference. I think I lost out on another (better) job that was doing a reference check at the same time because I couldn’t provide manager references from my 1st and 2nd jobs.

    I saw a job posting I really wanted to apply to a few weeks ago, but I keep putting off applying because I don’t have a good of references. Really hate how I have to depend on other people to get a job. :/

    1. Double A*

      Do you have any peers from those jobs who can be references? References don’t have to be managers.

      But I’d definitely reach out to the first guy; there are a lot of reasons he could have not responded, so it couldn’t hurt to try to re-establish that contact.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Agreed re contacting the first manager again. If he didn’t see your earlier message for months/years (which seems plausible if he hadn’t updated his linkedin for years) he might have just figured there was no point in responding so late — it doesn’t mean he won’t say yes if he sees it this time.

        1. Had to Get References*

          I do have contact info for two coworkers from my 1st job and one from the 3rd job that I could use as references.

          For Job #2, I might have a cell phone number from the coworker I was closest with so I could try to contact her. A little awkward because the last time I texted her was when I got laid off. I let her know I was getting laid off (and not dead or something….we had no idea another coworker who stopped showing up was fired until weeks after it happened). She responded to that with a “sorry this happened!” type text. I let her know she could have some office supplies and a gift card for the cafeteria from my desk that I wouldn’t need anymore, but didn’t hear from her again and felt weird following up.

      2. the cat's pajamas*

        I can relate, I’m having similar but slightly different issues.

        It couldn’t hurt to ask #1 again, the worst they can say is no. Managers tend to be busier too. If your last attempt was a while ago I don’t think one more try digits be terrible. You could maybe start with just a note to congratulate them on the new job to start as a more neutral opening to reconnect.

        Did you work with other managers? My previous job had 3 teams that all did similar work. I worked closely with a manager on an adjacent team for a few projects and they kindly agreed to be a reference since I didn’t want my boss to know I was looking at the time.

        1. Had to Get References*

          Unfortunately, all my managers have been the only managers I worked with at my jobs.

          I thought the autocorrect was funny. :)

    2. ferrina*

      Depends how old the reference are. You definitely don’t want references that are over a decade old- the unwritten message there is that no one you’ve worked with in the last 10 years has liked you. Managers are ideal, but if that’s not an option, then folks that have worked with you for a long time that can speak closely to your work.

      I’d reach out to Manager 1 via LinkedIn. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but no reason not to. Then I’d use 1 coworker that you worked with for over a year (it sounds like you have some great team mates who can speak to your work) and one senior colleague if you can (doesn’t need to be inside your department, could be someone who you worked closely with in another department).

      You could try getting Manager 2 or 3 as a reference. If you do that, know that it’s a risk. If you want, have a professional sounding friend (ideally one experienced in reference calls) call them as a fake reference checker and hear what they tell the “reference checker” about you.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        This always bugs me because it’s well known that people leave managers more than jobs but we’re dependent on our abusers to get out of a bad job, it sucks!

    3. Norah*

      If you had senior coworkers/executive directors/program directors that you did work for, either directly or indirectly, see if they will be a reference for you. Your references don’t need to be your direct supervisor.

    4. Purple Cat*

      Let’s see, in order of your comments.
      1 job: Definitely reach out again.
      2nd job: Yeah, it’s my “company policy” to not “allow” references, but the reality is references are personal and not from the company. Especially if manager has left, you can reach out, but in this case, I would list a coworker as a reference instead.
      3rd job: I sincerely believe (and I might be naive) that MOST people aren’t going to give bad references, if they were previously happy with your work. I think that’s a concern we (collectively) build up in our heads, but aren’t as likely to occur in reality. You can/should absolutely reach out to her first and ask if she’s willing to be a reference, and if she has any concerns about your performance.

      Otherwise, think creatively about coworkers, vendors, clients, managers in other departments *anyone* that can speak to you and your work.

      1. Had to Get References*

        1st Job: Seems like a lot of people are saying it’s okay to reach out again, so I will!

        2nd Job: I kind of figured she could give a reference despite the company policy if she really wanted to. The layoff was so cold I didn’t want to reach out (she literally just read a few sentences off a piece of paper about how I was being laid off, then asked if I had any questions. I asked if I could use her as a reference, and she stood and walked out without saying a word. Really weird since I thought we had a friendly relationship before that. But I also didn’t think she’d make up lies about my performance.) And she obviously never reached out to me.

        3rd Job: This manager was always nice to me (and seemed to favor me), and said I was the best hire she ever made. But she was a really toxic/hateful person, so that’s worrying. I just texted my coworker to ask if the manager started badmouthing me after I left. Would be less worrying if I knew she hadn’t.

  32. what to wear at summer school*

    I’m a mid-50’s female, going to a post-grad summer school in Aug in the UK, not in London. It’s a standard 2 or 3 week post-grad course, 8 hours a day, held at a uni. What should I wear? When I was a 22-yr-old post-grad and did this sort of course I didn’t think about it at all. Now feels different. Other notes: I’m coming from the US, and want to do the whole trip on carry-on luggage. Can I wear shorts the whole time?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      With a similar age and gender, if I were doing it, I’d wear shorts most of the time, but take a pair of light weight dark pants and a nice-ish top for going out in the evening. The caveat is that 1) I genuinely don’t care how unfashionable I look as long as I’m decent and 2) I’m in a field which has very low standards for fashion.

      I’ve found that Europe, in general, has very different A/C standards than the US, so I wouldn’t depend on lecture halls or accommodation being air conditioned.

      1. londonedit*

        I would say accommodation most likely won’t be air conditioned, unless it’s an actual hotel. It’s vanishingly unlikely that any university accommodation would have air con. I want to say that it’s also unlikely that uni lecture halls will have air conditioning, too – they certainly didn’t when I was at uni, and I’m sure things haven’t changed that hugely in 20 years. Having said that, we’re having our hot weather today, so I also wouldn’t guarantee hot weather in August by any stretch of the imagination, especially if you’re not in the south of England. I’d say shorts would be fine, but would definitely recommend a range of lightweight layers and at least one pair of trousers, plus a waterproof jacket just in case.

        1. londonedit*

          Replying to myself but I’d also say it depends where in the US you’re coming from, and what your standards on weather are – in the UK people will be happily wearing shorts and t-shirts when the weather gets above 20 Celsius, and we tend to start physically melting at anything over 25 (it’s currently 32 degrees in London and people have lost their actual minds). I would not expect ‘shorts weather’ if you class that as over 30 degrees C. August can be wet, and unless we have a heatwave it’s likely to be somewhere in the early/mid 20s.

          1. what to wear at summer school*

            Ah, that’s the beauty of menopause: my shorts weather starts at about 13’C

          2. Atm*

            20 degrees C for shorts – there speaks someone from south of the border! Up here you’ve long passed taps aff by 20.

    2. OneTwoThree*

      While I don’t have much input for the level of dress (casual, professional, etc.), I have a suggestion. I like the idea of dresses. Dresses can be dressed up or down very easily depending on how you style them. A basic dress can look different depending on what you pair it with, so more versatile. I find them cooler/ breezier in the summer months. Plus one piece of clothing vs shorts and a shirt.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Bring layers. The summer I spent in London could go quite literally from shorts weather to bundle-up weather and back in the course of a school day.

      The local students kindly threw a barbecue for the USians on the 4th of July and we were all in summers clothes in the morning and parkas by dark.

  33. Not a Real Giraffe*

    Requesting good vibes, please! I pitched myself for a promotion and the pitch was well-received. I have a meeting today to solidify the details, and while I think the new title will be amazing, I am nervous about the comp. I think my management believes they compensate me well (they’d say “very” well) but I know I am actually a little underpaid. I know I’ll have to negotiate today and man, I am just not in the mood! Send me your positive thoughts!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Thank you everyone!! I got an offer that was higher than what my highest hope was, and I am shocked (and thrilled). I appreciate all the positive vibes!!

  34. Newbie*

    I’ve recently been put on a new team for a short term project, and I’m struggling with my new team’s expectations around communication. One of the things I love about my usual team is that my boss is very hands off and, while everyone is accessible, we meet infrequently and generally trust each other to deliver results without oversight. My new team supervisor, on the other hand, wants our team to have meetings about *everything*. If we get an email about a new task (even if it’s something as small as “read this and let us know if you disagree”) he wants the team to have a meeting about it. If I send him a chat saying “just FYI I’m doing X, let me know if you want me to do something different” he calls me to confirm that I’m doing X. I also have a teammate who really wants to make sure that I’m “openly communicating with them” and they’ll often call me after meetings to “give me their opinion on the meeting”. I don’t want to be rude to anyone, and I don’t want to damage my reputation by not seeming like a team player. But this back and forth is driving me nuts – it feels like communicating about this project takes up more energy than just doing the project. However, I’m not sure how to push back on this – this is a new team and a new supervisor and I want to make a good impression. And my teammate is junior to me and I am supposed to be serving as an informal mentor throughout this project for them. I want to be kind and helpful, but I find myself struggling to remain patient. Do I need to just suck it up? Or if pushing back is appropriate, how should I do that?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I used to work for a micromanager, so my sympathy to you. But I think you just have to deal with it. You can’t tell your manager they’re managing poorly. I had some luck with explaining I needed dedicated “focus” periods and ignoring all meetings/communication off for an hour or 2 at the same time everyday. You can also try and proactively manage boss, if you know he always calls to confirm XYZ after you tell him your working on a task A, you can try including those details (boss, working on Task A, and I am using blah for X, and referencing whatever for Y and Z parameters). Early reply to “read this list” email with “read the list, liked A B and C but think D and E might need some retooling, will keep you posted” might avoid having a meeting to say that.

    2. SoManyMeetings*

      I have worked for 2 workplaces like this, and in my experience it might not be worth pushing back unless there are a small number of very specific things you think you can change (eg. “I can’t keep doing phone calls straight after meetings”). I don’t think you can coach them out of the general culture of over discussing everything. Maybe I’m wrong and just demotivated by my bad experiences though! The first time, I tried with flexibility and politeness to change it a bit but I got bullied as a result: they hated that I was going against the grain and thought I wasn’t interested in collaboration (which isn’t true). The second time, I picked my battles and managed to change a couple of specific things (eg. Can we keep our work WhatsApp for emergencies only) but the over-communication mandates just kept coming. …If this is a short term project for you, perhaps you just have to put up with most of it and get out of there as quick as you can.

  35. AnyaT*

    Wondering if anyone has any advice on how to frame a resume for a part time retail job, while working in a professional capacity? I am full time employed in a professional career that requires a Master’s and certification. However there are some expenses coming that I need to save for, and am looking for a PT evening and weekend job. My usual resume would look wildly out of place if I used it for a sporting store retail position. Any thoughts on how to proceed?

    1. merp*

      I’ve worked in/applied to a lot of parttime work in the last year and I just pared my resume down to the very bare bones – am currently employed, went to college, with an emphasis on “here’s why I want these hours” in cover letter or even a little paragraph on the resume itself, if they didn’t ask for a letter. Basically not giving them more info than they would care about about and pre-emptively answering the “why on earth is this person applying” question that I thought they would have. Kind of nontraditional but I got several offers so it must have been a decent approach!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’ve done engineering & IT, and I’ve done wine.
      I have 2 different resumes.

      On the IT resume, I listed the wine places I worked at, but not accomplishments (unless there was an IT thing that I did), so that they can see I don’t have a work gap.
      On the wine resume (which was about half PT while doing IT stuff during the day, and half FT), I just listed the employers.

      The good news is that for most PT retail jobs in the current environment, you don’t need much of a resume. Any retail or sales experience, in any industry, would be relevant.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      A resume is a marketing document, not a comprehensive work history, so if you are adding a retail job in addition to a full-time professional job you can leave the retail job of your resume entirely.

      If you do want/need to add the retail job, one possible way to do it is to have a “[professional field] experience” section and an “other experience” section. So your resume would look something like this:

      Engineering Experience

      Engineer, Specialty Teapots 2015 – present

      Other Experience

      Cashier, The Oatmeal Emporium 2022 – present

  36. Double A*

    I got a promotion! Or at least what is the equivalent of one in my field (teaching — you get additional duties and a pay differential, it’s not a whole new position). I really didn’t expect it because there were a lot of people applying and they had very few slots to add new people. I told myself I wouldn’t get it and was 90% okay with that, but the fact that I did is making me feel really proud of myself. I think I contribute a lot, but when you’re a bit siloed sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re just doing the same as everyone or if you’re doing something that is actually standing out and making and impression.

    Basically, it feels amazing to have my work recognized with a title and some compensation. This isn’t the usual form of recognition in teaching and it’s not what I primarily look for in my work but… dang it feels good! We’re also getting an overall raise and I am hoping I will also get a salary adjustment as well, so I’m at least getting 9% more next year and am hoping it could be even more.

  37. Waterbird*

    Any advice on bouncing back from a particularly painful job rejection? I recently went through a very long, very intense application/interview process for a job that seemed like a great fit (two phone interviews, a skill assessment, multiple pre-interview prep calls with recruiters, and a six-hour interview loop), only to get a rejection without any feedback. I know putting all your eggs in one basket when applying to jobs is never ideal, but with this situation, it was hard not to since the preparation (~2 months in total) took up pretty much all the spare time I had.

    I feel disappointed and discouraged, and beginning this process again just seems so hopeless. If anyone’s gone through a similar situation and has any advice for bouncing back (or any success stories!), I’d love to hear about it.

    1. Damien "#1 Son of Hell" LaVey*

      Take some time to let yourself feel sad, or angry, or self-pitying. Wallow a bit if you need to (Not forever, but for a weekend or so.) Do something kind for yourself.

      Then maybe do some kind of “letting go” ritual: burn the job description, say “I am letting this go and opening myself to something new”… basically, something to cue yourself to direct your attention in a new direction.

      At that point, you can remind yourself it’s a numbers game, there are other fish in the sea, it’s not you/it’s them… all those other true and reassuring cliches you’re not in a place to hear now.

      Best of luck. This is a sucky place to be; hoping your path to something better is swift.

      1. Waterbird*

        Thank you! I love this advice – a “letting go” ritual sounds like exactly what I need to do to let myself move on and jump back into the applications.

        I really appreciate you taking the time to respond! :)

    2. Hang in there!*

      Oh, this has happened to me twice, and it stung SO much and I was so depressed. But both times it amazingly worked out for the best! In both cases I ended up getting other jobs that completely short-cut the steps I thought I needed to take to get to those jobs. In other words, the fancy fellowships I missed out on (first runner-up both times, aaaargh) would have been stepping stones to the jobs I eventually got without doing the fellowships. So it can happen. I will cross my fingers for you that something else great comes along soon.

      1. Waterbird*

        I’m so sorry for my delay in seeing this. Thank you for the kind words and the positive stories! Definitely reassuring to hear that it worked out for you in the long run :)

  38. sofar*

    Been burning to ask this all week.

    Has anyone here ever been hired for a professional job without a reference check? My husband was just surprised to get an offer with NO reference check. And, while the offer and company seem good, this seems SO suspicious to me I can’t get over it.

    – This is a first full-time job in a new field for him (software). Prior to this, he ran the family event hall business with his brother (for 10+ years). Husband has been back in school to switch careers (because his heart wasn’t in the fam business), graduated in December and has been doing a contract job in New Field since then. Family business also gave him relevant experience (creation of online invoicing system, app stuff, etc.).

    – This company contacted him on LinkedIn. They are a small startup (less than 50 employees). They’re expanding and immediately seemed eager to hire and told him up front they “wouldn’t string him along for six weeks, they were interested and eager to hire soon.” They found him because his most recent contract work is in their field.

    – Interview/skills tests took about 3 weeks. Two remote interviews, one on-site, one take-home skills project, one real-time whiteboarding test.

    – When HR called my husband on Monday, he expected them to ask for his references as a final step. Instead, they were like, “We’re emailing you the offer letter.”

    – Offer is competitive, given his skill set, benefits are good. Husband asked for more vacation time. They accepted that. He also asked for 2 weeks to gracefully exit his contract work, and they accepted that, too.

    I literally cannot get over that they did not check his references. I’ve never been hired without a reference check. We’ve been desperate to hire, and we still always check references.

    Is this A Thing in some fields?

    1. Waterbird*

      Yes! I didn’t have any reference checks for my current role, and that’s standard for hiring at my company (Fortune 50, so a lot of hiring). The thought process is that it’s time consuming and references aren’t a super reliable source of information in most cases; applicants tend to only list references who would give them a good recommendation, so it adds several days to the hiring process without gaining much helpful information about the applicant. I think it’s pretty normal nowadays!

    2. ThatGirl*

      I got a contract job with no references, which turned into a FTE job where they did a background check but still no references. (Of course at that point I’d been working there 5 years already.)

      I honestly can’t remember if they checked my references at my current job. I know I didn’t write a cover letter, but I did a zillion short interviews.

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      I know my partner who works in tech does not get reference checks when they’re getting hired!

      1. Koli*

        I think this makes sense; the reference check concept is a bit outdated. Anyone who has their #$#! enough together to graduate from a top school or with top grades, to get jobs with reputable or interesting companies in the field, and to present themselves well in an interview is likely to be able to find SOMEONE who will vouch for them in a professional capacity. It’s basically meaningless box-checking and adds a ton of work for recruiting departments. Plus, many organizations do not give references as a policy these days, and if you can’t hold candidates accountable in those cases, what’s the justification for requiring references of anyone?

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          Well, I will say as a person who hires people, I have found reference checks very useful, both in making decisions between candidates, in verifying my feelings from interviews, and in getting concrete information about how to manage someone. I’ve only once had a terrible reference that caused me to not hire someone, but I’ve many times gotten information that has helped in my final decision.

    4. CheeryO*

      I’ve hired three people in the last year and only checked references once. It didn’t provide any useful information, so I don’t plan on doing it again unless I have specific questions about a candidate.

    5. londonedit*

      References aren’t a huge deal in the UK publishing industry, in my experience at least. I’ve always been asked to provide references once an offer has been made (that’s the way it works here/in my industry – you don’t provide references until you’ve accepted an offer, which is contingent on successful references, because it’s basically a formality) but I have no idea how often they’ve actually been checked.

    6. Minimal Pear*

      My current job didn’t check my references as far as I know–no idea why, but I really like this job and have been doing pretty well in my position.

    7. Almost Academic*

      Yes, it’s a lot more common in Tech than in other types of companies in my experience. They often don’t want to tip their hands that the person is job searching / considering getting scooped by another company and so will forgo reference checks. It also means that you get some really wildly incompetent people who continue to get passed from company to company over the years and scrape by, as long as they’re good on interview loops.

    8. River Otter*

      In my field, I have worked for companies that do and companies that don’t, or perhaps some managers do and some managers don’t. I don’t know that you can generalize to an entire field since a field can comprise companies of all different sizes and hiring philosophies.

    9. Borden*

      I was hired without a reference check at my current job (private firm dealing with construction/government compliance).

    10. Jay*

      Yup, but I’m pretty sure that happened because the hiring manager knew me – in fact I trained him early in his career about 20 years prior. I didn’t know he was there and actually didn’t even realize I knew him until partway through the phone interview when I finally figured out why his name sounded so familiar.

      It turned out that one of the other staff members was also a prior colleague of mine. This was early in the establishment of the local market for a national company and they were in desperate need of staff. I was also overqualified for the job – I would have been well suited for my boss’s job and was deliberately taking a late-career step back, which I explained in my cover letter. The whole thing happened ridiculously fast. The recruiter called me the same day I applied for the first screen, I had the telephone interview with my boss a few days later, and within a week I had an in-person interview with the local GM who essentially offered me the job on the spot. He said he was going to check my references but the recruiter left the official offer on my voicemail before I completed the one-hour drive home from the interview.

    11. Mojo021*

      I just started a new position in April and had the same thing happen. As the position is in Human Resources, I definitely thought it was odd. When I asked about it, they explained that people are only going to give references that will vouch for them so they choose not to use them. Overall I am exceptionally thrilled at my new workplace (eligible for a 4% increase every 6 months! WHAT????), so maybe it is becoming a newer trend.

    12. CallTheBagelShop*

      Yes, in US tech companies, I think most do background checks but some do/do not so reference checks.

    13. Mockingjay*

      Most companies I’ve worked for don’t give references other than to confirm dates of employment, and company policy handbooks often forbid employees (managers and coworkers) from saying anything other than: “Please contact HR.” (whether that’s enforceable? IANAL.)

      As a startup, your husband’s company probably doesn’t have much admin or HR to handle details like reference checks; instead they are filling immediate needs. That might change as the company grows and stabilizes. Or they might just get tired of making phone calls that only reiterate the employment dates on the resume.

    14. Purple Cat*

      There may have been backdoor reference checks done. Since his contract work is “in their field” if he mentioned any specific clients, they may have asked around.

      1. N C Kiddle*

        That’s what I was thinking too, that they got informal feedback through their networks rather than formally asking him for references. That might even be a better way to do it, because they’re speaking to people whose word they know how to weight and they know they’re getting as full a picture as possible.

    15. sofar*

      Wow, thank you everyone! I knew this community would come through and be awesome. And I especially love that all these responses gave me food for thought about whether reference-checking really is useful. AAM commenters rock!

    16. SomebodyElse*

      My company does the standard background check but generally doesn’t check references. I don’t. I wouldn’t unless I had a concern about a candidate and honestly if I have a concern big enough to question someone about I’m probably going to pass on them.

      I’m not sure how much stock you can put into a provided reference to begin with since they are provided by the candidate.

      In my 20+ years I’ve only been called to provide one reference and that was for someone who was going to work at a police dept.

    17. Ranon*

      My last job hunt I got three offers, none checked references- my only guess is the hiring environment is such in my field that the time to check references can get someone hired out from under them as I always had references checked prior to this most recent pass

    18. Voluptuousfire*

      I think in a lot of companies, a background check would take place of the reference check, IMO anyway.

      My current company is small and we don’t do reference checks. For higher volume or more consistent hiring, it’s a big time suck when you need to hire to staff projects.

    19. Wordybird*

      I work for a small company that asked for my references but never checked them. They are a legitimate company with good pay & benefits, etc.

      Now that I know my supervisor as well as the company president, I would guess it was a combination of intuition/feeling like I was a “good person” whose references would say the same + being understaffed and my supervisor feeling like they didn’t have time to check them with some looming deadlines/projects that were due RIGHT THEN.

      Most of my jobs have been with small and/or non-profits, and at least one previous job also never checked (or asked) for references.

  39. RedWhiteCorgs*

    Hi all,

    Would love feedback on how to handle a weird interview situation. I am not “actively” job searching but I keep an eye out for interesting roles in my area (I work 100% remotely now from out of state but want to do a hybrid/in-person in more of my interest area). Anywho, I found a role at a local organization and had an initial interview with the COO and VP who I would be working with. The interview went (I think) amazing and when it was over they said that would like to meet again and have me meet another one of the directors. This job is exactly what I’ve been looking for, I was excited.

    Anyway – a few days later I get an email from the VP, asking me if I’m interested in a different role in the organization (similar role but not really what I want to be doing), and if so they’d like to talk with me about it. I responded by saying that “I’m primarily interested in the position I just interviewed for (P#1) but if that is no longer available, I would be open to discussing this other role (P#2). He responded back and said that P#1 was still available and he wasn’t trying to push me one way or another but just wanted me to know there were “options”. So now I’m set up with another interview… It will be with the VP, the Director of P#2, and the Director for P#1. I have no idea how to handle this and answer questions that they ask when there could be different answers for one position to the next. I plan to listen to them as they discuss P#2 and then after via email politely say that I’m most interested in P#1 (if I’m still in consideration of course) but am open to discussing other roles once that process has been played out.

    I also just don’t know what this means vibe-wise… did he not think I’m a good fit for P#1 and this is his way of saying that or maybe there is another candidate who is better or an internal hire. IDK, I’m trying to not to obsess and just look at this as a good networking opportunity. Anyway sorry, this was long but please let me know if this situation has ever happened to you or any thoughts on how to handle the meeting. Thanks!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I wouldn’t read anything negative into it! It sounded like they really like you and want to find a role for you, whether it’s P1 or P2. Go in with an open mind, hear what they have to say about P2, express your preference for P1 and see what happens. Good luck!

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, I don’t think it automatically means you’re out of the running for P1: they probably just saw some hard-to-fill skill set that they really need for P2, and are hoping you’ll be open to considering it. If whatever it is really isn’t what you want to be doing, it’s okay to be honest about that and why P1 is the direction you really want to go in the interview.

    2. SereneScientist*

      I agree with Giraffe, nothing particularly negative about this situation–it sounds like they can see you working in a few different roles in their org, which is decent. I actually had a similar situation recently when I got my new job. I interviewed for one role and made it to the final round. They ended up going with a different candidate with more specific subject matter expertise, but offered me a very similar role as they wanted me to join regardless.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Concur that it’s a thing that happens. For my current job, they mentioned including someone who represented a different team hiring for a similar role on my inteview panel. I got a follow up call from that team’s manager asking if I would consider the role on their tea, but it was absolutely because I was *also* qualified, not out of the running for the first role. I got the offer for the first role and took it, but the door is basically open for that other team if I want to move there eventually.

      It is a good networking opportunity and it’s great that they think you’re qualified for multiple different roles.

  40. BacktoOfficeMama*

    I went back to the office 2 days this week for the first time in 2.5 years. I’m just coming back from my second maternity leave (first was during that remote time) and I am still pumping which is so easy working from home. At the office, the lactation room is really accommodating and nice but on the 1st floor west wing when my desk is on the 3rd floor east wing and only accessible via stairs and there is no wifi so I can take calls but can’t really bring my computer to do anything meaningful. There was a letter some time ago about pumping taking 30mins at a time and that’s absolutely reasonable for someone in my type situation. At least my manager is super relaxed about it and I can work from home on days that don’t work with my pumping schedule.

    1. just another queer reader*

      This sounds frustrating! While most of those issues (office layout, lack of elevator) might be hard to fix, I wonder if IT could put an additional wifi router near the lactation room, so you at least have signal.

  41. merp*

    Kind of a reality check request – I’m just getting back into working in libraries/archives (after being deeply burnt out when I left, but took a year of working in a completely different field in the meantime). I’m only parttime which I thought would help with my worries of returning to a large institution-type job. But honestly… I’m really starting to worry I was wrong. I’ve only been here a couple months but I’m struggling to recapture what I used to love about this work. I’m not going to quit or anything, I figure I might as well hang out for a bit and see if it gets better and make some money in the meantime, but I did want to ask if any of y’all have had this experience? And did you stick it out or make an exit plan? My other job for the last year isn’t a particularly stable or well-paying one, but it’s hitting me that I enjoyed my days there a lot more.

    1. MagnusArchivist*

      I think it really depends on what you’re doing at the library job. There are parts of my library job I find absolutely soul-crushing and haaaaaaate doing, and if I had to do them 100% of the time I would leave the field. But there are other things that legitimately feed my soul and make me feel so thankful to be in this field. My challenge is balancing the two and remembering when I’m doing things I hate (web archiving ugggghhh) that I won’t be doing them forever. Are you finding that you’re not enjoying tasks you used to love? Or does the whole thing just feel blah?

      I do think everyone in libraries is just burnt the heck out right now, even if we grimly pretend not to be and that things are getting better, and so even the best places to work have a pall hanging over them.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      Could you take a course in something similar that might give you some fresh perspective? Twice, when I was thinking about leaving my STEM field, I found that courses did help (and the last one was a permanent change) The last one was actually an introductory chemistry course in getting my hazardous material management cert.

      (I’m thinking about short term and/or low risk courses, not big ones with lots of papers, etc.)

    3. tired librarian*

      I’ve definitely sometimes felt this way working in libraries. What it usually means for me, other than possibly being burnt out (and lets be honest, you might still be!), is that I’m not doing enough of the parts of my job that really bring me professional satisfaction. I think that’s different for everyone but for me that’s working directly with patrons. I know if I spend too much time on other projects and don’t get time to do that aspect of my job, I struggle with the relevance of my work and if I really want to do it. When you started working in libraries/archives, what part/s of the job drew you to the industry and kept you engaged?

      Also though, I have found this can happen when you’re settling into a new job that’s quite different from your last role. That happened to me last year – I started working at this really slow paced college library after being at a public library where it was always go go go, I was running events, connecting with people, sometimes dealing with actual crises where patrons or staff were at risk of harm. It was very weird to suddenly be sitting here doing collections work with a flexible deadline instead. I was definitely like wtf I am even doing here? But I found my feet more after maybe 4-5 months. It sounds like you have enough experience moving jobs to know if that’s what might be going on – but maybe that’s an option too?

      1. merp*

        the slowness is definitely part of the problem – I love working with patrons but we just… don’t have that many. plus in order to be parttime I’m definitely pretty overqualified for the job I have, and this is probably partly due to that. but I hear you that these adjustments take time! hopefully I can carve out more of what I enjoy.

  42. Snorlax*

    So I was at a toxic, abusive AF job for about five months before I went on FMLA due to a mental breakdown (caused by said job), then resigned at the end of it. I have a lot of guilt for how quickly I unraveled, and have a lot of complicated feelings toward my boss, who was definitely being bullied and terrorized by our grandboss, but that trickled down to her treating me pretty poorly as well. She never responded to any of my communications about resigning, never said goodbye, nothing. All my communication was with HR. This was in December.

    In April I got a text from my old boss saying that she was sorry she never replied, was glad I made the best decision for me, and her last day at the company was that day. I never replied bc I honestly had no idea what to say.

    Now I am hearing from ppl still at the company that shit is SUPREMELY hitting the fan, my old boss was mentioned in a series of emails about former employees who’d reported misconduct, and…I don’t know. I kind of want to text my boss but I have no idea what I’d say??? “Sorry I probably made your job harder because I couldn’t handle all the abuse being doled out and left you hanging”????? “this whole thing was a clusterfuck but i’m glad we’re both out”????????? “hope you’re doing well”??????? i should probably just not say anything, right?

    1. gmg22*

      I think not saying anything is perfectly fine — after all, she failed to communicate with you while you were navigating your exit from the job. And you DEFINITELY don’t need to apologize to her. But something along the lines of “Sorry to hear this, I hope that Toxic Workplace can sort out its issues over time” would do the trick if you want to.

    2. Purple Cat*

      You definitely have no obligation to respond. You absolutely positively have NOTHING to apologize for!
      A “hope you’re well, I’m glad you were able to leave” is basically neutral, but slightly positive.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      If you want to text her, text her. Why do you want to? Is it because you want to get closure? Is it because you want to keep in touch now that you’re both out? Do you want to commiserate? The reason why should inform what you say. “Hope you’re doing well” would be a good start and then how she responds could tell you what to say next.

      BTW, “I have no idea what to say” usually means I’m overwhelmed and need to process my thoughts/feelings and then I can come up with an idea what to say.

  43. AnonToday*

    Any tips on pushing back on pregnancy discrimination when it’s not illegal? We have 6 employees and my boss has balked at hiring a woman he thinks might become pregnant (she’s in her early 30s and relocating to our area to get married). I think this is both wrong and short sighted in the current labor market.

    1. MsM*

      …I, uh, feel like that is pretty unequivocally gender discrimination. And honestly, I’d call it out as such: “So you’re saying you assume that any woman of child-bearing age must not only automatically want children, but will prioritize that over her career? Does that apply to current female staff as well, when you’re considering advancement opportunities?” But I would also not be particularly concerned with remaining employed at a company that would tolerate that kind of attitude in management, so if you’re not prepared to take advantage of the current labor market and find somewhere more enlightened, take that with a grain of salt.

      1. AnonToday*

        When I checked the EEOC website yesterday, it seemed like both gender and pregnancy non discrimination protections only apply to companies with 15 or more employees.

        I hadn’t noticed anything that suggested pregnancy discrimination before (even when another employee had a baby and took 8 weeks off), which is part of why I’m not sure how to push back. He seems to be thinking of it as “We shouldn’t hire someone who might leave in a year or two,” the way we might also avoid hiring someone who said they would be going to grad school in the fall or moving away, but the fact that it’s pregnancy/gender related seems bad to me, even if it’s not illegal.

        1. Alex*

          It might seem bad but it’s understandable from an economic prospective. The reason an exception is made for companies with less than 15 employees is that smaller companies generally aren’t equipped to handle the long term loss of productivity from employee\employees.

      2. Alex*

        I can’t say that it is unequivocally gender discrimination because men/ male presenting folks can still get pregnant.

        1. Observer*

          He’s reacting this way because she’s woman. He would never worry about this if it were a man or someone male presenting. It is absolutely gender based.

          1. Alex*

            Not really. You don’t think it has anything to do with being out of the office for months at a time that is the problem here? Have you ever been in a management position before?

            1. Pocket Mouse*

              He’s worried about her being out for months at a time *because he thinks she, specifically, as a female-presenting person, might get pregnant soon*. If he were considering were a male-presenting person in the same exact scenario, he almost certainly wouldn’t balk.

              1. AnonToday*

                And age, but then it looks like age discrimination is only illegal if the person is over 40 – I don’t think my boss would have raised this problem if the applicant was a woman, moving here to be with her husband, and happened to be early 60s instead of early 30s. That’s why I initially thought of how to push back on pregnancy discrimination specifically rather than gender discrimination generally, but then most of what I’ve seen in archives is language like “I’m worried we could get into legal trouble” but it doesn’t seem like that applies here, unfortunately. But I think it’s immoral to discriminate against someone because she’s pregnant or we think she might become pregnant and also I don’t think it makes sense from a business perspective either in this situation.

    2. CheeryO*

      Ugh. You have to try to push back in the moment if you can. My boss was upset when our recent new hire announced that she was pregnant, and he came to me to complain about it. I told him in a very matter-of-fact tone, “It’s totally fine. We’ll just have to plan around it. People need to be able to have babies.” He seemed mildly annoyed that I didn’t agree with him, but he also never brought it up again.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Seconding what MsM says that this sounds like it is illegal. If HR at your company is generally competent, I might raise it with them. Say something along the lines of “[manager] made a comment about not wanting to hire [candidate] because he thinks she’ll become pregnant. This sounds like gender discrimination to me and I wanted to let you know.” Then see what HR says and take it from there.

      1. AnonToday*

        We don’t have HR since there are only 6 employees total (maybe 8 if the owners count? I’m not sure if they do). A brief Google search yesterday suggested that pregnancy discrimination is only banned by federal law for companies over 15 employees.

        1. Atm*

          But like MsM said, is it not gender discrimination (rather than pregnancy discrimination) if you’re simply assuming she’ll become pregnant because she’s a woman? Is there an employee number below which gender discrimination is legal? If you aren’t certain the answer to the first question is no, then you can in good faith argue to your boss that you’re in dodgy legal water.

          1. Observer*

            On the Federal level, protections kick in at 15 employees. The OP should check what the situation is in their state and city / county, as some areas do have additional rules.

            1. MsM*

              To be clear, I’m not trying to say that it’s definitely legally actionable. It’s just that if the only reason you can’t is because the company’s not big enough, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still say very ugly things about the boss’s attitude.

        2. Pocket Mouse*

          Tell the owners, then, if you trust them to be responsible about it. If they’re good people, they’ll want to avoid gender discrimination even when it’s not illegal.

          Also, any chance your state has more expansive applicability? For example, it looks like nondiscrimination laws would apply to companies with five or more employees in California.

          1. AnonToday*

            I will look into state protections, thanks! Honestly, I would have expected pregnancy discrimination more from the owners than my boss. They’re a bit closer to the “nobody wants to work anymore”/“young people these days” side of the spectrum. My boss previously hired a coworker who was 5 months pregnant at the time and he knew she’d be out at one of our busier times, so I was taken aback that he brought this up at all about our new potential hire. Admittedly the new position is harder to find coverage for and more business-critical, but it still doesn’t line up with my previous view of my boss.

    4. Observer*

      What you are describing is not pregnancy discrimination. It’s GENDER discrimination. And while I’m fairly sure that the Federal protections kick in at 15 employees, you should check for tighter limits in your state and city.

      1. Alex*

        It’s not gender discrimination. Gender discrimination would come in to play if only women and not men/male presenting people were judged due to pregnancy. You might be able to say medical discrimination at best. I feel the language being used here is very exclusionary for non binary folk.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          On the contrary- it’s discrimination on the basis of actual *or perceived* gender, etc. Of course there are men and non-binary folks who can get pregnant, and who face pregnancy discrimination when pregnant, but this boss wouldn’t necessarily *perceive* that they can become pregnant or judge them likely to become pregnant if they aren’t already pregnant. He’s doing all that because of his perception of her sex/gender and—very likely—her gender presentation. (I say this as a queer cis-woman who almost never got asked or pressured about my reproductive plans. It’s just not nearly as high on people’s radar if you don’t get read as straight.)

        2. allathian*

          It’s gender discrimination, because the person by all accounts identifies as female and is female presenting, and the manager doesn’t want to hire her because she might get pregnant. A male-presenting person, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth, wouldn’t face this particular issue. AFAB people of any gender could get pregnant, and if they were then fired for actually being pregnant, then that would be pregnancy discrimination.

        3. Observer*

          Well, actually, only women or female presenting folks are going to be judged this way. Someone who looks like a man is not going prompt a boss to worry about it. From a legal perspective, it doesn’t matter whether the people so judged / not judged are ACTUALLY male, female or other.

        4. Marvel*

          I’m a trans man and I think it’s pretty obvious here that he’s only making this assumption because she’s a woman.

          Trans people existing doesn’t make misogyny magically STOP existing.

  44. Meghan*

    I would appreciate any good vibes and positive thoughts! I just had a 2nd interview for basically my dream position. They have a meeting next week and then it goes over to the hiring manager. I am in hospitality and this is a position at a corporate office and the job description fits me to a T, with room to grow and enough daily “problems to solve” that I wouldn’t get bored. Everyone on the interview team has been there for at least a decade and they all say that their favorite thing about working for corporate are the people they work with, the support they get, etc. Which I already knew from people who work there in different departments. I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much, but I am so excited!

    1. CallTheBagelShop*

      That is super exciting, good luck! Don’t forget to ask questions to find out more about the team and role – remember that job descriptions are often like wishlists. The interview goes both ways!

  45. Down the rabbit hole*

    So I’m starting the process of being diagnosed with a chronic illness (current thinking is minears or MS-extreme vertigo, flashing and unpredictable pain, blurry vision, increased sensitivity to light). Thankfully I am fully and permanently remote so there’s no driving or office time.

    It’s impacting my ability to do my job even to a mediocre level (I’m working 60 hour weeks to compensate for how ridiculously long it takes to complete tasks). I’m only a few months into this new job and have accrued about a week of vacation so far.

    I’m in sensory hell and I don’t know if I should communicate that with my boss or HR. This is a gigantic company and their processes and procedures are needlessly complicated, vague, and really depend on the last person you talked to. My interactions with HR have been cold, vague, and according to them the role of my job is to help HR do their job by telling them what I’m hearing from the teams I’m working with (with or without anyones consent). It doesn’t make me feel safe or secure enough to voice my personal support needs.

    There’s also the possibility of layoffs (I know, I’ve seen the emails from the ELT.)

    Any suggestions from the commentariat around how to navigate this at work would be greatly appreciated. I can’t think straight anymore and my problem solving abilities are fried.

    1. Jay*

      I would start by talking to your doc so that if you need to take sick leave you will have the appropriate documentation available. If you’re in the US you are covered by the ADA – I’m a doc and it sure sounds like this would be a condition that would qualify you for ADA protection. Your doctor, especially your neurologist or ENT, can tell you for sure.

      Meanwhile can you triage both work and home responsibilities so you are doing the bare minimum? Sending cyber hugs, sympathy, and hope for a quick resolution and effective treatment.

    2. OnetoFindTheGiraffe*

      I just went through this myself, so I empathize. It’s awful. I’m so sorry.

      Unfortunately, and very ironically, my experience was that the entire process of taking medical leave and getting ADA accommodations is very time-consuming and bureaucratic. Both processes required a lot of paperwork and meetings.

      And at least in my case my doctor was unwilling to certify my need for leave for more than a week at a time. By the time three weeks was out, I was not ready to go back to work but she wasn’t really willing to “let” me have any more time off, even though I was still in constant pain. Maybe my experience was an outlier; I’d certainly like to think so. But I’d just say: be prepared for it to be a tough process.

      On the other hand, if you have a good relationship with your boss, it could be worth considering to approach her and share that you’re having some medical challenges, and while you don’t want to get into detail, you’re aware it might be affecting your work. As a heads up it’s pretty straightforward, and it opens the door to future discussions about needing support and/or helping to prioritize what projects you can safely drop.

      If they’re a good organization to work for, they should *want* to know you’re having to work 60 hours weeks and should *want* to fix that, because it’s not sustainable. Good employers know their employees are human and get sick! You deserve both good health and employers who want to support you. (It’s so easy, somehow, to start doubting yourself… if you’re used to being seen as this competent, capable person and suddenly you’re not functional, that does a number on your self esteem… but there is nothing wrong with *you*. You’re simply dealing with a health issue.)

      If they’re not a good organization, well… this may not work. They my not help you get accommodations, or provide you support. But either way, my advice is: document everything. Conversations you had with bosses on the subject, appointment notes with the doctor. That’s some of the first info to go (at least for me) when I’m dealing with fuzzy brain, and records have proven to “prove” I’m sick—yes, still—yes, still.

      I hope you get some respite soon.

  46. The Prettiest Curse*

    Since the British Prime Minister lost his ethics adviser this week, please share your examples of unintentionally hilarious job titles. I’ve had a long, stressful week and need some comic relief!

    1. londonedit*

      Yes, the most shocking thing for everyone was the idea that he’d apparently had one in the first place, wasn’t it (apparently on R4 they said it was like finding out Hannibal Lecter had a nutritionist…)

    2. Mid*

      I had someone reach out to me for a compliance role, with a job posting that broke multiple local laws. They were also working in compliance.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Would a Minister for Justice who lost his job for phone tapping and who apparently ordered the police to arrest a victim of a crime on completely trumped up charges and hold them for a few hours so they couldn’t give evidence on the assualt they had experienced (committed by a relative of the Minster’s) count? (Seán Doherty was an interesting member of an interesting government, and in both cases, “interesting” is not a compliment.)

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        He sounds awful! Politicians who are corrupt in an interesting way are the reason that I like my politicians boring. ;)

    4. An Australian In London*

      The most recent former Australian Prime Minister was revealed in 2019 to be paying $200k/year for an empathy consultant. There are still jokes about it today.

    5. Employed Minion*

      At my last job, someone was put in charge of implementing a software/process into the company. Her title was ‘[software/process] Maestro’. There were a LOT of jokes.

  47. Dr SmartyPants*

    This isn’t something that this forum is able to handle here, but there are people who are trained to help you. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where you can reach a trained crisis worker 24/7: 800-273-8255. They will help. – Alison

  48. Macaroni Penguin*

    I’m returning to work after a parental leave, and need some wardrobe help! Do y’all have any recomendations for a hands free pumping bra? I have a medela freestyle pump and bra. But the bra itself if very lumpy at the front and shows bumps through my shirt. Is there another bra option? Or is it that people have a regular bra and then change into the pumping bra? How’s this all work?

    1. Claire*

      I like the Sublime Hands Free Pumping & Nursing Bra from Kindred Bravely. I also used the Simple Wishes Hands Free pumping bra (off Amazon) with my first and it was fine – but it’s meant to go on over a nursing bra just for pumping, not for wearing all day.

    2. HannahS*

      I use the Bravado pumping bra. It works with most pumps. The bra itself is like a sportsbra. The seaming on it will likely show through a thin or tight t-shirt, but I find that a thicker t-shirt, sweater, or cardigan keeps the lines from showing through. I wear it all day.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I just brought a pumping bra and pulled mg regular bra up and out of the way to pump. Just takes a second. Pumping bras aren’t really designed to be worn all day, I don’t think. I found a strapless or strap-optional pumping bra to be the easiest to just toss on right before I started. Didn’t have to remove my clothing – just pull everything up and out of the way for a minute then let it settle back down once I was hooked up.

      Technically, any nursing bra can be a pumping bra with a little MacGyvering.

    4. Pop*

      I have two kindred bravely nursing/pumping bras. They are spendy ($50) but I have a large cup size/small band size and so finding something that accommodated that was challenging. I have two and they’re literally all I’ve worn for the last few months. Definitely recommend them!

  49. Captain Awkward*

    I have an example about how talking about Creepy Guy quietly works.

    A coworker told me many years ago in an indirect way that he found me attractive, and I later found out that he was making slightly creepy comments to a lot of women. He was also a bad boss to the few people who worked for him. He always seems to know where the line is, and his comments could be taken another way so it would be hard to discipline him. I reacted in the only way possible and I said something to the women who worked around him. I also mentioned it to a few men that seem to advocate well for others.

    A manager asked to meet with me this week, and he said that he’d been having problems with a few of Creepy Guy’s comments, and someone told him that he really needed to speak with me. I explained my experience, the experience of others, and this manager really appreciated knowing that this was a problem over many years that wasn’t easily addressed.

    It made me feel really good that the women and employees in Creepy Guy’s new workplace will know that they are supported by this manager if problems happen, and that the manager will be keeping a close eye on the problem. He can’t easily be fired, but his bad behavior can be limited. 

    I sometimes feel badly about sharing ‘gossip’ about bad coworkers, so I address this by being factual and only sharing with those who work with the problem person. Often I encounter people who appreciate knowing that they aren’t the problem.

    1. Filosofickle*

      “Gossip” can be socially useful! It’s how we help each other stay safe and know who to trust. Obviously a lot of gossip is garbage and unnecessarily harmful, but the kind you describe — relaying relevant info about a Bad Actor — is actually important.

  50. fedstatehelp*

    Hi! I have a bit of a unique situation. I’m a federal employee primarily assigned to work for a state government, which means I have a federal supervisor but he’s very uninvolved in my actual day to day work (we don’t even live in the same part of the country). My day to day work is primarily supervised by a state employee.

    I have a couple federal coworkers assigned to different states who constantly get nominated by our federal supervisor for recognition and awards. When I talk to my coworkers, I honestly don’t think they do that much more/high level work than me! For example, one of them was in charge of a program for 600,000 people in their state, and I was in charge of the same program but on a much larger scale (my entire state, millions of people). She got a federal award for her work on that project, but from speaking to her I don’t think her work was that much more impressive than mine or another coworker who did a similar project (who also didn’t get nominated)! I’m not the only one who doesn’t get awards- there’s about 20 of us on our team and there’s 2-3 people who are consistently nominated for awards and also get selected to do things like help him interview new staff.

    So basically I think my coworkers are much better at “selling” their work to my federal supervisor than I am. My state supervisor does give quarterly updates to my federal supervisor, and I just got a new state supervisor who is much more verbose and more detailed in his description of my work than my last one, so I’m hoping that will help. I also meet with my federal supervisor for 30 minutes every other week and he gives me updates on our program and I have the opportunity to ask him questions. I’m wondering if I should try to start using this meeting to “sell” him on my work? If so, what do you think is the best way to naturally do that and bring it into the conversation? I don’t want to just randomly bring up that I’m “sooo busy doing x,y,z” or dealing with difficult political situations because I feel like that would sound like complaining. and can’t think of a natural way to get him to see how valuable my work is (or at least that it’s on par with this other persons!). Any tips??

    1. Koli*

      It might help you to use the STAR method in giving these updates. Situation (what was going on), Task (what needed to be done), Action (what specifically did you do <— this is most important), Result (how did your actions lead to a good outcome).

    2. Tabby Baltimore*

      You might also just ask your boss “I read about the [Named] federal awards going to Coworker #1 and Coworker #2. What do *I* need to do to be competitive for those same awards?”

    3. Desdemona*

      You want to focus on scope and results with him, not process.

      Your instincts to not mention being busy or dealing with political situations is right- that’s process. But it is totally appropriate to tell your boss when you accomplished something you’re proud of, and how you’ve driven results that are good for the organization. Stick to the facts, don’t embellish, but don’t be afraid to “brag” when you’ve done something good! As a manager, I WANT to know when my team is delivering results!

    4. Juneybug*

      Make sure you are keeping track of your results/achievements. Bosses forget or don’t even realize the impact you have on projects. Provide state boss a copy before your annual review. Maybe even provide a copy to your federal boss as well?

  51. Bookartist*

    I posted last week about being nervous post interview for a job I was recruited for, and I got the happy news a day or so ago that I’ve been hired on at a 40% increase in salary! Thank you Allison and commentor crew; I wouldn’t be here without everyone’s advice.

  52. Kesnit*

    I am a public defender and have been for several years. Over the past few months, I have come to the realization that I do not want to stay in the office where I work. I’m entry level and there is almost no chance for advancement, in part because I am a man in my 40s and not a woman in my 20s. (Law is a second career for me.) Plus, morale in the office is pretty dismal.

    I went to law school to be a prosecutor and did my internship in a prosecutor’s office. (It was working there that made me realize I could also do defense work.) When I was job hunting, I applied for both prosecutor and PD jobs and would have taken either.

    A few days ago, I looked at the site where prosecutor jobs in my state are posted and found 6 close enough to me that I would not have to move. (2 are in the same jurisdiction, just different jobs.) I’m updating my resume and cover letter, but realized I have a small problem. I know very well why I am trying to leave my current position, but I can’t very well say “my boss is sexist and we’re all miserable.” (Especially because my boss used to work as a public defender in 2 of the jurisdictions where I would be applying.) My resume does show my internship, so switching sides is not completely out of the blue, but it a little strange for someone to go from a PD to a prosecutor.

    Does anyone have a neutral, professional way to say “my boss is sexist and we’re all miserable?”

    1. ecnaseener*

      Well, you don’t need to say your boss is sexist – you have no opportunity for advancement in your current office. That’s an extremely normal reason to leave.

      1. Kesnit*

        In theory, there is the possibility for advancement. The reason there is no real possibility is because my boss is sexist.

        1. MsM*

          If you’re not the top boss yourself, there’s always the possibility for advancement in theory. Reasonable interviewers will assume you’ve carefully considered the situation and concluded that the actual odds of it happening any time soon don’t favor you sticking around.

        2. ecnaseener*

          You do not need to be 100% truthful about this! But if it makes you feel better, rephrase it to “no real opportunity for advancement ” or “I don’t expect any opportunity” or “very little opportunity.”

    2. pancake day*

      Can you pitch it that you’ve always wanted to be a prosecutor, but working as a public defender lets you be a better prosecutor because you have a better understanding how that works? Focus on why you want the *new* job, not why you’re leaving the old one.

      1. Mid*

        This ^^ You have experience with prosecution and PD, you worked as a PD for a while and realized that your passion is with the other side.

    3. knxvil*

      You actually said it quite well yourself:

      “I’m entry level and there is almost no chance for advancement.”

      Take out the “almost” and you have one of the most common (and neutral-sounding) reasons in the world to leave a job. Simple and to the point.

    4. Purple Cat*

      You definitely CANNOT mention your boss at all. But I think you CAN mention the advancement, but more importantly you need to talk about why you want the new job, and not just that you’re leaving the old job.

      “I’m considering next steps in my career and I really enjoyed x, y, z about the prosecutor side and I’m looking forward to bringing my PD experience to the other side of the table.”

    5. Hannah*

      Sorry but saying “I’m not a woman in my 20s so I can’t advance” is pretty suspect. Generally speaking in law, being a man isn’t prohibitive for advancement.

      In any case, as someone who hires a fair amount of attorneys, I am always happy to interview someone on the other side of the case caption. Really good plaintiffs’ attorneys bring insight into defense practice and vice versa. I think you will be fine if you have substantial experience in the courtroom.

      1. Alex*

        It’s my understanding that if someone says they are the victim of sexism or racism that we generally take their word for it. Just because from what you have witnessed being a man isn’t prohibitive for advancement doesn’t mean that’s always the case.

      2. Kesnit*

        I was expecting someone to call me on that.

        My boss is a creeper. He has his favorites and they are the women in their 20s – attorneys and support staff. They know it. They hate it. But it is the reality.

        1. Observer*

          So the problem is that your boss is a creep not that you are being discriminated for being a guy in your 40s (poor boy).

          You’ve gotten some good ways to frame your move. But you should think about why you got called on what you said – and why you chose to express a problem in the way that was most likely to cause people to call you on it. And with good reason!

          1. Jay*

            Actually, the problem can be that his boss is a creep AND he is being discriminated against because he is a guy in his 40’s. No need to present this as a false dichotomy. He feels that he is a victim of discrimination and we should believe him, unless the rules have somehow changed.

            1. Observer*

              Why should I believe that he is suffering from general gender based discrimination? Given the current situation and what he describes, there simply is no reason to believe it. And the way he’s putting it absolutely argues against actual general discrimination.

              Now, is he being discriminated against by a boss who is a creep? Quite possibly. But nothing he says remotely justifies the implication in his initial post that this is a problem in PD’s office in general, as opposed to one very dysfunctional PD’s office, nor his huffiness on being called on it.

              1. Kesnit*

                I never said it was PD offices in general. If you read it that way, that is not what I meant. In fact, I specifically said “the office where I work.”

    6. geek5508*

      1) Ditch the attitude of “because I am a man in my 40’s” – that is not going to go over well

      2) “There is no opportunity for advancement in my current position”

      1. Kesnit*

        I wasn’t going to use the “I’m a man in my 40s” argument. That’s why I asked for other ways to put it, which people have give me.

    7. PollyQ*

      No, there’s no good way to say that, but you have the great reason that you’d prefer to be prosecuting rather than defending.

    8. Dragon*

      I knew of someone who started out in criminal defense, then became a prosecutor because he wanted to do something for the victims of crime.

      Many years and the Internet later, I looked him up on a whim and learned he was back on the defense side. Wish I could find out what got him to move back.

  53. Very anon for this*

    Our company is going through the most horrendous restructure at the moment. Fortunately I’m part of a union, and have a great team performing essential tasks so we’ve escaped relatively unscathed. It’s a long, slow process, and I’m seeing the company hemorrhaging old hands and experience with their treatment of their employees.

    I have no power, beyond advocating as much as possible for my own team (which I have done). My line manager is heavily involved in the making-people-redundant side of the restructure so isn’t much help. But I’ve tried to be a sympathetic ear to my colleagues, some of whom are quitting after years in the business, some of whom are in the unenviable position of interviewing for what is essentially their current job (though legally speaking it has to be done this way). Does anyone have any practical advice about what more I could be doing to support my colleagues through this miserable time?

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

      I’ve been through this and I suspect will be going through something similar again soon. There’s no way to make this a good experience. All I can ask of my manager during this kind of hell is that s/he not try to put a happy face on it. Never utter the phrase “things happen for a reason” or “blessing in disguise.” If the people getting the boot, or fighting for their jobs, or finding out they now report to their nemesis want to paste a happy face on it, fine. But don’t do it for them.

      1. Very anon for this*

        Thanks, this is the second time I’ve been through this and as you say, there’s no way to make it pleasant. Hope yours goes better than ours seems to have.

      1. Very anon for this*

        I hadn’t thought of that, thanks – probably not, but I can certainly offer.

  54. Minimal Pear*

    Question about raises!
    My boss surprised me by bringing up a raise, when I hadn’t done any research yet on what I should get. She said that she could easily give me a raise of $x without needing to think about it, check the budget, get anyone else’s input, analyze my job duties, etc. I could have a raise of $x right away, and I almost said yes because by my standards that’s a HUGE raise. I managed to rein myself in and ask for time to do some research. After doing that research, a raise of $x would put me on the high end of the range for my job title. However, I want to ask for a little more. My job title doesn’t quite describe my job duties (a whole separate conversation we’ve started to have) and I would argue I’m doing some higher-level tasks. There are also a few other things going on that make me think I could justify a higher raise. (Let’s call that $y–it’s about 1.5*$x.) I also just want more practice negotiating this kind of thing.
    My worry is that I will look out of touch/naive if I ask for $y instead of $x. This is because my boss emphasized how quick and easy it is to give me a raise of $x, but she said that she would have to think more about it if I wanted more. Will asking for a higher raise make me look like I don’t understand professional norms? I don’t think there would be much blowback; I’m just worried about looking silly.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Pitch as you would any other business decision.

      “Boss, after consideration, $Y, not $X would be commensurate with my work. I realize $Y requires more justification, but I think this past year I’ve demonstrated higher performance/taken on complex tasks than this position requires. [Cue description of the work you took on, accomplishments, costs savings, etc.]” Give Boss the information she needs to justify the higher amount. Don’t forget market research! See what other people doing similar work/roles are making. Good luck!

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, market research puts me around $x or maybe right in between $x and $y but again, that’s going off my actual title, which doesn’t quite match up with what I’m really doing.

        1. Mockingjay*

          It’s a blend of all things. You’re making market for standard tasks, but deserve $Y because of Special Extra Tasks. Do these extras qualify you for the next level, or a different lateral title? Those might be helpful for your Boss, because a title change could put you into a higher payband that is easier for her to justify the raise.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            We had a separate conversation about the title thing, and that’s also going to happen at some point in the future, but the raise is happening, like, as soon as possible so we don’t have to backdate too many paychecks. But yeah it’s a combo of them giving me some tasks kinda outside of the scope of what you’d assume my job to be, and a couple of other important factors. Also I can make a mild equity argument related to one of those factors. Thanks a lot for the wording upthread! I’ll probably use a more casual version since this is a very casual workplace but the framing is great.

        2. BRR*

          It sounds to me that you should use market research based on your duties then instead of title. “Based on a, b, and c I think $y would be appropriate compensation for my duties.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            Yeah, I was thinking that, but I wasn’t sure what to look at! I have a number of duties I do in different departments that are, like, project work with a lot of room for me to manage it on my own, but I’m not actually the project manager. I don’t know what to call that when I’m looking it up.

  55. Princess Deviant*

    This might just be a case of ‘practice makes perfect’, but how do you switch off when you’re on holiday from work?
    I’m in the UK. My leave entitlement is great (6 weeks), my employers are good (I don’t get contacted on my break), a reduction in work load is always planned for the time people are away so they don’t have to come back to a mountain of work.
    And yet, it takes me days to switch off! I’m not in work today and have another week off.
    I work from home, and I’m not going anywhere, which I think might contribute to the feeling of not being ‘off’ even when I am.
    been checking my emails last night and today, and cursing myself for doing it! I can’t seem to wind down until a few days in and then the holiday is almost over. What do you do to make a clear cut between vacation/rest and work?

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      I think I’m reading that you experience some work creep when you’re not on leave, so I wonder if taking a hard look at how well you structure your work-life balance normally might help.
      Some ideas that might or might not help, depending on your situation:
      -Can you pack away all your work things into an out-of-sight place?
      -Do you ordinarily check email from a device you use for personal interests (like a personal tablet or phone)? If yes, first – do you have to continue doing that, or can you fully remove the email app from your phone? If not, can you remove it when you begin your vacation and re-install it when you’re back at work?
      -I’m reading your message to mean that you’re off but on a staycation – if I have that right, maybe you could (next time, I guess) schedule something really fun and exciting to do right away, so you’re more absorbed into the vacation?
      -Maybe bringing some mindfulness into the urge to check your email. Like, before you check the email, can you pause to say “What am I worried will happen if I don’t check my email?” And then ask yourself how likely that is to happen, what will happen if that occurs and you don’t know about it, etc.
      -I was recently off sick, and I work in an environment where when you’re off, you’re off. Still, because it wasn’t a planned absence and I wasn’t doing anything fun, I checked my email sometimes just out of…boredom? I NEVER check my email on my phone when I am working. So, I’m bringing that up to say – is some of the email checking more of a scrolling-addiction thing? Is it the same urge as the urge to check Facebook when you just did?

    2. ecnaseener*

      Redirect your attention. Trying NOT to think about something never works, you have to actively try to think about something else. I put on a podcast whenever I catch myself thinking about work (anytime outside of work hours, not just on vacation!) I live alone, so adjust as needed if you’re hanging out with family and can’t just play podcasts at random times :)

    3. researcher too*

      I pretend I’m on vacation at a resort with really crappy room cleaning service. Really: I make my days not look like “regular” days, even if I’m at home. If I surf, I do it at a different time/place, but I really try to limit my time on the computer. So what would I do if I were travelling with no internet? Well, I’d read books, go for walks, window shopping. Maybe this is a fancy cooking holiday? Ok, then library, recipes, shopping and cooking. So, really try to make your days not like regular work days or weekends. Make an effort to do really different things. It does take effort, however, but just change up your life so it looks and feels different for that time. And, if you’re checking emails because you’re feeling a bit lonely … that may be something to address as well.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Yeah this makes a lot of sense, especially the bit about being lonely. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I can use this week to plan stuff I would like to do to meet new people. I had actually researched some social activities before, but covid hit, everything closed down, and I never got back into it. Thank you for the advice and for the reminder :-)

    4. DistantAudacity*

      In my personal experience, it usually takes a few days to stop. I’ll occasionally check my email on my phone the first few days, but then I start doing the other things that I have planned, and then it will taper off. And I will not start the checking again until I’m going back.

      So, as others have said, tidy away all work things to make it a hassle to check, accept that you might look on your phone and answer simple things (or redirect others) anyway, and go out and do things during work hours!

  56. Policy Review*

    What do your lateness/callout policies look like?
    I’m on a management team that’s reviewing and possibly revising our policy, and I’m interested to know what some other policies look like. How do you define late? How do you handle situations where employees can’t leave immediately when their shift ends? (I’m not talking about minutes, not hours.) Do you have different rules for exempt and non-exempt employees? Managerial and non-managerial? Do you practice hours rounding? Do you charge PTO for lateness, and do you accrue PTO for staying past shift time?
    We are customer-facing, so there are service points that need to be staffed and tasks that must be completed before we can open (cash drawer reconciliation, mainly), so I’m particularly interested in policies at other environments where you do have to have people at certain places at certain times. We are also a county government department (think parks and rec, department of aging, libraries, etc), and non-managers are union. The union contract does not address tardiness or attendance.
    I’ve looked up FLSA and our state laws, just curious about what other kinds of policies are out there in other, similar environments. TIA!

    1. Mid*

      The positions I’ve been that needed strict coverage and were run well intentionally had overlap in shifts, so people could leave on time, and also had start of shift around 30 minutes before opening, so if someone was slightly late, they could still complete opening duties on time. The time clock rounded to the nearest 15, so if you were less than 7 minutes late, it wasn’t really late, which was nice because it gave people a little breathing room for Life Happening without impacting anyone else. We were union, so we got overtime pay instead of PTO, because everyone voted for more money instead of PTO.

      1. Mid*

        Also everyone was hourly and non-exempt. Call outs were supposed to be 48 hours notice (lol) but that policy was unrealistic and unenforceable. The union would fight write-ups for that. If you have too many last minute call outs, you were scheduled less or for less desirable shifts, and had to start providing notes to support your absence (I think it was if you had more than 12 in a 6 month period?)

        1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

          Thanks! Did lateness and callouts count the same, or separately? Was there a penalty for tardiness (if it was more than 7 minutes)?

    2. Observer*

      One thing to keep in mind – the minute someone’s arrival affects people’s ability to leave and / or to start providing service, you can’t be more or less strict based on exempt / non- exempt or managerial / non-managerial.

      The suggestion to have shift overlap and start time that has some slack built in is very good.

      For non-exempt staff, rounding to the nearest 15 minutes is good – as long as it goes BOTH ways, not just to the employer’s advantage, is fine. Also, docking pay for the missing time (and ONLY the missing time – you are not allowed to dock more than – eg a multiple as a fine) tends to work pretty well with most people.

  57. ImInSpace*

    I am leaving my current job of 4 years and I am terrified. The new job is different from my current one, but I have some experience doing the tasks.
    I started searching for a new opportunity due to management. I was so unhappy, I was only sleeping for maybe 5 hours each night.
    But I am still terrified of switching jobs after 4 years. How do I cope with these thoughts please? I have an appointment with a therapist but it’s a month away.

    1. Macaroni Penguin*

      Are you terrified of the differences you’ll encounter at new job?
      If so, tell yourself that different CAN be better. And remember that it’s normal to feel uneasy during times of change.

      How’s your breathing? Is it shallow and tense? Are your feet and hands clenched? If so, get up and move, do a fun exercise. Being mindful of your body can help reduce anxiety.

    2. Damien "#1 Son of Hell" LaVey*

      *It sounds counterintuitive, but scheduled worry time! When a worry comes up, make a note to focus on it at 5:00 (or whenever you’ve decided your worry time will be) and move on. Then after your worry time, go do something distracting, ideally something physical.

      *Make a list of specific worries, along with worst case scenarios, what you might do if the worst case scenario happened, and what bad- but-survivable scenario is more likely (e.g., “I’m fired and have to go live under a bridge and all my former friends laugh and throw rocks at me” vs. “I make a mistake and my boss is annoyed and things are awkward for a week”).

      *Try to find time for something that reminds you that you’re more than your job, like a hobby, a conversation with a friend, or a walk in nature.

      Good luck! This is a rough place to be, but the only way out is through. Here’s hoping the change is overall positive!

    3. Pisces*

      ImInSpace, you’ll be fine. Since you got the new job, your new employer is confident you can do the tasks and will get up to full speed quickly enough.

      I hope to do the same eventually. I know how to do Task X, but because of how my current employer operates I’ve lost some of my depth during 10+ years there. It’s like the AAM commenter whose field expected everyone to be hands-on skilled in Task Y. However, the commenter wasn’t because at her current employer, doing Task Y was assigned to a specific team.

      I hope to find a place that isn’t so small or so understaffed, that Task X isn’t make-or-break.

    4. GlazedDonut*

      I think it’s very normal to be scared when making a change! All kinds of changes come in life: family changes, moving, friendship changes. All of these can be unnerving, especially the longer the prior relationship.
      I’m glad you’ve made plans to talk to a therapist.
      I can’t offer much else expect to share that I am not-quite-but-almost terrified any time I change a job. Last year I left a place I’d worked for six years (in the profession for ten) for a VERY different position where I’d have to learn How to Work all over again. In a few weeks I’ll be changing to a new job at current company. It’s all scary—the unknown is very scary!—but I usually get through it by reminding myself why I’ve left: bad bosses, toxic workplaces, disengagement, overqualified & bored, underpaid…it helps me get through the “OMG I can’t believe I agreed to do this” moments.

  58. Llama Wrangler*

    My last day at my job is coming up soon, and while our head of HR has mentioned an exit interview, he hasn’t actually scheduled one. I let him know that my schedule was booking up, and gave him some availabilities, but he hasn’t responded (this is on par for how he’s operated my whole time at the company).

    Should I push for this to happen? I do need to set up COBRA, and make sure I’ll get paid out for my vacation, but outside of that I don’t know if there’s anything I need to actually do in the meeting?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      AFAIK, an “exit interview” is to talk about what went wrong and what went right in the role, with the idea that people who are leaving might be more candid about problems. You don’t need that, you just need to get the paperwork done, which doesn’t require a meeting. I would contact the head of HR with specific questions “I need to set up COBRA, how do we make sure that happens” instead of waiting for an exit interview that may or may not happen.

  59. ecnaseener*

    TLDR: When interviewing entry-level candidates (particularly those just out of school) and giving them a short exercise — have you figured out a way to convince them that you really mean it when you say “there’s no right or wrong answer, we want to hear you talk through the problem” ?

    For a bit of context, the task is not something they’ll have done before, they didn’t study for this job specifically (they’re not computer science majors doing a coding test or anything like that).

    The task is reading a short excerpt of regulatory text and a short example scenario, and assessing whether the scenario meets the criteria described in the regulation. So it is a yes/no question being posed, but A) there’s not enough info in the scenario to make a determination and B) the regulation is pretty dense — anybody would have questions.

    My introductory spiel includes “We’re not looking for one specific right answer here, or for you to perfectly understand this regulation the first time you’re seeing it. We want you to talk through your thought process and tell us what questions you have — we’ll answer your questions — and tell us what details you’re looking at to assess the scenario.” I reiterate that once more in the spiel, and the written instructions ask “do you need to ask any follow-up questions?”

    Some candidates do fine at naming what information is missing in the scenario, but not one has taken me up on the offer to answer their questions! I’m not just trying to put them at ease with that offer, I’m trying to get a sense of what they’d be like in training, how teachable they are, how willing they are to ask for help, etc.

    Is this just an inevitable part of hiring new grads, that they’re used to tests and need to un-learn that mindset at work? Or is there something else I could say that would convince them?
    Or, option 3, should I plant something more blatantly confusing/inconsistent/jargon-y in the exercise?

    (We’re done with interviews for the current opening — fingers crossed — so I can make changes for the future without worrying about unequal comparisons within a group of candidates.)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I might cut out the first part of the spiel and just say “We want you to talk through your thought process and tell us what questions you have — we’ll answer your questions — and tell us what details you’re looking at to assess the scenario.”

      Additionally, can you change the written question from “does the scenario meets the criteria described in the regulation?” to “what information do you need to determine if the scenario meets the criteria described in the regulation?”

      I think that despite your spoken instructions, a written question looking for a yes/no answer is likely tripping up the interviewees. Especially for people in or just out of the college environment who are thinking “interview = test, test = no asking questions.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s an excellent suggestion to change the written question. It puts the emphasis on the process of determining compliance vs the answer of whether a situation complies.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Can you say “we expect that you will have questions about what you have read” or “we want you to ask questions about what you’ve read,” rather than just saying “if you happen to have a question, sure we’ll answer it.” I think new grads are still in school mode where they expect that questions make them sound dumb or like they don’t know what they’re doing. Whereas in the work world, questions are typically a sign of engagement and that you want a deeper understanding.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I like the “we expect that you will have questions about what you have read” wording, and then you can also ask “what questions do you have?” after they’ve read the document.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I thought I was saying that LOL, but maybe putting it before “talk through your thought process” instead of after would help?

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I think there’s a difference between “if you have a question” and “you should have questions” that feels… tricksy to a new grad. As someone above said, they are used to test-mode where no questions are allowed, and perhaps asking one ranks them lower in your eyes. You have to make it super duper explicitly clear that you *want* questions and that asking questions is a *good thing* in this exercise.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Agreed, which is why I don’t say anything about “if” they have questions…I say “We want you to […] tell us what questions you have.”

            1. Not a Real Giraffe*

              Sorry, I was just paraphrasing. I still think there’s a nuanced difference between what you’re saying already and explicitly outlining that you expect questions and that questions are a good thing.

    3. CheeryO*

      That’s a pretty intimidating question for a new grad, to be honest. Is there another way to go about it that might feel less like a test? I’m in a highly regulatory environment, and we ask candidates about their familiarity and comfort level with regulations, and we also ask for situational examples of times when they worked on something outside of their area of expertise, times when they had to make a decision with limited information, etc. It gets at the same information, I think. We’ve been pretty successful in hiring folks who are teachable and good at asking questions.

      I definitely wouldn’t intentionally plant something confusing. That feels pretty unfair, unless you’re going to give them a significant amount of time to mull it over.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I mean, it is a test. Relying on behavioral questions alone, without trying to see if they have a knack for this type of work, has not always served us well. Part of the purpose of the exercise is to see if they’re teachable, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to see if they have a certain level of reading comprehension and critical thinking.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Reframe it as a ‘typical’ scenario reading with open discussion, rather than an exercise/test with Q&A. You are looking for critical thinking, but the task description seems to box interviewees into Pass/Fail mode. I think you need a more fluid discussion. Use evaluation points as prompts in the conversation to assess comprehension, then you’ll have data points to compare candidates (if you need that kind of metric).

          Make it similar to what you’d do with colleagues – identify the need/problem, discuss review points, determine actions to obtain or clarify info.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Could you rephrase the question to say “what questions would you ask to see if this scenario meets the criteria?” rather than “does this meet the criteria?” Like rather than doing the whole thing as one question, go more step by step. “I’m going to read you/have you read a short excerpt of regulatory text and then pose a scenario. I then want you to ask some questions, whatever you think you need to know, which we will answer and explain how you would go about assessing the situation.”

    5. Pisces*

      Could you ask each candidate for their interpretation of the scenario, and how they reached it? IOW, what is your view of the scenario.

      This reminds me of a court case involving a 5-year contract between 2 companies. Wish I could remember it better, but it hinged on the meaning of something like “within 5 years” vs. “in 5 years.”

      Anyway, one company was trying to get out of the contract early. The court interpreted the contract in their favor, but I was on the other company’s side.

    6. Nightengale*

      It’s not an interview situation but I work with medical students who are definitely in the “right answer” mindset. When I talk them through clinical scenarios, I give a little information and then say “what else do you want to know?” or “what would you do next?” I think this helps make it clear I recognize they are working from incomplete information and need to get more.

  60. DeepAnon*

    I applied for a job at a company where a former colleague works and a few weeks later got an email from the person doing the hiring asking for my availability for an initial interview. I responded with a couple of different times I’m available every day and offered to rearrange my schedule with a little notice if those time slots didn’t work for their calendar.

    Crickets. It’s been a couple of weeks and the time frame mentioned in the email has passed.
    I’ve been ghosted and can move on now, yes?

    1. ImInSpace*

      I recently had a similar experience, I was scheduling an interview with HR via email and crickets. A week later they emailed me back apologising that my email was caught in the ‘spam’ folder and they arranged an interview for the next day.

      I think you can email them again with something along the lines if they received your previously etc.

  61. Niniel*

    Does this job exist without starting my own business?

    – Fully remote
    – 20 hrs/week
    – Design work that isn’t graphic design or tech or UX
    – $50k+ salary

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t know enough about the industry to give you a yes/no answer, but do these jobs exist?

      – Fully remote
      – 40 hrs/week
      – Design work that isn’t graphic design or tech or UX
      – $100k+ salary

      If they do, you might be able to find what you’re looking for. If they don’t, your chances do not look good.

      1. Niniel*

        Touche. I don’t know if they do but they might! I am burned out and wish I could do what I love in half the time, while maintaining my current lifestyle.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      What kind of design work are you talking about? Graphic design/tech/UX is a huge chunk of that field. Are you talking about non-functional industrial design? Flower pots, furniture, soft goods, auto interiors?

      1. Niniel*

        Landscape-related design specifically. I just want to maintain my current lifestyle and cut back on hours, but I don’t think that would be possible.

        1. Ranon*

          I’d bet if you looked you could find a 32 hr/ week fully remote if you’re willing to look nation wide at large multi discipline firms, don’t know what pay would look like though. If you’re in the 10+ years experience bracket, maybe, less than that you probably have less negotiating power. Not sure if landscape hiring is as hot as other AE positions either

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Your answers are going to be extremely field dependent. But your 50k salary seem high. 50k around here would be full time (40+ hrs/week work).

    4. Lebkin*

      My employer has a position that meets almost all your criteria:
      -Fully Remote
      -20 hrs/week
      -Architectural millwork design

      The pay would likely be half your number ($25k), as 50k is full-time position pay in this part of Arkansas. Location highly influences income obviously, so you may do better with a company in a higher cost-of-living area.

  62. Luna123*

    I posted last week about how I was surprised to learn that not supposed to be accruing vacation time. This week my boss recalculated my sick and vacaction time (because the payroll company screwed up everyone’s sick time) and now I suddenly have 80 hours less of vacation time. And the assistant emailed the new timesheet with a smile. :|

    I waited a few days to calm down and sent a friendly email to my boss asking to chat about this, hopefully we can compromise and I can keep the vacation time they “erroneously” gave me. I feel like if *I* thought I was accruing vacation and the *person who did paytroll* thought I was accruing vacation time, I should be able to keep what they gave me and it should not retroactively get yanked away.

    I have a meeting with a recruiter this afternoon so hopefully I can just move on soon.

      1. Dasein9*

        Good luck with the recruiter!

        That utterly stinks, and frankly it sounded like your company adjusted your hours to avoid your getting vacation time.

  63. Asking for friend*

    Asking for a friend. Recently someone (they don’t know who) took down the only gay coworkers pride sign and replaced it with trump stickers. Would this fall under a hostile work environment or is it simply harassment?

    1. Maggie*

      It definitely doesn’t meet the legal standard for a hostile workplace but I would still report it to HR.

    2. River Otter*

      Is sexual orientation a protected category? I genuinely cannot remember – I believe it is because it falls under gender protections. That is the question you have to answer to know if it falls into hostile workplace territory. It seems pretty clear to me that The sign was targeted for being a manifestation of membership in a minority. I just don’t know whether that particular minority has EEOC protection or not.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        It depends on the state, unfortunately. Individual companies may have policies against it as well.

      2. Raboot*

        As of 2020, it is explicitly defined as being part of the sex-based discrimination umbrella. There were multiple relevant supreme court cases resolved around the same time.

    3. Toodie*

      I think it depends on some nit-picky details? Like, taking down the sign of the only gay coworker and replacing it with stickers seems more directed at that co-worker, but taking down the only pride sign is still icky, but not as directed? And I don’t know how that rolls into the legal definitions.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      I hate that this happened, and they should definitely let HR know it happened—they’ll be better equipped to address it appropriately with all the details available. Slightly tangential but relevant for the full picture: what happened to the Pride sign? Is there cause for a complaint based on theft, vandalism, or destruction of property?

      1. Asking for a Friend*

        Unsure, since what I’ve put above is all I know about the situation, but I believe the pride sign is long gone.

    5. PollyQ*

      IANAL, nor any kind of expert, but it probably isn’t yet hostile work environment, since that usually needs to be “severe and pervasive,” so one instance doesn’t generally meet that standard . It is ABSOLUTELY worthy of going to HR about, assuming you have a company that’s generally reasonable and supportive.

      1. Observer*

        since that usually needs to be “severe and pervasive,”

        Actually, that’s incorrect. The standard id “severe or pervasive”.

  64. Bunny Girl*

    Does anyone have any good tips to get through a job you can’t stand? I am a later in life student so I am 30 and in my senior year. I graduate in exactly 274 days. My job is miserable. It’s way below my skill level, my boss is an insane micromanager, and while I have a couple really great coworkers, most of them are awful. I am kind of stuck in my job because I don’t want to get another job for 6 months just to start job searching again. But I am miserable every single day. Any advice? The most that’s helped is pretending I’m in a David Attenborough nature documentary observing these freaks.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Countdowns! Just crossing off a day each day helps. When I was on crutches for 2 months my friends made a paper chain with jokes on each chain so I could break a chain a day. 200 might be too many days for that, but a page a day calendar or something would work.

      Bad Boss Bingo – make a mental or on your phone bingo card (make sure no one has access to it) with things they do that annoy you. Give yourself a $ threshhold for getting bingo as a reward.

      Disconnect at the end of the day – don’t bring all the negativity home with you. Make a ritual like Mr. Rogers changing sweaters and shoes for marking the transition between work/home.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        A friend once told me a tip where you make a bingo card (physical or mental) of commonly occurring annoyances.

    2. Moo*

      I’ve had a post-it that says “just get through today” in front of me for awhile… it sometimes helps!

  65. DisneyChannelThis*

    Low stakes question regarding timesheets. I’m from a background with clocking in/clocking out. New job is salaried with no time clock. I generally track my own hours, if I take a longer lunch or come in late (<15min), I just stay longer that day. I don't have a direct supervisor and am unclear who to ask. PTO has to be approved in advanced so it doesn't work for short (<60min) increments. Is this normal? Am I just overthinking this?

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      As near as I can tell from reading this site and talking to people in other industries, there’s absolutely no such thing as “normal” when it comes to these questions. In my industry, you work every minute you are scheduled or you take PTO, exempt or not. Others I’ve talked to are appalled by this and say that’s not what exempt means. I really don’t think there’s a normal, so it’s hard to say if you’re overthinking. I’m sure you would appreciate clarity, though! Do you have HR and/or fiscal services? I’d ask them, or whoever would approve the PTO.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        By normal, I mean more should I keep just doing this or do I need to go ask Big Big Boss if this is acceptable. HR for the company exists but not onsite, could cold email them about it but like HR@company.domain account, not a personal contact there yet.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Oh, I think if anything you’re doing more than you need to in making up those <15-minute increments. If you aren't sure whether being 10 minutes late is acceptable, that's a fair question for a coworker ("do we have a hard start at 9:00 sharp or is it generally fine to be a few minutes late?")

    2. Maggie*

      That’s normal and you don’t need to track your hours unless you’re told to. Idk why you’d need PTO for under 60 minute increments?

    3. My heart is a fish*

      You are way overthinking this.

      Salaried means the hours don’t matter (much) so long as the work gets done and you show up for the things you need to show up for. 15 minutes here or there, as long as you aren’t missing an important meeting, are nothing at all. You don’t need to assiduously make up every piddly little delay.

  66. Radish Queen*

    I need help managing downtime at my job. My manager is aware than I have periods where I am not fully busy. For example, I am leading projects that require input from multiple department managers, and need to schedule meetings with the group. Because they are all much more busier than me, these meetings are often scheduled 2-3 weeks apart so that they can all attend. However, my actions are complete within 4-5 days. Even with multiple projects, I am left with some days during the week with little work to complete. My manager is aware that these projects could pick up, and in talking with the other member of my team, he has confirmed that sometimes there are very slow periods sometimes in this role. I have tried reading e-books related to my field, but I have no further training I can think to complete. And even reading gets boring after 1-2 hrs in my day. These slow days have me feeling listless and take a toll on my mental health. I have volunteered for some activities (ex: filing in for part of a role while they hired a new person) and my manager will take note, but have not been selected. On my one-on-ones, I talk about my slow periods, but not my mental health (that seems too personal). Any ideas?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      That’s a good time to reflect on how things went & compile lessons-learned from completed projects. Also a good time to work on processes and procedures.

  67. LeftAcademia*

    Chaotic hierarchy

    After I left Academia, I have landed in a tiny research department of a software company. My boss and colleagues are great. I was able to work from home part-time while supervising a toddler. The job is challenging and almost indistinguishable from real academia, although I work less hours, do not teach and avoid burnout. :) And I love it.

    But I feel desoriented.
    We only have official one-on-ones once a year . I did not receive any official performance review in the last 18 months (the time I work here)
    I have no official classification of my status – junior, midi, senior
    We have no official promotion plan
    We have no official targets

    My work tasks keep increasing in complexity to a point where I suspect I am a senior with an imposter syndrome. My starting salary was junior, after six months I got a 30 percent raise (after mentioning that I deserve more than a junior based on the tasks). I suspect that my boss is happy with my performance.

    Any advice?

    1. researcher too*

      I work in a startup-going big company. That set up is typical. My company is mid-ish-sized (1000 people). And some departments have clear paths to promotion, but researchers don’t – I’m also a researcher. They essentially keep us all at the same level. Sometimes you can get “promoted” or managerial experience if the project you’re on gets legs and you need more bodies. But, that’s about it. Just: enjoy the research.

      1. LeftAcademia*

        Thank you. Now I don’t feel so alone.
        Our company was initially start-up and now has about 100 employeers.
        The research department Discipline A (mine) is only 3 years old. The friendly research department Discipline B is there since the beginning. At the moment I am doing most of the “research” in our tiny group A of 4 persons – grant proposal writing, paper writing, supervision of theses + trickier research projects. I am strongly supported by Boss A, Boss B and a co-worker from B.

    2. CallTheBagelShop*

      This advice is applicable for any job, but I found success in proactively confirming my job description with my supervisor, and also asking for performance check-ins every quarter (cadence is up to you two). For each check-in, I would remind my supervisor that it’s coming up, then send them my self-review draft several days before our meeting, with the explicit expectation that my supervisor would have time to review my draft, form their own comments, and that we would discuss in the meeting. Same suggestion for job description – draw up a draft and share with your supervisor to confirm their thoughts. Hope this helps!

  68. Caffeine Woman*

    This is my first job out of college, and I’ve been here for just under a year. I got some feedback last week at work that I’m really struggling with and I want someone else’s take on it.

    I was talking with my boss about maybe taking time off, and he said that GrandBoss had mentioned offhand a couple of months ago that “he’d like to see a little more effort” from me, and my boss has been sort of… pushing me accordingly. However, my boss assured me that I’m doing fine, and if I were doing poorly, he’d tell me.

    Here’s the thing – I feel like I’ve been putting in so much effort. In addition to client work, I’ve done my own research projects, one of which has led to publication. I’ve made mistakes, but fewer as time goes by, and I haven’t missed any deadlines that I’m aware of. And now I’m like… is that not enough? What am I doing wrong?

    Now, GrandBoss doesn’t work closely with me very often, but he does have access to my timesheets. I bill by the hour, and (as I’ve since learned) I have a tendency to underbill. So that may be part of it?

    I’m new to the working world, and this is weighing on me pretty heavily. How do I a) do better and b) stop freaking out about this?

    1. Koli*

      Yeah I mean, from a grandboss who doesn’t have viz into your work, to me it sounds like they want you to bill more hours. Are you billing 160/month?

    2. Purple Cat*

      Yup, I would absolutely assume that the underbilling is the reason, as grandboss probably doesn’t *really* know what your actual workproduct is. Work on that, but then focus on what your direct boss is telling you.

      1. Caffeine Woman*

        Follow up question: Do I proactively mention that I’m changing my approach to billing, or wait and see if it comes up?

        1. The New Wanderer*

          TBH I would just start billing with the new approach and not mention it ahead of time. It should be obvious to the grandboss that you’re now billing more, and they’ll assume it was due to their or your boss’ encouragement to do “more.” Think of it as now that you know the metric the GB cares about, you’ll be getting the proper credit for the hard work you’ve been doing all along.

  69. Popinki(she/her)*

    Inspired by the first letter in this morning’s post (experienced professional wanting to know how to shut down someone who assumed they had no experience and was belittling them about it) does anyone have any good stories about shutting down someone like that?

    In the late 80s, my sister did an internship at a local TV station and worked with their big-name reporter on a very high-profile crime. It was a whole series of articles over weeks and dominated the news at the time. People still talk about it.

    10 years later I was working at a department store with an older woman who was the world’s biggest one-upper. Whatever you did, suffered, had etc. either she or her daughter had had it worse, suffered more, did it better, etc. The daughter also had a pet cause that dominated her life. A worthy cause, but it was an obsession with her to the point where she neglected everything else in her life including her family.

    She did a brief TV interview about her cause with the same reporter and of course my coworker was in full gush about how much time they’d spent talking, how well they got along, how she just knew they were going to be the bestest friends of all time.

    I’d had it up to here (holds hand over head) with Wonder Daughter and her All-Consuming Obsession and her soul bond with the reporter so I very cheerfully cut in with “Yeah, he’s a great guy. My sister did an internship with that station in college and worked with Reporter on the Watchamacallit case!” It was the only time I ever saw her speechless. It was great.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I was presenting on a topic to an audience that included a senior colleague who liked to call people out or put them on the spot if she felt they were more junior (classic kiss-up, kick-down personality). The environment was otherwise collegial so this behavior stuck out. I had even been cautioned before the meeting that this colleague might try to catch me out.

      But when it happened, it was a total non-event. I started explaining how we would apply a particular method, when she broke in to ask me to explain the method in very basic terms. The way her question was phrased, it wasn’t “hey I’m not sure everyone here knows about Method,” it very much sounded like she was skeptical of this method and wanted to know more. So I happily explained it *to her* like I was teaching Method 101, having completely missed the undertones of “do you even know what you’re talking about” in her question. She kinda snapped that *she* knew about this method but stopped short of finishing her thought that she assumed I didn’t. After a pause I just continued on and she didn’t say another word.

  70. Amber Rose*

    Low stakes question: There is a window behind me, and the reflection off my computer screen is driving me up the wall. For various reason, I can’t actually move my computer anywhere to avoid the glare. Can anyone recommend a screen cover or something?

    I have two screens and the other one is fine because it’s matte rather than shiny so nothing reflects. But the shiny one isn’t just a screen it’s the whole computer, so I can’t ask to swap it out. :(

    1. Dust Bunny*

      How about a window film? There are a bunch that are applied with soapy water so they’re not permanent and don’t involve messy adhesives.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        You could even get some of those things that people stick up in car windows to provide shade to infant seats. Put it up when the sun rolls around to be a problem, take it down at the end of the day.

      2. Girasol*

        We use this at home with a couple windows that glare on our home computers. The stuff’s easy to put up and peels off clean. Look up “window film” in Amazon for lots of choices.

      3. allathian*

        Mmm, I’m not sure even modern flat screens are fans of actual water. I recommend a privacy screen that also limits the angle of view. They’re common on laptops but also available for bigger screens.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I forget what they’re called but they make antiglare screen covers for computers. We used to use them to prevent kids cheating off eachother in computer labs, they make the screen private to any view that isn’t straight on.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Does your monitor tilt? If it does, that may help if the glare isn’t too ridiculous.

  71. Monica Gellar*

    We made a job offer to a contractor last week, the project he is working on is wrapping up this week and now I am having second thoughts.
    While reviewing, there are a number of mistakes. When discussing with him it has become clear he does not understand enough about what he is doing to pick out his mistakes. Current project is complex but very repetitive and the majority of the mistakes are in the repetitive tasks. The role he was offered has much more complexity and variety day to day.
    In addition the role is hybrid and during the interview stage we emphasized, but continues to make comments around the role being remote. Three others on the team senior to him trade off being onsite but the expectation is that the most junior person will be onsite will take on this responsibility. I have clarified this with him as he has randomly decided to work from home without notifying anyone on the team.
    During negotiations he asked for a higher salary than anyone else on the team who are senior to him. I am growing increasingly concerned that he lacks the self awareness to accurately assess performance.
    Given the job market would it be a mistake to extend the contract an extra couple of weeks to assess?

    1. Dancing Otter*

      I second your second thoughts. It’s really unfortunate the performance issues weren’t recognized earlier.
      Has the job offer been accepted, or is it still being negotiated? Has a start date been set? Delay, delay, delay! If he balks at extending the contract, can you sweeten the contract with a slightly higher rate, somewhere between his current rate and what he’ll be making in the new job?
      Tell him flat out what days he needs to be on-site. If he doesn’t show up, that’s that: rescind the job offer.
      Ask him how he plans to reduce his errors. Perhaps a checklist? The point is to emphasize that this is a genuine issue which must improve before he can be hired.

    2. Tabby Baltimore*

      Yes, it would, and I think you know this already. You have plenty evidence that this guy is just not listening to what you are telling him, or he IS hearing it, but is not taking you seriously. Either way, it means he should leave. Given that the job market is supposed to be a good one for job seekers right now, you’ll be doing everyone a favor by letting him go ASAP.

  72. This Old House*

    How do parents handle the last few weeks of the school year? I am so completely burnt out, but it’s all I can do to get enough time off work to handle the half days, the Olympic days, the field trips, the orientations, the evaluations, the concerts, etc. (And WHY does the afterschool program end before the last week of half days instead of expanding to cover all the extra hours of childcare parents need that week?!) I have a bunch of comp time built up from working overtime recently, but it’s all going to watching kids and running kid errands and I can’t get a minute to myself to breathe or recover. I’m taking this afternoon off because my kid has a half day, but that just means my work doesn’t get done and I have to finish it this weekend, so I don’t actually get any time off, do I? I have my parents babysitting next week, so I don’t have to miss work, but if I do manage to find the time to take an afternoon off, of course that means I need to relieve my parents, not get a haircut or read a book.

    I know I have it so much better than so many people, who can’t take the time off work or don’t have childcare available, but I still feel like I’m drowning.

    1. Elle*

      It sucks. No way around it. I like this time of year slightly better to the end of August when camp is over and school doesn’t start for three weeks.

    2. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      I want to give advice, but the reality is…it blows, and there’s no way I can suggest anything you haven’t already thought of. Hugs, sympathetic glances, warm thoughts (choose your favorite) from an internet stranger in the same boat. (Also, my child’s county is ending school 2 hours earlier starting next year! Wow! How fun! No trouble for parents AT ALL!)

      1. Claire*

        I don’t want to completely derail, but if you have time I’d love to hear about how that decision went down. Did you get a lot of notice? Was there community pushback? My area has a lot of budget struggles and I’ve seen other areas go to shorter school day or 4 day week to save money.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I have it pretty easy compared to most parents too, but I still feel like I’m drowning trying to manage 40 hours of work, after school sports, band, and end of year stuff this month. Today is their last school day, which is a half-day. Fortunately I have the afternoon off, but I just know I’m going to get a rebound tension headache tonight from All The Things I’ve had to track, think about, plan for, have guilt over putting off, have guilt over feeling overwhelmed…

      It’s just a lot. I’d say be kind to yourself as best you can, you’re not alone, and eventually things will ease up.

  73. Granger Chase*

    I was recently contacted by a recruiter about a job that would start as something I have experience in (say teapot painting) and eventually expand into duties in other areas (no specifics given), as this position “wears many hats”. Is this phrase never a red flag? In my experience working in roles that “wear many hats” you are one person juggling the workload of your full time job plus 3-5 part time positions.

    The only reason I’m considering reaching out for an interview is that it is right by where I live, so potentially taking my commute down to 15-20 minutes from 1-1.5 hours each way now (due to construction, but it was formerly about 30-45 minutes each way). The recruiter also said they regularly promote from within and that there are a lot of opportunities for growth, which my current role doesn’t offer.

    Does anyone have good suggestions for questions to ask about the job duties and day to day schedule that would get the most honest answer? I have been misled in the past, and with this being an external recruiter I’m not sure what level of insight they would really have. Or is this one just not worth considering?

    1. Minimal Pear*

      I’ve been in a couple of jobs (nonprofits) where it wasn’t necessarily a red flag–it meant that I had a lot of varied duties that were for different departments, but my overall workload was the equivalent of one job. I was just doing a lot of very different stuff!

    2. MsM*

      I’m not sure you have anything to lose by candidly asking what they mean by ‘wears many hats’ or ‘opportunities for growth’ to see whether they hire and backfill positions appropriately versus just tacking new responsibilities on to your job description.

  74. Dust Bunny*

    Archives employee venting: I’m working on rehousing a bunch of material donated by a local auxiliary group (raises money and supplies for nursing students, which is great) and OMG they keep everything. They not only keep information on who donates and how much they give, they keep the checks and credit card information. Even worse, they copied the checks and CC forms to make them easier to staple to the solicitation and thank you letters (copies of which they also keep) but they didn’t black out the account numbers first. I can’t just black them out because theoretically the ink might show through–I would have to black them out and then Xerox them again, wasting an enormous amount of paper.

    Even better, the material was donated by multiple committee members so it’s almost certainly intensely redundant, but the stuff that doesn’t need to be restricted is probably not even valuable enough to merit the time it would take to go through the whole thing and cross-check.

    I have 20 file boxes of gigantic overstuffed 3-ring binders and I have to go through each one and remove the payment information so that the rest of it can be used for research; if we leave it in, we’ll have to restrict pretty much the whole collection. I also suspect they’re going to be peeved when they find out we messed with their “system”, even though we had to and it was information that nobody could justifiably need, anyway.

    Y’all, please curate your records.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        . . . this isn’t even a big collection.

        It might, however, prove to be the only collection in history that takes up less space when converted to half-size boxes (which are actually less than half the size of a full file box) since we’re getting rid of the binders and some of the unnecessary paper.

    1. AnonyAnon*

      Hahaha, I work in a state archives. We don’t even curate our own records, lol. There was vacancies and promotions in my unit the last year, resulting in office moves. I refused to move offices again until they were cleaned out, it took me four years to clean out my old office. So I ended up cleaning out the whole unit. Files went back to the 1980s, including a ton of personnel/applications info. Soooo much shredding.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Thank goodness, we’re focused on one specific discipline, but we also have to mind our shelf space so we have to be selective. Piles of extra blank invitations from 2003 aren’t going to make the cut.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Good grief!! Thanks for protecting the payment info tho on behlaf of all the hundreds of people you’re saving from being vulnerable to fraud.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I once opened a day planner that had belonged to a Famous Surgeon and found his social security number written on the first page.

        We did not keep that page.

        1. pancakes*

          Oh wow. I have a friend from high school who grew up living in what was the only house on her secluded, woodsy street, and occasionally her family would leave town for the weekend without even locking the doors. Even she wouldn’t have done that!

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I doubt this was ever out of the hands of either the surgeon or his secretary, and he’s been dead for a few years now, but still.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      OH THANK GOODNESS. I just opened a binder from about ten years ago (newer than the rest so far) and they cut out some of the account numbers and blacked out most of the rest.

      They didn’t recopy the blacked out ones so I still have to tear those out, and they didn’t excise their own account numbers (into which donations were deposited), but at least they started to get a clue.

  75. cici*

    I founded a mutual aid group in July 2020 but stepped back from the operations completely in January 2022. How should I reflect this on my LinkedIn? The group still operates but I am no longer affiliated. Thanks!

    1. ecnaseener*

      I might be missing part of your question, but wouldn’t you list it just like any other job? Mutual Aid Name, Founder[/Director], July 2020-Jan 2022, with a past-tense blurb about your work.

      1. cici*

        I guess I was confused because since I’m always going to be the Founder and as long as the organization exists, I should keep it current? Maybe I’m overthinking it?

        1. ecnaseener*

          Nah, I think it’s fine. Nobody’s going to think you un-founded the org when you left! If the org doesn’t have its own LinkedIn page, you could include something in the blurb about how they are still going strong.

  76. Kat Maps*

    I’ve commented here previously about often not having enough work to fill my time. Commenters have previously suggested that I do some ‘professional development’ type things with my spare time, to improve on skills. I’ve been doing a lot of that, the problem is, I still have so little work. For example, in a 28 hr work week (I took 1 day off), I had 1 whole hour of work to do. I’ve raised this with my manager – I’ve told him I can take on more tasks, just short of begging for additional things to fill my time, and I’ll often get “you have more projects coming”…but they barely make a dent in my free time.
    I’m finding my work days unstimulating. When I have to be in-office, and my colleagues have a lot to work on, and I feel like I’m just scrolling mindlessly, I feel terrible. I really do like my job (when I have things to do)!! My manager is fantastic, my colleagues are lovely!! I’m just so bored.
    To add an additional layer to this, I’m unionized, so my role can’t really expand much outside of what’s described in my job description, so it’s not like I can help colleagues on their tasks unless we have the same title.
    Can anyone provide any help, insight, or encouragement? Many thanks.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation. It’s so demoralizing to have nothing to do during the work week.

      I wonder how this role ended up with so little work to do. Is it a newly created position, and your manager isn’t sure what work should be assigned to you/how long the work takes so you’ve ended up with very little? Did you replace someone who was so incompetent all of their work got reassigned to others and none of the tasks have made their way back to you yet? Or maybe you replaced someone who did a good job of pretending to be busy all the time and stretched a one hour assignment out for a whole week so your manager thinks you have enough work?

      I don’t have much advice, unfortunately. Maybe figuring out the root cause can point you in the direction of a possible solution.

      1. Kat Maps*

        It is a newly created role, as a matter of fact! Our department ended up with a ton more work during the pandemic, and originally there was 1 person who had this role. They were totally overwhelmed, so they split the job in two — I was hired, and the original person is still in the role, and we do the same general job, but each of us with different additional duties. My colleague is wonderful, and has been a wonderful colleague, but often complains how overworked they still are! Even though our tasks are divided pretty 50/50. I’ve always known I’m a fast worker, but this feels…excessive.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Maybe it’s a combination of you being faster and getting the easier tasks?

          Can you talk to either your colleague or your manager and have some of the tasks reassigned? Even if you end up with a 60/40 or 70/30 split of tasks, both of you will likely be happier when you’re not underworked and your colleague isn’t overworked!

    2. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      I don’t know if this would apply in all industries, but I’m wondering if there’s a way you can spend some of your time researching/attempting to network with peers at other organizations who have the equivalent title. (Do unions facilitate networking? I’ve never been in one so I don’t know a lot about what benefits they offer members.) Maybe this might give you some inspiration of things you could do that are within the realms of the job description.

      1. Kat Maps*

        I really like this idea – thank you! I can see networking opportunities both within our organization as well as with outside organizations. This have given me a lot to think about – thanks!

    3. Kayem*

      I’m in a similar situation. I have yet to find a solution since I have to fill 40 hours with one day’s work. So far, I’ve read Wikipedia entries on random subjects, refreshed some skills by creating a database for my D&D campaign, learned markdown formatting, and organized my Sharpie collection by color. There’s not much professional development available in my role, so I’m going to just keep adding other skills where I can.

      1. Kat Maps*

        Ha, I love that you’ve spent time organizing your Sharpie collection. Perhaps next week I’ll set some time aside to sort through my writing utensils, too.

    4. pancakes*

      Read up on industry white papers and trade press, maybe? And if you really have a lot of time on your hands, keep a file open where you can keep links and notes, and put together a little monthly (or every other month, etc.) newsletter for your office about news and interesting developments?

    5. Girasol*

      This happens. I was one of several people hired for a series of projects that were cancelled. For awhile we had to be present for eight hours a day with maybe two hours of work. Several of us took advantage of the company’s college program and went for masters degrees. It was a bit hectic when work ramped up before I had quite finished the degree but it was manageable. School helped immensely with the boredom, and when we got work, I could apply what I learned well enough that I think the company got their investment in my education back.

  77. birbbird*

    Hey all,

    I want to check opinions on what to do.

    We have a new hire, who is fairly young. She previously worked at a lower level in a different office before we hired her for this role. (Which is to say: A lot of the skills she learned there transfer over one for one, and I know the office so I have faith that they’re doing things the same way we are, with a few exceptions.) In her resume and interview she confirmed that she has been trained and knows how to do A, B, and C.

    However, after observing her work we’ve seen issues with all three. We’ve re-trained her in a few different ways (hands on, observing, us asking her questions and getting answered) and during the training everything looks good, but when she goes off and does it when she’s not being observed things aren’t being done correctly. Due to the way what we do works, there’s no way to monitor what she’s done without directly following behind and observing. This means if she does it incorrectly, our results will be incorrect but we won’t necessarily know that (unless we’ve checked her middle work, which is time sensitive). (I apologize if I’m being oblique, we’re a niche industry and I know many people involved who read this column and want to keep some anonymity).

    Furthermore, she’s disclosed to others at her level that in her previous position she’s taken short cuts or specifically not done things correctly because it makes the work easier.

    On one hand, she’s very young and I want to think the best of people (was she bragging to try to get people to like her? was this just a very weird flex?), but on the other hand those statements to staff (which they’ve told me about) combined with the work issues we’ve seen make it impossible to feel that I can trust her.

    She moved here from elsewhere, and obviously not having a job sucks, but I feel like even if we put her on an improvement plan and she improves….I’m not sure I’d trust it, given everything else. I’m leaning towards advising we get rid of her (which will not be my final decision but my opinion will hold some weight), since she’s still on her probationary period. Am I being unreasonable? Is this something you’d trust her to come back from?

    Thanks for any assistance/advice!

    1. MsM*

      I’d lean toward a very straightforward conversation that makes it clear that whatever shortcuts she may have gotten away with at her old job, that’s not going to work here, and if the issues you’re seeing with her unsupervised work continue, that will result in her being let go sooner rather than later. You don’t have to tell her that other people have directly complained or reported what she told them to you: it sounds like it would be fairly easy to independently come up with that as an explanation for what’s going on, and it’s obviously affecting everyone’s work. If that’s not the wake-up call she needs, then make sure whatever formal improvement plan you give her still falls within the probationary period.

      1. birbbird*

        I think my concern is here if she shapes up for the short term and then goes back to taking shortcuts once she no longer feels as if she’s “under review”.

        The fact that she admitted to taking these short cuts, with the explanation that it made less work for her, to more then one staff member concerns me in regards to her integrity and my ability to trust.

        Which is to say, if I didn’t have the knowledge of her saying those things to other staff I would be treating it just as a recalibration/readjust and avoid shortcuts issue, but because of that knowledge I’m more concerned then I would have been. Which is maybe unfair of me.

    2. Minimal Pear*

      I’ve been a milder form of this and it’s honestly just because I’m a bit impatient and lazy, and also used to doing things right the first time. When I started running into this kind of issue, it was because I didn’t fully understand how serious and important the project I was working on was, and I didn’t realize that there was no way for others to automatically check me in case I made mistakes. I shaped up a lot once my boss sat me down and really explained the full context we were working in, how important it was to not make mistakes, and how I really had to be the one checking my own work. Have you made absolutely sure you’ve had that kind of talk with her?

      1. birbbird*

        This is really helpful context, thank you.

        I am not sure we’ve made absolutely sure of this — I would think it would be evident based on the type of work we do. The tasks she’s doing are the first in a process of several other steps and actively involve trying to minimize outcomes which include death. But it is possible she doesn’t see the connection and/or the other office didn’t emphasize how important *correct* data is in this field.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          I can assure you, it’s very possible to not put those clues together and really realize how important it is! Especially in my case it was because I was a very low-level employee (why they were assigning me this incredibly important work is a whole ‘nother story…) and so I didn’t really see the whole picture, just pieces. I had no real concept of how the piecemeal work I was being given fit into the whole. And a big thing was that I really just assumed that since it was SO important, of COURSE there was going to be someone checking all my work or some kind of automated process!
          And the “used to doing things right the first time” thing that I mentioned was a huge factor–I’m very academically intelligent, and was used to mostly breezing through academic assignments. This was at my first job after college, and the in job I had worked while IN college it was pretty easy to talk my way out of any mistakes/it was a pretty loosey-goosey environment. It’s been a huge adjustment–and I’m still working on it–to slow down and check my work and not assume that I’ll immediately have everything right or good enough the first time.
          A little bit of this whole mentality for me is also that I’m actually a recovering perfectionist who may have recovered a little too far in the other direction. I also have some disabilities that are mostly well-handled but occasionally act up and make me a bit of a space cadet.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            me: ohoho I’m so smart
            also me: “and the in job I had worked”
            (that was meant to be “and in the job I had worked”)

            1. birbbird*

              It’s a good reminder and I’ll definitely add this to the dialogue. I’m not sure that’s what’s happening here but it’s another thing to consider and help with the recalibration.

              I think my mental problem (which I’m working on) is that she admitted to multiple other staff members to taking shortcuts to make her life easier (if you do a short cut here it means less work at a later step, because instead of getting ten things you have to check you get zero or one). So I don’t think it’s “used to doing everything correct the first time”, but might still be less aware of actual consequences. I’ll also say that I started in the position she’s in and it didn’t occur to me to do short cuts there because the check point is actually one of my favorite bits — I still sometimes go back down and help with that when they’re very busy. To be clear, I went to grad school and think I might have had more “real life” experience before I started in the position then she does, although I was only two years older then she is now when I started that position, but it’s possible I’m just not factoring in how little life experience she has and/or the kind of common sense you get from life.

              But again, thank you. I’ll add it to the discussion because I think it’s a good thought (whether or not it turns out to be true.)

              1. LadyByTheLake*

                I agree that pointing out WHY the work is important, what happens down the line and that people’s lives could be at stake is key. She may have thought that the short cut was clever and time saving, not that it was a bad thing. Keep in mind that we once had to explain to a file clerk that the reason it was important to file things in a consistent way was so that we could find the files when we needed them later(!) Sit her down and explain why following all of the steps is critically important.

                1. Minimal Pear*

                  Yes, agreed! I love to save time so to me figuring out shortcuts is kind of The Goal. Nowadays I’m just a lot more careful about making sure they produce the same quality of work.

  78. I want to understand*

    I am extremely introverted, and I work with a small team of people and there are periodic conversations about having a team outing or dinner (I’m on the periphery of the convo because I like going home after work). The employees aren’t fans of management and the employees frequently go out as friends, so I’m trying to understand why they would want to go out as a full team with management who they complain about constantly. I don’t want to go anyway, but if the entire small team was going, I’d probably pop a xanax and get myself there. I’m baffled. It can’t be just for free food, can it? I’m hoping someone who enjoys team outings might be able to help me understand why they are so strongly compelled to do this-??

    1. Maggie*

      We can’t know your specific small teams motivations. Maybe they like management outside of work. I hate working with some people and could rant about their work issues but am their good friend outside of work and like them a lot. Maybe a really nice dinner is on the table, I’d go out with some managers I didn’t like if I was being bought a $300 dinner. It sounds like it’s probably not even happening and you don’t want to go anyway sooooo…. I’m sorry but I still don’t know why people want want that dinner haha.

      1. I want to understand*

        Thank you so much for the reply and humor! Hearing the other perspectives is so helpful. I’ve been told to stop expecting people to “make sense”, but it felt like there must be some kind of motivation (?!) since the topic comes up periodically, so thank you for the help!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Beyond Maggie and Minimal Pear’s answers, a (cynical) reason is that the employees go to team dinners with the managers they complain about in order to look “like a team player” and for the chance to bond/schmooze with their managers.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t think people have to be very cynical to see value in participating in work events. I think it’s probably a mixture of that, and most people not dreading this type of thing even if they aren’t exactly excited about it. I’d probably go if I didn’t have a conflict in my schedule, and assuming there wouldn’t be some sort of workplace bully or tyrant or whatnot going, it wouldn’t be a big deal to me in terms of feeling put out.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I agree. I don’t go out of my way to attend work events, and during our team’s development days in November, I skipped the optional dinner afterwards, because it conflicted with my family’s schedule given that my husband was on his first work trip since March 2020.

      2. I want to understand*

        oh my gosh @Hlao-roo. I can’t believe that never even crossed my mind! Super helpful, thank you!

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      It’s an experience to share as a team. It’s something to talk about at the water cooler. It has been shown to improve morale and strengthen working relationships between team members. It’s something to look forward to instead of endlessly counting down the days till your next day off. It gives everyone a chance to get to know eachother without performance issues or deadlines being the center topic. It gives you a nice photo op for the webpage or acknowledgments slide when they thank the team. It’s frequently a free outing because work will pay. It gives a chance to network and learn about others instead of just talking about the project.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I used to have a manager who I loathed as a manager, but when we went out for a happy hour he was funny and engaging and we became friends of a sort. This sort of outside of work socializing is to get to know people as more rounded people (not just their work persona). I am an introvert, but I’ve always found these kinds of events (as long as they are occasional) very beneficial.

        1. I want to understand*

          That’s really interesting, @LadyByTheLake. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve experienced that with former bosses, too. Hmm. I tend to just go along with things and I’ve been so confused about this, but would never ask the question I’d really want to (but would be totally inappropriate obviously) : Hey Sarah, what’s the deal with wanting to go out everyone as a team – including – who you complain about constantly? don’t you get enough of him every day? do you think it’ll be fun? LOL

        2. pancakes*

          That’s a good point, it can help to see people in a different light sometimes, and/or have a fuller picture of them.

      2. I want to understand*

        OMG @DisneyChannelThis! Your response definitely explains some of what is happening in my situation. I genuinely like and enjoy being with other people, but I don’t care about any of that other than strong working relationships, so you’ve really opened my eyes. Your comment is extremely helpful, thank you so much!

      3. allathian*

        Mmm, it only strengthens working relationships between team members when people already get along reasonably well. If the team spirit is already good, I’ve found that the social events are also more fun than if the team dynamic is a bit strained. Forced fun won’t improve morale or strengthen working relationships in a dysfunctional team. And I absolutely loathe photo ops. A snap or two is fine, but when you’re standing there for twenty minutes trying to get the perfect photo, I run out of patience very quickly, and my cheeks hurt for the rest of the day (I’m grateful that photo ops are literally the only time anyone at work’s told me to smile more). I guess it doesn’t help that I’m comms-adjacent, and there’s a professional photographer on our team, who seems to think that it’s only worth while taking photos of people if you take at least 50…

  79. Impatient Job Hunter*

    Feeling frustrated and looking for advice. I did five interviews with an organization and received nothing but positive feedback. After the last interview, the recruiter emailed and said they’d be in touch within a week. The week came and went, so I followed up, to which the recruiter replied and said they needed a few more days, and that they’d be in touch — at the latest — three days later. That day came and went too, so I followed up and now? Radio silence. Should I follow up again in a few days? Should I take this as a hint and accept the fact that I didn’t get the job? (Part of me wants to consider this a big red flag and move on, but, you know, I really need a job, so easier said than done.)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Personally, I always wait a week after a company says they’ll get back to me before I reach out to them. So if they said “we need a few more days, we’ll be in touch by June 14 at the latest” I would reach out to them on June 21 at the earliest. I know hiring often takes longer than the company (and certainly the candidate) wants it too. So if it has been at least a week since the last “you’ll hear from us by” date, you can follow up with them again.

      As for how to move on, Alison’s advice is to always assume you didn’t get the job and move on immediately. I’ve used this before and found it helpful. Keep submitting your resume and cover letter to job ads. Continue with any phone screens or interviews you have scheduled. Try as best as you can to put this job out of your mind and let it be a pleasant surprise if/when they reach out to you again.

    2. BRR*

      Radio silence and missing “hear by” deadlines is unfortunately so common its not really a red flag and can’t be read as a sign if you’ll get an offer or not.

      I rarely think candidates needs to follow up. If they want to hire you they didn’t forget about you. But as Alison says assume you didn’t get the job and move on mentally.

  80. Ness*

    I would like to improve my organizational skills. They were adequate when I was in a technical role, but now I’m a project manager (a job I was basically thrown into with no training) and I need a better system for managing files, emails, and tasks. Does anyone have any suggestions for trainings/resources to help with this?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      So does your employer have a standard project management tool or tool suite? Something like Jira, Trello, Asana, TargetProcess (even MS Project)? Something that handles the mechanics of documenting tasks, identifying their relationships to other tasks, setting schedules, assigning work, tagging them with progress?

      If they don’t have something along those lines, I would definitely get one. Many products offer a free tier.

      1. Ness*

        We use MS Project, but only for schedules. I can look into whether my organization has anything else available – getting new software approved is super difficult.

        But my issue is less on the overall project tasks, and more on managing my own day-to-day tasks (responding to emails, preparing briefing papers, finalizing meeting notes, etc.), in addition to file management.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Ah, gotcha.
          So what’s worked for me is to treat my day-to-day tasks as if they were project tasks (which, honestly, they actually are).

          When I schedule the meeting for 2 pm to 3pm on Tuesday, I schedule 30 minutes on Wednesday to finalize the notes. Etc.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’ve never found something I liked more than an old fashioned notebook and pens. A physical planner somehow makes my brain use it wayyyy more than any digital calendar. OneNote came close but the lack of export options can’t beat just tossing my notebook in my bag. Likewise physical whiteboard or post it note kanban board style (to do, waiting on someone else, doing, done) work better than Trello for me.

    3. KX*

      I like a combination of MS Planner, PowerAutomate and Flow, and Outlook.

      I’d create a few folders in Outlook that correspond to a few tasks in Planner. Planner is a really good checklist system that lets you create lists and categories and buckets. You can use Flow to automatically create tasks in planner from Outlook email you receive, too.

      You can browse the Microsoft Flow templates (and browse the internet) for ideas but one possible strategy is to create a Flow that triggers when an email is moved to an email folder and adds a new task to a bucket in Planner.

      Flow also can do things like automatically save email attachments to OneDrive, in a folder named for the email sender (without you creating the folder manually).

  81. RFlaum*

    I just want to share with y’all two weird things that coworkers of mine said recently.

    One showed up late to a meeting because she’d been out attending a protest (she got clearance for this ahead of time). After the meeting she told me that she thought the person running the meeting had been rude about her late arrival. I was surprised by this, as Meeting Head didn’t actually seem to react to it at all. Coworker told me that that was the point — she was expecting Meeting Head to stop the normal process of the meeting and ask her about the protest, and that failing to do was an… insult? I guess?

    Another coworker confessed to me that the reason he was always on edge around me is that he’s a big Stephen King fan, and the fact that my initials are R. F. makes him nervous (to be clear, he was perfectly aware that this was irrational).

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      People’s idiosyncrasies are so delightful. Thank you for sharing.

  82. HannahS*

    My partner is considering a job that involves travel (not international, frequency/duration unclear.) Neither of us has ever done anything like that before. What sorts of things should be considered when thinking about accepting that kind of job? If you were the traveling spouse or the not-traveling spouse, what challenges did you face, and how did you address them?

    For added context, I’m a resident physician (i.e. no control over my schedule and I work overnight/weekend call shifts regularly) and we have a child who will be about a year old when the job starts. This job has many potential perks for our family (great for his career, huge pay increase, fully WFH except for the travel) and I’m happy to support it, but I’m also wary about jumping blindly into something that I’m sure has all sorts of complications that we aren’t thinking of. An obvious one is childcare, but I’m sure there are many more that I’m not thinking of.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The #1 question I’d want to know is “how much advance notice of travel is he going to get?”

      Suppose on July 15th his boss says “we’re switching you to the Acme account on August 1. You’ll probably be there for 3 months. For the first month, you’ll fly out to Seattle on Sunday night and back Friday at noon. Then it’ll be one week on and one week off.”

      That’s predictable and manageable. As opposed to getting a call at noon on Sunday telling him to be in Miami first thing Monday morning, and then Chicago for Tuesday afternoon, and then maybe he’ll need to be in New York on Friday but they’re not sure…

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Amen. My husband’s company regularly tells him things like “we need you in Dallas for two of the weeks in June, but we’re not sure yet which ones,” and then for the next month which weeks they want shift about every three days, and then some random Thursday he gets told to book a hotel and plane tickets and such for the following Monday through Friday, and they’ll let him know by Wednesday if he has to stay for a second week. In-flipping-furiating.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The first thing to clear up is frequency/duration, as I imagine “one week four times a year” vs “every Monday” vs “whenever the need arises” are all going to have wildly different impacts on your life.

      In addition to childcare, some things to think about are:
      – household chore breakdown: who does what now, and how will that be affected by travel?
      – social life: are you a couple that always/mostly socializes as a couple? will you be OK socializing by yourself if he is gone for a significant stretch of time (or not socializing during that time)? will he be OK being away from friends for so long/so frequently?

      I haven’t been in this position before, so I’m sure other commenters will have more to say. Just wanted to throw those thoughts out there.

    3. Angstrom*

      House chores: When the traveling partner comes home from a trip, it’s not good to hit them with a list of all the chores they’ve missed. We found that hiring someone to mow the lawn and do other tasks normally done by the traveling partner reduced stress for everyone.

      The stay-at-home partner often feels like they’re holding the fort alone. The travelling partner often feels like they’re letting their partner down. Plan together for how you’ll do things when one of you is gone.

      The non-traveling partner needs to understand that work travel is not a vacation. Visiting different cities, eating out every night, etc. can sound nice. Realistically, it’s a lot of airport-customer-hotel-customer-airport, and often late nights in the hotel trying to keep up with the normal workflow from the office. Very few people return from business trips feeling refreshed and relaxed.

    4. Pop*

      For details about childcare: what is your current childcare setup like? Will it be able to handle the strain from your partner being out of town – ie, is your kid at daycare, but your partner does the pickup because you work 7-7, so you’d have to hire additional childcare to pick your kid up from childcare? Do you have a support system in town (less likely since you’re a resident), who could be on-call when you’re on call? Or would you have to pay someone to be backup childcare for 48 hours when you’re the oncall person? Like, really figure out how that would work.

      And, more importantly re: childcare – who is in charge of arranging childcare? Is it solely you, and so you’d be responsible for taking on all of this extra mental load while your partner is out of the area? It’s a complicated dance, even when you do have support systems set up, so there’s also the whole level of it’s-more-work-to-get-help-to-do-less-work.

    5. Also a Physician*

      I’m also a physician with a husband who travels for work regularly. I always used to say that only one person in a marriage can have a job that’s not 8-5 when you have kids (unless you want to hire a full time nanny). At the beginning, I was the one with overnight and weekend call and he worked 8-5. Then in the middle years, I had a regular office job with no call and he traveled for work a lot. Now he is back to 8-5 and I have a job that requires call again. We have 3 kids, now almost grown. Two people with non-regular hours and kids that need you (or even pets that need you) just doesn’t work very well. Besides child care, there are all the household things like shopping, cooking, house maintenance, chores, and even staying in touch with friends and families. Somehow that all goes out the window for the one who is either on call or traveling. We still have a lot of trouble with our social life and not being available regularly on the weekends for events and things. So it’s pretty isolating.

    6. allathian*

      How huge is the pay increase? Would you be able to pay, say, for a live-in nanny for childcare? Before the age of 2 or so, kids don’t really benefit that much from the company of their peers, they mainly see them as competition for their carers’ attention. Collaborative play isn’t really a thing until they’re about 3 years old.

      How long is your residency going to last? Will your specialization let you only work during the day, or are you training to be, say, an ER physician or neonatal pediatrician who presumably will have to work around the clock even after the residency?

      Before the pandemic, my husband traveled for at least 100 days a year. It worked for us, because my job was basically 9-5 (or rather 8-4) with some flexibility in arrival and departure times, as well as a quarterly period for getting our working hours done. It helps a lot when you don’t have to take PTO for every day that you aren’t working exactly 8 hours or every week that you aren’t working 40 hours. It also helped that my MIL had retired early (on disability after developing debilitating asthma from the dry rot in her office building) before our son was born. She was listed at his daycare as the emergency person to call if neither parent was available for early pickup. She was as a nursing teacher, so I trusted her ability to judge whether he needed immediate medical care, or if it could wait until either mine or my husband’s workday ended naturally (our son had recurring inner-ear infections and had is last set of ear tubes installed when he was 6). When our son went to school, he had after school care until the spring of 3rd grade (he was 9), when he decided that he’d rather be at home alone on the days that his school ended at 2 or later, than socialize with other kids after a long school day (both my husband and I are introverts, so we get this). But we still insisted that he’d go to after-school daycare on the days his school day ended at 12 or 1.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and early independence is valued, and leaving a child at home for a few hours in the afternoon is considered normal. It only counts as child abandonment if you leave kids under 15 home alone overnight. Kids can get their own public transit tickets when they’re 7, which means that they’re allowed to travel without an adult, and most kids manage without any problems. Travel is also safe for them, I haven’t heard of any incidents in the last 10 years at least. The kids who have special needs and can’t take public transit run into more problems, because the cab services here have a reputation of being unreliable. The worst incident I know of involved a non-verbal 10 year old who was abandoned in a strange place by a cab driver (they got fired and charged with child abandonment). Many elementary-age kids also go directly from school to their extracurriculars, and the parents pick them up afterwards.

  83. Chrys*

    Any other field techs here? I’m wondering if what I’m experiencing is normal at my new job. We’re being constantly pushed to work extra days unpaid and go out in unsafe weather conditions. I had asked about safety/weather and how many hours were expected per week in my interviews and the supervisors assured me we’d get two days off/week and not go out in unsafe conditions. Instead every week we’re asked to work 6-7 days with no extra pay and I have to push back hard every time against going out in unsafe conditions. Is this typical?

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Not a field tech but I know some former ones, and my impression is that this is kind of typical but it also shouldn’t be/is generally illegal.

      1. Chrys*

        Yeah I’m kind of disappointed. They do pay us if we can’t work due to weather so maybe it all kind of shakes out in the end. I was thinking about a career change but I probably won’t pursue this.

    2. Alex*

      Working 7 days isn’t typical in most jobs–of course there are different expectations depending on the role and the field. Also, are you an exempt worker? There are strict rules about who can be classified as exempt, so make sure you are classified correctly. Non-exempt workers cannot be expected to work hours for which they are not paid–that’s illegal! And they also need to pay you overtime.

      As for the unsafe weather, I think that is often pretty typical. How often is the weather unsafe in your area? I would expect no more than 3-4 days a year in the typical year that would be such bad weather you wouldn’t be expected at work. If it is more than that, it might just be “this is the weather in this area” and everyone is expected to deal. (I’m thinking of the different thresholds of snowfall for closing everything in, say, North Carolina vs. Minnesota…)

      1. Chrys*

        I was hoping to hear from people with field tech experience. I’m conducting wildlife surveys in remote areas (think uninhabited treeless islands) so for example it is not safe or practical to work during thunderstorms. It wasn’t a question about winter commuting.

        1. WellRed*

          Alex is pointing out that definitions of unsafe weather can vary wildly whether it’s for commuting or otherwise. Does the new job not have set guidelines or are they open to interpretation by the boss which can be a problem.

        2. Pine Lily*

          A lot of the time it depends on the seasonal window you have. You may not be able to get into the field four days our of seven due to weather conditions, but if the window of time to collect the data is only May through August and you have 8 days in a row of good weather, it’s not that uncommon to work them straight through, if that period is accordance with the survey parameters. All depends on the norms for your agency though and how the pay rate/ contracted hours is structured as well.

          1. Pine Lily*

            Apologies, you were asking if it’s normal for your agency to require you to volunteer unpaid to make up for the bad weather. Unless your in a position similar to an Americorps internship, this is NOT normal. The exception would be if your employer will flex you off PAID time in later pay periods to compensate. I’ve been in this situation many times. I’m not sure of the legality of this though, and it gets sketchy if your boss doesn’t back you up in the event of an audit from payroll.

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Most field techs are hourly paid positions, so if you’re working 7 days per week you should be getting paid for those hours. Some field tech roles also get paid for mileage or travel time.

      Otherwise it’s fairly normal because you have to go when equipment needs fixing, bad weather or no.
      My hubs used to fix medical equipment at hospitals during the height of Covid. Dangerous but needed.

  84. Moo*

    Looking for people’s take on “behavioural” tests as part of recruitment. I’m in the fortunate position having a job offer I really want. I’ve been looking for some time and now another interview has come up. I decided to go ahead with it until I formally had the contract in hand for the other one (I have been burned before) and the new interview asked me to do a psychometric test as well as the interview. I haven’t done anything like this in years, so I thought it was a good opportunity to do one.

    Well I cannot get over the test. It was a series of words and you had to pick one that was most you at work and one that was least. The words had no context and were seemingly unrelated to each other. I fail to see how anyone would learn anything about me at all in this test, but maybe I’m way off. Anyone have any insight into what they’re looking for here?

    1. ecnaseener*

      The idea is that if you answer enough of them, there’ll be a pattern. Even though the words are unrelated, if they have you pick between [another synonym for “hardworking”] and [another unrelated word] 50 times, and you pick the hardworking one only 15 times, then you’re not particularly hardworking.

      I don’t know if any of the ones used for hiring are scientifically validated, and regardless they’re pretty dumb because people aren’t inclined to tell the truth when a job is on the line.

      1. BalanceofThemis*

        A lot of retail places use this as part of the application, but I’ve seen applications for other jobs use them as well. They are not scientifically validated at all. I see them as a massive red flag.

      2. Moo*

        There were about 25 questions and many were words that could mean different things in different contexts.

        I’m presuming this is a service offered by the recruiter. I may ask for my test “results” when it’s all over. As I said I’m lucky that it probably won’t matter either way!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah with only 25 questions I’m certain it’s bunk – not enough statistical power for what they’re trying to do.

  85. Guava*

    I’m a first time supervisor in a newly created section in our company. This is an internal promotion and a few people I’m looking to move to my team will be given offers soon. This move would be internal promotions for them as well.

    The final salaries need to approved by the VP, but HR reached out to me directly to tell me what they there going to approach the VP with. (All details are fake and just pretend the math works out) HR told me they want to increase each person’s salary 15%. Bob would be offered 75K (a nice increase for him that I think is fair for the position). Anna has been with the company longer and already makes $74K, so a 15% raise would put her at 85K.
    I didn’t dwell on it, but did briefly think – that’s a big difference between the two for doing the same job and Anna’s salary would be higher than some of the supervisors at the company for a non supervisory position. I consulted with a long time supervisor who in a nutshell said Anna’s salary for the role would be too high and would recommend 80K.

    Some additional things must have happened behind the scenes because the VP was notified that HR recommended Bob be offered $75K and Anna be offered $78K although HR recommended 85K, but could we meet in the middle for Anna (81.5)? HR said my input was welcome.

    I have strong reason to believe the HR person would (at some point) tell Anna what went down with her salary. I’m on the periphery of this, but I feel like if I don’t “fight” for Anna to get 85K, it’ll come out and bite me. I do think 81.5K is a fair compromise. Is that all I need to say?