open thread – June 24-25, 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.

{ 987 comments… read them below }

  1. Betty*

    I’m thinking about applying to another role at my current company. Should I reach out to a coworker who is in that department to find out some basic information first or should I bring it up with my manager first? What should I even say to my coworker to say I’m interested in it?

    I’ve been with the company over 2 years, and had asked my former manager and my former grand-boss what I need to do to get promoted to the next level (think Llama Groomer to Senior Llmam Groomer) and neither of them could give me an answer! Anyway, both of them quit so I’ve had a new manager for only a month. I was going to ask him about a promotion plan, but he’s still so new and frankly I’m exhausted from trying to get answers on this. 

    And if I reach out to the coworker in that department first, how do I bring this up to my manager? I’m actually out on vacation next week and then next Monday we’re off for the 4th, so my next 1:1 with him is in a few weeks. Is it gross to give him a heads up via chat message that I’m applying?

    1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Since this is such a new manager do you have to tell them you’re applying? Some companies require it, but if yours doesn’t, I would not mention doing an informational with someone from the other team since you’re just asking for now.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      First tell your coworker, “I’m interested in apply for the [role] in your department. What can you tell me about it?”

      Ask your coworker first because you’re not applying yet you’re just gathering information.

      I do think you should give your boss a heads up before/once you apply so he’s not blindsided by it. So if you apply before your next one-on-one, give him a heads up via chat. Remember you’re not quiting yet. You’re only applying, but given it’s the same company he’s likely to find out so should be aware of it. I don’t think there’s any need to do it in person/by voice instead of message if you normally communicate via message.

      You should not assume that you deciding to apply is a done deal.

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        I agree that you shouldnt say anything to your manager until you know you are going to apply/have applied. For the coworker I wouldn’t even say that you are interested in applying, incase that got back to your manager. I would say “Hey I’m interested in X department. Can you tell me about Y roll” you could even leave off the info about the roll, but if your talking with someone who has had or currently has that roll you could leave it on.

      2. lb*

        I think this makes a lot of sense. You can even frame the conversation as “this was something I had raised to Bob & Jill before they left,” so he knows this is an ongoing desire, not anger at him being your manager.

      3. Kes*

        I would even say, “I’m thinking about applying” to the coworker to be safe so as not to fully commit yourself. But otherwise agreed – talk to the coworker first to get more of a feel for the position, then let your manager know you’re applying for this position since they may need to approve it.

    3. JSPA*

      “I was wondering about [relevant detail of the Department or job” doesn’t commit you to telling anyone anything. You could be asking for your cousin, you could be comparing pay scale vs duties to argue for a raise, you could be wondering whom you are likely to end up working with, if there’s an internal candidate who’s a shoe-in. This isn’t “talk to your manager” time.

    4. Betty*

      Last night I was debating on if I should ask him first on a promotion plan, then bring up the other position, but I’m sick of my current team and am burned out.

      1. sybill*

        Give your manager face to face notice when you are definitely ready to apply. It is the professional thing to do.

        You still may learn things that keep you from applying, and you don’t want to risk being blocked from moving somehow if you give notice too early.

        If you want to talk to your boss about further advancement I would frame it as a professional development plan rather than a promotion plan. Frame it as “what skills can I work on if I wish to advance in my career?” versus “how do I get promoted”.

    5. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I agree with those who said to talk to the coworker and wait on telling your boss till you actually apply.

      Say to your new manager, I’m planning to throw my hat in the ring for x job. I don’t know yet how you like to handle things like that so I wanted to let you know right away.

    6. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      How we normally handle it here is that the intended applicant would reach out to the hiring manager for an informational and then, if they decided to proceed with applying, they would inform their manager. Now, many of them do reach out to friends or people they’ve worked with a lot who are in the department to get a feel for the position and the group before meeting with the hiring manager. Go head and reach out to the coworker. If you like what you hear, reach out to the hiring manager for an informational. If you decide to proceed, prepare your application, give your manager a heads up, and submit it.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, for all OP knows, he’ll hear something that makes him completely lose interest in this particular position. But even if so, a similar situation might arise later. If you have a contact in the team/department you think you’re interested in, by all means ask about it.

  2. Roger Smith*

    Have you ever gotten snarky with coworkers who ignore your emails? Every time I send out emails to V-level management (2 people), they don’t respond, and then ask me about the same stuff later on so I have to do a bunch of repeating. Frankly I’m SICK of it.

    With the way our company is set up, the V-management people are the correct people who need to be on these emails. While they are busy, this is absolutely part of their job and they certainly have time to at least acknowledge the emails.

    Instead of the next recap I send out, I’m tempted to email them and say “are either of you reading these emails? I haven’t heard any acknowledgement, comments or feedback on everything I’m working on.”

    1. TaraGreen*

      I think something like “per my previous email” and then just jump into new information would carry the same message but in a more subtle way.

        1. New Mom*

          Could you do something like…
          Email Title: Response Requested

          Hi Jane and Fergus,

          I wanted to confirm that my emails are getting to you and not going into your spam. I have not received a response on [example email 1], [example email 2] and [example email 3] which are all time sensitive and can’t move forward without your input/response.

          If these are getting to you but getting clogged with your other emails, I can start putting [URGENT RESPONSE REQUESTED] in my email titles moving forward for ones that require a timely response for project continuity.

          Please let me know.

          Roger Smith

    2. CatCat*

      I think it depends on your relationship to them in the hierarchy.

      If you are under them in the hierarchy, well, sometimes this is just how it goes. They don’t have time to digest everything so you may end up repeating things.

      If they are peer levels, you can try to re-direct them back to the email: “That’s all detailed in the email I sent on Friday. Let me resend it so you have it at the top of your inbox.”

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      What’s worse is when they ignore all your emails and messages for them to review items, but then they jump in last minute to make changes and throw wrenches in that derail the project or cost lots of money. And act like they’d never seen/heard of it before!

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Or worse, claim you never shared the info…when they were literally in the in-person meeting when we discussed the info and decisions.

        And no one else, including their manager, is willing to point out how wrong they are. Sigh.

      2. Meep*

        I had a manager who would claim she read them and that they were very good, but never bother to actually follow through giving the final product to the client. That was maddening as I had no interaction with the client so of course, I got thrown under the bus for not completing it despite verbal and written confirmation she read them. (She didn’t btw, but still)

    4. Anna Badger*

      the more collaborative sounding version might be “is there a better way to get you this information?”

      it might also be worth looking at the structure of your emails. in my experience one of the things that happens to even very intelligent people when they hit a certain level of seniority is that to all intents and purposes they lose the ability to absorb information.

      I try as far as possible never to send an email anyone over director level that is longer than could fit on a post-it note, particularly if I need them to do something as a result of the email. if length can’t be avoided, I stick a post-it note length summary of what I need them to do at the top, and bullet point the rest. this works most of the time (and I have a significantly higher success rate than many of my colleagues who write longer emails. )

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        I agree. It may also help to put “Response needed” in the subject line. As Anna Badger said, keep it simple and to the point. Bullet points as opposed to long paragraphs may help.

        1. Roger Smith*

          Yep! Bullets and super easy to read with the current tests, findings, next steps laid out. They just don’t care.

          1. Mr. Cajun2core*

            WOW! I am assuming the “current tests, findings, next steps laid out” are all necessary. That does sound like a lot of info. If that is all necessary, I am sorry, that sounds pretty rough. I would then go with what others said and confront them and ask them “What is the best way to get this information from you?”

          2. Anna Badger*

            damn, that’s gotta be frustrating. one thing I’d say is that if you’re right that the reason they’re non responsive is that they don’t care -which you’re much better placed to assess than we are – then snarking is not going to make them care.

          3. Anonymous Koala*

            That sounds really tough, but I think snarking is going to make it worse – ime snark almost never makes people more cooperative.
            Could you set up a standing meeting instead and get the information you need from them in person? Even 15 minutes of 1:1 time can be more effective than 10 well written info-packed emails.

      2. Kes*

        Agree with this.
        I hear that you’re frustrated, but the fact is if they’re above you may not be able to force them to do their jobs in the way you want them to. As tempting as it is, snark is unlikely to help and likely to hurt the situation. The one thing that may be worth doing is raising this as an issue either with them or with your manager, but without the snark, just – I’m struggling a bit to get the answers I need, is there a better way to do this

    5. Amy*

      That can so frustrating! This may not be possible with your hierarchy but have you tried exploring if they have another preferred method of communication? Ask them (in person or via a phone call) “Hey Bob, I’ve noticed you don’t always respond to my emails. Your inbox must be swamped! Would it be better for me to meet with you and Sarah every 2 weeks for quick updates and questions? Or is there another way you’d like to communicate?”

    6. ecnaseener*

      I usually try something like “just checking to make sure you saw/received this!” rather than accusing them of not reading it.

    7. Smithy*

      For emails to senior staff that require their input/feedback/answers and where they are notorious for non-replies – I’ll try the “per my previous email”, and then switch to setting a 30 min recap or update meeting.

      It allows me to use the language of “I know you’re busy and likely have endless emails to get through – maybe this approach is quicker”. For me it’s offered two results. One, for people who hate meetings, it highlights that there’s work they really do need to be providing for me and are not doing it in an appropriate timeline. But the more likely result has actually been that they say this is a better way to get through important information. And it’s helped me keep positive relationships with these people.

      In the one case where the person flaked on emails and ghosted on the meetings – it also made for very easy action points with my boss. Aka – I am waiting on senior person for this, here are my attempts, here is the result.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, this is the approach I would take. If emails updates aren’t going to work, then reoccurring meeting it is. You could try asking what would work better for them as emails don’t seem to work, but I’d just change tactics without asking personally as yeah you’ll get some response :)

        1. Smithy*

          Roger mention’s that these people don’t have EA’s, and I find that people at the highest level of seniority pre-EA’s are the most likely to not get to all of their emails. It’s that tipping point of having the high level of both individual contributor level of work, management and admin without having a human being assigned to making sure you’re organized.

          I know that it’s not fun, but hopefully that helps put some context on why emails get lost and meetings can just expedite information gathering. Or at least flag to someone that they’re heavily dropping a ball.

    8. Esmeralda*

      Do they have executive assistants? Maybe talk with them about how to get important info in front of the V level folks.

      1. Roger Smith*

        Nope! They have to do everything themselves….so they are the current people I need to email.

        1. nona*

          But, do they have EAs? The EAs may have info on how to get the VP’s attention to do the work that only the VP can do. I don’t think the suggestion is that the EA do it instead.

          1. Fran Fine*

            I think Roger Smith is saying the V-level folks don’t have Executive Assistants and that’s why Roger’s emailing them directly instead.

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

      Do they have assistants? V-level folks rarely read their own emails IME, so if you aren’t already, definitely start adding or updating their assistants. But also, if they aren’t responding to emails and asking you instead for a verbal update in a meeting, do yourself a favor and stop sending the emails if you can. Print up a hardcopy memo and hand it to them while you give them the verbal update.

    10. Asenath*

      Inside my head, yes, I’ve gotten very snarky. Mostly I don’t let it show, especially because me being annoyed isn’t going to do a thing to impress on others – particularly more senior others – that they should change their ways. My priorities are not theirs, and vice versa. When I’m calm enough not to be openly snarky, I might respond to a request to re-send or repeat information with something like “These emails don’t seem to be reaching you. Is there some other method you would like to use to get the information?” And I tell myself that my job is getting out the information, not to control how they react (or don’t react) to it. I do my end of it as well as I can, and make sure that the inevitable repetitions are as easy as possible for me.

      1. Meep*

        About a year ago, I ended up screenshotting and highlighting exactly where the answer lay to one coworker in my three-sentence response. She was incapable of asking for help and could no longer demand it, so her solution was to act like a 3 yo and ask the same question repeatedly in an email chain with our boss cc’d. Not my proudest moment and it definitely pissed her off, but by then I was over it. I completely agree that politeness is required. You don’t want to embarrass them or they will make it more difficult.

    11. CheesePlease*

      Not snarky but direct. “I’ve sent you emails about X but it seems they get lost in your busy inbox – is there a better way to communicate about X so we don’t fall behind?”

    12. I should really pick a name*

      Are they the type where a lack of response means “it’s good”?
      I’d ask them that directly.
      Maybe see if they’d be open to “If I don’t hear anything by X day, I’ll assume it’s good to go and move forward”.

    13. My Useless 2 Cents*

      A little passive aggressive I admit but I have been known to just forward the original email with the info to fellow co-workers. Basically indicating “it was included in this email if you bothered to look”. But I wouldn’t necessarily do that to higher-ups… although, I have done something similar (as more of a CYA) where I forward the original but re-summarize the info at the top.

      1. Ina Lummick*

        When I worked in customer service, and I got asked a silly question…I’d just blatantly copy/paste from further back in the email thread, without qualifying that I’ve already said it.

    14. JSPA*

      You can try varying the subject line; making the emails shorter; or holding the email in draft Form until they ask for a summary.

      But frankly if they would rather hear it orally rather than read the email… if they mostly use the email so as to have a referable searchable record … If they don’t want to use their brains to hold onto that information when they have many other things to follow and track…that is their prerogative!

      If you don’t want to answer to a boss, cater to their particular ways of doing business, and serve as their backup brain, the only answer is self employment.

      1. Roger Smith*

        They frankly don’t remember when they are told orally. I used to tell them 1x/week during a meeting we had, but it goes in 1 ear and out the other

    15. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      In these cases, I’d want to act as if I assume that they’ve received the info, can’t remember the details, and have lost the email. So:
      1. Respond to them by including the original email in the thread.
      2. Amend the subject line with “response needed” or “update” or whatever
      3. Provide a 1-2 sentence highlight/update and then a “see key info in red” and then color code what they really have to look at.

      This reduces the repeating, lets you update info if something has changed, provides a place where you could ask for whatever you need from them, and locks together the whole conversation about the topic for reference.

      1. Roger Smith*

        lol yep! I color code what they need to see. Even skimming the email would take 1 minute.

    16. Having to live with the reality*

      Some good suggestions from commenters. We had this in one company where the C suite all make 5 to 10 times our salary. From a purely financial standpoint their time was way more valuable than mine. Emails not replied to, for info I needed to do my job. I had to swivel methods – different for each exec. Walked around everywhere (everywhere- bathroom, coffee room, out the main doors) with a notebook with bullet point questions to ask quick questions when I ran into exec. Popped in my head, for quick questions for those that were open to that.
      Was it demoralizing and entitled for the C suite to act this way? Yes. But they were running a whole company with stresses & deadlines of their own. Was it ever going to change? No. Did I want to exude snarky attitude? No. Had to learn to live with the reality and do the best I could.

    17. Hairy HR Guy*

      I’ll weigh in as someone who is a part of a V-level management team. I can’t speak to your particular team, or really any other team but ours. For us, we find ourselves in many, many meetings everyday, and with many, many e-mails. Do we want to respond promptly, even with a “heard your question but it will take time to respond”? Hell yes!! But we may not be able to do so right away, or have so many e-mails/im’s/phone calls that we may not be able to respond as promptly as we want to. Sometimes we need the time to review/think about the information/questions being asked. Honestly, we’re human too and make mistakes, miss following up on things, etc…

      A lot of the responders are spot on – working with the V-level on how best they’d like information, letting them know important timelines, etc… Again, don’t know your organizations culture, but for me – I’m really not trying to be a jerk, and as much as I’d like to think I’m balancing things properly… there are undoubtedly times I’m not.

    18. Six Degrees of Separation*

      I do a couple things: Read receipt & mark as important with a subject line has AR: [date], aka response needed by [date].

      I also keep it short, very short, like the poster who said to keep it Post-It size. I find bullets work well, too.

      The very first line I usually write, ” I will be sending this on [date] to Llama Manager. Please reply if changes are needed.” And…then I send if I don’t hear anything. It’s worked out well so far.

    19. River Otter*

      Snark is less a way to communicate information and more a way to make the recipient feel a certain way. It almost never works, and can backfire with significant consequences when directed upward.

      I think you should talk to the individuals directly and take a tone of, hey, I noticed I have to repeat information, and I’m not sure my emails are getting through. Is there a better way to do these pass downs?

      1. Roger Smith*

        Snark is less a way to communicate information and more a way to make the recipient feel a certain way.

        lol yep!

    20. Hiring Mgr*

      Do you have Slack or similar at your company? I’ll use it for just that purpose sometimes..

    21. WantonSeedStitch*

      The fact that they don’t acknowledge them is a PITA, but it’s less of a PITA than the fact that they don’t read or absorb them. I’d deal with the latter first. If you’re able to get them to read and absorb the info, then you can generally trust that things are OK even if they don’t acknowledge them. Brief format, bullet points, and action items up top in bold are good techniques.

    22. Manchmal*

      Reading through the suggestions already given, and your responses (that you’ve tried it, or wouldn’t work, etc) I think it might be best for your own headspace just to accept that these are busy people who need things repeated to them. I’m assuming that they’re not blaming you for any delay, or claiming that you didn’t tell them something that you did tell them. But if it’s just a matter of repetition, what if you just accepted that as part of your job? (I totally understand why it’s annoying!)

      I’ve also seen Alison suggest this approach: during your next 1:1 with one of these people, just name the situation and ask them if your methods of communication are working ok for them, or if they’d like you do something differently. If they say, no this is just the gig, at least then you know!

    23. Jean*

      Snark is not advised, but you would not be out of line to ask them if they’re receiving and reviewing the regular updates you’re already sending. Just be sure to keep your tone information seeking/neutral when asking.

    24. Pisces*

      If the VPs’ input is necessary for Roger Smith to get his job done, then they need to accept that responsibility and be responsive to him. If certain things Roger needs can be moved from the VPs’ plates to someone else’s, maybe they should be to keep Roger from being held up unnecessarily. And to ease the VPs’ workloads.

      More things than anyone could ever count get lost in email, because the recipients don’t inform others who need to know but weren’t included on the original message. And you can’t expect everyone to copy your assistant/other team members on everything, because [you think] you’re too busy to do it yourself.

    25. P*

      I’ve recently been swamped with emails and as you suspect they may be too perhaps take another look at what you’re sending. Is it minutiae that you can reasonably be expected to handle by yourself? Are your emails too wordy? Start them with the equivalent of a tldr and the add the evidence in the later paragraphs. You may find cutting back on unnecessary content means they pay more attention to what you do send.

    26. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sounds like it might help to set up a shared location for reports&status so they can reference when needed.
      Microsoft Teams channels, OneDrive, your company’s project management system (Jira?), or even a server folder of project report PDFs.
      Then your email can be short & sweet…and you don’t have to search your email either when he inevitably asks for a recap.

  3. Rapunzel’s Flower*

    A recent post mentioned someone in the position of archivist and/or records manager. I’d never heard of this job before but a brief Google search has intrigued me. Is anyone in these positions who can elaborate on what they do, and what kind of degree/certification/experience they need for this position?

    1. Loopy*

      I was an archivist as my first career. You need a MLIS degree (Master of Library Science) at least last I knew (I left the field in 2015). My day to day knowledge is probably a bit stale but I enjoyed it and only left because I was early enough in my career that I was on grant funded projects and when the last grant ended I didn’t want to move again to try and find a more permanent position.

    2. Excel Jedi*

      Not me, but both my archivist friends have MLS (Master’s of Library Science) degrees with archival concentrations. One used to work in a corporate research library, and the other works in a public library system mostly helping patrons with genealogy projects.

      I hope others with more direct experience can elaborate! I’d love to hear more as well.

    3. MagnusArchivist*

      Hi! I’m putting off doing something mindless & boring (bulk file renaming), so here we go.

      What archivists do day to day depends (har har, fellow archivists) on their title, the library/institution they work for, and the kinds of historical materials they work with. But broadly speaking the core function of archives is taking donations or gifts of a lot of materials all at once — records from an organization, a person, a family — and then physically rearranging them to put them into an order that will make it easy for historians and researchers to find things. We then write up a description of new arrangement and make that available to researchers so they can ask for specific boxes or folders.

      There’s A LOT of supplementary and related things we do (like digitization, reference requests, cataloging, basic conservation tasks, digital repository management, coding/scripting, rehousing, environment control, pest management, etc etc). I’m a digital archivist so I don’t actually do the above process with physical materials, but that pipeline of appraisal (do we want it?) –> donation (go get it!) –> collection (let’s arrange it!) –> description (let’s describe it!) –> researcher access (use it!) is the same for digital materials as well.

      I actually have two masters degrees — one in English and one in Library and Information Science (with an archives concentration). I’m working toward my SAA DAS cert (specialization for digital archivists) and I’m a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists (but I’ve also got a rant prepared about how the ACA is a worthless cash grab in most situations).

      THAT SAID, I spent the first years of my career (after 2 years of grad school during which I worked full time in another field) in part time and temporary jobs, and I’m in a big city with a lot of libraries, museums, and archives. I wouldn’t have been able to get to a stable place in my career without a partner who could support me those first few years. It’s a huge problem.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I have worked at two academic libraries and have volunteered for the archivist at the historical society in town.
        I only want to add to what MagnusArchivist said that all these things each take a very very long time:
        “digitization, reference requests, cataloging, basic conservation tasks, digital repository management, coding/scripting, rehousing, environment control, pest management”

        The historical society had multiple volunteers digitizing and recording basic metadata for a medium-sized collection of photos. No conservation, no planning for the collection, no finding aid, etc. Just scan, enter the data in the software. It took many months and many hours of volunteer’s time.

        1. MagnusArchivist*

          Yup. I once clocked digitizing a single photo (retrieving it from the stacks, digitizing it, editing the image, creating/researching metadata, and putting image + data online, returning boxes to the stacks, updating tracking documents/systems) to about 90 minutes, give or take a bit.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Yikes, one-offs processing is worse than doing a box at a time — no grouping tasks for efficiency.
            (Side note for people outside the field: you have to scan archival materials one at a time. Sometimes because of odd shapes, sometimes because they’re bound, and always to avoid damaging the originals,

      2. listen up fives, a ten is speaking*

        I am also a CA, and I agree that it’s a load of crap money grab. That being said, I don’t have an MLIS and I feel like being a CA helps to compensate for that a bit. I have an equivalent degree (master’s in public history) but I feel like a lot of places look down upon non-MLIS degrees.

        1. MagnusArchivist*

          that’s one of the scenarios in which I think it makes sense! It can be the money just to assure prospective employers “look, I really do know what I’m doing even if my degree doesn’t have the right letters in it.”

          But for people with degrees in archives and years of experience? Nope.

    4. Tom Servo's sister*

      I’m an archivist. Most jobs do require a library degree, and some even want a second masters in whatever the position specializes in, often history, but I’ve seen job postings wanting science degrees and music degrees. The jobs are generally low paying, and the grad schools produce more archivists than there are jobs. Loopy’s experience of being on grant funded projects is pretty typical, and many archivists go from one project to another for years. Records management is supposed to be better paying and have more openings, but I’ve never worked on that side.
      If you’re in the US, I suggest you look at the Society of American Archivists website. There are also many regional organizations that can give you a better idea.

    5. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

      Current record manager for a non-archives here. Archivists manage documents of all types (physical and digital) of documents and maintain/preserve them as well as make them accessible through digitizing and documenting their contents (and I’m sure they do many things that I’m not familiar with). These positions can exist in libraries since there’s a bit of overlap between what librarians and archivists do as well as museums, archives, and private or corporate collections. Records managers can also maintain records for other types of collections like art or natural history, to name a few.

      A common degree for this type of work is MLIS but there are archival-related degrees, as well. In my opinion, this is an underpaid profession for the amount of experience and education that’s required to complete the work, which is a common occurrence for positions that primarily exist in non-profits.

    6. Viki*

      A long, long, grad school like ago, I got my MA in museum management. That’s along with my BA in history and anthropology.

      I then, never got a job in that field because archives/museums and libraries are ridiculously competitive, with little /lower pay.

      However records management, if you can get into a municipal government would be a good job. You need (at least in Canada a certification) but you can do it at a college, while working part time.

    7. listen up fives, a ten is speaking*

      I’m an archivist. I don’t recommend people get into it, but I also can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. My general stock answer when people ask me what I do is to say “I work with historical documents.” Then I’ll answer any questions they might have. Most people in the field have a Master of Library Science degree, though I also know plenty of others who have master’s degrees in other fields, but everyone has at least a master’s degree. I have been working in the field for a number of years since I earned my master’s but it was only recently that I actually got more than the minimum amount of attention when applying for jobs and it didn’t feel like I was just throwing applications straight into the circular file when I applied. It’s also an extremely low-paying job. But I put up with it because there’s nothing else I want to do.

    8. Anon Fed*

      I’m a government archivist who works with a lot of government records managers. A lot of university positions require a MLIS or archives-specific degree, but (at least at the federal level) the qualifications are much looser. I have a public history MA, but we also accept MAs in history, political science, and other history-adjacent subject areas. The records managers I work with may not even have BAs- they tend to end up transitioning to RM positions from general administrative support positions.
      Records managers tend to manage organizational record keeping, including compliance with any legal requirements, and the destruction of records once they have exhausted their use. Archivists manage records that have exhausted their original use, but have enough historical value to preserve them in an archival repository in perpetuity.*
      *Perpetuity=for as long as there’s $$$ to keep the lights on.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      Archives assistant (no MLIS). I . . . put stuff in boxes. A lot. And make inventories of it. Today I’m excising credit card and bank account information so the rest of the material can be used for research.

      I also do not recommend it, or at least I don’t recommend it without a lot of forethought and independent research into the field. I haven’t gotten an MLIS because jobs are thin on the ground, especially if you can’t move somewhere remote/less-glamorous for family reasons. I’ve been here for over 15 years but I couldn’t move up to an archivist position without changing employers, and the job market seems to be such that it’s very normal to get a degree and then either work multiple jobs or volunteer for a long time until you finally luck into a full-time position.

      I love the job but the market for it is both saturated and underfunded.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I’m in what amounts to a medical school library archive. Basically a university library but specialized.

    10. Maude Lebowski*

      I’m a Records Manager with experience working in large corporations. I’ve done the job both as a practitioner and as a consultant for a Big 4. I’ve since shifted to data protection and privacy work but I did RM for ten or so years. Most of my work involved figuring out how to organize information throughout its lifecycle. So where is information created and stored? How is it described/indexed/labeled so we can find it again? How do we go find it? How long do we keep it? How do we dispose of it, or ensure it’s preserved if the requirement is for permanent retention?

      TBH archivists have a much cooler job. I was mostly dealing with PDFs of, let’s say, hundreds of thousands of bank statements that my company has created this month. However, if you like solving very large and complex problems under immense time pressure and legal/regulatory obligation with huge budgets, corporate records management could be for you.

      1. Maude Lebowski*

        Oh and I have a MLIS! You don’t neeeeeed one to be a Records Manager but it helps to understand concepts around organizing information, metadata, database structure, search and retrieval, electronic preservation, etc.

      2. MagnusArchivist*

        Archivists might sound cooler on paper, but records managers have a much harder job that does not get the respect it deserves. I can always tell when a collection comes in from an org with a decent records manager and retention schedule — makes my job so, so much easier.

    11. Talks too much*

      Also an archivist here! I love my job so much and it’s perfect for me…but I don’t think I’d have gone into the field if I’d known ahead of time what it would be like. I have an MLIS with a focus in archives, but several of my colleagues have a masters in public history with an archives concentration. I do feel that many MLIS programs just think “oh, archives is similar to libraries, we can throw in a few courses and get more students that way!” but don’t actually provide a great educational background, and aren’t selective enough so the field is very over-saturated. If people do decide to get an MLIS to go into archives, I’d highly recommend a program that is more focused on archives than on librarianship. I actually ended up learning significantly more on the job than in grad school, but the degree did help me get my foot in the door, and not everyone has a boss as devoted to teaching their staff as mine was.

      Cons: again, field is super over-saturated. When you’re beginning your career, you often end up in contingent positions that are for a set term, or funded by a grant that may or may not be renewed. It’s difficult; to succeed, you often have to be willing to move around a lot…..which gets expensive, on a salary that isn’t great, and usually moving expenses are not covered. It also wrecks havoc on your personal life. Imagine having to move every few years; it’s hard to make friends, to date, to get a pet, to settle down at all. A lot of the archivists I know are introverts, and this was (personally) the hardest part of my early career. Didn’t want to put in the effort to make friends, when it was likely I’d be gone in a year. Plus, it feels like you don’t have time for professional development at all or keeping up on your skills, because you’re always searching for your next contract, another grant, another project, trying to find that elusive permanent position, another apartment in a new city where you don’t know anyone. Salaries are also a problem; when my friends found out how much I make as an archivist with my masters degree, they were shocked. It’s absurdly low. I’m lucky to have had supervisors who are willing to go to bat for me and this year after 4 (FOUR) years of advocating, I just got bumped up to something vaguely resembling a reasonable salary, or what would have been a reasonable salary when we started advocating in 2018. People often don’t understand what I do, particularly administration. But it actually involves a lot of theoretical thinking and puzzling; it’s not just putting stuff in folders and making a list.

      Pros: I find that theoretical thinking and puzzling to be super fulfilling! I’m never bored at work, and I get to see cool random historical stuff a lot. My institution has objects in their archives, not just paper, so that’s a lot of fun too. I feel I do important work, and my institution is starting to realize this as well. I am also one of the lucky few who managed to land a permanent position in the city I wanted to live in. I like that my job is so varied, and that I get to do so many different things.

      Sorry for the rant; whenever I see comments asking about becoming an archivist, I just want to make sure that the posters don’t go into the field as naively uninformed as I was. Grad schools don’t tell you all of the negatives, and it does a disservice to so many people.

    12. RagingADHD*

      There are also corporate archivist jobs that work with products instead of “history,” per se.

      I worked for a while as the assistant to the archivist at the art department of a media company’s retail merchandise division. The archivist did not have a library degree. I believe he had started as a temp admin/clerical assistant, gotten hired in a permanent role, and then inherited the job when his boss left.

      We catalogued and stored the original concept art, prototypes, and samples of final products for all the branded merch the art department produced – toys, clothing, collectables, lunchboxes, etc.

      His two biggest assets in the job were strict adherence to protocols for storage and handling of items, and a truly astonishing memory for the history of brands and products. There was an official cataloguing system, but he could nearly always recall how many drafts of something there had been, why things were rejected, and which decision-makers had preferred one or the other.

      I was a fan of some of the properties/ franchises we worked with, so it was a really fun job in that respect.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, duties also included shipping and receiving mockups/prototypes from designers, and pulling reference visuals for marketing or for new designs.

        For example: The packaging for an action figure needs an action shot of the character using their weapon/ powers that will look good in landscape format.

    13. Left Turn at Albuquerque*

      I used to be a municipal clerk, a significant part of which entailed being the records custodian for my employer. For me that meant making sure the records we produced were properly identified so we knew which ones had to be kept permanently and which ones could be destroyed according to the official retention schedule, providing a secure environment for storing records, indexing them (and/or updating an existing index if needed), following and documenting the destruction schedule, and responding to open records/FOIA requests. I also had to repeatedly remind our elected officials about the proper use of email and smart devices when engaging in public business. Because of state law, I also spent a lot of time trying to get our elected officials to understand that while scanning and uploading records might be useful for having backups, it didn’t meet the format requirements and thus I still had to keep the paper originals.

      There are no specific educational or employment requirements to be a municipal clerk, but (in the US at least) most states have a certification program that includes training in, among other areas, records management. That said, in my state the local government division of the state archives is woefully underfunded which means most municipal clerks, especially in smaller cities, benefit from little support or oversight. I came into this job with a Master’s in history (including time working in the special collections department) so I had a decent grasp of the basic needs of managing municipal records but a lot of my colleagues didn’t. Consequently, if the records are a higgledy-piggledy mess, when you get an open records/FOIA request it can be a challenge identifying and finding the needed records, and sometimes they’re just not there, even though they should be.

    14. Monday's OP2*

      Hi! I’m the archivist/records manager from Monday. I agree with what all the others say, pretty much. In the UK where I’m from, the only pathway was – for many years – undergraduate degree in (often) History, volunteer work, possibly a graduate traineeship, and then a Master’s in Archive Administration or similar. I have a non-History degree and was lucky enough to be able to get a traineeship and then (mostly) work while qualifying by a remote degree (this was new back then).

      It has been a scrabble for jobs, and I live in a big city. Records Manager jobs have less competition and may be more likely to be permanent. I had an RM post for some years, but then found it hard to pivot back to archives as my experience wasn’t recent (although I did succeed). I’m in my 40s and still working short-term contracts.

      There is now a non-degree professional development path to certification in the UK, intended to make it easier for archives assistants (and other staff with experience but no qualification) to make a start. It’s intended to diversify the candidate pool – we tend to be very white and middle-class, since you need to be able to afford to defer earning much. What I don’t know is how many candidates have done this or how they are perceived by employers. I don’t know any personally, but have mostly worked in small archives without assistants.

    15. Talvi*

      I’m a reference archivist, so my job ends up being a lot of customer service. In essence, I help people find things in our collection. This is often harder than it sounds – the researcher may not actually have a good idea of what they’re looking for, and archival collections tend to be very idiosyncratic (both in the contents of the collection and in how these collections get organized). A lot of the time, it comes down to knowing your collection. (Someone once told me that it takes 7 years working with the same collection to be a good reference archivist.)

      And other times you’ve got a researcher who contacts you asking for a copy of [specific photograph ####] and you arrange the copy for them. It’s a mixed bag.

      As all the archivists on the thread have already said — it’s a very rewarding career, but it is a VERY hard field to get a job in. You really have to be prepared to work many short-term, grant-funded projects (probably for much longer than you expect or would like to) early in your career, and you have to be prepared to move just about anywhere (probably more times than you’d like).

      I’m not going to tell you not to go into archives (I love my job!), but go in with both eyes open and a realistic idea of what to expect on the jobs front.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        In the photo archives where I worked, a woman came in asking about a photograph she saw on display in our museum when she was a child in the 1940s, with only a vague description. The department head, who’d been there about 25 years and was notorious for hoarding information, managed to find what she wanted in our huge collection! Now there are collection guides and digital access, but in the pre-online world, a retentive memory was the biggest asset.

    16. OtterB*

      I have a friend who is a records manager for a semi-government agency. I believe her education is an MLIS, but I’m not sure; she is also a Certified Records Manager. She had several contract jobs supporting records needs of other agencies before she started her current position. She reports to the Office of the General Counsel in her agency and most of her job is making sure the office follows record-keeping regulations, and responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests either by collecting the requested information to send out or by explaining why it is not available.

    17. Another Academic Librarian too*

      I am in an Archive and Special Collection in an R1 University. I was hired as a subject specialist with an extensive teaching and publication background as well as a national reputation in my field. Although I had an MLIS, I had very little hands-on archival experience. That said, my “second in command” has an MLIS in archival practices and is charged with the day-to-day operations.
      Most helpful to me when deciding if this position was a good fit was a membership in Society of American Archivists and the ability to read back issues of their journals to understand current best practices and issues facing rare book and manuscript collections.

    18. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      One basic that is easy to overlook is an ability to read cursive! Our library/archives was part of a good-sized history museum, so we had a mix of librarians and historians on staff. In more recent years, intern applicants who could not read cursive had to be rejected, because our archives collection was mostly hand-written letters, journals, and documents. An ability to read older forms of writing was also necessary, and there was some translation work involving items written in other languages in the 18th century, so knowing those languages as they were used in the past was useful.

  4. Remote attitudes*

    Anyone looking for fully-remote roles, are you sensing a sea change in flexibility/attitude?

    Perhaps predictions of recession has companies getting cocky, but I’m seeing increasingly draconian attitudes towards applicants. One company proudly explained that they allow flexing around their core hours…of 10 to 5. So, an hour total? Another recruiter told me that their company uses scheduling software that tells you when to take lunch and breaks, based on workload/ticket assignments. Multiple reps said that they require anyone fully remote to live within X miles of headquarters–not in the same state, which I could understand as a tax issue, but within daily commuting distance. Like they’re just lying in wait to flip the switch to on-site work.

    I’ve been working either fully remote or hybrid for over a decade, so I’m not new to this, and I don’t abuse it. I realize the pandemic forced some companies into remote work against their will, but there are plenty of companies in the tech space that embraced it prior to 2020. New to remote or not, I’m now getting the sense that they’re all eager to pin everyone down with Big Brother rules and monitoring. As a senior SME with 20+ years in my field, I’m not okay with this kindergarten crap.

    1. Amy*

      I’ve worked from home for 10 years managing a team and I can kind of see both sides to this. The core hours might be an attempt to balance workers in multiple time zones or to accommodate parents who want a split shift for childcare reasons. The proximity to the office thing in my company is all about having options for low performance, if you demonstrate you can’t be effective working from home, you’ll be mandated to go in.
      While there are other ways to manage performance issues, there’s still a bias around being in the office = more productive.

      The other things you mentioned are just gross outputs of maximizing profits over people and an attempt to micromanage productivity.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        If you’re remote and not effective working from home, wouldn’t you just be managed for performance (including managed out)?

    2. WomEngineer*

      I don’t feel like my productivity is being micromanaged, but cybersecurity is a big deal in my industry, so they could audit people’s activity if they wanted to. We also have to log time for budget reasons, and MS Teams shows when you’re online. As far as I know, the norm is 8-5.

      Managers are flexible about where you’re working from. Offices are pretty far apart, so either way we couldn’t all meet in person. YMMV

    3. Firm Believer*

      Frankly I don’t think anything you mentioned is draconian or Kindergarten crap. Employers get to create some guardrails based on business needs.

    4. Quinalla*

      As someone who works for a company who is fully embracing the new normal – we have many fully remote, some in office full time and the most hybrid and being fully remote even if you are close to an office is fine – we have definitely had applicants coming our way or accepting offers saying a big part of seeking us out/accepting offer was that our flexibility if unusual and appealing. Most companies in our industry were calling people back into the office as soon as they could get away with it and that means nearly all are back in the office full time.

    5. An Australian In London*

      I’m 50 and in senior IT IC roles as a freelancer. I’ve worked almost entirely remote for the last 10 years, frequently across time zones, countries, continents, and hemispheres.

      I’ve been interviewing a lot lately as my main client gig comes to an end soon, and I am definitely seeing patterns even within my small corner of IT, for finance & banking clients, currently in the UK:

      The more senior the role, the more remote is not just permitted but expected.

      L5 role: Project DBA (database administrator, think systems admin): on site 2 days a week.
      L7 role: Principal Solutions Architect: 100% remote but some travel to client sites, not said apologetically.
      L8 role: Principal Engineer (IC role but significant overlap with Engineering Manager): 100% remote, said in a rush, “of course it’s fully remote”, making a point of reassuring me that despite what the job description said with reference to London HQ, it is definitely fully remote.

      No-one is saying so out loud but it’s hard not to conclude that it is part of benefits and status now.

    6. Pisces*

      Some people definitely are abusing remote/hybrid. I’ve been seeing it at my company since we returned to the office.

      While I totally disapprove, I also don’t complain because so far, I haven’t been stuck with someone else’s sizable project that has to be done in-office (like a big Fed Ex package), and its owner is WFH that day. If that happens, then I will be ticked off.

      Some agencies in my industry still require certain documents to be notarized. Certain of my colleagues are a notary public. Knowing what I do now, I would’ve suggested arranging hybrid schedules so that to the degree possible, at least one notary is in the office each day. While we could have a mobile notary either come to our office or go to somebody’s house, that service costs especially with gas prices right now.

    7. pcake*

      I’ve been fully remote since 1996, and I love it.

      Some of my friends work at companies that started calling people back to the office the second they were legally able to and despite the fact that in some cases, management said they were seeing higher productivity from people working from home.

      This was often very much during the time when people were quitting like crazy, and being forced back to the office for no reason lead lots of people my friends worked with (and some of my friends) to quit. The companies kept moaning that they didn’t know why so many people were resigning, and that they didn’t have enough people. In some cases, the companies haven’t been able to replace the resignees.

      Btw, unsurprising, those companies had other issues that made them bad places to work.

  5. Team Player*

    I’ve been an administrative assistant for over a decade in three different positions. I’ve found that the one I enjoyed the most was when I supported a large team, when I could be the go-to person who is brought different projects from different people. I could be working on research for Tiffany and expense reports for Will and booking travel for Ron. I feel like all three positions were described the same way in their posting, as being an admin and supporting others in the department. But in the other two jobs, one was just me by myself doing very repetitive data entry work without needing to interact with anyone, and the other is mainly directly assisting my two supervisors and no one else. So if all three were described the same way, how do I find that large team that I like being a part of? Is there a way I could probe for more details in the working environment in interviews? Is there a particular field of business that it’s more likely to have a big group like that? Any thoughts would be appreciated, as I’m wondering where I can go to find a position I like better.

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I would look for work in a smaller company where you would be one of very few or maybe the only administrative assistant.

      I may also look at “lower” level jobs. Now, this is based on academia so the commercial world may be different. The administrative assistants to department heads, deans, and other administration tend to work only for that person where lower level administrative assistants tend to support the whole department and have multiple duties.

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        I’m an admin in academia too and you are correct that there are certain levels. I look at it more as an executive assistant versus an administrative assistant. Where the EA would be for one person and the AA is for a department.

        However, I don’t think a smaller company would necessarily be the best option. I could see a small company just having the admin help with the boss and no one else because there may not be anything the admin could help with. (I’m thinking of jobs that need specific licensure requirements like a counseling Center where the admin wouldn’t be able to do anything with the patients except for basic receptions duties of calling and scheduling). I’ve worked at very large companies where there was 1 admin for our entire area of 400 people. she did all of the shipping, mail, vendor stuff, and taking care of supplies and breakroom stuff (coffee machines, specific cleaning like fridge and microwave).

        1. Mr. Cajun2core*

          In the smaller company I worked for (7 people) we had an “Office Manager”. She did payroll, all travel, ordering office supplies, receptionist, accounts payable, accounts receivable, (we did have a CPA on retainer but she did the day-to-day stuff), and countless other duties. She really ran the office!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            In my smaller OldExjob (50 people), our HR/Accounting Manager did payroll, AR/AP, and HR stuff. I did everything else.

            The person I replaced became the manager’s assistant, but then the manager left. The assistant took over her job. They never filled that assistant position again, so I ended up doing some of that work too. It stretched me very thin and was extremely stressful. So that’s a caveat for working in a smaller company.

            On the bright side, we’re each other’s glowing reference for life because we both survived that hellhole.

        2. Mr. Cajun2core*

          In the small company I used to work for (7 people) we had an office manager that did payroll, HR, travel, accounts payable, accounts receivable, receptionist duties, ordering office supplies, and countless other duties. She was exceptional and truly ran the office.

      2. By Golly*

        In academia, I also think that sometimes there might be higher level jobs titled “Program Coordinator” that are more what you describe… the go-to person for a department or program who handles all kinds of different stuff for a variety of people. Sometimes those folks need subject matter expertise, but often, they are more like what you describe–supporting a large number of faculty on a variety of projects and tasks.

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

      You could ask them to describe the typical day for the position during the interview or how many people the position supports — both of those questions should be fairly typical. I agree with Mr. Cajun2core, a particular field where you might support a large group is academia — usually an admin might support a whole department or at the least 4-5 people — it’s exceedingly rare IME in higher ed for an admin to support only 1-2 people (maybe if they were very high in the org like the president or provost). But academia is sometimes a tough culture and low paid, so that might not be what you are hoping for.

    3. The Assistant*

      This one is difficult! I’m in a new assistant role after being one for six years and while I thought it would be different than what I’ve done before, it’s not.

      My best advice is to get a sense from the later interviews. Who would I be supporting? How will my time be split? I found out a lot about this on my first day of work which was too late, but I don’t think this place gives out that information (or knew it since it’s a new configuration of the same role) at that time.

      Try to get a sense of that as well. Is there a more thorough job description? In an interview ask the people, “In one week how many people might I interact with?) I did sense a general disorganization in my place, but not a total chaos. Just a looseness with the place. Everything is compliant, but sometimes time . . . elapses. It’s also good sometimes because they are flexible with sick days and such (I may be testing positive for Covid later today and people are cool with the last minute day off to rest). I did get that sense during my interview and had good instincts for my boss and colleagues. Those instincts were true and that’s been really helpful.

      But as for what I am actually doing? It’s so hard to get a sense of it, but I think the later interviews are the best place to try and find out with very specific questions.

    4. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Fellow admin here! It can be difficult because “administrative assistant” can be used as a catch all for everything from a front desk person answering phones and greeting people, to doing data entry to being the go to person for the CEO. Here’s some tips I would use.

      The number one thing you can do is get clarification. When interviewing ask how many people you would be supporting and what the typical day would entail. If you don’t want to do data entry as the main part of the job ask if there is any data entry and how much time each day/week would you be doing data entry.

      when interviewing ask about projects and what role the admin assistant plays in those projects. Obviously, this is going to be industry specific as there may not be the option to work on specific projects without certain credentials.

      If you are in the same organization and are moving to a new team, see if you can talk to someone on that team, preferably the admin who is leaving. but if not them another team member. Ask how often they interacted with the admin and what type of projects would they get.

      Good luck!

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I might ask questions in an interview like, “what did a typical day of work look like for the person who was previously in this role? How did they work within the team as a whole?” And you could even say specifically, “I find I really enjoy roles where I get to assist a lot of people on the team with a variety of tasks and assignments. I find it fulfilling to form those relationships and to have variety in my daily workload. Does the person in this role work directly with all the people on the team, or just one or two? And what does the variety of work look like?”

    6. T. Boone Pickens*

      You may want to target sales coordinator roles too. Typically these positions are supporting multiple sales reps and it entails assisting with a slew of things from putting together sales proposals, assisting with expense reports, commission schedules, travel arrangements and a host of other duties.

  6. Ask An Event Manager*

    Is it acceptable or usual to be distracted by world events at work to the point where its hard to focus on anything?
    I am often accused of being emotional or wearing my emotions on my sleeve and I know through therapy what my catastrophizing spiral looks like, but its hard to pull myself out of it when most of my colleagues are talking about current events or commiserating with each other.

    1. Beth*

      It’s certainly common enough; I spent most of 2020 and 2021 in that state.

      My own belief is that part of my job is finding ways to keep doing my job in spite of the anxiety; that can mean asking colleagues to change the subject, or finding ways to get away from the conversations.

      1. Brooklyn*

        I just want to add that you have an obligation to your employer to do your job to the best of your ability. You do not have to subsume your humanity in order to be a more effective worker bee for the queen.

        These are hard times for anyone with a conscience. I work in the climate space and we talk a lot about how to not get overwhelmed. I think a lot of the advice about climate depression can be applied here: give yourself time to grieve, create space for joy that is not loaded with guilt, find ways to take action even if they feel small and insignificant. Donating money is often touted as the best help you can give organizations doing the hard work; sometimes donating your time and effort is the best help you can give yourself.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Having that problem today as a US resident.

      What I try and do is triage my to do list, what needs my full attention vs what can I half effort. Today I plan to reorganize a lot of folders and writeup summaries (doesn’t require full thought).

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Today is hard. I’m doing some fairly mindless tasks that are low priority but it’s all I have focus for right now.

        1. Watry*

          Very hard. Some of my coworkers are celebrating. I am not okay but there’s only 2/7 of us here today so I guess I just have to keep going?

          1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

            Oh gosh, I really feel for you all. I don’t know what else to say! I’m going to be joining a UK day of action to protest it, but not much we can do in this side of the pond other than show solidarity.

        2. Slipping the Leash*

          I just set up a recurring donation to a very well-known national non-profit that continues to fight the good fight. I feel….4% better.

        3. Quinalla*

          Yup, I’ve been knocking out tasks like that today too and taking some extra breaks. Some days are just terrible and it’s ok if you aren’t 100% perfect for work on those days.

      2. KC*

        I am doing the same, but honestly, I am spending more attention on doing some quick organizing and getting the word out to people I know are interested in fighting for abortion rights re: protests happening around my area today. I love my job and the work I do but it will never be as important to me as this.

      3. LadyByTheLake*

        Agree — I was working on a project that required concentration this morning and I finally gave up and am working on cleaning my office and organizing some files. That said, I am not “wearing my heart on my sleeve” so much as I am just keeping my head down and doing what I can. The only day that I am aware it was completely acceptable to give up on working entirely and be openly emotional was September 11. That was a very hard day.

      4. JustaTech*

        My plan is to try an bury myself in some numbers-based work, and if that doesn’t work go clean the lab where at least no one will see me, and if it just too much I’ll tell my boss I need the afternoon off. He’ll understand.

        Mostly I need to stay way off of Twitter or I will just dissolve.

      5. Dino*

        See, I wish I could do this. I work a job where I have to be *on it* mentally and focus wise to do the only function of my position. There’s no busy work to do, and showing up distracted and upset can get people killed. We have strict KPIs but there’s no way I can ethically be ready and working right now. I just don’t know what to do.

    3. KofSharp*

      I think, sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to not feel hopeless and distracted by recent “real world” events. I thought I was holding it together well today and a coworker I’m close to asked if I’m doing alright in light of recent events and I just burst into tears, so I feel that. (Same thing happened on Jan 6th, 2021 at a different job so I might need to work on my poker face.)

      1. As per Elaine*

        I think it is okay to (rarely) burst into tears when massively stressful national events are happening. I would try to not make a habit of it, but if it’s once/job on days when your coworkers can understand that you would be stressed, that seems entirely reasonable and you do not need to try to make yourself into a total robot.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I cried at work off and on all day on November 9, 2016, so I get it. If you need to take a minute, do so.
        Your coworker is kind to check in with you.

    4. grubsinmygarden*

      This definitely applies to me today. At least I only had one 15 minute call to attend this morning, but now I can’t focus on anything. Even with zero chatter in our distributed team. Just the knowing is making it rough for me.

    5. Isben Takes Tea*

      Absolutely. Unfortunately, our standard work culture still usually doesn’t allow for it, but it doesn’t mean it’s abnormal, unusual, or unreasonable. I’d try to give yourself some grace to function as best you can under the circumstances, and take frequent breaks away from your desk if you can.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, don’t beat yourself up about it. I get distracted by literally nothing all the time

      1. JustaTech*

        Dude. That’s going to be a questionable request many days, but today?
        Yeah, no.

        (Most of my coworkers haven’t seen the news yet and I don’t have the energy/heart to tell them all.)

    6. Esmeralda*

      Today’s news is certainly distracting me from work. Came to AAM to make myself feel a little better. :(

      1. Jack Bruce*

        Same! I need a distraction so I don’t completely fall apart. Not able to get much work done, though!

    7. LizB*

      I have no tips, but huge commiserations today. I have my annual review in half an hour, and currently my head is full of TV static and I feel sick to my stomach.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Every day for the long term? No. That’s a problem and you need to figure it out, somehow. And yes, I’m well aware that a lot of people were/have been distracted due to everything the last couple years, but there still comes a point where you have to get your head together. You can’t raise your child well while being only 1/2 mentally present. I’m glad you’re in therapy.

      On the day when big stuff happens? Yeah, we’re human. I didn’t get much done on January 6th. Today, what I’m doing is such that it helps sooth me a bit/distract me, so I’ll be less productive than usual but I’ll get it done (and will feel slightly better through the process too). But I’ll probably be quite physically active tonight to work out the rest of my emotions.

    9. Asenath*

      It’s common to be distracted by world events. If the distraction is severe enough to interfere with work (or personal life, for that matter), that’s not acceptable and needs to be dealt with. Sometimes I’ve just removed myself from discussions that I just know are going to send my thoughts it some kind of negative direction.

    10. ScreamingIntoTheVoid*

      I’m taking a half day to better sort my emotions and honestly I don’t feel like being around my coworkers right now. I know I’m extremely lucky to even have time off available to do this.

      Its even weirder when no one acknowledges what’s happening, like I was incorrect in taking a minute to check the news and now there is something bigger then whatever I’m working on right now going on and should I continue doing this insufficient thing when I feel like there are better things to do with my time? But I need money to continue to be part of society and help fight for society?

      Its like a fight-or-flight response with no one to fight and no where to run

        1. Weeble*

          Sure does — anger without a focus is how I’m thinking about today. Trying to ensure that no one is in the splash zone until I can manage my responses. *sigh*

      1. Mid*

        “Its like a fight-or-flight response with no one to fight and no where to run”

        Exactly that. Luckily(?) all my coworkers are on the same side of this issue as me, so I don’t feel as bad being visibly upset. But there’s still the same feeling that no one should let The World impact Important Work Stuff, which I think just highlights how much we need a change in our global work culture.

      2. Meow*

        Re the acknowledgement, keep in mind that it could just be people being especially careful not to broach a tender subject today. My coworkers tried to bring it up and I requested they not talk about it in front of me, given that I know some of them have the opposite view as me, and I don’t trust myself to say something I won’t regret to them today.

        I know exactly what you mean about the fight-or-flight though. Ever since the leak happened I’ve had this feeling like I *must* do something but no matter how much I think about it, there’s nothing (substantial) I can do.

      3. Ooof*

        I am going to quote you on my social. That is a beautiful and accurate way to describe this feeling.

      4. Be kind, rewind*

        I can totally relate to this. I’m in DC for a work trip and was in the middle of the most menial of tasks when I heard the news. It felt so wrong to just keep typing away, so I closed my laptop and walked down to the Supreme Court for an hour.

    11. fueled by coffee*

      Feeling this especially hard today.

      I don’t think reacting to devastating current events is being “emotional.” It’s being empathetic. Being human.

      1. quill*

        It’s also just how our brains are wired as living things. Personal risks to us and to our communities, whether they’re physical and nearby, physical and distant, or existential in some way, are more relevant to our survival than tps reports.

    12. Up and Away*

      Yes, yes, & yes. Came here just for that reason. I think my day is pretty much done at this point.

      1. ShysterB*

        Same, same. Good thing I’m still working from home, because there’s a chance I might have just lost it on the male colleague who told me in August 2018 (on Kennedy’s resignation / Kavanagh’s nomination) that I was being silly to think Roe was at risk. I may still buy tomorrow’s paper and leave it on his desk with a post-it note asking him how secure he’s feeling about Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell.

        Also, contemplating the wisdom of inquiring about whether our firm has contemplated how to ensure reproductive rights for our Texas and Florida employees.

    13. Cedrus Libani*

      I’d put the Minimum Adulting Standard at “I do not take my internal turmoil out on others”. That is, an adult can be a hot mess on the inside without being an asshole on the outside. Ideal Adulting Standard is “I do not allow my internal turmoil to become someone else’s problem”, but that’s an ideal, and pretty much everyone will have to ask for grace at some point.

      You’d be within your rights to ask people to not talk politics / war / epidemiology in front of you, because you’re shaken up about it and you’re struggling to put that aside. That’s grace. Not rude or unreasonable, just a minor accommodation.

    14. WellRed*

      Nope. My team just spent an hour on slack raging against SCOTUS today. Jan 6 and Boston marathon are two other times I recall being completely unable to focus.

    15. kiki*

      I think it’s definitely usual to be distracted and less productive during major world events, but acceptance really depends on your organization. I feel like most companies’ leadership teams realize they should say, “It’s okay to not be okay. Don’t worry too much about work today when so much else is going on.” But then a lot of company leadership sees the outcome of that– actual decreased productivity– and don’t handle that well . And especially for the last 2+ years, we’ve been in a near-constant state of terrible and/or unprecedented events. I think a lot of companies have been struggling to handle that– when so many tragedies and unprecedented global events are happening each week, how can companies realistically deal with that?

      1. quill*

        The sustainable workload for people has gone down due to ambient stress, at a time when companies feel insecure and would like to be increasing their output.

    16. RagingADHD*

      It’s common on a big news day. If you stay distracted for weeks when the event is not immediately impacting you (a distant war, for example) that’s a problem.

      If it’s a news event that does have personal significance for you, it helps to channel your feelings into constructive action like political activity or volunteering. Having those channels also helps you compartmentalize working on your job vs working on the project.

    17. quill*

      Acceptable? Well, no company is going to enjoy it, because no company enjoys any diminishment of productivity. Usual? Probably more than we think. The last few years have done a number on the ability to focus for me, personally.

    18. mandatory anon*

      Seems like half my workday is spent commiserating with coworkers on current events we aren’t really supposed to be discussing in the workplace. The recent focus on supporting mental health (I’m in academia) has empowered people to be more outspoken about massively impactful events, and no one bats an eye at time & emotions spent processing/coping.

    19. WantonSeedStitch*

      I lead a team of people at work, and I’m considering sending out a message to the folks on my team acknowledging the fact that a lot of people are probably experiencing some really strong emotions about today’s SCOTUS decision, saying I understand completely, and reminding them of our EAP in case they need someone to talk to.

    20. Anon for Reasons*

      As much as companies wish it weren’t so, employees being distracted by events is just part of hiring humans to do work.

      Something I have found effective today is directing conversations about The News toward groups in my city working to help folks in the region access healthcare not available in their states. It helped to be like “yeah check out this fund, they help with transportation and lodging costs” and leave it at that. I’m still upset but feeling like I’m spreading helpful information has made me feel less despairing.

    21. PostalMixup*

      I think I pre-grieved this one, because I was completely consumed by rage for a few days after the leak. And I was a distracted mess after Uvalde. I think most people understand, and those who don’t can GTFO.

    22. Vio*

      empathy is an extremely valuable but exhausting thing. it’s very hard at times to manage a healthy balance in caring about the state of the world while maintaining a defence against the overwhelming weight that can bring. there’s been a few times in my life when I wished I could turn off my empathy, even when the idea of being a sociopath sounded appealing, but for the most part I’m able to keep it balanced these days
      it’s essential to get some distance from the problems at times. I tend to follow the news online these days, I can read the headlines and skip the stories that I know will depress me if I feel I need to. it’s helpful to keep abreast of current events but you don’t have to read every single The Horrible Things You Read About Yesterday Are Still Happening Today article. I also find it helps to ensure I read some positive stuff every day. there’s plenty of stories online about how communities have come together to help each other during a disaster or how someone overcame struggle to achieve something. the news broadcasts and papers often include far too few of these so it helps to do some googling

      you may need to sometimes ask for a subject change with your colleagues. it may even help them if you can steer the conversation towards something more cheerful as well, if you feel up to the attempt

  7. Cat Mouse*

    2 questions I’ll do as two separate comments. First is I have a phone…thing scheduled for a hopeful new job. I’m treating it like an interview, but based on the language of the request, does it sound more like a discussion on the job itself?

    “Hi CatMouse! This is Dog at Company! Please let me know your availability for a phone cal to discuss the Job Title position you applied to with our team! “

    1. Beth*

      It sounds like an interview to me. It might be more than that, but I would prepare as if for an interview.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s an interview.
      “discussing the Job Title position you applied to” is confusing language, but it’s an interview. Maybe they say it that way to make it clear that you’ll get to ask questions…

      1. JayM*

        I got a job offer this week!
        And I am torn a out it.
        I have been looking since September and primarily for remote or hybrid. This is a local company, I had a phone interview last week, an in-person Tue eve and an offer Wed am. Only bad thing – it’s not remote or hybrid…. yet. They’ve been open and honest and said they are working on putting in place a hybrid work plan as well as they are looking at changing the work hours (8-5 currently) to allow more flexibility bu tdon’t have that all figured out yet. And even with it I would need to be in-office for a few months to train. It’s the one thing that is making me hesitate. That and my bad company has made some meaningful improvements in the last couple months (but not all the rotten stuff has improved, I still have a micro manager boss, not sure where my threshold is with that). I’ve had lots of interviews, a few multiple interviews and then “we really liked you but we’re going with another candidate”. I certainly don’t want to settle but also like the work I would be doing at the new place vs what I do now. I do know multiple people at the new place from past jobs and will be speaking to one this weekend.

        And I am not engaged anymore in the work I am doing. Hard to care when no one else does (and I hate that, it’s not me).

        Guess just looking for any thought, words of encouragement, respurces etc you all might have. Thanks!

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          If the remote/hybrid part is a deal breaker for you, I’d be a little wary of a company only just now starting to figure out such an arrangement, mainly because it seems like it’s not very important to them, or nobody’s asked for it yet.. (so will they really work on implementing a plan?)

          But if that’s not such a huge issue then getting away from work you don’t care about and a mircomanaging boss is a pretty good win,

          1. JayM*

            If we were in a big city or progressive area I would definatly think this. This area is very, very conservative (think old white guy management mentality (no offence to such people)), the company was bought out by a major company almost a year ago so I sense there is lots of change happening as they learn and grow. But it does make me hesitate.

    3. urguncle*

      This sounds like a typical phone screen: they can go over the job description in a little more depth, ask some surface-level questions and decide if they want to pull you into a full interview.

    4. smeep248*

      This sounds like an informal interview or a discussion with a recruiter ahead of scheduling a formal interview. Treat it as an interview, but it sounds like it is step one in the process!

    5. Llama Wrangler*

      Definitely a phone screen (or first interview interview). Definitely got an email like that as an early job seeker and showed up to a call prepared for a casual chat, to discover it was a formal interview. Not surprisingly, I totally bombed.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve been getting a few of those that want to do it as a Zoom. Yeah, it’s an interview.

    6. An Australian In London*

      This could be a pre-screening call with an internal hirer who wants to get to know you more before putting you in touch with the first actual interviewer. This is increasingly common.

      … but I don’t think it matters. Even a pre-screen is still an interview. Prepare for it as such, and be ready for far more personality/behavioural/values/attitudes questions than may be typical for interviews.

  8. Beth*

    I have a story I’ve been wanting to share with the commentariat. I was at a professional conference, my first since the start of the pandemic. In my industry, the typical attendee is a straight white man who owns his own company but has never owned his privilege.

    In a casual conversation on the main floor, one of these guys started ranting about how he was soooo tired, because he’d been up late finishing the paperwork when two of his admin staff left, again. One had only been with him for a couple of months! Young people just don’t want to stay at jobs!

    I told him that he couldn’t keep admin staff because he didn’t pay them enough.

    You would have thought I’d insulted his dog.

    I asked him why his admin help kept leaving, and he ranted about how they keep getting hired away by big companies that pay more. So I told him, again, that he didn’t pay his staff enough. If he wanted his employees to stay, he was going to have to pay them more money and improve whatever benefits he offered.

    Well!! He ranted about how he was NEVER going to pay ANYONE [higher salary that the other companies are presumably offering] just to do admin work! He’d do his own paperwork himself! (Not realizing that he had just set the value of this work at whatever his own salary is – actually, at three times that, because a good support person in our industry will do this kind of work at least three times as fast as someone at his level. But he’ll never know that, because you don’t get that quality of work from support staff unless they’re treated well.)

    So I said “If you don’t pay them better, you will keep losing staff at the same rate. You’re buying cheap goods, and cheap goods don’t last.”

    He said, “I’d rather lose staff than pay that much.”

    I said, “Then stop complaining,” and walked away.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Great example of someone who doesn’t understand economics. And thinks emotionally about things that ought to be thought about rationally. Your comments were spot on.

      1. Beth*

        I felt as if I was channeling the commentariat . . . as I walked away (almost shaking with rage), I kept thinking “I have GOT to share this story in one of the open threads. I didn’t take one for the team, I gave one.”

    2. Observer*

      He said, “I’d rather lose staff than pay that much.”

      OK. If that’s how you value the work, then you can’t surprised when people want to do work that more highly valued.

      I said, “Then stop complaining,” and walked away.

      You’re my hero today. I don’t know if I could have managed that.

      1. calvin blick*

        I don’t get that attitude (which is super common). Why is paying staff a bad thing? It’s like the goal is to squeeze out as much output with the absolute minimum expenditure, even if there is no particular need to do that.

        1. Mid*

          Because people have convinced themselves that admin work is nearly valueless, while also thinking they’re too good for it, and also being enraged when they have to do their own admin work.

          (Obviously people is a general term and plenty of people value administrative work, etc.)

          And yes, the goal is to spend as little as possible while getting the most money, because some business owners feel entitled to people’s labor for their profits and take it like a personal attack when anything dares to cut into their profit margins.

          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            so well said. It is for these reasons being assumed to be the admin in my office enrages me–not because being an admin is below me, but because of all that you just said.

          2. PollyQ*

            And let’s not be afraid to name the central issue: admin work is women’s work, which is obviously less valuable than men’s work.

        2. mandatory anon*

          A cousin & hub own an insurance company and always complain about wages & benefit costs for staff. There is some unspoken expectation that employees should be ok with low pay & no bennies because that’s how they got the business off the ground, and that it’s disloyal/insulting to expect more.

          1. pancakes*

            Ugh. For people who don’t have any ownership stake to behave as if they do in terms of how much time and effort they put in, in a gamble that it’s going to pay off in ways a market rate job elsewhere will not, requires them to be a bit delusional. Not exactly a great quality to demand of employees!

        3. Not my usual name*

          Sometimes it comes down to taxes and economics. I may have the terminology wrong as it’s been 30+ years since I worked as an accounting clerk. There are direct and indirect costs. The costs of people who generate revenue for a company are considered direct costs. Everyone else are indirect costs even if the direct people couldn’t do their jobs (easily) without the indirect ones. So support staff like accounting and executive assistants are indirect. They’re also the ones who have to jump through hoops (often) to get overtime approved because more expense. The people on salary may not get any comp time no matter how much they work, so they’re a known cost.

          In the US, certain companies can write off salary expenses on the companies taxes if a person is doing “research”. At my company, that includes all the software developers and product owners and others working on the current software versions. If you’re writing documentation, or fixing a previous version, no. So the trainers and people working on customer projects are also considered indirect costs and their salaries can’t be written off.

    3. The answer is (probably) 42*

      I hope you got through to him, but my inner cynic doubts you did sadly- he’ll probably just double down.

      Regardless, you’re my hero for today!

      1. Beth*

        I am absolutely certain that I did not get through to him. But I didn’t do it for him; I did it for us, and for every person who has ever worked for him, or ever will work for him, because I could do it without losing my job. And damn, it did feel good!

        1. The answer is (probably) 42*

          I hope it echoes around in his brain when he loses his next admin. And when he’s trying to sleep.

    4. Commenter*

      He said, “I’d rather lose staff than pay that much.”

      Well, guess you’re getting what you wish for then!

    5. RagingADHD*

      I mean, the appropriate answer for anyone who just wants to gripe while refusing to change is always, “You are perfectly capable of fixing this. If you don’t want to fix it, stop complaining.”

      But nobody ever wants to hear it.

    6. New Mom*

      I love this! It also reminds me of conversations I’ve had with my parents where I’m trying to (kindly) let them know they are being unreasonable about something by asking probing questions and they just dig their heels in and or get mad.

    7. JelloStapler*

      But he won’t stop because people like that get really annoyed when things don’t go their way.

  9. Friday Anon*

    Do you have any go-to methods for dealing with a difficult job causing physical symptoms?

    Mine is causing stomachaches and mild panic attacks. I’ve tried drinking peppermint tea for the stomachaches and deep breathing for the panic, but I could use some more ideas.

    (I’m looking for a new job but it’s taking a while. )

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Tension Tamer tea by Celestial Seasonings has helped my in the past when I’m having anxiety.

      Sorry you’re going through this! Aside from looking for a new job, is there any changes at the your current one that could be made to help?

      1. commenter*

        Yogi yea also has a yummy Kava Stress Relief tea! And Friday Anon, have you thought about/considered CBD?

        1. Friday Anon*

          I’ve tried the Yogi tea Stomach Ease but it didn’t help too much. Does the Kava have much actual kava in it?

          1. Commenter*

            Hmm, I’m not sure! I just checked and apparently I’m out so don’t have a box to read. They also have a Honey Lavender Stress Relief tea that I like (not sure the ‘science’ behind it, but it tastes good)

        2. mandatory anon*

          The kava tea knocks me out. I thought maybe it was a gimmick, but once I grabbed it instead of my usual workplace tea and noticed I could barely keep my eyes open for a couple of hours.

      2. Friday Anon*

        I’ll look for that one!

        Unfortunately, there’s not much I can change in my current job. I’m trying to change my anxiety toward it.

    2. Colette*

      Some things that might help:
      – implement a “work is done, I’m going to forget it until the next workday” routine. (Maybe it’s a walk, or a shower, or something else that lets you have some time to process the day)
      – make a point of reaching out to people in your professional network who know you to be competent and a good worker. I’m not sure what the problem with your current job is, but speaking with people who know you to be competent can help counteract some of the issues.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        I have a literal physical marker on my commute that once I am past that I am done thinking about work until I pass it again the next day. It’s a little silly but it works really well.

        1. Watry*

          I have something similar–if I catch myself thinking about work, I imagine sweeping the thought (and the workday) out of my brain.

      2. Jora Malli*

        My last job was really bad for me, and taking a shower after work was actually super helpful. It’s like metaphorically washing away the terribleness.

        Also, OP, do you have a hobby or interest that you find soothing/calming? Using your off-work time to empty your body of some of the stress and anxiety won’t make your job less awful, but it will move your baselines so that you can handle the awfulness without it harming you quite so badly.

        I hope your job search turns up something really soon!

    3. Beth*

      Back at TerribleOldJob, I had to do a lot of meditation and focus when things got really bad. I spent a lot of the time when not at work doing things that helped distract me, and gave me heavy doses of positive energy; and that was one of the things I focused on. I used to have specific physical gestures that I used to remind me of my offwork support activities, and I would take a short walk in the hallway and center myself on that.

      1. Friday Anon*

        Can I ask what you did that gave you doses of positive energy? I think I need to add more things like that. (Only if you want to share!)

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I got one of those microwavable grain heating pads. It’s nice on my neck, shoulders, lower back, and stomach – all places I tend to carry stress.

    5. NikNak's Mom*

      If at all possible, can you do some physical activity immediately before and after work? Not like a full gym work out, but maybe a short walk? Even park at the far end of the lot if your commute doesn’t allow this? I found a good way to ground myself before and then to recenter after work was walking. I was very lucky that I could walk to/from work most of the year for my last difficult job. When an injury meant I had to drive again, I found my anxiety/panic increased 10-fold. I think that walk helped me with the transitions. My husband would joke he knew if I had a bad day because I would get home 5-10min faster than on my regularly difficult days from walking out my rage!

      1. Kes*

        Seconding this – I find going for a walk outside really makes a difference for me. There was a point last year where I was very stressed out by certain things happening at work and I found myself going for short walks every morning to try and calm myself down and stave off panic attacks. Even when not at that point, I try and go for a walk outside at least once a week where possible because there’s a noticeable effect when I haven’t been for a few weeks. I don’t know how much of it is being outdoors and how much of it is being active but I find it very helpful. And obviously trying to set work thoughts aside when not at work, which may require trying to detach a bit more emotionally from what’s happening at work and take a mental step back from it.

      1. stressball*

        Watch out with this one — it can lead to constipation. (I know from experience…)

        For “sour stomach” type anxiety/stress symptoms, I now drink lots of water, do deep breathing, and listen to my body when it says I should stop eating, even if it’s after some ridiculously tiny amount of food.

    6. Floris*

      I feel this so much at the moment. I’m also dealing with similar symptoms. If I’m feeling particularly stressed, I walk away from my desk and organize something in my home/office. Sometimes just cleaning something can help me re-center my brain. I’m also a big fan of the 54321 method
      5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you.
      4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you.
      3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear.
      2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.
      1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’d switch to ginger tea – much better for the stomach. (When I had some similar stress symptoms, peppermint was on the “avoid these things” list I was given.)

      What distract/calms you down? Invest free time in those activities. Even just sitting in a park or garden could be helpful.

        1. AnonRN*

          Peppermint can relax the bottom of your esophagus and lead to reflux/heartburn, which is why it’s cautioned against. Monitoring how you feel before and after could help you decide whether it’s helping you or not! (I’m also a ginger fan, but I do like strong Peppermint candy for nausea sometimes.)

    8. Gnome*

      General anxiety symptom go tos:

      Pressure points (press/rub the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, you can Google other ones
      Increase the green/plant life/sunlight available
      Walk as much as possible
      Drink lots of water
      The Calm App

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Yes, pressure points! I’ve used them a lot in meetings that were causing me physical distress. If you can do it subtly, I also like alternate nostril breathing (I even used to do it in in person meetings sometimes.)

      2. Friday Anon*

        I’ll look for pressure points!
        I love the Calm app. I recently started using the sleep stories.

    9. Paris Geller*

      What works for one person might not work for everyone, but with that being said, here’s things that have either helped me when I was in a difficult job or have helped my friends/family/etc. in difficult jobs:

      -Have some sort of routine that symbolizes the end of the work day, whereas after you DO NOT think about work. I know this is easier said than done, but for me personally it was the most effective strategy. Some people mention taking a walk/using a specific point in their commute (basically what I did). For my dad, it was taking off his uniform because he had a job that required one. Also, don’t just make it a goal to not think about work, but have a plan in place when inevitably your mind drifts to work, whether it’s “every time I think about work I’m going to to remember that really great vacation” or “every time I think about work, I’m going to physically move my body a little bit and take a short walk”. Have something to redirect your energy to.
      -Put as much of your before/after work on routine as you can. If you drive to work, fill up your car every Wednesday or what have you so you never have to stop for gas on the way in. If you pack your lunch, do it the night before, lay out your clothes, etc. I found this just helps me feel a bit more put together and more like I can tackle anything in the morning.
      -Gentle exercise/movement is great. Adapt to your life and whatever feels good to you, but try to get in a walk, brief yoga or something every day. I personally love swimming and find my mind just completely empties in the water, but everyone has their own thing. You can look up free, quick ten minute yoga or meditation videos on YouTube you can do from your own living room.
      -For your physical symptoms, I think peppermint tea and your deep breathing for panic is a great start. Are you doing your own deep breathing or doing some sort of guided deep breathing? Personally I find guided works best for me–there are free apps and again YouTube videos. If I try doing it on my own, I concentrate too much. I like a calming voice telling me what to do.
      -Therapy, if you can. I know not everyone has access to affordable and accessible therapy, but if you do, it can be really helpful. I did therapy for the first time while in a horrible job that made me doubt myself so much, and I grew and learned so much from the experience. If your current horrible job has an EAP, definitely reach out and see what’s available.

    10. Esmae*

      Is massage an option? I find that if I’m physically more relaxed, I’m mentally more relaxed, which helps with anxiety and stress.

    11. Another Anon*

      You have my sympathy. I second Tension Tamer, as well as mint/lavender herbal tea. Another thing that helped me was taking a shower after I got home. Also, find support, whether that’s through friends/family, a group your part of, a counselor, a pet.

    12. Maiasaura*

      My main offering is just reassurance that not all jobs are like this, and you will almost certainly have a job that is less awful soon. You cannot be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation and that is no reflection on you or your ability to cope or to be a good worker. Just because this job stinks doesn’t mean that you won’t soon find another that you can be happy and content in.

      My first professional job was in an extremely toxic setting (where everyone was very well-meaning, which made it worse). I developed *hives* from the constant stress. These are some of the things that helped me–you probably are already aware of them, so if this is all old news to you, just take them as a sign of support from the universe, OK?

      You can’t cure the root cause of the anxiety right now (though you are working on it), so treat the symptom. Therapy is great if you can find/afford it. Reduce any outside stressors you can–now is not the time to beat yourself up about not achieving X, Y, and Z in your hobby/personal life.

      Going outside if you can is very helpful, especially if you can get to a leafy green place without heat exhaustion. It doesn’t have to be exercise–sitting next to a window and watching the birds is lovely. I have a couple hummingbird feeders outside a window where I can watch very small birds be giant jerks to each other for hours. It’s a commitment, since once they start to anticipate the nectar they will seek it out, but if you can take 5 minutes every few days to rinse out the feeders and refill them with sugar, it’s a beautiful form of entertainment.

      Getting to a place of deep relaxation with meditation helps my body get a baseline of calm. When I started, my anxiety was way too severe to just sit and focus on my breathing, so I used guided meditations where I could focus on the speaker’s voice. YouTube has some good ones, as does Spotify and Insight Timer. I really like the Headspace app–it’s fantastic and has short 3-minute emergency calming meditations for panic all the way through 10-session courses on specific topics–but it’s not free ($12.99 per month, but the sleepcasts alone are worth it for me).

      If you’re in the US, exercise outdoors right now is likely pretty unappealing, but regular gentle exercise is often as effective as medication for anxiety (seriously!). Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is free and fun and she has lots of yoga for relaxation and destressing that is accessible (at least it is for this obese middle-aged woman with an arthritic knee).

      Guard your sleep! Sleep hygiene is hard–when I am stressed is when I most want to zone out with screens or books instead of sleeping, but making sure I get a solid 8 really helps me function. Headspace sleepcasts are great if my mind is racing, and if you don’t mind a bit of woo, Michael Sealey’s Sleep Hypnosis tracks on Spotify or YouTube are pleasantly drony, and even if you don’t buy the info about energy or healing it’s still a kindly voice saying nice things till you nod off.

      Above all, be gentle with yourself. You’ve got enough people giving you a hard time; coddle yourself like you would a small child who needs comforting and their basic needs met with kindness.

    13. Baeolophus bicolor*

      Everyone has some great solutions. A couple of things that helped me when I was in that sort of job:
      -A 15-20 min outside sit/walk 3-5 times a week in a green space (park, greenway, yard, etc). Birdwatching is a good way to do it (outside, can be shady, get to see birds, can keep mind busy looking for birds but also you are in the moment).
      -If you drink coffee or black tea, try swapping some of it out for good jasmine green tea, poured at below boiling and steeped for not longer than 1.5 mins/8 oz. The first time I drank it, my entire body involuntarily relaxed muscles I hadn’t even known were tense.
      – For the stomachaches, try reducing or eliminating foods known to cause acid reflux (anything super fatty or acidic, like spicy foods, coffee, tomatoes, garlic and onions, etc). No idea whether it will help you, but my stomachaches from my stressful job were significantly reduced with this.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Beef up the self-care. Rest, hydration and whole foods- fruits and veggies, ideally fresh. Reduce or if possible reduce or eliminate, caffeine and sugar. (Try as best you can and some days will be better than others.

      Breathe. In through the nostrils and let it go out sloooly through pursed lips. Practice this in calm moments so when the panics hit you are more familiar. I like to do this exercise before I doze off at night. I think I sleep better.

      The next one is going to sound silly initially, bear with me. Use affirmations. Again with practicing in calm moments say reassuring things to yourself, “I will take good care of me.” or “I will make sure I have what I need for x.” Sometimes panic stems from the feeling that everything is out of control. You can first and foremost promise that you will take the best care of yourself that is possible. And you can look for ways to protect or fortify your interests and concerns. This part here takes longer. I had a job where protecting my interests and concerns was a lot like playing whack-a-mole IRL. I’d get one thing taken care of and something else would fall apart. If this sounds all too familiar it maybe that you have reached a point where you should consider moving on. In my case I had to face the fact that I worked for people who ENJOYED failure. Martyrdom was a crowning achievement. I had to take a hard look at that and scold myself in to remembering this is NOT normal and it is NOT healthy.

      1. pancakes*

        I haven’t tried your third suggestion but the first two seem sensible and likely helpful. For people wanting to step down caffeine consumption, try Japanese hōjicha tea. It’s roasted green tea and it’s lower in acidity and caffeine. It has a nice, toasty flavor and you can have it hot or cold.

    15. quill*

      When it comes to panic attacks for me, headphones and the ability to not hear dying printer noises, the boss shouting down the phone, etc. is a godsend. Absent that, I’m a pretty reliable volunteer for copier related drudgery and inventory management, because 1) the copier cannot judge me, 2) The box of files from 1982 does not know if you are crying and if you’re in the filing closet neither does anyone else.

      Another thing: figure out your caffeine intake schedule and dosage and stick to it. Cutting it out entirely probably won’t help, because panic wears you out. Increasing it to try and give yourself the energy to deal with all this can end up making the stomachache worse.

      At worst job I took up timing my lunch break to specifically 1) not coincide with my coworkers 2) bring me to a local bike trail at the busiest time of the work day for dog walking in the hopes that I could “coincidentally” be in the way of a friendly canine.

    16. voluptuousfire*

      More for mental health, but I kept a post-it on my monitor saying “you are getting out. You can do it. You are worth it!” (I WFH, btw so no one saw this). The reminder helped.

      But for physical symptoms of anxiety from my job, I’ve taken L-theanine before and it’s helped. It’s an amino acid supplement found in green tea that is supposed to help anxiety.

      Also walks help. Just getting that energy out.

    17. Rana*

      When I had a job that was making me physically ill with anxiety, the best thing that I found to do was write my deepest fears down in a notebook (and I am NOT normally a journalling-type person). I wrote down exactly what was worrying me and the worst case scenario I could think of if what I was worrying about came true, and then what would happen if that worst case scenario came true. It really helped me put everything in perspective and be able to detach a bit more. Of course, it certainly helped A LOT that I had enough of a safety net that losing my job would not ruin my life, so take this advice with a grain of salt if you are not fortunate enough to be in that position. But I found it really helped, even with “dumb” concerns like “the CEO hates me.”

    18. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      Can you build in things to look forward to at points throughout the day? For example, can the tea and the deep breathing become things that you schedule, so you know that, say, at 10:00 I’m going to enjoy a nice cup of tea. And 8:30-10:00 might suck, but you have that thing to tell yourself, “I’ve got to get through to 10 and then I can have my tea.” And then maybe from 10 – 12:30 you’re able to look forward to a lovely lunch you brought, and then from 1-3:30 you can look forward to another cup of tea. Obviously these are just examples and the times might not reflect your actual work, but when I’ve had a very hard time getting through work, having those benchmarks to look forward to has helped a little bit. I find it easier to refrain from catastrophizing when I’m focusing on a small chunk of time.

    19. Quinalla*

      Try to make daily time for things that destress/energize you. Remember that even if you can get rid of the stressor, you still have to deal with the daily stress building up from it in your body. Referencing Burnout: Unlocking the Stress Cycle here if you haven’t read it. Things that help me:
      1. Exercise – I either walk outside or use our stationary recumbent bike. For me, I really need 40-45 minutes before I feel the stress starting to drain away, YMMV. And I try to do this 4-5 times a week for it to be most effective for me.
      2. Read – whether a physical book, my kindle, or audio books while I do chores. Reading is very restorative for me because I enjoy it and it gives me alone time which I need very much.
      3. Getting outside – A walk on a forest trail is my favorite, but even just sitting outside eating lunch on my screened porch or at a restaurant is very restorative.
      4. Playing board games/D&D – we have a small regular group for each of these and it is always a lovely evening.
      5. Playing video games – Either multiplayer with my husband (and sometimes my kids and/or siblings) or solo games. I generally like things that engage the brain, have some to zero dexterity challenge, but aren’t too brain intensive.

      For me 1,2 & 3 are most important. The other thing I do when there is something I can’t change immediately is work on planning for things I can change that may help with what can’t. That kind of planning calms me a lot. So if I’m stuck in a crap job, what is something I can learn at the job or on the side that will help me when I’m able to look for a new one? Things like that.

      The other thing I do is try to schedule my work days to be a mix of focused work time, meetings, etc. so I’m not just back-to-back meetings and on-with-people time, but also not 100% focused work time. I’ve found a good range of balance that works for me which I try to stay in. Not sure how much say you have in your work day, but even just building in some regular 15minute breaks can help.

      And meditation and gratitude journaling are both great things. I don’t do either regularly as they aren’t vital for me personally (I do have a gratitude practice though and it is helpful), but I recommend them as things folks should try as they can be very helpful.

  10. AnonForThis*

    Any tips for staying professional in an interview when you know you will not be hiring an interviewee?

    This is an internal applicant sent to us by HR and everyone on my small team has had at least one very negative experience with this person. I am a minor supervisor, no hiring capacity or control over salaries etc., but I do provide guidance and help assign the workflow.

    “Barbara” is applying to essentially be in the same role that I am; she works in a related field but not the same one, at the same institution. Let’s say she works in improving llamas via breeding, feed choice, various other husbandry, while I work in the rules and regulations that cover that area, and help make sure the region’s farms are following the rules and treating the llamas well.

    Barbara has been a pain in the rear to everyone I work with. She argues back on topics she doesn’t understand; she is stubborn and has a major attitude. (In light of some other questions recently, just for background: most people in this discussion are women, and all of my direct coworkers are WOC. Both Barbara and I are white women.) Her actions and attitude frequently create additional problems rather than solving them, in an environment that specifically promotes collaborative work, not just with your team but across the entire organization.

    The job I do requires strong knowledge of these llama-related rules and regulations, as well as a skill for dealing with very “prickly” llama farmers who often feel they know what’s best, so you often have to be able to let them work through their frustrations and feelings on you and then bring them around to understanding your point.

    I hate that we’re stuck with this pointless interview (beyond just giving her interviewing experience), but how do we make the best of it?

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Would it help to regard it as a test run? Presumably you’ll be doing more interviews for this position (since you aren’t hiring Barbara), so you could use this as a way to spot-test your interview process. Imagine you don’t know anything about Barbara, and see if red flags come through in the interview itself. If not, you know you need to find a way to probe those areas.

      (Of course, if you’re an old hand at interviewing for this role, this probably won’t help.)

    2. Venus*

      I would ask her for how she deals with difficult situations, for example an argumentative farmer, and see what she comes up with.

      1. The answer is (probably) 42*

        To add to this- tailor the interview to address the specific interpersonal difficulties you’ve experienced with her. Ask her other scenario questions where you know she’s been inappropriate or hard to work with in the past. Not as any kind of gotcha, but as a way to see what’s going on inside her mind that she uses to justify her behavior to herself. Who knows, maybe you’ll gain some insight that’ll make it easier for you to work with her going forward! Still don’t offer her the job, but it sounds like either way you’ll have work with her in the future, so you might as well take advantage of this to try and figure out how her brain works a bit.

        And then report back here and tell us what she said, because it’s guaranteed to be entertaining.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I would definitely ask her to answer some hypotheticals — as prickly as you can.

      AND then as part of the conversation, either before the scenarios are presented, or as a wrap up after the answers (whichever makes more sense) specifically say out loud — “One of the most important features of succeeding in this role is finding collaborative solutions, and we know that many of our clients come to the table feeling prickly. The successful candidate for the position will prioritize this collaborative strategy.”

      Being SUPER specific about this being your priority upfront then gives you ammunition for the after effects of not hiring her, including the things she’d need to improve if she wants to apply again later. “The candidate we chose had very strong recommendations from peers and supervisors for her collaborative skills, which was a priority for us.”

    4. Hairy HR Guy*

      Yeah, its a sucky position to be in. I am in HR and get why your company may be doing this. Some companies have specific policies/practices that all internal candidates have to be interviewed. I’ve had to send some people to hiring managers knowing the candidate wasn’t going to work out.

      But… there are also times when you learn something about them (or yourself) in these interviews. Look for those opportunities! Acknowledge that people are squishy and imperfect!

    5. Fabulous*

      I think #3 today offers a great script for this interview!

      “This role requires strong skills in relationship-building and collaboration, and those have been areas where I’ve seen you struggle. For example, ____ (fill in with specifics). If you’re interested in this type of role in the future, we can work on those things going forward.”

    6. *daha**

      Is it possible for you to directly ask her about an incident that is public knowledge? “I have a question for you about an interaction you were in last month. [details] As a result of this, other staff had to devote their time to [correcting the issue]. If you receive this promotion, how do you propose maintaining cordial relations with staff and farmers at all levels?”
      Or maybe “Do you understand that this treatment of others is completely inconsistent with the role you are applying to?”
      I’m trying to say – don’t ignore the elephant in the room. Point to it and ask about it.

    7. george*

      I think of these types of interviews as skill-building exercises for me as an interviewer, a practice run if you will, a honing of my practices and questions. I had to interview a very unpleasant internal candidate once and I pretended to myself that we were doing a role-play as part of training each other. It worked for my mental state.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      I would probably ask behavioral questions like, “can you tell me about a time when you had to convince someone of your point when they were hostile and emotional? What approach did you use? How did it work?” If you have personal, direct experience of Barbara being a bad collaborator, you could even say something like “this role requires a lot of collaboration and relationship-building. I remember an instance a few months back where you were working on the Llama Feed project with Tangerina, and you were visibly frustrated and used unprofessional language when she explained that you were wrong about the Feed Quality Regulation–which you were. Can you tell me how you might handle that same situation now, knowing the importance of collaboration?”

    9. RabbitRabbit*

      Thanks all, this is helpful. I’ve already been talking with my same-level supervisor counterpart and the supervisor one level up, as we’re in the same interviewing group.

      Unfortunately (?) for some of the more egregious cases, I was not directly part of them, but my own supervisor was, so we’ll see about what kind of real-life examples we can decide on. The “how do you deal with difficult people” question is pretty common so a variation on that would not be unexpected at all, and I’ve interviewed internal candidates (different roles) before so tailoring them to known situations is common too.

      Interviewing candidates (for my group or a ‘partner’ team) isn’t something I do on the regular but generally at least once or twice a year I find myself involved in them. So practice is always welcome.

    10. Jenna Webster*

      Work on changing interviewing traditions/rules. Our company finally stopped doing courtesy interviews and it’s better for everyone that way!

  11. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m actually getting some imposter syndrome! So they raised my pay 10%! But I feel undeserving. ( I’m not giving it back lol) Never thought this would happen to me.

    My workplace is also having some racial drama with a family refusing to have a white worker. We are too understaffed for people to be picky! So that’s the news from lake woebegon.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      The areas I was marked down in are planning , organization and leadership ( the first two I’m semi disabled in and the last sounds boring)

    2. Jora Malli*

      I’ve seen a handful of your posts in these threads, and from the way you’ve described it you’ve ABSOLUTELY earned that 10%! You’ve been working really hard and I’m glad you’re being rewarded for it.

  12. Mouth-watering Maven*

    GOOD NEWS! After 20 years of non-profit work in 8 organizations – I received A MERIT RAISE! Base was 4% and I received 5%. The last time I received a raise was in 2011 and it was 3% and even then the Bd was hemming and hawing about that much (considering I was the ED and only staff member doing everything).

    GOOD NEWS! We’re hiring for a Corp Relations Mgr and we have (2) great candidates.
    BAD NEWS! three of us like one candidate, one likes the other. AND the timing is such that we could lose both if the timing doesn’t work out. We’re waiting for one candidate to say yes/no before we offer to the second candidate who wants to know by today so she can decide to take another office. Stress!

  13. Possibly Technical Program Manager?*

    I’ve been offered a switch to become a Technical Program Manager at my company. Currently I’m technically a dev, but I don’t really write code anymore because I get pulled into bigger organizational items. I’m not clear on what the role is or what kind of “programs” I’d be managing. Has anyone done this role at at tech company? Can you give examples of what constitutes a program in this context? The examples I’ve been given sound like handling miscellaneous work (ie: facilitate meetings on this tough inter-team bug) rather than an program or being a strategic role.

    My research has only turned up regular Program Manager descriptions, so I can’t tell (1) what the role actually would be or (2) if my company’s interpretation of the title meets industry standard (wouldn’t be the first time we’ve put the wrong title on a position)

    1. soontoberetired*

      My company had Technical Program Managers – now being phased out because we are *cough* becoming agile. they basically managed project managers. IE – the programs are multiple projects around one system, and those projects need co-ordination, and help, and that’s what the Program manager does. that person made sure everyone was on the same page, that the overall goal was understood, progress was being made, co ordinated shared work amount the teams, and generally made sure things were progressing.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      A program manager is usually the person who is concerned with a line of business or a set of key customers. Project managers work for a program manager.

      So facilitating a meeting, so that the team that writes the teapot kiln temperature monitoring software is using the API provided by the teapot assembly line control system, is part of program management. But when I say facilitating, I mean you’re going to invite the right people, write the agenda, list the desired outcomes of the meeting, distribute the bug reports in advance to the attendees, actually run the meeting itself to keep people on task, and track the resulting action items. It does not mean that you just book the room and make sure there’s a fresh pot of coffee.

      It sounds like your more recent experience – “get pulled into bigger organizational items” – is in line with this.

      I’ve worked as a program manager; the most recent time, I had 4 project managers reporting to me, with a total of ~50 people in the projects. I had to do financial/administrative management of some of the subcontractors who worked for us, I had to be in regular contact with the customers for trouble-shooting, I approved formal reports from the project managers, I had to help my boss write proposals and task orders for new business, and I did a lot of the hiring/interviewing work.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Well that’s something that I’m not sure there’s a consensus on.

          Are you a Program Manager of a Technical program? Or are you doing the Technical Management of a Program?

          If you’re a customer-focused organization (ie a given program has 1 customer, like a government contractor doing work for Office X of the Department of Commerce), then the Technical part means you’re going to be focused on the technical stuff, not the schmoozing of the customer – and possibly not the people management. But it’s going to depend on your company there.

        2. Martin Crief*

          Being able to meaningfully query estimates of time and budget requirements. Be able to detect when critical items have been omitted (e.g. rework following issues found by user acceptance testing) or padded. Have a good idea of project risks and how reasonable proposed mitigation strategies are. Defending resource requirements to those paying the bills. E.g. “Yes we need a test server, it needs to be the same spec. as the production server because we are going to do full load stress tests on it”.

          These are much easier if you have knowledge of the subject area. Coders who report indirectly to you will have more respect if they know you have a technical background.

    3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I work for one of the MAMAA companies, and my title as Program Manager was just changed to TPM. However, my work didn’t change. Essentially, I do more program management and execution work (i.e. ensure specific deliverables are getting done, etc) vs product management. That was the issue that defining TPMs was trying to address…that a program management role was either a product mgmt role, or a completely different program manager role. So now there’s a distinction. In fact, do we work for the same employer? :)

    4. Another Michael*

      Having been asked to take on this role you’re in a great position to simply ask how they’re envisioning it! Bring questions/concerns to the manager offering you this job and ask for the things you want/need/expect. The folks at your company have the actual answers to this question, and they clearly want you in the role so they’re motivated to address your concerns.

      1. Possibly Technical Program Manager?*

        No, they don’t know. All I’ve gotten is hand wavy responses with the one example being the referenced inter-team bug. I’m not convinced my boss knows what a program is, much less what a technical program manager is, which is why I’m trying to get a gut check on what my boss thinks vs what the industry thinks. I would be the first and only TPM, so I need to have a solid idea of what it in order to execute the role as my boss is extremely hands off. My boss’s motivation is to keep me on the team because I make him look good.

    5. Kes*

      I would expect a technical program manager to be managing larger technical initiatives and projects that often span areas or teams, so kind of like a project manager but at a higher level/broader scope. If the most your work can come up with is an inter-team bug that’s not exactly promising. However when you say you get pulled into bigger organizational items, what kind of things are those? Do they span beyond your team? Does your work have any large or multi-team projects or initiatives happening or being planned that you could be involved in running? (migration to a new system, rebuilt of a system or part of a system, introducing a new and complex feature or area, etc)
      It sounds like you aren’t really doing the job of a dev anymore so they’re looking officially move you into a higher level position. If they’re looking to promote you they’re presumably happy with the work you’re doing now so they may want to you to do more of that but maybe a bit more broadly or deliberately. Do you like the work you’re doing now? Are you mainly representing your team or technical areas in general? Are you leading a team or teams, planning, doing architecture, or coordinating the efforts of people or teams to ensure things proceed on track?
      It’s also not clear whether the title they’ve come up with is actually accurate to the role they want or need. Other possibly related titles: Technical lead, Staff Engineer, Principal engineer, Project manager, Director

    6. An Australian In London*

      TPM is one of those newer roles I’m personally quite excited by, because they’re halfway houses between IC and manager, and between technical and business. I love that sort of thing!

      Ask ten people and you’ll get ten answers, but I think a TPM is firstly like the distinction between a Program Manager and a Project Manager. The Program Manager sits above multiple projects, leads discussions within and between different teams, and is the interface between top management and projects. A TPM is a technical version of this: expected to be technically literate enough to understand the tech issues faced by projects and teams, and the tech decisions that must be made. They will be the liaison and translator between tech and business at levels ranging from ICs to management.

      It’s a job that absolutely needs tech skills and “soft” skills. That’s a rare combination and so people tend to be promoted into it from a background of only one of tech or business/project management. I think both tend to be disasters for different reasons.

      You say you’re technical a dev but currently working on org issues. That says to me you’re already likely doing some of the work this role and level requires: you don’t have to be expert in every tech area (… who is?) but you do need to be able to follow them into the technical weeds while extracting what matters to the business and to the executive level.

      It’s *not* the same as Engineering Manager or Development Manager but has many of the same goals: will you be able to tell how healthy dev teams and tech projects are? Can you talk OKRs and JTBD? Can you teach an executive nearing retirement how to set the clock on their VCR? :)

      Sorry for such a long answer, I got excited just thinking about this!

  14. Cat Mouse*

    2nd question. My husband recently turned down a job offer as his current job was starting to improve and he didn’t want the longer commute. He learned earlier today that almost all his work is going to be outsourced and now he’s worried about his future in the company. I advised he could reach out to the company with the offer and indicate he was still interested, but he doesn’t think that would be possible. I feel I’ve read advice here that while it is not ideal, it can be done. Thoughts?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      It’s doable and doesn’t hurt anything to try (the worst they can say is no). However, I’d also have him talk to his current company to learn more about the future plans for his role, other internal opportunities, etc.

      1. Cat Mouse*

        Yeah, he told me right after he found out (wfh on Fri.) So everyone in his team/company is going a little nuts in his company slack. His big worry is that anything new will go through the project manager that has caused information backups and throttled workflow with an inability to communicate. He was going to accept the new job, but then decided the commute wasn’t worth the 20k raise (5 minute commute to 25 minute commute) I’m just thinking options for him

        1. Esmeralda*

          What has he got to lose? The worst thing that could happen is….they say no.

          But they might say yes.

          There’s no cost to doing it. Not real downside (except maybe feeling sad if they say no).

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          He was going to accept the new job, but then decided the commute wasn’t worth the 20k raise (5 minute commute to 25 minute commute) I’m just thinking options for him

          I’m sorry, and I know this violates one of Alison’s instructions, but that doesn’t pass the sniff test. $20M ($20,000)/y is $1,600/mo, even if the government takes half, that’s still $800/mo. That’s low-end Tesla/Lexus/etc money for less than an hour more per day. (Not that he’d have to spend the money that way, but that could be invested in making the commute more pleasant)

          Are you sure there aren’t other problems with the job that lead him to decline and the commute wasn’t just a convenient scapegoat?

          1. Abit*

            I mean if this meant an hour extra childcare or elder care costs per day, it could definitely work out more expensive.

      2. irene adler*

        Reach out, as others have mentioned.

        Also, IF the current company is planning things (like laying off folks including hubby), asking current company about upcoming plans re: current role may not yield accurate information. Managers tend not to want to show their cards before they are ready. So they may give assurances that there’s nothing to worry about or indicate that hubby will not be laid off. Only, when lay off day arrives, hubby is given his pick slip.

        I’ve personally witnessed this. In fact, management lied to my face when I asked. Told me “there will be no layoffs” even though the rumor mill indicated otherwise. Sure enough, folks were laid off.

        Pay attention to the rumor mill.

    2. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      He just definitely reach out and ask. The worst they say is sorry we’ve moved on to other candidates. But in this case, definitely doesn’t hurt to go back and explain that what he thought was going to be an opportunity with his current employer didn’t happen after all, and he is still very interested in the new role for xyz reasons.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      He should keep job searching. The company may have offered the role to someone else, and even if not, there’s still the commute issue.

    4. george*

      He can always reach out and see if the position is still open. Allison has given some scripts for this type of question in the past. As long as he is prepared to hear that the answer is no, and, as long as he is prepared to face the commute, etc.

    5. tamarak & fireweed*

      What the others said, but also, I wouldn’t bring up the commute when he contacts them back. I’d stick to a line like “I initially declined, after weighing all my options carefully, because I saw a future with my current employer that sounded attractive. But there has been a recent change in direction, so I reconsidered.”

  15. Friday Anon again*

    How do you cope when you’re in a job you really dislike but can’t find a new one yet?

    I’ve been looking for a new one, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to get through the day to day of a job you really dislike?

    I have to force myself to go in and have stomachaches and panic. I play music to try to distract myself.

    What do other people do when they have job situations like this?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Been there! What worked for me was planning something in the evening – like ‘I’m going to do that quest in Skyrim I really like!’ or ‘I’m going to start reading that book on nuclear history I’ve had for years’ or ‘ooh gonna just do some cross stitch colouring in’. Little things that I will look forward to but don’t require much effort.

      Having something to look forward to really helps me get through a stressful day/week/month/life.

    2. Random Username Today*

      I’m the same boat – I take a proper break at lunch time and usually go for a long walk after work to destress (especially helpful as I WFH). I try to make plans for the evening/weekend even if it’s just “go to the shop and clean the toilet”. Apart from that and eating too much crap I can’t think of much else!

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I also take breaks during the day to do something enjoyable, get some sun and listen to music that is enjoyable during the work day

    4. commenter*

      i don’t know if this will work in your situation, but what frustrates me about my job is that it doesn’t feel like what I’m working on will pay off (think writing expansion plans at a time where budgets are being slashed and we won’t be expanding anytime soon).
      What’s helped me is thinking of the work as giving me fodder for my interviews (or developing skills that I want to use in my next job). Basically building my resume, rather than the work itself paying off.

    5. Twisted Lion*

      I focus on what Im going to do after work. I think about petting my cat, playing video games or trying a new restaurant. Basically, the reason why I go to work to earn money. I also jam out to music lol. Sometimes it helps more than others.

    6. Sherm*

      Job search like crazy. I don’t mean “just get a new job!”, because I know it’s not that easy, but every application you send is another hope that you can get out of there soon, which hopefully will be somewhat reassuring.

    7. quill*

      At worst job I got really, really into podcasts (during the work day) and pokemon go in the evenings / lunch breaks. When waiting for a full workday to go by before I could reward myself by not being there was too much, I looked for the least awful tasks, that would keep me unobserved for the most amount of time: labeling several hundred samples, for example.

    8. Cedrus Libani*

      Make sure you have a life outside work. Specifically, you need something that you value, and where the progress that you make is visible to yourself. Work may be an exercise in futility, but you just survived Week 4 of your Couch to 5K, and those daffodils you planted are finally blooming…life doesn’t suck, you don’t suck, it’s your job that sucks.

      Try to find SOME value in it. Presumably the satisfaction of a job well done isn’t an option; maybe you’re unsuited for the job, maybe the job itself is structured to make sure nobody could do it well. Is there something that would look good on your resume, even if it’s not objectively the highest priority thing to do, and how much can you get away with working on that instead? Can you make some sort of a game with yourself – race a clock, or bribe yourself (e.g. if you make it to work on time X days in a row, or do Y timed intervals of a dreaded task, you get a reward)?

      FWIW, I got through a bad job by repeating something like this in my head: “When I graduate, I will be SO employable. This is the last job I will ever be stuck in. Once I’m out of here, I will have a policy: if you’re mad at me, you have five minutes. Call me every name in the book. But when those five minutes are up, if we’re not in solutions mode yet, I’m GONE. I will unclip my badge, hand it over, give you the two-finger salute, and moonwalk out of the building.” That boss was good for only two things: giving vague instructions, despite having an extremely specific vision of the desired outcome; also, responding to any hint that his employees could not immediately divine his super-secret plans (e.g. asking for clarification, or worse, solving the problem but in a slightly different way) with long and weirdly personal rants about our intelligence, motivation, and character. I could sit there politely, agreeing that it was a serious concern that I’d made the “blue teapots” with the standard blue instead of navy. But in my head? “MOONWALK, mf’er. It’s coming. Try me.”

    9. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      I have been there. I took it hour by hour because otherwise I had this overwhelming cloud of dread, “I’ll never get out of here, I have to drive here day after day forever.” Hour by hour (sometimes half-hour by half-hour!) helped me get through. I built in rewards for myself after completing every task or every half hour. Examples might include “I will read AAM when I finish revising the dumpling manual,” “After I make the schedule, I will drink a cup of tea,” “30 more minutes till I get to eat that delicious curry I brought for lunch.” Bigger rewards for more unpleasant tasks, maybe a long walk after a difficult meeting. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day didn’t help me too much; it just made me more resentful that I was stuck at work in the first place. But building things in during the workday helped me get through it. I did also use a fair amount of PTO. If that’s available to you, I encourage it!

    10. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      I feel like I ask a version of this question monthly. I daydream about putting in my notice.

      When things were really bad for me last year I took some medical leave but I know that’s not an option for everyone. I’ve upskilled and I’ve been networking and applying and been a finalist and got a part time position in my new field but nothing that will let me quit my FT job yet.

      I’m doing the minimum I can at work to get through the day. I’m extremely overworked while my teammates are bored and work isn’t being equitably distributed. Every week I tell my manager it’s not sustainable. I’m trying to emotionally detach as much as possible. But it’s hard. And it sucks.

  16. Mouse*

    How do you feel about a quote on a resume? Something like this:

    “Elevated llama grooming to new heights within the company” (CEO) by creating a new process for llama cleaning and design

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Can’t say about the USA but if I saw that on a CV here I’d roll my eyes, sorry! It’ll come across as hyperbole and exaggerated.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      I’d maybe try to explain how your llama cleaning/design process improved things, using numbers, and then *maybe* add a note at the end of the statement about it receiving special commendation from the CEO.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I agree with RabbitRabbit! “Created new process for llama grooming and cleaning that (state results) and received special commendation from CEO.”

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      I think it could work in a cover letter, but I would focus on the actual accomplishment in the resume. Is there something measurable you could say? “Created new process for llama cleaning and design that resulted in [x] improvement in grooming outcomes”?

    4. Another Michael*

      Not on a resume, but this might be appropriate in a cover letter. Think something like a sentence where your describing your work in this area in greater detail and note the recognition.

      Your example quote, however, isn’t necessarily descriptive enough to add much value. I understand you may have simplified it for this setting, but if it’s really just “new heights within the company” it’s not giving enough detailed color to be particularly useful. It would be more effective to note that your work in the area “garnered recognition from senior leadership” or something like that if the quote doesn’t have really valuable details.

      1. Mouse*

        Yeah, I did change it for the example. I’m getting the sense that the real version won’t work either, though. Maybe I can keep it lodged in my brain to pull out during an interview. I feel like it might be less odd if I deliver it verbally.

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

      Endorsements like that only have weight if they come directly from the person quoted (CEO), or somewhere independent of the candidate — like a newspaper article or something. Just writing a sentence in your cover letter or resume won’t carry much credibility.

    6. Mouse*

      Thanks, all. I’ll skip it. My problem was that this particular thing (a one-time project, which I now realize doesn’t align with the example I gave) doesn’t really have any numerical metrics associated with it, so I was trying to demonstrate that I achieved a high level of success. Back to the drawing board!

      1. tamarak & fireweed*

        If it helps, my roles also have rarely come with numerically quantifiable success ratings, and as far as they have, citing numbers seemed gimmicky to me as it didn’t reflect either why I was proud of the job done OR my value to my employer, really. So I have few of these and it hasn’t harmed me. “Organized 500-person industry convention to great client success” is fine, too.

    1. My heart is a fish*

      Nah, that’s exactly the kind of shit that self-styled “wombyn” like to peddle.

    1. CTT*

      I usually always take a lunch break (it’s a holdover from when I was hourly) but I usually spend my lunch break catching up on the news and that’s a big old NOPE for today, so I will happily bury myself in work for once. Sorry to this holiday.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I’m a librarian, so I’m spending my pre-lunch time putting together a “feel-good books” list which I will claim is for customers, but is actually for me because I could use some comfort stories right now.

      2. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

        Yeah, that’s what I normally do. I eat at my desk and catch up on news etc. But….not today. I’m going to go for a walk in the sunshine. I do block my calendar for 12-1 every work day to prevent the lunch time meeting and I push back hard on those when they are scheduled. It should only be used in high priority, extremely urgent situations.

    2. ecnaseener*

      LOL what a great day for my department to have back-to-back meetings 12-1 and 1-2!

      Without the sarcasm this time, a great day for me to have skipped the 12-1 in favor of lunch :)

      1. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

        Hope you didn’t get in trouble for skipping a meeting.

    3. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      Love this, but also…so frustrated that as a society we have reached a place where lunch breaks are ignored often enough to make this necessary! Because I’m the manager, I make a point of taking all my breaks (we have 15s in addition to lunch) pretty obviously to set the standard for staff. I encourage other managers to do this!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I used to work through mine at Exjob and just eat at my desk so I could leave early and avoid traffic. Since I had a cube and the break room on our floor was unpleasant to eat in (no windows, only one table that wasn’t full of stuff), it was pretty much no different from actually taking a break. I would sometimes read AAM but still be available if anybody needed something. And my coworker and I would go to lunch outside the office once in a while.

      At OldExjob, I took my full break to get away from the front desk. It depends on the work for me.

  17. No Tribble At All*

    Asking for extra money beyond a formal tuition policy — at a happy hour, my boss’s boss mentioned that I could’ve asked for a signing bonus because I’m 3/4 the way through a master’s degree, and I had to pay back my old company. I was just like “huh!” at the time, but now I kinda want to follow up on this because my classes cost more than our (paltry) tuition reimbursement. But we just had an all-hands where our CEO talked about reducing expenses. So would it look out of touch to ask my boss’s boss about this?

    Last time I asked for a signing bonus because of master’s degree (not at my current company), I got laughed out of the room, so I’m really really hesitant to ask again.

    1. JustMyImagination*

      I think it’s too late to ask for a signing bonus, but maybe you can ask for a bonus or a raise when you complete your degree?

    2. Doctors Whom*

      You’re already in the door – the signing bonus ship has sailed and you’ve lost your leverage to negotiate on benefits.

      I’d be more inclined to focus on whether there would ben an opportunity for a bonus or raise on completion of the degree.

  18. out of office*

    Other managers – what is the most self-serving thing you’ve done that your team also benefitted from/enjoyed? This week I gave my team a Friday off (we have 2 discretionary days per manager to use in the year) during my upcoming vacation because I decided to leave on Friday instead of Saturday… and they are THRILLED because there’s a big deadline on that Thursday and they’re excited to have a long weekend after :D

    1. out of office*

      I meant to add that I did this because I didn’t have enough vacation time to take an extra day :)

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Ohh what a great question!

      I think the closest I’ve come is to tell the staff in the period between xmas and new year that they can bring in videos, non messy craft projects, anything that’s not too loud/disruptive as that’s pretty much what I want to do.

      (That time is a one call a day at most time for us in IT, so as long as the few calls that do come in get dealt with I really don’t care whether you spend the rest of the time surfing the net)

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I don’t have the kind of authority to do much like that, alas! That kind of power rests with my grandboss. I wish I could do that!

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      Two OldJobs ago I was lucky enough to win a Nespresso machine in a charity drawing which I in turn decided to bring to the office to help fight against the rancid swill we were calling coffee at the time. You would’ve thought I invented electricity or something. People were SO happy!

    5. Digital Nomad*

      Until last month I managed a team of 80 on top of managing the program they worked for. Since our benefits are really generous, the cost of hiring more people is really high, but the cost of promoting someone isn’t. You probably see where this is going. I found enough money in our budget to promote my 7 best team members to “senior” team members and have them each manage 10-11 peers. The team leads were happy because they got more money and a better title, the other 73 employees were happy because they got more support, and I was happy because I went from working 60+ hours a week to working my 37.5 contracted hours each week! And, it cost the program less than hiring 1 additional team member (we had been considering hiring 3 people and now we didn’t need those positions).

  19. OyHiOh*

    Update on the good vibes post from last week (1st interview with an organization I’d really like to work for).

    I got the job!!!!!! Things moved fast – had 1st interview Friday morning, 2nd interview with the CEO on Monday. They asked for references late Monday and by Wednesday, I had a job offer in my inbox. I appear to have been the front runner pretty much from the moment they read my cover letter, which is absolutely mind boggling to me. AND my starting salary will be roughly in the middle of the range posted in the job listing, which is more than double what I’m making in my current job.

      1. OyHiOh*

        To be fair, my current job is in an over extended, under resourced non profit, the majority of whose budget comes from (US federal) government grants. I knew I was underpaid (and didn’t care as much two years ago because I was rebuilding my resume and reinventing a career) but truly didn’t realize how badly underpaid until this offer came through. This entirely changes my expectations for my career going forward.

        1. Venus*

          Whenever I see your name on the weekend thread I wonder how you’re doing. I’m so happy for you about this new job, congrats!!

  20. Potatoes gonna potato*

    Starting a new job in less than a month.

    I started applying to jobs, had an interview, and got a job offer all within the span of 7 days. Common sense tells me to enjoy the little bit of free time I have left but honestly I’m more stressed out on both ends, doing well at the job and managing all the home stuff. Driving this anxiety is a job I had in 2020 that I was fired from after 6 weeks.

    With this one, I was surprised to hear back so quickly and with a positive result. I felt like the interview was a disaster. I was 10 minutes late (I did call them ahead of time!), I stuttered A LOT, jumped around, would start my sentences over again, completely forgot my rehearsed answers and I had spilled foundation on my blouse. The chairs were extremely high and I couldn’t sit comfortably. I think the only good thing I did was make it VERY clear where I lacked experience. The partner I met with seemed to really like me and was really nice. He promised to call me on Monday…and he did! He extended a verbal offer way above the range I had been considering. I did get good vibes from him and the other people I had met very briefly (another partner, the admin who had been my point of contact and the receptionist).

    So my questions –

    I have never pushed a start date so far out – I was always a “I can start ASAP!” person but then I also didn’t have a child or other family obligations back then. Anything I should do to make a good first impression?

    The partner I met with will not be the one I report to. Is that unusual? I believe that person was not there that day and the interviewer told me that he just spoke with the other partners who all agreed with his decision and they made me the offer.

    This job will require me to make financial decisions and I’m petrified I’ll have the offer rescinded or I’ll get fired. That last job was in 2020 so I had the extra $$$ + unemployment to fall back on but I won’t this time. Mainly putting my daughter in FT daycare and getting a second vehicle for my commuting.

    The admin who had been my point of contact said that she will send me paperwork within the next 2 weeks. Would it be inappropriate to ask about the dress code now so I can plan accordingly (ie, dig through my storage or go shopping).

    Am I just overthinking about all of this? It’s wild that a few weeks at a job that isn’t even on my resume has affected me so much, even more than the 5-year one. But honestly I really miss the excitement and joy I used to have when I got my first full-time job where all I did was worry about what I’d wear.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I accepted and started a new job earlier this year. My start date was five or six weeks after I accepted the offer, at my request so I could handle life logistics. They were happy to see me on my first day and I didn’t feel I needed to do anything extra to “make up” for pushing the start date back a few weeks.

      I think now is a great time to ask the admin about the dress code so you can get your wardrobe in order.

    2. OyHiOh*

      I just got a job offer unbelievably fast as well. Congrats!

      It is entirely normal to push your start date 4 to 6 weeks out. Your first impression there will not be based on waiting a few extra weeks to start.

      Definitely talk with the admin who has been your point person, about dress code. I met enough people in my interview process to get a pretty good sense of my new office’s dress code but if you didn’t, definitely ask her.

    3. handmaid, I guess*

      I would ask for their personnel handbook in general, not just the dress code, so that you don’t appear to be focusing on the wrong thing.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed, ask if they can send you the handbook sooner, that should be easy to send ahead of the other paperwork. It’s always scary when you make a big change like this! Good luck with daycare and the car. I agree with others, daycare you can pull out of later if something were to happen, car is harder but still could sell it potentially. Congrats on the new job!!

    4. Observer*

      Mainly putting my daughter in FT daycare and getting a second vehicle for my commuting.

      Vehicle is a commitment, but FT Daycare is something you can pull back if you need to, so that’s a bit easier to deal with financially.

      Would it be inappropriate to ask about the dress code now so I can plan accordingly

      Totally appropriate.

    5. Commenter*

      I might be misinterpreting the timeline here, but it sounds like Admin said they’d send you paperwork within 2 weeks from today, and your start date is set for 4 weeks from today? That sounds entirely normal and in fact fast – I wouldn’t put in notice at OldJob until I had NewJob paperwork in-hand, so the 2 weeks from paperwork to start seems like the minimum?

    6. Anon for this one*

      I had to push out a start date due to surgery and asked them for anything I could get “up to speed” on while waiting to start the job. They couldn’t send me anything confidential of course but sent a list of specific things for me to research amd brush up on (I’m in tech but I expect there are regulations, techniques or whatever that apply for other fields to familiarise yourself with!)

    7. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I find the best way to deal with the “what if X terrible thing happens” anxiety is to plan for it. Literally write out what you will do if each of the terrible ideas happens. Then you have a plan, and knowing you have a plan makes it more concrete, less scary and more like you can cope with it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My wise friend used to talk about pick the worst possible thing you can think of an build a plan. Usually what happens is far less than worst possible thing and you can pull a modified plan out of the plan that you have already made.

  21. yogurt*

    What do you do when your partner is struggling with a job that’s basically crushed their spirit?

    My partner works in a creative field. He’s in his first “real” job and has been here for 4 years. I previously worked at the same institution, and it’s truly awful. Toxic, straight up corrupt.

    I’m not really looking for immediate advice. More like, how do you help your partner or someone you love rediscover what they want in work? Right now he is so crushed he doesn’t even want to be in the same industry, but is at a loss for where else to look. He’s amazingly talented in his field, very professional, good work life balance values. This job has just really poisoned his skills and confidence.

    1. Floris*

      Gosh, your partner sounds like me! The single most helpful thing my partner has done is just be present for me and remind me that I’m a capable, talented and skilled professional. Those toxic environments really suck the confidence out of you so having a reminder that I’m actually good at what I do is so helpful. It’s also hard to know what you want when you’re in survival mode at a crappy job. I’m planning on reaching out to a career coach to identify what I actually like to do in my professional roles. Having that outsider perspective can be really helpful. I know that some colleges/universities also offer free career coaching for alumni. Maybe that’s an option?

    2. kiki*

      I think it can be really helpful to remind them that there’s stuff beyond their toxic workplace. There are other places to work and there’s stuff outside the realm of work entirely. Plan fun things on the weekends, take a class that’s outside both your wheelhouses, socialize with people outside your career fields, etc.

      I went through something similar and my crushed spirit made me see myself as a problem and the toxic workplace as the only option. I knew intellectually that people find new jobs, but for whatever reason I felt like any sort of search or switch I would try would be doomed. Taking a painting class in the evenings reminded me that I have skills and like things and the world is full of opportunities. My job isn’t related to painting at all, but that’s still what did it for me.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Hoo boy, we just went through years of that and finally found a couple of job listings he was legit excited about applying for.

      Temperament and knowing your person are major factors in what you can constructively do. My partner has low-grade oppositional tendencies that make him kind of reflexively push back on anything that sounds like I’m telling him what he “should” do. He doesn’t get mad or argue, just automatically does the exact opposite. So I had to hang back far more than I wanted to, just to avoid poisoning the well.

      In the meantime, I just tried to be as enthusiastic and supportive as I could about any creative / hobby projects he seemed interested in, and asked his opinion and input on my own creative stuff, which made him want that for himself.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Kind of a different idea but sometimes we can offer ideas that they can push AGAINST. In that pushing against an idea they might manage to come up with something of their own.

      Now- key point- keep it light! Mention a different idea once then move on to another idea. When partner says– no, no, no- just say a light “oh okay.”

      My husband was a geeky guy. REAL geeky. If he decided to learn something technical he would master it. At one point he got stuck in a toxic situation…. for EIGHT years. Oh my, pulling him out of that, holy crap. So at one point a job doing X came up, where X can be dangerous work. When he mentioned X to his mother, she said, “Don’t tell your wife.” ha. I suggested it to my husband because I knew he could handle the work.
      He never applied. But it made him think about options. It made him think about what I thought of his abilities.
      I mentioned it once. He brought it up a couple times and then the subject fizzled.
      I moved on to Y type of work. This one even he agreed he would do the work successfully. But it was even more dangerous. At this point, he was starting to laugh a bit. That subject fizzled also. But I had made my point by merely mentioning the thought.

      He ended up staying in his field. He caught an ad that ran only one day and he applied. He beat out 50 other applicants and got the job. There were other factors going on at that point also and I can’t claim that my approach was some kind of magic bullet that got him out of that hole of a place he worked for.

      Talking about options is important. Showing how you believe in your partner is also important. I also think letting my husband take the lead on his own situation was important because when a person is in a toxic environment not having one’s own autonomy is a bfd. I’d cheer for him where I could and I’d help when he asked specific questions. And sometimes letting external factors motivate them is also a good choice.

  22. KofSharp*

    How do y’all deal with guilt when you’re leaving early? I’m an hourly worker and I won’t need overtime to get my work done on time, so I get to scoot on home early.
    I feel super guilty about this as my salaried coworkers don’t have this opportunity, and due to how everyone else has been working they aren’t in the same boat as me.
    Does it make me look bad?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      When I was in that boat I tried to be really subtle about leaving. Not bragging about weekend plans, not loudly annoucing it. It’s an optics issue unfortunately, that dreaded “team player” image. It’s really nothing to be guilty about salary vs hourly both have their own perks and disadvantages, and one of hourly perks is leaving on time!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This!

        And they’re most likely aware of the difference. Only a jerk would begrudge an hourly employee leaving on time when they’re salaried & have other types of flexibility.

      2. binge eating cereal*

        This is a really good point!

        To provide a different perspective on this – I have a direct report who was deemed non-exempt after a classification review and it was a big hit to her confidence and morale to go from salaried to hourly, especially because she was the only one in the office who was hourly. She’s since been promoted and is salaried again (YAY!), but before that happened, I made certain to never leave before her on Fridays because I didn’t want to rub in my flexibility as a salaried employee. Don’t feel bad about leaving when you hit your hours! If overtime isn’t an option (or one you don’t want to take), you’re just working your schedule.

    2. Nicki Name*

      You’re not leaving “early”, you’re leaving on time at the end of your scheduled hours. You’re being a good employee by following the rules of your job.

      If you want to feel bad, feel bad that your coworkers are trapped in horrible jobs that require routine extra work time.

    3. RagingADHD*

      1) Would you stay late to do their work?

      2) Would they stay late to do your work?

      Assuming both answers are no, tell the guilt brain to STFU. Their job is theirs, and yours is yours.

      1. KofSharp*

        I HAVE stayed late to do their work, it’s why I’m heading out an hour and 15 minutes early this week. I’m burning out.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work you would have to have special permission to stay late, as I would have to pay you overtime. So please don’t feel guilty and try to stay later! I am guessing your salaried co-workers know this, and don’t begrudge your departure. They probably also have higher salaries or enhanced benefits to make up the difference.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Been there. My first year in my current school I was on an 11 hour contract. The deputy principal often gave me subbing work to make up the rest of the hours, but…there were days when I still finished earlier than colleagues. I ended up with a permanent job after a few years in the school, so…I reckon it didn’t make me look too bad!

      Really, if your work is done, it’s done. If I didn’t have any classes, there was really no point to my sitting around in the staffroom. I mean, sometimes I had things to discuss with colleagues or whatever and did wait on to do it, but just doing it to show you’re “still at work” isn’t really necessary. In fact, because my role involves a certain amount of paperworky stuff (I’m a resource teacher, so my work can involve screening students for learning disabilities and so on), my head of department told me more than once to let her know when I’d hit my hours and to say “no” if she asked me to do work that put me beyond what I was being paid for. We don’t have the exempt issue and I had no problem doing a bit of extra work to help out – it’s part of teaching and that is fine – but 11 hours still had less prep than 22 hours!

  23. Feeling overwhelmed*

    I’ve been in my new role for about two months now and I’ve just been getting a gut feeling that things are off. Folks are a little too eager to talk badly about their colleagues/other departments. I’ve learned that my department has been chronically understaffed since the start of the pandemic but the expectation to handle the same work load persists. How long does it usually take folks to know things aren’t a good fit? I’m also just dealing with some serious burn out from my last role so it may be clouding my judgement here.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      “Folks are a little too eager to talk badly about their colleagues/other departments.”

      In my opinion, that alone sounds like a red flag that this is a dysfunctional workplace.

      To your question: If it was more minor signs or differences in workstyles, I’d say give it 6 months (e.g., a new employee prefers in-person chats/meetings but office tendency is to use emails unless urgent or say the team wants everyone to weigh in on every decision but the new employee prefers a clearer decision-maker). In this case, though, it sounds like this is an unhealthy environment.

      1. Feeling overwhelmed*

        Yeah, it’s been everything from “This department sends us a barrage of insults until we give them what they want” to “This person will be nice to your face but throw you under the bus”. I’m not sure how much exaggeration is happening or folks feeling burn out and taking it out on colleagues but it’s definitely giving me pause.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Not always, but some times this can be indicative of bad management. It’s safer to stab each other than it is to call a bad boss, “bad boss”. Groups tend to reflect their leadership. If leadership is messy then the group stands a higher chance of being messy also.

  24. The Giving Tree*

    My boss is leaving. I’ll be taking on some of his work. I’m terrified. Everyone has been sharing words of support and encouragement. They trust me, trust my judgment, etc. etc. But, I personally don’t know if I’m up to the challenge. Could be imposter syndrome, could be my own personal recognition of my capabilities. But either way, I’m very sad about the whole situation and kind of just want to leave, which is also sad because I’ve been with the company for awhile. Anyway, I’m feeling lots of feels and trying to figure out a way to support myself, particularly as all I want to do is curl up on the couch and watch reruns of The Office. (I wish I could just sell paper)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Visualize not just the negatives (I cant handle the role, I am bad at the job, I lose my job, I have to go sell paper in Scranton PA of all places, etc) that are probably running thru your head right now but also the potential positive outcomes (you ace the role, you get wider recognition, you get promoted, you have enough $$$ to have your own private island, you win a nobel for discovering a new species of turtle on said island that cures cancer by its egg shells).

    2. Kes*

      I’ve been in a similar position when taking on new higher level work and it’s understandable to be apprehensive about doing something new, but keep in mind that if they asked to do this is probably because they do think you’re capable, and they probably are better positioned and have more experience in evaluating who can do that kind of work.
      Don’t fail until you fail – give it a try before you conclude you can’t do it, because chances are you can.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d suggest reading reruns of Alison’s old columns rather than reruns of The Office. If you think of fear as lack of knowledge then a good rebuttal would be to sink your teeth into something that will fortify you.

      I think that a good employee does question themselves as to what their capacity actually is. Think of the toxic know-it-all employee and you can instantly see the difference in approaches. Being open to what you don’t know can be an asset. Maybe that is part of the reason people feel you will adjust to the job.

      You have two heavy things going on at once which can leave a person feeling like there is no where to run, no where to hide. It sounds like you might have liked your boss? Yes, that is def a loss and take time to grieve that.
      Under a separate heading, you have a bunch of new stuff coming at you and not knowing if you are up for it. Well that makes sense, we can’t know what it is we don’t know, so our imaginations run amok.

      Start by going one day at a time. Drop some non-essential things at home so you can do extra self care. Get a full night’s sleep. Eat full meals. Hydrate. In other words, prepare that you will be a bit tired until you get into the swing of it- cut yourself some slack so you can take extra care of you at home.

      Try not to read people’s encouragements as “I have to do this”. Because that is not what they are saying. They are giving you pure encouragement, give yourself permission to feel encouraged.

      Last. Sometimes I like to think about options. What will I do if this does not work out? Sometimes knowing options can offer a particular type of relief.

  25. Some guy (he/him)*

    Probably overthinking this, but advice on coming out professionally?
    I have a catch up zoom meeting with an old mentor soon and want to give him a heads up ahead of time that I’m trans and using he/him now (no name change) as this will be incredibly obvious once we meet due to significant changes to my voice/appearance.
    I’m not worried about him reacting poorly, mostly just feel awkward about it (fwiw I’ve found coming out to acquaintances pretty awkward in general) since it seems pretty personal but he also needs to know.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Email ahead of time – Hey Mentor, I just wanted to confirm our meeting on (date). I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on (field related thing). I also wanted to give you a head’s up I am using masculine (he/his/him) pronouns now and in the process of (transitioning).

      Congrats on coming out!

    2. commenter*

      I don’t have any advice for you, but just wanted to say that I think giving advance notice is probably the best thing you can do & considerate for both of you. Congratulations!

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I think your plan sounds solid. If you want to read more about people’s advice/experiences, here are a few other posts I found on Ask a Manager that may be helpful:

      “how do I change to “they” pronouns at work?” posted on July 23, 2020

      “how can I come out as queer mid-career?” posted on May 20, 2021

      “how do I know if it’s safe to be out at work … and other questions about LGBTQ+ issues at work” posted on September 1, 2021

      “changing pronouns at work: a success story” posted on February 22, 2022

      I’ll post links in a follow-up comment, they may take a bit to get through moderation.

    4. Bumblebeeee*

      Please send an email before the meeting! It will likely alleviate your concerns about reacting to his (potential) reaction.

  26. CV Quick Question*

    Hi all, going to re-write my CV soon and see if that helps the sh*t show that’s my career. I’m getting writers block in trying to highlight how my department is the busiest out of all the equivalents in other types in the country (it’s a statutory service in the public sector) and should I reference who we’ve gone from the worst to one of the best ranked, and also one of the worst funded?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      If the change in funding/ranking can be tied to things you did then yes. “Implemented new programs resulting in 40% increase in funding” is a strong bullet point. “Added (whatever) contributing to our (ranking name) change from #30 to #4.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      [Action Verb/phrase] in busiest Widget Department in [Name of Country]
      [Action Verb/phrase] which resulted in Widget Department moving from [low spot] to [high spot] on [name of survey/list], without an increase in funding
      [Action Verb/phrase] while dealing with constraints of low funding levels.

  27. The answer is (probably) 42*

    I’m torn between two potential jobs and I’d love some outside opinions on this. For the last year and a half, I’ve been working part-time freelance and severely underpaid after I left my previous job due to severe burnout. Part-time seemed ideal at the time because my health tanked, but lately I’ve been getting fewer and fewer hours from my clients to the extent that I can’t make ends meet (I’ve worked a grand total of *7* hours in June so far). So I’m looking into new jobs, and there are two prospects that are likely going to make offers to me soon.

    Job 1: This would be an additional freelance client , but for a guaranteed minimum of at least 15 hours per week, usually more, fully remote, and for a much better rate than my current freelance clients. This job came about kind of due to nepotism- my parents are both employees at the company, and they both have been feeling the lack of someone with my particular skill set in their workflow, so they made a connection and I pitched myself and a colleague (we work well as a team) to their CTO and explained what kind of services we could offer. He seems very interested and made it pretty clear that he expects to make us an offer. This would be a pretty challenging job, I’d be creating processes from scratch and trying to wrench their entire R&D into a new way of operating, and I’d have to spend a bunch of time digging through archives to pull together information to be able to do my job. If I were doing that kind of thing full time I could easily be on the path back to burnout, but part time I’m pretty sure I can handle it, it seems like an exciting challenge.

    Job 2 is full time, which is something I’ve been wary of even looking into until recently because of my severe burnout, but this company seems like it is the polar opposite of everything that burnt me out before. It would be hybrid- 3 days a week in office, but their offices are nice and quiet with plenty of privacy (and as an added bonus located right on top of like four pokestops and a pokemon gym!). And their work flow is incredibly organized and structured. I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel or go digging for info or cajole people into following my processes, everything is already in place. I do much better in a highly structured environment. I’d also be part of a bigger team, and having a supportive team around me is another big plus. But I’d have much less free time to engage with my hobbies and interests, which is one thing I’ve been very much enjoying as a perk of part-time work.

    Another factor is that my parents advocated for me to their CTO and I don’t want their reputations to take a hit- it’s not like I applied to an open position, I reached out and asked them to create a position especially FOR me, so I might make them look bad if I back out. Ethically, I feel somewhat obligated to take an offer from them if they do end up making one at the rate and minimum hours that I set. And I wouldn’t have reached out if I didn’t see the appeal of the job! But I keep thinking about that other job, and I’m having some FOMO about a nice office with a big team and a structured environment, plus they use a particular tool for their work that I’m very fond of.

    Any insights? I realize I may be getting ahead of myself because I do not have offers from either place yet, but they both look promising and I’d rather make a decision before I have to keep someone waiting while I make up my mind.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think the difference between part-time and full time is a lot more significant than the pros and cons of the existing structure vs creating processes.

      The sense of obligation isn’t a great reason to take the job on its own, but coupled with the much greater flexibility, I think the part-time situation is going to be a better fit for your needs as you describe them.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Both roles sound intriguing, but for me it would depend on additional info. You mentioned that the PT hours are guaranteed and higher than your current rate, but is it enough for you to comfortably live on if you only worked the guaranteed minimum? How does the salaries/benefits of the FT role compare? How are you doing now, healthwise? It’s been a year and a half since you left your previous role, which may or may not be enough time to recover from burnout. Is there a risk that you’d be pressured to work so many hours in the more challenging PT role that it would cause a setback? How would the commute for the FT job impact you? I wouldn’t focus on FT vs PT in terms of potential burnout but assess the overall circumstances.

    3. Stoppin' by to chat*

      No one will be upset with you or your parents if you don’t take the other opportunity. I would go with the full time job with the structure that it sounds like will be better for you.

  28. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    Any advice for a new manager on fighting for raises for your employees who you want to promote, at a company that doesn’t have performance reviews but does have annual raises? The way it works is that in July, Finance allots a pool of money to each org within the company, and the person at the top of the chain (say, a VP) of that org has discretion in how that pool gets divvied up among all the employees in the org. Money has been tight since Covid, there’s a hiring freeze, etc.

    Say you’ve got two high performers on your team you really want to fight for title changes and significant raises for to reflect their increased responsibilities over the last year, one solid performer who’s a nice-to-have for a title change and a significant raise, and two new team members who you want to get good cost-of-living raises. But there’s not a lot of transparency in the process, you’ve never done this before, and you’re not confident in your negotiation skills. You aren’t sure if pushing for your top two or three performers will come at the expense of the others.

    Requesting a promotion officially requires a 2-3 sentence justification to HR, which…isn’t a lot of room to make a case.

    Looking for advice to give my boss in hopes of getting us all a good deal in a month. Thanks!

    1. irene adler*

      What would it cost the company to replace these valued employees? So, WHEN you lose these two high performers, the company will incur costs for hiring, training, etc. Where is that money going to come from? And how much is going to be? Betting a fat salary increase is lesser than this cost.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Take all your opportunities between now and then to make sure you tell the decision-maker that Employee 1 has been doing incredible work on x. And Employee 2 just wrapped up major project y and is moving on to tackle big issue z. Keep their names visible so they will be recognized when the list come in.

      And start writing your justifications now. Write out everything you would say if you had more space, and each day edit it a bit more to keep the key parts and remove the extra words. You’ll be surprised at how much you can pack into 2-3 sentences!

    3. nonprofiteer*

      Most often the annual raise pool your VP has in July is different than promotion increases. In any case since it is that time of year I would put together a written justification for your promotions (new job descriptions if they don’t exist, summary of accomplishments, concerns about losing talent, etc.) and present that at the same time as your merit increase recommendations. There might be a different cycle for promotions, or it could be ad hoc.

      I will say from experience this is a tough thing to get used to, and not overly invested in. I always want the best for my star employees but it’s really a business decision for the organization. Usually retaining and promoting your best people is an easy business decision!

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        “Most often the annual raise pool your VP has in July is different than promotion increases.”

        Most often, but not in this case. I asked if we could get a separate pool, because yes, that’s what I’m used to from other companies, and my boss said he tried and the answer was no. Only one pool. This is why he’s concerned pushing too hard for promotions might come at the expense of decent COL raises for everyone else.

        Thanks to everyone for the advice!

  29. Rayray*

    I interviewed at a company and was passed over it told they really liked me and so was given a chance for another position. Got passed over again with the same “they liked you but went with someone else”. My confidence has definitely taken a hit, but I am still desperate for a new job.

    Do I try again or cut my losses and forget about this company?

    Also, any tips for interviewing and taking about transferable skills?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d keep trying. they like you! Just lots of candidates. Also its an easy interview now, they know your skills etc.

      But I’d also start casting a wider net to other companies too.

      For interviews, always have good questions about the role. I’m on the other side of the table and the silence after “Any questions for us” is really loud. Also the contrast between a candidate who asks good questions (and is clearly enthusiastic and picturing what they would need to know to take the role) and the silent one is stark. Alison’s got some good past content on things to ask.

    2. *daha**

      Try again. If they offer you an interview, it means that they are seriously considering you for the position. If they don’t offer it, that means you’ve lost just the time it took to attach your resume and hit send.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Move on. They liked you but went with someone else twice. It could be the interviews are window dressing to promote internal candidates, they have a policy to interview x number of people, or it could be you aren’t a good fit for their office culture.

      I wouldn’t say forget about the company – if something else comes up you can apply – but don’t expect anything from them and widen your search.

  30. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

    Current record manager for a non-archives here. Archivists manage documents of all types (physical and digital) of documents and maintain/preserve them as well as make them accessible through digitizing and documenting their contents (and I’m sure they do many things that I’m not familiar with). These positions can exist in libraries since there’s a bit of overlap between what librarians and archivists do as well as museums, archives, and private or corporate collections. Records managers can also maintain records for other types of collections like art or natural history, to name a few.

    A common degree for this type of work is MLIS but there are archival-related degrees, as well. In my opinion, this is an underpaid profession for the amount of experience and education that’s required to complete the work, which is a common occurrence for positions that primarily exist in non-profits.

  31. Purple Hawke*

    I am starting to job search. I have been in my current role for 5 years. I was at old job (just prior to current job) for 4 years. I did good work there, despite Manager being a nightmare. My department was just me and Manager, so he is the only person that I worked directly with on a regular basis but I ended up working with other in the building fairly frequently – people regularly asked me to be on committees, and other managers often asked to “borrow” me for help with issues in their departments. People wanted to work with me. When I gave my notice to HR, they immediately said I had been a good employee and asked what they could do to keep me. I had a good reputation.

    When I put in my (month-long) notice, Manager was a nightmare to deal with, and after I left I found out through a friend that he was speaking poorly of me to others. Manager was extremely high-ranking and influential in the company, however, and so people sort of had to take him seriously even though everyone knew he was a mess. He told everyone that he would not give me a reference, and that they should not, either. When I was thinking about job searching I reached out to someone who had been a good friend (the same person that told me what Manager was saying about me), and asked if she would mind serving as a reference for me. She said that she didn’t feel comfortable going against Manager’s wishes. I reached out to a couple of other people and they said the same thing – they enjoyed working with me but didn’t feel comfortable crossing Manager. I don’t know how he would know! But I respect their wishes, even though it makes me furious with Manager.

    So essentially I have no reference for my time at that job. HR would probably confirm my employment dates but I’m scared of what else they would say. I have amazing references from my current job (and the job I was at for 10 years before I worked with Manager), but I don’t have anyone that is willing to speak about my time at old job. Is that going to cause me issues? How on earth could I even explain this situation if asked? Will anyone even ask? This is my first time job searching as a degreed professional so I’m feeling uncertain.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Make your bullet points for that job clear. If you did anything public facing (events with webpages etc) that list your contribution get that in there.

      Keep checking in on Linkedin etc see if any of the ones you worked with have also since left, they wont be in fear of Manager then.

      Let the job know that HR can confirm dates but due to some personality conflicts the Manager is refusing to be a reference but here are all your awesome other references. Don’t initially bring that up, wait until they ask for references. Also see if anything you did in that job with other people (events, comittees etc) if any of *those* people would be a additional reference for you to offer as a contact who knew you in that role.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Cross that bridge if and when you get there. Some companies don’t bother with them or you only might want a few references. If you actually do get asked for a reference for that job, say you don’t have any contact information for anyone other than HR. HR likely won’t get into anything, they generally avoid giving details. I doubt this will be a dealbreaker for an offer.

    3. Kes*

      Is there anyone who you worked with at old job who has since left? They might be more willing to help you vs people who are still there and still have to deal with manager.

  32. Llama Wrangler*

    Curious about people’s tips for unwinding/disconnecting after you leave a job. I was at my previous company for about 4 years (the longest I’ve been employed anywhere), and have two weeks off before my next job starts.

    I keep finding myself thinking about the old job, both consciously (“I wonder what is happening with [x]”) and unconsciously (reflexively reaching to check my email, and then realizing I don’t need to.) It doesn’t help that there was some drama happening in the days before I left, which doesn’t have to do with me but is involving coworkers whose wellbeing I care about and who do intermittently send me updates.

    I would love to take these two weeks to truly relax and decompress, and I’m having trouble doing it. Besides time, any other good ideas?

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I just had my last day at Old Job on Wednesday. I’m on a vacation, literally left town an wont be back until I start my new job. Having the trip occupy my time is definitely helpful. If you can physically get away for a few days, do it!

      Also, I know you care about your coworkers, but maybe just disconnect from getting any updates for a bit. Not that you don’t care but it’s occupying headspace.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Get out and do something. Go to that park or that art museum or whatever that you’ve been meaning to visit, on a weekday when it’s less crowded. Look for a calendar of events in your community and go to something that looks interesting.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      No silver bullets–even after 15 years, I still wonder how some of my old projects and tools I wrote are getting along.

      What I found worked for me, to a degree, was changing my routine. Sleeping in, skipping coffee (well, I didn’t drink coffee back then, but I’d skip it now), going outside, etc.

      The other thing I do is try to let those thoughts play out without punishing myself for having them, then let them pass once they get to that point.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      When I have persistent thoughts, I imagine putting them in a box with a label (old job, fight with mom, why did I say that?, etc.) and tying it tightly closed and putting the box away. This is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique. You can try different ways of picturing it, but it really seems to fool your brain into letting go of the thought cycle.

    5. sara*

      I found changing up my routine helped a lot! Doing something different in the morning, especially. And also rearranging the apps on my phone or uninstalling any that I use only for work, even if you’ll end up reinstalling once you start at the new job. For example, my last job and this job both use Slack. When I had a week between jobs, I uninstalled Slack on my phone. I am in slack groups for non-work things, but none of them were so urgent etc that I needed access during that week.

      If you can’t get rid of email on your phone, maybe move the app to a different spot. It might help you to break the habit if you don’t see the email icon in the same spot as always.

      It’s also a good time to do things like change your phone wallpaper, or rearrange your desk (if you wfh), or clean up notifications/email subscriptions etc. All these subtle changes might help your brain realize that it doesn’t have to think about your old job anymore!

      Oh, and maybe mute any contact from your former coworkers? Not permanently, just for this two week break!

  33. Alexis Rosay*

    A former friend (we’ve drifted apart) reached out to me because she saw that I recently pivoted to the Llama grooming industry. She asked me to share a job posting for a Llama Grooming manager. I took a look and the salary range is way below market rate for the qualifications they want. Should I point that out, or do I just politely deflect?

    1. Llama Wrangler*

      I think it depends on your relationship – if you feel like she’d be receptive to feedback, why not say, “I’d be happy to share it, but I know that in my networks I’ve seen similar roles posted for salaries closer to [x], and so I’m not sure how much traction this role will get. Do you have any flexibility on the range or qualifications that I can share when I post it?”
      I have definitely shared things with lower than market rate salaries with some context, if I had it (e.g. “they say they’re looking for 5 years experience, but I know they’re actually open to someone with just 1-2 years”).

    2. Twisted Lion*

      Since they are a former friend I would politely decline to share it due to the low salary range. Why share something you know is ridiculously underpaid?

  34. Quoth the Raven*

    How does one go about reaching out to professional contacts after a very long time?

    I’m looking for new opportunities since the agency I freelance with, which is my main source of income, has consistently had trouble paying (without any kind of clear communication on the matter) and they’re having trouble finding and keeping clients. I do know a couple of people I used to work with who I could reach out to about leads and possible jobs, but it’s been a while since I was in contact with them last (in one case, almost two years no). Would the same advice apply in this context, or should I do something different when reaching out to them?

    1. Gnome*

      I have reached out after a decade. Don’t think of the time like social contacts, a year or twoisnt all that long.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I get e-mails like this all the time. Just got one yesterday from someone I hadn’t been in touch with for almost 10 years. If I thought highly of the person and can help, I do so. Not always, depends on the relationship and request.
      Reach out, but recognize that they are under no obligation to respond, and don’t expect anything.

  35. Loading my (hopefully great) name...*

    I need advice on how to handle a coworker with whom I am at BEC level annoyed, J, everyday I say that I won’t loose my patience but something happens that make me want to slap him.
    Context, I am not the only member of our team who feels this way and we believe sexism have something to do with. Specially since J is always trying to correct what one my colleagues, Z, and I say (we are both women and the most senior persons of the team), even when it’s obvious that people at every level of the organization come to Z and I for advice/help with their processes.
    The thing is, Z and I don’t feel comfortable talking to our boss about it (at least for a couple of months) because he is been with our team less than a month and we already had to have a difficult conversation with him about the performance of another colleague who was leaving us both with non quality, incomplete work.
    So, every tip about how to be professional with J for a short time will be appreciated. Z and I will definately talk to our boss about the issue, but we want him to get to know the team first so we don’t look like we are taking advantage of the leadership change, which we are not, we talked with our previous boss about and he took action about it, but it’s comming back.

    1. The answer is (probably) 42*

      Be a grey rock. It sounds like he’s probably trying to get some kind of rise or reaction out of you, or at least validation that he’s right and you’re wrong, so make it as boring for him as possible to bring you his ‘corrections’. Give him the barest of acknowledgement required for professional interaction, and show him exactly zero emotion when doing so. It might not solve the problem, but it’ll also restrict the emotional bandwidth you’re willing to spend on his antics.

      If it helps, think of him as the windows paperclip. Completely inconsequential, almost amusing in its poor suggestions.

      1. Loading my (hopefully great) name...*

        The windows paperclip!!! I didn´t even remember that thing, you are right, completely inconsequential and it’s a good perspective on his “input” on almost every topic that is not directly related to his projects.

    2. Commenter*

      It sounds like you’re peers (or at least report to the same Boss), but you’re a higher level? In other words, J doesn’t report to you?
      Is there a way to bring it up directly with J (something along the lines of ‘It’s really distracting & disrespectful when you correct me, especially since your corrections are typically incorrect. You had improved this a few months ago but it seems to be coming up again. Can you please stop doing this like you used to?’ – not the best wording but basically a reminder that it had been identified as a problem before?)? I’m trying to think of a way to be non-threatening but also sort of say ‘hey, New Boss doesn’t need to hear about this if you reign it in now’?

      1. Loading my (hopefully great) name...*

        Went over his head the first time, that´s why we had to involve previous boss

        1. Commenter*

          But it sounds like he knows that, right (like Previous Boss spoke to him about it and it improved?). I don’t have great language suggestions because it does sound awkward, it just seems like there might be a way to nudge something like ‘hey man you were warned once…pull it back in before New Boss has to get involved too’?

          1. Loading my (hopefully great) name...*

            Just realized I didn’t answer your questions: so, he doesn’t report to me and we have the same boss but I am senior in both title and experience. We tried to talk to him but he keeps brushing every comment that is not a compliment (this happens with men and women) and is completely clueless of the fact that we are being serious untill boss tells him the same thing. The incorrect “corrections” tend to come only with Z and I, not our other male colleague.

    3. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      My go to for dealing with BEC folks is the Bingo card. It helps me channel Elvis Costello, “I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.”

      1. Loading my (hopefully great) name...*

        This could work… just try not to laugh in his face muajajaja

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m going to push back on not talking with your boss. He needs to know history like this because it affects how he will evaluate the person’s “borderline” remarks & actions. The person may use a change of guard to revert to his previous….and may be spinning the history differently in his own 1:1s.
      You don’t have to ask for action, but do let him know there’s past history of old manager having to rein in that guy.

  36. Cheezmouser*

    I’m about to start negotiating for my promotion. How much is reasonable to ask for?

    For context, I’m a manager discussing promotion to senior manager. I’ve been here 10+ years and have built a strong reputation. My last promotion was 3 years ago. I’ve really stepped up and taken a leadership role, especially in cross team projects, and am a top performer. Also, in a series of unfortunate events, nearly our entire team (4 out of 6 people) resigned within the last month to take other opportunities (it was just coincidental timing from a hot job market, not a coordinated exodus), so I’m the last manager standing. The VP is panicking and explicitly said that they absolutely cannot lose me. I was already in line for a promotion but now I feel like I have more leverage because it’s true, they would be left with no one but an assistant and an intern to run a multimillion dollar department if I left right now. My company typically offers 5%-8% raises, but that will barely cover inflation right now. How much should I negotiate for, keeping in mind that I don’t want to outrage the leadership team but I do want to get paid what I’m worth. (Also, I’m a minority woman, so there’s a risk that I will be labeled as demanding or pushy if I ask for too much.)

    1. Commenter*

      Hmm, I’m never advocated for a promotion with a specific raise ask attached. Is that typical? Or can you focus on the promotion, and then negotiate the raise when it comes up?

    2. Gnome*

      So, unless your company has a set time for cost of living increases, I’d start with inflation as a minimum. Look to see what kinds of salaries you could get if you went elsewhere – determine your market value for the position you’d be taking, considering that you might be new to it (so, if the rage is 80-90 Spacebucks, you might be closer to 80).

      That’s where I would start.

    3. Doctors Whom*

      Keep it about market rate for the job. Do not make your request a function of your current salary. It shoudl be about what the promotion job is worth, not about what your current job is worth.

      1. Kes*

        Agreed with this. Do you know or can you find out what others in that role are typically paid, in your company or elsewhere? I would do some research. Especially if others are leaving for better paid opportunities, and they want to keep you, I would show them what the market rate for the job is and make a case for it. And keep in mind that if your company is losing people due to underpaying and doesn’t prove willing to reconsider, you might want to also consider leaving.

      2. tamarak & fireweed*

        That’s an important piece of information that’s missing. With inflation currently high, and presuming you’re already in the right ballpark for market rates, I’d probably shoot for 20% ish. Maybe the next round number (be it in hourly rate or per year) that’s just under, to be smooth. More like 15% if the company already pays well, but if not, this needs to be pulled upwards.

    4. CallTheBagelShop*

      My advice is to research market rates for comp for similar roles, and keep the conversation focus on “I expect comp to be market rate which is X”. In fact, since you have internal company knowledge and network, I’d imagine you could potentially ask for more. There are several resources like H1B salary database and 81cents that might help.

  37. Rainbow Brite*

    I feel like I’ve hit the next level up from “per my last email” – this week I got to send a reply to a(n unnecessarily abrupt) message that said “per YOUR last email” (capslock not included).

    So now I’m wondering: What’s the most snarky-but-professional you’ve been at work (or the time it felt the best)?

    1. The answer is (probably) 42*

      I had an email thread with multiple participants where there was a bunch of feedback, discussion about specifics, and other back-and-forth over a while, which concluded with me delivering a completed document and another guy on the thread thanking me.

      Two months later he replied-all to an earlier iteration of the thread (omitting my conclusion and his thank you) asking me where the deliverable was. I helpfully replied-all and attached his OWN thank you email. I felt glorious.

      1. Myrin*

        Ooooh, that’s delicious!
        (And it also makes me wonder what made him 1) forget the last half of your interaction entirely and 2) find the earlier iteration of the thread but not the rest of it which you can easily see looking at the “tree” (I don’t know the English term for this, it’s where you basically zoom out so that you can at one look see every reply that was sent in a thread).)

    2. Anon to recount recent convo*

      A colleague and I are working on a project in fairly different roles – she is the project lead and also the key person providing support to external partners. I do data. Among other things, I set up a tracking system for the support she’s providing, and am walking the external partners through their data pieces as needed (which is infrequent). When I do this, she is present for the discussion- meaning she knows exactly what support is being provided, along with everything else about it that needs to be tracked, *and* she’s not presenting so she has the opportunity to do the tracking in real time. She’s familiar with the data pieces, and the tracking of support does not need to be detailed.

      Last week she asked via messaging if I could add to the tracker for the data centric support activities, saying she can do it, but I may be in a better position to do it. After a little pause do figure out how to politely say nope, you’re the point person for this, I just wrote back: “Am I?”

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Pretty minor one: I had been the unofficially in charge of office admin for a few years (e.g., mail, ordering supplies) when I moved and became full-time remote. A few months after my move, the office ran out of printer ink and no one else knew how to order it.

      My manager scolded me for not sending out instructions before I left and asked me to send them. So, I forwarded the email with the instructions I had sent to the whole office prior to leaving, which showed that this was the third time I sent it. And that email showed the instructions are in the shared digital notebook which we all *frequently* use as a central repository.

      I didn’t say anything, but I like to think the subtext was, “Not only did I send this info twice already, but it’s exactly where all the other info is, so…why don’t ya’ll get over your privileged learned helplessness?”

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I changed the name of a process from “Gold” to “Pyrite” to highlight flaws it its design and implementation. It was the CEO/President who finally caught it and had me explain.

      I’ve added letters to acronyms to functionally change their meaning. (e.g. Father-in-Law to Father-Andy-in-Law)

      I’ve sent empty emails and empty task updates to highlight that my documentation isn’t being read.

      I did manage to pull off damnatio memoriae on a workplace bully for two weeks. I did ultimately get a little more respect out of that one.

    5. tamarak & fireweed*

      My highly professional snarkiness usually expressed itself via very public thank-yous. Like when the support team (led by me) plus our more behind-the-scenes (non client-facing) co-workers from other technical teams solved a hairy problem that impacted a client, and when praise came in I’d made sure to praise the a-joy-to-work-with engineer from our outsourced team in India, which was frequently pooh-poohed by our UK-based technical account managers.

    6. Ina Lummick*

      In response to someone saying they hadn’t agreed to some work and that I had frauded them..I then attached the three emails where they confirmed in writing they wanted to go ahead with the work. (They had also sent in samples?)

  38. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Inspired by a post earlier this week: Can we get a thread of success stories from managers who have had to have serious talks with toxic employees?

  39. Zephy*

    Any personal experience/advice for job searching from several states and a time zone away as the trailing spouse (I know Alison has talked about this, links to those articles or keywords are appreciated), and/or the state of Kansas in general and city of Topeka in particular?

    My husband is about 6 months out from completing a technical degree program that will end with a licensing exam to do a particular sort of job (using the conventions of this site, let’s say he’s getting his llama grooming license). My plan from the start was to follow him and find a job wherever he gets hired once he’s licensed, if that’s too far from where I currently work for me to stay at my current job. His internship has been in the same general area as where I work now, so he was kind of expecting that his first job in his field would be either at the salon where he’s already been interning or at one of the other salons that contract with his program. He was open to applying in other places, but figured they would be a long shot, since he has basically no experience other than his two years of interning and is an unknown quantity outside of his (tiny, but well-regarded) program.

    He’s currently at an industry conference with a few classmates, rubbing elbows with folks looking to hire llama groomers. One of his professors is good friends with a hiring manager at a llama grooming salon in Topeka, KS, and introduced them at this conference. The salon in KS will hire newly-licensed groomers at a much better starting rate than the grooming salons around where we live do (and that’s before accounting for differences in COL – Topeka is a much lower COL area than where we are now, so the rate is even better than it sounds at first blush, and it already sounds pretty freakin’ good). A move halfway across the country wasn’t necessarily in the plan, but I have been kind of ready to not live where we live now for a while, and the opportunity is too good to pass up, so he is definitely going to apply there. Obviously nothing is going to happen for a few months yet, he still needs to finish the program and get licensed and just because he met his professor’s friend at a conference over the summer doesn’t guarantee anything. But, suddenly the idea that he could get hired outside of his immediate geographic region feels real, so I’m trying to strategize as much as I can.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I have job searched (successfully!) from several states away, though not to follow a trailing spouse. Some tips:

      – This early on, I would just go on a big job board website and search [job title] + [location]. Get an idea of what the job market looks like there, and look up companies to see if you think they’d be a good fit. Keep a list of potential companies and any other notes (what the market rate salary is, any trends you spot).

      – You know your industry, so start applying a few months/weeks out from the move.

      – Be sure to include a sentence in your cover letters that says “I will be relocating to [location] on [date].” You can add a bit more explanation if you want to, just be sure to include at least that baseline information so they don’t reject you out-of-hand for being an out of state candidate.

      Best of luck with the job hunt and move!

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Are there other ‘salons’ in that geographical area that he could potentially find work at if the first doesn’t work out (layoffs or whatever)?

      1. Zephy*

        Oh for sure there are, but this one is just on his radar because of the connection to his professor. He thinks, probably rightly so, that his application isn’t as strong as the competition, due to lack of experience. Thus, applying to far-flung positions with people who don’t know him from Adam when there are more experienced llama groomers in the area who are competing for the same jobs feels like a gamble and it sets his anxiety off something fierce. He’s awkward in interviews despite being an excellent groomer; the site where he’s been interning has all but offered him a position once he’s licensed, but he’s still going to apply other places and see what’s out there.

        I have a vague desire to live Not Here, with a few vague ideas of where else I would like to live instead based on location of family and friends that I would like to live closer to. We don’t have a specific interest in moving to Topeka in particular, outside of the fact that he knows someone who knows someone who is open to hiring a freshly-minted grad from his program specifically, and he got a chance to meet that person face-to-face yesterday. His instructors probably have more industry contacts, it’s not Topeka or bust. He just assumed his network was a lot less geographically extensive – like, he was anticipating getting hired in the city where we live now and having to work there and get some “””real””” experience before he could ever possibly be considered for a position out of state.

    3. calonkat*

      Topeka’s a reasonably sized town, with a college town to the east and to the west. Skews a bit conservative. Close to Kansas City for more theater/shopping/etc. The drive to KCI isn’t bad if you fly a fair amount, otherwise I-70 runs through Topeka and you can get to I-35 very easily. There are a lot of small communities around as well, if you’d prefer that.

      We are suffering a lot of the same housing inflation that everyone else is, so be aware. But our housing prices and rentals still aren’t as bad as the coasts (I saw an apartment on FB that was being mocked for renting a 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment for $700 utilities not included as being an outrageous price for a “dump” because they hadn’t finished rehab before taking pictures (like outlet covers not on the repainted walls yet))

  40. Anon Today*

    During a team meeting, I recently cut off a member of my team will they were speaking. The said they needed to take a moment and did so. We moved the meeting along and I was planning speaking with them after the meeting and apologizing for interrupting them. (It’s a habit, I’m working on breaking, I promise!) But after they came back and we discussed some items, they proceeded to interrupt the meeting, by explaining that they had taken a moment because they didn’t like my tone and I was rude. I was taken aback. I apologized, stumbled around with it for a moment and then said, if they wanted to talk about this more we could do it privately, but we should move on the with the meeting. They said that we would do that, but then kept saying it/muttering it under their breath, but you know loud enough for us to hear, as if to show that they are still very upset.

    I’ve had the sense for awhile that this employee, we’ll say Alex, might be frustrated or unhappy, but it’s just been a general sense, and I haven’t pushed it because I do know they’ve had a few things outside of work going on. But now, it seems rather obvious that they’ve got something that’s bothering them at the office.

    Obviously I’m going to speak to Alex shortly, to one 1) apologize again for cutting them off and 2) try and see what is the underlying issue. But I also feel like I have to address 3) and tell them that interrupting a meeting to tell someone their tone is rude isn’t professional behavior, and it isn’t fair to the others in the meeting to make them deal with this issue, but it should be handled privately. I’m just looking for a gut check here to make sure I’m not being overly defensive. I’ve certainly had bosses who cut off something I was saying or were snappy and dismissive of me in the past, and while it’s not a good thing, it’s a thing that I’ve generally accepted will happen from time to time because we are all are human and can get busy or frustrated. I’ve just shrugged off the occasional issue, so I was surprised that Alex could not do the same. (The obvious answer here, is that Alex doesn’t feel like this is occasional, which we can hopefully address during our discussion – but for the sake of argument, let’s say that I have enough self awareness to say that my TONE was an outlier.) Are more people just calling out their bosses for having a sharp tone and I’m just not when I should be?

    In addition, I feel like I need to address this briefly with the rest of my team during our check-in, that are coming up to say that if they have issue with my behavior, I want them to bring it to my attention, but that these discussions should be handled privately. Part of me really just wants to ignore it but, I’m afraid that’s the part of me that just likes to avoid things, but I also don’t want to over react and make it a bigger deal than it is…..

    1. Commenter*

      Sorry, this isn’t a response to your actual question – but just putting in my vote to apologizing for interrupting in the moment. ‘I’m sorry, I realize I just cut you off – please finish your thought’ or something. Not to say that apologizing one on one afterwards is bad, but in the moment helps actually solve the issue (the apology after is definitely nice, but it doesn’t help this person get their point heard in the meeting, and if the interruption felt embarrassing for them then it might not help). Don’t know if that was a possibility in this case, and hindsight is always 20/20!

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Definitely apologise as soon as you realize you cut them off – it can really make people feel like you recognise that you made a mistake and value their opinions enough to backtrack and make sure they are heard by the group. It’s also valuable for the rest of your team to hear you acknowledge and apologise for your mistake – it can enhance your credibility as a leader.

        1. Anon Today*

          Yes – I guess I should say that this is normally a technique I use as I work on this issue. (It’s a habit that extends beyond work that I am trying to break.) You are right that it’s an important tool to use both in breaking myself of the habit and creating trust with my team.

          This was such an odd situation though because, Alex immediately left the meeting and was so obviously upset, I didn’t even have time to self correct and when they came back it seemed kinder to not draw more attention to them – but then they did it for me so I had my moment to publicly apologize for cutting them off anyway.

    2. Scott*

      I read this as you are Alex’s boss. IMO it is not appropriate to call out one’s boss for something so innocuous in front of other people. I don’t call out anyone for something like this in front of coworkers. My boss interrupts and derails conversations all the time. I give her critical feedback (which she takes very well and tells me she appreciates) in private.

      I would address with Alex that you apologize for interrupting but his behavior after that in the meeting was also unprofessional and not warranted.

      1. Anon Today*

        Thanks! I feel that way as well, but I suppose I was starting to doubt myself. I started to wonder if I would have felt different if someone had told me about a similar situation, but instead of cutting someone off with an abrupt tone, the boss had used a racial slur or something else grossly offensive. I started thinking about when is it ever “okay” to defend yourself publicly if it means correcting your boss and if it’s okay sometimes, was what Alex did actually okay.

        I spiraled a bit!

      2. Despachito*

        I also think that while you perhaps made a small mistake by interrupting Alex, his response was MASSIVELY inappropriate, and that you should concentrate on this rather than trying to find problems on your side.

        Like, you did interrupt him and it was a mistake, but it sometimes happens in the heat of the discussion, and if this is not a pattern (which in your case is probably not), he should either get over it or mention it privately to you after the meeting (but unless this was a really rude/dismissive thing, I would not do even that).

        The sitting there and muttering was so inappropriate and unprofessional that it in my eyes beat any offense he may have felt for your interrupting. This was not his private therapy, this was meeting with several people he disrupted.

        I think he deserves a stern talking to for that unprofessionalism, and that you should not be sucked too much in apologizing, because what you did was like 1 on an imaginary offense scale and what he did was at least a 7,.

    3. Qwerty*

      Qualifying an apology invalidates it. Going from an apology for your behavior to reprimanding someone is probably worse than no apology at all. So you’re going to have to choose.

      The question is – do you want to fix/understand what’s going on with Alex or do you want to be right? When I’m a manager, I hold myself to a higher standard. It’s ok to feel defensive right now – just process all those feelings before talking to Alex.

      You admit that interrupting people is a habit that you’re breaking. Is it possible that you’ve been doing this more than you realize? Or that its combined with other behaviors that make Alex feel dismissed?

      I’d use Alison’s scripts on making the conversation open ended and trying to understand. Start with the apology, and follow up with something like “you expressed some frustration in the team meeting that sounds like this about more than an interruption – can you fill me in what’s going on?” Listen and collaborate.

      1. Qwerty*

        Woah, just reread the last paragraph in your post where you want to address this with the broader team. NOT OK!!!

        That would be pretty unprofessional and heavy handed. You’ll basically be discussing Alex’s performance problems with the group and pretending its because you’re an open manager. If my boss did this, it would change my perspective from “Alex overreacted” to “don’t trust boss”. You’re telling your employees to address problems with you directly, but you’ll be doing the opposite because it’ll be clear that you’re referencing the Alex situation. That you want to have those conversations and are dismissive of bosses being snappy/dismissive makes me lean more towards Alex has Had It (he still behaved unprofessionally, but a team takes their cues from the top) or the outside factors he has going on has drained his patience to deal with in-office issues.

        1. linger*

          Yeah, depends very much what the scope of that general comment is intended to be (the referent of “this” is unclear). If OP wants to gauge whether they’re more widely regarded by their team as impolite/controlling, that would have to include no reference whatsoever to Alex specifically.
          So (and this is pretty much what’s in Qwerty’s first suggestion too): first talk to Alex, apologise, have the open-ended conversation about whether there are any other sources of frustration you should know about, and if Alex then identifies either more general patterns of behaviour from OP, or else more general patterns from other coworkers, then those things might be worth raising more generally later — without any specific reference to Alex or to others named in the private conversation.

          1. Despachito*

            Sorry, but I very much disagree with that.

            OP apologizing and overlooking what Alex did would show Alex that there was basically nothing wrong with his behaviour, and that it is OK to disrupt a whole meeting with his personal offended feelings, and would shift the focus from the much heavier offense to a minor one.

            Not that OP should not think about her behaviour in private – perhaps she is interrupting people too much and should work on that – but Alex’s mumbling and ranting during a work meeting designed to solve work issues was inappropriate.

            1. linger*

              Alex’s behaviour doesn’t have to be overlooked in this conversation: it is at best disproportionate, and that can be raised explicitly as the reason for asking Alex about other /wider causes.

  41. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

    Radical career change success stories wanted!

    I’ve realized that I need to find a *completely* different line of work than one I’m in now and I’m totally stuck. I think what I need most of all now is some inspiration.

    Bonus points if you switched from a public-facing to a non-public-facing job (which is what I’m seeking to do) and if it did not involve attending a coding boot camp (already tried a class and saw immediately that coding wasn’t for me). Thank you!

    1. urguncle*

      I pivoted from Customer Success, customer-facing to Product Management, not customer-facing. I did a certificate course, but not a coding bootcamp. Ultimately, I used my experience working with customers (and still do) as a huge positive for this position, which can end up being siloed. I moved within my current company and I plan on spending at least 2 years in this position before moving to another company within my new career path.

    2. Loading my (hopefully great) name...*

      I moved from a bank’s branch in the most public-facing possible job (teller, customer support) to Compliance in the coporate office, I was able to spin my CV to let them know that my knowledge of the real way the branches operate was needed to effective monitoring and updating policies and processes.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Pivot from hospitality (restaurants, hotels, dinner theatre) to economic development. It’s been a weird transition but absolutely facinating.

      In interview, I talked about how my hospitality and short term project management (3 weeks of dinner theatre, close, build a new menu and show from scratch for the next one) could pivot from public facing to inward facing.

    4. sara*

      I pivoted from informal education (science museum) for 3 years to animal care professional (zoo/aquarium keeper type thing) for 8 years to now software developer (javascript) for 6 years.

      The first switch was a lot easier because there was a lot more overlap – I did insect/reptile husbandry and handling at the science museum.

      The 2nd switch did involve a coding boot camp, but only because I’d been self-teaching myself coding for a few years before I made the big jump and knew it was the right fit for me. The school I went to for boot camp also offered digital marking and UI/UX programs as well as web development, so there might be non-coding ways to get into a tech job if that’s something that interests you.

      Another thing to really investigate if you decide to do a “boot camp” or other short-term schooling option are their soft-skills/career support/networking etc. Looking back on my 12-week program, that’s really the thing that actually helped the most. Like the skills and portfolio I ended up with helped me get interviews, and helped me know how to learn fast on the job. But being able to explain why I wanted to change careers and why my previous career is an asset, all without totally derailing the conversation away from the job I actually want to do – that’s why I actually was able to interview well and get the first couple jobs.

    5. LZ*

      I transitioned from environmental consulting (contaminated sites) focused on the Oil and Gas industry to information security compliance in the Transportation industry, by way of being a project manager in the Legal Services industry.

      Having my PMP was essential to making the first jump, it’s not an essential credential in the environmental industry (much more important to have a P. Eng or P. Geo, which I also did) but it allowed me to legitimately claim lots of transferrable project management experience when I moved away from that path. Also many of our legal clients were big banks and other Fortune 100 entities, and I could show experience with these kinds of companies from my Oil and Gas days.

      I had very little bona fide information security experience when I transitioned into my current compliance role, but lots of transferrable experience from all of my previous roles in regulatory frameworks, auditing, and risk management. A brand new Compliance Manager role was created at the company I was with at the time, and I was hired internally. I have done a lot of professional development to bring myself up to speed in IT.

    6. Parakeet*

      I went from (being slightly vague here for anonymity reasons) STEM research to a direct service job in a social services field, and will soon be starting a new job that combines the two and works largely with providers (training/technical assistance/etc) rather than directly with the public.

      I was able to do the first switch (which I realize is the opposite direction from what you want, since it was non-public-facing to public-facing) because I’d been volunteering in the target field for years.

      I was able to make the switch that I’m making now because very few people have serious skills in both relevant fields and people are FINALLY starting to realize that the combination of skills is actually needed. And I’d been doing some relevant freelancing that was very helpful to have on my resume.

    7. tamarak & fireweed*

      Dropped out of doctoral program. Qualified as a teacher, started to work … hated it. Jobbed around for a while. Got into tech via the tech support door, stayed in that for 6 years or so, always in a customer-facing software engineer/tech ops manager role. Then switched to a university as staff supporting the operations of a climate research station. Got back to grad school, PhD, now a research scientist.

    8. Ina Lummick*

      For me I worked in customer service and I now moved to a CRM admin. (I know Dynamics 365 is low/no-code, I would imagine Salesforce to be the same…) Albeit, I much prefer the technical building side, while my manager does the people/project aspects…

      In my case I happened to be directly involved in onboarding the business when we first went live with a new CRM – my now manager got to see me demonstrate my training skills and they already knew I was one of the most advanced users. Something else that helped me was I had experience triaging, which directly translates to my current role (I do first-line support)

      Depending on your current workplace, I definitely had a leg up on external candidates as I didn’t need to have all the customised entities explained to me, and I worked closely with my current manager beforehand too.

      I’ve been in my role for several months now (7) and I still get the occasional external client who’s somehow got my direct dial and called me as if I was still in my old role! (However the nice thing is I can transfer them to the customer service team!)

  42. Birder in the Backyard*

    Anyone ever get cold feet right before an interview? A little backstory: my manager is leaving our division for another job. I’ve been in discussions with her about a title upgrade and/or pay raise so her departure is really bad timing for me. HR is pushing back on both but I’ve not received the official no yet. I’d predict a 50/50 chance of success.

    During this time, another position opened up in a different division. It would be similar but just slightly higher in rank and salary from current job. (I’m a llama hairstylist and this would be llama fashion director). I’ve got three interviews with them at the end of next week, so I assume I’m a viable candidate and not just padding the rolls for what will be an internal hire.

    The thing is, I REALLY love my job. But I’m not sure if I will love it as much once my manager is gone. Now that I’m doing research for the interviews, I keep wondering if I should just call it off and hope for the best. That’s crazy, right?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Go to the interviews! Interviewing does not obligate you to take the position in the other division, it’s just a way for you and them to gather more information. After you interview, you’ll be better able to assess staying in your role (with or without the title upgrade and raise) vs moving to the role in the other department.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Cold feet are a normal reaction to a situation that makes you nervous. I can’t recall ever doing anything important or worthwhile that *didn’t* give me cold feet.

      Nerves are just a sign that you are emotionally invested in situation. That’s not a bad thing at all!

      After you have the interviews you can assess whether the move is really right for you. Right now, you just can’t know, so you have to go and find out.

      Best of luck!

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

    It’s performance eval time for me and I’m miffed at my grandboss. We are supposed to set a minimum of 2 SMART goals for next year. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. This is supposed to be in addition to being evaluated on how well we do our job. I planned out and suggest 2 goals that hit all the criteria and are things that I already know are within the strategic plan for our department. My direct boss thought they were great, made small adjustments to be MORE specific and realistic, and each of us signed off; and THEN grandboss has come back with big changes that remove pretty much any measurable or time-bound criteria and added 2 more goals that don’t meet any of the SMART criteria at all — they are more just job descriptors like “support the creation of digital media” OK but that’s literally just my job…that’s not a goal. Anyone else had success pushing back and winning on something like this. I’m putting my boss in the middle but I want to keep pushing that this isn’t a goal.

  44. Kimmy Schmidt*

    People who walk to work, what tips and tricks do you recommend? Do you walk everyday, or do you have backup plans for weather, early meetings, or special events? Do those backup plans involve driving or public transportation?

    For the first time in my life, I’ll be able to walk to my new job and I’m just curious!

    1. CTT*

      I walk to work about 60% of the time; I’d like to do it more, but I sometimes have to stay late for work, and while I wouldn’t feel unsafe walking home at 9, it’s more that I know I’ll be too tired to. So on days that I think I’ll be busy, I’ll drive (my city does not have a robust public transportation system).

      One thing that has been helpful to me is “test” days for different scenarios, like rainy days or days I’m walking with my gym bag. These are days when I know I have some extra time in the morning and if I decide after a few blocks that it’s really not doable, I can turn around and grab my car. I’ve only had to do that once, when my bag was SO heavy it was really painful. But otherwise I’ve been surprised by how adaptable I’ve been!

    2. irene adler*

      I used to walk to work every day. 40 minutes each way.
      Given I walked very early in the morning, the humidity level was very high. So I carried a hand towel as I walked. Dab the sweat off.
      I brought my lunch (in tupperware) so put these into ziplock bag to contain any leakage.
      And I kept tabs on the weather. I would drive to work if rain or heat wave was forecast. (Public transportation would have taken hours. )

    3. Super Duper Anon*

      I live about 15 minute walk to my office so I walk every day. I walk almost every time, except in really bad weather. My backup plans are:
      Check the weather forecast the day before and if there are severe weather warnings bring my work laptop home so I can work from home (I am in a job where I have this kind of flexibility).
      If I forget to do that or the weather suddenly changes, I can grab a bus.
      Last resort is my husband dropping me off or picking me up, but our work hours are different so I try not to do that often.

      My other tips are to have a pair of “office” shoes, a good umbrella, and a backpack for lugging stuff to and from the office. Nice dress shoes you can leave in your cube/office that you can change into from whatever walking shoes/boots you want to use for the trip. I am in Canada so I wear sneakers in the nicer weather and a good pair of winter boots for snow season.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        +1 for office shoes. I work in tech, where sensible walking shoes are fine for the office, but that’s not the issue. When it’s raining, you’ll inevitably get wet, and then you’ll be very happy to have an extra pair of shoes and socks hidden in your desk. Nobody likes having damp feet all day.

        In summer, consider sun protection. I’ve started wearing one of those thin sun-blocking jackets. Didn’t before, and I had a farmer’s tan to the point where it persisted through ~1.5 years of WFH.

        In winter, wear a safety light. Also consider adding reflective strips to your backpack, or buying one that has them already. You want cars to see you.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I walk to work regularly. Here are my tips:

      – Time your walk for the longest it’s likely to take, so that you don’t feel rushed getting in.
      – Make sure you have comfortable shoes.
      – Have a good, sturdy bag to carry your stuff in.
      – Keep a folding umbrella in your bag.
      – Know where you’ll park if you need to take a car (to bring in something heavy or run errands after work).
      – Sign up for bus schedule alerts, if your city has them. Even if you don’t take the bus, it can alert you to other issues on your walk.
      – Be aware that bad weather can affect a walking commute just as much as one using a vehicle.

    5. Filosofickle*

      Heavy bags are definitely an obstacle, so that’s something I’d solve for. In my younger years I could carry fairly heavy bags but I can’t anymore – even a reasonably loaded laptop bag is too much. Add shoes or lunch or workout gear and forget it. In my last walking-heavy commute, using a bag with wheels made walking a breeze! Backpacks work too. Leave spares at the office, like chargers and shoes, to reduce weight. Invest in weather gear like truly waterproof shoes and jackets and really good umbrellas. I’d always have a backup plan (likely driving as I do have a car) so it feels like a choice and I don’t absolutely have to walk when I’m tired or it’s miserable out.

      1. Commenter*

        Yes, +1 for backpacks! I find that even the most comfortable totes/shoulder bags get annoying on longer walks. There are tons of nice-looking backpacks available!

    6. Hybrid Mom*

      I have walked either partially or fully for every job (I work in NYC). Location does mean I always had a public transit back up for rainy/snowy days. It was almost always longer (hence the walking as the primary method). I never owned a car until I recently moved to the ‘burbs during COVID and I have yet to drive to my job. I personally like walking commutes, I find they are the most relaxing after a long day. Depending on where you live: always have an umbrella on hand; have warm clothes for the winter as walking 20 minutes in the cold is very different than walking to and from your car in the cold; comfortable shoes and bags are a must; keep products at your desk to account for damp hair, sweat, etc. I have also started biking part of my commute, which does not solve the bad weather situation, but could speed up a walking commute if running late.

    7. fueled by coffee*

      I used to walk ~20 minutes each way to work. I walked pretty much every day, except in very bad weather and for a stretch after I sprained an ankle.

      *I made sure I knew the bus schedule in case there was bad weather — and how early I needed to leave in order to make the bus. In an emergency (bus running late + thunderstorm, for example), I’d call an uber. (I didn’t have a car at the time, but if I did I would have just made sure I knew the parking situation at the office).
      *Keep an extra umbrella in my office in case the weather changes over the course of the day. I’d also keep a pair of work shoes there in case I needed to change from sneakers/rainboots etc.
      *If you need to carry a lot of stuff to and from your office, make sure that your bag won’t get uncomfortable during the walk! I find that I need an actual backpack as tote bags/messenger bags weigh too heavily on one shoulder, but others feel differently than I do
      *Depending on your work hours and where you live, if you’ll be walking home in the dark during the winter, do a practice run to make sure you feel safe (for me this just means that the area is pretty well-trafficked around 5-7 when I’d be walking home, but different people have different safety threshholds)

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I travel by train to work but have a 35ish minute walk from the station to work. My back up plan involves getting a taxi, generally in very bad weather. There is a taxi rank at the station, so no big deal. I do this maybe once every 2 weeks?

    9. North Wind*

      I’d say play around with it and see what works out. You may find it makes sense to walk just to or from work (if public transportation is an option), or maybe both are fine. There will probably be occasions where you want to drive if you have plans right before or after work.

      I once lived about 4 miles from a job in downtown Boston, and when the weather was nice – not too hot and not too cold – I would walk home a few times a week. The walk took me through some really gorgeous parts of downtown Boston, over the Charles River and through Cambridge. There are multiple points on the route where I could jump on the subway if it started to rain or something. We did have folks who biked to and from work every day – they packed work clothes and took a shower … I think in a gym in our building where a lot of folks had memberships.

    10. Ed123*

      What kind of distance are we talking about? If it’s a basic 20min walk then I don’t really see any tricks. But if it is an hour long walk one way then that’s very different.

  45. Half Ranting*

    What can I do about being burnt out when we’re so understaffed? I’m a project manager in a team that was five people pre-Covid, and is now three people. We’ve hired two people to add to the team in the past year and both quit after two months (for a variety of reasons, but both wanted to work standard office hours which are not standard in our industry). The past eight months I have been single-handedly managing a massive project that has consumed all of my time. This calendar year I haven’t taken a day off, haven’t spent time with friends or family. I frequently work until I can’t keep my eyes open, set my laptop aside and take a nap, then wake up and pick it up again to keep working. Sometimes I only work six days a week because come Saturday morning I’m so tired I can’t get out of bed.

    My mental health is a wreck and my physical health isn’t much better. The only reason I haven’t had a full breakdown is that this project would have fallen apart without me so I have white-knuckled through some very bad days. I desperately need a real break. But one of the three people on our team is now also going to be partly covering for another person who is leaving. My boss is trying to figure out when would be a good time for me to have a week off causing the least disruption and I am having a hard time not screaming every time we get on the phone.

    Long term the answer might be to look for a different job but what the heck can I do right now when everyone on my team is swamped (no one else in the company does what we do, it takes a few months of training) and the company keeps hiring people who apparently don’t know what job they’re signing up for?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Is the work you do worth your health? Maybe it is, and if so I can’t offer any useful advice.

      But it’s likely not, and if that’s the case the one thing you can do is work less. Take a vacation. Ideally a week or more to fully decompress, but I know that might not be feasible. At the very least, do no work tomorrow. None. Turn off your computer at the end of the day today. Close it and put it away somewhere. Sleep on your bed tonight.

      Yes, work will take longer and some things will go undone. Yes, this may upset your bosses/clients. And yes, this is the only way (short of finding another job) to regain your health and sanity. The only cure for burnout is time off work.

      1. Half Ranting*

        Thank you for the sanity check. The work isn’t worth this much of my health, for sure. I’m in the legal field where extremely busy periods are normal, but for weeks at a time, not months on end. I definitely need that time and to figure out how to have some semblance of a work/life balance until we are staffed enough to not be stretched so thin.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          The good news about being short staffed is: what are they going to do if you reclaim some of your time, fire you and be even more short staffed? (A very, very small upside to a very, very bleak situation, but still one that you can use to your advantage.)

          The two places I would target for work/life balance if I were you are sleep and social life. Set a time (5 pm, 8 pm, 10pm – whatever you can stick to) where you log off your computer and eat dinner/decompress/go to bed. People need to sleep in order to stay alive, and also adequate sleep leads to better decisions so stick to this boundary as firmly as you can.

          For social life, try to talk to one friend/family member once a week. Seeing them in person is ideal, but if not a phone call will do. Remind yourself that you are a person outside of work, and that this crazy job is not the be all and end all of your identity.

          Best of luck!

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Do less. Let something drop.

      Decide that everyday after a certain time (say 8pm), you turn off your computer decompress and go to bed. then get up the next morning at a reasonable time and start work. Decide you’re not going to work Saturday at all; that’s a break day for you. Maybe you’ll work 3 or 4 hours sunday morning, but after noon you’re done and not working. This example is still an extreme work schedule but it sounds like less than what you are doing now. Whatever you’re doing now, do less and just let things drop.

      And schedule that week off soon. ASAP. Not when your boss thinks it’ll cause the least disruption because that will be in a long time once your team is fully staffed and trained again.

      FYI: The reason people quit is because you are all overworked. Once they realize it, they get out. You can get out to. You are not personally responsible for your team’s and company’s success. Management and leadership is and in order to succeed they need to fully staff your office (which may in reality be more than 5 people).

      You have to take time for yourself and be willing to let things drop/fail. That’s not your fault; it’s the fault of management.

      1. kiki*

        This! I know it can be painful and feel wrong, but you’ve got to set boundaries and let some things drop. Your manager has to find ways to get projects done that don’t involve an employee working non-stop and risking their health. And if you want to consider it from your company’s perspective, they will be worse-off if you do have a break-down and must suddenly stop work. Making sure you have balance will make the organization better.

      2. Half Ranting*

        Thank you, it’s been tough to be objective because pre-Covid I loved my job, even with the extremely busy periods that are common in the legal field. Once this project is over I do plan to evaluate a future with this company versus other potential jobs.

        1. Floris*

          I also loved my job pre-Covid and then we laid off 50% of the staff. My team went from 20 to 5. I was also working a ridiculous amount to keep things afloat and just totally fried. I started therapy and meds for anxiety/depression but the job was so crushing I wasn’t able to enjoy daily life. Because I was working so hard, it looked like our team had everything handled which was just part of the problem because tasks kept piling on. I agree with folks to let things drop. Upper management needs to see that there’s a limit to what can get done. Your health comes first!

    3. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Take a day off now. Doesn’t matter if it isn’t a good time. Your body is telling you that it’s not well, and being this exhausted and stressed is bad for your health. Like having a heart attack bad. I’ve been there, and I get the feeling of needing to keep going and just do the one more task. But it truly will not matter in the big scheme of things. One day you will be in a place to process that. But for now, take a sick day! Just do it. Plan to take a day off soon. Just do it. Then plan for a week off and just tell your boss. It’s ultimately up to the people making the most money at your company to fix this staffing issue…NOT YOU!

      Just call in sick. Your body desperately needs a break. You can do it. I promise the project won’t fall apart. It just won’t. Good luck!

  46. CV to resume?*

    I need to convert an academic CV (5ish pages, as I’m fairly early in my career) to a resume. Does anybody have resources, e.g. online readings or videos? Thanks!

    1. onionkiri*

      This was useful for me for general advice on reframing and organizing: https://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/career-advice-article/tips-strategies-converting-academic-cv-resume/

      My personal tips:
      * I found it useful to think of it as making a totally new document rather than converting. Mine definitely didn’t translate well :)
      * Alison’s resume tips helped a TON — most importantly, listing accomplishments rather than duties. For me, this looked like “conducted X studies with Y techniques, collecting data from Z participants”, “published X papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented at professional conferences Y times”, “mentored X undergraduate projects” or for things that weren’t easily quantifiable, “documented commonly used process X, reducing lab-wide time spent on process”

      Good luck!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Start with the “resumes” category on Ask A Manager! Because you say you’re early in your career, see if you can cut the 5 page CV down to a 1 page resume. A good resume will have:

      (1) a heading section with name and contact info, possibly an address or just the city you live in
      (2) an experience section – this is the most important section, and it’s also important for it to be clear and concise, so cut jobs/bullet points that don’t strengthen your candidacy
      (3) an education section – usually just degree title (maybe graduation date), school, and perhaps relevant clubs or other notable achievements but should be a short section

      A caveat that if you’ve been on an academic track (bachelor’s, master’s, PhD) you’ll have a bigger education section.

      1. CV to resume?*

        I’m not that early in my career, probably a 2 page resume. I had some experience in higher education prior to returning for the PhD, so my scholarly accomplishments are a bit slim but I have 15+ years worth of work. Just clarifying for anybody else who happens upon this . . . .

        Thanks, I appreciate the tips!!

        1. Filosofickle*

          I have more than 20 years but typically my resume only goes back about 10-ish as my newer roles are stronger and I use my space to say more about fewer jobs than a little about a lot of jobs. I use a full two pages, and anything new has to bump something old. A resume is a marketing document meant to highlight accomplishments and get their attention as a fit, not be a catalog. That cuts out a lot!

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      One thing I had to learn was that outside of academia and certain types of industry research, no one cares about publications and conference presentations that much. I ended up condensing my publications down to a line at the bottom: “has published X number of peer reviewed papers and presented at Y conferences, see attachment for details” and (when appropriate) uploading a separate CV attachment with detailed references.

  47. Sociology Rocks!*

    Anyone got advice on less than obvious jobs to look into as a recent grad with a double major in sociology and womens and gender studies? Hoping to go to grad school in a year or two, and beyond social science research I’m really not sure what to be looking into in the meantime, and I’m not really interested in marketing or sales or such.

    1. Llama Wrangler*

      What are some of the skills you think you bring or are particularly interested in cultivating? Do you feel like your grad school applications will be strong enough without relevant work experience, or do you want to find a job that will strengthen your profile? Beyond making a living wage, are you concerned about saving money for school?
      I’m a former sociologist by study (BA and MA) but don’t work directly in the field. I am assuming when you say grad school you mean PhD, but if you’re looking at an MA (or would need an MA to be competitive for PhD programs) another thing to think about is finding a job at an academic institution where you could get an MA for close to free (which is what I did).

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      A lot of government agencies or non-profits would be interested in someone with those degrees. Especially ones interested in women’s health care or other equity work.

    3. ecnaseener*

      If you’d like something research-adjacent, you could look at admin staff for an institutional review board / research ethics committee. Many universities have IRBs specific to social/psych research, which I assume is what you’d want.

    4. Alexis Rosay*

      What kind of grad school are you going to do? I would advise doing any job that would give you more perspective on what you’ll be studying or researching there.

    5. Blarg*

      Gov agencies in public health, public benefits, child protection. City, county, state, etc. Also health care orgs that want non-nurse case managers.

    6. Hen in a Windstorm*

      The only reason I didn’t double major in sociology was statistics, so I assume you are good at statistical analysis. This is nowadays known as Data Science, which is a hot field. If there are particular programs/software you used, do a job search by that keyword.

    7. Kw10*

      They’re are lots of entry level jobs at NGOs (either advocacy or more research types), social science research companies, international development companies, etc. Look for titles like project assistant, associate, coordinator, research assistant, etc. (From a fellow sociology grad!)

  48. Drowning in dishes*

    this is mostly venting, but also if anyone has any solutions…. (as a note i am in my 30s and this isn’t my first job but it is my first restaurant position)
    as one might guess from my title, i am a dishwasher in a small restaurant. but at said restaurant, my official title is “busser” and we’re just expected to do both positions.
    at a review i had a couple months ago, my general manager said she wants to give me a raise, but in order to do that, i need to get better at going out in the dining room and making sure that looks as good as it can, because it’s the first thing guests see when they walk in.
    then a couple weeks ago, management sent a message to all the bussers saying we need to get better about checking the dining room, that that comes first, no matter what the dish pit is like. so clearly i am not the only person having this problem. foh will sometimes bring me full bus tubs, but i still often get asked to do a dining room run or refill silverware. there’s just me in the dish pit, and there are usually several people in foh, either at expo or at the register or on coffee. i know they’re probably busy too, but there’s just one busser at a time.
    all of this is fair, but bussers are literally expected to do the jobs of two different positions. i don’t know if management just doesn’t care, i can’t imagine they don’t know. in addition, bussers are also expected to line the trays that go out when people order stuff, and it’s not a hard task but those trays stack up when it’s busy. also, sometimes the dishes from boh can stack up too, and then if anything else is added, it might create a safety hazard for staff.
    late last year, we had a rule where everyone was expected to help bussers out by doing three smaller items and then one larger item, as their schedule allowed. this rule was enforced for maybe two weeks, but not since then. i messaged the boh manager, who i have a good relationship with, to see if i should ask my general manager if we could bring that back.
    i think i’ll ask my gm regardless though. even just having someone else line the trays would be a big help some days. i don’t want to sound like i’m lazy, but we need more help.

    1. Another JD*

      It sounds like you need to discuss priorities with your boss, and backup plans for when you can’t cover everything.

      1. Drowning in dishes*

        most definitely. clearly something isn’t working, since they sent the message to all of us bussers.

        1. Commenter*

          Yeah +1 for Another JD’s take. A script like ‘It’s not possible to keep up with everything during the dinner rush. When the back is full of dishes, trays need to be lined, BOH dishes are getting in the way of employees, and FOH needs attention, how should I prioritize those?’

  49. Ope!*

    Let’s say I work in a cafeteria. I don’t, but it’s a good analogy. At the start of the pandemic, the cafeteria shut down meal service, but managed to keep on all the staff by offering alternative tasks: some people where able to keep their more “admin” type jobs by managing inventory and orders from a distance, while others were able to have food shipped to their house and pack lunches that we mailed to customers (this analogy exists in a world without food safety laws)

    The CDC levels have lowered enough that our cafeteria can reopen and even slightly expand by hiring on new positions. But there are a surprising amount of people resistant to returning to the cafeteria. They insist we did fine for the last two years and nobody visits the cafeteria anyway. Which, frankly, is irrelevant. We’re paid to be here to cook IF people arrive and need a meal. We get paid whether or not they show up, and even if they don’t, we still need to be here to make sure the food is getting properly stored, disposed, sent out, received, etc. Also, a surprising number of people drop out of consideration when they learn that our meal service requires working at the cafeteria, not remotely.

    I am 100% in favor of jobs that don’t need an onsite presence staying remote. But I’m really stumped how to get people onboard with (or at least accepting of the reality that) some jobs just NEED to be on location, even if they’re not the most frequented by customers, even if they managed to get by before (by eliminating or altering services that are now being brought back.)

    Anyone else dealing with this?

    1. george*

      OP as I am reading your letter I am really not convinced that you NEED 100% of your people to be on location, since you just told us you get paid if no one shows up, and that almost all the tasks can be pivoted to remote.

      So is it really that you NEED them to be back on location because reality seems to be indicating maybe you don’t? Is there some internal bias at play? Is there a way to continue pivoting to a decentralized model and maintain quality/expenditure/time optimization that you just have discounted because you assumed there was a NEED that maybe there really isn’t or maybe looks different than you’ve currently imagined?

      1. Ope!*

        I never said we need 100% percent, and we’re not asking for that. What my issue is the people who DO need to be on site to handle the “food” no longer want to. There is no version of our working model that doesn’t require hands on “food.” I used cafeteria specifically because there is no version of a fresh cooked kitchen that doesn’t require people onsite. The only reason we got by is because we stopped our primary service for several years, with the understanding that they were retaining us because it would have to resume one day. Now that leadership needs us to resume our primary service, we are getting increased demand for it, which means we have current “dishes” that need cooking, as well as two years worth of fridges full of rotting food that need to be cleaned out.

        This is the trouble I’m having. A lot of people are resistant to the idea that not every office job can be shifted to 100% remote. Unfortunately, we have materials on site that HAVE to be handled on site. People don’t like that. :/

        Fwiw – this is not a for-profit model, so this is not about leadership putting profit over people. This is about providing a needed service.

    2. Intern Wrangler*

      Yes, I am dealing with this as well. I think we’ve dealt with it by having a really clear rationale as to why we need people to be in the office, walking them through our thinking, hearing their concerns and questions, and then addressing those. As more people are back, they are seeing the benefits of coming in. (I will say, it helps that it is summer where I am, so driving in bad weather is not the issue it was).
      We have also created really strong protocols for safety and we still allow some flexibility to continue to work from home when possible. And it’s helped that we haven’t had a rush to our “cafeteria” so we are able to ease people in–we started with one day a week expected and now those that need to be there are still only doing three days a week in person and we work together as a team to create flexibility.
      I think it has also helped that our leadership team has been the first to be back in the office and continues to demonstrate our commitment to share in the burden.

      1. Ope!*

        We have tried to be clear, and there’s also the factor that our industry is one that, nationwide, is not one that is in anyway usually able to telework at all. I think the fact that we offer SOME telework for continued administrative tasks has muddied the water for potential candidates but unfortunately clarifying that in job posts is out of our hands (separate HR)

        I am also feeling some frustration admittedly in that I was in our version of that team of first-back, covering all sorts of positions to get things ready, and now people are saying “why can’t you just keep doing it?” …Because I do need to get back to *my* job at some point!

        Appreciate your sharing! Sometimes it’s nice to know we’re not alone

  50. ladyme*

    One of the update letters has me questioning my own work practices. My department uses shared drives, but any files opened from there respond so slowly that I literally couldn’t do my job because I spent most of my time waiting for them to unfreeze. Talking to my supervisor and IT didn’t yield any technical solution; apparently the response time was slow because the server was in another state and IT wasn’t willing to change how it was set up. So I started saving files to my local drive and copying updated versions and finished products to the shared drive. My supervisor wasn’t happy but didn’t push the issue. Eventually we started using Teams and now I save my files there. AITA? How should I have handled this situation?

    1. Llama Wrangler*

      Without knowing more, my best guess is that your supervisor was worried that if something happened midstream that your colleagues wouldn’t have access to your files when needed. (e.g. if you had an unexpected illness and coworkers needed to take over from you) But were there security concerns about the files being saved locally? Were you the only person who was working on the in-process files, or did people need access to them real time?
      It doesn’t sound like what you did was out of bounds, but I would have just asked my supervisor for more clarity on why they weren’t happy with the practice to see if there was another, better solution.

      1. ladyme*

        No security concerns and this was all on my work laptop. I see your point about the access though.

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

      I think you did ok under the circumstance, but maybe you could have set up an auto backup from your hard drive more frequently — save working files instead of just finished products and have it back up once an hour instead of once a day or however long between manual backups you were doing.

    3. commenter*

      That doesn’t sound that crazy – without knowing more about the work, is there a way to upload more frequently (like if it takes you 3 days to update documents, could you upload your latest version – even if it’s not done – twice/day while you’re working on it?)

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This was still all on your work computer, right? I think given the circumstances that’s not terrible. You tried to go through the right channels, and I’d guess if your supervisor didn’t push the issue they didn’t have a better solution to offer. If it was possible to escalate the IT issue I might have suggested that, but otherwise I think you did the best with what you had and switched back as soon as there was a system in place you could use. You definitely aren’t in corporate espionage territory.

    5. Rick Tq*

      I pretty much keep my working files on my laptop like you do but to keep things backed up and ready to share I wrote a backup script to copy the files to our server and have a link on my desktop for easy access.

      Every time I close a file I hit the script and it moves all (and only) changed files to our file server to keep it in synch. That puts it on my home share but I also copy working files to the appropriate shared folders when I’m done working on them.

      As long as you were doing something similar I think you were fine (NTA) but moving to Teams allows simultaneous access and editing.

    6. Filosofickle*

      If working on local files was necessary, you have to be diligent to ensure you’re the only one working on a file and won’t overwrite someone else’s changes when you upload. Even when files aren’t overly collaborative, the shared nature assumes we can all edit with no loss of data so that responsibility falls on you if you’re working differently. Clear rights of way and ownership, “checking out” files, who’s doing what. I’ve had colleagues who tended to work like this and it’s all fine until my last revs disappear. There’s no indication there was a problem with this in your scenario, but since you asked :)

      1. ladyme*

        90% of the time I’m the only one working on them, but my supervisor will make small edits during the finishing touches stage and that could sometimes be awkward making sure everything was captured. I like the auto backup idea some people mentioned, I didn’t know that was a possibility.

        1. Filosofickle*

          This is actually one of the trickier scenarios — infrequent but important edits! When you share frequently you know to communicate clearly about passing the baton, and when you don’t share you don’t need to do anything. But when it’s an irregular pattern it’s easier to cross wires. Glad you have a new system now, even if it is Teams :)

    7. Observer*

      No, you are not the jerk here. I would have blown a gasket, but our response time is actually workable, so people who are saving work on their desktops are making excuses.

      I don’t know what the problem is, but it is perfectly possible to have decent response times on servers that are out of state, so someone in IT is incompetent or your management is either incompetent or excessively penny pinching.

      Being in Teams does basically resolve the problem. And proves that there was never a reason why the original response time problem could not be fixed.

    8. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      Next time, as for a Virtual Machine to be set up for this sort of thing. You log into a session via remote desktop session and you are working local to where the files are located at. It’s not on your local machine. Then you can quickly download, work on the file and upload again. That way, you have nothing on your local machine and it goes fast.

  51. commenter*

    Looking for some advice on how to phrase:

    For a few reasons, I just started job searching after 7 years. One of the reasons is that my area of work is pretty under-resourced at my company (think a llama grooming department of 1 and llamas only get groomed once a year instead of twice a year and everyone is just sort of OK w scraggly-looking llamas). I used to manage one person, but through some reorganization I no longer do (she and I now report to the same person). To be honest, this reorganization is more a matter of the powers that be not really understanding what each of us does (think: I used to oversee all llama care, including grooming; even though I set the grooming schedule, she did most of the actual grooming; they reorganized so grooming and llama care now report to Head of Llamas). In conversations w leaders since the change, they seem surprised to know that I was involved in grooming at all. (it’s very annoying and one of the reasons I’m looking to leave!) All that to say, I don’t think it was a case of ‘you’re not a good manager so we’re taking away your direct report.’

    I just had a first screen for a job that requires management experience. I have that elsewhere in my resume, and for about 3-4 years at my current role, so I can talk about my experience honestly. I’m just trying to get my line down for ‘I used to manage someone but we realigned and now I currently don’t.’ Honestly I didn’t do a good job in my first screen and I’m sure the recruiter has the impression that I still currently manage this person. Any advice?

    If it helps my industry is pretty publicly going through rough economic times (and we’re a public company with sinking stock) so the idea of reorganization and streamline hierarchy does seem reasonable to explain? Am I overthinking this?

    1. Fabulous*

      “I managed an employee for [duration] in my current role, but due to an organizational restructure, that role is no longer reporting up to me.”

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Can you say something along the lines of “I managed a llama groomer for four years at Acme Corp.” + [relevant anecdote of a management skill they asked about]? If you feel it’s important to clarify you don’t currently manage anyone, I would say something along the lines of “Acme Corp. restructured the Llama Department in [year], and since then the llama groomer and I have both reported directly to Head of Llamas.”

      1. Commenter*

        I’m worried that if all goes well, I’ll get into a place where references are being checked and my current workplace will say something like ‘oh, she doesn’t manage anyone anymore.’

    3. tamarak & fireweed*

      Maybe something like:

      2015 – current: Senior Llama Groomer/Llama Grooming Lead at Acme, Inc
      * [achievement]
      * [achievement]
      * Managed 1 report (Llama Grooming Specialist) from [date] to [date] during a period when this role reported to mine

  52. talos*

    May I just briefly rant about how, in the last 2 weeks, I’ve had:
    – one interview scheduled with the wrong person (and no effort apparently made to reschedule me with the right person, in fact, I have not heard from the recruiter since informing him of this)
    – one informational-call-as-part-of-the-hiring-process that didn’t get scheduled for 3 weeks, then I got ghosted at its originally scheduled time, and it got rescheduled at a bad time because the recruiter misread my availability, but I just want the damn call to *happen* already so I didn’t correct him
    – one interview where I got ghosted and haven’t been rescheduled yet

    This is across 2 different companies. My network (nd word of mouth in my industry) tells me they’re both good to work for, so this is apparently just a crappy hiring process.

    Like, seriously, please *tell me* if you cannot interview me at the appointed time. My email address is right there on the meeting. Just stop ghosting me and making me follow up with the recruiter! That should not be my responsibility as a candidate. I do not like taking half an hour off work to stare at the “waiting to be admitted to the video call” screen.

    1. commenter*

      Ugh I’m sorry! I don’t know if this is relevant to this situation, but it always seems to me like recruiters have a CRAZY high turnover – I’ve had so many cases of the recruiter that I originally was working with leave & be replaced by the time we ended the interview process! I’m sure there are tenured, professional recruiters out there, but it seems (to me) like the majority of them are young people who have been at the company for a matter of months. NOT that it’s an excuse!

      1. talos*

        Both of these have the added fun of “the primary recruiter working with me” being different from “the people [yes, there are several] who schedule interviews”. Just…so many opportunities for confusion.

      2. Ina Lummick*

        When I graduated, I saw a lot of recruitment jobs that are basically entry level sales roles, especially if you weren’t able to get an industry role. I wasn’t surprised at the amount of turnover I saw on my LinkedIn.

  53. Person from the Resume*

    What does a MLS (Master’s of Library Science) teach? What special skills does a librarian with learn while getting a MLS?

    I’m not trying to be insulting. I love books. I frequent my public libraries. I have a BS in computer science and have used the academic library a bit there. I got an online Masters so didn’t go to the academic library then. It’s just with my limited understanding of what librarians do, I don’t understand what special necessary skills an undergraduate degree would confer, much less a Masters. (Is there a Bacholers of Library Science?) And I read about all the MLS grads who cannot find rewarding library jobs and careers.

    Is there some trickle down effect that most people who are called librarians and work in public libraries, school libraries, and even college libraries don’t need those MLS skills that the highly specialized librararians need? The people I interact with who are called librarians seem to mostly need organizational and customer service skills. What does someone study while getting a MLS?

    1. Librarian In Progress*

      Partial trickle-down of the title, yes. Partially that the education is pushed to the masters level through historical context and frankly a lot of librarians (myself included) think it could be a profession that would benefit from an apprenticeship-type education with optional higher ed, but it is what it is.

      As for what I learned in my program – it’s an umbrella education so someone who works in a public library with children is going to have a wildly different experience from someone who works in a law library assisting attorneys. BUT, I can tell you my experience –

      I learned a lot about data, about how information is retrieved, about how people interact with data and search engines, and how to teach them to work in the systems as well as how to make the systems work more intuitively. I learned website design. I learned a special type of archaic “coding” that all library catalogs run on. I learned about the special software systems that work with this type of coding. I learned how to digitize materials so they don’t go obsolete in a few years (which was a huge problem in recent generations of librarianship) and so the physical materials aren’t ruined. Probably other stuff but I learned way more hands on once I landed a job.

      For me and many others, the MLIS is a hoop to jump through to get into the field.

      What I learned on the job when I became a librarian, for comparison: I learned how to keep tracks of the infinite amount of publishing happening without having to read everything and still manage to offer recommendation to patrons and decide what to buy. I learned how to manage budgets. I learned the logistics of a library, like how to calculate linear feet of paper and how much weight a bookshelf can hold and how much space should be left on each shelf between the last book and the end of the row. I learned how to present on topics in a way that doesn’t make people’s eyes glaze over. I learned how to talk to vendors and negotiate contracts. I learned how to apply to grants and manage them. I learned an entire field of STEM, and then another one. And frankly, I’m still learning!

      1. Librarian In Progress*

        Tacking on some other stuff of varying importance that I learned in my program: Copyright law! And the history of the field of librarianship. And the principles of how to describe something for searching (Keywords are great, but are they too variable by population? What’s the fine line between updating with preferred terminology to make your database useful, but not following trends too closely so that it’s not persistent enough?) And what types of libraries are out there – way more than anyone realizes, including most librarians. And patrons’ rights. How do we play a role in protecting privacy? What do you do when the police want your library records? What are the ethics of protecting collections? populations? librarians? Etc.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Not a librarian, but I know that a lot of academic librarians actually have a master’s in an academic subject in addition to their MLS, which is more like a professional degree.

      I know a few people with an MLS. Depending on their focus, they learn a lot about research tools & techniques, as well as cataloging, dealing with patrons, and pretty much all the details we don’t think about that make libraries run so smoothly for the rest of us.

      Oh, and apparently, there are about a bazillion databases to learn about.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      This is a great question, and there’s a big debate in libraries about the continued necessity (or not) of requiring a MLS degree.

      I will preface this by saying I found my MLS both interesting and valuable to a broad understanding of my profession, but it’s only loosely related to the skills I actually use in my job. Most of these skills I acquired through working in libraries first as a student worker, then a graduate assistant, then an intern, then a librarian. This is also my own experience as someone who went to library school immediately after I got my BA.

      One of the biggest components of an MLS degree is the ability to see how lots of different library component fit together. In grad school, I took classes for cataloging and basic web development. I don’t use either of these skills regularly in my job, but I have a better awareness and understanding of them and how they fit in to what we do. Basically, it gives me a framework to understand what questions to even ask and why things work the way they do. I also took classes in archival management, children’s literature, programming, and social media. I think it helps me see patterns and connect different people to the information they need by thinking about a broader context. I do think I could have done this without the degree, but it was a leg up when I was first starting out.

      Which brings me to MLS point number two. A lot of time in an MLS program is spent learning the history, theory, research methods, and science behind how library science was created and progressed. You read theoretical works from the early 20th century up to the modern day. Ranganathan’s Five Laws is one of the better known. A good MLS program will also encourage critical analysis about the library as an institution and how these intersect with the patriarchal, capitalistic, white supremacist society that we’re all navigating. Librarians need to learn to critique themselves and their own profession, and a MLS program is often the first introduction to a complex and nuanced understanding of librarianship.

      There are a handful of Bachelor’s Degrees available in library science, mostly at universities outside the US. They’re largely useless for actually getting a librarian job in much of the US, because so many still have a mandatory “Master’s required”.

      I do wish all library science programs required students to take a statistics course. That was the one area I felt I needed to learn in a classroom that I use regularly. I eventually took a Coursera course on stats.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Another thing I forgot to mention from my own experience as a dumb 18 year old. I definitely needed the bachelor’s degree first to help me learn how to explore the research process (and make a bunch of mistakes along the way), as well as learning to write and study. I don’t think I could have done a library science bachelor’s degree because I wouldn’t have been effectively able to help other people with research without first doing a bit of it myself.

    4. Paris Geller*

      Library Science is a broad, broad field. There is definitely a debate in the field whether a MLS is necessary or if as a profession we should move away from it for DEI reasons (as well as others). I was working in youth services in a public library at the time when I got my MLS, so I took classes in what other people have mentioned — information organization and retrieval, indexing, user design, but also management, youth and child development, and public service. I had peers who were focusing on health informatics so they had a lot of classes that were related to hospital libraries, for one. Library/information science overlaps with a lot of fields depending on what you’re interested in including government services, data science, business management, education, record management, archival studies, museums. . .

    5. Alice*

      Taking your question at face value, you should explore the documents about difference specialties at https://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/corecomp/corecompspecial/knowledgecompetencies
      And letting some of my snark out – there are librarians with extensive technical expertise that a CS person should appreciate. There are sysadmins, metadata librarians, research data librarians who could use the same skills to make more money in other industries. Maybe they think that library work is more “rewarding” than using their technical skills to make people click ads (pace Jeff Hammerbacher).

    6. Another Academic Librarian too*

      This is a big question. I think it starts with “you don’t know , what you don’t know”
      The basic interactions of a librarian with the public (students, citizens, children etc) is only a sliver of the job. It looks like so much fun from the outside. Most of us are paddling furiously under the surface.
      My MLIS is with certification in Public Library Youth Services and I assumed that my life’s career would be there.
      To get my first job with no library experience and no degree thirty years ago, I was an “exploited” worker with very low pay and a promise that if I didn’t achieve my MLIS and certification the loss of the position (fired). The pay for entry level has not improved much since then.
      A school librarian needs educational certification as well as an MLIS- Often a double masters. Academic Librarians often have a masters in their subject specialty AND and MLIS.
      In my MLIS program I became knowledgeable about:
      Collection development, grant writing and marketing, materials and programming for children and young adults, reference (hierarchy of information and resources, cataloguing ), management- (a very business school type class) of people, information, and systems, History of libraries, Research and publication, Computer Information- organization and process.
      I do not regret the degree and would not have been considered for any of the positions I have had without it.

      What I learned on the job- Everything else. Advocacy, development, community relations, public speaking, curatorial work, managing people, places, and things. I can say that the work in 3 classes in graduate school has sustained me over the last 25 years. 5 years as a public librarian, 15 as a school librarian pre-k through 8th grade moonlighting an academic librarian in a Teachers College, last ten years in an archives and special collections as a special collections librarian. (TT /Full)

    7. ModernHypatia*

      Nthing the comments about this being an ongoing debate in the field. I’ve been working in libraries since 2000. I started my MLIS in 1999, finished it (with a break in the middle for several years) in 2007, and got my first MLIS requiring job in 2008. I’ve worked in a private high school library, a public university library, and now in a research library in a fairly small field.

      One of the arguments for requiring the MLIS is having a broader view of what a library needs (short term but also long term – sometimes very long term) rather than the day to day. (And often, an MLIS doesn’t focus as much on that day to day work, that’s something you learn on the job, partly because there are lots of different possible priorities, practices, and communities to serve out there, and they need different things sometimes.)

      My library degree included core classes (intro to library science, intro to reference services, cataloging, and an administration class, which was about both “how do you manage people in a library” and key information about things like dealing with budgets (especially with the variety of funding sources libraries may deal with). Not super in detail in any one area, but enough to help you know what you needed to know, and where to find more information when things came up.

      Other courses did even more of that – user information-seeking behavior, reference in specific subjects (how to identify the best resources in a field, get practice with a bunch of common databases at a point when some of those were fee-for-service, so you couldn’t practice easily on your own outside of an institutional access subscription).

      Also collection development (how you build a collection over time, both what you add to the collection, and handling items that have become outdated, as well as things like handling book challenges, making sure your collection represents your actual community not an idealised version of the community, etc.)

      Threaded through that was key information on handling other tasks, many of which have legal or financial implications. People in management positions (where the MLIS is still routinely required) need to be able to handle staff issues, sometimes quite sizeable budgets (and also things like grants, fundraising, maybe good relationships with a friends of the library group or a library board.) They need to figure out how to make policies for the library that keep the library as safe as possible for everyone who uses it (where there can be a lot of legal considerations in multiple directions.)

      Similarly, while no library class is going to cover every single privacy issue, or legal issue (like copyright issues, access issues, etc.) knowing when you as the librarian need to flag that for legal counsel (and the appropriate kind of legal counsel!) is key. A lot of my classes talked through the kind of thing that might come up in these areas, so we’d know how to spot them.

      My archivist colleagues (who also hold an MLIS) focused on things like learning issues of preservation (how do you identify an item and make sure it gets the proper treatment) as well as how to manage the collection (accession, processing, deeds of gifts, privacy issues, what can get digitized and shared and what can’t because of copyright, privacy, or lack of release or provenance documentation.)

      In other words, a lot of my work (and theirs) is not just the day to day, but “how do we make sure this collection is useful, understandable, and available to people 50 years from now.” Which is a very different view from what you can learn on the job in a specific location.

  54. NaN*

    I work on a team with nothing but men, in an organization that is 95% men, in a red state. I’m sitting in a virtual meeting right now, feeling like the world has gotten very dark, because in the United States today, I don’t have the same right to autonomy as these men. I have never been more aware of being the only woman here.

    1. Aliea*

      Things have gotten very bleak. Gotta love how decisions for women are being made by mostly men. It’s disgusting!

    2. Foaming At The Mouth*

      Indeed. And guess who is next to have their rights removed, revoked, revolted and remanded? Anyone who isn’t a white man.

      1. Aliea*

        Well, look at the demographical makeup of people running things and I think that will have all the explanation you need. Disappointing but I’m not surprised in the least.

    3. Ashley*

      All I can say is I see you. This is a rough day / time and it is made worse when those around us can’t understand that.

      1. Aliea*

        I think some of “those around us” know exactly what they are doing. I’m not giving them any room for plausible deniability.

      2. NaN*

        Thanks. A number of my work friends are generally supportive, but I just don’t think they get it on an emotional level.

  55. Visitor Log Conundrum*

    Is there ever a point where a visitor log is too specific and might be invasive? I know this sounds weird, but some backstory: When we started slowly returning to the office during the pandemic (hybrid), several supervisors and department heads chose to have visitor logs for their areas to help with Covid contact tracing. My employer did have an overall set-up for tracing, but it was a little cumbersome and not always the most timely. If one of us caught Covid, we could easily provide the list instead of having to think about who all we’ve been in contact with.

    We’ve been back to mostly pre-pandemic working conditions for a few months now. A supervisor in my area has decided to bring back the visitor log, but it isn’t just who stopped by and the date. It’s name, time in, time out, date, reason for visit. It has a little bit of a creepy feel to it, like he’s tracking our movements if we go to his office. If we’re not going there to see him, it’s really none of his concern why anyone is stopping by nor for how long. (Extra backstory: this supervisor is extremely nosy, plays favorites, and will be super passive aggressive if he doesn’t like you or how you respond to him. Honestly, I could write about book about how shifty and backhanded he is.)

    1. OyHiOh*

      I mean, as a parent who has had numerous reasons to be in my children’s schools over the past decade, the kind of log you describe is just normal. Every school, every district, required time in/out, and purpose.

      For average business purposes, it does sound unusual and as a way to feed the supervisor’s nosiness but I’m not sure it rises to invasive.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        When I visit a government colleague, I have to provide all this information, then wait at the desk until someone appears to accept and escort me. Arguments include security (for all employees) and tracking number of visitors (to highlight usefulness).
        When they visit me, no one except me would know they exist.
        Much depends on the motives.

      2. Visitor Log Conundrum*

        Totally know where you’re coming from on the school thing. It’s the same for my kids’ schools. We’re all adults here and don’t work with minors. It just feels weird that he’s suddenly doing this now when the rest of the place hasn’t for several months and he wasn’t really interested in keeping a list before.

        1. Observer*

          This kind of log is standard all over the place, not just schools.

          I’m not sure why you are so bent out of shape about reason for visit – at least in theory, if he’s your manager, it could be his business why you are spending work time in a certain way. But also, how detailed do you think you need to be? Keep the reasons simple and short.

          1. Visitor Log Conundrum*

            He is not my supervisor, even though he likes to act like he is. And I’ve never worked at a place that has done had one, school or not. I’m also not bent out of shape, just have a ridiculous and stressful history with him, his incompetence, and his tendency to retaliate if you’re not one of his “favorites.” (And boy, does he play favorites!) I was just wondering if it seemed odd to be doing this when there is no history of it outside of contact tracing and my employer stopped overall contact tracing months ago. Maybe I should have worded my initial comment better.

      1. Visitor Log Conundrum*

        Yes. It’s for everyone that goes into his office suite, which ends up being mainly employees. Some are his subordinates, some are not.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our site requires name, time in, time out, date, reason for visit and specifically who you’re there to see, if you don’t swipe in with a badge for the site.

      1. Visitor Log Conundrum*

        We’re definitely not a secure site and don’t have to swipe in anywhere unless it’s to open specific door that always remains locked.

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

      The reason for the visit seems unnecessary, but the date and length of time info could be very relevant to COVID tracing…if someone was there for less than 5 minutes, according to the CDC guidelines, they shouldn’t need to be contacted for tracing purposes.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I used to see a psycholog.ist in a building with a lobby attendant who always pointed me to a sign-in log where I was supposed to put my name and the business I was visiting. Uh, no. I’m not ashamed of it and am not a private person at all, but it felt icky that everyone else who signed the book could see my name and my reason for being there. (There aren’t really other reasons you’d be going to this kind of office weekly!) Usually I ignored it and when I didn’t I invented a name :/

    5. Admin of Sys*

      I mean, that is 100% the data gathering I’ve had in every office that had secure access, if you didn’t have a badge. And if you did have a badge, that data was basically tracked by the badge and cameras. As such, it doesn’t seem weird to me at all? But I’ve been in jobs where I had a pat-down and metal detector to get into certain labs, so I’ve probably got a skewed view of appropriate levels of security.
      That said, ‘reason for visit’ in most places I’ve been that track such things get a random unreadable scribble, the phrase ‘work’ or similar useless items, unless the person signing in doesn’t have a general reason to be there and very much /wants/ to put down ‘meeting with vip’ or such. And frankly, even in pretty highly secured buildings, a ton of people fail at the sign out part.
      So in general, I’d say this only seems weird because it may be misused by the nosy supervisor, rather than it actually being an unrealistic thing to track. But being that it may be misused, folks can subvert it in a few ways – 1) fill it out super obsessively, so you track leaving for lunch and coming back for lunch, going to the car to find your travel mug, etc – so a day’s entries is multiple pages long and it is rapidly decided that there’s too much data to go through or 2) be super generic about the in-outs and all the ‘reasons for being in’ involve ‘work’ or ‘office’ or ‘meeting’ with no details, resulting in no real data to use. (you can additionally have really unreadable handwriting for that option)

      1. Visitor Log Conundrum*

        We don’t even get the choice to fill it out. The woman that sits at the front desk does it. No one else is allowed to touch it, lol.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          okay, /that/ is weird. I’ve never been anywhere that wasn’t a self-fill sheet, even in highly secure environments. There’s sometimes be an identity verification for non-badged people that maybe got recorded somewhere, but the building in / out / reason has always been self managed.

        2. Observer*

          Yeah, that part really IS weird. But you can still be totally bland and not give anyone anything to work with. I’d be doing and and two word answers to “reason for coming in” – “work”, “meeting”, “supplies”, whatever. And then just walk off.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’ve seen that at a lot of front desks. Never seen it used internally between departments.

    7. JustaTech*

      This seems totally reasonable for your front desk/security folks to track (we’ve had that for more than a decade). But internal to your site? Yeah, that’s weird.

    8. Martin Crief*

      You say it’s for everyone that goes into his office suite, so it not for building fire regulations or anything. Can’t you play the malicious compliance game? Think up extraordinarily petty reasons to go to the office suite and put in really verbose reasons. See how many others you can get to play along.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      I’ve been to couple of the big campuses of Big Oil Companies as a business visitor, and they ask for all that at the security check in, and your ID (like driver’s license), and scan it, and print you a badge that only allows you to go to specific areas. You have to turn in the visitors badge (that has your photo from the scanned ID on it) when you leave, and your leave time is recorded.
      Back at my Old Job, there were restricted areas – C Suite, Server Room, etc, we had logs as well.

    10. SnappinTerrapin*

      This really depends on the nature of the business.

      It could fall anywhere on the continuum between totally unreasonable and totally reasonable, depending on what your business is and what the rationale is for collecting the information.

    11. Policy Wonk*

      This is standard. And the reason for visit is often simply listed as meeting. I don’t doubt that this supervisor is creepy, but this really isn’t an example of it.

  56. Lattes are for lovers*

    My partner was laid off last week. His large telecommunications company laid off several positions nationwide.

    He has been in retail for the past decade. He got into retail by accident – he lost his job during the 2008 Recession and fell into retail because he needed to pay his bills. He has shifted into sales training, retention, and management. He loves sales training in particular.

    Two questions: Has anyone successfully shifted out of retail and if so, what field did you go into?

    Second question: Any ideas for keeping him busy? I work from home full-time and he is already getting on my nerves by being home all the time.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Any ideas for keeping him busy? I work from home full-time and he is already getting on my nerves by being home all the time.

      Are there any volunteer groups/opportunities that he would be interested in? Ideally something part time that gets him out of the house during your working hours.

      Also: can he work on his resumes/cover letters at the library? This may give him some structure to keep up with the job search, and will get him out of the house for maybe an hour or two a day.

    2. ferrina*

      1) I haven’t gone through this, but it sounds like Business Development would be a good area for him to look into

      2) Library, hiking, geocaching, volunteering, drawing or painting on site (i.e., not home), writing the next great American novel from a coffeeshop… I absolutely empathize with having someone around all the time. If you play Dungeons & Dragons or other tabletop RPGs, congratulations, he’s the new Game Master. That’s nice and time consuming, and can be done at the library or he can go explore some nearby parks for some setting inspiration.

    3. Nameless in Customer Service*

      If you’re in the US the need for political activism is pretty high right now.

  57. Bend & Snap*

    I got laid off in March and cannot seem to find anything. I. Have spent the last 3 months in a grueling interview process for a corporate job with a company that rhymes with Shamazon, and found out this week I didn’t get it. There were study guides, recruiter prep calls, 8 interviews and a ton of time spend studying. I stupidly let it overshadow my job search so now I have nothing in the pipe. I’m pissed I went through the process because it was a gigantic waste of time.

    Are other people find the job hunt this difficult and annoying?

    1. Nameless in Customer Service*

      I am not directly (although I might be soon, ugh) but I personally know four jobhunters who are all having a miserable fruitless time, one for almost a year at this point. I wish I could say more than “I’m cheering you on,” but I am, fwiw.