employer made me a counteroffer and then rescinded it, talking to a mediocre employee about leaving, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My employer made me a counteroffer, then rescinded it

I received a job offer from a LargeCorp that was a great offer, a lateral move on a bigger scale than my job at SmallCorp, where I’ve been for five years. I gave notice at SmallCorp, and my grandboss called me later that afternoon and offered me a promotion I’d been waiting for for the last two years, and agreed to match the salary. There was another person party to this negotiation. I accepted, and was actually glad to be staying. Fast forward a week, and he rescinded the agreement, and now I’m not sure what I’m even being offered as a counter.

I am willing to go to LargeCorp. I have some reservations, but only about the company, not the people. Honestly I was really excited to stay based on some other factors, like I have an established reputation and a lot of flexibility, and grandboss (who can be a real jerk) is retiring in three months, and his replacement is very good, thank goodness.

I am not sure what, if anything, I can do. Luckily I had not notified LargeCorp that I was going to accept a counter, so that’s a viable option. Some of the commentary around rescinding my offer centered around age (I’m fairly young, particularly for the role) but I’ve done nothing but excel and receive highest marks on my performance reviews. Any sage advice?

Take the other offer. Your employer withdrew the counteroffer that had convinced you to stay, and so even if they offer you something else that entices you, you can’t rely on them keeping their word. They’ve already shown they have no qualms about making you an offer you might rely on and pulling it later. (What if you had already rejected the offer from LargeCorp based on their promise?)

You might be thinking this is all coming from your grandboss and he’s leaving in a few months, but if he’s the one with the power to make and pull offers right now, you’ve got to deal with the company as it is currently, not as things might (or might not) be after he leaves.

This is a person who has already shown he won’t negotiate in good faith. Take the other offer, the one you were already planning on before your grandboss set off this bomb.

Related: my company made a counter-offer to keep me — and now is attaching strings to it

Read an update to this letter here

2. Mediocre employee might take another job, but wants to keep working for us too

I run a small creative services business. We hired an employee almost two years ago, “Jamie.” Their attitude and perseverance are great, but their work lacks consistency. They aren’t progressing like we’d hoped, but they have just enough wins for us not to let them go. Jamie is more limited in their skill set than other team members, which means sometimes we scramble to put them to work on projects to which they aren’t well suited, which requires more babysitting. The other manager and I know that we should probably just let Jamie go.

Earlier this week, Jamie approached us with a job offer they received to teach at a local high school. They are very much a people pleaser and stated that they only want to take the job if they can still be a part of our organization in some capacity.

Jamie wants to contract for the last two hours of our day, after finishing duties at the high school. I could very much imagine a scenario as a win-win where when the right project comes up and we contract it out to Jamie, but I can’t guarantee this will be the case. We had a similar situation when Jamie started, in that they kept asking us to push back their start date, because they just couldn’t leave their previous team in a bad spot (despite giving them four weeks notice).

Jamie did express that this new job would be a pay cut, and that contacting would be necessary to supplement their income. Jamie has many connections and could contract with a lot of people. We would even feed Jamie projects with clients who aren’t a good fit for our shop. Should I try to nudge Jamie out the door to this new opportunity? If so, how? I’ve been honest in performance reviews that Jamie isn’t quite where we need them. Should I be more transparent about the potential of letting them go? Do we just let Jamie go, while we know they have a safety net to fall on?

Be as direct with Jamie as you can, because they deserve to have accurate information so they can make the best possible decisions for themselves. In this case, that should probably sound something like: “If you accept this new job, we might be able to send work to you if the right project comes along but I can’t guarantee that will happen, so I wouldn’t want you to count on that. I do want to be honest that we’ve continued to have the concerns about your work like X and Y that we’ve discussed in the past, and those concerns are serious enough we’ve considered whether we can keep you on in light of them. Because your job here could be in jeopardy if you stay, I want to encourage you to take this other job if you feel it’s right for you.”

Alternately, if you know you it’s highly likely you will fire Jamie if they don’t leave on their own — or at least you want to — say that clearly: “The work issues we’ve talked about previously are serious ones and things are at the point where there’s a strong chance we’d need to end your employment with us. Because of that, I strongly encourage you to take this other job if you feel it’s right for you.”

3. When do people learn business jargon?

I have a pretty low-stakes question, but it is something I have been thinking about for a while. In college I did not take any business classes and graduated with a liberal arts degree in 2009, meaning that I spent many years working as a bartender. When my body could not take it any longer, I made the transition to office jobs. I found that there were a lot of terms that I did not know that are mentioned quite often. Things like “evergreen,” “blue sky thinking,” and “bleeding edge.” Also stuff like what hierarchy order titles like associate, coordinator, specialist, and lead go in. Everyone just seems to know these things and I am wondering if it is a missing part of my education. Do business classes or majors learn these things in college? Are they things that you are expected to learn in entry-level roles? Or are they things that people toss around to look better and make others think they know what they are doing? This happened a lot with bartenders so I don’t know if it is the same patterns persisting in a different industry, or if I am just assuming the worst.

People don’t normally learn those terms in college; you tend to pick up jargon on the job (and often individual companies have their own jargon too). For the titles, with the exception of team lead, the hierarchy of the others can vary by company.

So there’s nothing missing from your education! You’ll just get more familiar with this stuff as you gain more experience in that world. Also, there’s new jargon all the time, and obscure jargon, and weird jargon — so very few (if any) people know all of it. You do get better at understanding it based on context though.

4. I got rejected after I’d already rejected them

A recruiter approached me via LinkedIn because she liked my profile. She asked for a resume, so I sent her one. She sent me a job description and told me what they were looking for as far as salary. It would have been 30% less than I’m making now. I told her that, and declined to go forward. This was a couple of weeks ago. Now they sent me a rejection email. WTAF? I already declined and they’re sending me an email rejecting me? Is this a thing? I didn’t even interview. It seems arrogant.

Yeah, it can be a thing. It’s usually just a bureaucratic mistake, not an attempt to send you any kind of message. Most likely you got marked in their system as out of the running when you declined and someone mistakenly thought that meant they needed to send you a rejection rather than it being clear to them (or their system) that you had already withdrawn.

5. Etiquette when resigning

I have been working as a contractor for six years for company A but placed at company B. I have recently decided to leave and have some good offers lined up. With your blog in mind, I will of course only resign after I signed the offer letter.

Over those six years, I never had much personal contact with company A; they only pay my salary and invite me to a company Christmas dinner every year. I understand that it is recommended to resign in person or over the phone, which is how I will inform my manager at company B. However, asking for a meeting with company A without a subject would be strange and asking for a meeting with the subject line “I want to discuss my resignation” seems redundant. What is the best way to proceed?

You have two options, depending on which one feels right. First, you can indeed ask for a call without naming the topic ahead of time — it’s okay to say something like, “I have a time-sensitive issue I need to speak with you about today or tomorrow.” (They might suspect what it’s about, but that’s okay; you’re not required to keep them from guessing ahead of time.) But with a distant relationship like the one you described, it’s also okay to resign via email — frame it as, “I wanted to let you know as soon as possible, but I’d be happy to set up a phone call to discuss the transition logistics whenever it’s convenient for you.”

{ 557 comments… read them below }

  1. Heather*

    If Jamie’s work has been just barely keeping him hired, it would be a kindness to let him know which part of the work he did well that allowed him to stay and which areas required too much overseeing.
    It is possible he could get more skill or education on his weak areas and in the future be a better employee to others.

    1. Dogiscopilot*

      From reading the letter, I suspect Jamie uses “they/them” pronouns. But I do agree – while it sounds like they’ve been given feedback previously, it would be a kindness to err on the side of clarity so they can make the best decision for their own future.

      1. JSPA*

        I suspect OP picked a gender neutral name and didn’t specify pronouns — and also carefully didn’t specify any other genders–so we would not be tempted to take a gender-specific attitude towards any of the people involved.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          And remember that people sometimes do this to help with anonymity and it has nothing to do with the actual people or their identities.

        2. Observer*

          Quite possibly true, and very sensible. But that doesn’t really change the point that we actually don’t know the gender of the employee, so it makes much more sense to use “they” than “him” in this context.

          1. Platypus*

            agreed- there’s no harm in using “they” either it doesn’t matter, or we’ve avoided misgendering someone

        3. Anonoman*


          This is actually a breath of fresh air to me. People here try way too hard to make every thing way too gendered and it ends up distracting from whatever point is trying to be made. I was reading some post written a few weekends ago about floor space at the gym and it devolved in to gross speculation on the gender of the people involved and the “safety” of women.

    2. Lilo*

      Sometimes it’s really not that simple. Like someone has great writing skills but bad attention to detail and makes mistakes based on that. Someone can improve on something vaguer like attention to detail but it’s tricky.

      1. Heather*

        Very true, some soft skills are harder to correct. It is also just as likely that the area of weakness could be a hard skill and this would benefit Jamie in knowing their mistakes.
        “Jamie, you seem to do very well on tasks A, B, and F. We have kept you in your role because of how well you do B and F but we are considering looking for someone that has a skill set A-F and can be generally strong candidate all around that needs less oversight on C, D, and E. Should the teaching role be a good fit for you, you should likely consider it more fully.

    3. Cpt Morgan*

      Or just avoid jobs that require whatever skill. Like that one PM letter a while back about a PM that knew they were disorganized but choose to be a PM to try to force themselves to be organized and instead failed at it.

      Sometimes it’s enough to just get really strong at your strengths and minimize how much work you have to do that relies on your weaknesses.

  2. Viki*

    3. Jargon just gets picked up and can mean different things in different offices. If you don’t know a term, google or asking is always a great option.

    Evergreen for example, is something new to me and hasn’t made it in my office but I’ve heard it around the internet enough to find out it’s a thing.

    1. soontoberetired*

      and jargon can have different meanings in the same company, different divisions. Some places will have their own glossaries, too, for common terms and acronyms. And there are new terms being used all the time especially in IT fields.

      1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        Very true. I’ve switched departments within the same company, and there are acronyms I though I knew that have a different meaning in this department! My place loves a TLA… (three letter acronym). We have provided new starters with a glossary of acronyms and department specific terms though, and that has really helped me. When I first started with the company many, many moons ago, I made my own little dictionary of jargon as I came across it.

      2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Yep. It’s all very company specific, too. Comparing two different call centers—the same job is Team Lead at one and Manager at the other (it’s a manager role). I was a Coordinator at SmallNPO and Specialist at BigCorp doing the same job.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          From my experience working in mid-level support for several years, admin, assistant, coordinator, and specialist are all mid-level support positions.

      3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I worked with someone early in my career who told me that at her previous organization, “FYI” meant “f*ck you indefinitely”. It’s been years and I still hesitate to write/say FYI!

      1. Allonge*

        This is reassuring for me. There will always be jargon and it will be company-specific, even – there is no reason for a university to invest the amount of time it would be necessary to teach all this in it. Mostly because a lot of it is blah blah and a little because it changes so often that there is no way to reliably teach it.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Hah, if universities tried to teach this stuff, it would just be 40 years out of date.

          Like when language class in school tries to teach how “youth” talks and then you try it out in the actual country and people tell you no one has said that since their grandparents were young…

          1. Smithy*

            Absolutely – this is truly a case where the even more basic liberal arts education rules are helpful. Rely on context, independent research and asking questions.

            Many employers will have organigrams that can give an idea to position hierarchy and then support asking more focused questions. Like where does a Sr Advisor sit in comparison to Department Director – looking at how the Marketing Dept is organized….

            Last few places I’ve worked have had their own acronym lists on the employer portal, which combined with googling makes me feel more confident asking what ABC means or confirming if my assumption via context is correct. I think part of this question is feeling like you don’t want to be asking “dumb questions” and just want to offer some of this as ways to make those questions look like you’ve made an independent effort first. And if you work somewhere or for someone that happens to penalize these sorts of questions – that is disappointing and forums like AAM’s open feed Friday can help further.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Absolutely – this is truly a case where the even more basic liberal arts education rules are helpful. Rely on context, independent research and asking questions.

              RIGHT! OP, if you’ve got a liberal arts degree, you’ve learned a ton of research, abstract thinking skills and you are almost certainly good at understanding context and nuance. Trust those skills, and trust yourself. There is no secret and archane knowledge here: the whole point of an entry-level role is that you get exposed to the language, thinking and structures of an organisation and a wider sector and learn to move in them comfortably. It’s OK to ask, it’s OK to google, and it’s OK simply to not know until you’ve heard them a few more times and it becomes obvious.

            2. Seeking second childhood*

              An excellent example of the other half of OP’s question… I have been marketing-adjacent in a jargon heavy company for many years and had never heard this one.

              1. quill*

                At least this one makes sense based on word roots: after you use it in a sentence you figure it’s a portmanteau of organization and diagram.

                It’s acronyms that will KMET (Kill Me Every Time) because half the time they overlap.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  I’m still angry about these two:

                  MRCP: Member of the Royal College of Physicians
                  ARCP: Associate of the Royal College of Physicians, right? No! Annual Review of Competence to Practice, the yearly panel that every doctor in training has to pass.

                2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  When people get snobbish on acronyms, I remind them that acronyms are encryption for speech.

                3. Lenora Rose*

                  My manager regularly sends emails asking us to F/U with her on a project, or, after giving directions for a new item, saying she will F/U in a week.

                  I figured out very quickly that she means “FOLLOW-up”, but it still gives me a jolt to see.

                4. Jean (just Jean)*

                  I have the same reaction to F/U! Fortunately so far I haven’t said anything out loud. Part of me is waiting for and dreading the experience if/when I verbalize my thoughts without thinking.

                5. bamcheeks*

                  Everyone on the AAM unions letter last week kept talking about CBA, which is Can’t Be Arsed to me.

                6. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  Will F/U next week unless an opportunity to F/U on this project arises earlier.

                  And yes, it was verbalized as “Will Eff You next week.” It took a thousand-yard stare not to lose my composure laughing during the call.

              2. Squidlet*

                Maybe this is also a regional thing, because it was in use at my company about 20 years ago (but I don’t hear it often any more).

              3. NotARacoonKeeper*

                I will take any acronym before I accept the word ‘organigram’, which sounds like someone just sent you a singing delivery person bearing human organs.

                ‘Org chart’ works just fine; this is a hill I will die on (and then have the organs delivered to your office’s door)

                1. NotARacoonKeeper*

                  For the record, this is at the generic ‘you’ of anyone who likes the word organigram (ew) not at Seeking Second Childhood, who has only recently learned of the dark side in this specific regard.

            3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Following your field’s professional associations, their # on twitter, or groups on LinkedIn can also be helpful if you are good at picking up meaning from context when reading and your field has such things. AAM is also really helpful. I’ve picked up a corporate speak from here that eventually crops up in my non-profit/government/social services world because business lingo spreads like weeds

            4. Anonym*

              Yep, for understanding titles and roles, org charts and company directories are very helpful. I’ve also found it useful to jump over to LinkedIn and see how a person describes their role. It could be a bit inflated, sure, but it can help fill in the picture of what they do on their team.

              And hard agree on context, research and asking! It’s probably what everyone else is doing when they need to figure out this sort of organizational minutiae.

            5. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and out fell out*

              I don’t think you need a “liberal arts education” to know that when you read or hear a word you don’t know, you can look it up and/or ask someone (the person you said it, your manager, your nearest friendly cubicle neighbor, whatever).

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I don’t know, it might help, it doesn’t change as fast as youth slang, where every class has to out cool the previous one. One book I read was very helpful in getting my corporate bla-bla style up to scratch was, ironically, a book calling out the worst of it, trotting out those tired old clichés like thinking outside the box and taking a proactive stance.
            Death Sentences by Don Watson.
            Turned out, sparing use of such drivel goes down very well in corporate translations, my clients suddenly started telling me they loved my style, because at last I was making them sound like their English-speaking counterparts.

      2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I’ve seen it in the context of brainstorming, but with no limits (so bascially throwing out all sorts of ideas to get the idea ball rolling, even if they are wildly expensive or impractical) but IDK if that’s how most people use it or not!

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          I had not heard blue sky thinking, but this is roughly what I would guessed. My thinking was that is was related to or came from “pie in the sky” ideas. But I definitely would have had to ask or look it up to be sure.

        2. Butterfly Counter*

          Hmm. I was guessing it was thinking about how things are going to proceed if everything goes as well as possible, not accounting for hiccups or barriers to success.

      3. bamcheeks*

        It means thinking creatively without any constraints of budget, resources, practicality etc– generating ideas without anyone going, “but that wouldn’t work because…” You aren’t thinking about what you could reasonably put into practice, just amazing awesome shit that would be truly cool.

        It’s useful for things like helping a team align on what you are aspiring towards, coming up with some wild ideas that might actually turn into practical ideas if you tweaked them a little, or even just for understanding what everyone’s priorities are. That said, like any process, some people hate it!

          1. The OTHER Other.*

            It can also be used as a pejorative—No, we are not making a free phone made out of unobtainium, that’s blue sky thinking.

              1. Koalafied*

                Yeah, I’ve never heard it used as a pejorative akin to pie-in-the-sky, though usage can certainly shift in a living language. My understanding is that the idea that blue sky exercises are permitted to generate impractical ideas doesn’t mean all blue sky exercises do, or that all the ideas one comes up with in blue sky exercises are impractical.

                My experience with them is they’re how my department’s senior leaders determine our 5-year strategic plan and make major branding decisions. We do blue sky exercises at the start of these kinds of plans because this is essentially THE opportunity to turn the aircraft carrier. In the day-to-day muck, you have to stay the course even if you have better ideas, because the better ideas are such a seismic shift they need a defined rollout plan with the buy-in of multiple leaders.

                Blue sky is more akin to “the sky’s the limit” than “pie in the sky” if I had to relate it to another expression. The idea being – this brainstorming session is not constrained by anything yet. It’s a big, expansive, open space where you can imagine anything and it doesn’t have to fit into a particular box we already own. It’s aspirational – where do we want to be in 5 years on the really big picture things that matter most to us? What do we want people to think of when they think of our brand? Ideas that would be impractical in a weekly stand-up meeting, become the seeds of multi-month and multi-year projects in a blue sky meeting, because they next step after the blue sky brainstorm is to identify what it would take to make the ideas practical.

          2. Koalafied*

            I’d say it’s a specific approach to brainstorming. All blue sky thinking is brainstorming but not all brainstorming is blue sky thinking.

          3. Lenora Rose*

            I think it’s a subset of brainstorming, because some brainstorming still tries to linger in reality – and, as noted, it’s also used to dismiss ideas — when not brainstorming — as too impractical.

      4. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah I have my MBA and I don’t know any of those specific examples.

      5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I am in a job where I hear business jargon pretty often and I have never heard blue sky thinking, either.

      6. Nikara*

        I’m fascinated by the definitions of blue sky here from folks. In the emergency management field, blue sky is what we do day to day, while grey sky is how we operate during emergencies/disasters.

    2. David*

      Yes, +1 for asking! Unless your company is horribly dysfunctional, most people would be happy to explain the terms they use, especially if you haven’t been working there that long. And there’s a decent chance you have coworkers who are wondering the same thing but were too afraid to ask.

      Incidentally I’ve been at my current job almost 5 years and I *still* don’t know how most of the different titles are supposed to compare to each other. (Though we’re pretty non-hierarchical, so the titles aren’t as meaningful as at most other places anyway.)

    3. RB*

      Evergreen, blue sky thinking, and bleeding edge are all new to me and I’m trying to figure out what industry this person is in.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Let me guess – evergreen is a fancy way of saying we have done this thing the same way forever because it works and there is no reason to change it, blue sky thinking means let your imagination/ambition run free and a bleeding edge is obviously what you get at the cutting edge. A lot of jargon is often used because it is easier than saying exactly what you mean.

        1. Smithy*

          Don’t know bleeding edge – but the way we use “evergreen” at work is when referring to something we want to create to be able to last longer. In my industry, it would be brochure or summary document that won’t need updates (or major updates) for 12 months. For our work something that’s still useful 12-24 months from when it was created counts as “evergreen”. But in other industries I can imagine that time being longer.

          It’s not so much about something always being a way, but creating something that won’t need constant/regular refreshing.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Bleeding edge is a reasonably old colloquial term, I think – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that one around for a couple of decades. It’s something that’s on the extreme edge of newness/most up to date.

            (a quick search has it dated to the 1980s, so it’s maybe too old for startup culture).

            1. sb51*

              Yeah, bleeding edge isn’t office jargon to me, it’s high-tech jargon (like a recreational video game player who does not work in tech might use it about his new gaming setup).

            2. Seeking second childhood*

              Think about the phrase cutting-edge technology… bleeding edge is tech that is so new you know you’re going to get hurt before you get profit.

            3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              In patenting circles, “bleeding edge” means innovation so new it’s not on the market yet, I guess. And “evergreen” is a verb meaning filling new patent applications for new uses of inventions that are otherwise soon going to go out of patent and into the public domain.

                1. My Useless 2 Cents*

                  I don’t know if “autocarrot” is new or typo but I am so using this term in the future for autocorrect errors!

                2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  (autocarrot was indeed deliberate – I like it because it makes people smile)

          2. Snow Globe*

            In my industry (finance) evergreen refers to something with no official expiration date, or automatically renewing, such as a line of credit.

            1. Lydia*

              I work in the public sector and this is how it’s used here. Along with “sunsetting” to indicate a program or project that’s finishing up and will not be renewed.

          3. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yup, we use “evergreen” in the same sense in an events context. For example, a brochure for a 2022 event is a one-time use item – but the table cloth with our logo that we used for the first time this year is an evergreen item, because we can keep using it until our logo changes.

          4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            This–evergreen is forward-looking, a solution that will last a long while.

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          This is where industry and actual job are likely to come in because as a contract administrator, because in my position at a large electric utility “evergreen” refers to a contract that does not have an expiration date (like with the state’s call center for marking underground utilities — it never expires) and “blue sky thinking” means you’re thinking like it’s a day without a storm!

        3. The OTHER Other.*

          Acronyms and so on can sometimes save time as a sort of shorthand, but it’s also common that these terms and phrases are just buzzwords that add little if any meaning.

          At some point excessive jargon gets in the way and I start to suspect that this person may not actually even know what they are talking about, or at least, have much to say.

      2. soontoberetired*

        A lot of new terminology comes from the IT world which in turn made it up or borrowed it from manufactoring. and from marketers. Amazon’s cloud services is also responsible for a lot of new jargon. I have come to despise the word failover (which is just a way of saying rollover but making it obscure).

        1. Observer*

          Actually, in most IT contexts failover and rollover are not the same thing.

          Which speaks to the idea that jargon can be very field and company specific.

          1. Squidlet*

            I know jargon and acronyms can can be frustrating and confusing, but the perception that they are used primarily for gatekeeping and “sounding clever” annoys me. In a lot of fields, they serve a purpose for the people actually doing the work. My team understands what “wireframe” means and I’m happy to explain it to anyone who doesn’t, but asking people to abandon a well established and useful vocabulary simply because not everyone uses it, is silly and pointless. We don’t expect doctors to say “the part of your brain that’s right behind your forehead” instead of “frontal lobe”, or lawyers to say “a document where we write down everything that’s been agreed to” instead of “contract”.

            1. Loulou*

              Very well said. It’s frustrating and confusing when another team/department uses their own specific jargon with external people without considering that they may not know what it means…but that’s just an issue of communication, not having the jargon or shorthand in the first place.

            2. Unaccountably*

              I mean, a lot of people actually do use them to sound clever. An old boss of mine actually admitted to using the most inane business-speak because he thought it sounded “cool.” That’s why a distinction should be made between technical terms (like “wireframe” or “frontal lobe”) and meaningless jargon (“utilize” where “used” is more appropriate, “effort” used as a verb, and so forth). It’s also why people who work in technical industries, as I do, need to know their audience before they choose their words. If I can communicate complex mathematics in lay terms, I’m pretty sure our IT director can communicate without usingIT-specific jargon every second or third word. He just chooses not to.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Yeah and in places where English is not the native language, locals will use the English word for something just to sound cool too. There are some words that don’t translate well (the French have no word for “empowerment” for example) but why say “skills” (pronounced skeelz) when you have the word “compétence”???
                It is so infuriating. The French love to talk about “management” nowadays even though they have the time-honoured “gestion” which does the same job. I got lambasted by a client for leaving a word out once: turned out that I had only put “management” in a sentence that had “management et gestion”. I tried to explain that both were “management” in English, and the client then pointedly explained that no, they weren’t the same. Apparently in French, “management” is used purely for managing people rather than schedules and equipment and processes. OK, so you take an English word and then change its meaning, fine. Still means the same in English, no you’re not going to tell me what to put instead. Grrr!

            3. Observer*

              I know jargon and acronyms can can be frustrating and confusing, but the perception that they are used primarily for gatekeeping and “sounding clever” annoys me. In a lot of fields, they serve a purpose for the people actually doing the work.


              But that doesn’t negate the fact that it does tend to be field specific.

      3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        the bleeding edge… in printing “a bleed” is background going over the page borders, running to the edge.
        If it has been conscripted into jargon for “great idea” or something, it is news to my 30 years in publishing/printing.
        But, I have no idea what a KPI is. Read it here almost daily. Again, been in offices over 30 years..
        So, OP, what I am saying is, there is no universal jargon lexicon. Learn your company’s dialect and you’ll be fine.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          KPI stands for key performance indicator. An example of that would be the number of llamas groomed, teapots produced etc. (Or something like monthly active users if you’re a social networking company, jobs filled if you’re a recruiter, money raised if you’re a fundraiser. )

        2. DataSci*

          That’s not where bleeding edge comes from. It’s techy. What’s beyond the cutting edge? The bleeding edge. I wouldn’t have thought of it as business jargon at all, though maybe it’s becoming so, but as old (at least 20 years old) geek slang.

          1. BradC*

            Yes, and it definitely has the connotation that being that far out ahead of the mainstream (in tech, specifically) comes with a higher-than-usual amount of technical issues/glitches to deal with.

            Self-driving vehicles, for example, is a tech that I view as “bleeding edge”, because of the level of difficulty (and risk of great bodily harm) involved.

          2. Bee*

            Yeah, I am exclusively familiar with “evergreen” and “bleeding edge” from outside of work! I wouldn’t think of those as business jargon at all. These are interesting choices from the LW because they’re all so metaphorical – you can pick up the meaning from the imagery they evoke. The business jargon I find baffling is the stuff that’s completely opaque if you don’t already know what it means.

          3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            No way. That is wild. I had no idea. I also hope OP reads this to understand that jargon can be industry specific, company specific, department specific. Don’t think you are ever going to learn it all.
            and for the love of cheese, please let it go when it’s become shopworn/dated/overdone.

          4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Both cutting-edge and bleeding-edge come from the printing terms and have been widely adopted to mean really really edgy and of course tech is the edgiest of industries.
            The cutting edge is the line along which the guillotine cuts the printed paper, the bleeding edge, as explained above, is where the ink has bled over the cutting edge.
            Most tech words have been borrowed from real life. Like, a mouse, is a small animal with a long tail.

        3. Anonym*

          Thinking of it as a company’s dialect is a great perspective for OP! Each has their own, there may be some that share features across industries, but they really do vary. You’ve just gotta go in assuming that the dialect or terminology is part of the culture you’ll need to learn (and you will learn mostly by exposure over time).

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve been in office work for many years and have no idea what the bleeding edge is. After a year in my job, I still get mixed up between branches, divisions, and departments.

      As for jargon, I roll my eyes every time I see employers post job announcements saying they’re looking for someone “results-oriented.” That phrase should be banned from the planet.

    5. Shiba Dad*

      I have a business degree and I’m not familiar with the terms “evergreen” or “blue sky thinking”. I’ll look them up later.

      Granted, I am old enough to remember when “synergy” was a relatively new term.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. OP, I have a degree in business management and I have never heard these terms.

        Some people use words to impress people- wow them. Ever meet anyone with a huge vocabulary? Good for them I’d say. BUT. If people have no idea what you just said then you have failed to communicate with them.

        Same thing goes in business. Just like clothing, words come into style then go out of style. Wait a week. These terms will be “old” and we will have something “new”. Am smh, a friend talks about living in the city and wearing last year’s clothes. Everyone could tell. Words go the same route. And words have a quicker turn around, it can be a matter of a few months and people have moved on to new terminology.

        Just get in the habit of googling these new phrases as they come up.

        To me there are real business terms and then business speak like what is shown here. Real business terms do not change that much: accounts receivable, collections, PTO, vendor, customer/client and so on. If you get comfortable with the business terms that are enduring, these fly-by-night jargon phrases won’t throw you that much.

      2. Clisby*

        When I was a computer programmer, we had an agreement that if “synergy” and “paradigm” were ever used in the same sentence, it was 100% permissible to mentally check out, because the speaker had no idea what he/she was talking about.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      The range of “huh that one’s new” is interesting here. (For me it’s evergreen and the other two are familiar.)

      Also interesting: “Evergreen” is used in very different ways in different businesses. “A company that doesn’t plan to go public.” “A document that won’t need any changes for a year.” And so on.

    7. Shirley You're Joking*

      #3 – If people are using acronyms, it’s always amusing to ask what the letters stand for. I worked someplace where everyone used an acronym constantly but when I asked what it stood for, no one could tell me.

      I think it’s perfectly fine, too, to ask, for example, “What do you mean by evergreen?” Maybe it’s helpful to point out to people that they are using jargon instead of just saying what they mean. I’ve worked a places with so much jargon that it was as if people were speaking their own language. When I moved to a company of plain-talkers, I was SO relieved! Some people don’t mind jargon or enjoy it. I guess I’m not one of them.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Acronyms are what killed me starting my current job. They use them for everything from reports to projects to literal staff members. A forward thinking young associate took pity and circulated an acronym translator to all the new people but I have been doing a subtle rebellion for over a year where I just spell everything out.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Not really. Some are similar, some people’s brains don’t actually work well having to constantly decode every conversation. I’ve seen it lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion – ESPECIALLY when you’re using people’s initials instead of their names. Lots of people have similar initials and I do not know everyone’s middle names.

            1. Good Hold Music*

              I used to work in a system that you would work on the product in a third party platform, and then “export” it INTO our local system, and the export metadata included your initials as a tag of who did the work. It let to everyone having to memorize everyone else’s initials to be able to track them down and ask questions if needed, as well as memorizing the initials of everyone who ever retired or left so you would know if that work was “abandoned” or not…. hadn’t thought about that in a while lol

              1. Loulou*

                Classic different strokes for different folks — it seems totally normal to me to be expected to know the initials of everyone you work with + key people who used to work there. Obviously everyone’s brain works differently but depending on process it still might make sense to use the initials and have the person who can’t remember them ask, rather than having everyone write everything out as a matter of course.

              2. Lenora Rose*

                In a lot of places with compliance regulations, you get to know peoples’ initials and handwriting pretty quick, because you HAVE TO know exactly who did the Flerble test on Wotchit 13 on Tuesday June 15, 2021 if any report comes back, or if the auditors ask. (Yes, there’s also a lit where everyone gives their full name and handwriting and writes their initials – and which is checked for overlaps so there are times it is legally required for a person to use their middle initial, or invent one, to avoid confusion. I was always LRP, never LP.

                I don’t work in an industry like that anymore. I wouldn’t remember most of my coworkers’ initials without some thought at this point.

            2. quill*

              Relatedly? Anyone who did this at my current job would be a hero.

              We have two different teams using two different naming conventions (R&D’s naming convention, production’s naming convention) which would be fine except the initials overlap. And I kind of want to shake whoever decided R&D’s naming convention would be the initials of the person in charge of the study, since it would be rude to shake whoever’s initials correspond to LHC, or Llama Hoof Cream.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Yeah it was greatly appreciated. She has since left, and these unfortunately change too often to easily keep up with (which is another issue – trying to learn acronyms when you’re constantly cycling through projects). I wish I had time to take it over but I hope someone else does soon.

      2. Loulou*

        I mean, I don’t think we have the information to know if people are using jargon *instead of saying what they mean.* They are just as likely using jargon as shorthand for what they mean, and assuming based on the shared office context that people will understand.

      3. Observer*

        Maybe it’s helpful to point out to people that they are using jargon instead of just saying what they mean.

        That’s actually a very bad idea. If it’s true then you are just going to make people defensive. It it’s not true – and in my experience the use of jargon is rarely *intended* to obfuscate – you are just going to look clueless.

        I’ve worked a places with so much jargon that it was as if people were speaking their own language.

        That’s true. But it’s rare that it’s about not speaking plainly. In many cases, it’s just a matter of developing a common shorthand. Like in our organization we tend to use short acronyms for many organizations or a shortened version of the name. That’s not because people are trying to be unclear, it’s just shorter, often easier. eg When you have 6 “Department for” and “And “Department of” that you deal with on a regular basis, they are going to sound alike, while DPT, DHC, and DOOP (pronounced as a word) all sound very different. (I’m making up the acronyms, to be clear, but they do mirror the real world.)

        Sometimes it’s just a short phrase or word for a longer thing that “everyone” (ie everyone who has been in the organization for a while) uses because it’s shorter. Like “office hours”. The term is not meant to hide anything – in fact most people who use it think that they are being crystal clear. But if you are not in academia, it is pure jargon. I have a degree, but I would never have known what the term means in college if not for AAM.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          ” It it’s not true – and in my experience the use of jargon is rarely *intended* to obfuscate – you are just going to look clueless.”

          This is a very real catch-22 that makes it really hard for people in new jobs trying to catch up in jargon-heavy environments

          1. Web of Pies*

            I remember being completely befuddled the first time someone used ‘out of pocket’ with me. I literally had no idea what they meant, and we started at each other in confusion for a beat.

            If anyone can explain why “pocket” is a reasonable substitution for “office” in this situation, I would love to hear it, because 20 years later I still do not understand why that one took off. You don’t even save any syllables!

            1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

              That’s one that got me too. For me, it’s about money and was confused the first time someone used it to mean unavailable. I quickly got it by context but have never understood its origins.

              Here’s additional info, including a 3rd newer meaning. No satisfying answer as to why it means unreachable, just that it may have started with journalism and is more common in the South.

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I’ve never heard out of pocket to mean out of office. Doesn’t it mean like extreme or out of left field?

              1. eastcoastkate*

                My company uses out of pocket as out of office. I think we use it also as like “I will be working but going from place to place or tied up all day and it might be hard to get me on email” etc.

              2. Clisby*

                I’ve never heard it used to mean “extreme,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an alternate definition. The 2 definitions I know of, in order of how often they’re used, are:

                1) Paying for something in cash. Like, “My company paid my travel and hotel expenses for the conference, but I paid out-of-pocket for meals and taxis.”
                2) Temporarily unavailable. “He’s out-of-pocket right now, but should be back in a couple of hours. Would you like him to call you?”

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  The list of definitions above includes a third which is basically “inappropriate” which is probably basically what I’m thinking

          2. bamcheeks*

            There’s a difference between asking what something means and “pointing out that someone is using jargon instead of saying what they mean”, however. If someone says to me, “sorry, what’s DLHE?” I’m quite happy to say, “Oh sorry! It’s the Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education survey, which is undertaken six months after students graduate.” If someone says, “You said “deli”, I don’t know what that means, can you speak proper English please” I would think they were unhelpful and obstructive.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              There absolutely is, but people often have a fear of looking clueless or out of place in new environments.

              1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                I think it’s genuinely one of the most difficult things to learn at work — when it’s the right time / place / group to ask questions when you don’t understand what something means, and when to hold it / figure it out later / ask someone on the side. I have a pretty good instinct for it but it’s really easy to get it slightly wrong.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              But if you hear “deli” (and it’s nearly lunch-time) your brain will not translate that into “DLHE”. I don’t think you should get annoyed at people not understanding that. If people don’t know there’s a DLHE you can’t expect them to realise it’s an acronym rather than a word they are familiar with.

              1. bamcheeks*

                It’s the “Can you speak proper English please” that would be arsey, not how you mentally hear “DLHE”!

          3. Observer*

            This is a very real catch-22 that makes it really hard for people in new jobs trying to catch up in jargon-heavy environments

            Not really. It’s ok to ask what a word, term or acronym means. What is a bad idea is “pointing out” that people are communicating inappropriately when that’s not the case.

      4. Al*

        The same set of letters can be completely different acronyms, too. In our sales team, ROI means “return on investment,” while in our clinical team it means “release of information.”

      5. L'étrangere*

        Apart from all that discussion about what specific term means in what context, dear OP3 you have totally the right idea “things that people toss around to look better and make others think they know what they are doing”. Hot air, most of it

    8. Antilles*

      The one that really sticks out to me is the mention of the hierarchy.
      In every engineering job I’ve ever had, the term “Staff Engineer” represents the most junior title in the company; the kind of title you get coming straight out of college without any experience. I’ve had people at other companies and in these comments here at AAM tell me that at their engineering companies, “Staff Engineer” is the exact opposite – an incredibly senior title, typically reserved for only a handful of people at the very top of the pyramid.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Agreeeee. Associate, Staff, Senior, Principle, Senior Principle, Director, Vice President…. I get the vibe but honestly I only know titles that I’ve held.

        1. bamcheeks*

          VP always confuses me. There seem to be some big corporations where it means “moved out of training/supervised phase and given their own caseload and ability to sign off on things”, whereas to me it means “second only to the CEO in a corporation”.

          1. SmlCreaturesSuchAsWe*

            Is the industry difference finance/banking vs. not? Because I think banking uses VP so that customers feel like they’re talking to someone powerful.

            I once had to ask a coworker to explain when she said that her husband would now have direct reports, because he had been promoted from VP to assistant director. He worked for a bank.

      2. Hamster Manager*

        Same in the design world, “Art Directors” can either be at the top of the hierarchy, like, Directing the Art the whole department makes, or they can be mid- to low-level production roles/project leads.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Same, and it makes job hunting very difficult, especially when listings don’t include pay bands.

        At Company A anyone with any training at all is a “(department) officer”, but in Company B that’s a “(department) clerk” and a “(department) officer” does a bit of the grunt work one day a week but spends the rest of the week ordering stationery, monitoring deadlines, preparing reports, and schmoozing clients.

        If Company C advertises for a “(department) officer” then unless the job description is very detailed I’m looking to see if it pays £25k or £50k+, and without that information I have no idea if I’m wildly overqualified or the ideal candidate. I’ve been multiple emails deep with a prospective employer before realising we’re talking about completely different roles.

      4. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Yes, at my company the “office manager” actually manages the entire office/staff and is 3rd from the top in corporate hierarchy (CEO>VP>OM). Whereas I have come to believe, from comments here on AAM, at other companies it’s equivalent to receptionist.

    9. Miss V*

      Even things you thought were standard jargon can mean different things at different companies.

      For whatever reason at my current company if something is sent to you to be done ASAP- everywhere else I’ve ever worked that means ‘do this immediately, it takes priority over everything else.’ But somehow, for some reason, where I work now it means ‘do this As Soon As Possible *without shifting other priorities around*’. Which is a way I have never heard it used before.

      No one I work with knows who first started using ASAP to mean this, and it always takes new hires a little while to catch on even after it’s explained to them. It’s strange, but it’s so ingrained in how my company communicates I can’t see it changing without a very conscious effort.

      1. Lydia*

        I realized some time ago that ASAP and “as soon as possible” carry different weight for me. “As soon as possible” just doesn’t feel as urgent as ASAP. If my boss sends me something to work on ASAP, I will dump everything else and start working on it. If she asked me to do it as soon as possible, I would finish up what I was currently working on and get to it after because that was when it was possible.

    10. Web of Pies*

      I worked with a Very Huge Corporation Whose Products Are In Literally Everyone’s Home once, and new employees would get a GIANT BINDER of jargon when they started. I did not get the binder, and it was really difficult to understand the people there who were deep into Jargon Town.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        … I had to chuckle because that’s a good analogy for neurodivergence. Everybody but me got the manual!

  3. Pickle Pizza*

    That first letter is absolutely bananas. Isn’t it still illegal to deny someone a promotion based on age? How is that not discrimination?

    1. daydreamer*

      I’m pretty sure it’s only illegal to discriminate against someone for being too old (over 40). Denying someone a promotion for being too young is crappy, but legal.

      1. Cranky lady*

        Federal age discrimination is 40 and over. State and local governments can have different laws. For example, DC doesn’t allow any age discrimination over age 18. Proving age is a factor is a different matter.

        1. Lydia*

          Same in Oregon, which is fair, because that’s some bullshit that boss is pulling.

          OP, your current grand boss thought he could get away with a bait and switch and probably made the offer with that in mind. Take the offer from LargeCorp and do it knowing grand boss was probably counting on you having turned it down already and not having the option to go.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            The timing of the bait and switch is incredibly suspect. I was surprised to learn that OP hadn’t pulled out of the first offer after a week, and I bet Grandboss will be, too… this is definitely some shady business. I wonder if OP’s intuition kept them from turning down LargeCorp once they got the counteroffer!

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            And you can always apply for a job at SmallCorp once toxic CEO has actually left, if you find you do prefer that place. And you’ll probably be able to negotiate even more money into the deal too.

      2. English Rose*

        Yes, I believe this is the case in the US. Here in the UK, age discrimination covers younger folks as well. But either way, OP is best out of this company.

    2. Nes*

      It’s one of those ironies that a law based on not discriminating based on age, actually discriminates based on age.

      1. JSPA*

        Suspect it presumes that when experience and age align, it’s much harder to prove…and also less injurious, as someone “too young” now will be older later, while someone “too old” now will… also be older later.

        It also addressed (to some degree) dumping (mostly female) people for being less “eye-candy” or less “available.”

        Finally, dumping older people used to be a way around having to pay the extra costs that used to reliably come with seniority, or to ditch people before they vest into some plan or benefit.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Your last sentence being a common reason, especially when folks used to have pensions/benefits that vested in X years and everyone got let go in X-0.5.

        2. Esmeralda*

          Dumping older (more expensive) people, often in favor of hiring younger (cheaper) people, is still a thing. There’s no “used to be” on this one.

        3. Cmdrshpard*

          As far as I understand letting people go due to budget reasons, letting go of the highest paid people on the team is legal, even to a certain extent if it tends to let go of mostly older people.
          When you can get in legal trouble is if it happens that all the “high paid” people let go were over 40, and a few under 40 similarly “high paid” people were kept.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Here in the UK it is illegal to discriminate on age and that wouldincludesomeone being young as well as old, although there are separate provisions which do discriminate, such as minimum wage (which has lower amounts for younger people in bands up to the age of 23 ) and redundancy payments (where people uder 22 get a lower, and those over 40 a higher rate if they are made redundant)

      3. thelettermegan*

        I think it’s more useful to think of decision based on youth of the employee, especially in this case where OP did not get promotion they were promised, as exploitation rather than discrimination.

        I think “not having enough experience” is a legit reason for a person to not get a job, but it’s not a good reason to undervalue someone’s work or rescind promotions. It wouldn’t surprise me if the grandboss thought they could get that level of work without the promotion from OP because of their youth.

        I think the distinction is important – young workers, out of fear of unemployment due to lack of experience, might be blind to exploitation they experience instead. A company that doesn’t hire someone because they are too young isn’t discriminating against them, they are recognizing that they themselves do not have the structure to effectively onboard new grads and provide a promotion structure that will be rewarding and fulfilling for people early in their career.

    3. MK*

      Frankly it sounds like a excuse to me anyway. The OP didn’t get younger since they offered her the role! It’s either the employer pulling a bait and switch (maybe they thought she had already rejected the other offer and was stuck with them for a while) or the people who made the counter offer had no authority to offer the promotion and are trying to save face.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, it kind of just sounds like they’re willing to use more money as a carrot, but only if it’s hypothetical.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        “Someday when you’re older…” is at least a standard which OP will hit with no extra effort on her part–I can see why they would think this was very hopeful and a way to keep her just plugging away until the magic day that she was tall enough to ride on the associate director’s chair.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          “You mean like today since I am X days/weeks older than when you offered?” – Says my snarky brain me. Public facing me would follow Allison’s advice

      3. Rogue Paginator*

        Grandboss 100% had the authority to make the offer. But, I think there were other forces at play and he backed out. One of the terms of me staying was to have the salary increase now, and role change announced to our company line of business (because I know how he plays, and he could string me along forever), and I think being pinned down like that ticked him off and he was willing to toss his integrity to the side and pull the offer.

        1. EPLawyer*

          You are presuming he had integrity. You insisting on the salary increase now and it being announced wasn’t him getting ticked at you pinning him down. it was him getting ticked at calling your bluff. the counter offer was just more stringing you along. He never intended to give you the promotion and salary increase. he just didn’t want you to leave and stick him with the hassle of having to hire someone and train them.

          Your company has shown you who they are for YEARS. They didn’t suddenly change just because you were going to leave. Believe them. Go. Go to your new job.

      4. Lydia*

        This is exactly what I think happened. Grand boss made the counter offer and then pulled it assuming OP had already turned down the other position. Grand boss gambled and should lose that bet.

    4. Rogue Paginator*

      OP here- it certainly felt bananas. The age was 100% an excuse, and grandboss didn’t directly say “you’re too young”. He said “people in this role need 30 years of experience. Pardon? First, that basically means you need to be ready to retire in order to have this job, which is just…not true. Also, he talked to me one year ago about promoting me into this exact role, then bailed on the process (ostensibly because he’s retiring) and never once had a qualm about my experience. This guy has always been a jackwagon, and I am just glad I never worked directly under him.

      1. Lilo*

        Thing thing to remember is your organization promoted this guy and allowed his antics. So while, yes, he may be retiring, that doesn’t mean things will improve.

        And you never know, my old boss pushed her retirement date back several times (she wasn’t terrible, though).

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          And whatever this company is looking for in people they promote, he’s got it, and, jusdging from what you posted, you don’t want to have to be like him to get promoted.

      2. Anonity Entity*

        I’m not young and had this happen this year, a counteroffer rescinded after three months.
        Fortunately the job I’d turned down was reposted, so I applied and explained what happened in my cover letter. They sent a revised offer and I accepted.
        Lesson learned, if you accept a counter offer the employer has the upper hand for a while and you may burn a bridge.

        1. Lydia*

          So happy to hear you were able to get it right. It is so weaselly to make a counter offer and then rescind it. It tells you exactly what they’re thinking and that they don’t consider you to be intelligent enough to see through it.

      3. Antilles*

        30 *years* of experience??? Is he promoting you to CEO and majority shareholder?
        Because like yeah roles require some seasoning, but 30 years worth is an incredible ask.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        OP, I am miffed on your behalf. But I have seen this stuff too so I know what you are talking about.

        A couple thoughts as you journey forward but not for saying out loud:

        “Thanks for showing me how you really think and operate, boss.”

        “Your creditability gap is showing. Just like badly fitting pants we can all see your butt crack and know that you are an a$$”

        “Thanks for showing me how NOT to treat people, when my turn comes.”

      5. Irish Teacher*

        Heck, being president of Ireland doesn’t require 30 years of experience and that is generally seen as a retirement home for politicians!

      6. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Sure, he suddenly remembered that this role needed 30 years of experience. That’s soooooper believable.

      7. The OTHER Other.*

        He said “people in this role need 30 years of experience”.

        Was this a promotion to Pope? Unless you are working at the Vatican, this is an absurd timeline. And this is your grandboss for a lateral move, so he is two steps above that, how many decades more experience does that entail?

      8. kitryan*

        Totally goalpost moving – similar happened to me.
        I was about 30yrs old, had the relevant masters degree, had done the same job (designing a production) at the same company 4years previously, received no complaints, had done the same job at other companies previously, no complaints, and my current job involved all the same skills as I currently worked as an assistant to the resident designer (who was in support of my progress) and had done so for 5 years. So, no spring chicken, totally qualified on paper and in real world experience.
        The initial meeting went well and the big boss was generally positive that we could work something out so I’d be able to progress in my career but after meeting with a particular sr staff person who did not approve of me, in the follow up meeting big boss started coming up with reasons that had not previously been mentioned as to why nothing I was requesting would work.
        I quit that week. It’s possible I should have hung in there because the sr staffer poisoning the well left a month later and without that asshole around, maybe things would have worked out, but the whole thing felt tainted after that.
        That second meeting when suddenly none of the positive things discussed in the first meeting had ever happened was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life. I found out that sabotaging sr staff person had done something similar at least one prior time as well (the previous year a staff director had suggested me as a designer for their show and they’d said they’d look into the idea and never did a thing about it, so the suggestion was eventually forgotten and the show was assigned to my boss instead).
        I have no idea what I ever did to them but they are someone who should step on legos every day of their life.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I’d like to apply the Lego curse to my former senior manager, who also kept me from progressing any way that he could, even when it didn’t make sense and only hurt the program.

          He also left that position (when he himself couldn’t get promoted and would have had to report to A Woman) a month before I took another job, but it was too little too late. Also, his main acolyte was then promoted into that position so things were never gonna change. They’re still hiring and are struggling to fill quite a few roles.

          1. kitryan*

            yeah, it sucks. In many ways I wish that I’d held off having the meeting w/big boss at all until the start of the next season, as by that point, sr person was replaced by someone completely new to the org and thus, presumably, my own boss’s recommendation of me would have held more weight.
            And it would have been good for the company too, since hiring a staffer to design instead of an outside freelancer is cheaper. I was also earlier in my career than some of the commonly hired freelancer, so my rate would be lower. I also was/am excellent at staying on budget. Blocking me was shooting themselves in the foot, especially since one of the specious arguments for it was because I was so valuable in my assistant position that I couldn’t be spared – well, you’ll have to do without now!
            Ultimately, I don’t know if it was good or bad for me, now that it’s 10 years later. If I were still in theater, I’d probably have been happier for much of that time but I’ve been making more money and moved to a job that wasn’t anywhere near as heavily impacted by covid as theater, so it’s very hard to say. I took a bit of satisfaction in that my replacement had to be replaced themselves after a season (terrible choice), and the following person only lasted 2 seasons and was also not a patch on me (per my old boss).
            It’s so difficult to have someone like that undermining you. It makes everything seem suspicious and everyone look like they have a hidden agenda. I’m sorry you had a similar experience.

    5. anonymous73*

      It’s probably hard to prove, but even so that’s based on speculation and rumor. We don’t know if that’s really why it was rescinded. She states “the commentary around” which tells me that’s just people spreading gossip. Regardless she needs to accept the other offer and tell them to F off. She can’t trust anything they say moving forward.

      1. Observer*

        We don’t know if that’s really why it was rescinded.

        Actually, we have a very good idea of why it was rescinded. And, to be honest, it’s baloney. The boss clearly chose an excuse that would be hard to take formal action on.

    6. Observer*

      Isn’t it still illegal to deny someone a promotion based on age

      In most jurisdictions, it’s perfectly legal. Still bonkers.

      How is that not discrimination?

      It is discrimination. Not all discrimination is illegal, though. Legal is not the same as smart, sane, ethical or moral.

    7. Still trying to adult*

      LW 1, I have one word:


      As I’ve read the psychology of such things, if you accept your company’s counteroffer life won’t ever go back to the way it was before. Plus in your specific case, you will still have a grandboss who pulled back an offer – never a good sign, he’s just not convinced that you are worth it. He is dishonest. That’s some heavy baggage to always be carrying around.

  4. nnn*

    For #3, one thing I found quite useful when I was first starting out was to read the business section of the newspaper. Usually I skim right past it because it’s boring, but I’d make a point of reading all the articles, even if they’re boring, and after a couple of months, a lot of things were suddenly clearer to me.

    1. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

      I really like this advice, thank you. I’m going into a new field and yeah, it sounds obvious in hindsight, but reading the relevant section in the newspaper sounds like a great way to get context. Also listening to relevant podcasts.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Yep. Also following the relevant # and any professional societies/big names on social media. Personally, I like to follow any #BlackIn[X] and #BlackInX accounts because I’m automatically up to speed on the topic and also connected to a network of Black professionals and other professionals that are interested in the successes and challenges of Black professionals in that field.

    2. Squidlet*

      There are loads of references online. Google “how to learn business jargon” and you’ll find definitions and examples.

      I don’t recommend asking your colleagues unless you can’t figure it out any other way (or if it seems like your company is using it differently), because unfortunately there’s an assumption that *everyone* knows this stuff. Also, it comes up so much in business meetings (and even casual business chat) that you’d be constantly interrupting.

      1. JustaTech*

        I would add a caveat that if it seems like your work is using a lot of jargon that you’re not finding elsewhere it might be worth asking (outside of a meeting, by IM or email) if the company has a jargon/acronym list.

        My company has a 4 page double column list because we use a huge amount of custom stuff, so we have our own names for everything.

  5. Ms Frizzle*

    #2: This is very much Jamie’s decision, but if they don’t have prior teaching experience I’d be concerned that they’re overestimating how much they’ll be able to commit to another role. Plenty of teachers do work multiple jobs, of course, but teaching is exhausting and requires huge amounts of (sometimes unpredictable) overtime. For example, leaving at 3 every day to work another job until 5 is probably unrealistic for a full-time teacher. If Jamie is struggling, I’d be concerned that they won’t actually have the energy/bandwidth/time to do the contract work well on top of teaching. I certainly wouldn’t expect their work to improve under those circumstances.

    I’m not sure if that’s actually helpful to OP–again, Jamie’s ultimately the one who will decide what they can handle–but it makes me worry a little about them!

    1. Lady Pomona*

      Retired special ed. teacher and professor’s wife here: I second this 1,000%! Jamie has almost certainly never taught before and has no idea of how much time a teacher spends in prep, lesson planning and grading students’ papers – and at the high school level, those papers aren’t a couple of handwritten paragraphs. Most people do NOT see just how much behind-the-scenes work goes into good teaching; they see summer vacations, week-long holidays and classes that end at 2:30. Little do they realize that 2:30 is when the teachers’ work CHANGES – not when it ends! (Some teachers MUST “moonlight”, but this can result in a grueling schedule.)

      Frankly it sounds as if Jamie hasn’t thought this through OR done enough serious research into what teaching really entails. While this is consistent with the LW’s description of him as an employee, it doesn’t bode all that well for their ability to hold down two jobs.

      1. TinySoprano*

        Thirded. My best friend is a high school teacher and she puts in the same if not more hours a week than another friend who’s a lawyer, and a family member who’s a very very senior public servant (workaholics both on top of that). Plus you have to deal with lots of little people whose hormones are cranked up to 11 but don’t have fully developed prefrontal cortices yet… It’s like doing three jobs at the same time. Or at least, that’s how it looks to me from the outside.

        I’d say if Jamie is struggling with their current job, teaching may not be the wisest choice for them. Another job on top of teaching? I’d say OP’s company is better off releasing them into the wild at this point.

        1. Ms Frizzle*

          I did the math once and if I average out the hours I work over a year it comes to about 50 weeks of full-time and two weeks of vacation/sick time. Plus the mental/emotional drain is HUGE. I teach much littler ones (I don’t understand how anyone deals with the middle/high school hormones, eek) and it always surprises me when I realize that many of my friends are NOT usually emotionally wrung out after work.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Hee, I work with aspiring teachers a lot in my role and in my experience nearly all the primary teachers’ feel “hormones and fighting and sweat and omg NO” about teenagers and all the secondary teachers’ shudder and go “little children! With their sticky fingers! All day! I COULD NOT” about primary and it cracks me up.

          2. Dont be a dork*

            I teach high school and I don’t know how anyone copes with the very little and the middle schoolers. I concur with the whole emotionally drained thing. When I’m finally done I just want to go somewhere quiet and quiver for a while, but my spouse yearns to do stuff after work.

            1. Lynn*

              My husband teaches high school and is fully with you on the “coping with the little ones and middle schoolers” thing.

              His opinion, for what it is worth, is that middle school is the worst. The kids are still young enough to have a lot of “little kid” behaviors AND old enough to start having the worst of the “teenager” behaviors just starting. Shudder.

              And, all of that aside, I agree that if Jamie is looking at teaching, they really don’t seem to understand the kind of time investment it takes, especially at the beginning, to do a good job. My husband has been at it a long time (near retirement now) and some things that used to take a long time are much more streamlined as he is refining things every year rather than creating them from whole cloth. But it still takes a lot more time than what is in the contract to do the job well at all.

              1. Loves libraries*

                Former teacher. I second the part of the amount of time it takes to do a good job in teaching. All teachers have seen those who leave on time and they are not the ones doing a good job.

            2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

              It seems to me like a lot of people who teach middle schoolers just hate all kids. (Apologies to the dedicated MS teachers–they rock but IME are sparse).

              1. Rara Avis*

                I love my middle schoolers — I have them from 6th to 8th and get to see that transition from little kid to snarky teen. 8th graders are funny, sarcastic, hopeful, passionate — yeah, hormonal too — but I just get on the human reproduction/sex Ed/ Romeo and Juliet train with them every spring and enjoy the ride.

                1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                  I love my middles (7-9) too! Where else do you get to enjoy unexpected moments of little kid sweetness, blips of unexpected maturity and a whole lot of wild rides in between?

                2. Ms Frizzle*

                  They gave me a fifth grade reading group this year (after coming from pre-k and kinder!) and I am now SO in awe of anyone who is good at middle school. It took me forever to figure out how to even talk to them! I can absolutely see how it’s possible to love that age, but yikes.

                  Although I will say, there were a surprising number of similarities between fifth graders and preschoolers. When the executive functioning slips they really are just taller kids.

        2. Observer*

          I’d say if Jamie is struggling with their current job, teaching may not be the wisest choice for them.

          That’s a really bad take. Teaching is a different set of skills, and could be just what they need. Or not – we simply don’t have the information to even guess.

          But I do think that combining teaching with another job is probably a bad idea, and I would totally not fault the OP for not considering it for anyone but the most stellar employee.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Given the points raised here about the demands of teaching, OP2, consider:

        – Jaime is a mediocre employee (I’d say borderline failing) with just one job to focus on.
        – Jaime will likely not manage to balance two jobs successfully, especially two jobs that demand attention to detail.

        Whether Jaime takes the other job isn’t important. Focus on their performance at your place of work. You’ve coached them for two years and seen no improvement. It’s never easy to consider firing an employee, but you’ve had consistent problems with their product and can’t rely upon them for complex projects. That’s a real impact to your business. Consider the coworkers and yourself who have to cover for them or fix their mistakes – it’s fine to cover a one-off, but continual backup breeds resentment among others.

        Make your decision on what’s best for the business. It’s not your responsibility to ensure Jaime’s career; it’s theirs.

        1. Sara without an H*

          I was coming here to say this. OP2 has invested an awful lot of management time and energy in Jaime’s development, with mediocre results. Why?

          It sounds to me as though it’s past time to let Jaime go. The teaching job may, or may not, be a congenial fit for Jaime, but that’s not really the OP’s responsibility. Let them go and start recruiting someone who will actually do the job well.

      3. quill*

        Especially a first year teacher! Classroom maintenance and grading papers may be eternal, but the first two years of setting up a classroom are brutal in terms of preparing lesson plans, learning how whatever patchwork mess of tech the school relies on works, and figuring out how to deal with your students.

        Especially if you don’t have, for example, a pair of young teenagers off school for the summer to take a day and organize your actual room, or a partner with a larger income to rely on when the district decides to restructure how you’re paid throughout the year for the third year in a row.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I think it’s useful for the OP when it comes to whether or not they give them contracting work. They’re not a satisfactory employee in the first place, they’ve a history of not wanting to leave jobs out of a people-pleasing urge, and they’ve proposed a contracting setup that is very likely to be impossible.

      1. JayNay*

        this is a good point. OP said Jamie has a people-pleasing tendency and doesn’t want to leave their teams “in a lurch”. They might be proposing the contractor option because they don’t want to cause an issue. In their mind they might be doing the company a favor!
        Maybe ask why exactly Jamie wants to do this. You otherwise could end up in a situation where Jamie offers to keep contracting “to be nice” and you don’t say no “to be nice” while neither of you actually wants that situation. Like a double-blind of misplaced business courtesy.

        1. Observer*

          Maybe ask why exactly Jamie wants to do this.

          Jamie actually did tell the OP why they want to do the contracting. The OP says that Jamie did express that this new job would be a pay cut, and that contacting would be necessary to supplement their income. So Jamie is not just doing this out of a people pleaser tendency.

    3. Snuck*

      A friend of mine has recently returned to full time teaching (instead of being a classroom EA) and I’d agree with this. She is crazy swamped with so much extra work right now building lesson plans, developing classroom resources and so on, and she’s only teaching PrePrimary (5yr olds, pre Year 1 in Western Australia), so it’s not like there’s a lot of marking or complex lesson planning (and she’s got YEARS of experience in the classroom before a 10yr break raising her own kids/returning as an EA for the past few years).

      I’d be surprised if Jaime has time to do contract work after hours for the first year or so. Of course this is Jaime’s responsibility to determine, but the OP mentions they are already having details and time delivery issues, so I’d err towards not having her contract for you immediately, instead offer to send suitable clients when they come up (but not promise how many/when). Over time reputation will be built by Jaime and you can keep referring or not as time goes by.

      1. Understanding why*

        Serious question to you, or any of the teachers on here: Why is every single teacher apparently building everything from scratch? Shouldn’t there be lesson plans already built and shared with all teachers of that age group in that country? Or, if that’s not been done, why don’t a group of teachers get together and split up the work and share it? And the same goes with the classroom resources: why should every single teacher have to develop their own classroom resources? This sounds ridiculously inefficient to me.

        1. Rose*

          One pace or one style of teaching does not fit all classrooms, for one thing. Also, access to resources and supplies can vastly differ from school to school.

          1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

            This explains very well why you would need to edit your plans and change some details for each group. It doesn’t explain starting from scratch. I suppose some teachers (like some people in all jobs) are maybe a little too perfectionist in their work, and could get just as good results with a little bit less work. On the other hand I know that in my country teachers’ workload has increased because the current system demands all kinds of family discussions, special support plans, detailed reports about this and that etc.

            1. happybat*

              Three basic steps to teaching and learning:

              – find out what they already know
              – work out what they need to learn
              – work out the best method to teach this group that material

              If you try to teach a pre-canned lesson to a class (and we have all tried at some point) then you will end up with more problems – young people kicking off because they are bored and know this already, or because they are frustrated because they lack the pre-reqs, or because the material doesn’t have enough ‘hooks’ that connect to their lives – than you have solved. Most young people (and I’ve taught about 3000 11-18 year olds over a 20 year career) very much want to learn and succeed – denying them the most effective teaching and learning opportunities is a dereliction of duty.

              I only do child-centred learning because other methods are so much less effective and so much less inclusive.

            2. Observer*

              This explains very well why you would need to edit your plans and change some details for each group. It doesn’t explain starting from scratch.

              Tell me that you’ve never had to do lesson planning without telling me.

              I’m not a teacher. But I was a teacher many years ago and left the field. I also have teachers at all levels of my family. Even in schools which give teachers very little latitude on their lesson plans and what resources they use (and those schools do exist), “tweaking” and adjusting lesson plans is a major job. Because the reality is that each teacher is different and each group, even in a fairly homogeneous school system is different. So under the *best* of circumstance, you’re just looking at a lot of time, especially in the beginning when you are starting to develop the core of what works for you and you get to know what works with the groupS you are most likely to encounter.

            3. bluephone*

              Tell me you know nothing about teaching without saying you know nothing about teaching

            4. Raboot*

              I’m not a teacher, but I taught programming to high schoolers for a year as a volunteer. It was a fair amount of prep even on weeks where the lesson plans mostly made sense to me. There were some weeks where the lesson plan made no sense and I was like, I can’t teach this if I don’t believe in it, and had to create my own. That’s for a volunteer teaching only one subject to one class with a classroom teacher doing classroom management and a pre-made curriculum, and it still took a while. Can’t imagine the work actual teachers do.

            5. BB8*

              I teach in a school that uses a purchased reading, writing, and math curriculum from educational publishers. They come with teacher’s guides that lay out each lesson. There are a variety of reasons why I cannot just open to page one and start teaching lesson one, even though it seems like that would be easiest, right?

              1. Time—the packaged programs always have waaayyyy too many lessons to actually fit into a given unit’s time frame. Plus, each lesson is waaayyyy too long for any given period. I always have to go through it and cull, cull, cull.

              2. These pre-prepared lessons also always assume that every student is exactly on grade level, no higher and no lower, and behaviorally average. This is obviously far from reality. I have to do tons to these lessons to differentiate.

              3. These programs also assume that each child will master the given skills and standards from just their prescribed number of lessons. In reality, some classes will need far more support and repetition to reach mastery than the other classes down the hall. So I have to constantly be assessing my students to figure out what they need more practice with and what they have mastered.

          2. After 33 years ...*

            Some time ago, our national association (which includes K-12 teachers) asked us to design lesson plans for high school, based on our subject matter expertise. We worked with experienced high school teachers to do this, provided all the necessary resource materials, and then placed the plans on our website, and waited for their adoption …
            and waited …
            Turns out that, in addition to the design issues in fitting plans to classroom reality, teachers felt that they could not deviate from the prescribed curricula in each province. We had several, “this is a great plan, congratulations, I got a lot from it, but I can’t fit it in” responses.

        2. Daisy*

          Because each child, and each group of children, learn and interact differently. So all the third-grade classes will be learning about westward expansion but Chris in classroom 307 can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes and will start throwing pencils at minute 21. In room 312 Jamie and June can do wonderful work but they need at least a 30-minute block for any assignment, while in room 326 Jack will attempt to skip his assigned rotation to do only computer assignments. Some children learn best by reading, others by listening, others need hands-on projects to learn so most lesson plans include a bit of each, but how much time is spent on the different parts will vary with the makeup and interests of the students. Some classes can popcorn read 10 pages and stay engaged while others will barely manage one page without multiple children starting to chat. The variations go on forever, and can change with the weather, time of year, who is out sick that day, etc. Classroom management is absolutely huge and varies from group to group.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          I thought the same thing when I began training as a teacher; “Why does everyone reinvent the wheel?!” I resisted hard against from-scratch planning for ages and would lift my lesson plans from the internet, completely intact, until I got good enough to realize they were all amazingly crap (winces). From-scratch planning, or overhauling someone else’s planning really does have to be done sometimes. It helps if you think of a teacher like a tailor, even if you have a very good pattern from somebody else you will need to adjust it before it meets the needs of the individuals you serve. Plus, the topic and method of delivery will be changed constantly; sometimes for good reasons (evidence based learning needs constant modernisation) and sometimes for bad reasons (politicians playing chess over your head about the “correct” type of reading) or the fact that your Covid impacted students need a wider brush to fill in their gaps than they did historically. I work with a very collaborative department where the planning work is shared out; so myself and a colleague did all our subject’s planning for one year group. However, it took flipping ages and when we get the other teachers’ plans for the other year groups, we’ll need to differentiate (tailor) that for our own classes, because for example I have the special educational needs group. That’s before making intelligent decisions about seating plans, pairings and groups for projects and this is all before the year starts. When we have actual bodies in front of us there’ll be behavior management, detentions and phone calls to parents and calls to social workers and educational psychiatrists. I haven’t even mentioned the many, many forms. Jamie’s idea is laughable.

          1. Pennyworth*

            My aunt (long dead) trained as an elementary teacher in an era when you came out of college with a huge folder which contained a full year teaching plan for every grade, so whatever class you were assigned you hit the ground running from day one.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              Which is great, but I wonder how it would stack up to modern standards (in some ways it probably would!). Differentiation is a fairly modern idea. When I went to school the top set simply read a more difficult book and the low set read an easy one, which absolutely wouldn’t fly today. Now, you have to tailor the difficult text so that the low ability group can read at the same level, with more scaffold to support that. And then you have to tailor the activities so that your ADHD student doesn’t get mind death from sitting down, instead of being expelled for being naughty. Rinse and repeat for everyone else’s access arrangements. Another teacher might know the content, but simply won’t know the students well enough to do it for you. A lesson plan is no longer simply a bunch of content that the students have to plough through.

              1. bamcheeks*

                teachers: *put enormous effort into getting better at teaching to every level of ability*
                children: *learn better*
                politicians: More children are passing exams! Standards are obviously slipping!

                1. FloraPoste*

                  ABSOLUTELY this! My sister is an elementary school teacher, and I see the enormous amount of work she and her colleagues put in to ensure their students learn to the best possible extent – is it any wonder that more children are passing exams. The marathon record keeps getting quicker, too, and distance hasn’t changed – techniques have!

                2. londonedit*

                  Yep…our GCSE (age 16) and A level (age 18) results are announced on two Thursdays in August, and the newspapers will be FULL of ‘OMG record exam passes, record numbers of top grades, what are we going to DO, it’s all clearly being dumbed down, they’re handing out the top marks like sweets these days’. It’s so insulting to the students who have spent two years learning and revising and who have been through a month of gruelling exams to be told that the only reason they’ve done well is because it’s all been dumbed down for them. Of course in a rare year where the pass rate doesn’t go up, it’s all the fault of the teachers as well, they can’t have been teaching properly.

                3. Ellis Bell*

                  Even with the best teaching methods, and the sort of record results of top grades which make politician’s eyes pop – there will still be hard working students who never get to a good standard and are totally left in the dust due to their background, lives or special needs. They’ll make progress, sure, but not enough for it to be what you want for them. We just don’t have enough hours, money or people to get to everyone but apparently we’re giving every student the world on a plate.

                4. quill*

                  Also the people at a district who clearly failed math at every level but don’t understand that children are individuals and think that with brand new kids you should have more A’s and B’s on standardized tests every year. What do you mean, you’re starting from scratch with what the kids know relative to their grade expectations?

            2. Observer*

              trained as an elementary teacher in an era when you came out of college with a huge folder which contained a full year teaching plan for every grade, so whatever class you were assigned you hit the ground running from day one.

              Blech. Actually, good teacher never just stuck to those pre-planned lesson plans. I’m serious. Because it simply was never possible to have *A* lesson plan that would work appropriately in every group and in every situation.

              1. Lydia*

                Absolutely, but there’s no reason to come in unprepared. It’s entirely probable that none of those lesson plans stayed the same from when they were written, but I’d much rather have something to jump off of than to have to start with a blank page every time. (And there were probably a lot of those plans thrown out and blank pages started anyway.)

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  They have something to jump off of; there’s usually a standard curriculum of what kids need to know, often broken down by what comes conceptually first. There are far too often standardized tests as well.

                2. Observer*

                  If the teacher was any good, they were doing the same kind of thing that’s being described up and down the thread. And if they actually used the lesson plans as is or thought that this ACTUALLY enabled them to “hit the ground running”? I hope they didn’t stay in the classroom.

                3. Lydia*

                  @Observer I have a lot of friends who teach and a lot of them are not starting fresh every year with nothing pulled from past lesson plans. They are already ground down by the amount of work they do to know how to adapt what they have to new groups of students. It’s ridiculous to think it’s bad practice to not use what you’ve learned from the past.

                4. Observer*

                  @Lydia, you say that “a lot of them are not starting fresh every year with nothing pulled from past lesson plans. ” ell, no one is claiming that they are.

                  But even experienced teachers with a lot of stuff already need to do work on their lessons plans. A new teacher “armed” with a folder of “standard” plans? If that’s the majority of what they are using, they should not be teaching.

        4. just a random teacher*

          In the USA, education standards are set by each state and are not the same across the entire country. In some states, a single textbook is adopted for a given subject and grade level, but in most states, they instead create a list for school districts to choose from. School districts then decide things like which textbooks to buy, whether, say, 6th, 7th, and/or 8th graders will be taught “elementary-style” with a single teacher all day or “secondary-style” where they change classrooms throughout the day to have different teachers for different subjects, and, at least in my state, can even set their own additional high school graduation requirements.

          Even when I taught in a large district that had adopted a single textbook for my subject and trained us all in it, I still had to read ahead and plan how to make it work with my building’s particular bell schedule, locate the materials I needed within the school, make copies, and decide which approach for most lessons given the specific students I had (sometimes I needed to add extra structure to group projects for some classes, or make sure I had a plan for 1st period that wouldn’t be derailed by half the class trickling in late). I also had to write my own tests, although there was a textbook-provided test bank to draw questions from. (Another, smaller district I worked in did give teachers a group planning day a couple of times a year, and my subject area used it to write common unit tests that all 4 or 5 teachers used, but that has very much been the exception rather than the rule in my experience.)

          Part of the problem is that resources tend to come in two forms: purchased things, which are subject to copyright restrictions in how or if they can be shared, and teacher-created things, which generally no one has time to do the extra polish/documentation on to usefully share with others beyond what you need to use it in your own classroom. I’ve created lots of activities over the years that I have everything I need to run myself, but I’ve never had the spare time to sit down and write detailed directions to let someone else run that activity, since that isn’t needed in my own classroom and isn’t part of my job duties. So, I’ll have the student direction sheets and materials, but the teacher-facing notes are too minimal for someone else to run it without being able to ask me questions, and probably I’d need to do multiple drafts after watching someone try to wrestle with the directions to really polish it up, and I never have time or space to do that.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Yes and all of this work teachers are referencing, no one has even mentioned marking books yet! (Also known as “grading papers”).

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Or meeting with parents! The teachers in my family have to stay late into the evening multiple times a year, both for the standard quarterly parent-teacher meetings about student progress, and special meetings for disciplinary or IEP conversations.

              1. Gumby*

                My mother taught high school math. At the end of her career she mostly had the more advanced classes (math analysis, calculus) in a school that had a high percentage of kids who took AP classes. This should have been as much of a cakewalk as teaching could be – she was experienced, had motivated kids, and involved parents. Parents so involved that she was asked to provide weekly reports on progress (homework turned in, grades, etc.) for 16-17-18 year old kids. At least 4 or 5 every year. Then you add in the “you *can’t* give Susie a B+, she’ll never get into her dream school, let me now negotiate my child’s grade…” parents. Or the “I mean, he just peeked a little bit at his neighbor’s test – do you really want to call that cheating and give him a failing grade?” The school she was at had excellent policies and a superb principal who backed the teachers up on things and it is still the parents who basically drove her out of teaching. She was past retirement age so that was fine overall but it was still A LOT.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            The purchased vs handmade thing can be a big factor. Well developed, polished, flexible lesson plans tailored to the curriculum of your particular district are going to be expensive and copyrighted, and teachers are already spending enough money on basic supplies. Turning your own notes and plans into a polished product is going to take an amount of time comparable to what it took to make the notes in the first place, if not more. Using someone else’s rough notes is probably going to take as much time as making your own.

            A lot of the work is also learning how to do it. Even with a wonderful set of lesson plans, a new teacher will still be learning how to implement them, adapt to the specific classroom conditions, and handle the classroom management.

            Even at the university level, when new profs start teaching their research activity drops off a cliff for the first couple of years, and that’s with a teaching load of about 9 hours of lectures a week. Someone who downloads a set of lecture notes off the web and reads them aloud to the class will have less work, but it will be painful for the students subjected to it.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              ” Someone who downloads a set of lecture notes off the web and reads them aloud to the class will have less work, but it will be painful for the students subjected to it.”

              Yup, in general, that really boring useless teacher you had at some point (most of us had one)? Yeah, they were the teacher that was using set lesson plans and not bothering to adapt them for the students that were actually before them.

              I’m not saying it’s wrong for teachers to use other people’s resources or plans. I am always both stealing ideas from colleagues and offering resources to other people. But even that requires you to go through various ideas and see which will work for you and the students you have. Generic “I got this lesson plan off a colleague back in 1995 and am now going to use it every year on the same date” does not tend to end in good teaching.

              There is a reason we spend 3-4 years in college to become primary school teachers or 3 or 4 years studying our subjects and then 1-2 years doing a post-graduate to teach for secondary. It’s not just to stand in front of a class, presenting information. It’s to evaluate students, prepare resources, meet their needs.

              A good teacher doesn’t just present the curriculum. They evaluate where their students are at, decide on their needs and work to bring them to the next level. Even when there are strict standards, you work around and within them. In Ireland, our secondary school curriculum is very exam focused but when I had a really weak class, I did a lot of incorporating literacy and numeracy in their history lessons because really, they did not NEED to know the rooms in a monastery. They need need to be able to read and add. So we did things like “St. Patrick arrived in Ireland in 432. If it’s 2004 now, who can tell me how many years ago that was?”

        5. Flower necklace*

          In addition to each teacher having their own style and each class having its own needs, online learning changed everything. Each teacher has their own preference for online tools – which tool is best for what type of activity, what they prefer to do on paper vs. online, how they organize their materials online, etc. Everybody does things differently, so it’s not that easy to simply use materials from another teacher.

        6. Bridget the Elephant*

          I find there’s so much variation year on year that while you can tweak plans from previous years, it can take longer than just writing a new lesson plan. Also, pace isn’t the same with different groups, so you may need to rewrite yearly anyway.

        7. Asenath*

          I would say teachers aren’t literally starting from scratch; they’ve often got curriculum guides and such to tell them what to cover at what level, and usually (in my limited and long ago experience) a required textbook, or sometimes a limited range of books and other student resources to use. But curricula aren’t always well suited to the classroom – I know, sounds silly, but that was what my experience was, particularly if it was designed according to the latest enthusiasm in educational circles. Or maybe it was designed for urban students and you’re teaching rural ones, or most of your class is somewhat above or below the “average” level it was designed for, or they had a teacher the previous year who unofficially modified that curriculum, skipping material that maybe they weren’t comfortable with or the students had trouble learning for some reason, and that material is required for understanding the curriculum for your class, so you end up having to teach that first whatever your plans were. Or you had to spend more time than foreseen by either you or the curriculum planners on Topic A, so when the schedule says you should be on Topic B, you’re not ready. Now, a good teacher will be able to make these adjustments and still cover all the material (unless the curriculum is really off base) in a way most if not all the students can get over time, so by the end of the year or semester, they’re at the right spot in the program. At that point, it can be helpful (and informative) to share evaluation resources (usually AKA tests) with another teacher doing the same year and subject (if there is someone like that; there might not be in a small rural school). And through the year, you might share some resources – you have a great resource for Topic A; your colleague has a great approach, with student activities for Topic B. But in the moment, when that classroom door closes, a teacher needs to be flexible and adjust to the class, taking their previous experiences into consideration, along with the resources that are available. And although I never really approved of teacher spending their own money on classroom resources, and didn’t do it, I generally used my own plans (based on teaching resources I knew of as well as the official ones), which I adjusted on the fly.

        8. Mac*

          I hear what you’re saying, but I think there’s a fallacy in thinking there’s always going to be one best way to teach any given skill/subject (and furthermore that every teacher will agree that it is the One True Lesson Plan). Even little nuances matter, like if you have a group reading below grade level (or in my case, in adult ESL, sometimes students with very low literacy levels even in their native languages), then you’re going to have to make sure to include more frequent comprehension checks like mini-quizzes or blackboard activities. All those things have to be chosen/designed (what kind of quiz/activity will test the crucial knowledge while also fostering enthusiasm/trust with the particular group of students?) and factored into the total time of the lesson. And everything always takes longer than you think it will, or has to be adjusted on the fly, and I definitely think that knowing your lesson plan inside-out and backwards, and knowing WHY you have each portion, is key to being able to improvise when necessary.
          Having looked at lesson plans written by other teachers, and occasionally tried teaching from them, I think personal preferences/priorities also make a huge difference. I try to take a decolonialist approach towards my teaching, but many many many other teachers don’t prioritize that, and as a result I would never be happy using their lesson plans as-is. I also like to incorporate things like physical movement/object manipulation into teaching as much as possible, but I’m some other teachers would hate the noise/disruption/prep time involved, or maybe it wouldn’t work as well for certain groups of students, or maybe it only works for certain class sizes.
          Anyway, it’s a great question –one I have definitely asked myself before!– and as a final counterpoint to all that I just said, I definitely have known groups of teachers to collaborate on lesson planning before, but only when they were all working at the same place, from the same shared curriculum, with a shared set of very precise benchmarks. Otherwise I feel like it’s a diminishing returns situation.

        9. Seeking second childhood*

          ‘Common Core’ was supposed to address this but turned into a political football.

        10. Irish Teacher*

          Because every class and every student (and every teacher) is different. I cannot imagine working from any other teacher’s lesson plans. Heck, I often can’t use the lesson plans I did the previous year because I have a different class and different things work with them.

          I’ll give a couple of examples. I once had two mixed ability 3rd year classes for History. It was the end of the year and we were revising and I brought in a 6 page handout to go through. With one class, we went through the entire handout and then had 5 or 10 minutes at the end to look at the textbook and see if they agreed or if there were any contradictions. With the other class, who were THAT class (every teacher will know what I mean; every school has one), we got through two pages of the handout. Another time I was teaching 2 3rd year English classes – OK, in this school, they were streamed and one was an honours class and the other ordinary level. I did a scene from Twelve Angry Men with the honours class and they LOVED it. The other class were confusing say Murphy and McCarthy in a previous text we did, so…doing a play that just designated each character Juror 1, Juror 2, etc. Not an option.

          I also think you are underestimating what Rose means when she talks about different styles. It’s not just “some details.” It’s completely and utterly different. As an English teacher, my style involves stuff like “read the next chapter of the novel and rewrite it from the villain’s point of view” or “read the next chapter and then write what you think happens next.” Another teacher’s style might be “read the next chapter and then answer these 20 comprehension questions” or “we won’t read the chapter at all. We’ll listen to the audio book and then act it out.” The only similarity is the book and even that isn’t true because teachers use different texts.

          It’s not about being a perfectionist. It’s about doing your job to a decent standard. Having a lesson plan given to both the teachers of both the lowest ability group in a school with a lot of students with learning disabilities where most are reading at a 6-8 year old level at 14 and the top ability group in a school that attracts a lot of high achieving students where most have a college level reading age makes no sense. I’ve taught classes where students are debating politics and history for fun and I’ve taught classes where I was asked “what did St. Patrick do? Did he save us from the English?” at the age of 13. The difference isn’t even different lesson plans, but a whole different approach.

          I also had one particular group where I noticed they always acted up when we were reading stories, etc. I went around the class and every one of them said they prefered maths/hands on activities to stories. So I started working on literacy with word games and so on rather than novels and stories and comics. This is not the norm. Most classes LOVE stories.

          Everybody doing the same lesson plan with every class regardless of ability level, interests (teacher’s and students’), etc is simply bad teaching and not just “less than perfect teaching but will get the same results” but downright bad teaching that would not get good results and would result in discipline problems.

          1. happybat*

            “It’s not about being a perfectionist. It’s about doing your job to a decent standard.”

            I could not agree more – and I still wonder whether the feminised nature of the profession leads to a consistent under-estimation of just how much attention, effort, skill and knowledge is required to teach children adequately.

            I have no particular fears that teachers will be replaced with MOOCs, AIs or the Metaverse at any time in the near future.

        11. Jen*

          I work in a district with great teaming, and I’m on a very organized team. So we’re not starting from scratch. But maybe last year didn’t work great, or this year we realize the kids will struggle. It takes us five long days and weekend hours to revise plans, make copies, grade papers, set up materials, contact parents, attend planning and intervention and learning meetings. Jamie, as a first year teacher, will take much longer to do all of that. And the energy it takes to manage a classroom for five+ hours a day is a lot for most people. And in the states rn, Jamie will spend a good amount of the hours intended for prepping, covering for other sick teachers since there’s few subs and the BA.5 wave is coming. Jamie’s gonna be lucky if they can keep their nostrils above water. No second job for the first year.

        12. quill*

          As a teacher’s kid: there are books and standards, but every time a school district buys a new curriculum you have to figure out which parts of the book to teach in what order, what’s going to be skippable because it won’t be on the standardized test, which brand new math solution is only going to make more work for both you and the kids… You could read direct from the textbook and do no prep, and I’ve had that teacher before, but you’d really suck at teaching.

        13. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Some schools districts require teachers to turn in lesson plans in advance, using the specific lesson plan format/method that they have selected. Even if you did have a canned set of lesson plans, teachers in those schools would still have to rework them so they would be accepted by the higher ups.

        14. Ms Frizzle*

          In addition to what others have said, even if you DO follow the curriculum closely, there’s still lesson prep. Trying to teach an existing lesson without doing any work to internalize it and then make it accessible for your students is a terrible idea. If a first year teacher at my school was going to follow a curriculum lesson exactly, they would still need to:
          -Read it through carefully a couple of times
          -Plan the pacing and timing
          -Pick the questions they want to answer and plan for the ways students will answer them (turn and talk? Share out? jot notes and then share?)
          -Identify the objective and make sure the lesson aligns to it
          -Identify language supports for their ELLs and plan for them
          -Identify supports for other students who may need them and plan for that
          -Identify challenge opportunities for students who are ready for them
          -Put together a slide deck and/or all of the anchor charts they’re going to need
          -Prepare all the physical copies, etc of materials, or post all of the assignments on Seesaw
          . . . and probably a few more things I’m forgetting!

        15. Observer*

          Why is every single teacher apparently building everything from scratch?

          Most are not, thank heavens! But that doesn’t mean that you can just roll in an take a preprogrammed set of lesson plans and resources and deploy them.

          Even if someone else does create a nice and tidy package that will work as is in your classroom, you need to get familiar with all of it, because there is no way that a package that you’ve used in one school or age group is going to be the same as in the new school. And it’s rare that any school has that kind of nicely crafted package. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of them is that it’s simply not feasible. There are too many individual quirks in any given group and teacher. And things just change too much. In some cases it’s simply not appropriate to use the same thing year after year.

          A classic example is tests – good teachers RARELY use the same test multiple years. Because if you do, then you can’t give the tests back which reduces the value of the test (and insures that you are going to have extra drama if a kid gets a poor mark.) And even if you don’t return tests, you still run into trouble. The thing is that even teacher who “teach to the test” don’t want to teach the answers to a specific set of questions! But that’s what often happens if students know that THIS list of questions will be asked. It’s one thing if the list is really really expansive, because by that point you have enough questions where the topic is reasonably well covered. eg If you can answer 500 questions on topic X, you probably have a decent grasp on all of the aspects of the subject that anyone wants to test for. But it you can answer 20 questions, then there is no way to say that you have a clue.

          So even with pre-existing resources, this is still a time consuming part of the job.

        16. Humble Schoolmarm*

          Three reasons why prepackaged plans aren’t particularly useful
          1- The people who design mass lesson plans are rarely current teachers, which makes the plans less effective than they need to be. Example: My district introduced a new course in June 2021 to start in Sept 2021. Don’t worry! They said, we have the first six weeks all planned out! The pre-planned lessons were 6 weeks of collaborative discussions about Covid. Twenty minutes in to lesson 1 (of 6) my grade 8s were complaining loudly that they had been discussing Covid for a year and a half and were thoroughly sick of it (which…fair). Our team thought we could re-work the lesson plans with a different topic (note, this already means additional work of picking a new topic, finding new videos and editing all the handouts) but then we read through the lessons and realized that the program was designed to teach collaborative activities that have been well known in k-12 for the past 5-10 years and none of our students needed a twenty minute lesson on how to do a turn and talk. Oh well, back to the drawing board!
          2- Different teachers have different styles. I’m one of three language teachers in my school. One of us is really into hands on learning, their activities tend to be brief, structured and quick to mark. The other is fairly by the book and is also very into tech. Their activities tend to be fairly cutting edge, but not always differentiated enough. (our curriculum is good, but forgets that our students are working in a second (or third) language). I love a good open ended project, which allows a lot of choice, but can be a long slog for kids who aren’t really into it. I’d also love the idea of hands-on like colleague 1, but I over think and get bogged down in the details. I’d love to do more tech like colleague 2, but getting familiar with the ins and outs of the particular program they use would take just as much time as it does to plan a lesson on suspense to go with my ghost story unit (end goal, create your own scary story).
          3- When you write your own plan, you know what you were trying to accomplish and what steps you are going to take because you created it. When you’re in front of the kids, it’s easy (ish) to improvise to get things where you need them to go. Unless you spend a lot of time memorizing and prepping someone else’s plan, it’s really obvious that you’re just following a script, which is something that students absolutely notice and do not appreciate.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I very much agree with 2. I for example hate groupwork and also am not good at organising it. It works really well for some teachers but just doesn’t work for me, so I limit my use of it. I also don’t like traditional “read this chapter and answer the questions at the end,” typed stuff. I’d rather do “read the chapter on the Civil war and decide which side you’d be on if you were in the Dáil in 1922 and write an argument convincing people to support/oppose the Treaty” or “read the chapter on the monastery and write a letter to your younger brother telling him whether or not he should be a monk too ” (once got a BRILLIANT response to this where they did a “you should totally come and join us. Sure, we get attacked by Vikings every so often, but it’s quite fun really” typed thing) rather than “list three rooms in the monastery?” “describe what round towers were used for,” etc. Though I have had classes when I had to do the latter because that was what worked for THEM and they hated creative assignments.

            I was team teaching once with a teacher who had the students make a video of a scene from the novel which was awesome and something I would never have thought to do.

            And actually you made me think of my experience teaching Irish (which is a second language for the majority of kids in Ireland). I’m not fully qualified to teach Irish (my subjects are English and History) but I did a year of it in college and it’s a subject that there’s a shortage of teachers for (by comparison, English and History have maybe 100 teachers applying for every job) so I’ve been asked to teach it on occasion when a school was stuck and yeah…because I’m not fully comfortable with it (I speak and read Irish fairly well, but have difficulty with spellings and am not 100% familiar with the curriculum or exactly what standard say a 15 year old should have), I end up sticking to scripts and it was only after a couple of different experiences that I noticed I usually have way more discipline problems when teaching Irish. Which makes sense as my classes are pretty boring because I am taking so much care over the Irish that I tend to just do stuff like reading the comprehension and answering questions or reading a story and asking kids to translate it.

        17. Snuck*

          I’m not a teacher (but am an adult trainer in emergency services roles) … and over time curriculums change. So in this example the teacher has been out of the class room for a decade – she’s been in as an EA but the departing teacher took all their resources. What is taught, the basic language, changes. So when I learnt “number bonds” as a kid (1/9, 2/8, 3/7, 4/6, 5/5) it’s now called “Friends of tens” according to my kids (eye roll).

          Even simple phonics has changed over the years between my kids learning stuff (they are two years apart).

          Any one teaching anything has to be genuine and ‘use their own voice’ – find the materials and communication paths that you can make work for you in the moment with who you are. Otherwise you are a boring person no one wants to listen to.

          Kids destroy stuff. The younger the kids the more likely they will destroy stuff.

          Classroom learning has moved to very very hands on (in the pre year 5 years anyway), with lots of manipulatives. Hundreds and hundreds of printed laminated pieces. Lots to lose, lots to reuse, lots to update, lots to track.

          There’s a plethora of websites that provide resources on a small cost download platform – teachers pay teachers etc that the teachers go and find things and print from/drag ideas together from. The Australian Currriculum Requirements are highly documented and link directly to these usually so that helps, but you still need to get the stuff together and print it, cut it, maybe laminated it, hand it out, get it in, and most of all… know it so you can use it.

          Kids are not all the same. Particularly int he early years classrooms where there’s a bunch “not yet diagnosed” and you don’t really know what will work, why this kid isn’t reading at the same rate as their peers (is it dyslexia? Have they just never been read to? Have they got a vision or hearing or attentional issue? Hard to ameliorate until the cause is known).

          And you could say exactly the same about adult education!

    4. MK*

      Yes, the teachers I know who work second jobs are usually ones who have hit a stride somewhat with their teaching, not newbies trying to figure it out. Either that or the second job is also teaching, often the same subject.

      1. View from the classroom*

        yes , after my first five years in my first position, I have always had second jobs to make ends meet but these were things I was already doing as part of my teaching- tutoring, teaching adjunct in a graduate school of education, writing book reviews or for professional journals.

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        And some fields of teaching have it easier than others. An English teacher who grades a lot of papers is reading a lot of papers which is a time consuming task, a Math teacher who really looks at students answers to find a mistake is reviewing a lot of tests and quizzes. Elementary school teachers have to teach every subject – adapting each year to the class – and have a lot of emotional labor going into the same 30 kids for a year. But a History teacher who has been teaching from the same American History book for ten years and giving his kids multiple choice tests probably doesn’t spent a lot of time reworking his lesson plan from year to year.

        1. fleapot*

          A professor in my grad department had a quotation on his office door: “if you’re teaching the same way you did five years ago, either the discipline is dead or you are.”

          (Might have been ten years, not five—but the point is clear.)

          History is far from a dead discipline, and IMO it would be gross malpractice to teach it in the way you describe. No doubt it happens, but it shouldn’t.

      3. quill*

        Or their second job is coaching or tutoring, often for the same kids, teaching summer school (same kids same subject part 2, electric boogaloo) or some highly seasonal work that takes place only during summer break.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      I don’t understand why #2 is considering keeping Jamie on at all. Their work is already unsatisfactory and there’s the opportunity for encouragement to pursue an exit gracefully without being fired. I also don’t get why the manager there would want to refer clients they can’t work with themselves to someone whose work is likely to be marginal. That could damage their own company’s reputation as word gets around.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Honestly, I’m sympathetic. It’s HARD to fire people, especially if the work is good enough that it feels possible that they might improve or you find yourself wondering if maybe the work is really good and you somehow have unrealistic expectations.

        It’s possible that Jamie is a low-performer across the board, but based on OP’s letter I think it’s more likely that their strengths are spread about in a way that isn’t ideally aligned with this role, but they might thrive in a different enviornment. I think OP is picking up on that and thus unsure how to proceed.

        Ideally we would always be really upfront about this stuff, but it can be nuanced and tricky and managers are human, so when taking action is going to lead to someone’s job loss, it’s natural to second-guess yourself.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          It’s also hard to let someone who, although imperfect, is a net positive go in a labor market where you may not be able to backfill the position for months if not a year.

          1. Unaccountably*

            Very true. You have to actually be a net negative to be let go in some positions in my field.

        2. Loulou*

          This isn’t even firing someone, it’s accepting their resignation and declining to hire them as a consultant. It’s pretty funny that OP refers to Jamie as a people pleaser and doesn’t recognize the same tendency in themselves.

      2. MK*

        Mediocre doesn’t mean bad; in fact, most people are mediocre at the some parts of their job. “Lacks consistency” and ” limited in their skill set” sounds to me as if Jamie is good at some things, but doesn’t have the range and level of skills the OP needs in that job, so it’s not odd that the company would be willing to contract and refer clients in some cases, presumably for projects that they are a good fit for.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Based on Jamie’s optimistic view of teaching and excess loyalty to former employers when he should be moving on, I would say he struggles to prioritize effectively. That trait will hamper anybody until they learn how to do it.

      3. Asenath*

        Yeah. Jamie doesn’t seem a very satisfactory employee, and seems really out of touch about the proposed teaching job, too. If this is a full-time teaching job, there’s no way on earth Jamie is going to be free, much less free and full of energy and ideas, after a full days’ teaching and so ready to do a job they already aren’t very good at for another two hours. Minus transportation time, too? No, I’d tell Jamie that I can’t guarantee any contract work at all, although I’ll keep Jamie in mind if by some chance something suitable came up. I’d double my efforts to ensure that Jamie gets feedback on their difficulties on my job, probably with a view to “if your work isn’t more consistent – if it needs to be corrected more than Y times in the next month (or whatever is reasonable), you will need to leave and find another job”.

    6. Richard Hershberger*

      My thought as I was reading the letter is that Jamie must be taking a support position, as the proposal for a teaching job is absolutely bonkers. Upon rereading, yes, it is a teaching job. And absolutely bonkers.

      1. J.B.*

        Urck. I hope at least it’s a specials job or one subject in a higher level school, rather than running an elementary school classroom. I guess unfortunately that is going to be true of many schools this coming year – so many with experience are (understandably!) leaving the profession that warm bodies will fill in the gaps which will mean not great learning.

    7. View from the classroom*

      20 year veteran teacher pre-k- 8.
      Yes, please be direct with Jamie and I hope they take the job.
      And then they will find those “free hours” do not exist.
      Teaching isn’t just the hours in the classroom

      1. View from the classroom*

        there is prep, revision, reflections AND grading. Throw in a few kids with learning differences, staff meetings, shooter drills, and getting up to speed on classroom management.
        All I have to say to Jamie is “good luck with that”

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Yup, I’m in Ireland where the amount of work done outside the classroom is probably less than in other countries (I know people who taught in the UK and they always say how much more work there was than in Ireland) but the 22 contracted hours at secondary level are still at most 2/3rd of your working hours. I generally find I’m doing about 10-15 hours on top of that each week and I don’t organise any extra curricular activities. If you are doing that, it’s another few hours each week.

      And your first year, it’s more, obviously, as that is when you have to prepare all your resources and you will usually have a lot of discipine problems that year (both because students always “test out” a new person and because teacher training is all very well but a lot of discipline strategies, you just have to learn on the job) and you’ll likely be spending a reasonable amount of time dealing with those too.

      In addition to teaching, I also have to plan classes, prepare resources, if I were doing mainstream, I’d have correcting to do. I have photocopying, stapling handouts together, discussing issues with colleagues, dealing with discipline issues and also pastoral care issues.

      If it’s his first teaching job, he will be spending a lot of time outside the classroom on other tasks.

    9. EPLawyer*

      I’m just here for all the people going “work another job for 2 hours right after the school day ends, hhahahahahahahaha.” But ya’all were nicer about it than that.

      1. Kate in Colorado*

        Exactly! I was like….wait… Jamie thinks that in their first year teaching high school they’re going to go to another job for 2 hours every day?! Bahahahahaha
        *tell me you’ve never been a teacher without telling me you’ve never been a teacher*

        1. Unaccountably*

          I’ve only ever been an adjunct college professor for one or two courses a semester and even I know that’s not going to happen. K-12 work is insane.

    10. Artemesia*

      This. An experienced teacher may be able to moonlight, but the first few years you are scrambling nights and weekends to develop materials and plan and correct papers etc.

      And do this guy the great kindness of letting him know his job is in jeopardy and he should jump at the new opportunity if it is something he wants to do.

    11. Jezebella*

      came here to say this. Jamie is delusional if she thinks she’ll have time or energy for another job in her first few years of teaching.

  6. Beth*

    #3: A lot of ‘knowing jargon’ is less about actually knowing what the terms mean and more about being able to interpret what they probably mean, based on the term itself and how it’s being used in context. People who seem really good at it are probably just very good at this process–there’s too much weird jargon out there for anyone to know all of it!

    For example, I’ve never heard the term ‘blue sky thinking’. But I can guess that it probably means something like “thinking idealistically, without accounting for potential problems/storms on the horizon.” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a good thing (thinking outside the box, generating new ideas without restricting scope to what you already know how to do) or a bad thing (making plans that are likely to fail because they don’t account for real limitations and aren’t realistic), but I’m betting I’d be able to tell if I heard the phrase used in context. Being good at guessing meanings like this is definitely a useful skill.

    1. Allonge*

      Absolutely. For me, unless you are given a direct task in jargonese, (in which case you are more than entitled to ask what exactly that means in human language), it’s worth it to see if I can puzzle it out.

      Oh, and – most people using jargon are aware on some level that this is not super clear. So when you ask, OP, usually you get a chuckle and an explanation, and not a complaint on what do young people learn in schools these days TM.

    2. DyneinWalking*

      Yep! Words of any jargon typically consist of normal everyday words, and knowing their normal meaning goes a looong way towards understanding what they mean in this particular business context. A “blue sky” is without clouds/obstructions and leads to sunny weather which is generally considered a good thing, so it’s quite certainly going to be one of the suggested meanings. “Evergreen” refers, in it’s original meaning, to plants that stay green throughout the year, even in winter, and the term is already used in other contexts (e.g. music) to refer to something (e.g. a song) that stays “fresh” and popular throughout the years. “Bleeding edge” seems awfully similar to “cutting edge”, so it’s likely related but with twist – and since bleeding comes after cutting and is not considered a good thing, the business meaning is probably something along that line.

      Again, it’s not like this jargon is a selection of words devoid of any guess-able meanings like “sollup” or “devararo” (made these up) that are set in stone and collected by serious scientists dutifully documenting their meanings – these phrases were coined at some point, i.e. made up on the fly by some person. They are never completely new but build on other words and languages, so a little general knowledge and imagination enables one to have a pretty good guess of their meaning and then close the gap by paying attention to context.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yes and it’s worth mentioning that it’s not some sort of uniquely corporate phenomenon, although I think they’re a bit more obnoxious about it — virtually any industry and subculture will have their own jargon.

      Sometimes it functions as sort of a shibboleth or corporate branding (which is when it’s obnoxious) but often it’s because a group needs a useful shorthand for something that would otherwise be wordy.

      1. Smithy*

        Yes, this is very much how I think of the word “deck” in my industry. We needed someway to distinguish different types of presentations related to our work, and while I don’t think this is an OED All Industries definition – I’ve come to see it as a more thoughtfully designed and created PowerPoint that makes a specific pitch. This works to be more specific than “a few slides” or “presentation” while also offering us a fair amount of wiggle room.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “Sometimes it functions as sort of a shibboleth or corporate branding (which is when it’s obnoxious)”

        YEP this is when it kills me. There’s one finance report that we refer to as something *slightly* different enough that you wouldn’t be able to google the acronym and figure it out easily. I don’t think we do it just to gatekeep but it has that effect when someone is learning and feels like they can’t ask because if you’re looking at it then it’s clearly an accounting 101 formula and they don’t want to feel dumb.

      3. Loulou*

        Yes, exactly! I get frustrated with jargon that seems to serve no clear purpose too, but developing quick ways to refer to things that come up often is not, in itself, a bad thing…

      4. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Similarly, the term can be old enough that the obvious meaning is no longer clear. For example, in my company, we call previous paperwork “Yellows” because in the past the production paperwork would be printed on yellow paper to make it stand out. (referencing old previous jobs to match is needed and common in our office) Now that the office is mostly paper-free, we have a “Yellows” folder on the server which is basically an archive of old jobs. I’ve been here long enough, that this makes 100% sense to me. A new hire is probably wondering why we just don’t call it “Archives”.

        1. wendelenn*

          See, and I might have thought it was because old paper documents get yellow with time and age.

    4. GammaGirl1908*

      Co-sign. I would bet that a LOT of people in LW’s office don’t have a dictionary definition for these terms, but use them because others use them.

      In my office, “evergreen” means a project without a real deadline, or something that will stay useful indefinitely without updating. For example, I write an office blog, and I have a small stockpile of pre-written evergreen posts, which aren’t time sensitive and will not be outdated for months, if not years. When I have a hole in the schedule, or if a piece I planned to publish falls through, I can pull an evergreen post out to publish.

      1. Cj*

        I had never heard the term evergreen used as business card on before. Then this afternoon, in a strange coincidence, I got a document to sign for a background check for a new job, and in parentheses, it says “no evergreen”. I had to Google it.

    5. Helen B*

      At my old church, a chunk of the budget used to be “blue sky” money. As in, funds that would fall out of the clear blue sky and fill the hole in the budget. So for me “blue sky thinking” would be optimistic or hopeful thinking. Possibly overly optimistic.

    6. Student*

      Government worker in technology here. In jargon-heavy industries, it’s really common and perfectly acceptable to ask what the jargon means. How you ask depends a bit on context – if you’re in a meeting with a client, and it can wait, then ask you colleagues about the jargon later. If you’re in a meeting with a client and making decisions that are important and hinge on the jargon, clear it up. You might have one or two co-workers who give you snark about not knowing all jargon, but you should be able to find plenty of co-workers who will happily clue you in. Google or industry-specific chats/discords/message boards are a great place to ask if all your co-workers are snarky about it.

      Some business jargon that I learned in college and was grateful to learn there: basic project management terms. I took an elective class on project management where they taught us terms like “scope”, “critical path”, and some other basic budget and scheduling concepts, which I’ve found to be quite universal across several different jobs and roles. Find a small intro to project management booklet or a decent website on project management terms, if you haven’t already done so.

    7. LittleMarshmallow*

      It’s not so much business jargon as technical but I have worked for my company for 15 years and today someone said a bunch of technical jargon on a call and all my little brain heard was something like “we have to get the ringysims for the Stewart level pksms”. So like a word I’d never heard that I’m not convinced was a word… a name… and an acronym. I had to pause the meeting and be like “huh? I did not understand any of those words”. Which led to more words I didn’t know and finally I was like “Calvin, do you know what he’s saying… good… ok I’m not gonna ask anymore”.

      Every company has their own FLA’s though. Haha.

      Spoiler… four letter acronyms in case anyone missed it. Hehe.

      All that to say… you pick it up, it’s different everywhere (hence you won’t learn it in college… and will have to relearn for every new company), and sometimes you just have to ask (in my experience most places know the acronyms and jargon are ridiculous so no one will fault you for asking especially if you’re new – these are not likely business specific as much as they are company specific).

  7. TG*

    #1 – surprise you took the counter when you said they’d been waiting two years to promote you but excellent move NOT rejecting the other offer. I’d walk away from your current situation because yeah, you can’t trust them at all.
    I would NOT tell them way you’re going either.

    1. Daisy*

      Yeah, the current company has already shown you how they roll. Even with new management coming in I doubt you would get that promotion inside of a year (or maybe ever). Move on to the new offer or you will be job hunting again in 9 months.

    2. Seeking second childhood*

      LW 1 please give yourself the promotion to that new company! Resigned professionally, leave documentation and keep in touch with your soon to be former co-workers. All that keeps the door open to return to that company after the jerk boss has left!

    3. Rogue Paginator*

      OP here- I took the counter-offer because the carrot of two years ago (given because I got recruited externally) was “you need 18 months to 2 years of additional experience to be ready.” One year into this required experience, grandboss called me and talked about making the promotion happen early, but then he just scrapped it because he decided to retire, and would let his successor deal with it.
      I didn’t go looking for an exit–LargeCorp recruited me directly. But this one was a pretty smoking offer (20% raise) and so grandboss basically said “well ok, I’ll make good on my prior promise”. Also, the incoming grandboss is a legitimately good person, with a stellar reputation among those he’s managed in other groups. This role would have positioned me for a future major leadership role, and it was going to be possible to work toward some exciting changes, with younger leadership at the helm. So that’s why I accepted.

      1. Books and Cooks*

        It makes total sense why you would take the counter-offer; it was a great offer, and you like working there. I know how hard it is to leave a place you like being; I’m sorry you’re going to have to leave this one.

        But you do have to leave. They showed that they are openly contemptuous of you, by lying to you in such a way–a way that could have and would have damaged your career prospects if you had already declined LargeCorp’s offer. The word “contempt” may surprise you there, but let’s be honest. That’s what it is. They lied to you. They treated you like you and your goals don’t matter, like they could lie to you and you would just accept it, like you didn’t have anything better on the horizon. Rescinding an offer like that is just crappy; it was a lousy thing to do to you, and not only does it show they are willing to lie and cheat, it means if you stay they will know you stayed even after they treated you like garbage and lied…so what is their incentive to do better another time?

        I’d go ahead and leave, and in your exit interview make clear that the rescinded offer was the big deciding factor.

        I wish you all the luck in the world at your new job. Who knows, you may love it there even more than you love your current job/workplace. (And who knows, too–maybe next year your current job will post a job listing for a higher level or something! But by then you’ll likely have high prospects at LargeCorp., and won’t be interested.)

        I can’t wait to hear how the new job goes!

      2. Clorinda*

        No matter what the new counteroffer might be, you now know they’re just stringing you along. Give them two weeks’ notice, smile through the exit interview, and carry on with your career in the new place.
        If you really want to, you can point out in the exit interview that the uncertainty (aka dishonesty) over the counteroffer was a deciding factor, but you don’t owe them even that much.

      3. DyneinWalking*

        And you know for SURE that your grandboss will keep his word… how, exactly? He’s rescinded a counteroffer before, what keeps him from saying “oh – just noticed that there’s this one thing missing from your resume to qualify you, but no worries, you’ll have that in a few months and then you’ll get your raise and promotion, promise!”

      4. MissGirl*

        Just a reminder: this isn’t a decision between Job A and Job B: there are are a plethora of jobs out there. If something about the new company doesn’t feel right and staying isn’t an option, start hunting for Jobs C – Z. In my experience, the best jobs I’ve gotten were ones I sought out versus recruiters coming to me.

      5. Observer*

        I can see why you took the counter. But the next step proves that the guy was never serious with any of his offers. You say that the GrandBoss offered you the promotion because you were recruited externally. Which is to say that he has a pattern of making promises to keep you from taking other jobs, and then he finds some reason to not make good on the promise. The idea that he couldn’t make the promotion happen because he’s retiring in (at the time he changed his mind) a half a year is nonsense.

        But now you know what his pattern is – and it’s the kind of thing that the company has to know about. So that tells you something about the company as well.

        Get out.

    4. Artemesia*

      Not even a question. They offered then rescinded when you agreed. Run like Godzilla is pursuing you. Make the new situation work. You are standing on quicksand and bees are approaching.

  8. Elizabeth West*

    #1–LargeCorp win, SmallCorp *makes her finger and thumb into the shape of an L on her forehead*

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      OP1, in one of my favorite AAM counter offer stories, the insincere manager only let a few hours pass between the meeting at which he promised OP everything she’d been asking for if she stayed, and the meeting at which he told her that now that she was staying he took it all back. OP had not used those few hours to turn down the outside job offer and rescind her resignation with HR, so she just continued on out the door.

  9. Snuck*

    #5 I think you can just send an email to your Company A contact saying “I want to discuss an exit date as I have accepted another role in another company, please give me a call when you have five minutes. I’ll let my current Company B line manager know today as well.” and after you’ve done that wander over to your Company B manager and say “Hi Betty, I’ve just sent an email to the temping agency, I’ve been offered another role at another place and wanted to let you know. I know I have to tell my agency first, so I’ve done that, but also really value the relationship with you and want to make sure you are obviously in the loop too.”

    You’ve had an extensive experience with “Betty” and they’ll be your best reference going forward, so protect that relationship, but don’t over think this. The Agency A has basically been providing a payroll service and little more I assume, so loop them in first (it’s probably in your contract you have to!) and then verbally let your Company B line manager know in an informal way. Now you aren’t really breaking contract and aren’t creating an ugly trail to chase you if there’s an issue doing it this way.

    1. Emily*

      This is what I did when I was in this situation — resigned in-person to the Company B manager who was actually overseeing my work and via email to Company A.

    2. Rain's Small Hands*

      Most of my contractors drop us an email and have already let their site manager know. We usually find out last and with just a note “hey, I wanted to you know I’ve accepted a new position and July 1st will be my last day. I’ve enjoyed working with you.” We always check to make sure the client has been told – first by confirming with the contractor (they ALWAYS have told the site manager first) and following up with the client.

    3. Web of Pies*

      I had a similar situation where I spoke to Company A (the placement agency who paid me) so infrequently that I didn’t even know who my contact was, so what I ended up doing was arranging an end date with Company B (who spoke with Company A much more often than I did) and then just emailed Company A, who never responded. I presume my contact at Company B passed along the info as well; in my case, trying to call Company A to resign would have just been weird and awkward.

      In my contracting experience, it’s a lot more informal to stop a job than when you’re a permanent employee, the idea that you could leave anytime is kind of baked in to contractorship.

    4. Squidlet*

      My experience of this has been slightly different. As a contractor, my formal relationship is with my employer (the supplier or consultong company), who owns the relationship with the client. I may spend 1000x more time with the client, but my employer does not want me resigning to the client and letting them know afterwards. A big part of that is because the supplier needs to reassure their client that they are able to find a suitable replacement and ensure a smooth transition.

      It does sound as though most commenters have a different view/experience though.

      1. Snuck*

        This is why I assumed that the Company A contract says “tell us first” (a very common clause in Australia with temping/contracting agencies). They like to keep ahead of the curve, and often have other staff who are good candidates tehy’d like to put forward as a replacement as they discuss your exit. Also many very large corporations will use a number of Company A agencies, and your particular one wants to get the job of filling your job, not let it slide to a different agency.

        Do both, same day, and there’s no chance for professional misstep

  10. not regular hr, cool hr*

    #4 Most companies use an applicant tracking system that will send auto-emails out whenever a candidate is in a final disposition stage, like in your case withdrawing. Recruiters don’t always make that system change right away, so once they do the email will send. Some ATS’s are really sophisticated and can send a specific email, or no email at all, based on the particular status of the candidate (withdrawal, declined, etc), but most are not that fancy and will send the same thanks but no thanks email to everyone. It’s not arrogance, it’s just how those systems work.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Yeah, I once received a form “rejection” email from a company I was hired at and worked for for two years, a few months after I left. My best guess is it had something to do with closing out my applicant file in Indeed when they reposted the position.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      Technically a rejection email can be sent at any stage of the interview process, not just at the end.

      The recruiter uploaded your resume to the role, OP and when they closed out your record, they didn’t choose the option to not send an email when updating your file. It was a bureaucratic oops.

      1. not regular hr, cool hr*

        Well technically yes but in this case it seems pretty clear this is what happened. A bureaucratic oops to me implies there was some intent behind sending the email. In my experience there is no thought when you’re at the stage of closing a req, meaning you tell the system this candidate was not selected and then the system does what it was set up to do. Sometimes that set up is not very sophisticated. If there’s a bureaucratic oops that’s where it lies, not with the individual recruiter.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, something similar happened to my husband – he was between two jobs, the one he was leaning toward made the offer first and the other one was taking their sweet time (after he let them know he had another offer) so he took the first, and later got a formal rejection notice from the second. I told him they were probably just closing the loop and it was nothing personal, since he’d already bowed out.

    4. Katie*

      I once applied for two positions in the same company. I interviewed and was hired for one. On the day that I started the position I received a rejection letter for the other position. I casually mentioned this to HR while they were onboarding me and they were horrified.

      1. not regular hr, cool hr*

        I actually accidentally did this a few weeks ago! It’s horrifying when it happens, but I was cleaning up old applicants on one of my posts and even though this person had been hired on another one, the system still sent her a rejection because it didn’t consider her “hired” status as an active application anymore. I felt awful, but it was all good. These systems just aren’t always as smart as we’d like them to be.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, in my most recent job search I got “not qualified enough” rejections after I’d told them that I was had accepted another offer. I found it a bit insulting, but I figured someone was miffed that I took another offer before finishing interviewing with them and pasted the wrong boilerplate into the letter. Some of these were a month after I started my new job. Either that or the ATS was sulking. It did cause me to side-eye the company’s hiring process, though – their decision/process tree didn’t include the possibility of getting beat out by another company in the middle of the interview cycle?

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I’m LW#4

        I’m a software and database engineer. I can hardly believe that no ATS can be customized to at least not send a rejection email when the potential candidate declines to even ask for an interview…..

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I’m pretty sure they could be, but either the designers didn’t include the workflow or the company didn’t configure it.

        2. not regular hr, cool hr*

          It genuinely depends on the ATS. I’ve worked in some that are infinitely customizable. I’ve worked in others (and one that is HUGELY common) where there is just one email and it sends it to any candidate who is “rejected”. But truly no recruiter is sending these out with any intent or secret message behind it. We’re just finally closing out candidates on our now filled req and you’re still in there even though you told us weeks ago you took another offer. It happens!

  11. Skytext*

    LW1, take the offer from LargeCorp and RUN don’t walk from your current company! They are lying to you and stringing you along. Dangling a promotion in front of you for TWO YEARS? Then only offering it you when you quit? Then taking it back?!!! They probably thought you had declined the other offer so it was safe to yank the counter offer. You will never get a raise or promotion at this company—they will just keep adding to your responsibilities telling you that you need to “prove yourself”.

    1. Despachito*

      I second this.

      It was an absolutely crap move, it makes me angry just reading it. Run, run, run ast fast as you can!

    2. Stinky kitty*

      With such a crap move, I think OP should follow through with the original plan to leave. Same last day, same notice period. If that happens to be in 2 days, so be it. Largecorp effed around, now let them find out.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      As often is discussed around here, you don’t want to stay with a place that only offered you what you deserved when you were on your way out the door. That means they could have all along, they just didn’t. That goes about triple when they then try to yank it back once they think you’re a sure thing again. LW1 should take the new job and not look back.

    4. Asenath*

      Yeah. They’ve not treated you well for two years, and now they’ve rescinded an offer made to keep you on?? Grab the new offer and run. I know you say the boss who did this is going to retire and be replaced soon, but really, this kind of behaviour tends to be catching within an organization, so I wouldn’t assume the new boss, however good they seem in their current position, won’t adopt the organization upper management style on promotion.

      1. Rogue Paginator*

        OP here- Grandboss is an ass. But, my boss is a truly great human, and probably the best boss I’ll ever have. I had a wonderful time at this organization, punctuated by the asshol-ery of grandboss. My feeling is exactly as you say- there’s probably going to be a deeper, more cultural rot that will take a while to purge. So I’m not going to be here for it!

        1. J.B.*

          Yay! And keep in touch with your great boss – maybe you can help him find something better later!

    5. Lilo*

      Yes, it’s extremely obvious the counter offer was to sabotage LW1’S new offer so they were forced to stay. LW1 is very very lucky they didn’t decline as I think many people would have had they decided to stay.


      1. Rogue Paginator*

        Luckily, I had enough experience with grandboss being shady that part of my condition of staying was that he announce my role to the line of business, and I personally decided that I wouldn’t ditch LargeCorp until that happened. Grandboss made me the counter on a Friday, was supposed to announce to our LOB on Tuesday and didn’t, then rescinded offer on Thursday. It was honestly just enough cynicism to keep me safe!

    6. Rogue Paginator*

      OP Here-
      Toxic info coming: One of the things Grandboss has done in his time here (and this is all too common in my industry and state, which are not particularly favorable to women and minorities) is to create a cult of secrecy around salary. I know I make more than the others in my role: there are 8 of us, I’m the only woman, and arguably the best at our role via quantifiable measures. Grandboss told me I would make far and above what they make when he gave me a raise to stay 2 years ago. During the discussions of why he was pulling the counter, he said that if he paid me what he committed to, I would be paid more than certain other people, so “we’d have to be careful about not disclosing that”. As we all know, secrecy like this primarily harms women and minorities.

      So, sub-question: I want to get my revenge on grandboss by sharing my salary with the other people in my role. There is a HUGE likelihood that they’ll go ask for a raise. 1) they’re men 2) inflation. I would LOVE to instigate the likely ensuing chaos and make Grandboss’ life more challenging. A) Should I do this, B) what kind of blowback should I be prepared for?

      1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        Can you maybe reference it in conversation with coworkers about your new job? Something like “I have enjoyed working here, but I’m looking forward to the new challenges, and the pay raise is certainly a bonus! I know that is pretty good for , but I’m certainly not going to pass up more!”

      2. Smithy*

        I think the biggest blowback you’d potentially face is that the people who you do rely on for references would get pulled into the chaos – potentially as the direct supervisors of those remaining. It risks associating you with a potential work period in their life that might be stressful/unpleasant as their most recent memory. This isn’t a guarantee or anything, but again – a risk that references that now are good/positive might sour slightly or more.

        Now – if your top references from this job no longer work there or wouldn’t be at all associated with such a fall out, then the blow back I think would be far more of the nuclear variety which generally speaking is more unlikely (i.e. industry blackballing). Broadly speaking, I wouldn’t worry about that – but you’ve mentioned that while the Grandboss is terrible the rest of the organization is great. Doing this might make things in the rest of the organization less great and that wouldn’t just upset the Grandboss. With this information, different people may have very different views on how to push for more money and those efforts may not be so collegial. So instead of “OP helped us advocate for all of us to receive a 10% pay raise” – it may end up being far more “OP left a wave of fighting, backroom gossip, and misery in her wake – why couldn’t she just be happy with her new success.”

        Not necessarily to happen, but would be the blowback I think would be the most likely.

      3. Reba*

        Absolutely do this for all the good reasons you outline here. Just do it after you leave.

        If anyone says anything to you, you can brightly make an observation about the wider shift towards salary transparency being so great for the industry as a whole or whatever. Or take the opportunity to inform the asker about this legally protected right to discuss pay! Just enjoy any feelings of vengeance quietly. :)

      4. Ellis Bell*

        Do you need a reference from the grandboss specifically? If not, it’s pretty safe I would imagine to start sharing your salary with a few key players as you exit stage right. I’m a bit puzzled as to why you want to though; you mention that it’s to stand up for women and minorities, but then you say that your colleagues are men. You also say you have quantifiably better skills in the role, which suggests not so much that your colleagues are getting stiffed on the basis of their gender, but that you’re being paid for your skills. Obviously it would be better if grandboss was more transparent, but he’s leaving anyway right? It’s probably better for your mindset to concentrate on the new role and start mentally divorcing yourself from caring about this one. It’s tough to do that with toxic environments, but important.

      5. SarahKay*

        Hi OP#1, my question to you would be: how do you know you make more than others in your role? Because if it’s just based on what grandboss told you, I’d have to question that information. Frankly, from what you’ve said of him at this point it sounds like you’d be reasonable to doubt it if he told you the sun rises in the east!
        If that is your primary source of info, can you use that to start a conversation with some of your co-workers? Something like: “Grandboss said I’m on a high salary and I’m concerned about how accurate that is. If I tell you what I earn would you feel comfortable sharing what you are on? Or at least if you’re on more, less, or about the same?”

        1. KRM*

          I do think not trusting grandboss is an excellent reason to share your salary, both there and at at the new place! It’s legally protected to discuss salary as well, so I say bring it up in conversation and see if what grandboss told you was true.

        2. irene adler*

          Good point.
          The CEO at my small company intimated that I earn similar salary as the other two managers. And then increased my salary by 10K.

          Well, not quite. See, someone scanned a list of all salaries and I found this list. Learned the other two managers earn $97K to my $60K-now $70K.

        3. Observer*

          Hi OP#1, my question to you would be: how do you know you make more than others in your role? Because if it’s just based on what grandboss told you, I’d have to question that information

          Exactly this.

          So, OP, the best way to share your salary is to ask your colleagues to exchange salary information, so you can get a REAL sense of whether you are being paid in line with what you should be. If your colleagues are decent people they will be on board with that.

      6. Clorinda*

        It’s illegal for your company to require secrecy on salary, isn’t it? And you won’t even be an employee there in a minute. Do it, but verbally, not in email or writing.

      7. Parenthesis Dude*

        If Grandboss is leaving in three months, then he’s not going to care. Even if they all decide to leave, it’ll be after he’s retired.

      8. Kess*

        So think it would be pretty easy to do this in casual conversation with one or two trusted colleagues, like “I’ll miss it here, but I won’t miss how much of a fight it was to be paid what I was worth. The whole secrecy and reticence to discuss fair salary thing really soured me on the experience, whereas my new job was really upfront about it and offered a salary much higher and closer to what I think I’m worth!” That would be pretty likely to encourage questions about numbers. However…

        A) If you do this, I think it would be better to focus on create some good trouble about pay transparency and any overall discrepancy between the pay scales in the company compared with market value. If you’re dealing with a group of people usually privileged by the hush-hush attitude around pay, I think it would be more satisfying and also more ethical to focus your sights on getting them on board with the goal of increasing transparency and equity, rather than blanket encouraging them to just fight for raises for themselves individually. Obviously you can’t impact what they get out of the conversation, but if you do more rabble-rousing about how it’s unfair to not be transparent about pay, you might see results that put more folks on your side and better set up other women and minorities for success in the future.

        B) I’m not sure what you might face in blowback, but it’s certainly possible some folks might feel stung to only be finding this out now, and people don’t always react well in the moment. If your boss really went to bat to get you the raise you currently have, there’s a chance you could have some resentment on that end (not because you deserve it but because this culture is so screwed up) but that isn’t a big deal right now when you’re just about to start at a great new place and it would be a while before you need that reference, which will presumably cool off.

        1. Artemesia*

          I would bet in this nest of bees that the OP is actually making a little less than her male counterparts.

      9. Terrysg*

        Paginator, I think if you want a raise at littlecorp, your best bet is to take the job at largecorp, gt more experience and hopefully a promotion/pay bump, and apply back to littlecorp in a few years time, presuming the changes you need have been done. If you stay where you are it’s likely to be a lot of stagnation and promises. This is true for a surprising number of companies, but littlecorp sounds particularly bad.

      10. Observer*

        Toxic info coming: One of the things Grandboss has done in his time here (and this is all too common in my industry and state, which are not particularly favorable to women and minorities) is to create a cult of secrecy around salary.

        If you needed any more proof that this is not a really good company, this is it. The “culture of secrecy” is actually verging on illegal. I say verging, because if no one gets officially punished for sharing this information, that may keep them barely on the right side of the law. But it’s a toxic practice, even so.

    7. Observer*

      They probably thought you had declined the other offer so it was safe to yank the counter offer.

      This is totally on target – and no matter what they say to you, you know that you cannot trust that.

      You will never get a raise or promotion at this company—they will just keep adding to your responsibilities telling you that you need to “prove yourself”.

      Probably true. And even if you do get something, it’s always going to be the least they can get away with, never what you really could get in a more honest organization.

    8. Kevin Sours*

      I’m not sure that “we plan to promote you around the two year mark” is, by itself, weird. Nor do I think “we weren’t planning to promote you yet but we’d rather do that than have you leave” is as troubling as you are framing it. Offering the promotion early and then backtracking (mentioned in a comment) *is* troubling, and rescinding the counter offer is out and out nonsense. Definitely eject button territory.

      But the promised promotion and counter offer don’t seem problematic (though a potential example of why you should be skeptical of even reasonable counter offers)

  12. Sue Wilson*

    #3 for the record I’ve worked at office jobs my whole career and I have zero idea what any of those terms mean (though I could probably guess “blue sky thinking”), and the positions you mention can be different at every job.

    1. talos*

      I knew all 3! (Although “blue sky thinking” is not a term I use/hear regularly). I also work in an extremely corporate part of the tech industry and suspect my experience is not typical here.

      1. Artemesia*

        Blue skying is a technical term used in the field of securities fraud related to transparency around the regulations that have to be followed when issuing securities. I was hearing that term 50 years ago in this field.

        I am sure it is also used just as a term for brainstorming — but the finance term I think is where it originated.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        IME, “blue sky thinking” is “What could/would we do if we had an unlimited budget?” This will often start out brainstorming sessions to avoid constraining initial ideas on perceived budget problems.

        It’s like “What would I do/buy if I won the jackpot in the lottery?”

    2. londonedit*

      I’ve heard of all of them but never heard them used in a work scenario (thankfully), and I’ve been doing an office job for nearly 20 years. My industry isn’t big on jargon and business-speak, so I only know of phrases like that from friends and the media and whatnot.

    3. Asenath*

      The job I spent most of my working life at didn’t use that kind of jargon (which I think is the sort of thing you pick up on the job or from context) but involved an unbelievable number of acronyms. In a way, it’s the same sort of thing – there was a way people talked in that field, and you just picked up what they all meant as you went along. It was absolutely baffling at first, though.

    4. MistOrMister*

      Yes, same here!! I have been in an office since 2006 and have never heard any of those terms. One thing I have noticed, trying to figure out the hierarchy is always interesting. A team lead at one place does something conpletely different than another and everyone likes the name their basic positions something different. Why, I don’t know. It seems stupid to me, but here we are.

    5. anonymous73*

      Yeah I’ve been in an office my whole 25+ year career in several different industries and have heard none of those terms. I absolutely can’t stand jargon – just say what you mean without all the BS. I find it obnoxious.

  13. Not A Real Manager*

    LW3: I have a similar educational background and non-traditional career path as well (until recently when the pandemic forced me to take an office job). I’ve learned most business jargon from my husband since he’s worked at a “real job” since college. He doesn’t even realize he’s using it half the time and I have to say “what does that mean?”. Yes, a lot of it is getable from context, but I think a lot of it is gatekeeping bs.

    Example (that I also saw on Twitter recently): A slide deck is a power point. If your liberal arts school was anything like mine, you’re well-versed in power point, yet the execs I know made it sounds like a mysterious project only the most qualified employee could handle.

    Nod your head and Google weird terms later. Most of them are a very boring thing someone made up to make themselves feel important and to make you (the general you) feel like you’re not qualified.

    1. PR hirer*

      But a slide deck isn’t necessarily a PowerPoint.

      A slide deck could be created with Keynote (iOS), Google Slides, Adobe Acrobat or probably any number of other apps.

      Calling every slide deck a PowerPoint is like calling every car a Ford.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        And a slide deck used to be an actual physical thing in the old pre-powerpoint days of loading mounted slides into a carousel (the deck) to feed into a projector. It’s just a carryover term.

    2. londonedit*

      I also had no idea what a slide deck was until now (I also don’t really know what a liberal arts school is…)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        A liberal arts school is generally a college that only gives degrees in… the liberal arts. Stuff like English, history, etc.

        They’re often smaller schools & usually don’t have a graduate program, or very few.

        1. Esmeralda*

          Actually, many liberal arts schools grant degrees in the sciences as well.

          “Liberal arts” college has to do with their philosophy of education, their approach. It’s also, as you note, shorthand for no/few graduate programs and size. Focus on undergraduate education.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Oh, yes. It would include the sciences, but you’re more likely to get a math degree than an engineering degree there.

          2. Artemesia*

            yes they are colleges of arts and science generally. They have all the. majors in the liberal arts e.g. English, History, Languages, Chemistry, Biology etc etc. What they don’t have is job training majors like business or agriculture or librarianship.

        2. londonedit*

          Ah, right – stuff like that would be called humanities here, so I’ve never quite worked out what ‘liberal arts’ was (and why they’re liberal?!) Humanities degrees do get a bit of stick here but I don’t think it’s quite to the same degree (ha) as it seems to be in the US. All major universities will offer humanities degrees as well as everything else.

          1. Artemesia*

            Not just humanities but also sciences. In a US university with many schools and colleges, the undergraduate liberal arts college is often called ‘Arts and Science.’

        3. bamcheeks*

          A liberal arts school is generally a college that only gives degrees in… the liberal arts.

          We don’t use the term “liberal arts” in the UK so that’s not as obvious as it probably seems to you! :D

        4. ThatGirl*

          Actually my small liberal arts university does have science degrees and a few small graduate programs — but the point is to get a well-rounded education that includes humanities and not just straight science or technical programs.

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            Most do. And usually have business programs as well. A liberal arts college generally means you can major in History or Political Science – but you can also major in Accounting or Computer Science. The Liberal Arts colleges I follow regularly (my kids and my husbands alma mater) have seen a move in what students major in away from Humanities topics and to “practical” topics (STEM and business). There are very few colleges in the U.S. that aren’t Liberal Arts collages – you can major in Theatre Arts at MIT if you want to. A place like Rose-Hulman only has STEM degrees.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Rose Hulman! Tell me you’re from the Midwest without telling me you’re from the Midwest. (I went to a SLAC not tooooo far from Terre Haute.)

          2. nona*

            Those science degrees from a liberal arts college tend to be BA (Bachelor of Arts) vs BSc (Bachelor of Science) as well.

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              Sometimes you can choose which you’d like, at least with larger universities/more popular degrees. My BA in Communication was also offered as a BS, and they were nearly identical tracks with the exception of about 5-6 classes.

              1. nona*

                Universities are different than Liberal Arts Colleges, though. I don’t think those terms are interchangeable.

                The liberal arts colleges I’m familiar with typically only offered BA. There may have been an occasionally major that was also available as a BS, but it would be an isolated/specific instance.

                1. Artemesia*

                  University are umbrella institutions made up of many colleges or schools — so the College of Arts and Science would just be one of those. They might also have an Ed school, a Med school, a Business school, Engineering college etc etc.

          3. nona*

            A liberal arts college is different than a University (MIT), I think? Don’t ask me to explain the difference. A university may have a division within its structure that called a College of Liberal Arts (compared to College of Biological Science, or whatever).

            My understanding is that most liberal arts colleges (as the term is used in the US News World Report college rankings) are private institutions. Public institutions tend to be Universities.

            There are some public liberal arts colleges – most, but not all, are military academies.

            1. ThatGirl*

              the difference between a college and a university is usually graduate programs; universities generally have them while colleges generally do not, or they are small.

              My alma mater is [Blank] University. It is also called a “small liberal arts college” — it has about 2300 students and a few small graduate programs, and yes, it is private. It’s not a university the way Harvard is, but it’s still a university. Also … Harvard is also private.

    3. Smithy*

      Just reading this after my “deck” comment – and I do think that this is where the jargon can be both be helpful/unhelpful.

      At my job, asking for “a deck” vs “some slides” is different. And the reason the deck request can be seen as more precious is that it often involves more time/resources and has the intent to either be used by more people or for a more high profile occasion. If I need a deck for a project and ask my boss for budget for a graphic designer – that would be an understood expense.

      Now at other workplaces, I can see this term being saturated to the point of not having more useful distinction.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’d recognise that distinction too. “A slide deck” is something a bit more polished and authoritative, and possibly stands alone separate from being presented.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        Yeah it’s often “should I put a deck together for xyz meeting?” “Nah, just a couple of slides”

        1. KRM*

          Yes, in biotech a “deck” usually refers to a polished presentation for a formal environment, like a conference or investor meeting. ‘Slides’ is generally used for anything less formal like a lab meeting, or a quick presentation for a small group.

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Y’all are missing Not a real manager’s point tho; slide deck is jargon and when ppl talk about it it sounds very serious and like only key players are capable of making a coherent one.

      Is it better to say: “an example of a slide desk is a well designed PowerPoint?” Sure. But the point is clear. If you went to a liberal arts school, you can make a polished presentation or even a video and can quickly come up to speed on other platforms.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I don’t think people are missing the point so much as disagreeing with the premise that slide deck is jargon. It’s the generic term for a thing that long predates PowerPoint. It’s gotten less common, but not every uncommon word is jargon.

        1. Making up names is hard*

          I think a term can be old but still be considered jargon, in that outside of the business world everyone colloquially calls them PowerPoints or presentations regardless of the took used to make them. When I was starting out as a graphic designer in 2017 I had no clue what a slide deck was and just pretended I did until I realized what my boss was talking about.

          1. Less Bread More Taxes*

            Maybe that’s the problem then – people aren’t using these words to make you feel stupid; they’re using them because that’s what certain things are called at that company, and as such, they want and need you to ask about them if you don’t know. It’s no different to asking and knowing where the bathrooms are.

        2. LittleMarshmallow*

          Honestly… and I think this thread is proving it… semantics is worse than jargon.

      2. Smithy*

        To push back a little – I do think that this is where jargon is a lot more industry and even employer specific.

        While I can make PowerPoint slides, I am not a graphic designer and am not hired for my presentation creation skills. If my boss were to say “we need a deck for X project”, I’m going to start from a point of assumption that my ability to put together a competent and polished PowerPoint is not necessarily relevant to this discussion. Rather, that we need to see if we have the time to use our in-house graphics team or need to get an external consultant.

        The larger point of coming up to speed in any industry/employer and the reality of its jargon is being more familiar and experienced with those differences. I’m sure there are other places where the term “deck” is so saturated that this isn’t useful, but where I work this is a rough distinction. The use of the word “deck” wouldn’t make me assume I had budget for a graphic designer, but rather that the question about using one was appropriate.

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          Sometimes I think slide deck is used because PowerPoint presentation has too many syllables and people are lazy…

      3. Less Bread More Taxes*

        I don’t think people use jargon to gatekeep or to “sound serious”. That’s just what those terms are called in specific departments and companies. It’s not some nefarious plot to make certain people sound more intelligent than others.

      4. Student*

        You’ve got cause and effect flipped here, simply because PowerPoint became so very popular and ubiquitous that many young people haven’t seen slide decks made in other formats. Slide deck is the original, and PowerPoint is the jargon.

        To us older people, PowerPoint is the flavor-of-the-decade jargon, and slide decks have been around much longer. Slide decks existed prior to PowerPoint and will live on afterwards. PowerPoint is a common application used to make them, but some of us have used many other programs to make them, too.

        Slide decks were once presented with something called a slide projector. Transparent images, often mounted on tiny squares, were put in front of a bright light from a projector. You made an actual, physical deck out of the tiny squares and use the projector to physically flip through them.

        Later, when consumer printers got to be common, you could print an image or words onto a transparent piece of plastic about the size of a sheet of normal paper and put those on a different type of projector, with a light screen and mirrors to project the image onto a wall – those were called transparencies at the time. My early education, all the way up to college, used transparencies. Transparencies were also nice because you could write on them dynamically with erasable markers, much like blackboards and whiteboards.

        Similarly, papers of all sorts existed long before Word did, and will continue to exist long after the corporation that maintains that particular suite of office-focused software it dies.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I remember all those versions. I’m coming up on 40 years since college graduation and I never heard slide deck or deck until about 10 years ago. I still think deck or slide deck is jargon in that people act like it is a very fancy thing that only some people can do. It’s just a dang presentation with sides of some kind! Until about 10 years ago, people in my varied and various workplaces said presentation; we need to make a presentation for x on y date, we should make a ppt or a prezi or whatever.

      5. Not A Real Manager*

        Thank you @Chilipepper. This is exactly my point. People arguing over what a slide deck really is and what platform it should produced on is demonstrating it beautifully.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      What’s fun is I’m old enough to remember when a “slide deck” was literally that – a pack (deck) of transparencies to be used on an overhead projector, like an oversized deck of cards. (The presenter often had a deck of 3×5 cards with presentation notes on them to go with it.) So even though it’s now just an electronic file, they use the earlier description.

    6. ginkgo*

      In my relationship I’m the one with all the business jargon and my husband is the one who’s worked nontraditional jobs. +1 to “slide deck”; other ones I’ve had to explain are “butts in seats” and “bio-break”

  14. SG*

    #3: I genuinely can’t think of another way to answer this question other than “if or when it becomes necessary”. Some people may never work in an office environment, so there is no ‘when’ for them. I just feel like this question is very oddly phrased!

  15. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

    As a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, we don’t care for blue sky thinking. We want to see those clouds, and the more, the merrier!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      But now they only block the sun, They rain and snow on everyone, So many things I would have done, But clouds got in my way

      1. Marthooh*

        Between Lizzie (with the deaf cat) and Juicebox Hero, we’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

      1. Lizzie) with the deaf cat)*

        Cloud appreciation society dot org will take you to their site! They have a section called clouds that look like things, and used to have a pic called ‘Two cats dancing the salsa’, and that is just what it looked like!

  16. bamcheeks*

    In college I did not take any business classes and graduated with a liberal arts degree in 2009, meaning that I spent many years working as a bartender. When my body could not take it any longer, I made the transition to office jobs

    LW3, sidenote, this is an incredibly passive way to view your career and abilities, and I am wondering a lot about your confidence. Staying in bartending wasn’t a necessary outcome of having a liberal arts degree or not taking any business classes: I hope you stayed in it because you enjoyed it and got something out of it, but if not, then you could have made the transition to an office job at any point.

    You sound like you’re a bit trapped in a narrative of, “because I made this mistake, I am permanently missing out on knowledge that everyone else has and will never be able to overcome it”. This is not true at all– education-wise, you have the same building blocks as anyone else and everyone is learning on the job. You can do that too! If you can’t really imagine approaching the world from a confident position and believing that you are (or at least have the potential to be) as capable and knowledgeable as the other people around you, I would urge you to see whether you can access some counselling anywhere. Going around feeling like everyone around you is privy to some special knowledge that you missed is a miserable way to be.

    1. Smithy*

      If the OP graduated in 2009 in the US with a liberal arts degree – I do just want to flag it was a particularly challenging time to get more traditional office/“white collar” jobs.

      Not that the OP couldn’t have made that more of a priority, but just here to offer some understanding how hard that time was for new grads. And that the knocks from that time to the self esteem for picking dumb/wrong majors is really common.

      OP, if that is the case and those demons still haunt you – it’s really understandable. Depending on the messages and/or financial circumstances of your parents it can be really easy to navel gaze on everything you did wrong. Whether this question stems from that place or perhaps justifying a desire to go back to school for business education – finding a therapist can be a good time to just better understand.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I graduated from a PhD in 2008 with relatively little non-academic experience, so I do get that! But this isn’t to shame LW, it’s to say that if you feel like that’s still affecting your confidence and career pathway thirteen years later, it could be worth getting some support.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, 2009 here in the US I was hard unemployed for a year and a half. I burned through a lot of savings. I even started a bartending course to try to see if I could bring in cash that way (I dropped it – a one handed barkeep is not really viable.) I work in tech, and it was one of the first industries to recover, but it was still bad.

    2. londonedit*

      100%. I didn’t take any business classes at university because that’s not how it works here and I was doing an English degree so all my classes were English language/literature. Very few people in my industry have business degrees and even if I was in a more corporate environment, I get the feeling different organisations have their own particular lexicon – and different bosses come in with their own sets of buzzwords – and everyone has to learn as they go. I don’t think there’s any component of a degree in business studies where they sit you down and explain what all the buzzwords mean.

    3. Anima*

      I graduated with a liberal arts degree in 2015 and was in retail until recently. I did not read this letter like this at all. I totally get the feeling of regretting an arts degree. That was what I read between the lines, not “I have a knowledge gap that it will set me back forever”. Writing in and askig for advice is the first step to mend the gap, and I think OP will be doing fine their new office job(s).

      Btw, OP, I just had to ask what a Spike-Meeting is because that could mean all kinds of meetings, depending were you work. Felt stupid at first, but I always Google and then ask when I don’t get a clear answer from google. Worked well for me so far.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      I took that line as a bit tongue in cheek (graduating w/a liberal arts degree during the financial crisis = bartender/waiter/barista, etc)

      1. bamcheeks*

        I hope so! I have worked with a few people who have bought into all the media rubbish about liberal arts degrees being useless, so I hope that’s not LW and they were just joking.

        1. Anonoman*

          I wouldn’t call it media rubbish. I see it as more of a reasonable concern about going in to massive amounts of debt with no hard skills to show for it. If there is any rubbish out there it is the notion that you need to pay six figures to learn about stuff that has no real world application.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I mean, the debt is a problem, but that’s a function of the state declining to fund third-level education, not a problem with the liberal arts. It’s not OK that people have to go into six figures of debt to study a technical or vocational subject either.

      2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Possibly, but it perpetuates the “I have a liberal arts degree so all I can do is [insert undervalued no office job]” which both demeans, in this case, restaurant work and devalues a liberal arts education.

        FWIW, I graduated in 2000 with a liberal arts degree and was hired into a management training program straight out of school. I’ve also worked as an account manager, in operations management, team management, and training. I also learned all the business lingo on the job.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          I guess I always thought of the liberal arts things as more a shared joke rather than a demeaning stereotype… I think your path is pretty common?

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, liberal arts degree is still better for getting into management (soft skills) that no degree. Lots of places will lock you out of management unless you have a bachelors degree in something, even if it’s in creative basketweaving.

  17. After 33 years ...*

    LW 3: You are fortunate if you haven’t previously been exposed to weird jargon. Unfortunately, it continues to bleed across boundaries in academia, expanding from administration to classes and giving us the blues. A perpetual blue sky without clouds indicates drought.
    A particularly irritating term is “going South”, meaning something negative or bad. A useful antidote to that sort of comment is “Mcarthur’s Universal Corrective Map of the World”.

    1. Threeve*

      I can’t tell what point you’re trying to make here. I get that you’re using other idioms to complain about jargon, but…why?

    2. Curious*

      Nice reference! I’ll confess that I incorrectly assumed that the reference was to Doug (given his time in the South Pacific during WWII).

    3. Unaccountably*

      An admittedly brief Google search indicates that “going south” has been in use since at least the early years of the 20th century, if not before. I feel like if it’s been used in popular communication for 100 years it’s not jargon anymore.

  18. EBAR*

    When I worked in customer support in a computer retailer many moons ago we had a lot of words for ‘broken’. Only half of which were profanities

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      One of my favorites is “Borken” – half a typo, half a statement that something is “Borked”

  19. RandomNameAllocated*

    To me, a bleeding edge is where a picture on a page does not have a margin around it, but bleeds off the page. Is also a severe paper cut

  20. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: One of the great lessons that it took me far too long to internalized is that that when someone (or, in this case, some organization) tells you who they are, believe them. It is a generous impulse to believe that this appalling thing this person has just identified themselves as can’t possibly be who they really are. They must be having a bad day, or have this one unfortunate trait but are otherwise lovely. Nope. Take them at their word. Yes, one should be open to revising this assessment. An abject apology, for example, can go a long ways. But the default is that someone who presents as appalling probably really is. Take, for example, when my barber retired and the I was making the rounds in search of another. One took the opportunity of my being a captive audience in the chair to complain about how many Mexican restaurants there were in town. Nope. Not going back. Maybe this person just doesn’t happen to like Mexican food, but playing the odds, it is vastly more likely that they simply are racist, and assume that I, a white, middle-aged cis-male, naturally agrees with them.

    1. Rogue Paginator*

      OP here- I certainly appreciate your comment. It’s true that grandboss has shown himself time over time to be an ass. But overall, the organization has been fantastic and really taken care of me. The problem is that grandboss basically wields Thor’s hammer in terms of power, and no one stands up to him. He’s leaving, but it will take time to purge our culture of the problems.

    2. Anonoman*

      I think it’s a bit of a stretch to claim racism just because someone doesn’t like Mexican food. On that note why include that you are “cis”? That really isn’t the least bit relevant.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I don’t care for Indian food. It would never occur to me to complain that there are Indian restaurants in the area. It’s not as if their presence excludes alternatives that I like more. On the other hand, Hispanic labor is much more common in this area than when I moved here twenty years ago. The Mexican restaurants have accompanied this. It is possible that this barber is simply a habitual complainer (itself good reason not to go there) and this was the complaint of the day. But it looks an awful lot like complaining about Those People moving in. The cis is relevant because as a middle aged cis white male, I appear to be someone who would share the complaint about Those People, and therefore someone safe to share racist views with. I get this quite often.

      2. Unaccountably*

        Your argument appears to be that Richard shouldn’t be bothered because his barber went on an entirely irrelevant tirade about there being “too many” Mexican restaurants. And yet you appear to be bothered because he included the – irrelevant, according to you – information that he’s cisgender. Both are irrelevant but only one is actually objectionable?

        That’s highly informative. About you, I mean.

  21. Richard Hershberger*

    LW4: My observation is that in many organizations, recruitment is simultaneously a critical business function and treated as an incidental matter that takes time away from other stuff. The result is much sloppiness that would never be tolerated in other business functions.

    1. Tiger Snake*

      I find this is why a good general rule of thumb to just not emote business practices; same as you would avoid trying to assign human motive and human emotion to a wild animal or a machine. A business policy isn’t because the company is arrogant, or malicious, or wants to hurt you specifically – its just a big, dumb machine.

      So you can joke they were just trying to have the last word, but know that its really just about them closing the loop and ticking off the T’s and dotting the I’s on their side. Better to have some extra confirmed rejections than have people stuck in limbo wondering if they’re still being considered, you know?

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Except the recruiter already told me the position paid about 30% less than what I’m making now so I already told them I didn’t want to pursue it…. pre-interview. I’m not wondering -at all- because IDGAF…..

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          I think the point they were trying to make is that they likely have a policy to send rejections to all applicants that are not moving forward, for many companies this is likely an automated process. The thinking being that it is better for some people like you (who already pulled out) to receive a rejection that does not make sense, instead of not sending out any rejections and having other people( that didn’t make the cut) wondering if they made the cut or not.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Yeah, I wasn’t aware I was even IN the process in the first place. The recruiter wanted to set up an interview after seeing my resume. She told me what the salary was. I said “Thanks, but no thanks”. They need to manage their applicant tracking better.

            1. Kal*

              It does sound like the issue may come down to a bit of a miscommunication (which, as shown by other stories and discussions here about recruiters, is not uncommon). It seems like the recruiter understood you sending your resume to mean you were applying, putting you into the system, and then you withdrew at the stage of scheduling an interview. And meanwhile you thought you were still in the process of discussing whether you wanted to apply.

              So them sending a standard rejection like they would to any other applicant felt weird to you, since you thought you had withdrawn before your name had ever been added to that list.

  22. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I want to extend #3’s question to things like phrases in email that sound like they mean one thing but really mean another.

    For example, “as per my last email …”
    That sounds like you just mean, look at my last email, but it really means you are frustrated the recipient seems to never read their emails and you are pushing back.

    I have a younger coworker who has sent a couple of emails that are landing like bombs, I gasped out loud at the first one. It was so egregious my boss did raise the issue with her.

    But how does anyone learn this stuff? Honestly, I think I learned it in places like this. And from a more experienced friend. Are there webinars on professional communications and how do we find them. I’d like to give my coworker//“boss some options.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        This is out of context but in a group email to the whole team and boss, she wrote something that landed like: “well, at least the people who matter appreciate my work, and you are not the people who matter.”

    1. ecnaseener*

      My training for my first office job included being given boilerplate emails and having my trainer check my email drafts for a little while. It was as good a way as any to learn!

    2. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      I got to use “As per my previous email” today! To be fair, they sent a rather snarky email stating that certain information had not been sent to them, and insinuating Consequences. So I forwarded the previous time-stamped email which showed very clearly that the information in question had most certainly been sent.
      But just like jargon, it does tend to take a little while to learn the delicate balance of diplomacy and “Excuse you!” for your particular workplace.

      1. KRM*

        Oh man I used to do that for my old boss. He used to ask “where is the data for X??? We should have had that last week!!!” but he was too busy with Other Thing He Thought Was More Important to look at the email I sent with X. And it was annoying so I’d just forward it. He refused to search his email, if you said “I sent that on [date]” he would just ask you to send it again. With the benefit of hindsight I can see that he was a disaster area of a boss who couldn’t handle it when he had more than 2 people reporting to him (and barely even with the 2), so I feel less bad about my passive-aggressiveness that I encouraged others to take up as well.

      2. Dr. Vibrissae*

        I have a fond memory of using “As per YOUR previous email…” and forwarding a copy of past communications to a department admin who snarkily asked where I had gotten the idea that the department was financially responsible when I requested that they pay my tuition along with late fees charged due to their failure to pay. One of the best things I ever did was to insist on having my status, responsibilities, and funding clarified in writing for that position change.

    3. Emmers*

      Similarly I have a new coworker who is new to office work and she continues to use very off putting punctuation and it took me a while to understand she’s just not aware yet of the differences between casual texting and emails. She often sends a message like ‘wait can you explain???’ Or ‘I’ve never seen this document!?!’ We do a ton of communication on Teams as well but it’s absolutely not endearing her to our older coworkers.

    4. Apples*

      I’d love to hear about those emails! Let’s hope their boss didn’t raise it in phrases that sound like one thing but mean another :)

    5. sb51*

      I have several coworkers who still use HTH, as an abbreviation for “hope this helps” in a sincere manner in which they appear to actually be hoping it helps, as opposed to code for “as anyone who isn’t a blithering fool would already know”. It’s…jarring.

    6. Unaccountably*

      How did you learn it? Most people learn it that way.

      I am also dying to know what your co-worker said.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I learned it by experience, a very professional friend, and AAM.
        But if this person is not picking it up through experience, am I the friend who will tell her? Is there a professional development course I could point her to?

        How have the rest of you learned?

        I posted above but here it is again:
        This is out of context but in a group email to the whole team and boss, she wrote something that landed like: “well, at least the people who matter appreciate my work, and you are not the people who matter.”

        And just to clarify, that is not what she said but it landed with that tone and weight.

  23. DJ Abbott*

    #2 The only times I’ve seen the term bleeding edge were on this site, and I’m glad. What a horrible visual!
    Thinking back, I haven’t worked in a place with a lot of jargon in 20+ years. IME places that use a lot of jargon have a lot of inarticulate hotshots who think they’re so cool. ;)

    1. Rain's Small Hands*

      I’ve used it for as long as I can remember – and I had my first corporate job in the 1980s. But I spent most of it in IT where “the leading edge is the bleeding edge” was used a lot in every company I worked for. You don’t want to be the first to jump on a new technology – it usually costs you far more than any competitive advantage you’ll gain. Wait and see how someone else does it.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Yes! I didn’t know about the money aspect, but I worked five years at a small company that liked to be an early adopter. The tech nightmares were so bad, I put off getting a smartphone for years.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, it’s pretty common in IT.

        The difference between cutting edge and bleeding edge is that the bleeding edge is so new that it still has rough edges that can cut you unexpectedly. Cutting edge is a chef’s knife, bleeding edge is a rough chef’s knife with burrs and other possible flaws that haven’t been cleaned up yet.

        I have been burned with stuff that was too new and didn’t have the kinks worked out yet. Most experienced sysadmins are leery of running 0.75 or even 1.0 version of stuff in production – they’re too new to be considered stable.

    2. allathian*

      I work for a pretty staid government agency, and our internal jargon is full of acronyms. Most of them are four-letter ones at that…

  24. Falling Diphthong*

    I find the discussion around all the different ways “evergreen” is used in different industries very interesting. I feel like there was a desire to push back against the conviction that newer and differenter must always be better in every single context, and thus a longing for a reason to use “evergreen.” Even if the thing intended to bring stability is different for different groups.

  25. pcake*

    LW2, the teachers in my area spend unpaid hours reading and grading papers and coming up with lesson plans after work. Few of them would have two hours every day to dedicate to another job. Perhaps Jamie is underestimating the time spent working after work as a teacher or isn’t aware that this could be the case.

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah…if Jamie thinks the school day finishes at 3pm so they’ll have a couple of hours spare to work for the OP until 5, I have a feeling they’re mistaken! My teacher friends get to work at about 7/8am and leave at 4/5pm, and half their weekends are taken up with marking work and organising stuff for the coming week. They’d laugh in your face if you suggested they might have time for a second job.

      I’m also wondering how on earth Jamie has managed to get a job offer as a teacher? Presumably they have a teaching qualification already? You can’t just ‘get a job as a teacher’.

      1. bamcheeks*

        It’s possible that it’s not a full teaching role but something more like a lab technician or teaching assistant where they’re supporting a fully qualified teacher in the classroom and running small group work but don’t have the full responsibility for lesson planning, assessment, classroom management etc that a teacher would have.

      2. Nonny Mouse*

        Yeah, I wondered that too, but teaching shortages are insane in some places these days. Even before Covid, some school districts were hiring uncertified teachesr, and lately I get invitations to apply showing up in my inbox although I left the classroom in 2o01.

        1. Rain's Small Hands*

          A LOT of states are just requiring a bachelors degree in a related subject – I think in my state that will make you a provisional teacher – you have to get licensed via the test at some point (I think within three years) – but you don’t need any education credits ever to teach high school – just a degree in a related field (Biology majors become Science teachers and teach Chemistry and Physics without ever having taken a classroom management course). A lot of teachers then get a Masters in Education.

          And states often have different requirements for charter and private schools as well.

      3. Artemesia*

        Nashville is short hundreds of teachers for the coming school year; I think Chicago is having similar problems. Texas and Florida are both having trouble staffing schools such that Texas is now not even requiring a college degree. I suspect anyone with a degree can get a teaching job right now and yes Jaime is definitely underestimating how difficult teaching is the first few years.

    2. Loves libraries*

      First year teachers spend an especially long amount of time outside the classroom on lesson prep and grading, if they are doing it right. A first year as a teacher can also be emotionally overwhelming.

  26. just another queer reader*

    Suggestion for learning more about business terminology: the NPR radio show/ podcast Marketplace is very good! It’s a half hour, every weekday (but I certainly don’t listen in every day).

    I really don’t consider myself a business person, but this show is very interesting, accessible, and I always learn something new.

  27. Yellow Plastic Duck*

    “What if you had already rejected the offer from LargeCorp based on their promise?”

    I suspect that was the whole point of them pulling the counter-offer. They assumed you had declined the new offer and could count on you staying–staying at least long enough for them to hire your replacement, who they could then tell it would be 18-24 months before they got a raise or promotion.

    They were disingenuous about your promotion. They were disingenuous about the counter-offer. These are not people you can trust.

    1. Squidlet*

      Yeah, I would love to hear what Crappy Small Company says when OP says “Cheers then! Friday’s my last day!” After presumably thinking they’d be having their cake and eating it.

  28. Making up names is hard*

    A liberal arts school or college is the most common type of post-secondary (after high school) education in America. Sometimes these schools offer other degrees as well, but usually a liberal arts school awards BA degrees. Examples would be almost all public state universities, unless they have engineering BS or art BFA programs, small private colleges and also larger private universities.

    A liberal arts college or school provides a broad education in a range of topics, not just a deep highly specialized program of study. You might have a “major” where about a third to a half of your classes are in one field, but the rest of your classes are distributed amongst other disciplines (like math, history, literature, languages). The US is one of the only countries in which the majority of college/university students recieve this kind of education.

    1. Rain's Small Hands*

      Its that General Education requirement – take two Science type courses, one DEI type course, one course that is math related (but logic counts for those math avoiders), one Values course, one Arts type course, a Communications class, a Literature course (take the course on African American writers and knock off both the lit and the DEI requirement).

  29. Nancy*

    LW3: you learn on the job, look it up online, or ask people who have been there longer. That’s usually what people do since most people do not take business classes and every industry is different. I have no clue what any of those terms mean because I have never had to use them, and I’ve had been working since the 90s. The job titles also depend on where you work.

  30. Fluffy Fish*

    OP 3 – I work with communication and jargon and acronyms drive me batpoopy. Sure path to people not being on the same page. Plain language is always the way to go. Don’t feel like you need to speak jargonese just because others are.

    Don’t be afraid to ask either. If someone is throwing around a term you’ve never heard of, you may not be the only one who doesn’t know. There are people who seem to speak nothing but jargon.

    A side-note on acronyms – do not assume that they mean the same thing to everybody. CAD to an architect means one thing. CAD in the public safety world is another.

  31. LawLady*

    #4 – I’ve found that large organizations can have really wonky candidate management systems, which result in automatic rejection emails, etc.

    The worst one I’ve experienced was a company that rejected me for a job I applied for, which was fine. But I had selected a box for “consider my resume for other positions I may be qualified for” when I was applying. And so about once a month for the next two years, I’d get a form rejection email for a job I hadn’t applied for, but that their system submitted my resume for because I met the minimum qualifications. Often these jobs had nothing to do with my background (financial analyst), but if they were coded as only needing an undergraduate degree, I was “qualified”, so submitted and then rejected.

    Seriously, once a month. “Dear LawLady, we appreciate your application for the [IT Analyst] position, and regret to inform you that we will not be moving on with your candidacy.” Uggghhh

    1. KRM*

      Yeah I’ve gotten many an automated rejection months after being employed, simply because the system they used thinks in very black/white terms. As in: person in candidate pool/hiring actually takes 4 months because of specialized requirement team needs that is hard to filter for, so they talk to lots of candidates/team hires/system sends automatic rejections to all resumes that were ever considered. The automation is supposed to make the hiring teams lives easier, but it can be annoying if you were in the candidate pools at any time! But it’s not personal, it’s just how their system “thinks”!

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        Its actually how the people who implemented the system think – and its lazy. It isn’t a big deal to close records with “withdrawn” or “rejected” or “hired” – and send letters out only to the “rejected” And if the system doesn’t have “withdrawn” “rejected” and “hired” as options, it was lazy requirements gathering or lazy implementation – and it says a lot about how systems within that organization work.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Yup. Software and Database engineer here… and I wholeheartedly concur.

    2. All Het Up About It*

      Oh maaaaan!

      I wonder if that’s how the system our agency uses works. We just recently switched to using the same one other state agency’s use and we’ve been seeing some ridiculous candidates come through, but if they don’t even realize they are “applying” that could make sense! Also – if I have to hire again anytime soon, I’ve decided to require a cover letter to help weed out any of these just apply to anything individuals.

  32. Fabulous*

    #3 – The jargon terms you mentioned — “evergreen,” “blue sky thinking,” and “bleeding edge” — I’ve never even heard and I’ve worked in an office environment for about 15 years. They sound more startup-specific or possibly only used in your office. I feel like jargon happens when some executive hears a random made-up phrase, hooks onto it and blasts it all over their company as a slogan to live by.

    Regardless, jargon was never taught in college (theatre major/business minor). I just have kind of heard things on the fly throughout the years. The most common terms across the board that I’ve heard are “opportunities” (as opposed to shortcomings) and “pain points” (as opposed to problems/issues).

    1. Fabulous*

      On a similar note – acronyms! There are so many freaking acronyms. I saw a couple comments up that they’re not consistent across industries (i.e. my company has a “MLM” that does NOT mean multi-level marketing) and they’re also constantly popping up. I feel like I hear new acronyms every day, and when I ask what they mean, no one actually knows!

    2. bamcheeks*

      See, and I’m familiar with all the first three (and would consider “opportunities” instead of “shortcomings” to be an ironic joke rather than true jargon), but have never come across “pain points”.

    3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Same, only I’m at 25 years. I had to google “bleeding edge” and “blue sky thinking”

    4. Artemesia*

      And google is your friend. Back in the day before the internet, I almost embarrassed myself when I didn’t understand an acronym which turned out to be very basic to a field I was moving into. Luckily something held me back and I researched it on my own before making a fool of myself.

  33. ABCYaBye*

    RE #3 – While this doesn’t specifically help you in this situation, I do have a suggestion. I ran a non-profit and as new board members were brought on, I’d sit down and go through an orientation of our organization and of the industry. The last page of the orientation materials was a list of commonly used acronyms and phrases. It would behoove all of us who have opportunity to provide some guidance to newcomers so they’re not overwhelmed. Yes, some of the jargon will still come up, but giving people a head start is kind.

    1. Fabulous*

      As a person in the training field, I love this idea. I’ll have to pass it along to the “powers that be” to see if we can implement something similar in our materials!

    2. LawLady*

      Also, if you google “[industry] + jargon guide”, you can often find these kinds of resources for your industry. I’m thinking specifically of the Latham & Watkins Book of Jargon (relevant if you’re a corporate/finance lawyer), but I suspect that there are jargon guides for other industries as well.

      1. Not Australian*

        Probably only marginally relevant to this site’s readership, but there’s one relating to the Royal Navy called ‘Jackspeak’…

  34. Contracts Killer*

    LW #1 and anyone making plans around what *might* happen *if* someone retires, I’m not sure how it is in non-US countries or even other companies, but in several jobs I have had, people would talk about retiring, but drag it out and drag it out. We had someone who talked about retiring for TWO YEARS but kept bumping out the date for various reasons. He was highly valued at the company, so they let him string them along as much as he wanted, then scrambled for a replacement once he firmly solidified his date. I was convinced the guy would die at his desk.

    Regarding a legal claim for discrimination – I’m an attorney, but NOT LW #1’s attorney and NOT an employment attorney. While age discrimination may not apply (assuming she’s under 40, in the US, and there are no specific state or local protections), I wonder if she would have a claim based on reliance if she had turned down the other job and could not go back and take it. There’s an entire body of case law on reasonable reliance and how you can collect damages if you lost out on a sure thing because you reasonably relied on someone else. An article I found makes me think there could possibly be a claim: https://ogletree.com/insights/no-breach-of-contract-where-employer-revokes-conditional-job-offer-promissory-estoppel-claim-may-survive-where-potential-employee-suffered-losses-incident-to-reliance-upon-the-offer/.

  35. CC*

    #5: I work in an industry where this is very, very common. An email should be fine with a follow up phone call if there are any logistics to work out (which, usually the most relevant logistics here would be closing stuff out with company B). These things happen a lot and companies that rely on contracts and projects generally understand turnover, especially moving to positions with more stability. If possible, it is probably good to leave on a good note and be as pleasant as possible – company A might not have much contact with you, so a brusque resignation might hold more weight than otherwise, but it’s so commonplace that it’s not a big deal.

  36. No Tribble At All*

    #3– my personal pet peeve is jargon that means one thing in one context and the exact opposite in another context. Americans use “table” (as in “let’s table this topic for now”) to mean put aside, not discuss it any more for a bit. Europeans use “table” as bring to the table, start the conversation about it.

    Got in a bit of trouble about that one when I assumed they didn’t want to go with a topic because they said we’ll table it at the next meeting, but half the team expected my analysis at the next meeting!

    But yes, new places can have an overwhelming amount of jargon. If there isn’t an acronym dictionary, start one, and if you come across a phrase you can’t get by context, feel free to ask someone. I’d recommend asking someone 1 level up from you, and not in a public meeting.

  37. Observer*

    #1- Take the job at LargeCorp.

    Firstly, GrandBoss is still there and you don’t actually know what will happen in the interim. Nor do you know for sure that he will actually leave and that the replacement will actually be better in all of the ways that are important to you.

    Keep in mind that not only did he make an offer that he didn’t mean, and rescinded. He ALSO has been keeping you from a promotion that you’ve been supposed to be moving to for 2 years. Which is to say, that he has a track record with you and it is quite bad. And you even know why he’s being this way, and there is NOTHING you can do – There is no way you can magically become old enough to meet his criteria.

    And don’t kid yourself that this is going to change once GrandBoss leaves. Maybe the particular hangup about age will stop being an issue. But the bad faith bargaining is not likely to change. Because clearly someone above him is ok with it – and may even have required it.

    You’re being told something really significant about this company. Don’t ignore it.

    1. Observer*

      OP, I just saw one of your comments about this mess. If you are right, then it’s all the more reason to NOT trust that things would get any better once he leaves.

      It’s not just that he doesn’t have integrity (and I totally agree with the person who said that you shouldn’t think that he h”had” integrity and “tossed” it out the window.) It’s that the higher ups allowed him to pull the offer and “the other forces at play.” Either he agreed to terms that he knew he was going to renege on or those “other forces” came from people or rules that are going to still be in place after he leaves. It’s bad enough that a company allows someone who “strings people along” to keep his role, but someone who is a bald faced lair? Or alternatively that creates “pressures” that cause people to rescind valid offers?

  38. Nonny Mouse*

    LW2: I can only imagine that Jamie has never taught high school before if they think they’re going to have the time or energy for anything even remotely mentally challenging for two hours a day afterward.
    And if they’ve never taught before it’s going to be even worse.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I wondered if it was an assistant position (not that it really matters), which would be a pay cut from a lot of other non-school jobs where an actual teacher job might not be.

  39. Dust Bunny*

    Re: Jargon:

    My experience in both work and hobby settings is that you learn as you go. It changes constantly so there’s not much point in trying to teach it in school–by the time you graduated, the working world will have moved on, anyway. I think my current employer gave me a basic rundown when I started (it’s been a long time so my memory is fuzzy now) but since then I’ve learned new terms as they came down the pike, along with all my coworkers.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Amending: We don’t use a lot of weird jargon, though, apart from normal industry terms. Thank goodness. Even if your workplace is good about not getting bogged down in oblique fad phrases there will be a bit of a learning curve just for the “normal” terminology. So I can tell you that replevin is a pain and should be avoided; what your dog needs if it needs 0.5 mg PO TID; and what you’ll get if someone offers you a SR NM PAM.

  40. Pisces*

    LW3: Sometimes it’s a matter of plain meaning, not jargon.

    In my firm’s accounting dept, to many of our client billers “the March 2022 bill” means the client bill dated March xx, 2022. Which would cover the month of February 2022.

    So if I want the bill covering the month of March 2022, I ask specifically for that to be sure I get it.

  41. Just Me*

    #3 – there’s also a lot of jargon that may be specific to your industry, field, region, or employer that is not common in all of business, all the time. Every time I move to a new job I will casually drop an acronym or a phrase and then discover that it’s not the norm in the new office, and you should not feel bad about needing to be caught up to speed. I work in higher ed and right now there is a subtle war going on about whether LOA means “Letter of Acceptance” or “Leave of Absence” and admins from different universities will get very snarky over email about it. Likewise, my fiancée works in tech and there is so much jargon that is just made-up and used for gate-keeping. I can’t remember the phrase now, but recently he was going on and on about, let’s say, a two-party teapot affirmation, and I said, “Isn’t that just a contract? Explain to me how what you’re describing isn’t just a contract.” He couldn’t.

    1. LawLady*

      The worst is when acronyms can mean multiple things. In banking law, we commonly reference a “DACA” (deposit account control agreement). But to any normal person who reads the news, DACA is a policy– deferred action for childhood arrivals. You just have to code-switch into banking jargon.

      1. Squidlet*

        But that’s to be expected… there aren’t enough acronyms for them to be unique across all contexts.

      2. Nightengale*

        Even in one field
        In medical school I started collecting medical acronyms with multiple meanings, sometimes in the same day!

        SMA: superior mesenteric artery/spinal muscular atrophy (neurological condition) /blood test measuring basic chemistries
        GF: gluten free/girlfriend/growth factor
        BMT: bilateral myringostomy tubes (ear tubes)/bone marrow transplant
        ASD: autism/hole in the heart
        CP: chest pain/cerebral palsy

        (I was in the ER one time and someone noticed my chart said CP and started testing me for a possible heart attack. About halfway through someone actually ASKED me if I were having chest pain. Um. No.)

      3. DisgruntledPelican*

        My favorites are the ones that mean something professional on one hand and something decidedly UNprofessional on the other…DTF and CBT being the first to spring to mind.

  42. The Tin Man*

    OP2: So Jamie is expecting, as a new teacher, to do something like teach until 3 and then work their old job 3:00-5:00? Unless they are somehow teaching something that doesn’t require any lesson planning or grading that is a recipe for them doing poorly at both jobs.

    If Jamie already doesn’t do a great job at their current employment they are not going to get better by trying to squeeze in two hours a day while getting up to speed in a famously demanding job.

  43. drpuma*

    #3, now while you are new is the time to ask! Your newness is a superpower. Ask open-ended questions when something seems dumb or inefficient. Ask especially with acronyms. If asking to define jargon makes you nervous, rephrase what you think the person is saying and then ask if you have it right. No matter how silly you feel asking now, you’ll feel even sillier if you let it go for 6 months. I work in a large corporation and even new hires that are at a high-level or have years of experience need to learn our jargon and acronyms. Your confusion is a totally normal part of starting a new office job. Are there other new people? Ask around and if no one has created a glossary, maybe you and a couple of other people can get it started in a wiki or someplace else sharable. It will feel like no time at all that you’ll be explaining these terms to other newcomers. And remembering your own confusion and frustration will help you be a better communicator if it motivates you to phrase things clearly.

  44. PinkCandyfloss*

    LW #3: There’s a great book (a bit dated now) called Why Business People Speak Like Idiots. It will entertain you and inform you about all that jargon that flows around offices these days.

  45. urguncle*

    Years ago, I had a customer ask me if someone was “on the DL.” The only version of that I knew was men who sleep with men but identify publicly as straight. After literally hours of me combing through Google results, I found out it also meant Distribution List. Like CC’d on an email.

    1. London Calling*

      I was once asked by someone what COB meant in a list that I’d been sending him for MONTHS – as in ‘Balance COB 18 July 2022, x figure.’

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Odd. I’d interpret that “On the DL” as “On the down low” as in “information that’s kept quiet or under wraps.”

      But referring to an email chain, it could be “on the distribution list” as in “make sure that the new employee is on the DL for their group.”

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        We call them PDL’s and honestly I don’t know what the P stands for… I know what it is… but don’t know what the letters actually stand for… personnel probably, published maybe, puppies probably not…

  46. Sunflower*

    #1 Go with the new company. Do you trust the current company now that you know they will lie to keep you? And keep you for how long? I’ve heard stories like this. They will hire a new person, have you train them as their “backup,” and then fire them because the new person will work for cheaper.

    “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

  47. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    It’s possible that this was intended to be funny: “…graduated with a liberal arts degree in 2009, meaning that I spent many years working as a bartender” but FOR. THE. LOVE.

    People (not just OP), stop perpetuating this BS. It demeans factory/restaurant/retail/etc. work, and at the same time, completely devalues a liberal arts education.

    1. Anonoman*

      The value of a liberal arts degree is questionable. I for one am not paying six figure for a degree in like gender studies that has zero real world application.

      1. London Calling*

        I didn’t do my liberal arts degree for value. I did it for knowledge; and it has been very applicable. Knowing where to find out data, assembling it in a coherent and logical form, being able to see when an argument doesn’t stack up…all sorts of things. And that’s before the sheer pleasure it gave me.

        1. Anonoman*

          You can learn that stuff pretty much anywhere. I take it you come from from a very well off and privileged background where you can take classes for the “pleasure” it gives you. I’m just saying it doesn’t make sense for people that are trying to be a part of the middle class to take on six figure debt to do so when it is unnecessary.

          1. London Calling*

            I’m not sure where you’re getting the ‘very well off and privileged’ from. My mother was a widow with three children and working as a copy typist; because of her limited income I received nearly the full grant for my tuition. Does anyone do a degree to be ‘part of the middle class?’

            Still, I’m sure my tutors and professors would be really pleased to know that I could have learned this stuff anywhere rather than from the leaders in their respective fields.

            Incidentally, it was a pleasure, and continues to be. No need for the inverted commas that imply the opposite.

      2. ThatGirl*


        The value of liberal arts degrees is that, while you have a concentration, you also get a broad education. I was a Communications major, with an emphasis on media and writing. I went into journalism. But that’s not all I was qualified for, and it’s a good thing too, because I switched gears after 4 years and have had a successful career as a content writer/editor and copywriter.

        There are plenty of applications for gender studies in the real world, especially when combined with an interest in say … biology, or journalism, or history, or marketing, or any other number of things.

        1. Anonoman*

          Gender studies when combined with something like biology or marketing has value because biology and marketing are actually valuable. There is not enough standalone value with gender studies for it to be worthwhile.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I have a arts degree and I learned that if you’re saying something like that, you should probably cite your sources.

            1. Anonoman*

              I would love to but Allison has this habit of blocking anything I post that has a link so I stopped bothering a long time ago.

          2. ThatGirl*

            [citation needed]

            is it just gender studies you have a grudge against? do you see any value in Peace and Conflict Studies, or Japanese Studies, or African-American Studies, or Latin?

            1. London Calling*

              I have a feeling that Anonoman sees higher education in purely utilitarian terms – what material benefit will this bring me in the future?

              1. Anonoman*

                I don’t think they’re is anything wrong with that. If I am going to borrow money, it makes sense for me to ask my self how I am going to pay it back. It’s the responsible thing to do. I don’t want to be in the same boat at others waiting for student loan forgiveness that may never come or comes at the expense of taxpayers.

                1. London Calling*

                  What worth you decide a degree brings you is up to you, and if you’re seeing further education in those terms then that’s your decision. Just don’t devalue and denigrate the experience of people who feel differently.

                2. Anonoman*

                  The problem is that children are being pressured in to attending college in order to be successful. Amplifying the problem is that these kids are majoring in degree fields that lead to low paying jobs. If you are in a position where you have virtually unlimited amounts of money then fine, go wherever and get whatever degree you want. For the rest of us, we’re in the middle of a student loan crisis. The message we send future potential students goes beyond personal preference.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  The UK government keeps trying to make policy based on this whack idea of what degrees “lead” to, because it plays so well with their core constituency of voters over 55 who generally disapprove of the modern world. But it keeps not working because a) people really really want to study the arts and b) it’s simply not possible to gather evidence that the arts “lead to low paying jobs”.

            2. Anonoman*

              I’ve never heard of peace and conflict studies but that could be useful in the military. I don’t see the others as being particularly useful. I suppose an exception would be if you plan to do business in those areas. Latin is a dead language, you might as well major in VCR repair because it has about the same applicability. At least using the gender studies example isn’t offensive to the indigenous basket weavers so it looks like my instincts were right about this example.

              1. ThatGirl*

                People who study peace and conflict studies are usually opposed to the military or trying to find alternatives to it, lol. But maybe you think work done by, say, UN peacekeepers or diplomats is worthless.

                1. Anonoman*

                  The UN is a worthless money pit and I wouldn’t miss them if they were dissolved. I’m not sure how I feel about majoring in a subject field opposed to the military. We need a national defense. It takes some serious detachment from reality to spend 4 years trying to argue otherwise.

      3. sb51*

        A mild suggestion: if you want to make this argument, which is fine, pick an example “useless” major that isn’t tied to identity and current societal politics, because it sounds like you’re dismissing that identity/people for whom that field is not purely an academic topic rather than any sociology-type degree.

        “Underwater basket weaving” was the fictional one I always heard as a kid as a stereotype of “useless” liberal arts topics.

        (I have a liberal-arts degree with a STEM major and a “useless” minor and the minor absolutely made me a better, more well-rounded person, even if the subject-area stuff I have not used and largely forgotten at this point.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Just a note that even “underwater basket weaving” as a pejorative may have its roots in Indigenous weaving of willow reeds, which were soaked in water until pliable (not actually done underwater).

      4. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Your comment, with so much aggression and assumption and so few facts or sources in it or the follow up comments, isn’t worth more than a few minutes of my time to reply because I’m making $44.17/hour with my zero real world application liberal arts education.

        PS I was a 19YO single mother without any other family support, and, yes, I got a degree in something that I liked.

        1. London Calling*

          Yeah, my ‘zero real world application’ arts degree led to a 45 year career in finance, including some major international banks and corporates. What’s wrong with a degree in something your enjoy when the chances are that decades of working life is going to contain a lot of things you don’t enjoy at all?

          1. London Calling*

            *The problem is that children are being pressured in to attending college in order to be successful. Amplifying the problem is that these kids are majoring in degree fields that lead to low paying jobs. If you are in a position where you have virtually unlimited amounts of money then fine, go wherever and get whatever degree you want. For the rest of us, we’re in the middle of a student loan crisis. The message we send future potential students goes beyond personal preference*

            As I’m not responsible for any of this I have no idea what you want me to do, even assuming I could. And like I said, if you’d actually bothered to read it, when I did my degree I was neither rich nor privileged. I’m not sure where the ‘we’ in all this comes from, either.

            Done with this. It’s too hot here to bang my head against the brick wall of your particular grievances with society’s expectations of higher education.

            1. DisgruntledPelican*

              If you’ve had a 45 year long career, you also did your degree when a part time job could pay for it. Those days are long gone.

    2. Artemesia*

      the OP graduated into the worst job market our my lifetime (and I am old). So the joke is well taken.

      1. Anonoman*

        I remember that job market. People with six figure debt and master’s degrees were being routinely denied entry level jobs because they were over qualified. It’s a tragedy.

  48. Cat Tree*

    LW3, about jargon:

    Just ask! I’m sure this varies by industry. But in general it truly is fine to just ask for clarification. I get the sense that you sort of feel like you already don’t fit in. But coming from the other side of it, others really aren’t looking for ways to judge you and view you negatively. If you ask politely, 95% of the time the other person won’t think you’re out of touch for asking. They’ll just see it as a reminder to be more aware of their own communication.

  49. Vice President of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*


    Maybe colleges should offer jargon classes for business majors — or even a 4-year sequence in jargon to meet the foreign language requirement.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Ha! I’m immediately imagining having to spend a whole semester learning jargon just to end up in a company that uses some phrases completely differently for some obscure reason. I’d be furious.

    2. LittleMarshmallow*

      Oh goodness. The misunderstandings and chaos that would cause when college said a TPS report was for the teapot soliloquy report and then college grad found out their company uses that term for the tart pickle showcase report!

  50. Logan Noonan*

    LW3 – if it makes you feel better, i’ve almost never heard blue sky thinking, bleeding edge, or evergreen at my job in my 8 year experience in office jobs. it sounds like this may just be jargon used a lot in your office but not across the board, so you shouldn’t feel like you’re behind!

  51. LizardOfOdds*

    LW3, I came to large companies from a similar background and also found the business jargon to be… a lot. The suggestions others have to do web searches for these terms are great, but I also found it helpful to have an actual book of terms that I could read so I could spot the phrases when I heard them. “Green Weenies and Due Diligence” is the book I used, and I still have a copy of it at my desk 10+ years later.

  52. Should I be Frank? - I'm OP for #2.*

    Some additional Context: Jamie actually has some teaching experience and would be teaching the creative subject. Think Art. Jamie has a curriculum built up and in place. That being said, their qualification to be a teacher isn’t my concern. There is no way we’d have Jamie working for us in those last few hours of the day, but they would be available to meet in person during that time if need be, even though most of their work could be done remotely, after business hours.
    In terms of Jamie’s reliability and skills, think of Jamie like a good framer on a construction site, and we’ve sometimes been asking them to do drywall when there is no framing left to do. They can do it, but it’s nowhere near as good or fast as the specialists. Note, in this analogy Jamie showed us just enough drywall samples before starting and knew that drywall would be an important part of the job. In the future, we’d just ask Jamie to do some framing, giving them plenty of time to do it independently.

    The question really is, how aggressively do we encourage Jamie to take the position?

    1. New*

      OP2, this really sounds like a bit of confirmation bias at play: you believe Jaime can’t complete drywalling as well as the “specialists”, so you find arguments or reasons to support that thought. Have you tried training and supporting Jaime?

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