open thread – July 29-30, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,028 comments… read them below }

  1. Eva*

    Any tips on staying positive when all your coworkers are quitting?

    My company merged with another company last year, and a year later…it’s a disaster. Over the past year, most people from my original company have quit, but in the past 3 months, MORE of my direct team has quit, and that doesn’t include the VP over my department (the only VP who knew what he was doing; I worked with him closely over the past few years) who quit 3 weeks ago, or the 2 teammates who quit within the past week.

    While the company is a hot mess, my particular role (along with two direct teammates) is actually stable. I have a new boss (who started about 2 months ago), who I like and I think he can make a positive impact. But it’s hard when so many people are leaving, and now I’m nervous my new boss will be looking to leave now that so many people are leaving.

    I’m “kind of” looking at other roles, but I’m not seeing anything I like. I’m actually paid well for my level and have a fantastic work/life balance. But with so many people quitting I’m also freaking out.

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      Can you have an informal conversation with your new boss to take his temperature? If you’re worried the turnover may be giving him pause, then getting an answer to that question either way may help some of your unease.

    2. Overeducated*

      This has happened to me repeatedly since we have very lean staffing with few internal promotion opportunities, so when people inevitably leave, they leave huge gaps. It’s pretty depressing! And it can take a ton of time to fill the vacancies! I think remembering that it’s temporary, a new team will be built up eventually, and focusing on your life outside of work are all I can advise.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh yeah, that’s tough.

      Have you talked to your ex-coworkers about their decisions to resign? Did they get better offers elsewhere? Did the merger change their workload? Had many of them been looking to get out for a while, and the merger just gave them the last shove? If there’s a consistent answer, then you can actually chew on that — see if you can see what they saw. But if the answers are all over the map, then maybe you don’t really have anything to worry about, and it’s just dumb luck that so many resignations all happened at once.

      That also ties into exactly how the company is a hot mess, especially if any of the chaos comes from the merger and it’ll eventually work itself out.

      1. Eva*

        Before his last day I chatted with the VP I mentioned above. He actually quit to help his wife start a new business, completely unrelated to what our company does. Anyway, I picked his brain over what he thought, he said how this year is going to be the “ride or die” year for the employees at our company, and that it would probably get worse before it gets better. He was referring to more of the internal politics and stuff within our company, our industry is doing well.

        Our CMO is not the best though, I had been hearing tea about how toxic and incompetent she is through people that quit. I asked the VP what his honest thoughts were and he said there weren’t some things he was a fan of with her, but overall he said he didn’t have a problem with her. He mentioned how many of the past issues was how she didn’t know our business during the first year of the merger, but now she understands the business better, and that she was doing what she’s supposed to do as a CMO. Part of me also wonders if some of the “problems” people had with her was that she was a woman at a CMO level.

        My take on her? That she’s full of it, HOWEVER, all the other CMOs I’ve had at other companies were all full of it. I do think she’s not easily manipulated and ‘wowed’, which was what I saw with past CMOs (i.e. being impressed with people who knew how to sell themselves)

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Mergers are tricky and do cause people to panic leave, however sometimes the attrition can’t be helped.

      My OldJob was acquired in 2020, and that company basically left us alone. A few people started to leave, but I was willing to ride it out, my job was secure. Then at the end of 2021, it was announced that NewOverlords were being acquired by a MegaOverlords and people started leaving more frequently. I started looking due to circumstances in my family (even if the 2020 merger hadn’t happened, I would had to leave) and did leave in June. Several key people also started to leave since MegaOverlords made it clear that this will be a full merger by 2023. I know my old boss is definitely wondering about her job in the future.

      As to how to stay positive, maybe look at people leaving as job security? My colleague was sad for me to leave, however that gives her a better chance of being kept on as they likely wouldn’t need both of us. If the merger is still in the restructuring phase, unfortunately people leaving is going to continue until things stabilize.

    5. time to apply*

      I’d be sending out applications. If the company is a hot mess, things are not likely to improve, despite your position.

      1. Just Another Cog*

        I agree with this. Years ago, my old company was bought by a new company and they pretty much left us alone for the first year. Then, they started to integrate a bunch of new processes that made our jobs very difficult. Work/life sucked because there was little training and overtime was mandatory. I started to apply for jobs during this time, mostly because I was worrying about my job and how I was going to get all the added work done, rather than sleeping at night. I got a much better job and immediately the worry faded away.

        Turns out, all the new processes being put in place were to ready the company for sale to a mega corporation just after I left. The new company pared down the staff even further with ruthless lay-offs and firings. I dodged a bullet, for sure. Eva, I hope this isn’t the case for you, but do keep your ear to the ground.

    6. Mbarr*

      Once upon a time my office got all riled up over a reorganization. We got shifted to work under a new VP, and all hell broke loose. People were feeling slighted, everyone was complaining that the new VP was useless, quitting, etc. I personally wasn’t affected by the reorg, but I definitely felt the ill effects of low morale.

      The thing is though, eventually the furor died down. Nothing changed. In retrospect, it was just that some senior employees and managers were whipping up people’s emotions, and eventually it all just went away. So this isn’t so much as advice as, maybe the idea that things aren’t as bad as it truly seems.

    7. Beth*

      Can you kind of “blanket fort” in your own group? I assume you’re keeping an eye out in case the rot spreads to you, but as long as your area really is stable, I would lean into that and get what boost I could from the situation. Are your teammates feeling the same way?

      1. Eva*

        Honestly I kind of want one of my direct teammates to leave lol. She’s lazy, super entitled but knows how to show off to management. I could ask my other teammate, who I do like.

        1. Nesprin*

          Woof- you’ve seen a ton of turnover, a lot of disruption and half your working group is not great? You should dust off that resume.

    8. JumpAround*

      Three questions to ask yourself.

      Am I happy with my company culture?
      Am I happy with my work?
      Am I supported by my management?

      If the answer to any of those is no you need to take a look at the impact this is having on you overall and if you want to stay on. If the answer to all three is yes, then you should have a talk with your manager about where you’re at and see if there is anything else that you should know that you can see affecting those answers down the line. This may be temporary and it sucks but I suggest chocolate chip cookies in that case.

      1. Mabelline*

        These are great questions to keep on hand for any job when things start feeling “off.” Really helpful to identify what area is going wrong, how I feel about it, and easier to identify possible courses of action from that point.

    9. Lattes are for lovers*

      I could have written this letter, as your situation mirrors mine to a T.

      Personally, I am primarily looking at roles outside of the company. I have been job hunting since the beginning of this year. I had an offer but didn’t take it for a variety of reasons. I hesitate to look for internal roles because my role is deemed essential and I dont believe management would let take another role internally. I dont really care for the company culture or the work either, which is another reason i am looking to leave.

      If more senior and long-term staff continue to leave, especially if they arent leaving to take another role, be warned. My company has had so many people leave this year without another job lined up because its just that dysfunctional and the workload is unsustainable.

    10. OrdinaryJoe*

      One thing I haven’t seen anyone else mention so I thought I would … IF you were laid off, what do you think your support package would look like? Two weeks? Six months w/medical? There can be a huge range … your employee handbook might spell it out for you. Don’t forget about cashed in vacation time and maybe sick time. The one time I was laid off, the package was fantastic, I was at my new job within a month, and I ended up with a very nice financial windfall. The employees who quit before the lay-offs got nothing.

      Maybe update your resume, keep your eyes out for anything really interesting, use whatever time won’t be paid out (in my case, sick time) and horde what will be paid out (vacation) and maybe ride it to the end.

    11. BEC*

      Do you have a sense of what the root of your concern is? It usually helps me to be able to verbalize exactly what I’m worried about, which transforms it from this amorphous looming blob of anxiety into a specific concern that can be laid down and seen clearly and a plan made.

      Some prompt questions if they’re helpful to help you pull it out:

      What emotion do you have?
      What need is not being met?

      What are you concerned about?
      What’s the worst thing about that?
      If that happens, do you have a plan to handle it?

      Needs and emotions words:

      Needs: https://www.cnvc.org/sites/default/files/2018-10/CNVC-needs-inventory.pdf

      Feelings when your needs are and are not being met: https://www.cnvc.org/sites/default/files/feelings_inventory_0.pdf

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      I totally get your panic, but there’s another way to look at it. Are you building your resume? Do you like your job? Do you like your boss? Are you fairly compensated? If yes, then you’re OK. Sure, the current situation may be a s***show, but where there is a s**show, there is opportunity. Just because many people are quitting doesn’t mean you have to as well. Make sure you look at things through the “what is good for YOU lens,” don’t just run off the cliff with the lemmings. Not saying that leaving might not be the best thing, but only you can answer that without taking into consideration anyone else.

  2. Melanie Cavill*

    Can anyone advise on the etiquette regarding informing my boss that I’ve applied for an internal posting in a different department? Timeline-wise, there’s currently nothing to tell; I’ve been advised I won’t hear about next steps (if any) until the posting closes in August. If I get an interview, should I disclose it? We get along well and I don’t believe they’ll be unsupportive, and I don’t want them caught by surprised; but I also don’t want to create a situation where they believe I’m itching to leave. (I kind of am, but you don’t want your boss to know that!)

    1. Annony*

      Since it is internal, you should probably tell your boss sooner rather than later. Although you won’t hear anything until the posting closes, they may reach out to him earlier. Depending on the policy at your company, they may need to talk to him before even offering you an interview.

    2. Coelura*

      Talk to your recruiter. It’s important to know when the recruiter or hiring manager will reach out to your current manager – you’ll want to get in front of that & be the one to tell your current manager.

    3. Sandwiches*

      I was in a similar situation (with a boss that had arrived just a few months earlier), and since we were still WFH full-time at the time, I scheduled a quick phone meeting with her before I applied. I let her know which department I was applying with and why, and that this specific position seemed interesting to me. I think I told her outright that I’m not unhappy or trying to leave, I just felt like this specific job was suited to my skills. She was very understanding about it and encouraged me to apply!

    4. Katie*

      Honestly, if it’s an internal role, I would be up front. Heck, part of the internal application process is agreeing to tell your current manager. A good manager is also helping with your career (internally) as well.

    5. Everything Bagel*

      You should check with HR to see what your company policy is. I once applied for an internal position and even asked the hiring manager about this, who misinformed me that I would have to tell my current manager once I am chosen for the job. She was wrong. I was supposed to tell my manager before I to apply for an internal job. The company actually had rules about this. Don’t let your manager find out the wrong way that you’re looking to leave. Ask HR what the rules are.

      1. Ancient Llama*

        This ^^^ know your actual co rule.
        If you to have to say, think about why you are looking to leave and if because new job does more X or you don’t think is growth/promo opportunity in your role, that can make convo with current boss an opportunity. Maybe to advocate that if you don’t move, is there things in current role that could change to give you some X or a different way to grow.

    6. Lolli*

      Don’t say anything until you accept the offer, just like an external job. Your boss may find out, from the hiring manager, if you are the final candidate. That is how it works at my job. But if your boss is offended you didn’t tell them earlier, that is not really your problem. You need to protect your current job until your have a new one. People move within an organization all the time. It is perfectly normal for you to keep mum about your job search.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        This seems to be the outlier here. At my company, my manager would have some say in whether I change departments and could actually delay or block it completely. Of course, that would be stupid because then I would just be looking to get out of the company, but that’s how it works here.

        1. Fran Fine*

          That’s how it’s worked at every company I’ve ever worked for as well (four companies in the last 12 years).

          OP, please just ask your HR department what the procedure is for this before you do anything else. They’re going to be the people best positioned to guide you through your particular company’s processes, not a bunch of strangers on the internet giving conflicting advice. If you don’t have an HR department, inquire with another high-level person first and then speak directly to your manager as a heads up.

          1. Melanie Cavill*

            Yeah, after reading the mix of responses, I shot an email off to HR. I’m leaning heavily toward telling my team lead when I see her next, but it never occurred to me that a company might require that sort of disclosure ahead of the application. Fortunately, there’s nothing explicitly saying as much in my company’s guidelines! But better safe than sorry.

            1. Fran Fine*

              Yes, exactly! You definitely don’t want to ruffle any feathers unnecessarily right now. Good luck!

      2. Loulou*

        This is strange advice — it’s not up to you at many organizations, where it’s a requirement to tell your manager. Ignoring that requirement would be the opposite of protecting your current job until you have a new one!

    7. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      My company requires I tell my manager when I get an interview, not when I apply. But I did let her know in general that I was looking before I started applying.

    8. KrazyKat44*

      I just put in 3 internal applications myself. At my company you have to tell your manager before you apply to any internal jobs, so check with your company policy. If you have to or just want to, I went with a direct approach “I saw the open position for ‘training’ and decided to throw my hat in the ring.” or ” I wanted to let you know I’m going to apply to the open position in ‘operations’.

    9. Pool Lounger*

      Depends on company culture. At my partner’s huge company you tell your boss when you apply. The hiring managers talk to peopkes’ bosses as part of the application.

    10. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      As well as HR, it’s worth thinking about the size of your organization and how much interaction managers have with other departments. I was once at an organization with 250-300 people and it took me a long time to realize that the hiring manager would ALWAYS informally check in with my current manager because everyone knew each other and the roles were all similar enough that the manager’s thoughts were relevant.

      As a manager myself now, I can’t imagine not asking an internal candidate’s current supervisor how they find working with that person, both in terms of concrete skills and interpersonal ones. This kind of thing is often happening whether there are policies in place or not, and you don’t want your current manager to find out from someone other than you if you have an opportunity to control the narrative from the start.

    11. Sapphire*

      At my company and every one I have ever worked for, the culture has been to inform your manager any time you are considering applying for an internal transfer. I recently was contacted by another department leader telling me one of my direct reports reached out to him to express interest in a position on that team and asked me if I had been informed. I hadn’t been told. The hiring manager for the internal role wasn’t pleased that the candidate hadn’t cleared it with his own manager first and ultimately did not get the role.

  3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    I recently started a new job that was a huge salary increase from my previous position (over 60%) and I was super worried that because of the increase I would struggle and be in over my head. So far all my fears have been eliminated. While I know things will get more challenging as I get into more advanced projects, my first task is a highly visible project that everyone that reports to my grand-boss will see. So far people couldn’t be more thrilled with it.

    I’ve seen a lot of people lately post they got new jobs with large increases, and I just want to assure anyone who may be having imposter syndrome or feeling nervous heading into a new role, that a large increase doesn’t mean your work will be 60% more difficult. Most jobs can be learned and what you don’t know today, you’ll know tomorrow.

    1. JelloStapler*

      …and also keep in mind that you were very likely underpaid in your previous job due to salary compression for longer tenured employees. it could just be that you are now being paid what you’re worth.

    2. you deserve a raise*

      co-signing this! I “only” got a 20% increase, but going from corporate to non-profit (I was expecting to take a cut) – my new title also had “senior” in the title so I had small twinges of panic that the role would be much more difficult, more stressful, or that the managers would expect more knowledge than I was coming in with. The opposite was true – I was just underpaid in the corporate role.

    3. cowwomaninhiding*

      Congratulations on your new job! Thank you for this. I also am changing jobs and feeling that imposter syndrome. Big increase about 24%. Feeling nervous as I finish out my notice period. New job wanted me to start sooner, but I want to leave on good terms.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        Thank you, I’m starting a new job next week and have been totally feeling this. I think some of it is that it’s my first post pandemic job bonus imposter syndrome, too. I’ve been working from home with 1x/week in office and moving to a hybrid role with 3x/week with people I haven’t met in person yet, so feeling a bit awkward about that, too. All my interview meetings were virtual.

    4. tiredlibrarian*

      congratulations! But honestly I’m mostly posting ’cause I LOVE your name! :D

  4. Stop wiggling the mouse*

    I’m in a culture shift. I git a new job a few months ago, and it’s wonderful. But I’m having trouble with an unexpected change, that being that I’m not being micromanaged. I don’t know how to let go of the mouse wiggling to keep my status light green. Nobody seems to notice or care or comment, but I can’t seem to let go. Any tips?

    1. Heather*

      Just give it time! I don’t think you’ll need to pro-actively do anything, you’ll just naturally settle in.

      I also went from a role where I felt like I needed to look busy, to one where all I need to do is get my work done. Old habits die hard but you eventually just get used to it.

    2. Beth*

      It can be massively disorientating!

      If you have any major projects or key tasks that you can dive into at this time, something that you would naturally be very focussed on doing, that really helped me. After a few weeks in which I’d spent hours every day free to actually FOCUS on the work I was doing, without stupid interruptions and pointless interference, it still felt new and amazing but was no longer so new it was raw. I had the extra benefits that it was work I enjoyed, I got great satisfaction out of losing myself in it, I did a great job of it, and it was appreciated in my new work environment.

    3. Saraquill*

      Would bringing a fidget toy to work help? You can play with that when you feel the urge to wiggle your mouse. A reasonable office shouldn’t get annoyed at someone taking thirty second to venting energy.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        I was gonna suggest something similar! I dunno if it would help with any mental baggage over the feeling you should be doing something, but if it’s just the urge to be active physically, then keeping your hands busy might help.

    4. Gnome*

      Personally, I suggest scheduling bathroom breaks a couple times a day for a few minutes longer than you need. Not that you need to, or to advertise them on your calendar or anything (and certainly go other times if you need to!), but it will enforce that it’s normal to step away from your screen (particularly if you are remote) in a way that’s natural and won’t make it awkward if someone says something. Like if someone says, oh I tried to call you a few minutes ago, you’d just say “I was in the restroom” which is, of course, a totally normal thing that happens. Basically, just find a way to give yourself permission to breathe :)

    5. Miette*

      Have you tried physically moving the mouse away when you’re not actively using it? If it’s not right at-hand, you may be less likely to keep reaching for it.

      1. All Monkeys are French*

        Wait, is this a literal thing? Like the team sees if you’re active when your mouse is physically moving? (I clearly don’t have this kind of job.)
        I was taking this metaphorically, like inserting yourself into conversations to talk about work you’re doing when no one asked.

        1. Camellia*

          My job uses Teams and yes, there is a status circle that is green, but turns yellow when your mouse has not been moved in a few minutes. It turns red when you are on a call or in a (Teams) meeting. So everyone that uses Teams can see your “status” at any given time.

        2. Still working*

          We have “Busy” light that changes color depending on how “active” our computer is. It’s controlled by Teams.

    6. Junior Dev*

      Don’t do it to the point of stressing yourself out but can you think of some goals you have at work and write a little about them each day, to just be accountable to yourself? Like start each day with 5 minutes of writing what you mean to get done and end it with 5-10 minutes of writing what you did well, are struggling with, and want to do tomorrow. Maybe make at least one of the goals something about self-care and boundaries, like “turn off laptop by 5:15” or “take a full hour for lunch” or something.

    7. BEC*

      How about scheduling appointments with yourself on your calendar for the blocks of work things you’re working on?

      It puts your status to ‘busy’ and offers you (and anyone who might be looking at your calendar) a visual reminder of everything you ARE working on, which can be reassuring to you that you aren’t slacking.

    8. Purple Penguin*

      I know it’s not about the mouse. I’m completely not micromanaged and I still go to effort to keep my computer from going dark or marking me as “away”. It’s not about thinking somebody will suspect I’m farting around on my phone checking recipes for dinner tonight (I am!) it’s more about thinking that if somebody had a question for me but saw my Teams light wasn’t green they might not ask it. I’d like to think that it’s about actual availability (internal motivation) and not the appearance of activity (external micromanagey motivation) even though the outcome is the same. Part of it for me is also declaring in my head when I’m taking a break (15 minutes till the next meeting, what’s for dinner tonight) and being ok with that, only feeling guilty when I catch myself goofing off when I haven’t declared a break.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Maybe you could channel that mouse wiggle into time-tracking before anyone starts asking about metrics. You’d be able to create a baseline to look at in a few months if/when you’re feeling down on yourself.
      “Sure this project is rough but look at that — it’s on top of grooming twice as many llamas as I used to be able to do in a day!”

  5. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    My workload has more than doubled and my job description radically altered since I started in December 2021, and the talking bobbleheads at the top have announced that due to falling profits from the pandemic, there won’t be any annual raises this year.

    This after they paid off the local government into changing the name of the street we’re located on to that of the company founder (who was from and lived in another country, died there many years ago, will never care, and no one locally can pronounce or spell the new street name, causing all kinds of havoc with deliveries and directions. Also, the other businesses on this newly renamed street are understandably PISSED.)

    Now, instead of raises or improved work conditions, they’re making everyone fill out surveys about whether we’d rather have company baseball game days or family movie nights. (Unfortunately for them, they put a “leave your suggestions here” blank box in the form. You can guess the “creative” responses people are leaving.)

    And they wonder why turnover is so high and morale so low.

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      (Street name went from the equivalent of Fox Road to Whackadingdang Blunderbuss-Xptemanr Way. Not only is it a name most people in this part of the world have never encountered in their entire lives, it’s ridiculously long for a street name. Normally I’m all for bumping people out of their cultural comfort zones. But this name change was done without regard for how it would affect everyone else on the street, and everyone knows it happened because the terrible current president is trying to curry favor with the founder’s son-and-global-CEO so he won’t get canned for running the company into the ground in his short time here.)

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        I know it wasn’t what you intended, but “Whackadingdang Blunderbuss-Xptemanr Way” made me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. So thank you for that bit of Friday cheer.

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          Your comment made me realize that Whackadingdang Blunderbuss-Xptemanr Way sounds like the secret long-lost brother of Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way in the infamous My Immortal fanfiction, and now I’m laughing. XD

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ha my kids and I love that fanfic — we still say we’re “deprezzed and crying tears of blood” whenever something minorly inconveniences us.

      2. Gnome*

        Obviously it is unpronounceable… It needs a nickname. I propose Brown-nose Boulevard

    2. Choggy*

      Sounds like a case of toxic positivity, Rome may be burning but at least we can roast marshmallows!

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        That’s not a bad idea! I’ve got all the fixins–I’m gonna make s’mores tonight to kick off my weekend!

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            XD I don’t know where I learned it, but may it serve you as well as it has me!

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Isn’t it astonishing the crap executives are willing to spend gobs of money on.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Raises? Nah, not vital.

        Safer working conditions in the shops? Nah, it’s fiiiiiiine, we only have to get an ambulance out here every few weeks.

        Suck up to the CEO by renaming a street in a country he doesn’t live in after his deceased dad? *WHIPS OUT CHECKBOOK*

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Safer working conditions in the shops? Nah, it’s fiiiiiiine, we only have to get an ambulance out here every few weeks.

          O.o

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            I’m pretty sure the company isn’t saving anything by failing to improve safe working conditions, when you think abut how much they’ve had to pay out in lawsuits and settlements….

    4. SyFyGeek*

      Except for the founder being dead, I thought that either I had written this, or someone in my company had.
      My workload doubled, my boss recognized it, and said he’d fight for me to get a “significant raise”. I got 1.5%.

      And the road the city has renamed has the residents up in arms- they’ve lived their 20+ years and now have a street name they can’t pronounce.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Oh my god, there are TWO of these terrible situations out there right now? Ineffective bosses and raise freezes are a dime a dozen, but unwanted street name changes are a special level of awful. You’re disrupting the lives/businesses of so many uninvolved people!

        I only work here because it’s close enough to home I can carpool. As soon as I have my own vehicle (probably not “soon” at all given what the pandemic has done to auto prices :/), I am OUT of here the minute I find something else. Or if I get the resources to launch my side business and make it my main hustle.

      2. DataGirl*

        Same here! The only difference is the renamed road is pronounceable.

        Colleagues and I have decided the Execs are following the used car sales model- slap a shiny new coat of paint on the car but leave the cracked engine and blown gaskets in place, just don’t tell the buyer what is under the hood.

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          This is a VERY apt analogy. I’m amazed how long crooked employers get away with it. The company I’m at keeps on trucking due to being the only manufacturer in the world of specific transportation equipment parts. But even if it weren’t a vital service, I’m pretty sure the rich dudes at the top would keep schmoozing their way out of every bit of trouble they cause for themselves through their mismanaging of the company.

    5. JelloStapler*

      UGH we get “give us ideas about staff retention but don’t talk about salary”… when everyone knows we are hugely underpaid and overworked.

      Nope, family night at the Zoo won’t work for me.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Maybe Zoo night would work for me if the execs were on the menu for the large carnivore enclosures….(Okay, so I’m not THAT vindictive. But I also wouldn’t go to the funerals.)

  6. Annie*

    Hi all, how bad do you think it is to have a covid-positive employee come into the office after hours? Pretty bad, right? I am HR for a very small company. We had an employee test positive on Wednesday and he is doing a combination of sick time and work from home. But we do physical work with machines, so there are some jobs that we can’t really do without him onsite and we have deadlines. I didn’t realize they had arranged to have him come in after hours to do a job. The next day, employees were upset and we had someone go home sick because they were afraid of being exposed. I put a stop to it and told the positive employee not to come in and we are figuring out how to get all the work done. I don’t think surface transmission is very common and the positive employee masked and cleaned surfaces. But I’m wondering if I should apologize to the employee who went home sick. Everyone else claimed to be okay with it, though. So maybe it’s not the end of the world?

    1. CTT*

      I think the real issue is that this employee is coming in after hours instead of just recuperating. But if they’re in an empty room and there won’t be anyone else there for hours, the health risk is most likely minimal.

      1. ThatGirl*

        The risk is minimal, but the worker should be at home recuperating, not feeling forced to work. This whole American work ethic thing is a scam. The better rest you get, the sooner you recover.

      2. Notfunny.*

        The health risk to others is most likely minimal, do we know what the health risk is for this individual?

        1. CTT*

          Yeah, I meant the risk to others is minimal, but there is a risk that this drags out the recovery for the employee.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Is the employee actually experiencing symptoms of illness, though? Plenty of people test positive and never have any symptoms at all, or only have minimal symptoms that resolve long before they stop testing positive. Recuperating isn’t an issue if there’s nothing to recuperate from.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Assuming no one else was having to be with him when he came in or was there voluntarily and with appropriate PPE then the risk to others is minimal – they are probaby at far higher risk going into a shop, or passing people on the street.

      If the worker feels well enough and is willing to come in then fine, but if they were being put under pressure to come even though they were ill then that, rahter than the others in the office, is the issue that is of concern.

      I do know that it’s possible to test positive without feeling unwell, or feeling no worse than with a mild cold, so I don’t think his working while poisitive is automatically a bad thing, but it is very much a ase of whether heis genuinely OK with that or felt pressured.

      It sounds as though soem cross-training as soon as he is back would be sensobleso that you don’t grind to a halt if he is aunvailable. What would the firm have done had he been hospitalised? Or found a new job?

    3. MI Dawn*

      I work from home, so take this with a grain of salt. In late May, I tested positive for Covid, although the people I’d been with for several days previously never did (we are all vaccinated and double boosted). To be honest, I never felt sick. The worst I felt was “is this allergies, a cold, or covid? I can’t tell.” So I could have easily gone into work if I had to. If I absolutely needed to go in, I would have done the same the coworker did – remained masked, clean surfaces, and made sure the ventilation systems were functioning at top priority.

      I know it’s not ideal, but sometimes it does have to happen. The best thing would definitely cross-train others or hire additional people so you don’t have to ask sick people (any illness!) to come in to work.

    4. Beth*

      + eleventy billion!

      I just had a fine moment: my boss came in yesterday with what he called a cold. This morning, he called to say he was feeling worse and had gone back to bed, but maybe he’d be in later. I was actually able to tell my boss, in so many words, “If you feel sick, STAY HOME.”

      I’m still left hoping it really is just a cold, but it did feel very satisfying to make the point.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yes!!

        I am all for this, having gotten very, very sick repeatedly at jobs because people came in sick and spread it all though the open plan office (pre-covid.) Now I only work remote, both because of immune compromised housemates and the realization that people haven’t changed their inconsiderate behavior in spite of a deadly pandemic!

        Seriously, good on you!!

    5. Ginger Pet Lady*

      It’s BAD. For multiple reasons:
      1. Making a sick person work instead of resting and recuperating. And not just work, but also CLEAN AND SANITIZE afterward?
      2. Potential for transmission as it can linger in the air for a while. It’s low, but it is possible.
      3. Working on machinery alone in the shop. If there’s a problem, and employee gets hurt, who is there to help?
      4. Your whole business depends on ONE person to do this work? That’s not great. If they quit tomorrow, you’d be screwed. If they get hit by a bus, you’d be screwed. If they get disabled by long Covid because you made them work instead of rest, you’re screwed.
      Yes, apologize to the employee who went home sick. But also apologize to the person who was forced to come in and work nights while sick with Covid.
      And pray they don’t quit over it. I might very well have quit on the spot if I was told I had to come work at night while sick with Covid!
      What the hell is wrong with employers?

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Seriously. If I was sick and my employer told me I had to come in to do stuff anyway I might rage quit on the spot. If my employer wants me to chose between my job and my health, my health will win every damned time!! I have quit over health matters before and I would do it again.

        Jobs come and go, but your health is with you always.

      2. Nesprin*

        Oh man I missed the “working with machinery” alone element of this- this is really really not right.

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          It’s absolutely not! So dangerous. Accidents can happen at any time.

          Not exactly the same, but we recently had someone tragically die in a local gym because they were working out with heavy weights alone at night (full members have 24-hour access even when workers aren’t on-site) and had an accident. Unfortunately they weren’t found for at least an hour when the next person came in to work out overnight.

    6. Twisted Lion*

      Covid aside, its not great that your company (albeit small) has a single point of failure where it relies on one person. I think maybe this is an opportunity to say hey we need other people to be trained on this.

    7. njcovid*

      As with all anecdata, YMMV. I am fully vaccinated with 2 booster shots , sick with Covid this week. 103° fever, deep wracking cough, massive headache, fatigue, difficulty breathing…..Covid can still be a serious illness, it’s not over yet.

      Can we please just stop with the myth of the indispensable, non-executive empoyee? And the nobility of working while sick.

      If your company can’t survive without this person for a few days then you have an unsustainable business model.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        If your company can’t survive without this person for a few days then you have an unsustainable business model.

        This.

        Working while sick is dumb, it risks other employees and risks making the illness worse! Plus there is a higher risk of major errors and omissions.

        Cross train, even in a small shop, and your business won’t go under when the main person gets “hit by a bus” (accident, illness, wins the lottery, etc.)

    8. Nesprin*

      If you can’t figure out how to keep someone with a deadly infectious disease home for 5 days, you have bigger problems. Seriously, why isn’t there a backup?

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Removed a bunch of conflicting information about Covid prevention that I’m not able to sort out or moderate. People looking for info on that should consult public health sources, not take advice from anonymous internet commenters.

  7. Bully Bosses*

    Has anyone had the experience of being repeatedly targeted by bully bosses? This has happened to a family member of mine numerous times across multiple jobs throughout her life. I’ve run into a bully once or twice but nothing like what she’s experienced. If you’ve witnessed or experienced something like this, do you have any insight into why this dynamic was repeated, and how to put a stop to it? I’m not blaming the victim, just trying to understand what may be happening and how she can best address it. 

    1. ImInSpace*

      Personally, I’ve been targeted because I did not do a personal favour for my boss and she took great offence at this. I was a new employee and I left after only 2 months of employment there.

      Throughout my short career (I’m in my 20s) I’ve seen friends and coworkers being specifically targeted by their bosses as they are large underperformers and wanted them gone from their department. Instead of firing them, they created a hostile environment for these employees so they will leave on their own.

      This is what I’ve experienced personally and what I’ve observed.

    2. Jane*

      I know someone like this and it was crushing for her – so hard for her not to think it’s her fault, and I know some acquaintances just didn’t take her problems seriously because who has two psycho bosses in a row? (She does apparently!)

      This is someone who has experienced abuse in an intimate relationship so maybe there’s something there. But also that the second job was something she took from a position of weakness because the first one was so torpedoed. So I think that might be part of it. She is also someone who definitely always believes the best of people and is friends with a wide spectrum of people because she always focuses on the good side, so I think she probably misses red flags.

      1. Bully Bosses*

        “She is also someone who definitely always believes the best of people and is friends with a wide spectrum of people because she always focuses on the good side, so I think she probably misses red flags.”

        That rings true, my family member is the same way.

        1. Mabelline*

          This is a pretty common combination. I have a very good friend who is absolutely the Glinda to my Elphaba and believes so strongly in the good in people that she can’t see it when they’re awful to her until it’s too late. I’m a little more skeptical than is probably healthy, so I try to see people through her rose-colored glasses and she’s working on viewing people through a more guarded and critical lens.
          It’s worth noting that bullies actively look for and target people like this, so it’s possible she’s getting hired into these positions because she gives off a something they read as punching bag vibes. That’s not her fault and it sucks that people read it, but maybe do some practice interviews or something with her to work on projecting confidence and “not gonna put up with your BS” energy.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, I had a lot of problem like this when I was younger until I refined my IDGAF vibe. I was bullied in school, was very socially awkward, and was bullied in several jobs because I had some sort of metaphysical “Kick Me” sign on my back that bullies homed in on. It took years to ditch that sign, and even more years of learning to see the warning signs of toxic workplaces and companies starting to circle the drain. Now I could damn near give courses on it.

            I really recommend reading books like “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” and “The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt” by Robert I. Sutton.

        2. AnonForThis*

          When I encounter someone who has what appears to be terrible luck in bosses or relationships, there’s usually more than just random bad luck going on.

          The combination of bad judgement and inability to stand up for themselves is a bad one – they miss the red flags, or tell themselves a story to explain what’s going on, then when the bully pushes at them, they sit there and take it. Bullies and abusive partners are attracted to this like moths to a light. A subset of this is people who were raised in dysfunctional or abusive environments, and think this is normal, or that they deserve it.

          The other version is, of course, the person who hasn’t actually ended up in a series of bullying jobs, they just are perpetually convinced that everyone is treating them badly and being unfair, and nothing is ever their fault.

    3. Manchmal*

      I don’t have any great insight, but I have a friend who has had similar experiences. Job after job, they report being bullied (with really pretty shocking stories) by bosses and advisors. This person has a history of victimization as a child, and I sometimes wonder whether there isn’t something about them that predators or sociopaths can sniff out, that they can be more easily bullied than others without that background? Of course, I’m not there to witness anything, I just hear what my friend tells me. I believe them, but there could also be that they misinterpret things or react to things in a way that escalates the situation.

      1. Bully Bosses*

        I was wondering this too, she also has a history of being bullied in childhood and in intimate relationships.

        1. Still At It*

          I have not been bullied on the job, but I did have a bully boss once. He targeted two other women, and they both had a tendency to get distraught and tearful. When he tried yelling at me about something ridiculous, I yelled back at him, and he never did it again. I’m not advocating yelling back, just giving the total opposite side of the coin. Another female coworker kept his bullying away with a more professional but nonetheless firm attitude toward him; I never saw her yell, but she did throw her pen across a conference table once when he was being appalling. He never bullied men. So my observation is that how you respond to the first instance of lunacy is what either stops it or makes you a target, and that could very well align with a past of traumatic conflicts of a number of kinds.

          1. Bully Bosses*

            I’m like you, I would yell back. My sense is that she doesn’t push back, just apologizes and tries to be more and more accommodating.

            1. pancakes*

              I suspect that’s what many bullying bosses are looking for on some level, someone who reliably absorbs the impact of having been yelled at, etc., without turning it back on them.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                It is. They home in on the “pleasers” and “apologetics”, also the people who just suck it up and don’t push back. Anyone who is “different” is often taught to be more accommodating of abuse, and bullies home in on that. It can take a long time to get out of being an automatic target in both your personal and professional life after being bullied for over a decade in school.

            2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

              Sounds like “fawning”, a trauma reaction that I’ve only seen talked about recently. Goes along with fight, flight, and freeze. It’s when people appease the bully to try to avoid the blow-ups.

            3. Mac*

              This sounds so much like my own experience. I also have a history of childhood and intimate partner abuse (including a partner who assaulted me while I was at work, so I’m sure that adds a whole other layer). In work settings when someone yells at me, I just freeze. And when it’s more subtle bullying that doesn’t involve loudness, I absolutely go into fawning mode.
              Only once do I remember working up the nerve to ask a manager not to yell at me, and that was only because we had otherwise up til then had a really positive relationship. Even so, it took me a good hour to work up the courage, and my voice was SHAKING with terror.
              I don’t have much concrete advice for you other than keep validating for her that she is right to be upset by this treatment and that she doesn’t deserve it. And of course encourage her to seek as much mental health support (therapy and survivor support groups have both been incredibly helpful for me) as she is able to access. Sending warm wishes to you both.

          2. Robin Ellacott*

            I agree, they try it once and either back down or keep going based on the reaction they get. That’s been my observation of the few bullies I’ve worked with over the years.

            Which sucks, because it’s hard to regulate your reaction when someone does something startling and upsetting. Maybe if your family member could practice an all-purpose, easy reaction phrase it might be easier to react assertively than when they’re also trying to fight historical demons in the moment.

      2. Beth*

        I have seen something along those lines: friends who, if anyone is going to be bullied in any environment, it’s them. Bullies and sociopaths are really, really good at identifying prey.

        I also had years of being a primo bully target, which gradually decreased mostly due to therapy; apparently my new sense of self also included not radiating “kick me” vibes any more. (Apparently, my vibe is now “Mess with me and I will rip off your arm and beat you to death with the wet end.” The change took a long time.)

        But it’s a huge task to suggest therapy or assertiveness training without coming across as victim-blaming. It’s not the victim’s fault! And yet: there may be some things that some chronic victims can do to make themselves less vulnerable.

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

          I think your therapy experience is key. Bullies do very subtle things to test the water to find victims; some people are aware of those subtle tests and the ones that push back, the bully tends to leave alone for the most part because at their root, a bully is a coward; the ones that don’t push back or don’t see the signs, the bully ramps up their bullying. Some of the testing for victims might actually start off looking like overtures of friendship because they prey on the fears and insecurities of the victim — “you’re really a very kind person” or “I trust you not to say anything”. Bullies are very good at picking up on fears and insecurities.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The rule of three applies here. If we see something three times we have a pattern and it is okay to address the pattern. This makes sense. Once is a mistake, twice is a heads up, third time is deliberate.

            It’s very easy to believe our words mean nothing, so we don’t try. “Bob, you have bumped into me in the hallway several times. Please be more careful not to bump me.” “Cathy, this is the third time you hung up on me and I wasn’t finished telling everything that the boss said. Please don’t hang up on me again.”

            Some folks will argue don’t use the word “please”. There’s merit to that. But my preference is the first time I say something, I do use “please”. This lays the ground work for a stronger second statement if I need to say something again. I do not have to use please the first time, and I probably won’t the second time.

            Rule of three. See something three times that is not a coincidence but rather a pattern.

            There are times where something is so over the top that even a second instance is not necessary. It’s okay to say something right away. Or DO something, such as quit. I had a boss raise his hand to strike a cohort. Weeks later when he raised his hand to me, I walked off immediately. Hitting is never okay.

        2. Bully Bosses*

          Was there something specific that you worked on in therapy that you found most helpful? Or just generally becoming healthier?

          1. Migraine Month*

            I have always found the exercises in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy very helpful.

            Personally, I was struggling to ask former professors write me letters of recommendation for grad school, because I couldn’t get over how inconvenient it would be for them. I was given a huge list of tasks that mildly inconvenienced other people. For example, “Ask a salesperson to check if there is more of a product in the back” or “Ask someone if they can make change for a $5.” After a few weeks of doing the exercises, I was able to ask the professors for letters of recommendation (and I started telling waitstaff when they brought the wrong dish instead of just eating it).

            I’m certain there are similar exercises for dealing with bullying behavior, one small building block at a time.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Awesome. I may have to check that out, because I’m always reticent about asking for help.

          2. smeep248*

            I have gotten better about setting boundaries and not being a doormat by reading up on Codependency. It has helped me a ton in learning why I did what I did, and how to stop doing it.

      3. Johanna Cabal*

        As someone bullied by a parent which led to further victimization by peers in school, this rings uncomfortably true.

        I haven’t really had a true bully boss but I have definitely put up with toxicity of the top-down type at jobs. Sometimes I do wish I had spoken up more at my first job out of college but they were paying for my master’s and I feared losing that if I were fired.

        It’s also hard because not having experience standing up for myself, I have trouble being assertive without coming across too strong. I just haven’t had good models for assertiveness. Aggressiveness, definitely from my bully parent, but not assertiveness.

      4. OhGee*

        I’ve also wondered if people who experience this are really identified as vulnerable by bullies/abusers. I have a friend who has experienced so much bullying in various workplaces and also comes from an abusive family. I do not have any evidence to support the possiblity that there’s a connection but I wonder if there have been any scientific studies on this phenomenon.

      5. gmg22*

        I’ve had some experiences like this both in childhood (I was the nerdy kid with the glasses in elementary school in the 1980s) and then in the workplace and elsewhere as an adult — and sometimes I almost get the sense, in situations where someone is being pushy or bullying-adjacent with me, that they can “smell my fear.”

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I swear they home in on something. It’s like walking in a bad neighborhood at night. Some people never get messed with, some people always get messed with. Human predators have a nose for prey.

      6. Falling Diphthong*

        In a school/camp/scouts/etc setting, I think there is a divide–some people get unlucky and in one of those places they are bullied, while the others are all fine. Other people are bullied everywhere they go–in which case I think trying to figure out what signals you’re sending to the bullies of the world is the way to go, because changing your location won’t be enough.

      7. Dust Bunny*

        I think they/we must be identfiable.

        I was bullied in elementary and middle school (until we moved to an entirely different state and I got to start over). I was a very timid, un-confident kid.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I was bullied in school in two different states thousands of miles apart. I was nerdy, fat, smart, wore glasses and was socially inept. It didn’t stop until college, then started up again in the workplace until I learned how to push back.

      8. RC Rascal*

        Predators can smell a former victim.

        I was victimized in early childhood by a relative and have struggled with this my entire life. Therapy and quality work experience has helped me minimize it at work but I struggle in my personal life.

        Predators are attracted to me. If I was in a room with 99 other women and one abusive man he would choose me.

        1. Camellia*

          I hear you, see my reply below. There is hope, but healing is hard. Please keep up the struggle; don’t give up!

      9. Camellia*

        This. Bullies and other predators can spot those who are groomed to be victims. This happened to me repeatedly, along with strangers or near-strangers coming up to me/sitting next to me and dumping their own tales of abuse on me, because we “victims” can also spot each other. My first husband even remarked that I had the worst luck with bosses he had ever seen.

        I worked hard for many years to heal myself, and this was exactly how I could tell I was getting better – fewer bullies/predators hiring me and/or engaging with me in other situations, and fewer victims interacting with me.

        How am I doing now? Now no one messes with me.

      10. RagingADHD*

        There is absolutely a correlation between childhood victimization and being targeted by bullies or predators as an adult. Childhood victimization screws up a person’s ability to distinguish those who are trustworthy from those who are dangerous, because the harm is usually perpetrated by someone the child must trust and rely on to survive. They have to trust dangerous people.

        Children also have to normalize the way they are treated in order to survive mentally. So their yellow and red flags are not calibrated correctly. They may grow up to over-react to a harmless situation or under-react to a terrible situation.

        Bullies and predators subtly test a person’s yellow-flag or trust mechanisms early on when meeting them. Someone who gives healthy, subtle resistance back gets filtered out. That could be something as minor as looking puzzled or asking what they meant when they make a weird remark. Or a very minor, casual “no thank you” to an offer. It could be a zinger “joke” that gets a zinger reply. Or just a zinger joke that gets a blank face. For the bully this lack of payoff means the person is a hard target and not worth the trouble. To the person being tested, they will barely notice it happened at all, because they are responding naturally without thinking about it.

        When someone overthinks and over-reacts to these tests, or goes along with them without any resistance at all, the bully will keep testing and escalating until the tests are outright bullying behavior.

        1. AnonForThis*

          Bullies and predators subtly test a person’s yellow-flag or trust mechanisms early on when meeting them.

          It was a part of the interview process for one of my bully bosses. Scheduled a surprise interview in an hour, and implied I wouldn’t be considered for the job if I couldn’t make it. Repeated this again for the second interview. I’ve learned a lot since then about standing up for myself.

    4. Bullied employee*

      I put up with a bully boss for way longer than a normal person would, and spent a little time with a boss who wasn’t exactly a bully, but had an unpleasantly authoritarian management style. I’ve spent a long time wondering why, and I think it goes back to my not exactly abusive, but somewhat harsh upbringing. When I interviewed with my first boss, they just gave me a familiar, comfortable vibe that I think must have reminded me of my parents. Your family member should probably head to therapy.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, yep, yep.
        Adding I made excuses for them for their bad behavior. Having a bad day, or dog died or big boss is nasty.
        There’s a million excuses. I had to stop rationalizing it all away because the truth is that if *I* said or behaved that way I’d get called out for it.

    5. Maggie*

      Document everything. I had this problem with a boss, who insisted on giving me all criticism in person, and demanded that I bring all issues to them in person. I started sending follow-up emails after these meetings, just so I could have a documented timeline of the events. Something like “Just to confirm that we’re on the same page, you’d like me to start coming in at 8am every morning instead of 10 as I’ve previously been scheduled, starting immediately. Correct?”
      Or, like we saw with James Comey and Trump, write down notes of every interaction where you felt bullied, the time, context, as well as anyone else who can corroborate your story.
      Keep that CV and LinkedIn profile up to date too, it doesn’t hurt to keep your options open.

    6. Gnome*

      I’ve seen it happen a couple times. In one case, the person is so focused on the work, they don’t look at management and really probe that in interviews.

      In another, well, it’s a relative who can’t get along with anyone and is highly toxic and causes drama they have No IDEA they are causing… But if course nobody tries telling them about that more than once. For them, they will actually get feedback like “next time please use green ink” and take it as a personal affront.

      I’ve seen bosses really don’t like people who they view as a threat, so really competent people get targeted. Others will only target those who disagree with them (in some cases very mildly, like “I wonder if green ink would show up better”).

      I think to avoid it you have to try and learn about the manager beforehand if at all possible. Especially if you can speak to folks they used to manage. Also, it can be worthwhile to keep your head down the first few weeks and try and find out if there’s anything the boss is particular about, watch how they interact with others, etc. As much as possible early on.

      1. Gnome*

        With the relative of mine, I didn’t realize how bad it was until they snapped at me for asking the wrong question and I got vitriolic voicemail starting with a f-bomb and descending from there. That’s when the lightbulb clicked that all their “bully bosses” and coworkers were… Probably not that bad. I had really strong ideas about it before, but assumed I must be missing context somehow. Nope! Turns out Relative just can’t be anything other than perfect.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      I haven’t had that experience, but I can think of a number of possibilities.

      One is that it’s related to the specific field she’s in. There are roles that seem to attract particular personality types and there are also fields where management may not be supported or not be trained well and therefore people may be more likely to fall into bullying behaviours to get things done.

      It’s also possible she may be missing red flags and accepting jobs that others would be wary of, for examples jobs with a very high turnover of staff.

      Another possibility is if her job is in any way adjacent to or lower status/lower paid than her coworkers, for example if she’s a member of the cleaning staff in an office or a receptionist say for a medical centre. Bullies may pick on somebody in a role like that as they may feel those people are less likely to be listened to, that the other members of staff will support the person more “like them” and that a person on lower pay might have more to lose by speaking up.

      Another is…is your friend a member of any minority groups? Certain people like the neurodivergent, those with certain mental illnesses, people who are transgender, etc are more likely to be bullied for a whole number of reasons.

      I have my doubts about this one, but reading what ImInSpace wrote made me think another possibility is if your friend is considered to be “difficult,” for example, if she is somebody who stands up for her rights or who isn’t willing to go along with things like cutting corners.

      Of course, conversely, if she is very easy-going, some bullies might see her as an easy target (so yeah, there is no way of ensuring one avoids bullying).

      None of these may be the reason, but just some possibilities in case any resonates.

    8. Anon in IL*

      If she isn’t already, maybe suggest she read AAM regularly. Over time it can really help to understand workplace interactions, including bulllying.

    9. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      In my previous career, I was bullied by multiple people (supervisors, co-workers, mobbing) at multiple organizations in the same field over a 20-year period. It tanked my mental health, affected my physical health, and turned me into a person no one wanted to hang around because of my perpetual “drama” – which only further isolated me. Despite my best efforts, I internalized a lot of negative shit, and it changed my behavior and my impression of myself professionally and as a human being. I thought, maybe I really am just a shitty person and employee and I’ve deserved all of this . . .

      Then I changed careers, and I felt like freaking Dorothy stepping out of sepia destruction into Technicolor OZ. I have had two of the absolutely most wonderful managers and teams in a row, and I can’t even believe how different work life is when people are supportive, kind, professionals and when people actually like all the skills and qualities you bring to the table instead of being threatened. I’m still unlearning/unworking a lot of damage, but this has been hugely validating of my sanity, and proof that work really doesn’t have to be endless battles in Thunderdome.

      Having said that: Are there things I could have done differently in those environments or in my career? For sure! No one is perfect. But being bullied at work really changes you, especially if it goes on too long and/or it reoccurs across jobs. It’s abuse, and it’s really hard to end that cycle the longer it goes on. And all of this is harder if you already have a background of trauma. There are things I’m not proud of, but I also know I was doing my best to survive.

      How to break the cycle: Get therapy. Take a good, hard look at your work history and professional goals (and your life goals in general), and make some decisions about what you need to change. Develop new skills. Take care of yourself. Find healthy support. Read Ask A Manager and take Alison’s advice (seriously, this site helped me break my cycle). Leave abusive jobs sooner rather than later. Remember that nobody deserves abuse, period. And keep your chin up!

    10. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      I have seen this play out a time or two and it is PAINFUL. I had a coworker who is about the sweetest person alive and also an absolute doormat. On the plus side, she always jumped in to help. On the minus side, she was jumping in to “help” when it really, really wasn’t necessary for her to do that. And yup, the bullies see that and it becomes a game, getting her to jump, watching her get flustered when it’s never high enough. *Paying for their lunch, repeatedly, and never having the guts to ask to be reimbursed.* I mean… I said something, repeatedly, and then I started to fear I was bullying her into standing up to the bullies! I was bullied as a kid and I am pretty much bully-proof as a result. Other people, it takes them the opposite way. But the bullied person has to be willing to stand up for themselves. Absent that, there’s no hope. My coworker could “see the good” in literally anyone and it is NOT a strength.

      1. BEC*

        “Seeing the good” is totally fine to do, but it HAS to be combined with wisdom when it comes to taking any action (or not taking action) about that person.

        I can look at the inner goodness in your soul all day, but no, you cannot borrow $50, and no you cannot drop your kids off at my house just this once, and no you may absolutely not move in till you get back on your feet.

        There are people I’d bend over backwards for and others I wouldn’t – it’s about my own boundaries.

    11. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

      I know you didn’t remotely intend to victim blame, but I think this is dangerous territory – wondering if being bullied is somehow because of the character traits of the person getting bullied.
      The first time I was bullied as an adult (the only person on the team targeted), a colleague of mine vaguely speculated that it was something about *me* that attracted the bullying. I felt insulted. Years later, he and others all ended up resigning because they themselves were getting bullied so badly by the person! I am sorry he was bullied but I really hope he realised that there is no “type” who gets bullied.

      Anyone can be bullied.

      1. Blinded By the Gaslight*

        That same situation played out for me, too. A new co-worker started, we became fast work friends, my bully (a senior-level woman in a professional occupation associated with trustworthiness/kindness) started lying to her that I was bad-mouthing her when she wasn’t around, and she succeeded in splitting up the friendship. They then bullied me together and told everyone that *I* was the one with the problem, and everyone just kind of believed them. Until . . . my work friend disagreed with my bully on a project they were doing. Bully did a 180 and started doing all the same shit to my friend that she/they used to do to me. It was completely shocking for my friend, just total relationship whiplash. We watched that dynamic play out over and over with people and Bully at that organization.

        Bullies are AMAZING at protecting themselves from social damage, and deflecting blame onto victims.

      2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        Bullying can happen to nearly anyone.
        But I think the aim was to understand when someone has an ongoing pattern of being bullied over several jobs, relationships, family, etc.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. And as people have been saying, there’s much more to those patterns than the target’s character. Their character seems beside the point, if anything. The people here who’ve talked about “fawning,” for example – that’s not something a victim of bullying does because it’s their character; it’s something that can become a habit and/or defensive mechanism on account of the experiences they’ve endured. A conditioned response. If I understand correctly, it’s a response people who’ve had to become accustomed to trauma will often have to being presented with what appears to be more of the same. I haven’t done the reading on this or had the personal experiences others in the thread have, fwiw, but that makes a lot of sense to me as an idea.

      3. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

        You are right on it can happen to anyone, and you are right on the obnoxiousness of speculating that it must mean the victim is weak or “asking for it” somehow. But there are people who get far, far more than their fair share of bullying in this life, and what I’ve seen is a failure to develop any kind of workable strategy to deal with it (running away counts as a workable strategy in my book). IF that’s the case, the person getting repeatedly bullied needs a red-flag seminar, a boundary kit, and some way to change their habitual responses or it will keep happening.

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

        Anyone can be bullied because everyone has insecurities and fears and that’s what a bully is looking for, and uses as a weapon against a person; so it isn’t a victims fault for being human and they aren’t a particular type, but people have different kinds of fears and different levels of insecurities that can give a bully more of an opening in different contexts.

        For example, for someone who is very afraid of conflict, they will do anything to avoid conflict, and a bully will use that fear to force them into doing favors or giving them money for instance. This is probably what happens to survivors of childhood trauma — they fear a repeat so much, that it puts them in a position of being re-traumatized if there is a bully present. But for someone who doesn’t really fear conflict, they are more likely to get passed by the bully — not always, but usually. Just like in the wild, the predator goes after the most vulnerable first because it’s easy, but will take any victim they can.

      5. RagingADHD*

        Anyone can catch the flu. Nearly everyone has it at some point in their life, and most people have had it more than once.

        If someone is constantly sick over and over again, it’s likely their immune system needs to be checked.

      6. Despachito*

        You are right that this is a dangerous territory – bullying happened very much to me when I was a kid, and although I would be offended even now if someone told me that it was “my fault”, I often wondered what it was that was causing it happened to me repeatedly with different people. (I haven’t found out completely yet).

        I am very glad OP has opened the question here and that there are frank responses. Because sometimes I find that people do not want to get into discussing what might be attracting bullies to this one person because of fear of victim blaming, but I think there is a very subtle difference between “if it’s happening to you repeatedly it’s your fault” (which is horrible) and “if it’s happening to you repeatedly, it definitely ISN’t you fault but possibly there is a pattern in something you are doing and it might help if you understood it better”.

        I am grateful to the commenters that they are able to distinguish this subtle difference, and I hope to find some answers for myself in it.

    12. Anon when talking about a friend*

      I know someone like this as well and in her case, I think it’s a combination of things, similar to what other commenters have said.

      In graduate school, she worked for a couple of different mentors, both of who were bullies. I think in both cases, there was some desperation (because finding mentors to work with can be cutthroat and she was struggling a bit in finding one) and some overlooking of red flags. I’m not totally sure if the overlooking was naivety or deliberate because of the desperation, but my guess is a combination of both. Once out in the working world, she’s worked for bully boss after bully boss. And even the couple who haven’t been bullies have taken advantage of her, made her work unreasonably, and not been supportive. Again, I think red flags were overlooked, often now because of an interest in the work and being used to being overworked and taken advantage of. After a long enough time, that ends up seeming normal. She’s also someone who is willing to speak up for her work and advocate for it, but won’t speak up much for herself. When she describes work situations that have happened and we respond aghastly, she never seems to be willing to put her foot down. She’s always willing to give it a little longer, work a little harder, put up with a little more before it’s bad enough to do something about. But then it ends up a frog-in-boiling-water situation.

      I think the biggest factors for her are low self worth, fear of returning to poverty, and personal value being tied up in her work identity. Those things all make it hard to walk away from a bully. And I do think she ends up looking for jobs with bosses of certain personality types. She certainly doesn’t want to be bullied and doesn’t cause it, but I think feels more comfortable in positions where bosses exhibit certain personality traits. Unfortunately, those personality traits often tend to be accompanied by bullying ones.

      I continue to be a sounding board for her and to vocally support her and criticize the things the bully bosses do. And I make sure to continue to point out that those things are not standard workplace norms and that she deserves better than that. But I’ve also come to accept that she is responsible for the decisions she makes regarding where she works and how long (she’s reached a financial position where she has options), especially after recognizing she’s in a bad situation. The times she’s gone to therapy, it’s helped a lot, so I continue to advocate for that as well.

    13. An Australian In London*

      Tying together multiple comments in this thread:

      It is hard to discuss this without straying into victim-blaming… but yes, there is (sensitive, appropriate) research in this area, which is usually known as “repeat victimisation”.

      Predators test the waters in ways that will tell them if someone holds boundaries or not. This works because the strategies that help survivors survive often involve or even require boundary erosion and can become internalised or habits even when out of the situations they were needed in. Many predators can and do test for these in ways that do not rise to the level of violating social norms and are socially and professionally safe for them to do so. (“Blood in the water” theory.) It need not even be the predator themselves who does this; they may instead be in a position to observe how a potential victim does or does not hold a boundary violation from a third party who is not themselves a predator, just misbehaving.

      The good news is that the tables can be turned: it is possible to provoke revealing responses from predators and badly behaved people with behaviours that also do not violate social norms. A sad example: women in my social circle who date men report deliberately rejecting his first date suggestion of venue or cuisine specifically to see how he handles it. I think the idea is that he is not invested at this point and has little to lose in responding revealingly – and will often “helpfully” show red flags.

      1. Anele*

        Thank you so much for this—I’ve been repeatedly bullied at work, and it did a number on my self esteem. Your comments about testing boundaries is a really good one. After years of therapy and finally finding a healthy work environment, I’ve found that the best way to shut workplace bullies down is to set up boundaries and stick to them. There’s a way to be assertive and confident without being hostile, and shutting bulling behavior down immediately and showing that you don’t tolerate that kind of behavior is imperative.

        I think that people who project confidence and establish these boundaries are much less likely to be bullied, because bullies are often deeply insecure themselves. An insecure bully is going to pick a target they feel superior to, which will often be an insecure person, and/or a person belonging to marginalized communities.

        This whole conversation is enormously important, and I wish that I had known of this when starting out my career! When I was first bullied, I responded with intense people pleasing, thinking that the reason I was being bullied was because I was doing something that angered them. I thought that if I did everything my bullies said they wanted, that if I could make them like me, the abuse would stop. It only got worse.

        1. An Australian In London*

          I’ve been thinking about this all weekend because I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I felt I was slightly off message with my comment.

          I think there is a large overlap between bullies and predators but I think they are not the same:

          I think bullies are afraid of the people who stand up to them. They are not usually strong people themselves, and bullying is their coping strategy for feeling small or out of control.

          I think predators are afraid of the consequences should they continue with someone who’s shown they won’t take it. Those are the people who are threats to them (will make a scene; will report them; will gather evidence), and they will go elsewhere to find an easier victim.

          I don’t know if I’m right about this distinction, or if it changes anything in this thread. I realised that I was talking about predators and the question was about bullies, so it may have been a derail.

    14. Lifelong student*

      I will get slammed for this- but my SIL has been fired from multiple jobs and claims to have been harassed or bullied at all of them. She says she was treated the same way by her mother. She has never had a romantic relationship. She makes accusations against her siblings for things that happened years ago. She always has medical complaints – most of which are things that happen to many people but are tragedies to her that demand special treatment. Is there a common denominator? In my opinion, she wallows in being a victim! Everyone else is wrong all the time- she is perfect- or if not should be catered to because of……..

      1. Despachito*

        I know (virtually) a person like this, too.

        She constantly (and I mean over a decade) complains about:

        – her neighbours
        – her husband
        – her mother
        – her coworkers
        – the successive pretendants of her daughter
        – the families of those pretendants
        – her daughter (which is the saddest).

        These all are mean to her, and there is virtually no normal person around her. And you know beforehand that if her daughter breaks with her fiancé and finds a new one that this one would be horrible, too. And if she changes jobs, her coworkers will be awful as well. (Even before the new fiancé appears)

        In this case, the problem is definitely her, and she is very successfully playing the victim. It is interesting to observe how people on the forum repeatedly confirm for her that her husband/mother/coworkers etc. are awful, and I just cannot get how they can NOT see (after, say, 15+ years of THE SAME whining) that the problem is her. And if someone makes the mistake of pointing out to her, she becomes very passive-aggressively combative.

        I reckon that this is rather an exception and do not want to invalidate the TRUE victims, but I wanted to point out this is also one of the possibilities.

    15. Free Meerkats*

      I’m not victim blaming, but there are people who, for some reason, go through life as a victim. I have a sister like that; she’s been robbed on the street, bullied from grade school on, all her relationships have been at least marginally abusive, if there’s someone accosting people on the street, it will be her; the only constant is her. She’s one of 6 kids who were raised together and she’s the only one like this.

      I’ve tried to figure out why, with her and someone else I know like that and I haven’t been able to figure it out. I honestly wish I had some useful advice.

      1. Anele*

        Your sister should really go to therapy, if she isn’t already. I think bullies/abusers can pick out insecurities really easily, so building confidence is very important. In therapy, I’ve worked a whole lot on my own self esteem. When my self esteem was low, I would think about myself poorly and accept horrible treatment from bosses because I thought I was doing something to deserve it. As my self esteem improves, I’ve been treating myself better and I’ve been demanding better treatment from other people too.

      2. pancakes*

        This doesn’t seem likely to be a mental health issue (or multiple issues) to you? I don’t know how to understand why not. There’s no use in online strangers trying to guess at what specifically might be the issue, but from what you’ve said it seems highly probable there’s at least one.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Lower paying jobs seem to attract bully bosses. But often the bully boss is only making $2 per hour more than the subordinate. The push for professional bosses is just not there. If they have a pulse then they can manage- company criteria.

      While I understand that coaching people in how to help themselves can be seen as victim blaming, the reality is we cannot eliminate bully bosses. It’s left of to each of us to take care of our own selves. Just as we teach non-swimmers to swim, we can also teach people how to set boundaries and stand up for themselves. It’s not reasonable to assume that an outsider is going to protect an employee from their bully boss.

      I have had a few really bad bosses. I broke things down to see what I could do differently.

      1) Know for a fact what is reasonable for the position. I had a boss tell me to climb 30′ up to change a light bulb. This boss was a joker. I never saw anyone else have to do that. Putting these two things together I decided I would not be doing the climb and most likely he was joking. I did not climb up there and there was no fallout for my refusal to do it.
      So that is not bullying. I was pretty naïve/young and my go-to response was to feel bullied but that was not what was happening here. This was his way of joking with people. Everyone heard stuff like this. Changing a 30′ high light bulb was not part of my position in the company.

      2) Learn and use the rule of three. If you see/hear something three times you have a pattern and it okay to act on that pattern. But some things you only need to see once. There person who locked me in a walk-in freezer got an earful the first time he did that. Separately, I had a boss tell me, “Why did you do X” She told me to. “I never said that.” Yeah, she said do X. This happened a couple times and I started repeating back to her “Okay you want me to do X, right?” The next day when she called me on it, I just shook my head, “This is why I asked you to confirm. I said. “So you want me to do X” and you said yes do X .” She stopped doing this to me, but she kept on doing it to others. Good use of the rule of three.

      3) I had to learn to pick better workplaces and I had to learn to get out sooner. I had to learn that staying for months or years hoping for improvement was futile. It was okay to believe what I saw happening in front of me and change my plans accordingly. Someone mentioned to tell her to read here daily. Not only is it interesting to read, but she will learn to put into words the problems she is seeing. Once identified and articulated, it becomes much easier to set and maintain boundaries.

      4) Read boundaries books. It’s not our fault if we weren’t taught boundaries as kids. But as adults we CAN teach ourselves about boundaries.

      5) Bullies have to be told to stop. They do not use the same rule book that quiet, gentle people use. It’s okay to meet people on the level they are at. Bob slams into me every day in the hallway. It’s fine to say, “Bob, you slam into me every day in the hallway. STOP IT.” You can say this and still be a kind and quality person.

      2)

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Lower paying jobs seem to attract bully bosses. – this is very real. The WORST bosses I ever had were when I was working retail, coffee shops, restaurants. I was younger and less able to navigate tricky situations so I’m sure that’s part of it but also – no! These were relatively low-paid people themselves and they had messy lives for a variety of poverty-adjacent reasons and they absolutely took it out on staff. They weren’t really held to a higher standard as few people take the restaurant manager to task for abusing the wait staff, particularly when I new wait staff is cheap but a semi-reliable manager willing to work full time for what, 45K? Not even? is hard to find. They also didn’t have much training or support.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I think one reason for this is that these people are often in positions where they are held responsible for what happens without being given much authority. The “bully boss” I had was in that middle ground where she was more of a team lead than a real manager and while there was no truth to this, she FELT that staff were not respecting her the way they did the managers, possibly because she didn’t have power to fire and that her only way to get people to do their jobs and respect her was basically, to be a bully. Then BECAUSE she behaved like there, there was far more absenteeism when she was in charge than when either of the managers was, which she further used to convince herself people were taking advantage of her because she wasn’t a full manager and therefore she had to be even more “strict” in order to “get respect.” The fact that people weren’t showing up, not because they thought “she can’t do anything anyway,” but because they thought “I’m going to get bullied if I do” didn’t occur to her nor did the fact that the reason the manager wasn’t taking much notice of her complaints wasn’t that “he didn’t respect her”. It was because she was complaining people for ridiculous things.

          This was also in a company where there was a lot of pressure from on high and while the manager was pretty laid back and willing to shrug it off (hearing him on the phone to head office could be hilarious. “Yes, district manager. Of course, district manager. We’ll do that right away, district manager.” *hangs up” “For flip’s sake, it’s closing time. We are not doing that now. It can wait until tomorrow.”) and the deputy manager was the most confident person imaginable and would straight up tell them “if you want us to do that, you need to pay for more staff. My staff is overworked and I am not asking that of them,” the “bully boss” took it more seriously and worried it would reflect on her if she didn’t make us do everything perfectly.

          I think the lack of training and support is absolutely a factor. As a teacher, I know virtually all young, newly qualified teachers start off thinking the students should be “afraid” of them and that they need to be “strict.” The idea that discipline is more than having people afraid of the consequences you can impose and that it is possible to be respected without being feared is something people have to learn. (I am not saying newly qualified teachers are bullies, most are not, but most do worry about “should I have made a joke there, does that make me seem too easy-going?” or “was I in some way ‘cheating’ by removing a flashpoint? I shouldn’t HAVE to do that. They should RESPECT me and just not misbehave even if I leave them in situations where misbehaviour is likely.” It takes experience to realise that tailoring classes so students are engaged and DON’T want to misbehave is good discipline and not “pandering” or “an admission of failure.”

          And that is with kids and with a level of authority that bosses aren’t always given.

          Also the bosses in lower paid jobs are often in jobs they don’t want to be in. Some are unhappy in those roles (the bully boss I mentioned would regularly talk about how she was going to leave and complain about he company) and that probably plays a part too,

  8. Jascha*

    I’m applying hard for jobs and have come up against an issue: there are two open positions in the same organization, either of which I’d be competitive for. Both are fully remote. Of course, I can only pick one. However, there are complicating factors:

    Job 1 is a perfect fit for me; it needs every skill I possess, I have every “nice-to-have,” and I have experience in everything it requires. I’m happy with the salary range. I’m an expert in the field. However: the job duties include occasional attendance at in-person events, which I am currently unable to do. (I’m capable and have done the event duties in the past, but medical conditions prevent me from doing so until COVID-19 is… not what it is now. I can, of course, still attend and even run virtual events.)

    Job 2 is a good fit, but not perfect. I have all of the required skills, but there are one or two areas of experience I lack (mostly regarding budget and operations management). I could learn these, but they’re not my main areas of interest, so the job is less ideal. However, there is no event attendance required.

    I’d like to go for Job 1, but am struggling with the event duties. I don’t think they’d be a huge part of the job, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to do them again for legitimate medical reasons. Should I apply even knowing that those are indefinitely off the table? Should I email them ahead of time to ask (or is this too forward/awkward)? If I apply, at what point in the process should I bring up my event limitations? Or should I just aim for Job 2 to avoid the event issue, which is still pretty good even though I’m less perfect for it and it’s less ideal for me?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Who says you have to pick one at this stage? You’re allowed to apply for both. If they have a central tracking system they will notice and might ask which you prefer, but they’re not going to be turned off by you applying to two similar jobs.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I should finish my thought before hitting post, lol: if you get interviews for one or both, you can ask about your concerns then.

        I’d bring up the event thing in the phone screen or first interview, see if it’s truly a requirement or if they can make a medical accommodation.

        1. Jascha*

          Thanks! Everyone seems to agree on this. It’s not a large organization and they would definitely know I had applied to two different positions – but, for some reason, I perceived this as a “Do Not Do,” whereas others seem to disagree. Perhaps my idea of what’s acceptable in the job hunt is skewed! (It has been more than five, but less than ten years since my last job hunt.)

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Perhaps it’s different in education, but I have applied for two separate jobs in the same school in the same envelope (back in the days when you applied by post for most jobs). I teach English and History, so if a school were looking for a full-time English teacher and a full-time History teacher, I would obviously apply for both positions.

            Of course I don’t know the norms of your field, but I don’t see why it would be a problem.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        When in was searching this past spring I applied for two jobs at the same company. One I applied to first and then 3 weeks later I saw an opening for one that was a better fit.

        I ended up interviewing for both. It was a very large company and the jobs were in different divisions. I don’t think even the recruiters (there was a differ one for each position) knew I applied to both. Through interviewing I was able to pick which one I preferred. However I got neither of them, but that had nothing to do with applying for both.

        Now I could see an issue of OP was applying for a lot of roles that weren’t similar to each other, but two roles they are a good fit for wouldn’t be unheard of.

        1. Jascha*

          Thanks! They would definitely know I had applied to two different positions (it’s not large enough to have multiple recruiting teams) – but, for some reason, I perceived this as a “Do Not Do,” whereas others seem to disagree. The roles are definitely not identical, but have a number of similarities.

          Follow-up question: how different should I make my CV and cover letter to account for the two different positions? On the one hand, I know I need to personalize them to each application. But on the other hand, I don’t want it to look like I’m just making my documents say what they want to hear for each one (because I know they’ll be the same recruiting team)…

          1. Kez*

            I think you might be overthinking it on the “just making my documents say what they want to hear” front. That’s the point of a cover letter – indicate a baseline of enthusiasm and then show that you can communicate clearly the skills you have which match up with the job.

            You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, of course, but personalizing the cover letter to indicate what excites and interests you in each position, and maybe highlighting your skills in a way which would be suited to this particular job, is all very standard stuff. Especially since the hiring managers themselves will only be looking at the cover letter for their posting, I don’t think you need to worry about them taking notes on your originality/uniqueness from the other letter.

            1. Jascha*

              Really appreciate all the advice! I’ll do some hard work on the cover letters and send in both applications this weekend.

    2. Colette*

      Why can’t you apply for both? If you get an interview for Job 1, you can ask about event attendance.

      1. Jascha*

        I was worried that, because it will be the same recruiters (organization too small to have multiple recruitment teams), they’d see that I’d applied for both and perceive it as my just trying to apply for anything I can get. However, people seem to agree that it’s okay for me to apply to two different, but related roles in the same company. I thought it would be frowned upon, but I’m open to being wrong (and kind of glad to be)!

    3. Littorally*

      Why not apply for both? If they both offer you the job, then at that point you’d of course have to pick one, but I don’t know of any business that would require you to apply for only one job (at a time?).

      If you get to the interview stage with Job 1, that’s a great time to ask about in-person attendance and covid policy.

      1. Jascha*

        I was worried that, because it will be the same recruiters (organization too small to have multiple recruitment teams), they’d see that I’d applied for both and perceive it as my just trying to apply for anything I can get. However, everyone seems to be on the same page that it’s okay to apply for both and won’t look like I’m just shotgunning applications.

    4. Doctors Whom*

      First of all, why do you think you can only pick one? That’s not how it works:) You can apply for multiple positions in the same organization, and since both are of interest, you absolutely should.

      Talk to the recruiter about it. If it’s something the hiring manager can wiggle on, they may do so for the right candidate. If you are an expert in the field with a great track record, maybe they could work with you on strategies for mentoring other people into the on-ground aspect of said events, for example. You don’t have to disclose your specific conditions, but I think it’s fair to say “this part of the responsibilities I could not accommodate in the near term for medical reasons, do you have flexibility to allow it to be remote until Covid xyz?”

      You won’t know if you don’t ask. If you don’t ask and you get through the process and they can’t wiggle on it, then you’ve taken up a lot of your time that you could have focused on other parts of your search. If you don’t ask and you don’t go through the process and you find out later that they could have made it work, you’d be kicking yourself.

      Good luck with your search.

      1. Jascha*

        Thanks so much! I was assuming that, because the same recruiters will see both applications (too small an organization to have multiple teams), they might think I was just applying for absolutely anything, which is not the case. I didn’t want that to look bad and negatively impact my chances.

        I’ve asked this upthread but how different would you recommend I make my CV and cover letter to account for the two different positions? On the one hand, I know I need to personalize them to each application. But on the other hand, I don’t want it to look like I’m just making my documents say what they want to hear for each one…

        1. Doctors Whom*

          I work in an organization that size and I see this on the regular. Not a problem. It would be a problem if you applied for a llama keeping job, a bee painting job, and a job counting sheets of paper. But it sounds like you are replying for llama management and llama operations management jobs. Much closer together – it sounds like it should be apparent from your resume that you have strengths & experience applicable to both positions.

          My advice in this case is write the resume that shows you are a stellar contender for Job 1 and use for both. Write separate cover letters for the two positions – that way you are explaining your interest tailored to both.

          If the place is that small, the recruiter is likely to talk to you about both. What are your overall interests, what attracts you about both positions.

          Where I work if you applied only to Job 1, say, and if they said “oh Jascha can’t do onsite events so we ahve to pass” either the recruiter or hiring manager would wind up saying “Jascha does seem like a potential fit for the role on Thumbelina’s team” and call Thumbelina anyway. (But not all places would go that extra mile.)

    5. Aspiring*

      Apply for Job 1, and address your reasonable accommodations at some natural point during the interview process. It might be that there’s ways that some or all of the the in-person stuff could be handled by a deputy, with you being in the background. Or that you could build the event with precautions that would keep you — and everyone else — safer to the point of do-ability.

      1. Jascha*

        Thanks for the advice! Yes; if applying for Job 1, I planned to highlight my experience in virtual events (attending and running) and in delegating in-person attendance (I manage a small team to whom I’ve delegated my current event duties, which is a win-win, because they have all told me they consider the travel opportunities a huge perk). Whether I go for one or both, I’ll definitely do that at the same time as explaining why I’m not able to do in-person events yet.

  9. AITA?*

    Short version: I (manager) made a desired schedule modification for myself that I was unable to make for Brain (non-manager) because of the need for managerial coverage. Should I have made a non-desirable modification for myself because if Brian is unhappy with his schedule, it’s not fair that I am now happy with mine?

    Long version: I manage one location of a chain of teapot stores. When we expanded hours a year ago, we were short staffed and couldn’t cover all the hours (expansion of hours was decided by corporate, not me). Across the chain, everyone works later hours one evening a week (to cover our evening hours), and two evenings a week if necessary. Instead of mandating who would work two evenings versus one, I asked for volunteers. Brian (not a manager) is one of the people who volunteered. I also elected to work two evenings a week, because I figure as the manager it’s my job to take the bummer shifts. In addition to our other evening, Brian and I have been working together on Tuesday evenings.

    Over the past year, we have both found that we have non-work conflicts on Tuesdays, and would like to go down to just one (non-Tuesday) evening a week once staffing allows. Recently, corporate announced they would be hiring assistant managers for all the locations that didn’t have one. Every store is supposed to have a manager on duty at all times, but because our store is so small, we don’t have as many managers as the other stores (others have 4-6) so that’s not really possible. However, I do need to spread out the management coverage as much as possible. The new assistant manager, Elissa, was just hired. In order to spread out the management coverage, I scheduled Elissa for Tuesday evenings, and I will not work that evening any more (I’ll still work one other evening a week). I explained to Brian why Elissa would be taking my Tuesday evening, not his, and encouraged him to ask if anyone else would be willing to trade evenings with him. So far (he emailed everyone a little less than a week ago asking), one person has given him a “let me think about it.” Yesterday he got all emotional about how he “doesn’t know what he’s going to do, no one wants to help him out and he’s been complaining about this shift for at least 6 months.”

    So my question is: should I have asked Elissa to work my other evening, so that Brian and I would continue being unhappy on our Tuesday evenings together?

    1. Gracely*

      Is there a reason why you can’t alternate Tuesdays? That way you both get a bit of a break from those Tuesdays?

      1. AITA?*

        I thought about that. Elissa and I could alternate Tuesdays, but it doesn’t work long-term for Brian and I to be on a Tuesday rotation because then every other week there’s no manager on Tuesday mornings – and part of the goal of having the assistant manager is to spread out managerial coverage as much as possible. Basically, Elissa and I are interchangeable for coverage purposes, but Brian and I are not.
        I have told Brian I’ll be happy to cover his Tuesday evenings on occasion when I don’t have other conflicts, because if Elissa and I are occasionally on the same night that’s not a big deal – it just doesn’t make good sense long-term.

    2. Colette*

      No.

      Having said that, if Tuesdays specifically are an issue for Brian, it might make sense to ask if someone else can switch with him, if they can’t just take the shift.

      Or make sure the next person you hire works 2 evenings, and Brian gets to drop down to one.

      1. AITA?*

        Definitely planning to have the next person I hire (timeline TBD) take Brian’s Tuesday (because the next person won’t be a manager) if we don’t have it resolved before then!

    3. Paris Geller*

      I don’t think you should have asked Elissa to work your other evening instead of Tuesday, but why did you make Brian ask if anyone would be willing to trade with him? You’re the manager, schedules are your responsibility. He volunteered to work another evening when it was necessary, but now he has conflicts with Tuesday evenings. It sounds like he’s been a team player by taking on this extra evening for awhile (if I’m reading this correctly, every employee worked one evening a week, but due to scheduling needs, some had to work two. Brian volunteered at the time to work two). It’s someone else’s turn, and as a manager, I would say that scheduling is your responsibility to assign another employee to a second evening.

      1. Abbott*

        I agree with this – There’s a power dynamic here that I think needs to be acknowledged. You have options and you used them for yourself. Brian’s only option is to rely on his colleagues (who are under no obligation to help them) or bring the issue to you (which you haven’t helped him with)

        1. AITA?*

          Thank you both! Abbott, “You have options and you used them for yourself” – that’s the wording I haven’t been able to find about why I felt weird about the decision I made.
          Our culture here has tended to be very “we [non-managers] help each other out without interference from above,” but now I’m seeing where that falls short and a good example of a time where I need to step in. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

          1. Abbott*

            I totally get that… I’ve worked at places where there’s this theme of collaboration and kumbaya spirit that suddenly disappears when there’s an issue or an annoying project that no one wants to handle… which then gets handed to the person with the lowest tolerance for conflict or the highest need for praise. It’s easy to believe that everyone is stepping up for everyone else (and a lovely thing if it happens), but it so rarely happens the way it should that it shouldn’t be assumed the philosophy is the reality.

            Good luck to you and Brian and Elissa!!

        2. voyager1*

          I agree with Abbot. I had a manager who would do this same thing when it came to coverage. Would ask for volunteers or would draw names. We were M-F 8-5 hours non retail with one Sunday a month. we had coverage over Saturdays that one team member would do, she worked Tu-Sat. One of us would have work her shift when she was on vacation. We had one team member would never volunteer. It got to the point where I reported my manager to her boss about the disparity. The manager never offered to cover any of the Saturdays, her excuse was she was management and didn’t know what we did. Everyone saw through that line of foolishness.

      2. DogTrainer*

        I completely agree with this. This is exactly what I was thinking – why is Brian emailing other people to take this shift that he’s kindly taken? That’s definitely the manager’s job.

        1. AITA?*

          There’s this weird culture/lack-of-clarity in our chain about whether staff are supposed to get their own coverage or managers are supposed to find the coverage when people can’t or don’t want the shifts they originally accepted. Absolutely no clear answer; it depends on which HR person you talked to when. I’m on a management team that’s trying to change that because it causes a lot of problems, like this. I’m definitely hearing that – unless there’s some policy or procedure change that says I can’t – I should step in here, and I appreciate that perspective!

          1. Kay*

            I would argue that regardless of policy – it is a management function to handle scheduling. Any policy that places the onus to find coverage on the individual employee is simply a way of circumventing a responsibility which should fall on management, period – and is therefore a pretty shitty policy poised to invite resentment. A good manager should realize this, and act accordingly.

            This is playing out as expected with your employee, but the good news is that it sounds like if you act quickly, it isn’t too late to remedy it.

            1. AITA?*

              So many of the comments here today have been about how I shouldn’t have asked Brian to find his own coverage. I’m surprised because this is so different from what I’m used to! Every teapot store chain I’ve ever worked in, it’s been standard to arrange your own schedule swaps, the idea being “This is the schedule you agreed to; it would be unfair of management to require someone to work a schedule that did not agree to because your needs changed.” And I think that’s where I’m getting stuck here. I don’t want to require Brian to keep working a schedule he doesn’t want, but neither do I want to require anyone else to work a schedule they don’t want. I realize the solution I’ve settled on is that means Brian has to work a schedule he doesn’t want while no one else does (or at least not one they’ve made me aware they don’t want). I checked in with another store manager earlier for a gut-check here, and they told me that they would be handling it the same way: ultimately, if no one else wanted the other shift, Brian would still be working Tuesdays because that’s the schedule he agreed to. I’m not saying we are right, just putting it there for perspective on the company culture that influenced my decision-making.
              I see your argument – just didn’t occur to me to see it that way because of the way we’ve been used to doing things in these kinds of stores.

              1. Paris Geller*

                That is a very standard method of operating for many retail stores. Doesn’t mean it’s a GOOD way to operate.

                I checked in with another store manager earlier for a gut-check here, and they told me that they would be handling it the same way: ultimately, if no one else wanted the other shift, Brian would still be working Tuesdays because that’s the schedule he agreed to. I’m not saying we are right, just putting it there for perspective on the company culture that influenced my decision-making.
                That is a very good way to make employees leave, by the way. I definitely would. Brian stepped up to help and now that the schedule no longer works for him, he’s being punished because he agreed to it in the past.

                1. Been There*

                  I left a retail store once because of this exact position. I had class and they wouldn’t accommodate my new schedule. So I found a new store that would.

                2. AITA?*

                  This makes sense, but from the perspective of the other employees, would you not also leave if you were told “Brian agreed to work Tuesdays, now he doesn’t want to and so you have to”? I feel like every manager I’ve ever hated on the internet I’ve hated because they told someone “I’m changing your schedule; you have to work this now.”

                  Obviously the real problem is we don’t have enough staff. I’m using all the capital I can, when I can, to try to get more, but ultimately that has to be approved by corporate; I can’t hire on my own.

                3. Abbott*

                  I think the difference here is that you’re not telling one person that they have to pick up Brian’s Tuesday. You’re telling your team they may need to pick up a Tuesday on occasion. If your entire team could potentially rebel because they’re being asked – with notice – to pick up an occasional Tuesday, there’s a holistic problem with the team.

                4. AITA?*

                  I can’t nest further but @Abbott – People are definitely willing to cover the occasional Tuesday. But Brian does want/need someone to take his place as “person scheduled on Tuesdays,” and that’s where I feel like saying, “Jolene, Brian can’t work Tuesday anymore, so you need to” is just as bad as saying “Sorry, Brian, but you agreed to work Tuesdays.” Maybe worse because Jolene never said she was okay working Tuesdays?

              2. This makes no sense*

                Wait…so the schedule you agreed to when you took the job is your schedule in perpetuity? If I am free on Wednesdays the day I start with the company, but then my school/childcare/other job/whatever schedule changes three years later, too bad for me?

                Surely you have to have a protocol in place for when availability changes, otherwise your employees have no choice but to quit working for you if their availability shifts over time, and you end up losing coverage on all their shifts, not just one.

              3. Casper Lives*

                “This is the schedule you agreed to; it would be unfair of management to require someone to work a schedule that did not agree to because your needs changed.”

                Then why did you change YOUR schedule? Changing your schedule, but refusing to change Brian’s, reads to the employees that there are different rules for managers than employees. Which I’ve found to be true in retail AND is a big reason retail is understaffed.

    4. Two Dog Night*

      Would Brian be willing to work two non-Tuesday evenings (at least for a while) if someone else would work his Tuesday evening shift? Maybe one of the other workers would be more willing to switch if you talked to them instead of having Brian ask. I think you’re NTA, but I think Brian deserves some help with this.

    5. Eagle*

      I assume your employees filled out their availability. Look at it and see if you can permanently switch someone else to Tuesday and Brian to their day. If people are unwavering on working Tuesday, then put it to the group that Brian is no longer able to work Tuesday nights and you will be scheduling each employee a Tuesday night shift in order to have coverage that night. Now everyone is equally unhappy.

      1. AITA?*

        That makes sense, because I do think what will happen (assuming it doesn’t work out with the person who’s considering a switch) is that everyone will say they’re not available Tuesday.

    6. CatCat*

      I think Brian has learned an important lesson on what volunteering to work the extra evening and being a team player gets him. I would be surprised if he stays much longer. He’s told you he’s pissed about it.

      Why did you put it on him to find someone else to cover Tuesday evening? You’re the manager. Why aren’t you bringing the scheduling up with other employees? Brian’s just now stuck because he stepped up when there was a need? Why is no one else being required to cover Tuesdays?

      At any rate, what’s the plan when Brian leaves? I would be working on that plan.

      1. AITA?*

        I think your last question was rhetorical, but I know Brian is wildly burned out on selling teapots. He has been since long before I arrived as manager. I think he would be much happier in another job, or perhaps another part of the company. We spend a lot of time talking about what kinds of work he might prefer and identifying duties and training that would cultivate skills and experience in those areas. I’m told by other store managers (and at one point, wildly inappropriately imo, by the head of HR) that prior to my arrival Brian had developed a reputation for negative attitudes and unreliability that meant no one in the chain would ever hire him for promotion. I don’t know how true that is, but I’ve been trying to change that if it is true. He has demonstrated and self-identified a big change and awareness of what kinds of experiences lead to it (intentionally vague here for anonymity) and I’m intentional about sharing about his great work with other managers, particularly ones I know view him in a negative light. He’s been able to talk on some projects with colleagues from other stores that get him visibility and networking around the chain.
        So, I think your question assumed that I take it for granted Brian will stay forever – I never take that for granted because of course everyone will leave, but with Brian in particular I actively hope he will leave because I think he would be much, much happier somewhere else.

        1. CatCat*

          That’s all great. So what are you going to do to cover Tuesdays when he leaves? Plan for that now. Heck, implement it now. You’ll be all set for when he makes the exit you’re hoping he’ll make. And he won’t continue to be ticked off that he’s saddled with all Tuesdays.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “I’m told by other store managers (and at one point, wildly inappropriately imo, by the head of HR) …”

          Uh. no. That was really good that HR told you. It gave you a chance to make positive change. And it also let you know that no one would think you were incompetent if you started having problems with him.

          Going the opposite way, if HR did not tell you that would be setting you up to fail. Picture yourself going to HR to say you have a problem finally after many months of having a problem, and HR says, “Oh we knew that all along. We just didn’t bother to tell you.”

          I think your sentence here deserves some more consideration/contemplation.

      2. Casper Lives*

        This happens at every retail store I know about. Don’t volunteer for extra or it’ll be expected of you. Don’t go above and beyond or it’ll become the base expectation for your job performance. Brian learned a valuable lesson: his management will get themselves sorted, not do anything for the workers, and expect him to do part of management’s job with no extra pay and no authority to spread shifts.

        I hope Brian leaves for a higher-paying position with enough staff for all hours. Then the manager will be forced to do her job,

        1. AITA?*

          Every teapot store chain I’ve ever worked in, it’s been standard to arrange your own schedule swaps, the idea being “This is the schedule you agreed to; it would be unfair of management to require someone to work a schedule that did not agree to because your needs changed.” I checked in with another store manager earlier for a gut-check here, and they told me that they would be handling it the same way: ultimately, if no one else wanted the other shift, Brian would still be working Tuesdays because that’s the schedule he agreed to. I’m not saying we are right, just putting it there for perspective on the company culture and industry standard that influenced my decision-making.
          It never occurred to me that people finding their own swaps is technically asking them to do management’s job, and I appreciate you bringing up that perspective. I really thought it was standard practice at most customer-service jobs (though now that I think about it, it’s only in teapot stores that I’ve encountered this being normal, so clearly my calibration is off).
          I also hope Brian gets a higher-paying position somewhere fully staffed, with a schedule he likes, and I hope corporate gives me the go-ahead to hire the staff I need to cover all the night shifts equitably.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Soooo… they have one opportunity to tell the company what days/hours they want and that is it for the duration of their stay there? Nothing can change, ever?

            I keep seeing where you wrote this is “what they agreed to”. When? When they were hired 5 years ago? People change and needs change. Look at it this way, you took your own self off of Tuesdays so that is proof right there that things can be changed. The employees are going to realize that there are two sets of rules, one for them and one for managers.

            I dunno how many people you have but to me, I think rotating everyone through a turn of doing Tuesdays is fair. If you have four people who are on a level as Brian then Brian only needs to do one Tuesday a month.

          2. Casper Lives*

            In that case, why are you allowed to switch? You said your availability is Tuesday. Therefore according to your logic, you aren’t allowed to have another schedule. You must stay on Tuesdays forever.

            Well, I disagree. People’s lives change and schedules change. You should be allowed a schedule change but so should Brian!

    7. Katie*

      So, Brian is not available Tuesdays. It’s your responsibility as manager to get someone else on the schedule for that shift.
      In the long run, this is going to run Brian off if you don’t accommodate his reasonable request. Then there will be a bunch more shifts to fill than Tuesdays.

    8. The Person from the Resume*

      The problem isn’t you and your happiness with your hours/days.

      The problem is Brian needs the schedule to change. He volunteered to work Tuesday evening when it worked for him (and helped you out), now that it doesn’t work he needs off Tuesday evenings. Be a manager and find/assign another employee to work Tuesdays. Change the schedule to rotate working evenings among all employees so occasionally it might be a problem for Brian but it’s usually not.

      Manage your schedule.

    9. njcovid*

      You are conflating 2 different scenarios. Asking employees to arrange their own coverage for an occasional conflict is one situation.

      But Brian is asking for a permanent schedule change – no more Tues evenings. This is a MANAGEMENT responsibilty.

    10. Jessi*

      Your options aren’t Brian does the shift forever or one other staff member does. If no one wants the Tuesday shift permanently then every staff member gets one every 4 weeks (or 5 or 6 or 3 depending upon how many staff members you have.) then at least it’s equally unfair!

      Or maybe ask all of your staff to hand in a new updated hours and use that to build a new roster? Just because things have always been done this way or that way doesn’t mean you can’t do it better

      1. Varthema*

        AITA, I don’t think you are TA (and are possibly feeling piled on), and having also worked in retail, I completely understand where your thought process is coming from and have no problem believing that you got concurrence from your gut-check from other store managers. But I will gently point out that retail norms about Decency Toward Employees is really, really, skewed, and what can look like decency in a retail setting does not outside it, and TBH I think that’s the main reason there’s been such flight from the industry. It took me a long time to recalibrate my own inner compass after leaving retail, and now I’m a little horrified when I look back. Another thing is that store managers are generally made to believe that they have All the Responsibility but None of the Power (bc of corporate decisions/policy and also precedent), and actually that’s pretty true, but also, you have more power than you think. Maybe not so much when it comes to corporate (you can’t decide to not stay open understaffed, unfortunately), but when it comes to precedence (e.g. It’s always up to the employee to find shift coverage forever and ever amen).

        What I would do is lay it out to the team in stark terms – Brain took one for the team by volunteering for Tuesday hours, not because he wanted to but because he is awesome, and we are so grateful for that. He’s put in his time, and now it’s time for him to have a break. Which is why [new policy w taking turns with rotating Tuesday shifts] is the new thing.” Ideally, Brian would not be in the first few (or many) rotations. Up to you whether it’d be easier logistically to rotate every Tuesday or maybe rotate Tuesdays by month, or whatever! But I agree that it’s equally unfair to just dump Tuesdays indefinitely onto someone.

  10. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    What’s the best way to follow up when someone is on vacation? I had a good interview on Monday and the interviewer told me they’d be on vacation next week. Should I check in with the recruiter who set it up today or Monday? I know I should proceed as if I won’t make it to the next round but I don’t know how to do that. Things are also really stressful in general for me so I keep hoping that each interview will lead to an offer but no such luck yet.

    1. Gracely*

      Follow up with email like you would with anyone else, but don’t expect a reply while the person is on vacation. I imagine they told you just so that you wouldn’t worry about not hearing from them for a couple of weeks.

    2. Mostly Managing*

      If you haven’t already thanked them for the interview, why not send the interviewer a quick note this morning saying something like,

      “It was a pleasure meeting with you on Monday. I am really excited about the position, especially (insert detail here). I hope you have a great time away, and look forward to hearing from you when you get back”.

      (“when you get back” because you really don’t want to make them think you expect any kind of reply today.)

      1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        I did send a thank you email to the interviewer already!

        Maybe it’ll help to clarify – a 3rd party recruiter got me this interview and I’d like to follow up with them no matter what as they may have other opportunities if this doesn’t pan out.

    3. PollyQ*

      You shouldn’t follow up at all. Classic AAM advice is to assume you didn’t make it to the next round, and if you do, it’ll be a pleasant surprise. How you do it is you simply (which may not be the same as “easily”) don’t make a phone call and don’t send an email.

      All this assumes you’ve already sent the standard thank you/follow-up email though. If you haven’t done that, go ahead & do it now.

    4. just a thought*

      If you already sent the standard thank you email, then you don’t need to follow-up again. You applied for the job and took time to interview, so they know you’re interested.

      If the follow-up you’re referring to is the Interview Thank You email, then you can send it whenever. She’ll see it when she returns.

    5. Notfunny.*

      I think it’s too soon to follow up, maybe schedule an email to go to them in the middle of the week that they’re back from vacation?

    6. Everything Bagel*

      I don’t think you should follow up a week after your interview, especially when you know the interviewer then went on vacation for a week. Give it a few weeks before following up.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      Yes, there’s no harm at all in checking in with the recruiter – they may or may not have any feedback but esp if they other positions as well. The answers here that say don’t do it I think are assuming you mean contact the hiring manager but I think you’re asking about the recruiter,

      1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        Yes, I don’t think I was clear in my question. I will check in with the recruiter early next week!

  11. Am I actually on a sinking ship?*

    Turnover in my new-ish job is really high. It’s not any one particular department or manager, it’s across the entire organization. I feel like I must be missing something, because I’m really happy with the pay, work, and colleagues. Any aggravations/complaints I have are standard ones that exist in my role no matter what company I’d be at.

    I’m wondering if I can somehow subtly start polling people who give their two weeks…hard to do in a fully-remote role.

    1. Internproblems*

      Are the people leaving at your level, above you, below, or is it across the board? I was happy in my job until I started working more closely with the higher ups. I got a whole new understanding of why there was turnover. Maybe there’s something similar going on, or maybe your new workforce is like the one someone wrote recently, where they “don’t do raises.”

      If you do try to poll people, of course try to do it via 1-on-1 virtual coffee meetings rather than over Slack chat or any other written media. Know that with you being new, people may not be comfortable opening up to you right away about the problems they see/experience. Perhaps you’ll get more honest answers (and protect your own reputation so you don’t seem like you’re fishing for gossip) by saying something like: “everyone I’ve worked with so far seems really great. I know there’s a lot of turnover in the workforce generally, but I was surprised that person A, B, and C left. Do you have any insight to that? I’m wondering if there’s some context I’m missing by being new.”

    2. Ama*

      So at my workplace it feels like our turnover comes in waves — no one will leave for the better part of a year and then 3-4 people will leave within a month (we only have 30 employees, so 3 people is a lot). So it is possible that maybe that’s all this is, if you haven’t been there for very long.

      It’s also good to remember that people don’t always leave a job because they are unhappy — they could be looking for a new challenge, or have always wanted to move into a particular sector and the exact right job came along, or even just feel restless after being in one place for a few years.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Don’t underestimate either that it’s a job-seekers’ market right now, for the first time in many years. There’s a certain amount of “there’s fairly high turnover” happening in all kinds of organizations and industries right now and some of it is part of this much broader economic theme. You’re absolutely right to question things and even reach out to some of the people leaving, especially if you have any kind of relationship with them, but keep in mind that plenty of people are testing the waters at the moment too. As Alison talks about, the best way to get a raise is while negotiating for your new role, and plenty of folks will be taking advantage of this right now.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Could it be simply something like another company in the same field expanding and reaching out to “poach” staff?

      Or is it possible there is something about your job that suits you but does not suit others? Like, I half-enjoy correcting the state exams; I don’t even do it for the money nowadays, I do it for the professional development and because I like having something to do during the summer holidays. But it has a pretty low retention rate from one year to the next. I think only about half of people return after doing it once, 2/3s at most. It’s probably a good thing I started when the internet was less of a thing because if you ask for advice about doing it on any of the teaching sites, you’ll get replies like “not worth it. It’s exhausting, a 7 day a week job and you don’t even get paid until September and then half of it goes on tax. Don’t do it unless you’re desperate” sort of thing. It’s not that I’m missing anything (or that they are), just that you have to be really disciplined and good with deadlines and stuff. It’s really NOT a job for a procrastinator. And it suits me.

  12. OfficeWorkNoob*

    Just wanted to get a wider perspective on work expectations in an office job.

    My work style is to obsess over a project until it’s done, and then take a proportional amount of time to goof off and recover. (e.g. I’ll spend 2 weeks where most of my waking hours are spent on the project, then I’ll take a week or a week and a half to do whatever I want) That’s how I functioned in college and was on the dean’s list and got scholarships and all sorts of things. Cue graduation and working a 9-5 office job, and it’s been really difficult for me to do my best work.

    It’s been a few years now, so I’m kinda just bored and disengaged (maybe burned myself out?), but I kept trying to “work” (really intense focused work) all 8 hours of the day, all 5 days a week, and it was such a drag. I only had a couple hours to really get into something before I had to switch gears and try and disengage from work, and I also never really have enough time to complete the cycle of rest as well. Complicating this system is my chronic illness. I’ll have good weeks and bad weeks, which feels into the whole feast/famine work cycle where I work intensely when I’m feeling well and can’t think straight when I’m not.

    Is there anyone who has a similar work style that’s figured out a way to make an office job work, or do I have to just switch careers or start freelancing? (Very difficult to do when depending on employer-provided health insurance) I’ve been told people aren’t really expected to work the full workday? What do you do in an office if not working? Pretending to work is hardly a restorative break, so I don’t see the appeal.

    1. Gracely*

      You’re not supposed to work 8 hours straight–it’s expected that those hours are going to be interspersed throughout the day with conversations with colleagues, taking a 10 minute break to read something fun on the internet like AAM/etc., maybe take a walk around the building to stretch your legs, get coffee/tea, etc.

      You might want to try being more purposeful about those kinds of breaks, perhaps, since you say you thrive on feast/famine? Like, work hard for 3-4 hours, take a lunch break, chat with colleagues/walk/get coffee/etc., then work another couple of hours before going home.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Thanks for this list. I had this rhythm down when I worked an 8 hour day in an office with other staff. I now find myself working a half time job remotely, and I am struggling with how to approach counting the time. I might throw my dilema into next week’s conversation for feedback!

    2. Jigsaw*

      To answer what do people do when they are not working, they:
      – Talk to their coworkers
      – Go for a walk
      – Go get a coffee/soda
      – Play ping pong/foosball/whatever table top game their office might have (in our office, we do puzzles)
      – Do some brainstorming about how they might do their work better
      – Do some goal planning
      – Watch training videos or LinkedIn Learning videos
      – Clean/organize their area
      – Read AAM or the news

    3. Emm*

      It’s not that you’re not really working all day, it’s more that you’re not expected to hammer through 8 hours of work and be 100% productive for that entire time. You work on one project for an hour, then switch to another. You have slower tasks, like sorting through email or planning your to-do list. You can chat a little with coworkers, take a break, get a coffee, etc. All this stuff is built into workday. You ARE working, just maybe not in the sense that we’re used to in school.

      It feels like maybe you need something outside of work where you can do things the way you want, with the understanding that a standard office job might be a little slower, sometimes boring, but still let you feel productive. I don’t know what that might be, but having something else to focus on might be a good start.

      1. OfficeWorkNoob*

        I like your advice, although I think the dilemma is “[doing] things the way I want” involves having large chunks of time, which don’t really exist when working a standard office job. I was able to take off a couple weeks in June to go backpacking and it was heavenly. I wish I could work 3 twelves and then have 4 days at a stretch to do fun things.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Can you change your start/end hours? Come in an hour or two earlier, so you leave earlier and have long afternoons and evenings free.

        2. Emm*

          Maybe an office job isn’t for you! There are jobs out there that operate on that kind of schedule, although you would have to do some research to find them.

      2. ThatGirl*

        This. It’s rare to be expected to work on one thing, all day, 8 hours without a break (or with just lunch).

        On days I’m in the office, I work intently for awhile, chat with my teammates for a few minutes – sometimes work-related, sometimes not – get up and use the restroom and get a drink, maybe have a meeting, maybe watch a LinkedIn learning video, maybe check AAM, look through old projects, review my to-do list… and then go back to “working intently”.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I’ve been told people aren’t really expected to work the full workday? What do you do in an office if not working?

      This really depends on your field/type of work you do, so I’m going to answer for a generic office environment. Let’s say your job is to update spreadsheets and write reports. The “really intense focus” way of doing your job looks like burying your nose in your computer for 8 hours a day, always thinking about and working on the spreadsheets and reports, then struggling to disengage and relax after 5pm.

      The “not working a full workday” way of doing your job looks more like: come in to the office, make yourself a list of the most important spreadsheets/reports to focus on for that day, grab a cup of coffee and chat with your coworkers for 5 min, update the first spreadsheet, read an Ask a Manager post, write the first report, Steve stops by your desk with a quick question and you end up talking about your weekend plans for 10 min, update the second spreadsheet, etc.

      My examples are really generic, and I think a lot of your situation depends on: (1) how long does it take you to get into your focused and working state? (2) what length of time do you need to make progress on whatever your job is? Can you tackle things in 1 hour blocks, or do you need 10 hour blocks of focused work to complete things?

      1. OfficeWorkNoob*

        Thinking about how much time my minimum amount of time to have good focused work is a good strategy, so I can make sure I get at least one of those. I think my minimum is probably 3-4 hours, which can be difficult to get with lunch and meetings, but it’s not impossible.

    5. Manchmal*

      I wonder if being more methodical about your work might help? Making lists of tasks, pacing yourself. Perhaps you could leave the lower brain power tasks for when you’re not feeling as well. Like, when you have good focus and energy, focus on the project work, and when you’re not, follow up with emails, etc?

      I guess I’m making this suggestion because when I work in projects in those long bursts, it is usually because I don’t have a clear understanding of how to do it in an orderly way, and I’m often feeling my way through the work. This may not apply to you at all!

      1. OfficeWorkNoob*

        You might have hit on a factor I hadn’t considered, but is probably in play. I’m a software developer, and I’ve been put in charge of a lot of half-done projects that are using technology I don’t fully understand. From what I can tell, it’s near an industry standard that you just have to figure out how things fit in as you go along because the projects are too big and complex for one person to hold in their brain. But that does mean I’m constantly trying to feel out what actually needs doing and how to actually do it.

        Also, I’m entertained by imagining the fall out of not responding to any emails for a week because I was doing the brain power tasks, and then spending the whole next week doing little but emails. It’s good advice for smaller good/bad cycles, but not universally applicable.

        1. SameSame*

          This is me! Projects are so much harder to get into and be productive when I have to first figure out where to even start, and then I get stuck frequently because of unfamiliar syntax or misleading code comments.

          Sometimes I have to go as far as telling myself “spend a good 5 minutes on this, then you can take a 5 minute break” just to get past the inertia of getting started on one of these conglomerations.

        2. Migraine Month*

          I’ve found scheduling regular meetings with experienced people to try to acquire their knowledge to be really helpful, especially at the beginning. Working on legacy software is closer to archaeology than it is to writing your own code; often the reason that the software is written that way is due to a changed requirement ten years ago, so try to buddy up with the longest-tenured developer (who knows where the bodies are buried).

          Also, try to balance your tasks. If one of your projects is “read through this dense code to understand its structure”, break that up with quick “fix the typo on this page” tasks, some process improvement (e.g. set up email filters, write down the first five things to try when debugging, add a paragraph to an internal wiki), and some general professional development tasks (read AAM, do an online tutorial in your weakest programming language). Just remember to go back to reading the tricky code after the break.

          1. OfficeWorkNoob*

            Unfortunately, I am the longest-tenured developer still on the project… :/ We’ve had a bunch of people promoted or moved to different projects (because they got bored of the project? the politics? because they wanted to follow the promoted boss? idk), so I can ask one-off questions, but to schedule more support than that gets into figuring out what contract is paying for it (government contracts), so I just avoid it.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          A good rule of thumb my wise friend talked about was watching the highs and the lows. A two week energy burst of work IS going to set anyone up for a week or two of down time. It’s not just you- it’s human nature.

          With this in mind, to break the cycle you will have to lower your intensity during your work spurts. Lower the peaks and the valleys won’t be so deep. At the same time raise up how much you are doing during your lulls. This will put you closer to a sustainable pace- a pace you can keep year round.

          Learn about incubation time and start to figure out how to leverage that into your over all work habits. Incubation time, is time spent away from something and not even thinking about it. While we are not really aware of it, we can continue to mull a problem or situation even if it is not at the forefront of our thinking atm.

          I like this if I get stuck. There’s no point to sitting there for an hour trying to figure it out. I am stuck. So if I turn and look at something else, such as a few emails, my brain relaxes. I get a small sense of accomplishment from answering emails, too. So when I go back to where I got stuck, I have fresh eyes and a small sense of renewed energy. I can usually get myself UNstuck.

          But there’s other ways to use incubation time. A brief stretch or a short walk is good for the body and the mind.

          The goal is to nip this problem now OR figure out if it not fixable because of the work itself. It’s well worth your time and energy here.

          Make more of an effort to notice what others around you are doing. Copy the better employees. If someone asks you for coffee- go at least once. You don’t have to make the person your friend and you don’t have to go again. The goal here is to find your own sane and sustainable pacing.

          What worked in college was only for those 4 years. It probably won’t hold up over decades of employment.

    6. Saraquill*

      One trick I quickly picked up for office life is drinking lots of fluid. Getting up and leaving your desk to get a beverage or use the toilet are acceptable breaks in decent workspaces. I’ve also stood up and stretched frequently when chairs made my legs hurt. All of these activities helped give my brain a break.

    7. Gnome*

      Was it really how you functioned in college? Did you walk from one class to another? Did you have gaps in your schedule for lunch – even if you didn’t use them? Were you working on one project or topic all day, or did it vary?

      I’m wondering if you might want to ask some questions like this and see if maybe you’ve been burning yourself out by ignoring the little gaps in time or by how your brain might have appreciated different types of stimuli or your body reaction to different rooms/surroundings.

      1. pancakes*

        Good point. I did sometimes work that way in college, but I also often went to the movies 3x a week! (On a Film Forum membership, not at a megaplex, fwiw; quite a bit cheaper).

    8. Paris Geller*

      My natural working style is very similar to yours, and going from school to the working world was HARD for me. I, much like you, would work on projects in long, sustained bursts and then recover. One thing that really helped me is getting rid of the idea of a “finish line”. Maybe your motivation is different, but in school I worked well this way because at the end, I was DONE. At work, sure, a project might be finished, but there’s always more work, some of which is project-based and some of which is responsive. I’ve deliberately trained myself to slow down. I’m a good worker, but I don’t try to be the fastest worker or even the best worker. I take stretch breaks. I organize my desk. I brainstorm future ideas (your mileage may vary if you’re in a job where you’re responsible for brainstorming/idea creation, but since I am, sometimes just letting my mind wander helps–and it actually is productive at the end of the day!). I make sure to take my lunches. I don’t let work or work projects consume me the same way I did in school.

    9. Tex*

      If you still want that schedule, get a job at a remote worksite – energy, US govt civilian contractor at a foreign base. It’s usually 6 weeks work (long days, including OT), 2 weeks off.

      1. just another queer reader*

        A few other industries that do intensive, long days and then more days off:
        Nursing – 3-4 12-hour shifts per week
        Some manufacturing (“4 12s”)
        Oil rigs in the Golf of Mexico
        Salmon fishing in Alaska
        Mining/ drilling in Alaska – AAM published a very interesting interview with someone who worked there

    10. Irish Teacher*

      I worked a lot like that in college too – “I have three assignments due in such a week, if I get them all done by the end of the week before, I won’t have much to do that week except attend class.”

      I’m a teacher so I guess that is sort of a similar working style (and yikes, my summer REALLY is, because I finish up at the end of May/early June, then I correct from the end of June to mid-July and that is REALLY full-on, then once that is over, I’m free again until the end of July). I never thought of this before but teaching really fits with my style of working, crazy busy, taking work home during term time, then plenty of breaks.

      Sorry, I haven’t really any advice for you. I’ve never really worked in a traditional office and this sounds like something I’d struggle with too.

  13. H*

    I want to quit my nonprofit/community board position. I just don’t like it and don’t want to do it anymore. I have no good reasons except I don’t want to spend my free time doing any of this stuff anymore. Any thoughts? Should I just suck it up. I literally just lied to get out of going to an 11A event tomorrow because I would rather going hiking.

    1. Heather*

      Well it sounds like maybe you need a vacation! Or maybe you should quit– it’s impossible to know from your brief letter. But I do know I would rather go hiking 100% of the time, rather than coming to my job, which I love and really enjoy.

      1. H*

        It is a volunteer board position which requires 1 board meeting a month which is 2-3 hours because our board is a mess. I am a program committee chair and that is another 2 hour meeting a month (all after 6:30P in the evening). This doesn’t include special meetings and events, etc ugh

        1. Beka Cooper*

          Hahaha I was briefly on the board for something like this, and it totally was a mess. In my day job, meetings resulted in concrete to-do lists for each member at the end of it. Then I went to these board meetings where the same conversation was had every time and nothing was ever concluded, and nobody actually did anything. It was so frustrating!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “I am finding that I can’t devote the time and energy to the position that I think the organization deserves.”

      The **reason** that’s true is because you don’t like it. But nobody has to know that.

    3. Mockingjay*

      You don’t have to justify your reasons. Simply resign so they can find a replacement. “Dear Board, I am resigning from Position effective date. I have enjoyed supporting our community projects and wish you all the best.” If pressed, provide a vague answer: “I need to concentrate on some family matters.” If there are things to be turned over, explain how/when that will be done.

    4. Theo*

      Do it. Just do it! I quit mine last year and have enjoyed peace and freedom since :D

      If you’re feeling generous, tell them you will stay on until X is handled (whatever X is, as long as it has an end date).

      1. H*

        Everyone on this thread is making me feel a lot less guilty about this. I really don’t think I can stick it out until the end of the year. Makes me cringe!

        1. Gracely*

          Don’t stick it out until the end of the year! Give notice and an end date, and make it soon. Like, say, end of August.

          We have limited time in this life. If you’re able to do something with your time that you enjoy more, DO IT.

        2. Kay*

          I stepped down from multiple responsibilities recently, including board positions, and I feel so much better! They will continue after you are gone and you will be so much happier. My only regret – not doing it sooner.

    5. Beth*

      Don’t suck it up; spit it out.

      One of the best moments in my life was resigning from the board of an organization where I had volunteered. I still loved the group’s work, but man, the only thing I learned by sitting on that board was how useless a board can be. Resign with dignity and firmness, give reasonable notice, but don’t worry about giving any reason at all for resigning. Make your resignation utterly forgettable.

    6. just a thought*

      Go ahead and quit! It’s your free time and you should do things you enjoy.

      When I was on a board and people quit, we could either have other people take over or find someone new that was excited about the position. There’s no reason to stay if you don’t want to do it and other people more excited about the cause can fill in.

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      As someone who worked in non-profits – board members leave all the time, for all kinds of reasons. It’s fine.

      The only reason there would be concern over your quitting would be if you’d agreed to specific conditions (length of service or a large donation/commitment to raise funds) when you started your board term, but even then there should be wriggle room if you discuss it first. (Also, it’s not like leaving a job, so there’s ultimately not much they can do to stop you from resigning.)

      Go forth and enjoy your free time!

    8. H*

      UPDATE! Drafted my brief letter to resign and scheduled it to leave my inbox to the Board President and ED at 4:55P. I feel liberated already!

        1. Her name was Joanne*

          Agreed. As someone who has been a nonprofit ED and on exec team, it’s good you’re leaving. An unengaged board member is, in many ways, worse than none at all. A win for you because you want to leave; a win for them because they can find a new, enthusiastic board member.

          1. BookMom*

            So true! You’re opening up a space for some one else who wants to serve! (And, frankly, disengaged board members drag every one else down.)

      1. Good on you*

        Applause. Maybe you’ll find another board or position after awhile. Maybe not. Good on you for self care.

    9. to varying degrees*

      Just write a letter of resignation and be done with it. I used to oversee about 21-22 different volunteer boards and seriously, I got resignations all the time. Some moved, didn’t have time, got sick or just didn’t want to do it anymore. All they need is a letter with an effective date and that’s it.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      An idea you might be able to reframe for yourself… some years ago our very active parent-teacher association president resigned before both her kids graduated. Public reason: “so that others can learn the role while I’m still here to help out.” Private reason: Get to play with her younger child at some events instead of being 100% tied up running them.

    11. RagingADHD*

      “I just don’t like it and don’t want to do it anymore.”

      Sounds like a very good reason to me.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Board member here. People leave boards all the time for this reason. I have 7 or so years with my current board we have lost at least 4 board members in those years.
      There is no shame in saying, “This isn’t for me.” Or “I have found that I need more personal time during the month.”

      Boards are a huge time suck and the regs are headbanging hard to work with. Even good board members who are immersed in the NPO, leave because of the intensity.

      Keep it short, give your resignation and they will thank you for your service. Then it’s over.

    13. M.*

      I wrote about something similar in last week’s thread. I’m not at the point where I want to quit yet, but it’s really starting to wear on me how much time out of my life this volunteer position takes. Today (Sunday, my day off), for example, it took me three hours to fill out, organize, and mail a slew of TY cards to donors. It really is exhausting. I believe in the mission 100%, but this is starting to amount to a PT job in hours each month, and that’s not what I ever wanted.

  14. Shopping anonymously*

    Any great farewell gift ideas for a colleague who’s moving abroad (presumably won’t be able to bring a ton of books or sentimental items)?

    1. Mostly Managing*

      When I moved overseas, one of the nicest gifts I was given was from my landlady. She gave me a set of coasters with pictures of this area on them. Totally a “tourist” item, but in my new home it was lovely to have photos of places that I missed. Plus, they were small so they didn’t take much space to pack.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      A hand-written card that says you enjoyed working with them (add a specific story or two) and you wish them well in their new country. A card is small and easy to pack, and something they can keep for a long time to remember the good relationship you had.

    3. Goose*

      When moving overseas, the last thing I would want is more “stuff”, so I would stick with a nice card or something that can be eaten quickly

    4. Aspiring*

      When my boss retired and moved out of state, I gave him a cheese board with a sort of touristy map laser cut into it. So … thin, practical, and he could entertain at his new place and point out where he lived and worked while serving snacks. Got it from Etsy.

    5. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      You could do a gift card (or online) to a common store or restaurant in the new country. Think like whatever their DoorDash or Kroger/Walmart/Target equivalent is. Or Amazon!

      They’re sure to need stuff.

    6. FalsePositive*

      I agree with a card with some nice, specific things you enjoyed about working with them (doesn’t have to be deep and profound, just “Hey I always appreciate your help. Remember X project, I’m glad we worked on it together.”

      Otherwise, if they will be packing/storing things, maybe a funny gift of packing tape and permanent markers. Or if you have the ability to haul around bigger thing, an offer to take things to the dump or to donate, etc.

    7. Robin Ellacott*

      I live on the west coast of Canada, and I gave a work friend moving to Europe a pashmina-size scarf with Haida designs on it. She used it on the plane and it was a memory of home.

      Something like that that’s local art or design, like earrings, a pen, a bookmark (the type of small thing you find in an art gallery store) might be workable.

    8. I wish I could move abroad*

      maybe a gift certificate to something akin to doordash in their new country, or honestly gift certificates to any popular type of home goods/hardware store to help them settle into their new home! moving abroad is sooooo expensive.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      As the colleague who has moved abroad, nothing that needs to be packed! I’ve literally had to throw away gifts that I would have quite appreciated otherwise, because I couldn’t fit in in my luggage and didn’t have time to figure out what to do with it. When I’m flying to a new location, I’ve usually got my luggage right up to the weight limit (including extra bags).

      One I really appreciated in a work/social setting was a digital photo album collected from friends and colleagues covering my time there. Otherwise, a card, with comments and signatures from everyone, is a nice keepsake.

    10. Zee*

      Money. Moving abroad is expensive.

      All the going-away gifts I got went straight to Goodwill when I moved overseas… with the exception of one, which was a greeting card-sized watercolor painting that my boss did. Lightweight and easy to pack by tucking into one of the few books I took. But I only hung onto it because she painted it… wouldn’t have kept it if someone just bought it for me.

  15. hopeful ex librarian*

    I just wanted to thank y’all for the cover letter advice on my post last week. I’ve implemented some of the suggestions when I did my job application day this week — for my own mental health, I only search/apply a day or two a week.

    Specifically, I’ve tried to show more why I’m applying to that job or why I’m interested in the field, and drawing from my experience, thanks to the advice from my last thread.

    I’m really hoping for at least a couple interviews soon. Ideally, I’d get farther than a single interview, but… it’s been a really hard process (for a few reasons), probably because I’m also trying to leave the library field and see what else is out there; so, I’ll take any wins where I can get them.

    I’m so appreciative of this community. :)

    1. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

      Well done! Job hunting is…well, a job in itself. Let us know how it’s going!

    2. current ex librarian*

      it looks like you’re looking into various options. have you considered data governance? it’s pretty hot field that hardly anybody understands. I got my MSLIS in 2019, got hired in an entry level DG position at a fortune 50 company, and am now at different company getting paid bank to lead their program. good luck!

      1. Another librarian*

        Can you talk about what skills are needed to get into data governance? Did you take courses while getting your MLIS related to it?

        1. hopeful ex librarian*

          oooh, yes, i’d love to know more too! i also have my mlis but haven’t heard of this. :D

  16. Emm*

    Yesterday I saw a Buzzfeed article highlighting a Twitter trend of people discussing why they hate cover letters and other things about the application process. Okay, “article” is a strong word for page that’s just a collection of other people’s tweets, but it was interesting to read some of the thoughts there and I was curious how people here feel about cover letters.

    Personally, I’ve found a cover letter a great place to emphasize things that are harder to glean from my resume, such as how my positions in different fields all follow a common thread and make me a stronger candidate for the different experiences I’ve had. But I do agree that for some positions, they seem unnecessary or overdone, and I understand the frustration. I guess I work in an area where it’s still the standard, so it’s fine with me.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Well-done cover letters can be very helpful, but not every position should require them. I think they also have a decently steep learning curve. It’s easy to write a bad cover letter. It’s all the stress of college application essays all over again.

      1. Emm*

        That’s so true! I found some old cover letters recently that I wrote in college, and… oh man, I cringed.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Let’s say there’s two kinds of people in some sort of ratio. Some like reading cover letters, some don’t bother. The people that don’t read them, won’t read yours and probably won’t even think twice about it, so no harm/no foul. The people that DO read them like the ones that don’t read like the “personalized” letters you get from insurance companies about all their latest deals. They will actually engage with text that is authentic and specific to them.

      So I recommend using cover letters as a signifier for “hey, you guys are specifically a company I’d like to do this role for, and here’s a hook that might be helpful for you to have in mind while you look at this resume I’ve crafted to fully address your job posting. Oh, and I’d love to talk to you about it, so here’s the best ways/times to reach me.”

      They don’t have to be long, and they shouldn’t re-state the resume, but they can highlight the best bits.

    3. SEB*

      I would love to see cover letters disappear from applications completely for two reasons – 1 – it’s time consuming for the applicants and many hiring managers will never read it (unless you make it to later stages – in which case, ask for it at a later stage in the process) and 2 – I don’t believe it is an equitable or inclusive practice.

      Re: 1 – Sure, as a candidate you have a template that you then will tweak and edit for a role specifically, but it still takes time. As someone who believes they write strong cover letters and has a few starting templates, I would say it still takes 10 minutes at least to edit/change and save/PDF each customized cover letter per application. Last job search I applied to about 70 places, most of which required cover letters. That’s 11 hours on cover letters!! As someone who has led recruitment departments for years, I can assure you that the recruiter or hiring manager is opening your resume first, scanning, and making a decision. A few may THEN decide to look at your cover letter IF your resume was strong, but even then, a lot won’t. That’s a lot of wasted time on my part for little return.

      Re: 2 – The cover letter requirement is going to shrink your pool. For candidates that have family obligations after work, they might not be able to prioritize writing cover letters between caring for an elderly parent or putting kids to bed. If they’re a strong candidate, they’ll skip your application and stick to postings that don’t require it. As we’ve learned here on AAM, there’s an art to writing to a good cover letter. I think the cover letter requirement gives an advantage to individuals who have support and resources to know how to do this – family/parents in the corporate world, a strong career center at a university, etc. Individuals navigating the corporate world themselves for the first time are at an inherent disadvantage. It’s incredibly tough to take a job description, suss out the most critical elements and then tailor a letter that provides the details the hiring manager wants to know. You’re having to mind-read!

      I would much prefer to see organizations move to a few short questions and eliminate cover letters. Don’t make people guess what you want to know or have them highlight that’s not on their resume. Just ask.

      1. Emm*

        Interesting points! I’m all for making job applications easier, and it is true that cover letter writing is an art which requires a know-how. But writing a good resume is also a learned skill that not everyone knows how to do, and that’s much more commonly expected (and more useful) than a cover letter. I wonder if we’re moving towards a future without either of these to something more like a fillable application (the kind of thing we already see, but without the need to upload anything else), so the whole process becomes a little easier to immerse yourself in without all the prerequisite knowledge.

      2. pancakes*

        “A few may THEN decide to look at your cover letter IF your resume was strong, but even then, a lot won’t.”

        You don’t think this is likely to vary tremendously depending on how much of the job involves written communication? I expect a hiring manager looking for, say, retail staff, will give candidates’ cover letters a quick skim at most, unless something jumps out at them. I would expect a hiring manager looking for someone to work in, say, the investor relations division of the same retail company, to have a different approach.

      3. Desdemona*

        I agree— but also when I’ve been a hiring manager, I’ve had 300+ people apply for the same job. I can’t possibly narrow it down just based on the resume. I need the cover letter to help. I also hire for roles that require very good writing skills and empathy, and so cover letters are great for showcasing those skills.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I write for a living, and cover letters have been necessary for every job application I’ve done since I got out of retail.

          Naturally there are jobs where cover letters shouldn’t be necessary, and could be considered discriminatory, because the job doesn’t require great writing skills.

    4. Saraquill*

      Some people are adept at writing formal nonfiction that’s both vague and formulaic. I’m not one of them, and I don’t have the headspace to write a custom tailored cover letter for every position I apply to, especially when I was sending out a high volume of applications a week.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Cover letters are great for explaining details that aren’t easily conveyed in resume format. Using a cover letter made it much easier to explain why most of my work experience was in the US when applying for jobs after I moved back to the UK. Having a big header saying “recently relocated to X place” would really be the only way to do that in resume format and even then, it could still get missed when the resume is chopped up into plain text by applicant tracking systems.

      Cover letter explanations would also be helpful for anyone with gaps between jobs, who is looking to switch fields or who is trying to explain a complicated employment history.

    6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      This spring when I was searching it was at first a very casual search at first and a lot of the ATS systems really didn’t have a place to add one. So I don’t bother and still got a lot of interviews. I think if they ask for one, or there’s a clear place to add one, or it’s a job you really want badly, it’s not going to harm you.

      But if you’re in a field where it doesn’t seem to matter, I think it’s equally valid to try applying first without one if you want.

    7. Mantis Tobaggan, MD*

      I would never skip the cover letter personally, for reasons specific to my situation. First, I’ve never applied to more than a few jobs a week (they just aren’t enough relevant postings in my geographic area) so it’s not a huge time burden. Second, the roles I would consider applying for tend to involve a lot of writing so of course I’d take advantage of a cover letter to showcase my writing abilities.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This, all the way. I’m in communications, so writing a good cover letter can actually showcase my skills right upfront and put me over the top when other applicants fail to include one.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I think it’s good to have a built-in way to explain things that might be concerning. I was a trailing spouse and then a SAHM so my work history looks really bad (lots of 1-2 year positions and then out of work for several years). It was reassuring to have a space where I could be like “I’m not a flake and I’m not going to move again!” up front. They’re miserable to write though and I think I’m an above-average writer for a non-writing industry.

    9. ND and awkward*

      I loathe cover letters. I’m autistic with severe social anxiety, so I can agonise for literal days over what ends up being two shoddy paragraphs. It’s honestly a miracle I was even interviewed for my current job, hearing how much stock HR put in cover letters once I was hired (I sat opposite them in the open office), but with all the above-and-beyond work I’ve done in my time here they’d have been hard pressed to get a better fit for what they needed based on my original job description.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Right, and writing cover letters isn’t your job description! It’s not a requirement of the job, but it is a requirement to get the job. It’s so silly. Being able to present yourself well — in person or in a letter — is a whole other skill people have to learn for job applications, which sucks when it’s not part of the job at all. Like, of course I’d expect a writer to have a good cover letter.

        1. pancakes*

          If you were hiring someone to, say, do some work on your home, you wouldn’t look at how the candidates for that presented themselves at all? That’s probably not the best analogy, but what I’m trying to say is that categorically overlooking that could (or would) result in overlooking relevant info about the best person for the job. It doesn’t strike me as ridiculous that strangers won’t already know all they need to about one another. Both people in that scenario will have to “present themselves” to some degree or other in order to accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish.

          1. ND and awkward*

            Is that not what CVs and qualifications are for, though? My disability-caused struggles with communication have very little to do with my work ability, as proven by the “rockstar” reputation I’ve earned everywhere I’ve worked. Putting more stock in how I present myself would be overlooking the value I bring.

            1. pancakes*

              I’m thinking of the person who recently posted in the weekend thread about a worker who turned up at their home, hired by their contractor I think, and spouted some very unpleasant and unsettling conspiracy theories while there. Looking strictly at someone’s CV and qualifications often doesn’t reveal much about what it’s like to spend time in their company, or whether they have good judgment about the world around them, or any number of other qualities that working with them will often eventually reveal. For some jobs maybe those qualities aren’t the most important, but I think there are relatively few where they’re immaterial.

      2. Parakeet*

        I’m also autistic with severe social anxiety, but I like cover letters because my career trajectory and combination of skills are very weird and a cover letter lets me frame them in a way that’s to my advantage.

        I can understand why people who don’t need to do that kind of framing, would find them really annoying to do, though.

    10. talos*

      I hate cover letters. I’m a software developer, so one of those fields where writing isn’t irrelevant per se but certainly isn’t a core job task.

      I just…never know what to put? Like, you can tell I’m qualified because of what is on my resume, and you can tell I’m capable of communicating when I interview (and when we exchange emails to set up interviews and such, which is honestly a much closer match for most of the writing I actually do day-to-day in my job). There is nothing to put in my cover letter that isn’t already on my resume, and most software job postings are not specific enough about the details of the role for me to talk about why I fit well (I think this is largely an IP protection thing and/or a blanket-job-posting thing, and is particularly common at very large companies). Plus I get pretty severe anxiety about what to put in these kinds of thing.

      More cynically, I write decently but interview *extremely* well, so I want my first impression to be the interview rather than a cover letter.

    11. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      As a hiring manager I find cover letters so valuable, though I can acknowledge they might not apply to every job in every field. When I’m reviewing a stack of resumes, there is often additional information I want — was your last job grooming one llama every day or grooming the tails of 17 llamas every day and do you understand the difference as it relates to the job opening I’m hiring for? That isn’t always something that is apparent from a resume. Are you actively pursuing a move to my city even though your resume lists jobs in another state? That would give me a different perspective than a resume alone. That’s the TYPE of information I usually look for, along with anything that wouldn’t naturally fit in a CV.

      I will say, though, that in speaking with friends and colleagues about how I screen resumes and cover letters, it’s often a matter of perspective. I am a direct person and letters that start by telling me they have dreamed of grooming llamas for years drive me nuts because I mostly only care about what skills they are bringing to my team. But I know other managers who genuinely prefer a longer, more story oriented letter. Like so many things in life it can be a bit of a crap shoot as well.

    12. TPS reporter*

      I’m a manager in a large org that gets a ton of applications, so cover letters really help identify who among many would be good for the initial round. Many people seem to apply to us because we have a pretty well known name and not because they know anything about the job or if the job is what they really want. My positions also involve heavy writing skills so I want to see that someone can briefly and clearly describe themselves and how their experience fits with the role. The role also involves communications with people across the world on a daily basis so again writing skills are extremely valuable.

      To determine if a cover letter is needed (I agree that not all positions should require one) the hiring manager should consider what kind of company they you have and what kind of role they are looking to fill to determine if a cover letter is needed.

    13. Eyes Kiwami*

      Something that’s common in my country is rather than a cover letter–that is, a proper letter format document with no baked-in template where you decide whatever details are worth adding– here we do something different: often there is a text box (traditionally this is a space on your resume template) where you write about your motivation for applying, and there is another text box where you can introduce yourself and PR your skills. Sometimes there is another box for other relevant information you want to tell a company. Sometimes online these have character limits, and of course on a paper resume you don’t want it to be too long. So it’s really just two paragraphs you have to write, instead of a full letter.

      I think that is basically the same as a cover letter, content-wise, except that it’s clearly labeled as a section and it’s just a paragraph, so you don’t need to come up with new fluff about how you’re soooo excited to apply.

  17. Internproblems*

    How can I rescind acceptance of a misleading “development opportunity”? I know the answer may be that I cannot, but I have been waiting all week to get advice on this. My to-do list is already too long, and I accepted not realizing how much would be involved. The things we have to do to comply with the requirements of the corporate initiative are simple (think, requiring everyone to confirm they completed anti-corruption training). But my grandboss wants me to come up with a sort of “team building” event (with no associated budget).

    This is not in line with my development goals, I am already working outside of my original job (and have to wait another six months to know my new compensation, title, official job description, etc. And whether I’ll even get promoted to recognize my existing higher-level work. Take a guess on if I’m job searching). I see now that this was BS corporate framing of taking on more work without any increase in compensation, and I fell for it. I want to go back to my boss and say that I have too much actual work to “give this the focus it deserves” and suggest they rehome tasks that aren’t mandatory. Or perhaps saying I don’t see added value to what is being asked of me, and asking my boss to explain how this helps my development?

    I don’t know if I’ll completely burn the bridge by doing that though. They already announced to the team that I would be taking this on. Honestly…I feel played and taken advantage of more than I already did. But I know bringing that framing to my boss isn’t going to be useful. I need to just not have to do this anymore on top of all the other legitimate stretch assignments I am already doing.

    1. Emm*

      I’m not 100% sure that I’m understanding, but it sounds like this team building event is as much an assigned task as it is a development opportunity, since it was something your grandboss asked you to do. In that case, I would rope in your boss to see if you can get some support and have a talk about your workload. Ask for help!

      If it’s something that you can’t get out of, I think it’s worth trying to look at it from a different perspective. Perhaps this isn’t the kind of specific work you thought you would be working on, but putting in a good effort may be good professional development in your relationship with others at the company.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Classic Alison prioritization script: “Boss, I’ve already got A – W on my plate. If I work on the team building exercise, A- M won’t be completed on time for the client. Is there someone else who can develop the exercise?”

      This phrasing makes it clear that 1) your priorities are your regular tasks/clients and 2) there might be someone else who can handle the task. Bosses have their “go-to” people who become defaults (you’re reliable and YOU GET STUFF DONE); remind Boss that other team members can handle stuff too.

      1. Internproblems*

        I appreciate this reminder to treat it as another task, rather than the extra special joyous event it was supposed to be for me. Because it really is just another task. Treating it as such when positioning my workload to my boss is I think the best way for me to not get emotional/frustrated during the conversation.

  18. Saraquill*

    Sharing a weird job offer from this past winter.

    In addition to a day job, I volunteer at a magazine. All magazine staff, paid and volunteer, have a name (at) magazine dot com address. I get a Linked In message one day from someone saying they’re a big fan of the magazine and they liked my LinkedIn profile. Would I like a day job at their company? They also had a staff member reverse engineer my magazine email to email me the same offer.

    I’m job hunting anyway, so I give a look to this company, and the look legitimate. I reply with my interest via LinkedIn messaging. Through email, I ask we continue communications through my personal email, which I check much more often than magazine email. They proceed to ignore me on LinkedIn and continue reaching out to me via my magazine email. Then they get cross I never make it to a video interview I didn’t know about in advance, as they kept using my magazine email.

    We ended up rescheduling the interview, but then they ghosted me. I don’t feel bad the job offer went nowhere.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      There’s SO MANY reasons a candidate would prefer not to be using a work email for negotiations about a job interview.

      The fact that they couldn’t manage to adjust from using a contact method that THEY initiated by reverse engineering the emails was definitely one of the first of many red flags in this situation.

    2. pancakes*

      I don’t think it does look legitimate for whoever that was to offer someone they’d never spoken to a job based on a connection to a magazine. That’s not how well-run businesses operate!

  19. BalanceofThemis*

    I’m struggling with burnout and know I need to take some time off, but looking at the programming schedule we have, it’s not going to be possible this year. What’s worse is my boss is currently taking a 2 week vacation, another co-worker will be taking 2 weeks at the end of the month, and I can’t even find 2 days to give myself a long weekend.

    Any tips for not fully melting down are appreciated.

    1. Alex*

      Why do your boss and coworkers think that they can take time off when you don’t think so? Do they not work on programming?

      Clearly your boss values time off. Can you ask her that you really need some time off and that you feel you can’t due to your responsibilities, and ask her to help you with that?

      1. BalanceofThemis*

        They can take time because they have people who can cover their responsibilities, I do not. Someone was supposed to be hired that I would supervise, and could cover my programs, but it keeps getting put off.

        1. WhimsicalWhale*

          If they’ve decided they don’t need to hire someone to cover your responsibilities, they’ve either decided you don’t get to use your vacation time or some of your stuff gets dropped when you take a vacation. My advice is very dependent on the sort of organization it is and how much you value your job and how much the organization values you, but I would simply schedule a vacation and start making arrangements for the balls to fall when you’re gone. If someone pushes back, you can point out how long it has been since you’ve had a vacation and how long it will be until the programming schedule calms down. (I don’t have a problem forcing issues, if you can’t tell)

          1. BalanceofThemis*

            Balls aren’t allowed to fall, and I need my job, at least until I can find a different one.

          2. BalanceofThemis*

            Unfortunately they can point to my taking a couple days in the spring for a wedding, but that wasn’t a vacation so much as a visit to the 7th circle of Hell.

            1. pancakes*

              At the very least, don’t do that again. Use the precious and infrequent time off you get for your own needs, not for trying to meet the expectations of people who’ll make you miserable.

              It doesn’t seem accurate to say balls aren’t allowed to fall in this workplace. They seem to be allowed to fall on you repeatedly. It’s just that you don’t have anyone else you can let them fall on in turn, nor an exit plan yet. Please work on one!

              In the meantime, it seems likely that someone else would indeed have to try to catch balls in your absence. Whether they do or don’t succeed at that needn’t be on your mind while you’re not there. If there’s a pile-up when you get back you can work through it the same way you already work through your unsustainable workload: To the best of your abilities within the time available. You can’t do more than that.

        2. Lady_Lessa*

          What would happen if you and your car were in an accident with a deer, and you were out of work because of your (minor, but painful) injuries?

        3. Hen in a Windstorm*

          Sounds like boss needs to step in and do that job so you can get a break. They are the one who put it off, so they are the one to take that hit. You shouldn’t take it.

          Think of it this way: if your burnout leads to illness, you’ll be out anyway. Might as well plan for it and control it.

          1. BalanceofThemis*

            My boss didn’t put it off, her bosses did. She wanted to hire at the beginning of the year, but the upper levels kept putting it off.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Enlist your boss’ help. See if you can cross-train her or someone else to cover the most essential parts of your job so you can get a break. It’s either you schedule a break for yourself, or your body will schedule one for you.

        4. Sherm*

          That’s their problem, not yours. They can’t just give you PTO as part of your compensation and then say “but you can’t use it because we’ve failed to hire someone.” Couldn’t your boss cover for you?

          1. BalanceofThemis*

            For some of it yes. The program that is a big sticking point is a weekly weekend program that I oversee, but is supposed to be facilitated by a volunteer. Unfortunately, we are short on volunteers, and the ones we have aren’t always available, or get sick, and then I have to cover it. And it cannot be canceled, I asked about that once and got my head bitten off. We DO NOT cancel programs.

            1. Shirley Keeldar*

              It sounds to me like your workplace has told you (explicitly or implicitly) that you’re not allowed significant time off, and you’ve internalized that pretty hard. But as a lot of people here are pointing out, that’s not okay! If your workplace held onto your paycheck because you’re so gosh-darned important to the company that they couldn’t pay you, you’d be outraged. We’re all pretty outraged that you’re not being allowed to use an important piece of your compensation.

              “Boss, I haven’t been able to have a real break from work for X months and I’m starting to burn out. I’m afraid I won’t be able to give our clients my best if this continues. My vacation time is part of my compensation and I really need to be able to use it. I’d like to sit down with you this week and put some vacation on the calendar.”

              Good luck, we’re rooting for you!

              1. Mid*

                I would use stronger language. It’s not a request to use vacation time, you’re informing them that you are indeed taking this time, and you are being generous enough to offer them some say in the timing.

                “Boss, I haven’t been able to take a break from work for X months and I’m starting to burn out. I will not be able to give clients my best if this continues. I’d like to sit down with you this week so you can figure out coverage for the time I’ll be off.” It’s their job to figure it out, and their job to make sure teams are properly staffed. I know it isn’t the direct boss but one level up that is preventing a new person being hired, but that’s only because Balance has made it possible to do that. Balls need to drop so they’ll finally be motivated to properly staff the events team.

    2. Mid*

      I empathize with you. I ended up taking an unexpected LOA from work for multiple months because my mental health deteriorated severely. I felt like I couldn’t take any time off because, like you, there is no coverage for my role when I’m out. I kept putting off taking a break, until I literally couldn’t anymore. And then I didn’t have time to plan or work on getting coverage, I told them on a Wednesday that I would not be coming in for the foreseeable future and I’d be in touch in two weeks about a more concrete timeline. And, my job made it work. The world didn’t end. I know we’re in different roles and different lines of work (I don’t do programming/events), but if you were abducted by aliens tomorrow, they’d find a way to make things work.

      If you don’t prioritize taking a break, you won’t be able to do your job at all. It’s difficult, I really do understand that, and the guilt, and people telling you you “just can’t do that.” But, the fact is, **you can**, and you must, because your wellbeing is far more important than any job.

      If they have to cancel programs, then maybe they’ll finally hire the help they need. Because right now, you are harming yourself to cover for your job’s unwillingness to properly staff their teams. That is not okay. And, more importantly, it is NOT your fault or responsibility. If they CHOOSE to not hire people, then they are choosing to run the risk of not having all their planned events happening.

      You need to tell your boss that you need a break, for at least X amount of days, in Y timeframe (THIS YEAR, as soon as possible), and that it is non-negotiable. Starting on Z date, you will be out of the office and fully unreachable. Do not bend on this. They might be upset with you, but again, it is not your fault they are choosing to understaff their programs and you are a human being who needs rest. Everyone does. Everyone is entitled to take their leave of work, and that includes you. If your boss’s boss doesn’t want to hire someone, then they can step up and cover your time off. Do not agree to answer your phone or email on your break. Write instructions/guidance for someone to cover your work, and then disconnect. Do not be guilt tripped into solving problems that you did not create.

      Because, speaking from personal and very recent experience, once you hit full burn out, you will not be able to work, and they will be in a far worse situation than if you took your allotted leave. You are giving them advanced notice and time to prepare for your absence, and they will figure it out.

    3. Silverose*

      If you’re that close to melting down, go see your doctor to ask about taking a medical leave of absence. Not sure if you’re in the US or elsewhere, but in the US, you can use PTO and FMLA simultaneously to cover medical leave until you run out, then when PTO runs out use short term disability then long term disability. If your employer won’t grant a vacation to prevent burnout, then they are stuck with mandatory medical leave to treat the burnout.

    4. allathian*

      Consider what would happen if you had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized? That’s what can happen with severe burnout.

  20. Pilot's Error*

    To keep this concise… my boss recently left. I am picking up some of the slack. I am not enjoying my experience of enhanced leadership. (I had been managing a small team before, which I also wasn’t in love with, but these new responsibilities have put me in front of our leadership). I’ve been told I’m doing great. I’ve been told that I’ve remained calm and even. That’s all great, except… internally/mentally – I’m a hot mess. Everything I’ve read says I need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And to be honest, I don’t see how I will ever be able to accomplish that. My fear of failure is way too great and my need for validation (that rarely eases my mind for more than a day or two) is too strong.

    I’m looking for jobs. But, I don’t want to take something as a knee-jerk response to the emotional distress I’m feeling. At some point, they’ll hire someone else and perhaps things will slide back to my comfort zone and I can look for something that’s more my speed and good for me, rather than just something that’s good for now.

    But how do I navigate the anxious hell I’m in now and will probably be in for the next few months? (FYI – I am in therapy and also recently started taking Ashwaghanda)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Is there anyone else who can pick up the leadership slack? Your boss’s boss? One of your coworkers on your team?

      I think this is a conversation to have with your boss’s boss. “I’ve heard some positive feedback on how I’ve been stepping up to fill in [boss’s] role, but I want to be honest with you that I don’t enjoy the leadership responsibility. Is there anyone we can transition these duties to over the next couple of weeks, so I am not the one managing [team] until we hire someone new for the role?”

      1. ronda*

        or are there parts of the role you can do until new hire and parts you can’t.

        ie.
        I will be team lead for the staff, but not able to attend management/ executive meeting. (with boss’s boss doing that part)

    2. Anastatia Beaverhousen*

      Is there is difference between what work thinks is “good work” and what you think is “good work”? Sometimes knowing that you are meeting expectations helps (think “yeah I hit the benchmark”). If you can identify if there are discrepancies in what you think you need to do versus what you actually need to do this may help. Try looking at the job description for what you are covering and get feedback from those above you.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I second advice about reframing what success looks like, as much as possible. The hardest thing about mangaging is figuring out how much of your time should be spent on the business of managing rather than your work for the team (whether that’s writing memos, individual contribution work or reviewing work generated by your staff).

      I don’t know how long you were managing your small team, but since you have a different role get as much clarity as possible from your boss and especially your peers about what that ratio looks like for them, which will help you to calibrate. Your might feel you did almost nothing one day but if you had productive conversations with team members about their work, or took half an hour to approve expense claims or even managed to promote your team’s work to the leadership team since you’re in front of them more, that is often an example of a really great day’s work.

      I cannot emphasize enough that reaching out to other managers at your level accomplishes a lot here. Start with something small: a gut check on how a meeting you were both in went, or “have you ever had a problem with TPS sign-off?” and start to build a rapport. It helps.

      This isn’t actionable but to the extent it makes you feel less alone … my first 3 months as a new manager at a new organization I was anxious constantly and struggling for validation because I didn’t have good metrics for my performance yet, so I never knew if what I was doing was a C or a B or an A level. It was absolutely exhausting but it did get better. When I look back I see I was on the right track from the beginning and could have set more boundaries for myself so I didn’t feel “always on.” To the extent you can do the same it will help. Take your lunch break and don’t read work emails at that time. Go for a walk around the block if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Navigating anxious hell:
      Tell yourself it’s temporary.
      Advocate for yourself, “Hey Big Boss I wanted to tell you that this Boss Job is just not for me.”
      Ask if a peer can “co-boss” with you.
      Ask for a temporary raise, that alone can make them back off- this is a know your employer thing.
      Ask for a deadline for this temporary position- so you know when the end is.
      Tell your boss you need a mentor to talk with.
      Can you and your big boss divide up the workload differently- where you off load the really nerve-wracking stuff on to him?

      Other than that I strongly recommend high levels of self-care, whole foods, hydration and rest. A stressed mind means a stressed body. Fortify your body, strengthen your mind in turn.

      FWIW, no one is going to like any job if they are just thrown into it with no prep for it, regardless if it’s management or not. Keep reading here for general knowledge that may help in some way.

  21. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    “I am finding that I can’t devote the time and energy to the position that I think the organization deserves.”

    The **reason** that’s true is because you don’t like it. But nobody has to know that.

  22. Student Affairs Sally*

    I work in higher education, for a large university system in the midwest. I am not at the flagship campus, but a smaller satellite campus. I’ve been here just over 6 months and have had overall a great experience – this has been my favorite job of my career so far. But now the system is considering shifting our PTO model from having multiple “buckets” (vacation, sick time, and personal days) with a significant amount of rollover, to a one-bucket model that gives us overall 2 weeks less PTO and limits our rollover to 10 days a year. The “advantage” is that they are looking to offer short-term disability (which only pays out 60% of your salary – I can’t afford to live on 60% of my salary, I can barely afford to live on 100%) and parental/caregiver leave (I don’t plan on having children and my parents are already deceased). I support adding short-term disability and parental leave, but I DON’T support taking away 10 of my days off in order to do it. The thing that makes me the most angry is that the way they’re going about this is very untransparent – the email they sent announcing the proposal buried the information that we would actually be losing 2 weeks of PTO behind two different links and you had to scroll through a 130 page PDF document to find it. They were originally going to hold “listening sessions” for each individual campus, but instead they are holding system-wide Zoom “information sessions” DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF CLASS. Basically they are hoping to squeak this in under everyone’s notice and I am FURIOUS. The only reason I know as much as I do is because one of my colleagues is on a committee about benefits for our campus.

    So my question is, if this ends up passing (which seems almost inevitable at this point), should I consider job searching already? I was at my last job for just over a year because it was a toxic nightmare. Job before that was 5 years and was my first professional role in higher ed. My salary is not high – it’s education, after all – but it’s pretty good for my specific niche and level of experience. My health insurance is okay but not great. The current PTO system is pretty much the only benefit that is competitive. I am very very good at my job. I’m just so frustrated with the lack of transparency and underhandedness of the way they’re doing this, on top of losing some of my really valuable days.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      No advice on job searching, but this is so frustrating, as it will pit parents against non-parents, deflecting attention from the administrators who made the change. Any chance of group pushback, informal organizing, etc.?

      1. Overeducated*

        I’m not sure it will – for parents of babies and small kids, 10 days a year of PTO is hugely important for covering sick days and closures. Huge. The first 3-6 months is just a small part of what it takes to raise a kid, and making it an either-or is a move I think a lot of parents would take issue with.

    2. time to apply*

      Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I am leaving my current job. When I started, we had a very normal 12 days vacation, 12 days sick, and no need to use time off for anything less than half a day. Then a year in, it switched to 15 days PTO total and a need to use that for any time out of office. Not cool. Benefits are a huge part of the job and 15 days is barely enough for me to cover the days my kid’s school is closed, let alone have a vacation or a sick day. See ya later alligators!

    3. Mazey's Mom*

      I work in higher education as well, also in a niche area, and in this climate, I don’t think it hurts to at least see what else is out there. We’ve had a significant number of people move from one unit to another in order to get a bump in salary, if not an actual promotion, because some areas just don’t realize what it takes to keep a good employee there. Would it be worth it to go back to your supervisor and negotiate for those extra days back (along with a nice raise) in order for them to keep you where you are?

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      YES ! (to the job hunting).

      I am sure that the powers that be knew what they were doing.

      Good luck in finding something

    5. Gracely*

      I’d job search. That’s way too much PTO to just hack off of people’s benefits and expect no pushback. They know exactly what they’re doing, and it sucks. And they know it sucks.

      That committee’s members need to be sounding the alarm. This is the kind of thing that everyone needs to know about.

    6. Manchmal*

      Why don’t you make some noise about this? If you’re considering leaving, it seems like there’s no harm in doing it. Talk to some colleagues, go en masse to that listening session, and raise a stink. If you get enough supporters making noise, writing letters, etc they may very well not go forward with it. I feel like higher ed is one place where doing this is more acceptable than the corporate world.

    7. CatCat*

      You could start job searching and also start spreading the word about the new benefit plan taking away 10 days of PTO. Sounds like they’re so far being very successful about keeping this under the radar (I mean… it’s weird, because like employees are never going to find out?)

      You don’t even have to personally organize people if that’s out of your comfort zone. Just get the word out. Post flyers in staff areas, for example with a short and simple message in big letters.

    8. Hanani*

      It doesn’t hurt anything to job search, even just to know what else is out there and be able to say to yourself “this situation sucks, but I’m choosing to stay here because it’s better than alternatives x and y”.

      Does your university have a union? Even if you’re not in a union, they may be people who are and the union may have more to say about this kind of switch.

      I don’t know how much of a fuss you want to make/risk you want to take, but talking to colleagues, your boss, ombudsperson, etc might all be ways to start to push back as a group.

    9. Anon for this*

      Absolutely yes to the job searching, but is there a campus electronic bulletin board or paper where you can outline this for others,? Or perhaps inform a couple of the loudest staff members? If people learn about it and protest it may not pass, or at least the administration may take another look.

    10. Mabelline*

      Job hunt. Job hunt NOW. Higher ed is hemorrhaging good employees and schools across the country are desperate to hire before Fall semester starts. That’s a tight timeline since it’s the end of July, but it’s feasible and the further we get into August, the more departments need help. Additionally, since many fiscal years begin September 1, you might be able to find a new position created from the upcoming fiscal year’s funds.
      Also, if you do find a new position and leave, make it as clear as possible the role that the PTO change played in your decision. You don’t have to burn bridges, but you should make sure that as many higher-ups as you can find are aware of the negative impact this is having on employee retention.

    11. BEC*

      That’s a “reply all” and say “I’m concerned we won’t have time during a Zoom call during the first week of class to give the loss of 10 days of annual PTO the discussion and focus it deserves. Are there other planned forums to be able to provide this feeeback?”

    12. M.*

      You’re always “allowed” to job hunt if something about the position, office, or industry isn’t working for you. I started my new job on a different team (also in higher ed) earlier in the year, and—quite frankly—I don’t love it. I did very well on my performance review and I genuinely enjoy the team, but enough time has passed that I really don’t think this is for me. So, yes, I’m looking now too!

    13. In your boat*

      Same boat as you. Most likely the same job system. It really shows that we are not as important as money. If you’ve only been “here” 6 months I say look around. Lots of great jobs out there.

  23. snowyowl*

    Hello everyone,

    I’m looking to leave my current job because I’d like to move closer to friends/family halfway across the country, and because my current boss is very toxic and it’s starting to seriously affect me mentally and emotionally. So far I haven’t been having a ton of luck with my job search — my skill set is very specialized, and unfortunately halfway across the country doesn’t have programs like the ones where I am. I am only about five years into the working world, and 100% willing to switch gears/do something tangentially related. However, I think I’m encountering 2 problems: jobs not wanting to hire someone from out of state and that I have a high level position here but don’t necessarily have skills outside of this area for a high level position (yet) elsewhere. I have been applying to positions where I could learn, and where I can explain how the experience I do have would be a boon — but still kind of mid level stuff.

    Recently I was approached by someone else in the state, in the field, saying that because my reputation is excellent they’d love to hire me to fill a role that opened up with them — this would be an improvement from my current job in a lot of ways (less toxic boss for one). That’s obviously been helpful for me mentally, however, I mentioned it to my family and they were very supportive of me taking it to get away from my current situation, but I really want to be moving out of this state and into a slightly different field. I would feel guilty if I took the new job and continued to job hunt, so I just don’t know what to do.

    Any and all advice would be very much appreciated, thank.

    1. Miette*

      Is it at all possible to do this potential new gig remotely? Perhaps if you are transparent with them that you’re interested in relocating, they’ll make it a remote job.

      And on the topic of applying to jobs from out of state: if you can state a date for your relocation in your cover letter/resume, they may be more open to reviewing your materials. At least that’s the advice I see Alison give for folks looking to move.

      1. snowyowl*

        Unfortunately my current field is considered an emergency/essential service, we haven’t gone remote at all during the pandemic. So there’s zero chance of doing it remotely.

        I have started saying “I will be relocating” instead of “I want to be relocating”, but I can’t afford to actually relocate without a job (I don’t need them to pay moving expenses, I just need to be able to make money once I’m there) so I’ve hesitated on putting an actual date on it. Especially because I’m applying to places that have a tendency to have a very slow hiring process. (I know people in similar roles, and one of them from application to job offer took over six months).

        Thank you!

        1. Ghost Bear*

          I would just say the vague timeline that you hope to move by. “I am planning to relocate to Target Area this fall, although my timeline is flexible.” Moving/relocation timelines are often not set in stone anyway.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Step 1, stop telling yourself you’re trapped.
      Step 2, take the new job! That’s an awesome opportunity.
      Step 3, once you are in a non-toxic environment, you will be able to think clearly about plans for the future.

      Job searches can take a long time, especially out of state. So unless you’re planning to up stakes and move without a job, you may be at the new job for a year anyway. But that’s all in the future. Control the present and worry about the future when it arrives.

      1. snowyowl*

        1. Thank you, I’ll try to remember.
        2. It is on paper, it should be doing about what I’m doing currently but at a larger location (I currently have 5 direct reports, this would give me 15 direct reports). I am a little worried it looks so good just because it’s “not here”.
        3. True!

        Thank you!

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Earlier this year, I accepted a job halfway across the country from where I was so I could move closer to friends/family. As Miette says, if you are not doing this already, put a sentence or two in your cover letter that you are planning to move to [state]. I put a short paragraph in my cover letters that said something along the lines of “I grew up in [state] and I am looking to move back there to be closer to my family.”

      As for taking this offer in your current state, the questions to ask yourself are:
      – how much would moving out of the toxic job benefit your mental health?
      – will you have the energy to start a new job and continue job-searching? if not, are you OK delaying the job-search near friends/family for a month or two?
      – are you OK burning the bridge with the non-toxic employer if you left after a short period of time? will burning a bridge with a company in your current state affect any job prospects in your future location?

      1. snowyowl*

        There are about six states that I’d be willing to move to — because they’re within driving distance of family/very close friends. I already tailor all my cover letters, but so far have just changed it to “I will be relocating back to the x region” do you think having the specific state would be better?

        Thank you for these questions, I’m definitely going to spend some time thinking about them. My mom was excited about the in state job and it’s made it so I can’t actually discuss my concerns with her about it. And I get where she’s coming from, she’s worried about me at the toxic job, but it does make it hard to think about it logically.

        Thank you!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Specific state might help a little more than X region, especially if the region is big. (“New Hampshire” over “New England” probably doesn’t matter much, but “Indiana” is better than “the Midwest.”)

          One of the worries about out-of-state candidates is that they won’t work out long-term because they’ll realize they don’t like the area, so the more you can ease the hiring mangers concern about that, the better. “Relocating back” is good because it implies you lived there before, and adding “to be closer to family” helps too because it shows you have a support network and a reason to stick around.

          Good luck!

          1. smeep248*

            I understand your point about New England, but even travelling between the states can be prohibitive during commuting hours. CT to Boston, which I did for years, is theoretically very close and only an hour away from each other – except during rush hour when it takes 3 hours. So I think the state would be helpful anywhere.

              1. pancakes*

                Quintessential New England experiences:

                – Boston drivers

                – Cape Cod traffic

                – New Hampshire toll plazas and low-tax booze barns, an important place to stretch your legs whether you’re buying or not

                – the eternal traffic jam around Red’s Eats

                – spending well over 3 hours on what is theoretically (and very occasionally) a 1.5 hr drive from NYC to visit family in CT

  24. Amber Rose*

    My huge, year long project of doom is going live this evening. The last 47 errors were ironed out Wednesday and our support team assures me they’ve tested the release and it should work. I expect the sound of dozens of my coworkers crying out in rage will reach the rest of you sometime Tuesday morning. Monday being a holiday.

    All jokes aside, I feel pretty good about this. There was absolutely no reason for me to believe I could do it. And there were a number of false starts and failed efforts in the first few months, to the point where I thought the whole project might end up being abandoned as impossible. Yet here we are.

    I only wish I was healthy enough to go celebrate. Unfortunately, the flu that I thought I had was covid and after 9 days, shows no signs of letting up.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      First off congratulations on your accomplishment!

      It sucks you have COVID. Maybe if you can taste/eat, ordering some ridiculously indulgent meal would be a way to celebrate?

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Congratulations on a major win! I hope you feel better soon, and when you do, that you have an awesome celebration of your success!

    3. ABK*

      Congratulations on your accomplishment!
      Hope you feel better soon.
      And, so curious, what holiday is on Monday?
      Thanks.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        It’s a holiday here in Canada – BC Day for me, but I believe other provinces have a day off too. :)

    4. Robin Ellacott*

      Project of Doom is a great phrase.

      I hope you’re well enough to celebrate soon!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      So your project of doom did not “doom”? That’s great!! Congrats on pulling through the long haul there. I hope you feel better soon.

  25. Miette*

    Question for hiring managers: Do you look at potential hires’ social media at all? I was surprised to hear a colleague say this yesterday–they went back as far as 2018! Is this what people actually do now? I literally never do this, but I am a generation removed from my colleague.

    1. bf*

      if a candidate provides it, i’ll take a look but i’ve never done a deep dive. i’m not quite an elder millenial.

    2. Can't think of a funny name*

      I recently hired a couple people and I did not look at their social media but I probably should have only b/c I know my bosses care…I have a direct report that my bosses strongly considered firing a few years ago b/c of something she posted.

    3. Meowsy*

      We are instructed not to, do avoid any potential discoveries that would lead to discriminatory biases. The exception yo that would be a high level, public facing role.

      1. Zee*

        I think that’s a really good policy… pictures with kids, pride flags as cover photos… really easy to bias yourself.

    4. Radical honesty*

      I will absolutely look people up in social media. I don’t go back to 2018, but I definitely see what kinds of things they post.

    5. Millie Mayhem*

      Yes, I typically give it a brief glance (if it’s available/easy to find), but I don’t normally pour through social media and go back years in advance. I’ll give it a harder look if we see any potential red flags pop up.

    6. ope!*

      Depending on the position, I’ll sometimes google them (our field lends to having public resources or conference talks available online sometimes, which I like to see if they’re out there) but I make an effort to avoid social media to avoid any unnecessarily introduced bias.

    7. Sherm*

      No, I don’t. I think the odds are pretty low the candidate would be openly posting something that would alarm me, such as hate speech or pictures indicating non-stop partying. The odds are much higher that I would learn more about the candidate’s ethnicity, age, marital status, orientation, religion, and so on.

      Generally, it would feel like too much of an intrusion for me. I mean, I’m also not going to drive by the candidate’s house to see if there is anything troubling on the lawn.

      1. Schmitt*

        One applicant we had linked his github to his twitter profile. His tagline was “virgin hunter” …

        Don’t underestimate people XD

    8. Miette*

      Thanks to all of you! I thought I was going crazy to be slightly appalled–my colleague (who is a millennial–I am Gen X) behaved as if it’s expected.

      We are both in marketing, so I understand making sure if someone put in charge of social media shows skills in it for their own accounts, but beyond that I rarely look even at LinkedIn.

      1. Gracely*

        I wouldn’t normally bother at all, but in a field like marketing/anything PR, I would check it *after* their initial interview. I wouldn’t try to take a deep dive (nor worry if I couldn’t find anything at all, since some people are private about it), but just make sure they know how to handle themselves appropriately online if they are out there where anyone can see.

        I would do it mainly because I know some people (family/friends) that seem perfectly normal the first time you interact with them, but they post some batsh*t conspiracy/etc. stuff online, and it comes out in person eventually.

    9. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I wouldn’t for an employee. However my husband and I are looking for a house cleaner and I did like each one up. But it’s a bit different because they’ll be in my home. Mostly I was just screening our very vocal COVID deniers.

      But for coworkers, the less I know about them personally the better. Unfortunately once you know your coworker is a die hard Trumper, it’s hard to unknow that, and you still need to maintain a professional relationship.

    10. justme*

      If someone looked at mine they would only see 2 photos and no about information and no friends.

    11. talos*

      I’m not an HM but have done peer interviews – typically I do look at the person’s LinkedIn if I can find it easily, but don’t bother looking for anything else.

    12. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      It seems fair, especially since you note you are in the marketing/PR/communications world where USING social media can be a big part of the job. It’s reasonable for candidates to think you might check out their twitter profile, for example. I wouldn’t say it is a knock against you for not doing it though.

      I’m in a field where people within the field often form twitter communities (think academia or politics) in that not everyone is active, but those who are can be very active. I don’t search social media for candidates as part of my general hiring protocols but I have definitely looked up some people if I knew of them by reputation and wanted another perspective. It seems relevant to me: how they would affect my team dynamic if, for example, they are a raging dick or are quick to assume the worst of others or willfully misunderstand the point in a significant amount of their posts. I would, however be kinder in my assessment to someone starting out/with few work culture norms than someone who’s been working for longer. (FWIW my demographic is elder millennial/young Gen X).

    13. Epsilon Delta*

      The most I do is look them up on LinkedIn. I don’t google them and wouldn’t look at social media.

      If I were hiring for an external facing role like sales or marketing, or a very senior position, anything that would mean clients or the public were likely to google the person, then I would probably consider doing my own google search too.

    14. mreasy*

      I am a “geriatric millennial” and I can’t imagine hiring someone without looking at their social media profiles.

    15. allathian*

      I’m not a hiring manager, and I’m not on any social media except WhatsApp. But I’m in Finland, and here it’s illegal for hiring managers to let a candidate’s social media presence influence the hiring (unless candidate is hired for their social media presence), so they don’t look. They can’t even look at LinkedIn, unless the candidate provides a link without prompting. Hiring managers are also only allowed to use the references provided by the candidate, although many positions (in government even SMEs) require a security check by our equivalent of the CIA.

      Employers can and do look at their employees’ social media once they’re hired, though.

    16. NancyDrew*

      I do, but I work in communications (including social media!) so I want to see what their public presence is like, whether they know how to use the platforms, their public voice, etc.

  26. Alice*

    I just got a 4% raise (no cost of living adjustments at my org, just “merit raises”). Better than no raise for sure. But at the same time, not much compared to my rent increase.
    I’m looking for a new job (btw a metaphorical pox on the houses of hiring managers who ghost you after interviews) but in the meantime the management team here expects me to be grateful that they went to bat to get me 4%.
    It’s not that I’m not grateful but come on, this raise isn’t a personal favor.
    How can I generate or feign a positive attitude in this context? (I honestly don’t care which)
    Thanks

    1. Hen in a Windstorm*

      If you’ve said “thank you, I appreciate it”, what more do they want? I mean, it *is* better than nothing, and you do want to appear polite, so treat it like getting a so-so birthday gift.

    2. Phantom*

      Honestly… you don’t need to fake happy at all! If you feel comfortable, reach out and give the feedback that while the increase is appreciated, it is not taking into account increased COL, etc. Also sounds like your org might be suffering the same issue as mine, where there does not seem to be any real compensation planning/philosophy at all. Is performance looked at? Is everyone given a flat amount regardless? Are people paid higher for important skills? We are working on getting our compensation in order, and getting feedback about how raises are not good enough has helped to drive us to this.

    3. BEC*

      “Thanks a lot. My rent increased by 15% last year, so a 4% raise helps with some of that pain”

    4. M.*

      No advice, just commiseration: we received 4% this year, too, and while it’s something I guess, it’s really just a paltry amount of money more in my paycheck (as in, less than $100/month). It really irks me, especially since they’re making a big deal about it, and I’m starting to look now too.

  27. keira*

    I’m looking for some advice on adjust my mindset for job hunting after being out of the game for so long. I’m about to finish up maternity leave for a company I’ve been with for over 12 years. The work/life balance is phenomenal and the degree of flexibility will be hard to beat. But, the pay isn’t great (I’m actually making less than I was 5 years ago after adjusting for inflation), nothing that I’m doing is being recognized, and there’s lot of reorganization at the top that is going backward from where I’d prefer (and from where we had been planning prior to this year). It’s hard to see myself anywhere else. I’m kind of a back-office jack of all trades focused on HR & IT for a small company (less than 50 staff). I have a lot of transferable skills, but they all came while at this company and are in the context of what the company needed. So I have gaps from catering to the executives here and their needs (or lack thereof). I’m finding it really hard to shift my thought process from what my current company needs to what a job description asks for. Any advice?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The steps I would take if I were in your shoes are:
      – decide if you want to focus on applying to HR or IT jobs (or jobs in one of you other jack-of-all-trades areas)
      – look up job descriptions for [HR/IT/other] on a site like Indeed
      – read through the description line by line and think of an example of when you have done [task] in your career

      You might have to stretch some of your examples a bit, and some examples might be from that one time three years ago that you did X, but going through a couple of job descriptions like this should show you that (1) you have transferable skills and (2) how your experiences at you current job can translate to being successful at a new job.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I wrote a master resume. I never send it to anyone.

      When I apply, I open up my master resume and start deleting the parts that are irrelevant to the specific job I am applying for. When I am done, I save it as “company name dot dox [pdf]”.

      The master resume can help you list off all that you have done. You can do little clusters of similar activities if you like. But this nails things down so you are not starting at square one with each application.

  28. crookedglasses*

    What are good resources for finding a job coach / mentor? I work in People Operations for a small non-profit. I’ve currently got one employee actively looking for a coach, and I can easily imagine this need coming up in the future. I’d love to find an agency or organization that can be a go-to for partnering on this kind of thing so we aren’t trying to continually assess and vet coaches on a one-off basis. Any best practices or strategies people have found? Thank you!

    1. irene adler*

      Professional organizations often offer mentoring or similar programs. Some have more formal programs than others. Pays to ask. There may even be someone who knows the industry and is willing to mentor /coach on an informal basis.
      Also, professional organizations know the names of the recruiters who are familiar with the industry. Not sure if all recruiters would be interested in coaching, but they might be up for offering job search advice.

  29. bf*

    Can someone confirm I am overthinking this??

    I am attending two conferences overseas that have a few days off in between them, which I would use as “WFH” days. I have one day actually off and want to use PTO for a consecutive day (not a conference day) to take a quick trip to another city. For some reason, I feel guilty not staying in the hotel that is paid for by the business for one night??? Even thought I’ll be using PTO and my own money for this additional travel. For reference, I am director-level at a small business and have a great relationship with my boss (the owner). Thanks!!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      If the company is paying for you to go to two conferences, they would likely not expect to fly you home and then back again for the second. So they are expecting to pay for that hotel in the meantime. It’s fine.

    2. ope!*

      You’re probably overthinking it! Some organizations have policies on “leisure travel” attached to work travel (and are, in most cases, policies that clarify that it is acceptable) if you’d like to try to look it up to confirm.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Did the company get a discount for a multi-night booking? I’ve paid for a hotel room for nights I wasn’t going to be there for exactly this reason. It was cheaper to book 5 nights in X city and spend an overnight in Y city than booking 2 nights and 2 nights.

      You can always pay for that night out of your own pocket to reimburse the company if you feel that strongly about it.

    4. FalsePositive*

      Sounds okay to me — it would be a bigger pain for them to do two separate stays. And you presumably might leave stuff in the room that you don’t need for your day trip, so easier for “business you.”

      But I understand, I was on a long term stay (3 weeks) and took a weekend away to another location (on my own dime) and had a moment where I felt weird that I was “wasting” the business booked hotel. But it would have made zero sense to checkout/checkin and probably a paperwork nightmare.

    5. Office Gumby*

      You’re overthinking it.

      If you’re taking off for a daytrip/personal holiday, you’re not going to want to haul around ALL your stuff. You’ll be taking a small overnight bag. That extra night at your base hotel isn’t the company paying for a place for you to sleep, it’s paying for a place to store your stuff. Nothing says you have to physically be there overnight.

  30. Odge*

    Request for recommendations: Are there headphones out there that are good at blocking human voices *and* comfy enough to wear for most of the day? Preferably wired versions. I work in a cube farm and on bad days it’s really hard for me to focus when people are chatting. It seems like a lot of headphones make a point to allow human voices through, but that’s what I don’t want! And I’d rather not have to crank my music higher to cover it.

    (People being able to get my attention isn’t an issue because I have line of sight if someone’s approaching my desk.)

    1. Alice*

      I can wear the Bose Quiet Comfort series, giant over the ear ones, for a whole day. Pretty good noise canceling too. They have Bluetooth but you can also plug in to an audio jack.

    2. Princess Xena*

      I don’t have a specific item to recommend, beyond the fact that Bose is really good, but would suggest looking at headphones marketed towards the audio design crowd. A lot of their over-ear stuff is specifically marketing as isolating from outside noise.

      Noise cancelling headphones aren’t terrible but they’re mostly good for repetitive noise, which human speech is not.

      1. Foley*

        2d this. I have some Sony headphones (not with me, so I can’t look up the model number), that I bought for podcasting years ago. They eliminate voices. The firs podcast I recorded was in a bar, and I needed to hear the mic only – not the chatter. I wear the Sony far more often than the Bose QC. I do prefer the Bose wired (10 years + – need new earcups every 2) over the Bluetooth but have both for convenience.

    3. Gatomon*

      I’m a fan of the Sony WH-1000XM_ series. Like the Bose QuietComfort, they are Bluetooth but have a headphone jack. You’ll lose some features without Bluetooth, I want to say the earcup controls don’t work. But the ANC should. They’re comfortable enough for all day even on top of glasses. The XM4 is the older version that you should be able to get for $278 or less. I think the newest is XM5 but the older ones are perfectly good. Expensive, but there are similar options for ANC headphones from brands like Anker that may compare well.

    4. Henry Division*

      I’m an audio editor and I wear either my Sony MDR-7506 or Beyerdynamic DT700 the entire day with few issues of comfort – and I have multiple ear piercings. I absolutely cannot hear anyone who is talking to me while I’m working, for better or for worse.

      1. Foley*

        Oh! These are the Sony ones I have! Also way less expensive than Bose. Have had to replace these earpiece as well, though – once or twice in the last decade.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My Cowin E7s are mighty comfie, as long as I avoid certain earrings. However be aware that at least back when I ordered them, there were normal and noise-cancelling versions of the same line.
      (My mis-order was serendipitous because I had both versions at once when we all went remote for Covid. No scrambling for headphones for the remote-school student.)

    6. Raboot*

      Re: allowing human voices through, if there’s a model you like otherwise, check if it’s just an option, not always on. Like my bose headphones have a mode where they in theory filter out “background” noise while letting things like speech through, but it’s not the only mode they have, I only use them with normal noise cancelling.

  31. Meowsy*

    Should I push my former boss for an exit interview?

    I am on my last day in a department where I hold a leadership position. I accepted an internal transfer that’s both a promotion and significant pay raise. When I gave notice 5.5 weeks ago, my boss was very gracious in his response and also stated he wanted to do an exit interview before I left. He never brought it up again.

    The thing is, our department is a newer one and has high turnover. I definitely have some feedback for my boss on how to keep that from happening and to make the department a much less frustrating place to work. The remaining staff are pressing me to follow up with the department head to do the exit interview even after I leave.

    Should I reach out to him and tell him I’d still like/be willing to have the exit interview? Or just let it go?

    1. ABC*

      Do you think this boss will actually act on any of the feedback you provide? It doesn’t even seem like they care much about what you would have to say. Not to mention that if they wanted to address turnover, they could ask the people who are still there what issues they see.

      I learned my lesson not to be honest in exit interviews. It will very, very rarely make any sort of difference. And it may color your reference, and your reputation in the company overall since you are staying around.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes- don’t let the final impression of you be the exit interview where you aired the ‘dirty laundry’.

        If boss wants this interview, boss will find the time and seek you out. In which case, why did boss wait until you gave notice to have an interest in ‘what’s going on’ with things? If there is a genuine interest to learn about the issues you are seeing, you’d be asked about things regardless of whether you gave notice.

      2. soontoberetired*

        All the people I know who have done exit interviews feel the way ABC does – no one really believed what they were saying. I did one after leaving a group and I do know my views were discounted. There seems to be a bias that if you are leaving, you are an issue, not that they may have issues.

          1. Meowsy*

            You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right (name that movie!).

            Part of the reason I’m leaving is because he didn’t consult with me on things he should have while I was here…so… not exactly sure why it would make any difference now.

            My team is emotionally needy so I was letting that get to me (as in, they are totally the type of people who would ask me if I was mad if I didn’t wish them a happy birthday).

            Thank you for the Sanity Backup!

  32. double super secret anon*

    Let’s talk euphemistic language for layoffs! There are classics like “right-sized” but recently I’ve come across some new (and incredibly passive) ones:
    “They have been exited from the company”
    “We are unable to offer them continuing employment”
    Team members “affected by this action”

    Have some respect. Just say they’ve been laid off. What have you heard?

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      “Released” as in “We released Jenna last week as part of our efforts to become leaner and more effective. Her duties will now be covered by Ty. Please be patient with Ty as he learns these new duties and integrates them with his existing role.”

    2. snowyowl*

      “Abandoned” as in “Eric abandoned us”.

      Also: “Sarah is no longer with is” (DID SHE DIE?)

  33. Odge*

    If commenter Beka Cooper is around today: you had posted on last week’s open thread about RSI issues with mouse use. I didn’t see it in time to reply there, but you are exactly where I was 4 years ago, so I wanted to weigh in with my experience in case it’s helpful!

    I’m also a knitter and use the mouse heavily for work. I started experiencing symptoms similar to yours that steadily got worse until I was in constant pain. My primary care doctor told me to try not to use my hand, use ice, and keep my arm/elbow straight when I could. I believe this was the right move at first, but doing that for too long led me to get weaker, which made me more prone to RSI, and overusing my non-dominant hand gave me symptoms there too. A vicious cycle! (I also empathize with feeling dismissed by the doctor… I had to go back and say hey, this is hugely impacting my quality of life and I need a solution, what is your recommendation? Multiple times.)

    What eventually helped, as other commenters mentioned in the thread, was dedicated physical therapy and strengthening exercises. I had a combination of tennis elbow symptoms and RSI in my hands/fingers. So I had to rebuild shoulder strength, tolerance for weight bearing on my wrists, and wrist strength. As I got stronger, it was also helpful to add in different types of activities and to do things I’d been avoiding. This has managed my pain really well and I have days with no pain for the first time in years.

    I recommend seeing a specialist (hand/elbow orthopedist) to confirm, getting into PT, and temporarily pausing hand hobbies to use your spoons on building strength. It sucks so bad to stop knitting, but it’s going to help in the long run! Good luck!

  34. Re'lar Fela*

    I’ve shared on a few Friday open threads about my struggles with ADHD at work and my PIP (which I’ve been off of since late May *insert party hat celebrating emoji here*).

    Well–I took all of the advice, commiseration, and kind words to heart and I’m so happy to say that things are MUCH better now. I’m learning (with the help of my fantastic therapist) to give myself some grace, I’m using my stellar hyperfocus days to set up systems of success to get through the dragging through molasses days, and my annual performance evaluation (our fiscal year runs July-June, so I just had mine) was INCREDIBLE. There’s still room for improvement, of course, but overall I was highly rated for being a flexible team player who is willing to jump in wherever needed (we’ve had several staff out on intermittent FMLA for family and medical reasons recently and I’ve been working in all areas of the agency as needed to cover–we’re a wraparound services non-profit, so there’s always something that needs doing) and there were multiple comments about my warmth, empathy, and compassion for clients (which is obviously the goal in client-facing positions). And, as an added bonus, there was a note about my willingness to own up to my challenges and seek support from my supervisor as well as a comment about how I’ve taken her feedback and applied it with notable success (<–1,000% thanks to Alison, particularly her how to make your boss love you–or something like that–post from several years ago).

    So yes. Overall, things are going SO WELL right now. I've been reading AAM for a little over a decade now and I attribute any and all success I've had throughout my career to Alison and the excellent commentariat for helping me learn how to think about and address issues in the workplace. Sometimes I long to go back to my early career days as an AmeriCorps VISTA and then Executive Assistant when I had time to participate in the comment section (I was AdminAnon back then), but being busy is always better than being bored so I don't mind too terribly much!

    Anyway, just a super long-winded way of saying THANK YOU! Y'all are the best.

    1. Alice*

      Congrats, this is so wholesome:)
      Can you describe how you leverage your hyperfocus days when you don’t know when they are going to come?

      1. Re'lar Fela*

        Thank you so much!!

        And yes, absolutely. On my molasses days, I tend to run out of time before I run out of things to do, which causes endless amounts of stress, which starts a whole cycle of unproductive nonsense. On hyperfocus days, I tend to finish my day-to-day work relatively quickly (which leads to the aforementioned time to pitch in around the agency). A lot of my actual job is very process and detail oriented, which I love but often struggle with due to memory/lack of focus issues.

        On my hyperfocus days, I make notes throughout the day of things I have to pause and look up or double-check or end up going back to correct. Then, at the end of the day, I either create or edit a process flow for that specific task. Those all live in a single document with a hyperlinked index. So instead of getting stuck on my molasses days, I have the information that I need at my fingertips in a way that I understand quickly and easily because I created it. That has drastically reduced the perfectionism/procrastination drag on days when I’m already struggling.

        That’s just one example, but probably the easiest to describe. The rest is essentially more of the same. I use the momentum, energy, and focus on those days to put systems in place that keep me organized and moving forward on the hard days. For instance, one thing I did recently was inspired by my college retail job–we had a list of “minute to win it” tasks that we could do if we had a free minute but which weren’t critical to the day-to-day operation. I recently made a list of very simple, low brain power tasks that take an average of 10-20 minutes and which are not mission critical, but which make life easier–cleaning up files, checking the status of non-critical long-term projects, unrequired but helpful data entry, etc. Things that I can do with good music playing and which keep me productive without getting overwhelmed and shutting down/browsing social media.

        Apologies for the long-winded response!! I’m not sure if I even answered your question, but hopefully it’s helpful in some way.

  35. CreepyPaper*

    This happened many jobs ago so I was far younger, but I randomly thought about it and would like the AAM take on it.

    Timeline and context: 2003, I was 22 years old, working as a very junior office admin in a mortgage department for a bank. It was only a temp contract, I was treated pretty poorly and did a lot of menial tasks, but hey, it was walking distance from home and it was an income while I searched for logistics jobs.

    It was audit time, and the auditor was sitting talking within my earshot to one of the mortgage administrators, not one of the advisors who were more senior. Now in this office, the mortgage administrators did a lot, but the advisors should have processed the actual mortgage applications. I say should have because quite often they’d palm it off onto their administrators because they were ‘too busy’.

    I heard the admin say something to the auditor along the lines of ‘oh yes, the advisors always process all the applications themselves, we just assist with the administration side’ and the auditor said ‘good because sometimes administrators process the applications, and that’s not allowed.’

    When the auditor left I remember thinking ‘but the admins do the applications often, is that really not allowed?’

    So should I have said anything? I did hear one of the admins flat out lie to an auditor after all, but looking back I think I was far too junior and inexperienced to say anything at all. If this happened today, would you encourage a junior member of staff to speak up?

    Thoughts?

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      Typically when I hear the term “processed” I think entry level work so I wonder if the admins did the work but then the advisor reviewed it. I think you were right to not jump in. And if that step is important, the auditor is going to do more than just ask one person.

    2. Bullied employee*

      Having been peripherally involved with the mortgage industry in that era, my first thought was actually: The mortgage department at a bank in June 2003. Hoo boy. It was absolute chaos that quarter, and especially that month. It seemed like everybody on planet Earth was refinancing. Entire subdivisions were being built before there were any buyers, and then people bought them up. People were just going nuts. The bubble that burst in 2007 was busily inflating. So, I wonder if a lot of things were going on at that specific time that didn’t normally happen. In any case, since you were there on a temp contract, I think you were wise to say nothing.

    3. Princess Xena*

      As an auditor:

      If you had the same situation right now, then it would have been good to let one of the auditors know unobtrusively. We try and talk to a selection of people about security and conflict of interest concerns, but can’t always get everyone.

      But honestly, looking back at the behavior that led to the housing bubble – it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. Way too many people were sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” to any suggestion that the state of the housing market was unhealthy.

  36. Expectation calibration*

    I have started a new job this year. The job itself turned mostly out as expected. What has only recently come into focus however is the different approaches my colleagues and I have to structuring our work. Our work week usually never ends with a “clean deck”. There is always more to do and second and third tier tasks one might or might not get to at some point. I try to focus my work on the most important tasks while postponing less urgent tasks and do my best to work in a sustainable way overall. I even checked in with internal customers in our company and my team is notorious for its ridiculously fast turn around times. I have been dinged on my last performance review for not showing enough team spirit. That actually means I sometimes leave tasks for a day or even two full days before getting back if there is no deadline in play instead of constantly working overtime. One could probably describe our team overall as insecure overachievers, yes, including myself. I am trying however to get out of that and apparently ended up exactly in the wrong place. My plan is to look for other options both within and outside the company while continuing to work there. I am aware that I am not going to change my team. I am interested in answers from people who encountered similar situations and how you mentally approached the whole thing.

    1. Expectation calibration*

      And yes, thanks to this work approach our team does tend to end up with additional tasks that do not necessarily need to be done by us which in turn leads to more stress and tasks that should be our focus are done last minute. I believe that this need to firefight is part of the emotional appeal of the whole thing unfortunately.

    2. ferrina*

      Ugh, this sounds awful. I’m also in a role where there is always more to do, and if I gave myself artificial turn-around times I would be in a land of constant overtime.

      I really like your approach. It sounds like your internal customers are happy and you have (at least some) work-life balance, which I think is exactly what we should all aim for! If I’m reading this right, your manager is unhappy because you don’t work more overtime to get low priority tasks done. But that’s silly- if those tasks were enough priority for extra hours, then extra resources should be brought in. If there’s ambiguity in the prioritization, that’s for your manager to navigate, not just say “work until you drop and everything’s done!”

      I also think you’re right to look at other opportunities. This kind of culture can’t be changed by one individual contributor. The change needs to come from your manager, and your manager is clearly uninterested in that. You cannot meet your manager’s (unreasonable) expectations and have work-life balance; I think you are doing the right thing in prioritizing sanity.

      tldr; You’re right, you’re doing everything right, and I’m sorry you’re in this situation.

      1. Expectation calibration*

        Thanks ferrina. Yeah, I guess I was kinda expecting that.
        I included the reference to the internal customer, since I can be more candid in asking them for feedback. With external customers I’ll try to aim for similar answer patterns. That has worked well so far except for maybe 1 or 2 times where due to outside factors an issue suddenly became more urgent and I got a really nice request for a status update.
        I am definitely team work-life balance. The others have ridiculous amounts of overtime banked and see no chance of actually using any of it up for some time off. I would like to not reach the same point.

        Funny thing regarding high and low priority: the majority of tasks, no matter objective priority, seems to be treated as “everything needs to be done right now” which means that smaller requests eat up time in aggregate and suddenly we are scrambling thanks to a deadline we really can’t miss.
        I brought up extra resources, but apparently it’s “too early for that” since I am a fairly recent addition still. If we want to keep this pace and not worry about unplanned absences because everybody is overworked and gets sick more often an additional 1-1,5 role would be necessary imo. Or we could prioritize better, drop some balls strategically and live with the fact that we cannot please everyone, but I guess that one was ruled out. *wry*

  37. Anon Today*

    One of my direct reports handles fundraising/do good committee type items for our branch of the company. This really only comes into play during a few months out of the year, which we are in. Yesterday I realized that she and another of my direct reports had spent the whole afternoon working on these committee items together. My issue is that I’m not really okay with the majority of of my team spending these hours on what is essentially extraneous duties. I feel like if my team member Lucy needs help with the fundraising duties, then we should get her help from another department, so ours doesn’t bear such a brunt. My question is how do I handle discussing this with Lucy and Ethel? Ethel is new to the team and Lucy has handled a lot of their training and they work well and often together. (Maybe too often, but that’s another day.) 

    Right now, I’m leaning towards asking Lucy if she feels like this is too much for her to handle on her own and that if she needs assistance, particularly hours worth, I would prefer that we find help from another department, instead of our department bearing the brunt. But for Ethel – how to I tell them don’t help Lucy? Is it really as simple as, check with me before you take on duties that aren’t in your job description? Is it obvious that I don’t mean don’t help Lucy unload donation items from their car? Just don’t spend half of a day in their office planning with them on this project. I’m thinking talking to them separately in this week’s one on one’s but maybe I talk to them together.

    I might be overthinking this, because it just seems like our team dynamics have been a bit strained lately and I can’t figure out why – which makes me think it’s something I’m doing, have done, and I’m stepping cautiously to figure things out and hopefully not make things worse?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      It sounds like Lucy is a bit overworked, and Ethel is helping her because they’re friends? I think you need to identify people who Lucy *should* ask for assistance (answer could be “whoever is least busy”) and if you don’t want the new person doing this because you want Ethel focusing on training, then tell Ethel that. Maybe “for right now, the first six-ish months, I really need you to focus on [the TPS reports] so let someone else help Lucy”.

    2. ferrina*

      Two questions-
      1) Are Lucy and Ethel meeting their benchmarks for their other work?
      2) What does Ethel like doing?

      If Ethel is meeting her deadlines for her other work and really enjoys planning, I’d be hesitant to take this away from her. Even if Lucy is having performance issues, a single brainstorming session is likely not the issue. Obviously Ethel should focus on her main duties first, but if she is able to take on more and wants to do this, why not give her your blessing?

      3) Do you have regular check-ins with your team? If not, I recommend weekly 1:1s with your team members. 15-30 minutes is fine (and honestly half of mine are 20 minutes of socializing then 5 minutes of work- worth it cuz it builds trust and morale). Ask about their deadlines, then ask how they are feeling. How is their bandwidth? “Ethel, I noticed you spent a chunk of time working with Lucy on Friday. I just want to check in since that’s way outside your job description- are you feeling like you have the bandwidth to do this?” “Lucy, I saw you working with Ethel for a chunk of time on Friday. Is everything going okay?”

      1. Anon Today*

        1. I at least have one example where no, a benchmark was not met and the work could have been done by one of them while the other was doing the fundraising work.
        2. Ethel is still in their first six months with us, so it’s a little hard to tell at this point, what they like doing.
        3. I do have regular 1:1’s, but they have not as productive as I want. I’m taking steps to change that, which I explained to the team, but that didn’t seem to go over well either. In all honesty, I’ve felt like I was drowning in this role for awhile because of external projects and tasks, and former team members not pulling their weight. Now I feel like I can finally breathe again and look around, and I’m not loving what I see. I get that I carry responsibility of letting my team form some bad habits, but trying to walk those back is hard!!

        1. ferrina*

          That’s tough. But since benchmarks aren’t getting met, I think you’re on firm ground to say to Ethel, “I need you to prioritize on ABC right now, especially as you’re so new. The goal is to have you doing [what you ultimately want from the role]. If fundraising is something you’re interested in, I’m happy to revisit that in a few months once all benchmarks are being consistently met, but first we need to get ABC completely done.”

          And good for you for having 1:1s and taking steps to make them productive! I’ve found them so valuable, and so many managers don’t do them/don’t do them well.

          1. Anon Today*

            I had a previous boss/mentor at my previous place of work. They’re who introduced me to this site! I try and emulate them in a lot of my managerial decisions. I’m still a newish manager is many ways, and thought I was a decent one. But this position has challenged me and I’ve realized part of why I was a good manager in my first real manager role is because I was so lucky with my team members, departmental support, processes etc.

            Dealing with resentful, sick, absent, bitter, just so new they don’t know better employees in a crazy unstable environment, where I have pretty much ZERO political power or cache, and started in the middle of the pandemic and fly by the seat of your pants WFH – it makes me realize how much I have to go in regards to improving my manager skills.

            1. ferrina*

              So you’re saying you don’t have superhuman managerial skills yet? :) You’re handling a lot! You’re a change agent (of culture) without stable resources, in the middle of a pandemic. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be struggling in a big way.

              Have you told your team what your vision is? That can really help. “Hey team, I know I’ve had to focus a lot on External Projects in the last few months, and now that it’s over, I really want to focus on how I can support you. This is going to include improving processes so that things take less time and you have less busy work, doing trainings, and [Whatever it is you plan to do]. I know this is going to take a while to fully implement, but my goal is to eventually be able to [save time on our documentation/have everyone cross-trained/get X done without any overtime]. As we improve our processes, I’ll be regularly checking in to get feedback on how things are going. If a change isn’t working or needs to be tweaked, I want to know so we can do that!”
              Bonus is that this will set the stage for you 1:1s. You can ask things like “We recently implemented X process. How is that going for you?”

    3. SomebodyElse*

      Sounds like there’s a lot going on besides Lucy and Ethel working on this side project. I’ll start with advice on Lucy and Ethel. It’s ok to to let Ethel know that you need her to focus on her work (especially if she’s not hitting targets and pretty new) It’s also ok to give parameters even if they seem obvious to you. “Ethel, I noticed the other day you were helping with Lucy’s project. I appreciate the team work, but I need you to focus on your work and not help Ethel or anyone else who might be working on a non-core activity. It’s ok if she asks for help loading her car which takes 5 min or 10 minutes, but anything over that should be discussed with me first”

      You should also have the conversation with Lucy something along the lines of “Lucy, I noticed Ethel working with you on the fundraising stuff last week. I’ve already let her know that she needs to focus on her core duties for awhile so please don’t ask her to help with anything that is more than 5 minute lend a quick hand type of thing in the future without talking to me first. How is that going, btw? Are you still able and wanting to do it? If you find it getting out of hand commitment wise, let me know and I’ll work with the other departments to get you some help”

      Both of these conversations should be not a big deal. You’re setting your expectation without judgement.

      You’re last comment sounds familiar, based on your other comment it sounds like you may be taking a fresh look at your team and the work and are seeing things you don’t like. That’s normal. Just take one thing at a time and address it. Don’t be shy about setting expectations, but make sure you are listening to them and supporting them at the same time. Admit what’s happened. “Guys I was focused on clearing my plate and haven’t said anything about some of this, which is why it may seem like it’s coming from left field. I’m sorry that I haven’t had the focus you deserve, but I’ve got it now and am ready to support you”

      This is a tough place to be in, but you have to start making changes sometime. It’s not going to get any easier with time. Pick something, fix it, and move to the next thing.

  38. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

    This is more for my curiosity, and I’m looking for UK HR people to weigh in please and thank you.

    We had 4 people on our team who were either seconded into the role from another department, or on a contract due to end in December.

    All 4 have since interviewed for and been given the permanent positions that were released a few weeks ago.

    But why did they have to re interview? These were open to all so there are also some people disappointed not to get the roles. Why couldn’t the company just say, “we’d like to offer you the role on a permanent basis’ rather than go through the rigamarole of interviews? (These four were always going to get the roles, it was highly unlikely someone with more experience would come along, and they were only advertised internally). Do all jobs HAVE to be posted up for anyone to apply, and was it necessary that they went through a formal interview only 3 months after they were interviews to get the seconded role?

    1. Indigo Five Alpha*

      Are you working for a private company or public sector? Certainly if it’s public sector you will have to apply and be interviewed. Private might be different though

  39. Getmeouttahere*

    Is it a bad idea to use a current coworker as a reference?

    I have a phone interview coming up today for a position that I’m very excited about. I know it’s a first step, but I want to have my ducks in a row. The position is for a role that we have at my company, but for various reasons even if it was available at my company I wouldn’t want it. The role is one I feel I could excel at and is adjacent (although more prestigious) to my current role.

    The person in this role at my company and I work closely together. We are both currently looking for new jobs as neither of us are happy where we are, and we both know this so there’s a certain sense of mutually assured destruction going on. This person would not be interested in the opportunity I’m looking at as it would be a much much longer commute for them, so I’m. It worries about them taking the job. I’d like to use them as a reference because I feel like they can speak really well towards my qualifications.

    The only question I have about doing it is how an employer would take it. I remember a conversation I had once with my dad where a recruiter called him for a reference for someone he managed and the recruiter was wary because the person had used their current manager as a reference. I guess they were questioning if my dad was trying to get rid of the guy (he wasn’t, the company was merging and my dads company was the smaller fish so people were getting out if they could to avoid a layoff). Is it a red flag to use a current coworker as a reference?

    1. Antilles*

      Not in the slightest. It’s quite common.
      You can’t use your current manager for obvious reasons, but you do want to be able to use someone who can speak to your current work, so a co-worker is a pretty standard choice. It’s especially common if you’ve been in the same role for a few years so that you can something more current than something that’s five years old or whatever.
      The only caveat I’d always add is that you need to pick the co-worker carefully to make sure it’s someone who isn’t going to suddenly blab to your boss, but based on your third paragraph that doesn’t seem likely to be an issue in your particular case.

    2. ferrina*

      What you’re suggesting is super common. In my latest job search I used several current coworkers as references, each of whom worked with me in a different capacity and could speak to different skills (I also used a former manager).

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I love that because your reference is in exactly the same role and has the same advancement goals, they’d be able to speak directly to what would matter to the new employer.

    4. All Het Up About It*

      Agreeing with all these and also pointing out the difference. You would be using a co-worker, not a manager at your current spot. That’s super common because a lot of people feel they cannot use their current manager as a reference, due to the fact that they don’t want to let their manager know they are looking.

      An additional note – while less common to use a current manager as a reference it’s not UNCOMMON. I’ve done it once or twice depending on the manager, situation. That recruiter who talked to you Dad was just… out of touch or reacting to a very specific situation. Don’t use that example as any sort of standard.

      Good luck with the job hunting!

    5. Mockingjay*

      It’s called a peer reference and it’s pretty common. I’ve been one for team members. I can provide insight on a candidate’s technical or specialized skills that a manager may not see day to day. Whereas a manager can offer a different perspective on an employee’s performance.

  40. Sandwiches*

    I think I just need to vent. I feel like my dept is coming apart at the seams.
    – We’re severely understaffed, and in peak vacation season which is making things worse
    – Two of my colleagues are seemingly calling all the shots- they got preferential treatment from our toxic old boss, and are currently the most experienced people on our team so our current boss is probably placating them so that they don’t threaten to quit
    – We have a new hire and I don’t have much hope he’ll work out. All my suggestions for a training plan were shot down. He seemingly has no relevant experience so it feels like we need to teach him the absolute basics about our industry and our products, as well as office etiquette and Outlook and Excel. I also have a feeling he might be neurodivergent, and I don’t know if we’re training him in a way that works best for him personally. (I would feel rude asking, and I don’t have much experience training people in general so I’m already a little worried that my few training sessions with him have been just ok, and I’m certain my colleagues haven’t even thought about this.)
    – We have another new hire starting in a few weeks, and I can already see her training kind of going wrong, but she might have more relevant experience. She’s supposed to be given the same general responsibilities as my two colleagues, and the kid who started last week is supposed to share responsibilities with me. I have half a mind to ask my boss if I can train the second new hire the way I think we should have trained the first, and then have her work with me instead. I’m not sure this would go over well with anyone but I know that the new kid’s training is half-assed and that I’m going to be the person who deals with the consequences of that.
    It’s all just really discouraging and I needed to vent. Hope you all had a better week.

    1. ferrina*

      Yipes, that’s a lot! I hope you’re doing something relaxing this weekend!

      Is this an ongoing situation, or is it something where concrete steps are being taken to address these things? You’ve got understaffing + toxic coworkers + training (which is it’s own thing). That’s a lot! It might be worth it to look around and see what’s out there.

      Yes, you can talk to a different training plan to your boss. Boss may or may not say yes, but it’s worth an ask. If your boss does say no, you can ask for additional training resources for the other new hire. You can suggest additional training, practice exercises or even offer to be a mentor (in an official capacity with your boss’s blessing, so the New Hire knows that you are Officially The Person To Ask). Lots of bosses are at a loss when it comes to training, so I think you should suggest whatever you are thinking of. Good luck!

      1. Sandwiches*

        Thank you! Up until recently I hadn’t really thought about leaving my job, other than for career advancement, but that changed kinda quickly this week. I’m definitely going to speak to my boss. We’re not the only team she manages and I think there are some things in all this mess that she isn’t aware of yet.

    2. Zee*

      I don’t think it’s rude to ask someone what kind of training works best for them. Just don’t mention it’s because you think they’re neurodivergent. It’s a valid question regardless of that. “Hey, just checking in – how do you think the training is going? Is this a good format, or should we try XYZ instead?”

  41. Help - interview today!*

    I have a phone interview today for a great opportunity, and I’m a little stumped on how to communicate salary requirements. For the sake of this example, I’m going to say that my current salary is $100k to keep things simple and make for easy calculations. So, currently I make $100k with a 15% annual bonus, which is $115k if I get my full bonus (it’s based on performance, so I usually get the full bonus). However, my current company is struggling financially (one of the reasons I’m looking). We got a very small bonus last year, like 5%, and I expect that much or less this year (maybe nothing). So in reality, this year I will make $100k, reliably. If I ask for $115k in a new role, I’ll be maintaining my potential current salary, but I may also be pricing myself out of an opportunity, when, in reality, I’ll probably bring home less than that in my current role this year. However, if I stay at this job and things turn around, I could reliably make $115k next year, so I’m hesitant to make a move for less.

    In this situation, how would you state your salary requirements?

    1. ferrina*

      What is your salary requirements? It sounds like you’re lumping your bonus with your salary, which isn’t quite the same thing.
      I’d give a range. “I’m looking for $100k-$115k, depending on the role and other aspects of compensation”. There, you gave your range. Later you can talk about exact details, like bonus vs salary.

      1. Student*

        “Clueless” is probably true. But that does not grant you immunity from labor laws, nor any other laws. I hope it goes to court.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          What’s with the state department of labor saying they only concern themselves with actual employees?

          1. pancakes*

            Dereliction? I only had a quick peek at what turned up just now when I searched NC labor laws job advertisements, but it seems employers there are required to post the same FLSA minimum wage posters, etc., employers are elsewhere. They’re not operating this franchise in international waters.

            The older I get, the more I’m inclined to think corruption in the US is overlooked more frequently than we tend to acknowledge. It’s not an apples to apples comparison, but think about the Murdaugh saga in neighboring SC. Their housekeeper died in their home at age 57, reportedly from tumbling down stairs, and no one even did an autopsy!

            On a similar note, I just did a quick search for another saga I had in mind, something I’d read about incredible corruption among municipal employees in a very small town in the Midwest, I think. I can’t find it quickly but there are so many similar ones. Sample headline, this one about governance in Nebraska, which sounds dull. And yet: “Clerks have stolen an estimated $1.7 million from 17 towns in the past decade, according to audit reports and restitution orders. And the problem could be worse: 158 towns have gone more than 20 years without a full financial audit.”

            My thinking is, far too many people are inclined to mistake corruption for cluelessness.

      2. pancakes*

        How so, exactly? Third most popular fast food franchise in the US according to trade press, $5.8 billion in revenue last year, and higher average per store earnings than McD’s, Starbucks, and several other competitors. Please don’t fall for the paper-thin folksy branding. The company is not run by people who just fell off a turnip truck, or hobbyists, or kids with only lemonade stand experience. They have an in-house legal division just like any other massive company. There are articles about that in trade press, too, including a 2018 AmLaw profile about them being nominated for “In-House Legal Department of the Year.”

        1. Maverick Jo*

          Do you think the idea of paying “volunteers” with food as payment is a good one?

          1. pancakes*

            Absolutely not. It’s illegal and gross. My point was that it’s not something they did out of cluelessness.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      So help me I swear I searched for the text before writing my post below!

  42. Eggo*

    When old coworkers say they’ll keep in touch, do they really mean it? I left a 4 year position at the start of the year. It was a very small firm so there was a lot of weird emotional boundary crossing but for the most part, i was pretty close with my coworkers and enjoyed my time with them. I haven’t heard a single word from anyone since I left 5 months ago… Not even a text to say hi. Is it even worth reaching out to see if anyone wants to grab lunch/check in?

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      My experience is that most do not mean it but you could reach out once and see if they respond.

    2. Wisteria*

      Some do, some don’t. The truth is that situational friendships rarely survive once the situation ends.

      You say you haven’t heard anything—have you reached out? Or are you waiting for them to reach out? You can’t really be upset about people not texting if you are also not texting.

    3. kiki*

      I think most people genuinely mean to, but lose track of time or are self-conscious about being the one to reach out. I think some “out of sight, out of mind” comes into play as well– people don’t want to reach out right after you leave, and then the longer you’re gone, the less likely they are to remember. I would totally reach out to a couple of the folks you were closest with and ask if they’re interested in grabbing lunch! The worst they can say is no and it’s really not a weird thing to do.

    4. Antilles*

      My experience is that most of them who say to keep in touch do mean it, but then they get busy and you sort of slip from their mind.
      My experience has also consistently been that if you take the step to reach out to them, they’ll often be happy you checked in and be glad to meet up for lunch or drinks or what have you.

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’ve been retired 10 years. I keep in touch on FB with several ex-coworkers, some nearly daily comments and joking back and forth (and more seriously when appropriate), others less frequently, and others just occasional reactions without comments. A few I’ll message for very private comments, like regarding a mutual friend – not so much gossip as things like health or other concerns. The in-person gatherings kind of died with Covid, but we’re all vaguely planning to resurrect them if we ever get nice weather.

  43. Alexander Graham Yell*

    I have been studying for months for a major certification exam and took it today, fully expecting to fail. But I get to celebrate instead! I am so so so freaking happy to be done with it.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      Congratulations! And any advice on making time to study (assuming you had to balance this with another job and general life responsibilities)?

      1. Picard*

        Not the OP but as someone who went back to school and sat for a very competitive certification exam held in four parts over the course of a year (and you lose your pass status if you wait too long between parts) I can only say, I slept A LOT less. I have a family (kid was under ten at the time), husband (who was a lifesaver) and support from my extended family (I lived with my parents while going to school since the classes I needed where not available at my local school)

        I would wake up to study for an hour, go to work (flexible/remote), go to school, come home and study 1-3 more hours. I lived flash cards both digital (easy to review when waiting in line for anything) and hand written (studies have shown that the act of writing helps imprint the knowledge in your brain)

        You just have to make the commitment to yourself. As someone with unmedicated ADHD, it was one of the hardest things Ive ever done.

      2. Alexander Graham Yell*

        So I had to balance with my full time job, but because it was something work encouraged me to do, I was able to turn all of my down time during the work day into study time. That said, sometimes that would be 2+ hours, sometimes that would be nothing. So I found a non-home location where I studied well and went there for hours every weekend. But I’m single and only have a cat and am new to town so didn’t have much of a social life I’d have to plan around, so it was kind of the perfect combination of circumstances to study for something like this.

  44. EMM*

    I’ve asked a few friends and family about this, but haven’t really got a good answer. I’m 39, I work in a field that requires an advanced degree (which I have) and I’m part of a supervisor/manager team, where I manage 3 people.

    I also look really young. I’m short (5’0″) and a little bit chubby. People tend to think I’m in my early 20’s most of the time. And I notice that my coworkers (the ones I manage and others) tend to treat me very young, even tho my boss is only 2 years older than me and he doesn’t get treated that way. They sort of act like… I’m not knowledgeable sometimes. I mean, I can’t really explain it but I see the way they treat other people who are my age or a little bit older and there is a difference.

    I dress like a professional, we have a very lax dress code here, everyone’s in jeans and nice clothing. I do the same, I don’t wear like tee-shirts or anything that would be considered inappropriate. I don’t wear make-up, because on I don’t want to and two, my skin is sensitive and I break out in even the mildest types.

    I just want to be taken seriously and like an adult by my peers and all of the suggestions I get are to dress like an adult or wear make-up and… I don’t think I should have to wear clothes and make-up that would make me feel uncomfortable. I know it’s the norm in most office cultures, but the people close to my age all dress like me and don’t wear a lot of make-up either!

    I’m just a little frustrated with things. Anytime I feel like I try to step in and say “I know what I’m talking about thanks!” it makes it worse, then I get called cranky or bitchy because I’m being assertive. But like, I either let people walk all over me because they think I’m young or I stand up for myself and get labeled a bitch. I just don’t know how to handle this.

    1. Paris Geller*

      I don’t have a ton of advice, just commiseration. In my last job I *was* the youngest, but not in a junior role, and I definitely dealt with people not taking me seriously because of my age–in your case, your perceived age. I never really found a way to combat it. I *did* sometimes dress a little nicer than everyone, use makeup, etc., but you’re right that you shouldn’t *have* to do that. It’s a really frustrating situation.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Don’t feel that you need to wear make-up if it breaks you out and you don’t like it.

      But let’s look at your letter again. You seem to be saying “I look young and I hate it and people say I should do X and Y but I don’t like X and Y so I’m not gonna, but I still want things to be different.”

      So … my suggestions — check back with your wardrobe/look. Is there a “one extra step” you can do that will polish your look without making you look like an 80’s Career Girl? Maybe a new pair of glasses or more refined haircut, maybe upgrading the types of clothes you’re wearing a bit – better fabrics, better cuts, or simply tailored to fit you exactly, which can be a subtle and miraculous way to look more put together.

      And then think about your tone and behaviors. To get the respect you’re looking for, you should be coming from a place of groundedness. It might be that your boundaries or self-image are a little wobbly, so your responses aren’t as controlled as you’d like (e.g., getting walked on vs being called cranky). Taking a measured moment (and deep breath) before stepping in to assert yourself can make a huge difference in having a “responsible” response.

    3. PollyQ*

      Is it fair that you’re thought of as young and inexperienced because you’re short (and also probably, female)? No, not in the least. But it’s the reality that you’re living in, and changing your wardrobe, even a little, might go a good way towards helping the problem. I recommend throwing a loosely-structured blazer over what you’re already wearing and maybe wearing sharper-looking/more expensive shoes, which could still be fairly comfy loafers/flats.

      Although, if people are literally calling you cranky & bitchy to your face, the problem may be this job/these coworkers, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think about job-hunting.

    4. Violas are blue*

      Sounds frustrating. I started dressing slightly better than my peers, while still dressing comfortably. For example, slacks instead of jeans, button down instead of a tee shirt. I also slowly brought blazers into my wardrobe: mostly neutral colors, with silk scarves in the winter when my neck got cold. Nice looking but comfortable shoes, but NOT heels. No makeup other than moisturizer.

      I’ve found that clothing does make a difference on how people perceive you, and sometimes on how you present yourself. You can slowly make small changes to your apparel that may affect how others perceive you.

      Regarding the comments on you being cranky or bitchy, sometimes you can mitigate how others perceived you based on how you listen, and how you say things. Maybe you can investigate communication styles. Have you read How to win friends and influence People? I’m sure there are other books or blogs that can help with this.

    5. matcha123*

      I’m basically the same age as you and a little taller. I get what you mean, but I prefer to look younger. Giving people respect based on them appearing older (or being older) has never made sense to me, and I don’t want to lean into that, but I digress.

      For petites, I browse ExtraPetite. She’s a blogger about your height and she gives tips on tailoring shirts and clothes to look better on a petite frame. I like her style, unfortunately since my body type is different I can’t use some of her examples, but she has a lot of work outfits to browse through and I get a lot of good ideas from her blog.

      As to treatment at work, I think the issue is with your co-workers’ mindsets. I had a senior coworker treat me like an idiot because she assumed I was at least 10 years younger than I actually was. If I tried to talk about my experience, she’d talk over me or make snide comments.
      The age one is assumed to be shouldn’t be the determining factor in whether or not they take you seriously. I be honest, if they are invested in viewing you as much younger than you actually are, I don’t think that changing up your clothing style will have that much of an impact. They need to change their mindsets.

    6. Camelid coordinator*

      I think you need different strategies with different groups. You can be direct and remind your reports of your greater experience. At the same time you could bring this problem to your boss, approaching them as if they were a mentor. This both alerts them to their own behavior and gets them invested in solving it. I also wonder if you work with your colleagues on your level so that your peers vocally agree with your ideas, give you credit, and uplift your contributions. There is a famous example of the women in the Obama White House doing this.

    7. Anima*

      I turn 35 tomorrow and get estimated at around 25-28 most times. I fully lean into it sometimes! It gives me leeway to make mistakes and only get a “aww you’re so young, do this and this next time” instead of a stern talking to.
      In cases where it gets annoying I mention my age in passing, in a non-work conversation for example. Or I drop my “a already have a masters” bomb, which often makes them second guess themselves. Can you do anything comparable?

    8. Mynona*

      I’m so frustrated for you that–even here–commenters are doubling down with wardrobe advice. What you’re describing sounds like garden-variety sexism in the workplace, and make-up and a power suit won’t fix that. The best advice I can give you from my own experience as a younger-looking woman it to speak and act with confidence in your knowledge and expertise. Don’t get defensive when someone undermines you–and don’t necessarily call them out on it–just react like, of course you’re the senior/expert here and of course you know the score. But I don’t think you’re bringing this on yourself with something you’re doing or not doing.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I totally agree about speaking and acting with confidence, and about sexism.

        I also have been in the world long enough to believe that there is more than one way to burn the patriarchy, but all of them are tiring. If putting on lipstick reduces your headwind by 2 percent, well that’s 2 percent more energy you have for other things.

      2. Invisible today*

        I agree. Wardrobe matters a bit, but honestly there is so much more you can do beyond that. I am a female who typically looks a decade younger than i am which was a royal pain in my 20s and 30s, esp when i managed a team of middle aged males. Here are some tips that worked for me :

        Language / speech. Lower the pitch of your voice a smidge and slightly speak slower and more measured phrases. Fast and high pitched reads as young/ immature. Dont hide your expertise behind verbal caveats like “I guess”. Also. Be wary of sharing personal details that might age you.

        Body language – stand and sit like you know you belong there – take up the full space you deserve. Be aware of eye contact and personal space.

        I find that until I am 100% confident my authority / expertise is established within the group, i refrain from laughing / joking around. If someone tells me a joke, ill acknowledge it with a small and a spoke “hah, thats funny” or similar.

    9. NaoNao*

      Sometimes people have a slightly dated or “frozen in time” idea of what makeup is. It might benefit you to check out some new items and innovative formulas out there and/or opt into items that don’t get applied to the face skin, like:

      Eyeshadow
      Eyebrow gel/shadow/cream
      Mascara
      Lipstick/gloss

      But leaving aside makeup, if it’s just based on appearance, one thing I would suggest is upgrading to the most expensive and polished version of your existing clothing you can afford/feel comfortable in. Get all natural fabrics: wool, silk, leather, cotton, linen. I’ve noticed that solid colors and monochrome outfits often read more authoritative than prints. Prints can read “support staff” all too easily.

      Shoes! A really amazing pair of shoes is going to be 3 figures. But if you wear them every day, that’s worth it I think. Look into a pair with block heels or cone heels or a wedge. Maybe Cole Haan or another high quality comfort brand.

      Look into chunky, architectural power accessories like cuff bracelets, oversized glasses frames, statement necklaces, investment-grade gold, chunky “huggie” hoop earrings.

      Jenny Bird, Mejuri, EyeCandy L.A, Gorjana, Panacea, Soko, Chan Lu, Alexis Bittar, Kendra Scott, and Kate Spade all make interesting and “grown up” yet still personality-having accessories.

      Corporette dot com has some great breakdowns on outfits, styles, and options for the work place.

    10. Gracely*

      Your boss is probably being treated a bit differently because of his position–he’s your boss, so he’s got some seniority you don’t have, regardless of your similar ages or the fact that you also have a position managing others.

      Make up is not going to make a difference if you don’t like it, so definitely don’t start using it. Maybe upping your game on the clothing side of things would help, but if you’re already dressing like everyone else, I doubt it. If you have a hairstyle that reads younger, that might be something you could change to something more “adult”–like if you just brush and let it airdry, maybe try blow-drying sometimes, or putting it up. Again, that’s probably only going to have a marginal effect, but if you’re up for it, it might be worth looking into.

      Is it possible they’re reacting to you as a manager and not based on your age? Because there is also the whole “ugh, my manager thinks they know everything but they have no idea how little they know” thing, whether it’s true or not. And sometimes, if that’s the issue, you can fix that by acknowledging the things that others also have expertise in. Like, “hey, I know a lot about this, but Nadja, I know you worked with Nandor on a similar project last year–what’s your take on this subject?” It puts you in a “I’m in charge because I’m running this, but I’m also confident enough to get input from others” position.

      It also might be at least partly a matter of being proactive/confidently already taking the lead so you’re not stuck in a place of stepping in to remind people of what you know. So no more “Thanks, I know what I’m talking about” and instead “Yeah, we should do it this way because Reason A and Reason B” or “Hey, have you considered doing C instead of D? I like that approach better.” Don’t tell them that you know what you’re talking about–act like they already know that, and then anything you jump in with is going to come across less “cranky/bitchy”.

    11. Jules the First*

      I have the same problem, on a bigger scale – I manage a bigger team and oversee business development for a firm with hundreds of millions in turnover. People still routinely assume I’m ten years younger (which is awkward because I’m already about five years younger than the person who typically does this job). I don’t wear makeup (or heels anymore).

      Things that helped:
      – I don’t make coffee or fix coffee in meetings. I arrive with a travel mug or sit there until someone offers to fix me a cup. Making coffee makes men of a certain generation think “junior” where you just think “polite”
      – I don’t take notes. If it’s a complicated meeting and I need to make some notes, I’ll do it briefly on my phone, or grab some scrap paper. I *never* leave a notebook open on the table…again, that says “junior”
      – always sit on a corner of the meeting table, make eye contact with as many people as you can while they are speaking
      – never be early to a meeting unless you are definitely the most junior person in the room. If the meeting room is empty, make another loop. On time is best (bearing in mind what “on time” is for people at your level in your org), but if you have to choose, late is better than early
      – use I statements and try to reference past experience “when I led x project in 2019 we dealt with this by…”
      – never get defensive. Act surprised. When someone tells you something you already knew, raise an eyebrow, pause, and build on it with “and yes of course we should start with that, I would also propose that we did x and y, based on my experience of z”

      Things that did not work:
      – makeup, haircuts, glasses, heels, other shoes
      – wardrobe changes like blazers or dressing up. Now you just look like someone trying to look older than you are.

      Zaha Hadid used to say that the trick to being a woman in a room full of men was to assume you have the right to be there (because that’s what every little man in the room already thinks about himself), and to be uncompromisingly brilliant. The second part is a little harder than the first, but both are doable. (You can also lean into the assumption and start with “I know I don’t look old enough to be telling y’all what to do, but my diploma gets older every year even if I don’t”)

      1. Mascanta*

        This is great. As a 41-year-old woman who has never worn makeup due to personal preference but is now reaching an age where it might make more of a difference to my appearance, it’s heartening to hear from others who have had success in their careers without wearing it (to be clear, it has never been an issue for me at work, I’m just being grumpy about getting older).

        The other thing I haven’t seen mentioned is to request backup support with peers, and even your boss, if you feel they are a safe person to speak to, so they can reinforce your authority. I once had a younger woman join a team of people mostly 35+ as the assistant manager, and I used to actively make clear that she was in charge when I was gone, or shut down grumbles about her age if they arose. If someone came to me with an issue that I suspected they’d already had an unfavorable answer to, I’d ask “what did (assistant manager) say?” when they reluctangly told me I would say “well I back her up 100%, so that’s your answer.” If you feel you can ask for some of that kind of support from peers (for meetings) or your boss, I’d reccommend trying.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I posted memorabilia from my big-number college reunion for fun — and it had the unexpected side-effect of letting people know I was 10+ years longer in the industry than they’d realized. (I finished a programming certificate shortly after starting and apparently few people realized that was in addition to my bachelor’s!)

    13. Student*

      You could be me from 10 years ago.

      The thing I did that made the biggest difference was changing jobs. I parlayed my experience into a slightly higher-level role elsewhere. The org I switched to also treats women better than the former org, and has more women in visible leadership roles. So, start applying.

      I also did give into the make-up and wardrobe pressures you’re experiencing. It made less of an impact than switching jobs – the people you work with will make an initial impression of you that sticks, and the new look is really only going to influence new people you start working with afterward. It does help. I think the clothes help more than the make-up. If I look more like a boss via clothes, people treat me more like I’m running things.

      I usually stick to a bit of lipstick and a bit of eyeshadow when I do make-up, as I’ve found that seems to be the most impactful for me. This seems to be the thing you’re least interested in trying, but a slightly darker shade of lipstick than your natural lip color might help without irritating your skin or taking much time.

    14. kina lillet*

      Specifically the “I know what I’m talking about”, I think in addition to the sexism you’re in a bit of a negative feedback loop. You get patronized—you feel upset—reading as upset makes you read as more patronizable—more patronizing—you snap.

      Adding positive feedback loops of control might help. For example, staying fairly calm and friendly, but saying, “Let me stop you there, I’m familiar with the process. I’ll rephrase—I’m actually asking about the contractors progress on X.” You keep your control over your affect, and over the conversation, and ideally that helps reduce the feedback loop.

  45. Kesnit*

    I had a rather awkward conversation with my boss at lunch earlier this week.

    It started with him saying when (not if, when) I trade my wife in on a “younger model,” having kids would be expected. I glossed over the point that I CANNOT HAVE CHILDREN and pointed out that she and I have been married for 10 years (and together 13) and I have no intention of “trading her in.” He commented back that his parents were married for 20 years before they divorced.

    Then he asked me if transmen who are trying to get pregnant have to go off hormones. I have no idea. It’s never been something I thought about because I am never having children!

    Then he asked if it would have been possible for my wife and I to get pregnant at the same time when we first started dating. At this point, I did tell him I’d had surgery before I ever met her.

    Part of me wants to report the conversation. I know other people have dealt with him making unprofessional comments, but those comments – though I don’t know exactly what was said – are not likely to be like what he said to me. I am not 100% sure anyone would back me up if I did say something.

    1. Harper*

      These are super invasive questions for a boss to ask an employee, and the tone of them feels bigoted vs. curious/trying to learn. I think you should report it. You can tell HR you don’t want a big deal made. If he hasn’t truly broken any rules, they should document it and watch the situation (this has been my experience). If they think he’s way out of line, you’ll have confirmation that your gut was right and it needs to be addressed.

    2. Student*

      So this sounds like pregnancy discrimination. He’s feeling out whether you may become pregnant and whether you may be planning to have kids (which, if you do not carry the child, would potentially still be protected in some US states under family status – but isn’t protected at the federal level). The comment about “trading in” your wife is pretty openly misogynistic.

      I think you should report the conversation to an upper manager or HR. It’s pretty over-the-top ridiculous and you’re right to feel targeted and concerned. Before you go into this conversation, it helps to have a clear picture of what you want to get out of it. Do you want an apology for yourself? For your wife? Do you want him to stop asking about your family planning? Do you want the company to put a stop to the gendered harassment? Do you want him to stop asking you about very personal anatomical details of your trans experience?

      AAM has good advice in various articles about trying to phrase this in a way where HR or a higher manager will respond well. Her language generally uses a script that goes “Of course we [important to make is seem like you’re all on the same side] don’t want to open the company up to legal liability for [issue]…” I suggest looking up her prior advice on other harassment issues.

      I’m sure you’re well aware that the protections for trans folks are spotty, at best. Make sure you know if you have any state or local protections. If you think, based on your experience in the business, that you won’t get anything good out of complaining, then it might be time to job search instead.

      1. Kesnit*

        “He’s feeling out whether you may become pregnant and whether you may be planning to have kids”

        I’ve worked here for 5 years and have always been clear that I never wanted to have children.

        “I think you should report the conversation to an upper manager or HR.”

        He is the head of our local office.

        “Do you want the company to put a stop to the gendered harassment?”

        I’d say this. I know he’s made inappropriate comments to the cis-female staff, though I don’t know exactly what was said.

        “don’t want to open the company up to legal liability for [issue]…”

        Forgot to mention we work for a government agency.

        1. pancakes*

          My understanding of pregnancy discrimination laws is that they’re focused on the discriminatory behavior, not the likelihood of their target getting pregnant, or desire to. Whether you have or haven’t ever wanted kids seems beside the point to me.

          Look into reporting options for gov’t workers outside of your own workplace, if that seems less daunting. I’ll see if I can find some info. I hope your own HR would want to know about this too, though. I agree with everyone else saying this guy is terrible and should be reported to someone.

    3. searching for a new name*

      What he said was entirely inappropriate. Is your HR good? I think they would want to know about this. His comments are gross

    4. PollyQ*

      These comments are 1000000% out of line and 1000000% reportable, and a decent HR department would be appalled by them. However, it is true that many companies don’t deal that well complaints like that, so if your sense is that you’re working for one of them, discretion may be the better part of valor here.

      Even if you don’t choose to report, I recommend you stop engaging with your boss on this subject sof your marriage or your biology AT ALL going forward. “Sorry boss, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing my private life at work.” is a perfectly reasonable boundary to set. Change the subject quickly to the TPS reports or the latest sportsball game and you’ll probably be OK.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      WTAF. Please report this. I’d caution you to report with low expectations of this particular nonsense being addressed, but it’s super inappropriate and can contribute to a record of this being a habit for him.

      Also, thanks for the reminder to brush up my “I don’t like where this conversation is going” stock phrases.

    6. ferrina*

      Wow. This is soooooo inappropriate. Absolutely reportable, and if you have any faith in your HR, I’d report it. It may be that they have a file on him already and they can’t prove anything. I agree with Harper and Student that you can make it more of an fyi for them, almost a concern about the legal liability (trans discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, I’m guessing there was some gender discrimination in there too). You don’t have to request that they do anything- if they’re competent, they’ll know what to do.

      If nothing else, document somewhere what he said, when he said it, and if there were any witnesses. Keep a running document- this isn’t an isolated incident.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Oh. My. Gidyard.

      That’s awful. You have to make the best decision for your situation, and your org may suck, but it is absolutely worth reporting and any HR or management worth their salt wouldn’t stand for it.

  46. Lucy Moran*

    I’m wondering if anyone has any advice regarding pivoting away from Executive Assistant/Admin work. I’ve never liked being in this role, but I’m good at it so I’ve gotten boxed into it for the last several years. I’d really like to work in the compliance / regulations field but am unsure how to get from A to B – my current company doesn’t really have a compliance team, so there aren’t lower level roles in that area that I could potentially go for. Any advice would be so appreciated!

    1. GarlicMicrowaver*

      Consider healthcare. Those types of roles can easily transfer to Patient Liaison or even Practice Manager/Coordinator.

    2. ferrina*

      What are your current responsibilities? I’d leverage that to get into another office job (ideally in compliance/regulation, but really anything that’s not EA- too many people will pigeon hole EA as unable to do anything else).
      Some ideas:
      Managing competing priorities/tasks: Program Associate or Project Management
      Drafting communications: Marketing/Communications Associate
      Managing personalities: Board/Customer Liaison

      The goal is to go into an entry/mid level (dep on your experience) non-EA role. Hopefully in your desired field, maybe not. Stay there for a year to get that non-EA experience on your resume, then start looking at lateral compliance/regulations positions. Depending on where you land, you may need to do a second move to get closer to your field. This might be a 5-year plan, not an immediate jump.
      Good luck!

      1. Lucy Moran*

        Thank you so much – this is helpful! My responsibilities are so varied in my current role – I report directly to the CEO and do all kinds of projects – investor relations, developing training materials, assisting legal, drafting documents for govt. proposals, and then all the usual suspects (travel booking, meetings, catering, events, office mgmt etc). It’s a crazy stressful role. My main problem is that the recruiters I’ve spoken with seem to only see the EA title and tell me that it will be hard to translate my jack of all trades experience into a more focused role – it’s been a little discouraging.

        1. ferrina*

          One trick is to hone in on a few skills. Rather than a Lucy of All Skills (which they may assume you don’t specialize in any), pick 2-3 that you want to highlight for each role that you apply to. This will allow you to showcase work that is relevant specifically to that role, and to show expertise in key skills (they’ll learn about your expertise in the other skills later, maybe after they hire you, but listing all the things you do now will muddy the waters).
          I keep a Resume Template with a long list of every accomplishment I’ve ever had (this is way too long for an actual application, it’s just for me). When I draft a resume for a particular job, I chose only the most relevant accomplishments, and ones that tend to fit together to tell a story of expertise in [Skill]. Your resume is a story-telling skill, and by showing a consistent building of skills and accomplishments, it can help recruiters picture you in the new role. Conversely, if you try to highlight all your skills, it’s like when a plot line bounces around in a book, and the recruiter can be left confused.
          Good luck!

    3. All Het Up About It*

      Maybe look into some government roles? I know a lot of our state agencies have Admin assistant/Project Coordinator roles that could help you transition. And even not, I think the skills for Admin assistant to project coordinator type roles at various agencies, institutions could translate well!

    4. Cocafonix*

      There is no way you can pivot with your current org, whatever you pivot to. Just a voice from experience.

  47. Cleaning Lady*

    In the past, when I have worked in-office and known that I was leaving for a new position, I would slowly start cleaning out my office over the course of a few weeks until the announcement was made. Then, by my last day I wouldn’t have a bunch of stuff to carry out. I was never too concerned about appearances b/c I had private offices that other people didn’t spend much time in.

    I now have a cubicle, but mostly WFH. When I lost my office and moved into the cubicle, I already knew I was not going to stay for much longer, so took the majority of my personal things home at that time.

    Still, everyone in the cube farm can see everything in my cube and they often call it “homey” and “comfortable.”

    While my boss knows I’m leaving, the rest of the crew does not yet. Would it be totally weird to come in over the weekend and take the majority of my large personal items home, just leaving the barest of essentials to look like it’s not totally empty? I don’t want to give things away before my boss announces my departure, but I also despise the idea of making several trips to the parking lot and back while other folks are at work. And honestly, I doubt I’m going to work in the office at all during my notice period.

    1. snowyowl*

      I think it would be fine to take the items home, but maybe a little odd to do it over the weekend. I think most people would just assume that because you’re mostly WFH you’re just moving things to your “regular” desk, and if you’re comfortable with that kind of side stepping the truth you could maybe even tell someone.

      Are you working in the office enough* that you could just start taking a few items home at the end of each day? (*Enough to get it cleaned out to the level you want before the actual announcement).

      If you’re totally comfortable with a white lie, you could just do it over the weekend and say that you’re redecorating your home office.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        Agree that the white lie about the home office décor could work if you must do this prior to the announcement.

        Here’s my question: if you are willing to do it over a weekend, why can’t you clean out your desk on a weekend during your notice period? I get that you aren’t going in to the office during that time, but presumably you aren’t going into the office regularly on weekends anyway.

        1. Cleaning Lady*

          I am in the middle of my notice period now. For lots of reasons, our management tightly controls the notifications about when people leave until there are plans in place. So I’ve got another 6 weeks or so, but my departure probably won’t be announced until two weeks before I leave.

  48. Tuckerman*

    I work at an office far from the main office. At the main office, they’ve all had professional headshots. We haven’t had them because someone needs to come from the main office, and well, COVID, etc. Apparently they have to use the same photographer/company.
    I paid for my own professional headshot to use for my side business, and used it for my Office 365 profile photo as well, since I want something professional for work. Work is now asking for a headshot for the website. But I plan to use it for my side business. Is that OK? The businesses aren’t related fields. I don’t think work will be doing headshots any time soon.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      if they give you a copy of the file, you can use the headshot when & wherever you want.

    2. PollyQ*

      As long as you paid for the rights to use the shot any way you see fit, then I see no problem at all.

      1. Foley*

        This. If there’s no written agreement with the photog, then you’re free to use them. But lately every headshot I’ve hired myself has some specific limitations. The last one was no use in print. So check the fine print, but otherwise I think you’re fine.

  49. Cj*

    Is there a way to set your LinkedIn profile to private so nobody can view it without your permission?

    I don’t want to delete my profile because I want to be able to search for jobs on LinkedIn, but there’s reasons I don’t want just anybody to be able to view it.

    1. ThatGirl*

      You can adapt your visibility on various things, like who can see your last name, how people can find you, etc. The whole point of LinkedIn is that /some/ people should be able to find you, but you control how much info you put in your profile and how easy it is to find you. Look under settings->Visibility.

        1. Foley*

          Yes! But it’s a moving target like privacy settings on any social media site. So if it’s important to you, check in on it. I did this for years because I needed it to search other people, but had no interest in connections, etc. I had to check the settings every 3 months. You’ll notice because you’ll start getting connection notices and realize that somehow you’ve become visible.

  50. WonkyStitch*

    Does anyone have a home crafting business where you use licensed artwork to create your products?

    I am building a business where I use my own digital fantasy art to have fabric printed, then make handbags and tote bags and such using that fabric. I focus on fantasy and roleplay/D&D type art.

    Anyway, I saw a post in a FB group for neurodiverse artists (I am autistic) from a lady who was sharing her daughter’s awesome artwork that would fit my theme. I asked her if her daughter would be interested in licensing a couple of her pieces. I’ve never done that before. I found a licensing agreement on LegalZoom and bought it and modified it.

    So I thought I might modify my business model to be all about bags made with fabric printed with artwork by neurodiverse artists. I think it would be a great niche that not many people are in. I’d still do my own art, but would also consider submissions by other neurodiverse artists, I’d pay a fee for each piece plus a percentage of sales, and I’d always credit the artist any time I posted a picture of their work online.

    Does anyone do anything like this that I can pick your brain please? I want to make sure I am not misappropriating these artists’ beautiful work and that they are getting all the credit they deserve, while also growing my business.

    1. Foley*

      A fairly simple licensing agreement should be fine. BUT there are two issues maybe? First, do you have a step up clause. If you sell 500K, then the fee is Y or Flat no matter what. Just a thought. If something takes off, feelings change about flat fees.

      The second issue is infringement and how you’d handle it.

  51. Nicki Name*

    How do you deal with premature longings for retirement?

    I’m 20+ years from retiring. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the hobbies I’d like to pick up if I had more time, looking at the newspaper listing for community events and thinking how nice it would be to be able to go to the ones on weekdays, that sort of thing.

    I’m currently permanently remote and loving it, very well paid, working strictly 8 hours a day, and am still getting interesting things to do at work and doing them, so I don’t *think* it’s job dissatisfaction.

    So what would you all suggest? Do I just deal? Am I lying to myself about not being bored with my job? Is this pandemic burnout finally manifesting for me?

    1. Nicosloanica*

      I think this sounds totally normal! You might see it as a sign that you could use a longer vacation, even a sabbatical, or that it’s time to start thinking about your next steps in your career even if you’re currently satisfied, but I don’t think it necessarily means anything other than daydreaming can be an adaptive strategy. I often reflect that if I do actually get to retire (and in my generation, that doesn’t seem at all clear) it may very well be only because I am too ill to continue working or because I have to be a caretaker for a loved one full time. Also plenty of people never make it retirement. Dreaming about retirement now is possibly as good as it gets. Dream away!

    2. ABC*

      Look into the FIRE movement (financial independence, Retire early) if you haven’t already. There’s lots of us yearning for the same thing. I haven’t found a way to deal except for making (and working on executing) a plan to save and invest my income. Good luck.

      I’ll be keeping an eye on this thread to see if anyone has any advice for the sticking it out side of things. I’ve heard to work on making your life outside of work as rich as possible (go to those events on the weekend, etc.) to start building toward the post-retirement life you envision.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        For the FIRE movement, I recommend the book Work Optional by Tanja Hester. Her approach is to think about how you want to live your best life, and then use money as a tool to achieve those goals. Other FIRE people focus more on how to maximize savings and investment returns, which doesn’t interest me as much (certainly not as an end in itself).

      2. Office Gumby*

        Yas! Time to become a Mustachian.
        I, too, have a hankering for early retirement. Working for my money annoys me, so I thought about what my life would be like without *having* to work. Turns out I’ve got plenty to do, I just need a way to fund it.

        So I asked myself the question: How Bad Do I Want This?

        Bad enough to forgo little luxuries in favour of boosting my savings/retirement plan/investments? Bad enough to create a spreadsheet? Bad enough to curtail my lifestyle so it’s less commercial, but not so much I’m feeling an uncomfortable pinch? What was I willing to do to shave off even a year or two off my working phase? How bad do I want this?

        Turns out, pretty badly.

        A few years ago Mr Gumby and I did some hard-core calculations as to how much money it would take to maintain an okay lifestyle for the rest of our lives, and how long it would take us to get that in retirement funds and investment returns.

        As of today, we’ve got about five years or so until we hit that goal. Having that hard deadline to look forward to helps ease the yearning somewhat. Sure, we still have to go to work. Sure, we resent it, but when we chant the mantra “Only five more years”, we find we can tolerate it cheerfully.