open thread – August 12-13, 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.

{ 966 comments… read them below }

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      If he was really that upset at having to fire people, he would have made the post about them – their qualifications, their strengths, what kinds of roles they were looking for – and used his platform to get them hired elsewhere. I’m kind of disgusted that he didn’t even think about them once. It was all about him.

      1. Former Gifted Kid*

        Agreed! I think that’s what really turned me off about it. It didn’t really seem like he was upset because he cared about the laid-off workers as people. I’m sure he was upset at having to lay people off, but probably because he didn’t want to seem like a bad guy. It’s all about his ego. His whole explanation, especially after the backlash was about himself. He wanted people *to see* that he cared. He even emphasized that the laid-off workers were nice about being laid off and assured him they would be alright. Why did they feel the need to reassure him? It was performative vulnerability and caring, which is gross.

        1. Meep*

          My mom used to have to lay off people and she would come home and just cry all night long during those weeks because people would break down sobbing. They rarely blamed her, which I think was the hardest part of it all. They were good people losing their jobs. The least he could do is be a reference.

      2. Glitsy Gus*

        This. All of this. He didn’t even have to use their names, just that anyone coming from his company is going to be great and he will offer any recommendation needed or something like that.

        But no, just boo hoo, I had to send a sad email to my COO who then had to do a hard thing for me.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I feel like LinkedIn is the opposite of r/antiwork. And reality is somewhere in between the two.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        LinkedIn bothers me more since I’m like why would you pretend your worksona is you? I just don’t get it.

        1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

          YES! I hate how people are trying to show more of themselves on LinkedIn. I’m seeing more and more political rants now and stuff I just don’t want to know about current and former colleagues.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          THat’s actually what I like about LinkedIn, but that bothers me when other people don’t get it. I really like having a place where my Worksona can shine. I do good work, and I really like what I do, but I am a very different person in that arena. I love the idea of a place where you can talk Work. But when others try to circumvent that… well, this is why we can’t have nice things.

          1. Flash Packet*

            Yup. My worksona is an aspect of me, it isn’t all of me.

            Just like I don’t, say, visit online spaces created for owners of pets who have chronic health conditions and start talking about the process improvements I’m making at work.

      2. wondermint*

        r/antiwork is a lot of people working grunt jobs. Not everyone can afford college and not everyone is smart or lucky enough to get a well paying job. Thus people are abused working at fast food chains or Amazon warehouses to keep themselves alive on starvation wages.

        I know we’re not bashing the subreddit, but I fully support those people. Stagnant minimum wages while pricing are rising is essentially turning this system into slavery. More power to them, we need unions.

        1. AnxiousAndAutistic*

          Agreed- I also am of the opinion that the way we work should be reimagined from the ground up, considering the resources we have. for example- There may be reasons why we can’t switch to a 4-hour work day tomorrow, but there’s no reason why those reasons can’t be addressed so that we are all able to work less over time. Buuuut that would require a complete restructuring of society and you’d need a level of buy-in, so it’s a “works on paper or with a committed group of participants but not in modern life” thing.

        2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Nod i understand them. Their jobs suck and building solidarity helps. I don’t get stressing people out with a fake work personality

        3. usually anon*

          I read AAM and Not Always Right during the day. Sometimes I need a break from the breathless enthusiasm of the AAM commentariat. Sometimes work really does suck.

        4. Chirpy*

          Agreed, every job should be able to *at minimum* actually support at least a single person to a good standard of living, not these poverty wages that are 1/3 of a living wage.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I only use it when I’m job hunting. The rest of the time I just ignore it. I hate it. Their algorithm for job searches is WAY too broad. I keep getting “Your profile fits this job” for stuff that only has like, one word in common.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          There’s no filter for pay. A *job search site* doesn’t let me filter for positions that pay more than my current one. Why would I waste my time?

          1. Chirpy*

            It also doesn’t let you screen out volunteer positions. Yes, dear job site, I am in fact only interested in *paid* work. I can find volunteer opportunities on my own, thanks.

    3. Typing All The Time*

      Yes, he should have just tagged the people (with their permission) and marketed their skillsets. And I really hope he gave them a good layoff package.

    4. I'm Just Here for the Cake*

      I can’t stand most LinkedIn posts in general. So many empty generalized platitudes and performative arguments for “putting humanity back in the workplace.”

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’ve been laid off (many years ago) and cannot imagine how I would have felt if the person who laid me off had tried to use it as fodder for an inspirational post on LinkedIn. This dude should not be anyone’s manager ever again.

    6. Whatevs*

      Typical narcissist behavior. More concerned with his own image than the people truly impacted by his “tough decision”.

    7. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      My dude’s thesis was “Don’t make me feel bad for being a CEO”. I will never understand why these folk can’t just be happy with their paycheck but seem to also require emotional validation. I know you’re suffering because you suddenly don’t have an income or health insurance but no one is talking about the more serious problem which is my feelings are hurt.

      1. CatSmile*

        I have no idea, either. Early in my career, I had a manager who was making significantly more than the rest of us (like 100K more), and he would constantly talk about how useless he was, how we were “sooo much smarter than the dummy boss,” etc etc. I just wanted to say, “If you’re so stupid and useless, why are you getting paid so much more? Give me your job, then.” Because I was doing most of his job (on top of my own job), and yet I was getting a fraction of his pay. I remember he even cried in a meeting once because we brought up some workplace issue to him – and instead of addressing the issue, he started crying and going on about being a bad boss. Which made other people in the meeting start to cry, and then console him. It was bizarre.

        1. Churpairs*

          ermahgerrrrrrrrrrd. I was going to say that this has been my experience with bosses self deprecating while I do their work for not their pay, until you got to the crying part. I … cannot.

          1. CatSmile*

            He was OBSESSED with external validation. Always making comments about how people would judge him for things, like drinking from a pink mug (????) or having a certain degree, etc etc. I’m like, people judge you for NOT DOING YOUR JOB!!!!!!!! Whatevs. He’s in my rear view mirror now!

        2. fine tipped pen afficionado*

          This feels exactly the same to me as when my brother used to make me do his “feminine” chores because I was “better at it”. It’s the same naked manipulation in a different and somehow more toxic form.

          Ugh. I hate this for you.

          1. CatSmile*

            Oh definitely. But the universe balances in the end – I quit that job, moved to a different division in my org, I’m now a manager myself and making more than that boss. :D And I don’t cry to my direct reports….I just do my actual job.

      2. Raboot*

        The post is annoying in an influencer look-at-me way, but from Vice’s reporting on it, he does not have a paycheck from the company and his previous one was quite low. Not saying anyone has to feel sorry for him but it’s also not the same thing as if a Fortune 500 CEO made the same post.

        1. Important Moi*

          I’ve read he is financially comfortable such that he doesn’t HAVE to take a paycheck. I, and lots of other people I know, need a regular paycheck to live our lives. If this blurb is please incorrect let me know.

        2. Former Gifted Kid*

          Lots of CEOs don’t take salaries, but take other compensation instead. It’s usually less of an altruistic or self sacrificing thing and more a way to pay less taxes. Usually the compensation is stock (hence why Bezos and Zuckerberg don’t take salaries), but plenty also take “bonuses” that aren’t technically salaries

    8. J*

      It reminds me of how when my company laid people off/furloughed people in the pandemic with 3 days of work still expected of them. They made every employee join a call the next morning. A Zoom call where the CEO told everyone we were all in this together (despite that literally not being the case since we weren’t going to be there in 2 days) and he ended it by hopping in his hot tub at his mountain retreat, while we were all wondering how we were going to pay our bills and not die. I thought people had learned lessons to not publicly be assholes like that after so much bad press and yet here we are.

    9. ginkgo*

      I really hate crying posts for any reason on any social media, but when I do occasionally see them from women on LinkedIn it’s usually like “I’m crying because my four-month-old is having a sleep regression and I’m back at work functioning on two hours of sleep because US maternity leave is garbage,” so that just made this one extra special

    10. Trina*

      I somehow missed this, how did I miss this??? There’s a time and place for processing this stuff, my guy, but LinkedIn ain’t it.

    11. CindyLouWho*

      I used to try to defend LinkedIn as not being social media. Guess that’s not the case anymore…

    12. Beth*

      Hadn’t heard of it before this. Geesh, you want to cry and feel validated because you screwed your employees over, go into therapy and pay someone to perform compassion. The internet is NOT impressed.

    13. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Crying selfies are never a good thing to post on your social media, for any reason, ever, period. This is a hill I’m willing to die on. If you find yourself thinking about taking one and posting it, STOP.

    14. MacGillicuddy*

      My reaction to the photo was “ oh barf, gimme a break!”

      Did he think we’d all say “oh, poor you”? Was this just a chance to make himself feel better?

      The photo was self-serving. I was not sympathetic.

    15. Been There*

      His follow-up posts are even worse. Why are you using someone else’s tragedy to talk about yourself?!

  1. Gladys*

    My team consists of me (a Llama Grooming Manager), Imogene (Cutting Manager, Wooly Llama Grooming) and Claude (Cutting Manager, Wooly Llama Grooming). We work on different types of llamas, and while my position is above them (I work on the largest and highest priority llama), I don’t have any authority over Imogene and Claude. Our boss, Ralph, is new to the company (about 4 months in).

    Imogene is awful. She does least amount of work, makes careless errors, needs to be reminded of things she has been told, and of course, our former boss let her get away with everything. She’s also EXTREMELY entitled and does an excellent job of kissing up to upper management. She started a year and a half ago, and the first time I trained her, she went on about how this role was a step down for her and how she is used to a more senior role (which, eyeroll…). That’s been her attitude since then as well. I think she genuinely thinks she is at a director level and that Claude and I are there to “assist” her.

    Anyway, our team has recurring meetings (weekly and monthly) with account managers from platforms we use. Claude and I always go, Imogene is supposed to, but she rarely shows up. With our former manager, he would even be asked if she was coming and every time he would be like, “hmmm not sure”. EVERY meeting, we have to wait a few minutes where the account managers will say, “is Imogene coming?”, so this doesn’t make us look great. She made it a point to show up to the meetings when Ralph first started, but I think now she’s starting to revert back. Yesterday we had a meeting with our account manager that Ralph let us know he couldn’t attend, and of course, Imogene didn’t show up either! I’m sick of her getting away with not doing her job so I straight up said in the group chat our boss was on, “Imogene, are you coming to the call?” 20 minutes later she came back with some excuse how she thought the meeting was cancelled. It did make me giggle lol.

    I’d like to think Ralph is starting to notice how Claude and I carry most of the work and how Imogene isn’t even reliable, but I’m not confident he’s realizing this or will actually do anything. Another thing I’m bothered by is last week I had to leave a long department meeting early because I had an appointment, which Ralph knew about. This particular meeting our CMO (Beth) was actually attending, and right before I left he chatted me: “going forward please make sure you attend these meetings that Beth is on.” The 1, 1 time I have to leave a meeting early (which was on his calendar) and he tells me I have to attend, while he lets Imogene get away with skipping out on other meetings? Heck no.

    I think I’m going to wait a few more times when Imogene skips out on the meetings, if Ralph isn’t there I’ll ask her if she’s coming, but I shouldn’t have to do that. I’m not her calendar service. Then after maybe 3-4 times, I can ask Ralph something like, “I notice Imogene doesn’t attend the platform meetings and doesn’t let anyone know if she is or isn’t attending, why is that”?

    I just don’t want to come off like a snake or want to talk badly about a coworker to our boss, but I’ve run out of patience. Any advice?

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Handle it by stating what you have observed and how it affects your work. Remain calm and dispassionate — it’s not about personalities, it’s about doing a good job for the organization and its customers.

      Also, be a force for good and make sure you highlight to the boss when either Claude or Imogene does something positive that helps the customers. Ralph is more likely to take you seriously if he doesn’t see you as a complainer.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          Yeah, but even so, there may be a reason that OP doesn’t know about. Always still to how it affects the work whenever possible.
          “Imogene wasn’t at the conditioner platform meeting again yesterday. This meant I had to take ten minutes to brief her on the changes regarding the new Wooly Conditioner before I could get Priority Llama ready for his bath. This has become a regular thing and is starting to cause me to run behind. Claude and I both are consistently in those meetings and it would really save both of us time if she could be there too.”

        2. Mid*

          But you’ll need a better reason than that, unfortunately. If she can do her job fine without the meetings, then maybe the meetings aren’t necessary. But, if she’s missing important information, and asking your or Claude to pick up her slack, you can point to that. You can’t say “I’m mad she can skip and I can’t” because that doesn’t have an impact on work, that’s a personal conflict.

    2. Muddlewitch*

      Please duty to make it about you, and not Imogen, as it might come across wrong because she is not your direct report.
      In this position I might say something like …
      Ralph, I was confused after our meeting [with Beth] because we’d agreed I had to leave early, but you’re not concerned about attendance at [name of meetings college ducks out of]. Can you help me understand what your Protoss are for attendance?
      Maybe, it must be very frustrating xx

    3. Blue*

      I would make a list with two columns: Column 1 is problems you are having in your work because of the team dynamics (for example, do you struggle to meet your own deadlines bc others aren’t completing their work on time?). Column 2 is the stuff that annoys the snot out of you on because of the principle of the thing or because of grating personalities. Look at column 2: It is reasonable to be annoyed, but try to acknowledge it and let it roll off your back. Take column 1 to Ralph and ask for help problem solving these gaps and challenges. To the extent you can, don’t make it about Imogene but about what you need to do your work well. This will make you look mature and committed to your work, and it might even end up with some problems being solved! Good luck.

      1. Just a thought*

        I love this answer! Some things annoy us but are irrelevant.

        When Imogene doesn’t decline a meeting with the account managers and doesn’t show up, it wastes time and reflects poorly on our whole team. Would it be reasonable for you to ask her to at least decline the meeting or send a quick email prior to the meeting if she won’t be there?

    4. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      The answers so far are great. Make it about how the behaviour affects your work or the work of the whole department. If one of your customers has commented to you about Imogen all the better.

      Frame it all about the work is the key here. If Ralph is more hands off or letting his reports guide him, he may need to hear from another team member that everything is not working as it should.

      1. Gladys*

        The thing is, while it doesn’t technically impact my work, it lowers my moral. I’m just sick of her attitude and doing whatever she wants.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          I think you can bring up the fact that it does delay meetings and make you look bad if you have no idea who will or won’t be at a meeting, but just the morale part would probably look like sour grapes.

          You could, of course, bring up in general that guidance regarding which meetings are mandatory and which are more flexible (like the ones Imogene misses a lot?), so you don’t end up with the conflicting appointment situation again, might put a bug in his ear.

        2. Banana*

          I wouldn’t make it about your morale. It does affect your work – you have several unproductive minutes at the beginning of the meeting where nothing happens because you’re waiting on Imogen.

          What work gets done in those meetings? Are they productive? (If not…why are *you* going?) How is that work done in Imogen’s area if she’s not attending? Are there things she’s not aware of, or things in her area she should be providing updates on, that others have to cover, or just aren’t communicated? Are there misunderstandings because of the missed communication? Does any of that affect your work or your team, or your overall division’s reputation with the groups you’re working with? Was the missed meeting with Beth a big deal because Beth is annoyed at Imogen skipping meetings and has made it a “Ralph’s team” thing, and your absence at a meeting was the last straw for her?

          If it’s truly just annoying, try to care about it less. If she’s skipping unproductive meetings, that’s not about her…start a conversation about how to make them more productive or eliminate them to save everyone time.

    5. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I’d start by not reminding her of the meetings and, if you have any control of it, don’t delay meetings she is supposed to be in. If asked if she is coming keep it light and short but basically “it doesn’t appear so today.” See if you can speak to Claude as he is probably just as frustrated as you. Not a bitch session, just a discussion on how going forward you should not cover for Imogene any longer. Don’t try and take responsibility for her just because you are in the same department. It will become apparent pretty quickly that it is an Imogene problem not a department problem if you stop trying to cover for her. You say Ralph has only been there 4 months and you think he sees that you and Claude are carrying the department. That is a good start. If he asks, then let him know your feelings about Imogene (as professionally as possible).

      1. Gladys*

        “you think he sees that you and Claude are carrying the department”

        I’m not sure of this. My last manager was clueless, or was so lazy he didn’t want to deal with it. It keeps happening, so I assume he hasn’t talked to her about it.

        1. Cornflower*

          What would happen if you stopped carrying the department? If Imogene doesn’t do her work, currently you (and Claude) are making sure it gets done. Go to Ralph and say “I can’t keep covering Imogene’s work for her because I need to focus on BigLlama’s grooming”. Then stop picking up the slack. That will take it from being a problem you have to solve to a problem Ralph has to solve (hopefully by holding Imogene accountable).

      2. Glitsy Gus*

        Agreed. At my company we don’t wait more than two minutes for anyone unless they are presenting or have let someone know there is a reason to hold. Just do your thing, let the chips fall for her where they may. It’ll help keep some of the resentment at bay if you aren’t trying to cover or wait for her.

    6. Gnome*

      That would drive me batty.

      Maybe phrase it as a question… I wanted to clarify something with you. There seems to be some confusion on who is supposed to attend the X and Y meetings. When we think someone is coming who isn’t we always wait a few minutes so nobody misses anything. This makes the rest of the meeting rushed/go over time/whatever the impact is in the meeting or client. So I was hoping to clarify who should be there and if that’s how you want us to handle it someone is missing at the start of the meeting.

      Note that Imogene is entirely left out and the focus is one making the meeting smooth and how to handle an issue that’s recurring. Boss will figure out pretty fast who it is, but you aren’t the one saying Imogene never shows up.

    7. Esmeralda*

      Is Imogene’s lax meeting attendance harming YOU in any way? Adding to your work? Making it hard to get your work done? If no, do not bother saying anything about it to Ralph. You are not the boss of Imogen, it’s not making your job harder…leave it alone.

      What you CAN talk to Ralph about is the fact that you and Claude are having to pick up her work. Have specific examples. Explain what DOESN’T get done or takes longer or doesn’t get the attention it deserves because you and Claude are doing her work.

      And I would think hard about whether you do have to pick up her work. If she’s not getting stuff done or is half-assing it, that’s Ralph’s problem to solve.

      Affects your work = take it to Ralph
      Does not affect your work = keep it to yourself.

      BEcause you’re only going to distract from the part that’s important (Claude and I are doing Imogen’s work) if you bring up the part that’s not important (it chaps my ass when Imogen doesn’t go to meetings but Claude and I do).

    8. Double A*

      This sounds super annoying!

      I have to wonder though, if the main impact of Imogene skipping these meetings is that it lowers your morale…what is the point of these meetings? Does she miss crucial information? Is there any impact on her work product? What would be the impact on your work product if you skipped meetings?

      I’m kind of suspecting that Imogene skipping meetings is the tip of the dysfunction iceberg in your organization. If Imogene suddenly attended all meetings without reminders, would things be all better,or are there deeper issues that are what are really bugging you?

    9. Melissa*

      Oh, dear. In my head, my fantasy response to that chat is “I think you meant this to go to Imogene?”

      I think you can bring her up if you ask to speak to Ralph about what he chatted to you. Maybe in a one on one session, you can say you were a little taken aback by that message, because you do attend every meeting, you can bring her up. Does her skipping meetings make you and Claude have to take time to fill her in on what she missed? If it affects you in any way, that could be your “in”.

      Also, if one of the clients ever mentions it, that should go straight to Ralph.

      How about insisting the meeting not start until she arrives? Even if you sit there uncomfortably for a bit? Make it a problem for Ralph so he’ll see what is happening?

      Sorry, my solutions today all feel passive aggressive.

    10. Manager*

      Have you spoken to Imogene? Tell her that she needs to come to meetings because it affects you negatively when she doesn’t. Then take it to you boss to discuss or bring it up in a group meeting. But be honestly and direct and speak with her first.

  2. Anon all day*

    Let’s engage in needless speculation! I know, I know this is exactly what one is not supposed to do, but here I am. I had an interview the other day that I think went pretty decent. Not amazing, but solid. The interviewer seemed a bit distant, like not super warm and personable but definitely not cold. I sent my typical thank you email after, and the next morning she actually responds aging thank you and she enjoyed our talk. I’ve never really gotten a response from thank you emails, so I’m reading way too much into what it means. My prevailing (entirely baseless) thought is that she’s not going to hire me, so she wanted to end our interactions on a pleasant note.

    1. August Twelfth*

      I enjoy needless speculation :) I have received follow-up emails after my follow-up emails from people who both have and have not hired me. I wouldn’t read too much into it, and good luck with the job!

      1. Anon all day*

        Thanks!! It would be a really cool job, a good continuation of my career so far. I think I would enjoy it, and I would be good at it too.

    2. irene adler*

      Or she was pleasantly surprised by the thank you note as she’s not received many in the past. Maybe she wanted to give positive ‘vibes’ your way because you took the time to send the note to her.

      I think if she’s wanting to end things on a pleasant note, she would not have responded to the thank you note. Most people don’t respond to them. Etiquette does not require a response to the thank you note.

    3. Esmeralda*

      You are reading too much into it.

      I chair search committees. I am a delightfully warm person ordinarily, but I will be just as you described this person when I am interviewing. I am scrupulously careful not give candidates any signals that they will/won’t be moving forward. I don’t say anything that will give that clue, I am careful about my tone and about my body language. Because I can’t do that.

      I personally do not respond to thank you emails. Because I have work to do and don’t have time to respond to every thank you, and saying thank you for a thank you is kinda ridiculous. When you say thank you, you are *closing* the loop.

      Take a breath. Put this job out of your mind. Don’t read anything into anything.

      1. Anon all day*

        I’ve mostly convinced myself I didn’t get the job, move on :) I did appreciate her demeanor. One of the interviewing things that bug me is when they talk as if it’s going to be your job already. “You’ll sit here, and you’ll work on that.” Like, I get it’s just a way of talking and means nothing, but it does seem like a good sign when it’s not.

        1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

          Same, I have had that happen, sent the thank you email and got a warm response… then ghosted to just get a generic picked-someone-else email weeks after I followed up.

          Not saying that is what will happen to you, but like as other posters have said, just try to put it out of your mind and be very pleasantly surprised if you hear from them about next steps.

          Good luck. I hope you hear back favorably.

    4. Doctors Whom*

      There is absolutely no reason to assume that her responding to a thank you note means she has decided not to hire you. This is not only needless speculation but it’s actually super pessimistic.

      1. Anon all day*

        Funnily enough, I’m actually a relatively optimistic person. I think I’m clinging to that idea because I logically know it’s ridiculous but it also cements the “move on” idea.

    5. Glitsy Gus*

      If anything I would think that she means it and she did enjoy your talk.

      I am kind of nervous around new people and while I am a good interviewer, I’m not very outgoing, at least during first rounds. So I wouldn’t read negativity into the response. If anything I think it’s a good sign if you want to go down the speculation road.

    6. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Here’s my two cents! She was having an off day, something else was on her mind during the interview, or you reminded her of her ex-lover who left her to pursue his miming career in Paris. And when she got the thank you note it cheered her up and now you’ve moved to the top of the list!

  3. New Mom*

    Hi all. I’ve worked at my organization for the better part of a decade and I’m currently pregnant. I do a very important but niche role, and I’ve always had managers that didn’t really grasp what I do. Managers have always been supportive, but managing multiple department heads and just trusted that I was doing my work. My department has always been small, either just me or me and another person and over the years the clientele that we serve has grown and grown. I used to provide support and services to five branches when I started but now there are ten (with an eleventh coming on next year) and my team has not grown. We have a particularly busy time during the summer, and each summer has become more and more grueling. Whenever I have advocated for additional team support, I’m told “no” due to budgetary constraints.

    Well this summer has nearly broken me and my one direct report and I will be coming back from maternity leave about six weeks before our busy season starts next year and I do not see it possible doing this with a newborn.

    We had a large exodus recently, and there are a lot of new people and open positions. I will be getting a new manager shortly who is new to the organization, and we will only have a short overlap before I go on leave. I’ll essentially have three check-ins with them before I’m out for months. I am torn here because normally at the start of a manager relationship I’d like to get to know the person and ease them into issues and resolutions but I really need them to know how untenable this current situation is. I also don’t want it to come across like I’m threatening to quit because I’m paid very well for what I do and have unrivaled benefits which makes the prospect of leaving not a great option for my family. I also quite enjoy my job outside of the busy period.

    Does anyone have advice for how I can make a good impression while also relaying the current issues and my concerns for the future?

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Thought/Question:

      Would it work to frame this as the most pressing concern of your dept of two as a whole? That the current projected busy-season workload is absolutely NOT tenable and you need additional manpower, regardless and outside of parental leave situations?

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      If you can, carve out some time and write up an outline of everything you do, so that the new manager has an idea of what needs to be covered while you’re on leave. Also, be aware that a lot can happen while you’re out, and don’t automatically assume that you’ll be coming back to the same situation you left.

    3. MI Dawn*

      We had quite a battle with upper management and HR to expand the team I was on. We finally did a time study – X activity takes Y hours to do correctly, documenting overlapping activities – while on the meeting for Llama grooming (1 hour) I was working on the budget for next year (1 hour) = 2 hours of work, documenting that to do our jobs WELL we would have to put in 70-80 hours/week and, because we personally AND management (to do them credit) does respect work-life balance, they finally approved 2 more positions. Yes, we were salaried, so whether we worked 40 or 80 hours made no difference to the bottom line, but if we both were out of the office – say one was on vacation and the other got sick – then the time sensitive work didn’t get done and as a highly regulated area, that didn’t fly.

      Can you do something like that? Make note of things that won’t get done or won’t be done well while you are out of the office on maternity leave (remember, FMLA means they can NOT contact you about work issues while you are gone, legally) and try to present your case. It might be hard with the new manager coming, but if you start now, hopefully your HR will get the ball rolling before you go out.

      1. New Mom*

        Thanks! I can definitely do a breakdown of the time of individual client support for our busy season process. At this point we have about 650 clients we do a deep review of and it takes anywhere from 15-45 minutes per client just for the review. Then we have a lot of lateral management that we need to do with branch staff that takes up anywhere from 5-20 hours a week during our busy period. And then creation of individual spreadsheets for various branches at the various stages of the process is another 1-4 hours a day.

        1. Salt*

          All of the replies are great! I really think the idea to frame this as a work thing (outside the parental leave aspect) is the best way forward.

          However I want to add, if the new manager doesn’t/can’t do anything to help or hire more staff. Please please please don’t be on maternity leave and guilt yourself into thinking you’re letting down the business, you need to rush back, there are balls dropping everywhere and you’re the one to catch them.
          Literally put a mantra where you can see it saying something like ‘you can’t care more about the business than the business does.’ This has been an issue for years and they’ve not moved on it. You’re going to be tired, hormonal, stressed and likely not thinking straight and you’ll need that visual reminder that no, you’re not failing your job by rightly taking the time you need. Let’s just say experience has taught me that and if I had a time machine to go back……

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If you frame this talk with the new manager as “here are my concerns about the business”, I think you’ll get a much better reception.

      * You’ve been operating mostly without close supervision because of the technical details of what you do, and previous managers trusted you to get it done. And your performance reviews bear that out.
      * Doubling the # of branches pushed you close to your capacity limit this summer.
      * Given further growth, current flux in the organization, and your team’s inability to pull lots of overtime during the busy season, you anticipate that next summer the function you do will suffer: poor quality, not on time, etc.
      * Which means that the organization as a whole will be at risk of having important things X, Y, and Z failing.
      * You are recommending a solution to this of: another assistant, or part-time outside consulting help, or reassigning less-critical duties from your team to your new boss/somebody else in the organization, or etc.

      aka the old saw of “bring me solutions, not problems”.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        I like the phrasing of point two above. “The department was pretty much at capacity this summer” and you are worried about next summer and fear that without additional staff when things ramp up next year the department may not be able to handle it.

        You can also throw in “Sorry, I know you are just settling in but I wanted to bring this to your attention before I am out for maternity leave. It would be a big help if any additional staff were trained and ready to go before May (or whenever busy time starts) of next year!”

      2. Peter*

        I agree.
        And as a manager, I’d want to know how the seasonality of the work interacts with maternity leave.
        I’m in this situation now where one of my team leaders is about to take 6-9 months maternity leave, starting part way through the busy season (not in the US). I have planned, and got agreement from my boss, that the maternity cover temp will be appointed until the end of the busy season next year, even though that techncially leaves us overstaffed for a period when she (hopefully) returns.
        So my suggestion to New Mom is that you recommend the same to your new boss – that whatever maternity cover is put in place is kept till the end of next year’s busy season.

  4. Melanie Cavill*

    Happy Friday, all! Come with me as build on the tale of interviews and nail polish that no one asked for —

    When we last left off, I was fretting over nail polish to distract myself from fretting over an upcoming interview that had some unique circumstances. I decided to do a fully homochromatic manicure of multichrome silver: more elegant and understated than my usual but still sparkly. Sadly, the outfit I put together accidentally had me looking like an ancient middle school librarian, which is definitely not an example of starting as I mean to go on.

    The interview was… fine? On paper, it would seem to have gone well enough. They allotted up to an hour but the conversation was done in 35 minutes. Looking at it purely from a numbers angle, that could be worrying; but they asked all their questions, I asked all of mine, we elaborated on what needed to be elaborated on, there was decent rapport and some casual conversation. (They asked me what my proudest accomplishment was in or outside work and I replied, “climbing a 5V.” Oh boy.) Using AAM advice, I wrote a bomb-ass follow-up email and got responses that were prompt and gracious but not particularly informative.

    Trying to post-mortem this thing has really just shoved me bodily into the cold, uncaring seas that is Imposter Syndrome. I didn’t have the AW YEAH NAILED IT feeling, but I’m not sure if that was just due to lingering nerves from having an interview ten feet away from my current team. Ordinarily I would just put it all out of my head – but! This position would require me relocating, I was told they’re not planning to announce the successful candidate until the end of next week… aaaaand they want a 1st September start date. So that’s a whole other can of worms. As much as I want the role and think I would excel in it, the pressure around the personal and logistical aspects make me want to wash my hands of the whole thing. If anyone has been in a similar situation, I’d love to get your thoughts/advice/etc.

    On the plus side, trying to navigate a swell of institutional incompetency and poor practices in other departments has been a fun and necessary distraction this week. My team members give the impression that they’re one missing document away from re-enacting the scene in Beauty and the Beast where the townsfolk storm the Beast’s castle with pitchforks and torches and I am popcorn.gif-ing so hard.

    1. NervousNellie*

      I got excellent advice from a friend years ago — don’t relocate until you find an apartment/house you love as much as your current abode. If you don’t love something, don’t move. The psychology of it is like this — if you really want to move, you’ll easily fall in love with a house. If you don’t, you won’t.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        That is good advice! Unfortunately, the new office is two hours away by bus, I don’t have a car, and I live in a place with pretty brutal winters. On the other hand, I am pretty sick of my current apartment so it wouldn’t be difficult to find a place I like better.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Clean & declutter your desk. Clean & declutter your house.

      If you get the job, you’ll be in a better position to move quickly.

      If you don’t, you’ll have a clean desk and a clean house.

      And it will keep you busy enough so you don’t have to think about it.

      1. Churpairs*

        100 100 100!!! I had to wait to hear back on a job I really wanted for three freaking months after I interviewed (I knew after three weeks they wanted to offer, just had to wait on funding to come through). So awkward trying to figure out what to do in the interim. I cleaned up all my files and my desk and worked on documentation for my position. Kept me busy, and had things not worked out, I at least had a fresh start at my current place.

    3. Llellayena*

      I’d warn your coworkers to watch out for rogue staplers, desks and coffee mugs when they do that castle storming…

      For the other issue, can you do some of the “I might be moving” prep work while you wait? Research apartments, start weeding out things that wouldn’t be moving with you (this is useful even if you don’t move), wrap up things in your current area that you’ve been putting off (whoops, didn’t pick up that dry cleaning yet!). Don’t pull the trigger on anything you can’t change easy (don’t sign a lease) but do the things that will make moving easier if you DO move. Usually those things make staying easier too so it’s not wasted effort if you end up not getting the job.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        I can! I’ve already set this weekend aside for Bojack Horseman and aggressive Marie Kondo-ing. I figure even if I don’t end up moving, I can still find value in that. Thank you for the advice. :)

        And I didn’t even think of the possibility of them running into sentient office supplies. Maybe they’ll take the conference room chairs as makeshift shields.

    4. OyHiOh*

      My NewJob required unexpected, last minute relocation and it’s gone . . . . ok-ish. The job makes up for the difficulties! It’s perfectly do-able, although it may not feel comfortable to do so! I’ve learned to feel comfortable with just solving the problem immediately in front of me. Once Problem A is solved, deal with Problem B but don’t try to work out B until you’ve solved A, and defnitely don’t try to deal with Problem C until you’ve got the preceding problems solved! Call in friends, utilize any other resources available.

      I lived in Small Town for almost a decade, worked there, friends/hobbies, etc. Lived with my partner the last two years. All was hunky dory. Interviewed for what’s become NewJob in Big City, about an hour drive away. Got the job (somewhat to my astonishment), and started a mere 3 weeks after my first interview. I’d expected more like a six week timeline. The thing I realized, as I was reeling from a job offer 5 days (including a weekend) after my first interview, was that they sped up the timeline considerably to get a commitment from me. If your interview team thinks you’re a front runner, they may contact you sooner than expected, which will also give you more time to relocate.

      Commuted the first week of work, and realized about 2 days in that there was no freaking way I was going to be able to sustain that BS long term. So, on like a week’s notice, I ended up relocating to Big City. Spent a week in a frankly terrible extended stay “suite” (it was not a suite), then into a really lovely Airbnb where I’ll stay until I get into a long term rental. Don’t make perfect the enemy of the good. It’s ok if you need to crash on a couch or get a temporary place until you find a home that you love. On a personal level, my first month in Big City was awful. Lots of calling my partner and crying on the phone. A bunch of very emotional lunch dates with them. Unhappy dragons (children). Closing in on two months, we’ve settled in nicely although the combination of hot housing market and low housing stock has meant we’ve been in a temporary home for much longer than we planned on.

      Also, I didn’t think I’d nailed my interview for NewJob. I mean, it was fine, good raport, all questions thoroughly asked and answered, but I walked out feeling like I’d been too general/vague with a couple of my answers.

    5. SanPellegrino*

      I’m going to be honest, the minute I stopped caring about interviews is the moment I got a new job. Probably not the best advice, but the dissecting it in your head and thinking about how long the interview took etc really does a number on your mentally. Obviously do your research and prepare ahead of time, pick out an interview outfit that you like etc, but the endlessly fretting over it and getting imposter syndrome was the worst thing I could do.

  5. The Sad Last Pizza Slice*

    Arrrgggghhhh why is it so hard to find remote work that isn’t talking on the phone/voice chat all day (I have chronic throat issues), a scam, or criminally underpaid? I was hoping the pandemic would finally make remote work a legitimized standard form of employment, but all I ever find are the same scam ads that have been running for years, or ads for legit positions that aren’t as remote as they claim, or ads that are greatly reduced salaries for the same work I’d be doing in an office.

    I have no transportation and public transport is a joke here. Need to get out of my current job for health reasons, so remote it has to be, but decent remote I’m not finding. I don’t even need a fulltime position; I could do multiple part-time jobs! But I must be looking in all the wrong places because I’m just not finding these magic positions, not even the ones that I keep hearing are flooded with applicants since “everyone wants to work from home these days” (not–pardon the pun–remotely true, in my experience).

    I realize this is an issue affecting lots of people wanting/needing remote work. I wonder how many great jobs are actually out there that we’re missing because we simply can’t find where to look….

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      What kind of work do you do? Tech has a lot of remote jobs. Mine happens to be UX writing, but you could also go in for programming, design, project management (although that’s a lot of talking), testing, or service-desk work (which can often be performed in chat or email).

      Of course, most of these require at least some training, but you can pick a direction and start taking a class here and there.

      Are you using the “remote” filter for job searching on LinkedIn? I also have found work on FlexJobs — they charge a small fee but use the money to screen out scams.

      Also consider putting some energy into 1) badgering your medical team for help with the throat thing, because talking is still an important part of many jobs, and 2) lobbying your city, state, and federal lawmakers to improve public transit in your area.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yes, my question exactly. What do you do? My company is hiring for tech roles all.the.time. And it’s all remote. all.the.time except one in person meeting per year

    2. ThatGirl*

      I would start by focusing on the types of jobs you want/are qualified for and THEN filtering by remote.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        That’s always my suggestion. And focus on searching for jobs within your region, in case they want you to be sometimes available.

    3. Anony*

      I think for a lot of remote work you need skills / qualifications – part of why a lot of the folks who were able to go remote during the pandemic were white collar or higher income in general. I think remote work is a legitimized form of employment for sure, but many jobs that require few specialized skills really DO need to be done in person. For example, there is a lot of remote work in areas like bookkeeping, software development, technical writing, but you would need skills in that area. One of my friends is doing a bootcamp to get into medical coding and billing precisely so she can go remote. I’d look at which areas match your skill set best and look for a course or two to build up your resume.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      If you think more like a lawyer vs a chemist, you might want to consider regulatory. My main regulatory contact just moved about 700 miles from her office, and now she is 100% remote.

      It does call for a certain way of thinking and attention to detail, so if you are slightly OCD, that would be a very good fit

    5. AllTheBirds*

      Check out flexjobs.com — international clearinghouse of vetted jobs/companies, vast majority remote.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Was also going to recommend this – especially if you’re open to part-time positions, could be a good fit.

    6. Doctors Whom*

      Remote is a location/mode of a job, and not a job. What kinds of skills/experience/credentials do you have? I would focus on looking for positions and exploring whether they may have remote options, vs starting the search with “remote.”

    7. RagingADHD*

      Check out The Mom Project. Real companies, real jobs, many remote.

      You don’t have to be a mom.

    8. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I feel you. I started looking for remote because I live in a small town with few opportunities but don’t want to leave due to family reasons. The number of jobs listed as *remote* but require weekly in-person meetings or relocation to the area make me want to scream. Companies need to stop posting a job as remote if they are only offering occasional WFH hours!

    9. New Mom*

      Depending on what type of work/background/degree I would recommend being active on LinkedIn. I work with college students so I follow a lot of people on LinkedIn that post job openings in X category so I have things to forward to students. Jeff Patterson constantly posts openings in the Ed-Tech field and a lot of them are remote. There are also people who specifically post jobs for teachers who are looking to leave teaching. There is a lot of good stuff on LinkedIn.

      I would also look for member groups on LinkedIn, so for example if you are looking for Bookkeeping jobs I would recommend looking for a Bookkeeping membership group on LinkedIn as they would likely post job openings as well. Good luck!

    10. rosyglasses*

      I post our remote positions on WeWorkRemotely.com and Indeed.com. I often look through LinkedIN jobs to curate where I should look elsewhere or flag for later (for my own job search).

      I will say that as someone who posts jobs – those systems are NOT set up well to truly communicate easily what the parameters of the remote work are so we try to put as much in the body of the description as possible. Just in case you’re filtering by “remote only” or other parameters – there are sometimes specific limitations in their software fields.

    11. WFH with Cat*

      As others have commented, you need to focus your search first on your desired field and role, and then look for remote positions. Increasingly, job boards do allow searches to be filtered for roles that are 100% remote and/or permanently remote, so take advantage of that. Will filters eliminate all employers who still want you to come to the office (or live in specific city/region)? No, but it will help.

      If you could tell us your field/area of interest, we might be able to point you to good job hunting resources.

    12. Maggie*

      What is your field or area of experience? I’ve found lots of remote only jobs on LinkedIn and indeed. I was looking specifically for not remote only and actually found it limiting! Are you using these sites?

    13. Generic Name*

      My company is looking for a remote grant writer (but it’s part-time, as needed…..).

  6. MW*

    Does anyone have any advice of how to deal with, shall we say, the emotional labour of everyday management problems?

    So much advice is – rightly! – about the need for employees to enforce boundaries to manage workloads and stress, to prioritise their mental and physical health and take time off ill when they need to etc. But when you’re the manager dealing with a team of staff running a front-line service with defined business hours that we need to ensure are covered, it creates a lot of additional stress.

    I spend a lot of my time scrambling to cover last minute gaps and picking up tasks for absent team members, and while this is part of the job and isn’t an issue in itself, the frequency and amount of issues has increased a lot, and it’s a lot to manage especially on top of my own work.

    I feel like the past couple of years has very understandably had an impact on people’s resilience, and fully support the team taking time when they need to and prioritising their health. But it’s affecting me too but I don’t feel like I have any choice but to keep carrying on, because someone has to.

    In an ideal world, I would of course have a bigger team (or the ability to recruit one, if only!) and more resources and perhaps less prescriptive service hours, but we’re a customer facing service with work that needs to be delivered (and customers who will complain if we don’t!), and for a whole host of reasons we are where we are.

    I can imagine a lot of us are in similar situations, with a growing stack of challenges but no great way to tackle them. A three-month stay at a nice all-inclusive resort might make me feel better but failing that, any advice?

    1. Beebee*

      Are you able to get help? An assistant manager or something? It might be worth pitching that stronger team members are promoted to such a role to help easy your job + reward those who are doing well.

    2. Esmeralda*

      I’m in higher ed and we have exactly the same problem.

      What would happen if customers complain? That’s a serious question. If you said, I’m sorry the office is closes at 5 pm, last client can be seen at 4:45. If you said, I’m sorry, we can’t help anyone else because there is no one available to help. And then the customers complain.

      Would you get fired?

      Here’s the flaw in your thinking: “I don’t feel like I have any choice but to keep carrying on, because someone has to.” Why is this YOUR problem? Can you kick it upstairs? Make it your boss ‘s or grand-boss’s problem?

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Leverage your problem-solving skills to find a better job with better support for your management abilities!

    4. SansaStark*

      I’m in sort of a similar position but it’s mostly caused by a few staff departures that have left us temporarily short-staffed. I do not have much advice because I feel the same way. But I have started TRYING to make a realistic To Do list every day and reminding myself that I am one person who can only get one thing done at a time. I’ve also been trying to keep my boss apprised of the situation and what I’m realistically able to accomplish and what’s needing to be pushed off because I’m covering for absent employees. It’s up to her to prioritize my work when the list of what needs to be done is not doable.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You might need a new job.

      Can you hire more help?
      Can you assign someone to help you with follow ups?
      Can you get a volunteer list of people who will help fill in the gaps in the schedule?

      Is there a way to cut back on how much you are offering or are you stuck with doing whatever TPTB say to do?

      Have you discussed things with your boss?

      Do you have a peer (an equal) somewhere that you can talk to in order to find out what they are doing?

      Are there things on your to-do list that a subordinate can do? Here the idea is to free up time by taking away the more mundane tasks.

      I am thinking of a business near me where they keep adding more and more offerings with no thought of how things will get done. They have a pretty good turn over in help as people escape the insanity.

  7. Courtney*

    Has anyone ever successfully gotten their job to go from full time employee to freelancer and if yes, what was that like? I’m going to pitch this to my employer in January as I’ll likely be moving abroad but want to stay on board to finish up projects. I have a highly specialized skill set and hiring for the role will be super difficult for them so I think they’re likely to go for it…. But I still don’t know how to ask!

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I did, but I was let go four months after moving abroad. I would talk to your employer asap – I told mine that I was moving over 9 months before I actually did. I started the conversation saying that I was moving on X date and I’d be happy to help with the transition in any way but that I’d really like to stay on as a contractor. They accepted that, but as I said, it just didn’t work out for them in the end and I only worked with them for a few months after moving.

      If your boss is open to it, create a proposal that would work for you including salary, work hours, etc. Even if they accept the arrangement, have a backup plan. Best of luck!

      1. Courtney*

        Ooh yes thankfully I do have a backup plan which is to move into freelance work! I’d like to bring them on as a client and move away from working for them full time — if they say no I will just leave the job.

        Were you worried with that much notice that they’d push you out early? My move abroad won’t be confirmed until November so I don’t want to give too much notice and then not end up going

        1. Less Bread More Taxes*

          I actually wasn’t that worried about that because I had some specific skills and I was sure they’d want to keep me on. Looking back, I think I should have been more worried!

          Honestly I’d amend my comment to say give as much notice as you think is reasonable. Given that you could be pushed out, I think two months is plenty of notice for a company to decide whether they want to keep you and organize all the details before you move.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I mentioned it to my boss before I left, because we had very seasonal workflow and a big task was coming up. She did not take me up on it, which was of course her choice. I think she thought a temp could handle it. It got really, really screwed up I heard later. Some bosses are just opposed to the concept I think.

    3. Chapeau*

      I managed it, knowing they were looking for someone the whole time I contracted for them. I was moving a long drive away, and it helped that my then-manager was taking a year-long sabbatical so someone was filling in for her temporarily. They didn’t want to hire someone new for my position while she was away, so I was seen as a know quantity who could hold down the fort, keep the person filling her position from losing her mind trying to do two jobs at once (hers and sabbatical person’s). They ended up hiring someone full-time about 6 months after I moved, and I helped with the transition to keep the production schedule on target.
      One of former employer’s concerns was the IRS issue with employee vs contractor, but it definitely helped ease that worry when I could point to other freelance clients. I actually started looking for and found a couple of freelance clients before I moved, because I was moving without a traditional job lined up.

  8. green bear*

    Any advice for how not to let old habits and norms from previous jobs affect your current one? I recently left a job in an industry notorious for poor work/life balance and just generally having unreasonable expectations for their staff (Big 4 public accounting). I’m currently still working as an accountant, but I’m on staff at a public company and no longer work in professional services or public accounting. My new team is incredibly supportive and welcoming, and I’m not expected to work insane amounts of overtime regularly. The company itself is great too in terms of compensation and perks, and I feel really lucky to have ended up here.

    In spite of all that, I feel like I’m carrying over previous trauma into this job. I regularly worry about signing off too early and asking too many questions even though I’m very much still in the learning/training phase at this job (I’ve only been there two months). My previous job was really rough in terms of people expecting high-performance even though you may have no background in or context for what you’re working on, and I also had the bad luck to end up on some teams that were particularly dysfunctional and unwilling to help me. Even though I know that’s not the case where I currently am, I’m having a hard time getting passed it and feel like I’m not adapting quickly enough. Does anyone have any ideas for how I can move passed this? I don’t want my anxiety and previous bad experiences to ruin my current job which is actually pretty great.

    1. August Twelfth*

      +1
      I don’t have any good ideas, but I just wanted to say hang in there and I’ll be listening to the comments for ideas too :)

    2. kina lillet*

      It’s only 2 months, and you’re also working with other accountants–I bet they know what you’re going through. Be patient with yourself and don’t stop asking questions. In the meantime, you can also look to one of your peers and lowkey model your sign-on and sign-off times off what they’re doing; or, you can mention to your boss, “I’m still acclimating to not working crazy amounts of overtime, and it feels like I’m signing off super early! To calibrate my expectations here, my core hours are X-Y, does that make sense if I sign off right at Y most days?”

      For the questions, the ideal is that, when you’re onboarding, you first try to solve the problem yourself–by looking at your notes, finding existing documentation, or just remembering what questions you’ve asked before. Then if you’re stuck, ask with the context you have; if you want confirmation on your thought process, ask for it. But it’s infinitely preferable that someone–especially a newer hire–ask a question rather than spin around stuck for too long, or move in the wrong direction.

    3. Spearmint*

      Hm, one thing you could try is asking coworkers for their take on these situations that give you anxiety. For example, if you’re assigned to work on a new project you have little experience on, maybe ask a worker “you don’t think BOSS expects me to be a superstar on this immediately even though it’s new to me, right? How long is it expected to take for people to get up to speed on new things?” I find that more reassuring than my own perceptions, especially in a new job.

    4. MI Dawn*

      First, stop and take some deep breaths. Then just watch your coworkers and listen. Watch body language too. If you leave early, does anyone frown or comment or do they just ignore it? Are there fluid hours – Joe comes in at 6 but leaves at 3, Sally is in at 8 but leaves at 6 but then goes home early Fridays, etc? Talk to your manager (hard, I know, if you come from a toxic workplace – I *still* get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when my manager does reviews and I know and like her a lot, but the previous ones gave me such a complex) and see if there are areas you need to focus on and other areas where they are confident you are solid. That’s important to hear – “green bear, you’re really solid on using our XXX program but need to work on using Y and Z within it more efficiently. Joe and Sally are good mentors for that, but for A +B questions, check with Susan and Mike.”

      It’s tough. I get it. But you will get there. Be patient, gentle and kind to yourself…I’ve been in my position 3 years!

    5. Leandra*

      + 2 to what kina said above. I’m about to make this change myself, and will be making super-conscious efforts to remember that I can forget my almost-former workplace.

      Some of my new colleagues made the same transition, so I’m sure they’ll understand.

    6. Other Alice*

      Not sure how helpful this will be but here it goes: the best way to move past it is to just stop agonising about it. As you said, you’ve only been there two months! It takes time to settle into a new job, learn new tasks, and unlearn bad habits.

      I started a new job last year and it took me months to adjust. My previous manager was a micromanager (among other issues) and all communication with clients had to go through him. When I started my new job, I had a hard time adjusting and instead of writing directly to clients I would always check with my manager first. When I realized what I was doing, I explained to my manager it was a habit from my previous job, and asked if it was okay if I communicated more directly. I still occasionally catch myself writing to my manager about things he has given me freedom to handle, but it’s becoming less and less frequent. As with you, I am lucky enough to have a great manager and coworkers, and that helped a lot. You can do it!

    7. Jay*

      I did that four years ago. I’m a doc, so we’re not known for healthy work/life balance, and my previous boss took a grand total of one week of vacation every year and openly criticized those who took more. It was COMPLETELY unacceptable to say no to any clinical request no matter what havoc that wreaked on your life outside of work (because you shouldn’t have expected to have a life outside of work). So I start the new job and of course I am asked to add patients on and of course I say “yes.” Every time.

      Fast forward three months, my boss joins me to shadow for a visit and then takes me out for coffee and gently inquires why I’m seeing all these extra patients. I explain I was asked to. He says “You do realize you can say ‘no,’ right?” Um, what?

      In retrospect, I wish I’d paid more attention to what my coworkers were doing and also wish I’d had an explicit conversation with my boss about his expectations. I’d known him for years, so it wasn’t a new relationship, and it would have set my mind completely at ease.

      1. MPH Researcher*

        Similarly, I was going to suggest that green bear have an explicit conversation with his boss about where her work performance is expected to be at different times. When I hire new people for my team’s entry level role, I tell them at the beginning that at 3 months I expect they’ll be able to do 90% of the work that comes their way on their own, though maybe not efficiently. At 6 months they should be able to do 99% of the work that comes their way on their own, fairly efficiently. But they probably won’t ever get above 99%, as 20 years into this industry I STILL have to ask questions for that last 1%. I think this helps a lot, and keeps people at 6 weeks in from being all “OMG I don’t have any idea what this e-mail means!”

        Kina Lillet’s comment about the pathway for trying to figure things out on your own – “looking at your notes, finding existing documentation, or just remembering what questions you’ve asked before. Then if you’re stuck, ask with the context you have; if you want confirmation on your thought process, ask for it.” This is perfect, and exactly what I want out of a new employee. I don’t expect them to know everything, but I do expect them to use the resources they have available to try and solve a problem on their own first.

    8. J*

      The story of my life! First, I try to start with as many days off between jobs as I can get. Sadly that might mean 0 or 2 but any sort of mental reset is key so even buying a new outfit for Day 1 helps, I swear.

      I second the recommendation to check in with a boss or colleagues and to confirm they feel like your arrival/departure times and ability to perform are matching with their expectations or if they’ve been limiting work or feedback at all.

      With my new role, I actually started thinking backwards to, to what made each role toxic. A lot is my industry and unfortunately I’m not in a place to change that just yet. But a lot ended up being how I responded to things. When I had a manager who didn’t do their share of work, I tried to pick up the slack so now I try to clearly define what is their work. When a manager is out of town, I have a conversation ahead of time about what they want me to cover – turns out my current boss just wants a list of tasks and maybe a recommendation of priority from all the emails she missed and to escalate actual emergencies to her by call/text. I was going to pre-review and comment on every document review request. At another role I felt like I could never leave my desk due to a micromanaging boss so now I force a quick daily coffee walk. It costs me a couple of bucks but it ensures I’m actually learning it’s okay to leave my desk and be treated like a human.

    9. Emily Dickinson*

      If you have an EAP or other access to counselling that might be another option. Things don’t have to be terrible to use those kinds of services and it might be good to hear those messages from a pro and get some additional support.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      In order to break the hold of Old Situation X we have to remind ourselves that X is over now. It is gone. Finished.

      Every morning as you get ready for work tell yourself old job is over and gone. As you drive to work tell yourself again that old job is over and gone. At random points during the day tell yourself old job is over and gone.

      Keep reminding yourself until you find yourself annoying. It takes that much repetition for our minds to settle.

      Another thing you can do is to tell yourself to give people at work the benefit of the doubt. You want them not to make assumptions about you based on past experiences that had nothing to do with you. So practice giving what you want to receive.

      If you can take walks after dinner at night. Even 10-15 minutes can be helpful. Walks force us to look around and see what actually IS, as opposed to what we fear in our minds.

    11. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I have done that 2x, once an internal move away from a toxic manager and second out of that also toxic, not just that manager, workplace.

      My best advice is to find someone outside work to talk to about all this. No one wants to hear us repeating our old stress indefinitely so ask a friend to give you x amount of time to vent and share your fears. And let yourself wallow and marinate – but outside work and give yourself a time limit. If you still need to vent after that, you probably need to pay a therapist to let you work through it.

      It can take longer than you expect but time really does help.

      Here is to us for getting out! Now we need to dust ourselves off from those old, toxic places. Best to you!

    12. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

      I echo Emily Dickinson above – counselling/therapy.
      It seems to me you’ve suffered significantly (you use the word trauma) and although that’s not unusual it is important. You – like many of us – need emotional support, ideally not connected with your workplace.
      Though I know it may be easier said than done to access counselling.

    13. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I think don’t hold these feelings in because that will just make you feel more isolated and stressed. But do try to express yourself in positive ways when you talk about it to your coworkers/manager (“Wow, I still can’t get over how nice it is to have a work-life balance!” or “I feel so lucky to have ended up somewhere with such supportive coworkers” — or whatever versions of this doesn’t feel cheesy to you.) Dragging people down with you into an anxiety spiral won’t make anyone feel better, including yourself. But expressing gratitude is good for turning your own mood around; is still a way of being emotionally vulnerable, which will help you feel less alone in your feelings; and generally speaking, it will annoy only the most curmudgeonly of folks.

  9. Anya Last Nerve*

    I am in a fairly senior role after working 20 years in this industry, but I unfortunately have for the first time in my career a horrible and toxic manager. I am trying to find a new role internally and externally, but at my level these things can take a long time. Just looking for advice from others who have been there with a toxic manager on how to keep my spirits and energy up while I have to continue working for this person. Some nights I am just exhausted from my day and lack the energy to apply for jobs, and I can also feel really down sometimes about the whole situation, further demotivating me.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Stand up for yourself in whatever small way helps you stay motivated. For instance, playing dumb and restating unreasonable demands. “I’m sorry, Mr. Toxic, I need to clarify: Are you asking me to change the results of the test/hire your nephew/come in at 6 a.m./have sex with you?”

    2. Coffee coffee coffee*

      I don’t have any direct experience, but my (great) manager at a former company, who was similarly experienced and respected, had a toxic manager. My manager eventually left the company because of it, and I left a few weeks later (mostly just good timing of my new offer, but I’d started looking in part because I was disgusted with how my manager was being treated). My former manager has a new (very senior) position now at a different company now and by all accounts seems to be much happier.

      So, I’m so sorry this is happening to you, and I’m not sure I have great advice except to remember that there are others on your side. This toxicity has nothing to do with you; it’s about the horrible manager. You’ll move on from this one day, but until that time, just get through it the best you can.

    3. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document. Even just a personal journal, but if there is anything (emails, meeting minutes, etc) to back you up) make sure to keep it.

      You probably know that intellectually, but if you’ve never had a manager like that, you won’t think that way. But you have to remember to protect yourself and the folk who work for you.

      And take your PTO and hold your boundaries.

      Good luck!

    4. More Coffee Please*

      I’m so sorry this is happening. I don’t have direct experience, but my former (amazing, very senior) manager at my old company had a toxic manager (the CEO). It was painful to watch and eventually caused my manager to leave the company; I left a few weeks later, mostly due to serendipitous timing of a new offer, but my search was driven in part by how my manager had been treated. I wasn’t sure I wanted to support a company that could treat someone I admired like that. My old manager is now with a new company in another similar, very senior role, and by all accounts seems very happy.

      Remember that there are others on your side. This toxicity has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your horrible manager. You’ll get through it, but it might not be easy.

      1. More Coffee Please*

        ugh, sorry – my comment posted in duplicate because after I hit submit the first time, it didn’t appear, so I didn’t think it went through and rewrote it.

    5. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      As Chekhov wrote, all good managers resemble one another, but each toxic manager is toxic in their own way.

      So it matters what the nature of the toxicity is. But here are some general suggestions:

      1. Document, document, document.
      2. If the manager is treating you like you’re worthless, don’t let that treatment take up your headspace. This is the manager, it’s not a reflection on you.
      3. Seek out trustworthy colleagues (or even more senior staff, if it’s safe) to bond with and validate you.
      4. Build a solid reputation of accomplishment, especially one that can be documented.
      5. Manage up. Find the ways to do your job that avoid the problematic behavior.
      6. For micromanagers, feed them the administrivia that makes them happy, then go about and do your job the way it should be done (see #5 above).
      7. If the behavior is illegal or otherwise something that could create trouble for your manager if others knew what the manager was doing, (1) document, document, document, and (2) research your rights, company policy, whether HR or upper management would handle things well, and then consider your options
      8. This may sound insane, but feel some compassion for the manager. They are the way they are because of shit that happened to them. You are not by any means excusing their behavior, rather this allows you to look a little more dispassionately at that behavior. It moves you away from victimhood and towards observation. As an advice columnist said (just today!) people like that can be your teachers in life.

      Good luck!

    6. Toxicology*

      Echoing previous comments to:

      5. Manage up. Find the ways to do your job that avoid the problematic behavior.
      6. For micromanagers, feed them the administrivia that makes them happy, then go about and do your job the way it should be done (see #5 above).

      For the items that frustrate you most, try to clarify with your manager. “You seem frustrated that you don’t know my update on X. Would it help if I send you a weekly report on Tuesdays?”

      I had a manager that once asked me if I was prepared for a meeting with my CEO – that I had every week, for years, and never once NOT been prepared for. I said “I’m absolutely prepared! I always have an agenda for this meeting, did I do something to make you believe I would not be prepared? Is there an item you’d like me to cover?” And then they would have to answer me. I would ask very direct questions around your most frustrating items – “Are you comfortable with the way I did X? Anything you want me to do differently next time? Ok, going forward I will do that.” etc.

    7. Hermione Danger*

      I found that therapy helped. It gave me a safe place to talk about all of the issues, along with helpful feedback from a completely neutral party.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Self care is critical. Eat good meals even if you don’t feel like. Hydrate even if you don’t feel like it.

      It’s what we do when the chips are down that can impact how our lives play out. A fortified body will mean a fortified mind. If your mind is fortified you are more apt to stay sharp when need be.

      Don’t make everything a hill to die on. Remember if your boss says your shirt is ugly that is one type of problem. If the boss says your work is poor that is a whole ‘nother type of problem. You need to be able to quickly recognize which things are real problems.

      Consider that you may have to quit the job before you can look for another.

      Consider drawing on your 20 years and all the people you know. Can you talk to someone? Can people help you find a new place quicker?

      Consider going to your big boss/HR if you find others are complaining also. Remember if you have already decided to leave that means you have freedom to try things.

    9. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

      I wrote myself a survival guide for dealing with a toxic manager in the past, as really I had spent the first few months dealing with her wrong. (She was MY first toxic manager, so I just didn’t know how to react to someone like that.) This is what I learnt about her:
      1. Do not stand up to her unless it’s very, very, very important. My natural impulse is to be conscientious and to put forward polite, reasoned arguments for what I think is best for our clients (while respecting my manager’s rank), and this has gone down well with my other managers, but a narcissistic manager is totally different: they interpreted that as insubordination and reacted quite viciously. I had to teach myself to keep my head down, for survival. And look for a new job.

      2. Try not to be alone with them. That’s when my toxic manager become most toxic. Even saying “I’m a bit warm/cold, do you mind if I leave the door open?” in a one-to-one meeting helped because then she was aware that other people outside might be able to hear us.

      3. Look up the “grey rock” method.

      4. Document more, so that if you have to prove what’s happened in the future, you have notes from the past to back you up.

      Very best of luck with this tricky situation!

  10. Returning From Summer Break*

    On Monday I’m returning to work after my 8 weeks of summer (unpaid) break as part of my role. My workplace operates year-round, so I will be re-joining my full-time colleagues. Any tips on how to pick up working again and re-join my team after this break? thanks!!

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Starting now, set your alarm for the time you’ll be getting up, and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Get up, shower and dress, and grab breakfast as soon as you get up. Establish a wind-down routine in the evening so you’re ready for sleep when it’s time.

    2. OrdinaryJoe*

      Not sure how big your team is and where you fall in the hierarchy but could you drop everyone a note and ask for a few minutes of time on Monday and Tuesday to help you catch up on what you missed? Come with a few prepared general questions about the status of ongoing projects, any new policies, change in leadership, etc. If you’re especially close to anyone, maybe go to lunch and catch up on some of the office news that way.

  11. NervousNellie*

    Yesterday’s thread about “phoned in DEI” got me thinking about a job posting I’d saved. It said “we are looking for people who identify as BIPOC….” I’m concerned about the use of identify, because well, you don’t identify into those groups, or if you do it’s a shocker. (Shades of the lying family member from from a couple weeks agao!) I’m also concerned that they are saying that they are specifically looking for this, as opposed to saying they value all kinds of diversity. Is this a red flag?

    1. Minimal Pear*

      With the second point, the place I work is currently focusing on one specific demographic in terms of hiring/DEI stuff, because our DEI plan focuses on that demographic. It’s because we want to make sure that we don’t overwhelm ourselves by trying to right every societal ill all at once, and we’re planning to expand later, but right now this demographic is the most relevant to what we do. I’m not totally convinced it’s a good idea, because so much oppression is so entangled, but I do see why we’ve chosen to do this and it makes sense. It could be a similar situation with the job you’re looking at.
      The “identify” thing might just be a weird language choice–I feel like so many people use “identify” language in places where it doesn’t make any sense, so maybe they just did it without thinking because it’s such a common way to phrase these things.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Personally I feel like any company that advertises for diversity rather than advertising for a position and gaining a diverse workforce through a good hiring process is putting up red flags. The exception might be if they’re hiring for work with a specific vulnerable population, but even then that would feel iffy to me.

      1. Justin*

        Perhaps, though as a person who is deeply wary of most employers, I applied to my job because the very first thing listed was a commitment to anti-racism. However, that’s better than saying what this ad says, because people are very very bad at communicating around these issues.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Exactly. I haven’t hired in a while but was thinking of how to hide names and address when evaluating resumes next time, quite the opposite of getting deeper in demographic information

    3. Justin*

      (Putting my academic hat on here) In the literature on racialization, we do often use the word identify because race is not an immutable thing, it’s not biological, and so forth. So we don’t usually say in formal language that someone “is” Black (or whatever) because it’s tied to how someone feels comfortable identifying. It’s used for all sorts of axes of oppression. Does this mean people can lie? Yes. But whatever. That’s those peoples’ problems. The point is, we’re not going to give someone a test, so we have to take folks’ word for it.

      As for “what about all sorts of diversity,” look. That’s true, I suppose, but the trends of colorevasiveness (originally called “colorblindness” but that’s an ableist term) mean that if we don’t explicitly mention race, (Certain) people will happily have an all white female staff (see: my former job where I was the only POC manager). If you want to say that the posting should mention race AND other things explicitly, yes, it should.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Thank you for the term colorevasiveness. I had never heard it before, and it is a much better description of the attitude.

      2. Ginger Pet Lady*

        Eh, academics should be aware that it’s also used to mock people. And that many, many people see it as a red flag.
        Academic use doesn’t mean correct use. And so many academics need to get over thinking that it is.

        1. Justin*

          I am not going very far down this road with you, but the fact that people take useful terms and turn them into mockery (see: woke) is not a reason not to use them. But if someone won’t apply because they’re offended by the use of the word ‘identify’ and they make that awful ‘attack helicopter’ joke, they should probably not work for a place that cares about justice, even if I’m not sure that this particular job does.

          I certainly don’t believe academics are right about most things, though.

            1. Justin*

              I don’t even work in academia, I just have academic training. I work at a nonprofit.

              The last thing I’ll say is, the concept of identifying is meant to guard against binaries and the imposition of identity on the oppressed by more powerful groups. It is very okay if some folks don’t like it. We didn’t like the one-drop rule.

              Sorry, Alison.

            2. Coenobita*

              Whoa, I think that’s uncalled for!

              Thanks for your thoughtful responses, Justin – I really appreciate your input on this question.

              1. Justin*

                Given that something like this is always possible, it’s rather exhausting to try and be of use, but I spent all that time in school (THE IVORY TOWER, CURSES) I might as well try to share knowledge I have, especially given I’m also Black and neurodivergent (ie these issues affect me directly).

            3. Randall*

              But that’s not what’s happening. They’re explaining that there is a reason to use identify in racial contexts — whether or not it’s the correct decision or a red flag is a different discussion altogether. You’re oddly hostile right out of the gate here.

            4. Antsy*

              Wow, how arrogant, rude and unkind of you! You have a chip the size of the Grand Canyon on your shoulder about academia, clearly. It’s making you come across exceptionally badly. You might want to see to that.

      3. ...*

        Agreed. I know someone who IS part indigenous, but was raised, socialized, and usually is perceived as white. Although they don’t deny or hide their heritage in any way, they also wouldn’t apply for a position targeting those who identify as BIPOC, because they get that it’s not the spirit of what that employer is doing. Aside from occasional family reunion stories, this person brings the experience and perspective of “white person” to the table, which is not the goal

      4. Mint*

        How can you “lie” about something that you identify as. If that’s what you feel than it is what it is.

          1. Mint*

            How is she lying if that’s what she truly identifies as? I’m not going to call out someone who is transgender as lying. That would be transphobic.

    4. Harper*

      I think it’s a red flag if the job isn’t specific to BIPOC people or doesn’t require their specific viewpoint in order to be successful. But if the job is, say, social work that serves primarily BIPOC communities, then it’s less red-flaggy, IMO.

    5. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      Race continues to be the number one determinant of outcomes in the US and it intersects with every other marginalized identity in typically devastating ways. Also, a DEI office run by white folk has questionable legitimacy, no matter how educated those white folk are on the subject. FYI: I’m a queer, neurodivergent white woman who does a lot of DEI projects but does not have a DEI-specific role in my org.

      I don’t see anything objectionable about this ad at all.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I agree. White women have always benefitted more from affirmative action and welfare than any other demographic, so just saying one is looking for a “diverse” workforce is pretty weak and doesn’t signal that they really want BIPOC people to apply.

        I’m a white woman in a male-dominated field, and I look closely for signals as to whether or not an employer is serious about hiring and promoting women. Asking women to apply isn’t sufficient, but it’s a start.

    6. calvin blick*

      I’d bet they either went through several rounds of committees determining what language to put there and settled on that, or just they just told the junior HR person that files the job postings to stick some DEI language in there. I think this is more of a “see what they do, not what they say” situation.

    7. Raboot*

      I think you’re reading too much into the word choice of “identify”. Different circles develop and discard “acceptable” words at different times. It’s pretty clear that “identify as BIPOC” means to them what “are BIPOC” means to you.

    8. Diatryma*

      OKAY SO

      Race is weird and complicated because it is so completely made up.

      “Identify” means that one person gets to decide if a given candidate is BIPOC: the candidate. It avoids having the hiring committee discuss whether someone counts. Is the Jewish candidate BIPOC? What about the red-haired Latina who is assumed to be white in person but not on paper? The ambiguously ethnic applicant? The guy who looks kinda Asian maybe, but mentions that his entire family is Welsh back for generations? By using “identify” the committee has appointed a final arbiter that candidates won’t argue with.

      (The examples are all people I know, in some cases multiple people.)

      1. Justin*

        Precisely!

        And if people lie, that is bad. But it’s not as common as it seems because it’s such news when it’s found out.

        1. Mint*

          I wouldn’t even consider it lying. If anyone goes back far enough I’m sure that you can find anyone of any race hanging around the family tree somewhere.

      2. Mint*

        That’s a really good point. Who is the final arbiter of race? The applicant or whoever is hiring?

    9. Temperance*

      It’s a red flag, and frankly, I think it’s also potentially in violation of the Civil Rights Act, because you’re favoring one group over others without a BFOQ.

      I also find it pretty homophobic/transphobic to just erase the LGBTQ+ community when planning DEI initiatives. Visibly queer and trans people experience a ton of bias and discrimination in employment and can be excellent assets for these jobs.

      1. Coenobita*

        I’ve seen this done in ways that are Title VII compliant, like a “we particularly encourage candidates from X marginalized backgrounds to apply” statement or something that conveys “we work with X communities and are looking for candidates with X lived experience.”

        And I certainly agree that LGBTQ+ identities shouldn’t be erased but, at the same time, structural racism (and anti-Blackness in particular) is a hugely foundational issue in the U.S. and I think there are contexts where it’s appropriate to prioritize race as a focus of DEI work. This weird-sounding job ad probably isn’t the place for it, but in a broader sense for sure. Lots of nonprofits, for example, are full of queer white women (I’m one of them!) and we still have a HUGE amount of DEI work to do both internally as well as in our externally facing projects/advocacy.

        1. Temperance*

          I totally see that as valid, too, and am definitely not suggesting that we ignore all race-based DEI initiatives. I just feel strongly about trans+ folks getting left out of the conversation; I volunteer to do legal name changes and so many of my clients have serious issues obtaining employment due to their trans status that I don’t want them to be left out.

          I’m all about diversity working to build a truly diverse workforce; my dream would be for orgs to focus on queer folks, trans folks, POC, and first-generation professionals from all backgrounds. My org focuses on all people who self-identify as belonging to a group that is “historically underrepresented’ in our industry, which I think mostly works, although I’d love them to shine more of a light on folks from working-class/lower-class backgrounds.

          1. Coenobita*

            Oh yeah, for sure. My spouse is trans and they’re super lucky/privileged to work for a government org with very strict and protective non-discrimination policies. I totally agree with you on the aspects of workforce diversity. When I started working at my nonprofit job, I was floored by the amount of snottiness based on where people went to college and law school (I’m not a lawyer but a lot of lawyers work there). It’s definitely getting better but good grief! G-d forbid we hire someone who didn’t go to Yale!!!

            1. Justin*

              I will say Temperance that you’re right. I think highlighting race is good when done well and despite my obviously strong feelings and experience on this, the job ad cited here didn’t do it well, because it feels very tokeny. I bet they don’t even have a racially diverse staff at all because it feels superficial. Probably forced an intern to write it and said “say some BIPOC stuff.”

              So we don’t even really disagree. I think frankly it’s better to focus on values in the ad – my new job said a commitment to anti-racism was vital, but anti-racism is SUPPOSED to be intersectional, and we have numerous queer colleagues – and then demonstrate that inclusivity and support in the process (and in who leads the place). And if you have homogenous leadership, it really doesn’t matter what you put in the ad.

              It’s kind of a chicken/egg thing. If a place is doing things in a supportive way, it’ll be pretty obvious during the process. If a place isn’t, they won’t be able to hide it very well.

            2. Temperance*

              One of my clients actually had coworkers SNOOP IN THEIR PERSONNEL FILE to find out their deadname, and then the coworker started using it an encouraging others to do the same. So ugly! I’m glad that your spouse has had a better experience.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One thing that popped into my head is that this does acknowledge people who have the ancestry but no cultural contact. I long-ago briefly met someone whose Native American ancestor was removed from their tribe and adopted out to a white family in the early 1900s. He didn’t hide the connection — but didn’t claim it either. I only know about it because I let my geneology nerdiness show.

      1. Coenobita*

        Yeah, totally. One of my grandparents was a person of color and that part of my heritage as it’s important to me for personal/family reasons. However, it’s not part of my racial identity – I identify as white because I was raised in the white communities the rest of my family belong to and just generally move through the world as a white person. On the other hand, my friend who has a similar family situation identifies as mixed race. And we’re both right!

      1. Justin*

        But maybe a red flag for you not to work there is good info for you to have so you don’t apply.

        And reverse racism isn’t real.

    11. Littorally*

      With regard to your second point: I wouldn’t consider encouraging specific candidates to apply to be a red flag. If they have identified that their workforce or candidate pool is currently out of sync with local demographics, then they’re likely not going to fix that with an attempt at a race-blind hiring process. It may be that they’re getting applicants who are overwhelmingly white, so they want to make sure that any available candidates who are BIPOC and fit the profile outlined in the req don’t pass them by.

      With regard to the first: yeah, “identify as” is pretty questionable in this context. There are times where it’s useful and appropriate (ie, indicating how someone has identified themselves on the census) but I don’t think this is it.

      1. NervousNellie*

        I do believe there are some really weird circumstances in life where someone might identify in, but they are so rare that I don’t like the use of this word. They can be handled on a case-by-case basis.

      2. Not A Racoon Keeper*

        Can anyone help me understand what would be better a better term than “identify as”? Like Justin, I also come from academia, so their description aligns with what I’ve learned, and the term makes sense to me. I’m now staff at a university that is seen as a leader in EDI work, and if I’m not mistaken, we use identity language across the board for people (students/staff etc) and research admin.

        How else would we determine if someone is from an equity-deserving group?

        1. NervousNellie*

          What I’ve seen in other listings is “we are actively looking to increase our diversity, and encourage you to apply even if you don’t have 100% of these qualifications! As our company serves the community, we always want members of that community to represent us proudly.”

          1. Not A Racoon Keeper*

            Yes, that is something you can write in a job posting, but that’s not quite my question. If an org has set itself a goal to increase diversity and inclusion across, say, the dimensions of race and sexuality, how are they supposed to understand who their workforce is, except by asking how people identify? I’m trying to understand why people are having problems with that phrasing, including the OP.

  12. Minimal Pear*

    How do I use my vacation time? This is half a work question, half a life question.
    I have a lot of vacation time saved up, because I rarely take it. There are two reasons for this. One, I’m part-time and generally not stressed out by my job, so I don’t feel the need for a vacation very often. Two, I’m chronically ill and always on the verge of using up all my sick time; at my company, once you overdraw sick time, you start eating your vacation time. So I do want to keep a buffer.
    I’ve taken a few days off here and there, to give myself a long weekend, but I’ve only taken one long vacation in the whole time I’ve been here. I guess I feel like if I’m taking a long vacation I should go somewhere or do something, but my options are very limited. The vast majority of the time, I’m just going to be having a “staycation”.
    I’m not sure what my question is, really. Should I be bothering with long vacations if they’re barely going to feel like vacations? What is one supposed to DO on vacation from work? If I do want to go on longer vacations, and I don’t want to just stay home the whole time, how do I decide what I want to do, when I have to be very careful about COVID but I also don’t drive? I can think of some vacations I’d love to take (it’s been SO long since I’ve seen my extended family!), but all would involve way too much COVID risk. This is the first job where I’ve had any vacation time whatsoever and I’m floundering.

    1. Typing All The Time*

      Is there a destination you’ve always wanted to see or maybe a performance that happens only during the daytime?

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I have a huge wishlist, but the problem is COVID. I don’t have a driver’s license (REALLY hoping things calm down enough that I can do it next summer) and really don’t want to be on public transportation for too long. All my lengthier vacations during the pandemic have been with other people, who drove. I’m not sure about events, but again, COVID.
        I do have one event I’m going to that I absolutely Should Not Be Going To with my risk factors, but I decided that’s my only time to break the rules. Outside of that, I still need to be pretty careful.

    2. August Twelfth*

      Agreed with Typing all the Time and wanted to add museums. Any nearby museums that you can go to? Don’t discount locally-run niche ones either those can be a great way to spend a morning.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Unfortunately: COVID. I did have the great luck on my one long vacation to find a super interesting museum that was still requiring masks, so I went to that. Museums can also be hard for me even without a pandemic, because of the ways in which I’m disabled.

    3. Llellayena*

      Is there a time-intensive home-based project you’ve been wanting to work on? Painting a room, starting a hobby, organizing the basement? Something where the end result will make you feel accomplished but that would be difficult to do in little chunks around a work schedule? Nothing says you need to use your vacation for lounging around doing nothing or going somewhere important. I’d also squeeze in a couple “I’ve wanted to do this but it’s daytime” things like museums or specific specialty stores or something. Outdoor sculpture parks are good for this, and generally Covid safe since it’s outside. Day trip to the beach if you’re close enough for that kind of thing? Bed and breakfast for a couple nights in an interesting town in comfortable driving distance?

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Ugh, yes, there definitely is. I’m in the middle of deep cleaning my whole house right now, and have just been doing a bit at a time due to time constraints and ability/energy. Today I need to de-gunk the insides of some cabinets. That’s mostly what I’ve been using long weekends for, but it does mean it doesn’t really feel like a vacation.
        I can’t really make trips to other locations easily because I have no method of transportation.

        1. Llellayena*

          Oof. Didn’t realize you were transportation limited too. Is there a friend in your bubble that you trust (preferably retired or on a non-traditional schedule) that you could do some of these out of the house Covid-safe day trips with? And for the in house, maybe something more hobby oriented? sewing? zoom wine and painting class? marathon computer gaming session?

          1. Minimal Pear*

            Yeah, I realized I kinda buried that info. Unfortunately, my bubble is just… me. And a bunch of my doctors, I guess. I do have a lot of hobbies, I just never feel like I have the brainspace to focus on them.

            1. allathian*

              Okay, so you do a staycation and rest up a bit so you have the brainspace to focus on your hobbies, as well as the deep cleaning stuff that you don’t have the energy to do when you’re working. You can have a great vacation at home, but if you’re used to always traveling on your vacations, you need to reprogram your mind to see a staycation as a vacation.

            2. asteramella*

              “Brain space to focus on hobbies” is exactly what a long vacation could be used for! Pick a project that might take a couple of days, spend half a day on the project and half a day on some pleasant relaxation/leisure/a smaller project from another hobby.

    4. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      I’m like you in not wanting to sit at home the whole time and needing to balance COVID caution. In the past few years, I’ve found a helpful rhythm of:
      1. Take a week off at a time — at least — so I can fully disconnect from work.
      2. Spend the first two days just chilling/getting my brain out of work mode. Sleeping in, cleaning the thing I’ve needed to clean for 6 months and haven’t had time, etc.
      3. Days 3-5, plan one activity a day that I can’t normally do when working. For me that’s almost always outdoor stuff — taking a long walk along the river, having a solo picnic in the park while reading a book, spend a morning people-watching at an outdoor coffee shop, meeting an old friend for an outdoors catch-up date, going to my favorite restaurant that’s only open for lunch, checking out an art gallery or museum I’ve never been to, planting my garden for the next season. I’ve also done online stuff like taking an online cooking/baking class, a virtual paint-and-sip, etc. 3 days gives me enough variety that it feels valuable and interesting.
      4. Days 6-7: Clean, grocery shop, batch-cook — all the things I’m normally trying to squeeze between fun stuff on the weekends.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        This is kind of how I structured the one long vacation I took!
        I think that part of my problem here is that I already do a lot of the stuff people are suggesting, because my schedule is part-time. So I do stuff like hiking, going to outdoor restaurants, going to some safe events, occasional shopping, etc. before or after work. It doesn’t really feel “worth it” to take a vacation to do those things, especially not a full week.
        Sorry to everyone who’s replying that I’m saying no to so much stuff–a big part of my problem is that I’m not sure what my problem IS, so while I’m turning down a lot of suggestions, this is really helping me narrow down why I’m feeling so weird about the vacation situation.

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          It sounds like you have time but need an excuse to give yourself permission to take it. But you don’t really have to do that. Any reason is a good enough excuse.

          I love to take a week for the sole purpose of not having to wake up to the alarm clock. I find I don’t really sleep in longer than if the alarm clock does go off but I find the fact that I don’t *have* to get up incredibly re-energizing. Turning the alarm clock off on the weekends just doesn’t have the same effect.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I work PT also, I don’t get any PTO but it does not matter. On the rare occassion I need a day, I simply work a different day.

          Vacations are a non-thing for me. If work is closed on a holiday, I simply go and work somewhere else.

          I think take a random day here and there. See if you can use vacation days if it snows or does other nasty precipitating.
          You could also consider doing an activity that is only available during your work hours- such as a short class in something.

          I think your problem is that you just don’t care about vacation time, you are content with how things are. Unless someone is telling you that you have to take it, maybe not worry about it?

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think there’s a big difference between taking a complete week off vs taking 5 long weekends. And which way you go depends on your personal situation.

      For me, those long weekends are ways to get personal projects taken care from 9-5. Paint the hallway, dig out a flower bed, clean out my filing cabinet, take my car in for 50,000 mile service.

      The full week is to totally clear my head, and rest my body. Even if it’s a staycation. Maybe you just want to spend 4 hours on Wednesday afternoon at the library.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, I do have so much stuff to do around the house that I’m setting up a few long weekends in my calendar to deal with stuff like that. Since I’m pretty part-time, my head is at least kinda clear and my body is at least kinda rested during most work weeks, so I dunno… I think I want to feel like I’m having a great vacation adventure if I take a full week off, but it feels like I don’t have very many options. I’m realizing that’s where a lot of my frustration around this is coming from–I’m angry that there’s still a pandemic on, and that while plenty of other people are going on all kinds of vacations, my options are much more limited.

    6. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      I don’t have a solution for you re: how to travel if you don’t want COVID and can’t drive because I’m not sure there is one. I can drive but still haven’t traveled since 2019 because it still requires more risk than I’m willing to take.

      I personally just don’t take long vacations. If I have too much time at home I will simply never do anything with it. I like having the structure of going to work to build on, so a few days here and there works for me. I schedule them in my calendar, 1 or 2 whole days and a few half days every month, for no reason at all, and that keeps my vacation at a level where I have plenty of it but I’m not at risk of losing any. It’s also fun to plan something fun to do with the time.

      This doesn’t really feel like the answer you’re looking for but it’s valid to just not take long vacations if you can’t do anything fun with it.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, I have the same problem with just sitting around not doing anything if I take too much time off–that’s part of why I want to, for example, go to the beach on a longer vacation. I think without the option of me having a bunch of stuff to do in one week, a week-long vacation might not be worth it right now.

    7. Gracely*

      Have you thought about possibly renting an air bnb or a cabin or lakehouse, that way you’d be in a different space with some new scenery (and maybe see some cool forest animals)? Or when it cools down a bit, perhaps visiting a nearby zoo? Are you anywhere near a beach–it’s probably too crowded right now, but I love going to the beach in the fall when it’s cool and there aren’t a bunch of people, and I can read or just walk on the shore.

      Or could you possibly convince some of your extended family to come see you?

      If none of those are options, then I would maybe lean into taking more long weekends.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I’ve done the airbnb/cabin/lakehouse thing a few times in the last few years, but it’s not easy for me to get there on my own. It’s always been with someone else who can drive us. I’m also… not in the middle of nowhere, but not exactly in the most “connected” location.
        Extended family is probably a no-go–part of the reason I can’t see them is that they have kids who are probably too young to travel + in one case I have a strong suspicion they haven’t vaxxed their kid.
        From what people are saying, and what I’ve been thinking in response, it does feel like long weekends are the best option for now.

    8. J*

      Honestly, most people won’t fully understand how much Covid is affecting these decisions for those of us who are chronically ill. Last year most of my PTO was used on an emergency surgery and then a family member’s death from Covid. Now I’m even more desperate for a vacation but with everyone unmasking I’m even less in a place to do it.

      My 2020 vacation was actually doing a lot of work around my house. I painted a room. I built a bookshelf. I had everything mailed to my home or even picked up curbside back when that was more consistently offered. I also now take days off to extend my weekends. Last month my days off meant a long bike ride, grabbing food from a walk up window and just reading and lounging all day. Not every day is a healthy day so the bike ride can’t always happen (but I switched to an ebike as an accommodation which has helped a ton) so I also upgraded my home deck this year. I took a day off to stain the deck. I took a day off to just read on it when I saw the weather forecast looked good. I did another day where I biked to the park and kayaked around the lake. I know in winter I get super depressed with the cold and no outdoor activities (my illness worsens in cold weather) so I try to take my time on sunny days.

      I also time things to case counts. Sadly my area has had high transmission since dropping masks but last year we were green for a time so I wore my N95 to a museum one day and toured it at an off peak time right after I’d been boosted. Your health situation might be different than mine and that might not apply. It certainly doesn’t apply for me now given that everyone has decided its over so our transmission remains high and daily our hospital counts and deaths rise. I have to live my life by the availability of ECMO machines given my specific condition.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I’m sorry to hear about your family member!
        And yeah, it’s been really rough. I think my coworkers think I’m taking a lot of vacation, but most of the times where I’ve been out for a whole day it’s really because I have an all-day appointment. And it’s like paradoxically, the safer it gets for other people (or at least the safer it feels for them) the less safe it is for me. I was able to do so much more stuff a year ago! Numbers are high in my area, and have been high for a long time.
        I’d like to do more outdoorsy stuff but I also won’t be able to plan much in the way of vacation time during the summer, since my schedule at work is pretty packed for the next month or two.

        1. J*

          I know most of my time off for 2022 is likely to be in October/November since we’ve just launched a product. It’s so hard to balance risk and the need for some sort of separation and also days for illness and recovery. I’m pretty sure I’m going to fake travel by coming up with some themed food days and pretend I’m going to Spain but really I’m just making a paella and drinking Sangria and pretending it’s dark not because the sun will be setting at 5:00 pm but because I’m eating in Barcelona time where’s it’s after 11 pm.

        2. Not A Racoon Keeper*

          Yes, also chronically ill, and I did so much more in ’20 and ’21 than this year! Mostly outdoor adventures, but I felt like I could trust my friends to be careful, and trust that I wouldn’t get sick on an outdoor deck of a ferry before. Now I’m N95-ing even in many outdoor situations and it just feels like I’m missing this entire year. It’s so hard.

    9. Doctors Whom*

      Not every use of vacation days needs to be long vacations. Why not do something like commit to giving yourself a 3-day weekend every month (or every other week, or whatever).

      We have a lot of PTO and can only carry over a year’s accrual – when you have a lot of years in service it’s easy to find yourself carrying 30 days along and accruing 2.5 each month. I have a deep love of going away vacations, but also try to plan to take regular old days off. Without a big international trip the last few years, I try to spend down my running accrual (I accrue 2.5 days a month, so I try to take 2 days off a month). Sometimes I do stuff with my kids. Sometimes I schedule some pampering (mani pedi on my last one, so I didn’t have to squeeze it into a weeknight), I might go for a long run, I might run errands during the day because things are less busy, or treat myself to a movie when it’s not crowded, or even just sleep late. One day I slept in and then ran 5 miles and then binged a show on netflix before cooking a fabulous dinner.

      You don’t have to set yourself up for the expectation that the day has to be “useful” in some vacationy way or productive in any way. You can just enjoy a day you don’t have to go to work, and do whatever you want.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, having too much vacation time isn’t a huge concern for me, since I’m part-time and the limit for “too much” at my job is pretty high. I have an astounding amount of vacation time by my standards (I think it’s about two weeks right now) because I’ve never had ANY before. So it’s less about “use it or lose it” and more about just… making sure I’m actually taking some vacation. I’m definitely leaning towards giving myself more long weekends, and saving an actual long vacation for when it’s more logistically doable. I did really enjoy the one long vacation I did take, though, so it’s definitely worth it to keep some ideas for a long vacation like that in mind/try to figure out what I could pull off…

    10. Twisted Lion*

      Im also chronically ill so I *totally* understand the need for a buffer. And still trying to protect yourself while things are popping from Covid (and whatever else mother nature has decided to throw around).

      One thing I have done recently is instead of spending money on a vacation, I used to it improve things at home that impact my health. The #1 being my bed. For the cost of a nice vacation I bought the most expensive bed and bed frame I could afford lol. Totally worth it. My advice is, maybe use that money for things to improve your home life, not projects per say but things that might make things easier/nicer for yourself.

      Otherwise, sometimes I see there are classes or workshops I wish I could sign up for like pasta making course taught by Italian grandmas but its at 2am so maybe there are things like that you can do on a long weekend. Hobbies? Courses to keep you interested in things?

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Ugh yeah initially I wasn’t too worried about monkeypox–seemed less contagious than COVID, and not as deadly–but it’s looking worse and worse. And did you hear there’s been polio in New York? Yikes.
        Spending vacation money on stuff around the house is a good idea–I kinda got partway through sprucing things up last year and then got distracted. I’d love to put a backsplash in…

        1. Twisted Lion*

          I did and now Im going to spend this weekend digging for my vaccine records to see if I got the polio vaccine when I was young but my records got lost/destroyed so I dont know if I have them still. Im worried about monkey pox because people have been lying about covid (coworker said it was allergies yeah it wasn’t) and I know people will be going to work with lesions and touching things. I feel like its never ending :(

    11. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m a big long weekend fan. I take one or two for no reason every month. It helps me keep balanced and able to handle my work days.

      That being said, when I take a week off, it’s all entirely different. The disconnect from work is much deeper, and I can pursue my creative projects at a more intense level because I don’t have to worry about what else I want to accomplish chore-wise.

      I rarely go anywhere on my vacations … especially now with Covid-avoidance.

      That being said, if you want to disconnect — maybe just to run away from chores or the “normal day to day” — and you have some cash to spend, there’s some real benefit to getting a 2-3 day hotel or Air B&B in town. You could taxi or Uber to the location, read a book by the pool, have a long luxurious meal in the restaurant, watch their cable, or take a walk in a different neighborhood.
      I’m actually plotting to do just this … maybe in the fall. Just two nights somewhere else and a bag of hand quilting to do.

    12. sara*

      I’m taking off 2 weeks next month and here’s what I’ve got planned so far.

      – clean & declutter apartment and reorganize some furniture (might involve a friend coming over)
      – do some batch cooking of soups/sauces/etc – I enjoy cooking but don’t often have time for it
      – get a solid 2 hours or more every day of outdoor time that’s actually outside not on my balcony (walk/hike/read in the park etc) – and definitely do a couple of longer walks on some days.
      – deal with some banking and other life maintenance stuff like that
      – work on hobbies – I am knitting Christmas stockings for my family so finish those, plus figure out any other gift knits I want to do
      – work on side project(s) – rebuild a website for one of my side project/hobby things
      – maybe do a day or two of touristy things around town

      Not the most vacation-y vacation, but I’m more thinking of it as time to regroup for the rest of the year and work on some things in my life that I struggle to fit in around work.

      I’m planning on making a bit of a schedule for myself as it gets closer, mostly so that each day I have a plan (even if that plan is knit and watch a movie in my pjs all morning…)

      1. sara*

        Oh, and leisurely baths… So many nice baths… From reading the other comments, I’m now thinking about renting a place for 1-2 nights that has an amazing bath tub.

      2. J*

        You’ve just reminded me that it’s been a minute since I did some batch cooking. Like OP I have a leave time but am high risk. I’ve done so much DIY that I need another project. I’m just about finished with my pandemic quilt so I think it’s time to get back to seasonal hobby making too – there’s an advent calendar that isn’t going to finish itself.

    13. SofiaDeo*

      When I first got the fibromyalgia diagnosis, I found that taking a long weekend or occasional full week every 6-8 weeks helped with symptoms. Less work stress=less illness, for me. I wonder if your chromic illness would be helped by more time off, even just puttering around the house/town. Get outside, go to parks or other places you don’t often get to because they aren’t close to home. Even packing a picnic lunch, leaving in the AM, and not coming back until 3-4pm can feel like a vacation.

    14. AnonyMouse*

      I think your challenge is that you need to define what “feels like a vacation” means for you. If that vacation feeling is completely linked to travel for you and you can’t travel right now, then I’d say just bank the time (if your company will let you) until that’s a possibility. If the vacation feeling is about doing something special and out of the ordinary, I’d say research what sorts of new outdoor or online activities are in your area that you could try. If the vacation feeling is just about relaxing and doing fun things, you could focus on your hobbies and plan some relaxing at-home activities – but from your previous responses it seems like that isn’t enough.

  13. Admiral Thrawn Is Always Blue*

    I started an assistant’s job about 6 weeks ago. It’s an extremely regulated industry, so very much to learn. I have a background in admin assistant work but nothing on this level. I’m not exactly suffering from imposter syndrome – I know I can do this work, it’s just that for other people to find time to train me, waiting on the work to become needed, it’s a whole new world for me. I’ve never had a job where I was not up and running in less than a week, two at most. There is a certain amount of anxiety that I am trying to cope with. Thankfully, my boss is a very good people person and though she is insanely busy, is not a nightmare to deal with. We have also had a lot of trouble hiring people. When I was interviewed there were two others that they also met with. I was eventually told they were “horrific”. I think I was really their only viable option. That leads me to wonder, am I really suited to this job, do they really think so, or are we all making do with what we have?

    So my question is, how can I become as efficient and organized as possible? I’ve started far more Outlook folders than I have ever used in the past but a lot more is needed. This work is full of tiny, nitpicky details that I have to remember and apply.

    1. August Twelfth*

      Outsource the “remembering” part by writing everything down. Like, everything. In a text document you can search, or in a notepad you can tab with sticky notes, whatever works best for you. That way you’ll have something to refer to, and you’ll retain the info while writing it down.

      Also, if people see you writing down notes, that can signal that “this person is really invested in the job and wants to do well.” Just be savvy about putting down the notepad if someone is trying to have a heart-to-heart or speaking confidentially.

      Good luck with the new job!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was going to suggest this. I had a highly regulated job once where I was told, “You won’t learn this in less than six months, and that’s okay.” My predecessor had created pages and pages of procedurals, and it was so helpful that I adopted a note-taking process in subsequent jobs. I take a ton of notes during training and then write SOP docs from that.

        Not only does it help me learn, but if I have to be out and someone has to cover me, they have everything written down so they know exactly what to do. If the procedural changes, I change the doc. It was actually part of my work at Exjob.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Sometimes listing it out makes it feel less overwhelming, you can see how much you’ve learned as well as what exactly is still needed instead of trying to keep it all straight in your head. Plus notes as you learn sometimes are extremely useful later when you forget something! Do you prefer paper/hardcopy or electronic? It might be interesting to make a physical binder as you learn, way to keep track of instructions for tasks as well as lists of stuff you need to learn and what you need to be able to learn (Billing software – waiting for Susan to train me on; Conference room scheduler – need login details then can self teach, etc). Digitally you could keep a record in OneNote or other software.

    3. Melanie Cavill*

      When I have a nitpicky detail, I write it on a post-it and stick that post-it on one of my three monitors, to hang there in basic yellow judgment, until I’ve memorised it.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Basic yellow non-judgment works too: when I started a new, totally overwhelming job, I wrote some sticky notes like “no one thinks you’re doing badly” and “you’ll get there!” etc. And FWIW, OP, why would you want a job that could be mastered in a week or two? Sounds like a job that would get boring pretty quickly.

  14. ThatGirl*

    A little frustrated on behalf of my husband…
    He started a new job in mid-July, with a few pre-planned days off there, so he’s had about 15 days of actual work over the last 4 weeks. It’s the same job (mental health counselor) he was doing before, at a different university, but this one offered better pay, more stability, a shorter commute. And, he thought, better management.

    Apparently, they gave him some “busy work” (I think in their client database system) until things pick up when the semester starts, and he did something wrong along the way. He’s used the system before, but they do things a little differently. And instead of kind of going through his mistakes and reviewing it all so he could learn, his new boss kinda … scolded him?* and implied that with 11 years of experience, he should know better. So now he feels like it’s an uphill battle to prove himself, and he’ll be labeled a screwup — and in my opinion, they should be understanding that not every workplace does things the same way and he just needs a bit more training or a cheat sheet or something. Bleh.

    *This is the part I’m a little unclear on – he *felt* chewed out, but it’s possible it wasn’t that bad, and he’s just anxious about the whole thing. But I did give him a pep talk and encouraged him to communicate with his boss in the spirit of learning and moving forward.

    1. Riot Grrrl*

      At the end of the day, does he in fact know what he did wrong? It’s unclear from your story. If he still doesn’t know what he did wrong, then you are absolutely right. For purely practical purposes, he needs to have that conversation so that the mistake isn’t repeated.

      If he does know what he did wrong, then it’s possible there is a grain of truth to what his boss is saying, as it would indicate that he was able to go back on his own and see what he did wrong. That doesn’t excuse any rudeness–if there was rudeness–but it does imply a higher level of responsibility on your husband’s part.

      It’s the difference between “I can’t figure out where things are going wrong. Please help me understand this” versus “I’ve reviewed the system, and this is how I’m used to doing things. Is that how you prefer to do it here?”

      1. ThatGirl*

        He knows what he did wrong – I don’t think it was anything too dire – but I’m not sure if anyone told him how to do it *right* or reviewed it with him (he said someone else fixed it while he was off last week). Because it is a matter of how his old job did it vs how his new job does it as opposed to some objective measure, and I’m not sure how extensive his training was, if it was a misunderstanding, or what precisely went awry.

        As I alluded to, I don’t know if his new manager was actually rude — sometimes anxiety gets the better of him, for SURE. But based on what he told me, and based on my own experiences screwing things up sometimes, it seems like it would have been better for the new manager to review the process with him rather than just tell him “it was wrong, we fixed it, but you should know better”.

    2. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      I agree with you – they should be more understanding that he’s a new employee and it doesn’t matter if the system is the same, different places use the same system in different ways. I understand why your husband was feeling “chewed out.” There’s no reason for his boss to have said/implied that your husband should have known better. A good leader doesn’t offer his internal monologue and opinion in that way – it’s not constructive and all it does is put the other person down. Gentle correction is all that was needed. Now that your husband knows how to do it “their way,” it’ll be easier to prove himself. If he can reach out to someone to ensure it’s being done correctly before he continues, that might help as well… However, now he knows something important about his boss that he might not have known before.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I should say too that I’ve been in his shoes, where I thought I understood how to do something and then I did it wrong. But I didn’t get scolded or anything; I got “oh, let me go over that with you again to make sure you understand”. You are right about having someone else review it first next time; that’s a smart move.

    3. Just a thought*

      I know the moment has probably passed, but in situations like these I find it’s helpful to share that you did it differently in the past. “Sorry I messed that up, at company ABC, we did it this other way. I’ll be sure to follow this procedure going forward.”

      There are a lot of systems that are used or configured totally different depending on the company, so it is not unusual to run across this. If his boss has mainly used the system there, then he may not be aware of that.

    4. WFH with Cat*

      It sounds to me like your husband and his manager have both failed to realize that *every* new employee needs to be trained the processes and procedures in place at that org. This isn’t about experience or professionalism. Organizations, departments, teams, and even individual managers can all have their own unique ways of handling workflow. Having used the same type of system at his previous org does not mean your husband will automatically know how things are done at his new job — and assuming that he did know was his real error.

      This is a perfect time for him to be learning their processes, etc. — now, while it’s slow and he can dedicate time to the effort. Your husband needs to go to his new boss and ask how to proceed to get the training he needs, who does he need to talk to, etc. (I will not be surprised if the manager had not even thought about this previously or surely there would have been some action on it prior to now.)

      Best of luck as he settles into his new job!

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      It’s also helpful to remember that if his boss has never worked anywhere else, they may mistakenly believe that the way they do things is the One True Industry Standard and that everyone is supposed to be doing it that way. Not saying that justifies a bad approach to giving feedback, but it’s helpful to know that lots of people work in these silos and have this kind of wrongheaded idea.

  15. Xaraja*

    I have been getting messages on LinkedIn saying “Congrats on your work anniversary.” I got my current job in August of 2020 so it’s been 2 years. I know that LinkedIn prompts you to send these messages and that’s why I’m getting these. But I can’t figure out how I should respond. One of them was from the COO of my employer who is in my hierarchy (great grand boss)! Do I reply?

    1. ThatGirl*

      You can but you don’t have to! Or you can just “like” them as acknowledgment that you got them.

    2. Esmeralda*

      Reply only if you want to/have time.

      Here’s the reply: “Thanks! I really love it here at Llama-Crazy Corp. Hope you’re doing well.”

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I would reply (acknowledges their effort), but just with a couple of lines (takes less than a minute to read, no response needed). A la “Thank you! I really enjoy the opportunity to modify llamas for flight.”

  16. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Struggling today. No matter how much I write things down there’s always something I have forgotten. My brain is on executive functioning overload as I try to plan things for others. Give me good vibes y’all and hope I don’t compare myself to people who manage to have two jobs and groceries in the house and kids!

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I am here procrastinating. It happens when I plan to accomplish too much at once. I think I need to pick two things and ignore everything else today or I’ll be here all day

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Here’s a plug for Microsoft To-Do (their creative team must have spent weeks coming up with that one), an excellent task management tool. Every day you start with a fresh to-do list, and you add the tasks to it from your task list(s) that you feel like you can accomplish that day. That way you’re not always looking at a list of 40 things, just a list of 2 or 3. Anything you don’t get to will appear in your list of options for the following day’s clean slate. And best of all, when you complete a task, you are rewarded with a little bell sound.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Oooo. I love apps. My house got a zillion times cleaner when I could check off things and get a pleasing ding sound

  17. Quaremie*

    Hi! My company is currently undergoing a merger and I am going to be leading a large combined team once it is complete. (I currently lead the team in one of the original companies.) There are going to be a lot of changes for a lot of people, including changes in leadership, protocols, systems, you name it. Does anyone have good resources (books etc) on how to manage this well? or if not, any tips?

    1. Goddess47*

      Consider the fact that you’re even asking a good sign… Hopefully, you’ll get some suggestions.

      As the person who’s been on the other side of that, some things that are helpful:
      –patience and humor
      –work on getting everyone to get away from ‘we used to do it this way…’
      –be as open as you can about why you’re doing something; ‘The new leadership want us to do X, even though you’ve always done Y. Let’s work together on how to get that done.’
      –put together smaller teams from each company to break up the cliques that will otherwise happen. Be deliberate and maybe even overt. ‘You all have to work together.’

      None of that is groundbreaking, but it goes a long way toward good teamwork.

      Good luck!

      1. Quaremie*

        Thank you very much!! We’ve already started planning the mixed up teams. Appreciate your comments!!

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Are there going to be layoffs and/or changes in role? That’s what most of the people will likely be thinking about first.

      See what you can integrate from the ‘acquired’ team. It may be that some of their practices and systems etc do actually have value in the new world. Do they have documentation etc on how they currently do things and why. What have they tried already that did and didn’t work…etc.

      Integrating systems (people, technology…) always takes longer than you expect. Usually by a factor of 2 or more!

      I expect it will be tempting to favour the people from your existing team when it comes to projects etc – try to resist that.

      Be prepared for good people to leave in fairly short order. It isn’t necessarily a reflection on you.

      1. Quaremie*

        Thank you! I don’t believe there will be layoffs, but I can’t be sure I’m totally in the loop, so am nervous about giving false reassurances. I am in a bit of a challenging situation as I am from the acquired team but will be leading the combined team so have a lot to get up to speed on, yet trying to integrate what we’ve done and learned in my previous team. Thanks again!

    3. AsPerElaine*

      To the extent that there are changes to people’s roles or management structures, please make sure to talk to all the people affected individually before there’s a big announcement-meeting. I once got notified in a big team meeting that my boss was shifting to a different team and I was going to be managed by someone in another state, who I’d never really spoken to, and that was Not Great. I hadn’t even had enough sense that it was coming to turn my camera off ahead of time, and it felt too weird to go camera-off partway through, so I had the fun experience of trying to process that in real time, in front of my newish team, while keeping my face neutral.

      Trying to learn what best practices you can adopt from the new-to-you teammembers is probably also helpful. We’re a year or two into a big merger-thing and mostly are still in separate groups, but some of my upper leadership manages people who were originally from the other companies. One of my bosses is working on a big “our general approach to how we handle our work” document, ranging from “this is how we document stuff we’re working on” (not the nitty-gritty, but stuff like “well enough that we could do it again if needed”) to “this is how we approve changes” to “this is how we treat mistakes and service failures” — and also the reasoning behind it. There are places where that document calls out a particular practice or process as being particularly good, and the examples aren’t all from my original company. I doubt the final document will get much day-to-day traction, but I think it’s good to have, both as a goal and as a way to ground everyone in similar practices.

    4. rosyglasses*

      The First 90 Days is an excellent leadership book (or book for anyone changing teams or industries). It sets the tone for not just jumping in and making change, learning how to observe and build consensus, and build influence.

      Crucial Conversations is a short but tool-packed book on how to navigate high stakes, high emotion conversations. Considering teams will have just undergone what can be traumatic change, and will have questions, concerns, and fears – this can be a good foundation for navigating story, coming to a common goal (instead of leaning into compromise). They also have a live training – it’s generally 5 days, 2-3 hours a day with lectures and small group application.

      1. Quaremie*

        Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for. I have ordered them and looking forward to reading them. Appreciate it!!

  18. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I posted a couple of weeks ago about my peer being promoted and my concerns about his completely different approach from my (really awesome) manager. Well… it’s been really rough. My new manager is overwhelmed and I get that, but he spends a lot of time during our 1-on-1s talking about his own to-do list, he speaks to me like I know very little, he doesn’t listen to my opinions about my clients, and he has absolutely no interest in me as a person. Total change from our mutual former manager. He also totally lacks emotional intelligence; we’re hiring and he was complaining that one candidate has no direct experience in our role, and I reminded him that neither did I– and I’ve been pretty successful to date. He didn’t mean to insult me, he just didn’t think about the person he was speaking to. What’s worse is that an issue has come up with an account, it’s very serious, and not only has he not offered any support or advice, he basically told me it’s not his problem. So I’m stuck dealing with it on my own.

    I’m holding on a little bit and starting to explore other options, including internal postings. I really love this company and the people have all been great– except for this guy. Luckily I have support from other colleagues, but damn. I’m at the point of putting together notes so that when his boss asks for my feedback, which he will, I can be completely honest.

    It just sucks. I felt like I won the jackpot when I started this role, but now it’s just the same old crappy slog.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      ” He also totally lacks emotional intelligence; we’re hiring and he was complaining that one candidate has no direct experience in our role, and I reminded him that neither did I” – this is not lack of emotional intelligence, at all. You can’t criticize a manager for wanting to hire people with experience and it’s a tad narcissistic (sorry, don’t know a milder word, I don’t mean it in a bad way. Maybe “too self-centered) to think they’re thinking about your resume from years ago.

      That out of the way, can’t you work in everything you wrote here into your 1 on 1s? Seems reasonable to me, especially since I don’t think you’re near entry level at all. I would find it totally reasonable for a report to tell me some variation of “can we talk about my stuff now?”

      Only pink flag I see is him not helping with an account. Go to him with specific solutions such as “give them a 25% discount on their last order” then see what he says. If he says the ideas suck, say “that’s all I can come up with to fix this”

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        In my defense, it hasn’t been years– I’m the newest hire on the team, and part of the reason he treats me the way he does because “AvonLady is new to this type of role” is stuck in his head. We’ve talked about it plenty. Had he said, “Right, but you’re different,” or, “I forgot about that” would have softened the situation. I came away thinking he never would have hired me– and I’m pretty sure that’s the case. It’s maybe not the best example, but it’s tough to deal with a manager who doesn’t seem to care about the responses and experiences of his team.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          Oh Ok that’s different than what you wrote and reasonable to be miffed about. TBH if someone is doing good in a role, it no longer matters. Unless it’s something like brain surgery where life and death is involved:-)

        2. linger*

          The recurring feature here is that your new manager seems to have no interest in staff development (hence: only wants to hire pre-trained staff; doesn’t want to help existing staff develop solutions to work problems). Does he not see the need? or does he feel he does not have the experience himself to help? If it’s the latter, are there other colleagues you could approach for help?
          I might also be worried that he is insecure enough in his new role not to want to raise the level of his subordinates.

    2. urguncle*

      I had a boss who loved to completely forget whatever I told them about any of my accounts, so I started sending agendas the day before our 1:1 that included any accounts with issues, that way it was in writing. It only took one time of her literally yelling at me that she had “no idea” this customer was so upset and me compiling 9 weeks of agendas to send to her and our boss noting that I had told her both in writing and during our 1:1. If she didn’t find it important to address, how was I supposed to be able to take action?

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Yeah, documentation and CYA sounds like the right course of action for new manager. So sorry, this does not sounds fun :(

  19. Snagglepuss*

    Any advice on how to deal with a complicated role transition in the same company?

    Just got a new role internally at my large corporate company in a different department that I am excited to start! My current role has terrible managers, and no career path to advance. However, my future manager and current manager are not on the same page for the timeline to transition. I was offered the role on the prior Monday, wasn’t able to negotiate/accept until that Thursday, and my new manager wants me to start this upcoming Monday. My current manager wanted the full two weeks and 50/50 split for an additional 4 weeks after that, but he wouldn’t negotiate with my new manager directly! I had to call and talk to my current manager to get him to talk to new manager!

    I’ve explained to my current manager that I don’t feel like I have the power to negotiate this, and I’m in a difficult situation. I think they both agreed to have me work Monday, Thursday, Friday with old team, and Tuesday/Wednesday with new team, but no idea what the expectations are after that. (I had to ask my current manager again for that update, it’s like pulling teeth!)

    I am still anxious with the transition going as smoothly as possible, because since both roles are internal, I would assume my annual performance is based on the evaluation from both teams. All the other transitions I have witnessed for other internal employees have been longer and both teams are amicable on the agreed timeline. Anyone have any advice or have been through this situation?

    1. Xaraja*

      In my experience, the new manager is the one who does your evaluation. But your employer could be different. I would say that the new manager is your manager now and to think of them as the person you go to. So I would go to them and say that the old manager has said this is what you’re supposed to do, is that right? And then go by whatever the new manager tells you. If the old manager questions you, I would try to be brief and just say like I have to do what my manager says! Any questions would need to go to them.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Seconding, defer to new manager and go to them with any problems.

        Also, you say you don’t feel you have room to push back on the transition because it’s an internal transfer but you probably have more say than you think. If you aren’t happy with the time table the two managers came up, talk to new manager. Something like “I’m a little worried about splitting my time between departments. I’d really like to transition to new department as quickly as possible so I can focus on this new position.”

    2. linger*

      Part of the uncertainty may be inherent, if OldBoss doesn’t know how much documentation/other handover work is needed to get your old team up to speed, and NewBoss doesn’t know how much training you need to get up to speed with your new role. Hopefully, in practice, NewJob may be slow enough ramping up to allow you time to hand off OldJob; but if you do find yourself being asked to do more work than is possible over the next few weeks, that would be something quantifiable to bring to NewBoss.

  20. lobsterbot*

    Anyone have experience with the group WorkPartners administering sick leave and related leave for your organization. We’ve been told we’re moving to using them instead of in-house people. I think it makes sense for things like FMLA and disability, etc., leaves which are less common and can be complicated, but they’re also supposed to be also administering our day to day sick and appointment leave. I had just barely gotten used to being treated like an adult when it comes to taking time off for my own health, and I’m worried this will be bureaucratic and invasive.

  21. My Useless 2 Cents*

    Low key question for today…
    I was job searching and came across a posting where in the description they described themselves as a “rocketship”. The job itself actually sounded interesting but I declined applying for other reasons. But it’s been nagging at me “rocketship”, clueless hyperbole or giant red flag? What do you think? Would you apply to a job posting with a company that described themselves that way?

      1. Justin*

        I mean. I don’t know that I’d not apply because of their silly metaphor (or else anyone who uses a car metaphor is referring to something far more dangerous; driving is so dangerous!), but it’s definitely a silly metaphor.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          But there’s so many better silly metaphors is my point. I’d rather work for a company that is like an ice cream truck – well thought of in the community, on the pulse of what is relevant products, and reliable in the market for decades now.

          1. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

            Just want to say this comment has made me chuckle very appreciatively. Never thought about an ice cream truck like that, but you are so right. Now I’ll be stuck trying to think of other vehicle metaphors…

      2. No Tribble At All*

        As someone who literally works with rocketships, yes, exactly

        I mean I’d be very curious why they think they are a rocketship, but I’d just file this under “likes buzzwords”

    1. yala*

      It may or may not be related, but I’m thinking about how rocket emojis are one of the little meme/codes that cryptobros use (also: monkeys, diamond+hands, and the moon). That whole “To the Moon!” thing and all. Regardless, it would rub me the wrong way too. It sort of feels like promising a dream instead of a paycheck.

    2. kiki*

      I wouldn’t let it stop me from applying, especially if the position was of great interest to me, but I’d ask a lot of follow-up questions about the company, its culture, and its financial situation.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think the human brain is exquisitely good at finding what it is looking for. If you look for red flags, you will find them even if you have to manufacture them out of thin air.

      If you look for good job opportunities to apply for, with the knowledge that an application is not a blood oath tying you to the company, and you can decline the job if you find out any substantive issues, your exquisite brain will find those, too.

    4. Susan Calvin*

      Honestly, if you’re not ruling out start-ups as a whole (which you might want to!), I wouldn’t think too much about his. It’s a bit eye roll inducing, but such a widely used term in the context, it’s basically meaningless.

    5. RisRose*

      This podcast episode is the first thing that came to mind when I saw the word “rocketship” – PLANT YOUR A** ON THE RIGHT ROCKET SHIP, WITH ANDY FRISELLA – MFCEO62. Not really relevant to the context of your question, but probably a good listen if you are job searching.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      To me bragging is a caution flag. I have never once gone into an interview and said, “I am a rock star.”

      I would probably not apply. I prefer people and places who have a level sense self-awareness.

      I am not surprised you found other problems in the same post. I would expect that.

    7. Sutemi*

      I’ve not seen Rocketship, but it seems like one of those terms like rock star and coding ninja which tends to code for a particular bro-ish atmosphere.

  22. DisneyChannelThis*

    What’s your best/favorite/most useful thing you’ve automated in your job?

    Today I reset my little PC script that with one click opens my email, work software, code terminals and web browser. It’s so dumb but its pleasing to watch everything load instead of clicking on 20 things every time I get to work!

    1. Trina*

      Thank you for reminding me to finally make a Outlook rule that keeps the automatic “X signed up for your program” emails out of my inbox!

      (I went on a two-week vacation and came back to 419 emails, of which at least 300 were the automatic ones.)

    2. Justin*

      When I need time not to have meetings, I type in “F” on a new event in Google Calendar and it suggests “focus time.” And people tend to just leave me be.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Maybe they think it means “F*ck it!” and they’re all like, “Don’t bother Justin right now.” ;)

    3. OhKay*

      I love smartphrases in Outlook! Allows me to create templates that are auto-inserted when I type their names. No copy/pasting required! :)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Word macros and content controls!

      At Exjob, a couple of ancillary consultants would give me reports where I had to significantly edit or write from notes, and a lot of the info was the same every time. Instead of opening a previous report, copying, and then pasting, I just wrote macros for the most common repeated content. Also the content controls for the client company names. I would enter the name once and the control populated every other field in the entire report template. :)

    5. J*

      Outlook quick replies for the best ROI. I used to have to bulk email people and actually later opted for Template Phrases as a plug in. I had pre-selected email templates and then insertions, so if I was sending 3 documents I could just add those as bullet points into the template from their own template list. I barely typed in emails except to fill in fields like “Hi FIRSTNAME, it was great talking to you during YESTERDAY’s CALL. [I know you asked me to send over some documents so I’ve attached them here. Here’s a quick summary of what is included: ATTACHMENT 1, 2, 3” and so on.

      I also used power automate to create tasks for every time someone filled out a request for services. It auto emailed the case worker, the potential client and made the task. People thought I was spending hours a day managing it and left me alone since I was “so busy”.

    6. Princess Scrivener*

      I created several dozen “Replace text as you type” rules for the phrases I use most on hundreds of Word docs. I have to remember my key phrases, but it’s satisfying to type a few letters and symbols and see the whole sentence populate.

  23. Justin*

    I… am in a really good situation professionally. I actually wrote a whole (academic) book (in very accessible language, don’t worry, and doesn’t cost 90000 dollars) while working full-time and studying and writing a dissertation, and really feeling mistreated at my job, in 2021 and early this year. And suddenly, I’m trusted and well-compensated, I get along with my colleagues, and I don’t feel constant professional dread and stress.

    As mentioned yesterday, I didn’t at all know about the CDFI portion of the nonprofit world but happened to get an education job within the industry, and it’s blowing my mind that the image presented to the public that all nonprofit work will only pay you in smiles (and having worked in nonprofits for a decade, it was true at the other places) isn’t even accurate. In fact, the well-funded nonprofits that pay poorly come off even worse to me now that I know it’s not inevitable.

    So, I’m glad I’m where I am now. And it really is strange not to feel unnecessary pressure at work (lots of responsibility, but I like responsibility).

    I really do have to say that after hoping to find a place that wouldn’t isolate me but then having to shoulder the diversity burden myself (both by being Black and by virtue of having actual expertise in race-focused scholarship), it sure did help to go to a Black-led organization. Wish there were more such places around.

    1. OyHiOh*

      I love that you’ve found your way into community development, and into an organization that reflects you and the community you serve. That’s awesome.

      I am also in a strong, well funded non profit (economic development). ED has traditionally been perceived as a male-dominated sector, but my org is woman led (CEO, and more than half the senior leadership team). As a woman raising daughters, it’s very satisfying to do work I enjoy, in this environment. I’ve also worked in not at all well funded non profits so finding my way into a well funded one is absolutely wonderful. Also wonderful to have good leadership and a “corporate” mindset in the sense of “we do not operate in chaos, there is a purpose and reason for everything every person does.”

    2. J*

      “In fact, the well-funded nonprofits that pay poorly come off even worse to me now that I know it’s not inevitable.” This was such a realization for me. I was working for one nonprofit that was partnering with others and I was managing the project when all 3 orgs had turnover. I learned the salaries for the positions of my counterparts who were a bit junior to me and I was blown away. I couldn’t look at my own employer the same. They knew those salaries as part of the grant application and yet still chose to pursue their own low salary. I was actually given more than the posted salary for my position and knew it was a massive pay cut but I believed in the cause. Now I no longer do.

      I’m so glad to see you finding success and also support in a role. I really love seeing stories like yours and I’m so happy you shared it.

      1. Justin*

        My wife always worked in places that paid better and it still took me this long to see I was undervalued. It really gets in your head.

    3. Pop*

      I also am at a well-paid nonprofit job. I recently had a friend join the workforce in nonprofits who keeps saying things like “Well, that’s just how nonprofits are…” no! They’re not all dysfunctional and underpaid!

      1. Justin*

        I suspect part of that is that Settlement Houses (which is just one type but an influential one) really did come out of society wives (not being heteronormative, in the 19th c they were surely wives) trying to help and not “needing” a salary. So there’s that image right from the start and it’s hard to shake given that people with family income can afford to take on mission-driven-but-terribly-paid work. And hey, I once did it myself, too, and I used to fully buy into it.

  24. Sad manager*

    For anyone in management or who has had to fire someone, how do you deal with feeling bad about it?

    This week I had to fire someone for the first time. One of the employees I manage fell for a scam that sent a six figure sum to the scammer. This employee fell for the exact same scam a year and a half ago. She sidestepped and disregarded all the protocols the first time and did the same for the updated ones the second time. We had training on scams and cybersecurity after the fact for all employees. We also have training on this when people get hired. I didn’t make the decision to fire her but as her manager I had to do it. Once it came out that she fell for the same scam as before the writing was on the wall.

    Even though I know it had to be done I still feel awful. Every employee I have had leave as a manager left by their own choice, like for a promotion or new job. The employee was two years out of college. This was her first full-time job and her second job total. She is not eligible for rehire, will not be given a reference and will have an extremely difficult time getting a job in the industry. If she applies for E.I. the company will dispute since she was fired for cause. She did not take it well and cried which almost made me cry.

    I still feel terrible days later. Any tips or tricks for dealing with firing people?

    1. Sad manager*

      (And to clarify she did not steal the money or be the inside person for a theft. She fell for a scam that the police here are aware of, have investigated and have arrested people for before)

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m sorry. If it helps at all, it sounds like you’re not firing her just because she fell for a scam. You’re firing her because she deliberately disregarded all the procedures and protocols in place, even when she should know better than most how critical those are.

      But I only really have sympathy to offer. Sometimes work just sucks.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        To be fair, it’s reasonable for someone to get fired for falling for a scam as well. It can show lack of judgment and make you question their work in general

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’d say it really depends on the circumstances. Falling for a well-known scam like sending money to a Nigerian Prince is one thing, but most of us are vulnerable to social hacking at least some of the time.

          My mom is very smart and has great common sense, but when a close friend sent her an email asking her if she would buy a target gift card for their niece, she did so. If the email had come from a distant colleague or a woman who didn’t have a niece, it wouldn’t have worked; the scammer got lucky.

          Two weeks after I’d ironed out an issue where the State of Minnesota thought I owed them back taxes, I nearly fell for a phone scammer who claimed to be the police serving an arrest warrant for unpaid taxes in Minnesota. Even after I realized it was a scam, I was still afraid that someone would come to my door pretending to be the police.

          Scammers are successful because they know how to exploit social trust and get lucky with their approach and timing.

          1. Warrior Princess Xena*

            Yeah, I almost fell for Cutco when I was in college and desperately job searching. They’d left informational card using a different name in an area where our career center usually put info, and I had not run into an MLM before. Social engineering scammers are very clever.

        2. anonagaintoday*

          Clever social engineering can make even smart people fall victim. But ignoring training and protocols is a problem.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Seconding this: The scam is a problem, but the willingness to skirt protocols not once but twice, the second time after what sounds like thorough training, is a huge problem.

        Firing someone sucks but in instances like this were people are given opportunities and the tools to not get fired and then actively ignore them, there’s not much else you can do. She’s responsible for her own behavior; this isn’t something that just happened to her.

    3. August Twelfth*

      You sound very compassionate. From your description, her separation is entirely her fault. The company sounds lenient by keeping her on after the first scam. If it helps, please know that keeping people on a staff who need to be separated is harmful to all the other employees. You are benefitting your team by completing this duty.

      Hopefully you’ll feel better with time. Hang in there, because we all need compassionate managers!

    4. calvin blick*

      Take a selfie of yourself crying and post a self-congratulatory note on LinkedIn. What could go wrong?

    5. Babyfaced Crone*

      I’m sorry, that entire situation sucks. You know it had to be done, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m in a different but adjacent boat right now, trying to nudge along a separation agreement with an employee who has decided to leave after being presented with a performance improvement plan. I regret that this is the outcome, but there’s no good path forward with this person and their continued presence on the team is making their colleagues frustrated and miserable. No one has confidence in the quality of their work or faith that their work is actually getting done. Every day feels like we’re just waiting to find out what else they messed up that someone else will have to fix.

      So my advice to you is to consider what your ex-employee’s work life would have been like if your company had not made the call to fire her. Her egregious mistakes would continue to hang over her head and affect relationships with colleagues as well as management decisions over work assignments. It wouldn’t be a pleasant environment for anybody. The circumstances of her departure may make it more difficult to work in your field, but it sounds like she might not be well suited to it. And identifying this misalignment between her chosen field and her abilities so early in her career could end up being a good thing, giving her the chance to find something that will suit her better in the long term.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      It’s never easy, even when the reason for it is really clear; even when it’s not someone you even like. Whenever I have to fire someone, I practice some self-care after. Take a quick walk, grab a special drink, etc. It doesn’t make me feel any better about firing someone, but it gives me some time to process on my side before diving back into other work.

      What does help is reminding yourself that it was the right decision (even if it sucks). It’s not good for the company, you, her coworkers, and even her if those issues were allowed to continue and she was provided training and the opportunity to improve.

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

      “She did not take it well” is a clue, though. It sounds like you caught her emotions–completely natural. But. A reasonable person would fully expect to be fired in these circumstances. She shouldn’t be rehired. She shouldn’t work in this industry if she’s prone to making repeat 6-figure mistakes. She feels bad now but clearly she needs to be in an entirely new line of work, and maybe this firing and getting frozen out of her industry will be the kick she needs to find something more suitable and sustainable for her.

    8. Just a thought*

      Terminating people often isn’t easy, but what I’ve shared with managers is generally we don’t fire people, they fire themselves. This employee disregarded important policies and protocols that had a major impact on the company. It’s ok to feel bad about the affect on her personally, but your company made a sound decision.

      Empathy is good – just don’t let it cloud your judgement :)

    9. Robin Ellacott*

      I always feel bad too. Usually I make sure beforehand that I’m really clear in my head about the reasons for firing and the steps that were taken to avoid it. But that only helps so much because you can know it’s the right thing to do, and still have a ton of empathy for them.

      There was one firing meeting which I knew would be especially difficult (the person was being fired for bullying, so the decision was unambiguous, but they ALSO really needed the job and had some other problems). As predicted they were very emotional and denied everything, which left us basically saying “nevertheless.”

      In that case I told my best friend that it was going to be a rough end to the day and made advance plans to meet her for dinner right after. It really helped to talk through it briefly and then get distracted by other stuff, rather than going home rewriting the conversation in my head over and over. I wouldn’t have reached out after to make plans because I was all jangled up, but already having the dinner date pushed me to go.

      I hope this stays a rare thing for you – it’s always pretty awful.

    10. HR Exec Popping In*

      There really are no tips or tricks. And it should feel bad, because it always sucks. My only advice is to feel what you feel and understand that the person was fired not because of you, but because of them. Also, it is just a job. While it is not pleasant for you or for them, you will both be fine. In fact, hopefully the person will learn from this experience and apply it moving forward.

      1. Chris too*

        I think you *should* feel bad, but not because you did the wrong thing! This person deserved to be fired.

        You’re a human being and it’s obvious all your emotions are working properly. When people get so used to upsetting others that it doesn’t bother them, that’s when something is wrong.

    11. Maggie*

      How did your company not remove any access she had to transfer larger sums of money after the first time!!

    12. Not So NewReader*

      This is a very good example where doing the right thing can make a person feel horrible.

      1) This is your job. You did your job correctly. You are paid to represent the company. Worse yet if you did not fire her, then they would probably fire you also.

      2) We can’t save all of them. Heaven knows we want to. But some people can be self-defeating. That has nothing to do with us.

      3) It’s not just about you and her. Your crew needs to see you being a responsible leader. No means no. No does not mean keep doing it. You can’t sacrifice everyone else just to stop one person’s tears. That is not fair to the others.

      4) Firing sucks and always will. Can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I let it teach me to be more candid in the moment. I don’t think you have this problem. But if you look around you might find some learning that resonates with you and you can make an extra effort to apply that learning. For me, when I had to tell people NO/STOP, I would add, “If you do this again, I cannot help you. The rules are such that I have to let you go. I will not be able to advocate for you at all. I will not be able to intervene on your behalf.” For the most part, talk like this snapped people into reality if they were not already there.

      5) Spend more time appreciating the wins when they happen. When individuals or the group has a success, spend time thinking about how cool that is to counter balance how upsetting this is.

    13. Books and Cooks*

      I still remember the name of the first person I ever had to fire, and it was over twenty years ago. This was her “final out” after three strikes for the same offense–an offense I thought was rather minor, really, but rules are rules, and that was only the three previous for which she’d been officially written up. What made it worse was that I understood why she’d done it.

      It was also my very first solo shift as manager, which was fun. /s

      She cried, too. Silently. Just looking at me, with a single tear running down her cheek. It was awful. I managed to wait until she’d left the office before I cried, too.

      But the others here are right. You didn’t fire her; she fired herself. And she wasn’t fired for falling for a scam, or for “trying to help someone,” or “just trying to get the problem solved quickly,” or whatever (obviously I don’t know the details of the scam, so I can’t say exactly what her thought process was). She was fired for deliberately *choosing* to break protocols, bend rules, violate policies. It doesn’t matter if her heart was in the right place or if she was having a bad day or if she was just stupid, frankly; what matters is that she decided The Rules Don’t Apply To Her, or She Knew Best, or Nobody Would Find Out.

      (And if she did it the first time, and this time…who’s to say she hasn’t done it before, only with non-scams? Who’s to say she couldn’t have done it on an “honest” transaction but still have gotten the company in a lot of trouble? When you’re dealing with finances and regulations and such, there are a lot of things that could bite a company on the behind. I don’t know if this situation had the potential to do so, but you do, so you can answer that question. Was her continued employment worth everyone in your office losing their jobs? Worth potentially millions in fines, or huge loss of business from bad publicity? What made her so special, that she could risk everyone else’s jobs and livelihoods–including yours, since you are her manager–just because she didn’t feel like following the protocol? She was happy to see you potentially fired, it seems.

      The above is, obviously, deliberately harsh. I’m not saying it to be hurtful or insulting; I’m saying it because perhaps it is or will be helpful to think of it that way, to look at it that way. In my case, while it still bothers me to think of the woman I fired, it also helps me to think of the number of times she’d been warned, and the fact that by continuing to break the rule, she was taking advantage of the management team. She was shoving work onto her fellow employees. She was deliberately disregarding our attempts to help her, and to ask her to stop doing it. We probably could have worked something out with her if she’d spoken to us, but she didn’t. And the other employees couldn’t see her continue to get away with it, because if they had, they either would have started doing it too, or grown resentful.

      It doesn’t always help…but sometimes it does. I hope it will help you, too. In the end, you didn’t have a choice. None of us like being in that situation. No one wants to be the person who has to do The Thing. But in your case, especially, the situation was so egregious that you had no other option.

      And the fact that she’s only two years out of school not only kind of makes her offense worse–she should be more conscientious, as someone with less experience–but better, too. She still has her whole life ahead of her. As the “hot careers” thread yesterday showed, there are lots of ways to change industries; who knows, maybe she will pivot into something much better for her (because as others have said, if following regulations and procedure is so difficult for her, perhaps this isn’t the industry for her to begin with). She’s not losing decades of career history. Two years is a blip. In ten years, she might be here sharing her, “getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me,” story, and I hope she is. But whether she does or not is not your responsibility. It’s hers, just like keeping her job and performing it correctly was hers. You did your job. That’s all you can do.

      I really hope that helps.

  25. Polly*

    I have a question on how hard to advocate/when to go over my boss’s head when it comes to securing a raise for a good coworker.

    Essentially, someone (“A”) was job-splitting with us along with another (lower-paying) agency under the giant city government umbrella. A came on full-time with us, but didn’t get the pay bump they should’ve. (E.g. we all make $100K a year, the other agency pays $50K a year, and A is still stuck at $75K–though they’re doing the $100K/year work.) I think part of it is that A became full-time during the beginning of COVID and it fell through the cracks — but we’re coming up on 3 years now.

    A is not grandboss’s favorite. As a result, our supervisor — who is a lovely person, but avoids awkward conversations at all costs — is absolutely unwilling to advocate to grandboss for A to get a raise until their work improves. My view is, it’s not a “raise”–it’s where A should’ve been the whole time.

    We are suffering some attrition issues, and A is ready to walk if they don’t get a raise. At what point can or should I go over my boss’s head? (I do know this isn’t my problem to solve, but I’m sort of the quasi-second-in-command and have a lot of goodwill that I’m willing to spend on this — and in my view, supervisor is being completely unreasonable.)

    Anyone have any thoughts? Thank you for reading this far!

    1. yala*

      I don’t know that you can or should go over your boss’s head for this, though I applaud you supporting your coworker getting paid fairly.

      Has A asked for the raise? Have they told your supervisor that they’ll walk unless they’re paid the same rate (tbh, I would also say with BACKPAY)? I think the best support you might be able to provide would be in offering them resources and support when asking for a raise. If the supervisor won’t try to get them paid fairly, THEY may have to go over super’s head, but I don’t know that you doing the same would help much, unless you have a particular sort of sway with the grandboss.

      1. Polly*

        A and supervisor have had multiple conversations about it, but I’m not sure A has actually come out and said they’re willing to walk. I think A is a little afraid to rock the boat right now because they’re just a couple of months out from PSLF eligibility and don’t want to hit any snags.

        A has told me that they’re fine with me raising the issue to supervisor or talking to our coworkers about us all approaching supervisor as a group, though. My concern is that losing another coworker puts us in that death spiral where the rest of us become so overloaded, we all start jumping ship. (This is sort of a plum job, and I think supervisor has a little of that “they could pay us in flowers and rainbows and we’d be lucky to be here” attitude, which is contributing to the reluctance to approach grandboss.) We’ve replaced the two employees who recently left, but it takes SO LONG for someone to get up to speed, they’re basically just a warm body for the first 6-12 months.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          Given their PSLF situation, please make sure you’re continuing to consult A at every step. That’s a big deal!

      2. CatCat*

        All this is right. Support A, but do not go over your supervisor’s head. It is just not your role or your problem to solve (not saying it’s not a problem or won’t become a huge problem for you if/when A leaves, it’s just not yours to solve).

    2. Velociraptor Attack*

      I guess my question is where are you trying to go? You ask about going over your boss’s head, but if their boss is also not interested (and it seems clear they aren’t), are you then going to go over their head as well? Would you avoid all this and go to HR?

      It also seems from your other comment that A is okay with you advocating to the supervisor, I’d also get their blessing if you’re trying to go over anyone’s head. If they’re that close to PSLF, I wouldn’t want anyone going over anyone’s head on my behalf in case it fires back on me.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The best you can do is talk to A about how to advocate for herself.

      I have tried intervening on behalf of peers and that did not always go well. When it goes bad, it can go really bad.

      The best you can do is talk to her. Annnd, keep in the corner of your mind that the way they are treating her could be how they treat you some day.

  26. yala*

    So, just had my annual review and got a successful rating! I’m so happy–I’ve worked really hard this past year, finally gotten an ADHD treatment that mostly works, found some good coping mechanisms, etc. There’s still some bumps, and I don’t think the personality problems will ever really be smoothed over, but I’ve significantly pulled up from where I was before.
    It also means I’m finally eligible for our annual “market adjustment” raise! I could dance! I’ve only had one raise in the 9 years that I worked here (there was a freeze when I first started, and then things got Bumpy for me for a variety of reasons a few years back). It would amount to an extra $20/week, which isn’t much but is still SOMETHING.

    So when my latest paycheck came in the same, I called payroll just to see when it would kick in.

    It kicks in for the next fiscal year.

    Which begins July 1st.

    I’m…kinda furious, honestly. The system of having annual reviews in AUGUST for a raise that won’t kick in until JULY (if it doesn’t get frozen again) just seems ridiculous to the point of being cruel.

    I just want to demand answers of whoever in the state govt made this call. Is it a MERIT increase? If so, then shouldn’t it take effect shortly after the successful review? Is it a Cost of Living/Market increase? If so, then the review shouldn’t MATTER. (I know it doesn’t for city employees.)

    Like just…HOW is this the system? It makes NO sense. If someone retires or leaves or…I dunno, dies in the 11 months between when they earned the raise and when they get it, then just…oh well? If someone has a successful year and then a bad year, they get a raise following the bad year because it’s from two years back?

    I…spent a good bit of yesterday crying and trying not to. Crying over $20/week seems so stupid, but I’m just so frustrated. It’s been years (and there were definitely some extenuating circumstances for some of that). I worked hard. And…it just feels like a slap in the face.

    Like. For pity’s sake. If nothing else, that raise would pay for the meds I need to make my brain work so I can work?

    (nevermind that last year they increased the cost of our insurance by 5%. The raises top out at 4%, but I didn’t even get that, so…yeah. Just. I’m so angry)

    1. Polly*

      That’s ridiculous! I’ve never heard of such a thing…

      The obstinate part of my brain would be tempted to ultra-slow-walk all my work. “Oh, you want speed? That kicks in next fiscal year.” Probably not helpful in reality, though.

      1. yala*

        Lol, probably not. But it does make the effort feel kinda pointless.

        Part of my brain keeps thinking that it’s so utterly stupid that it HAS to be an oversight, but our payroll person says this is how it’s always been, and I don’t know who else to even call about it.

      2. Cataloging Librarian*

        That is pretty typical of academic institutions. The process of reviews and evaluations is so drawn out that the actual behavior that they are praising is separated from the “reward” by months! And they wonder why their 2% and 3% raises don’t have any effect on morale.

        Personally, I believe that the process of evaluation, as we know it, has lost all meaning. We should just save our time.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      You’re not overthinking it. That’s a stupid system and I would strongly consider looking for a place that understands the fact that COL is going up

    3. August Twelfth*

      I am furious on your behalf! How ridiculous :( It’s not stupid to cry over $20 a week, that is meaningful money. I hope things look up for you soon.

        1. yala*

          Nope. Called and went over it with our payroll head yesterday. She was very specific that the raise you would get in 2022 would be a reflection of your performance score in 2021 et al. Went over it a few times, because I legit could not believe it.

            1. The New Wanderer*

              That would have been my first question, is it retroactive? But apparently the performance score in 2022 would result in a raise in 2023. Which is so ridiculous. How long has the schedule worked that way? I can’t believe no one has pushed back on waiting 11 months for their ‘merit’ raise.

              1. WellRed*

                I mean, what if they leave the position in six months? A raise not deposited to your account is … not actually a raise. Is there a union? A contract? Can OP ask a coworker?

                1. Yala*

                  I asked about that first one. They just…don’t get the raise. Because they’re not here anymore.

                  Officially, the term is “market adjustment” (until a few years ago it was “merit increase”) so maybe avoiding the word “raise” is intentional.

                  Payroll said she’d been here 13 years and it’s always been this way (although there was a freeze until 2018 so *shrug*)

                  This is the first any of the coworkers I’ve talked to have heard of it. Tbh, not making a successful review is pretty rare, apparently. For most folks, it’s just rubber stamp. So I guess unless any of them ever had an unsuccessful, it would look like they were getting the raise for the year they just had.

                  There…might be a Union? I’ve reached out to them, but I’m waiting to hear back. But even if there was, I don’t really know what they would do. If it’s ALWAYS been like this, then it’s not very likely to change.

                  Honestly, at this point I would just like to hear the *justification* for setting it up this way.

          1. Formerly in HR*

            I am trying to get my head around this and something still doesn’t make sense. If you had your performance review in August 2022, then it was for the period that started in August 2021 and ended in July 2022 (fiscal x). So any pay increase related to that performance should be apllied in fiscal x +1 (it camnot be apllied in fiscal x, as you haven’t yet been reviewed, although apparently lot of places do give bonues or raises during the year the performance happens). When payroll says this is applied in 2023, it means it would be in fiscal x+2.
            I know you mentioned discussing this with Payroll, is there any documentation (employee manual, internal policies, intranet describing performance review and pay process)? Did you ask other colleagues, who have been there longer, if they know how this works (frame as curiosity/ comparing notes)? Did you go back and ask the manager for clarifications? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at some point misunderstood the whole thing and messed up, or one year they had to waive raises due to budget freeze and then everyone thought the next pay raise was for two years prior.
            When we go through our performance review, we have to do our self evaluation in February (for the fiscal year April – March, so we document things out 11 months in and with one month still to go), then meet with managers in March, then they do some paperwork and their managers do paperwork and HR does paperwork and things get rolled up until reaching ET, where decisions are made/ signed off on. Then decisions are comunicated to us in May (result for fiscal year x, which ended in March, is made known in fiscal year x+1, in May) and pay increases start in June (of fiscal year x+1, two months after the beginning of the fiscal year). Hearing we’d have to wait until fiscal x+2 to get the raise makes no sense, as by then we’d have had another year of work to be reviewed.
            If none of these ends up resolving the situation, I am sorry and I do feel this is abosolute nonsense.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            That’s nonsense. Everywhere I’ve ever worked they either did reviews right before the new fiscal year, so it’d be effective at the begining – which was at most in a month or two OR they did the reviews right after the new fiscal year, and it was retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year. In the latter case the reviews were either close enough to the start that we knew before the first pay period ended, or it was backdated but we’re talking like, 2 pay periods at most. An 11 month offset makes sense to no one.

    4. Just a thought*

      This is total BS. I’m guessing that there’s not much that your supervisor can do about it because it’s a government policy/practice, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask boss.

      Boss, I’ve been working here for 9 years and in that time I’ve only gotten one raise. I know there are reasons for that, but I’m wondering if there’s a way that the raise for my recent performance could go into effect now instead of next year. It’s very demoralizing and demotivating that we have to wait so long to be rewarded for our performance.

      Probably won’t make a difference, but worth a shot.

      P.S. Congratulations on the improvements you’ve made.

      1. yala*

        Considering that my supervisor tried to get me gone last year, and seems to also dislike me on a *personal* level, that would probably just be more demoralizing.

        But thanks! It’s really wild what the right medication and tools will do. I’m kinda tossing around making a survey to find out how many other folks in my field struggle with ADHD, to see what other tools there may be, and how we could all potentially help each other.

    5. Katie*

      It makes sense in the sense that your company is cheap. If I read correctly they really don’t give raises in general (9 years to give you a $1000?!). They are doing their best to not pay more.
      Step 1) Rarely give people raises.
      Step 2)Give them small raises if they qualify
      Step 3)Give the raise a year after they qualify
      Step 4)If ‘economic’ anything happens, utilize that to freeze wages both for the previous wage increase that hasn’t gone into effect and the next.

      1. yala*

        They do give raises, but there was a freeze until a few years ago (because our state does not really allocate an awful lot of money for our institution). I got one raise then, and after that was dealing with problems on multiple fronts that affected my performance and my reviews, so that’s why I haven’t had one in the past few years.

        But yeah, I am pretty worried that #4 will happen before this time next year. There’s definitely a non-zero possibility.

    6. Juneybug*

      I agree with everyone here – this doesn’t sound right.
      As others have said, check with your Union and ask your Payroll for policy.
      I would also check with your state’s Office of Financial Management and Department of Labor for their take on this situation.
      Our state did annual reviews in March-April with due dates of May so pay raises went in effect July 1. Maybe your supervisor turned in your review late and payroll is covering for them by moving your raise out to next fiscal year?
      Please come back and tell us what happened.

  27. Trina*

    My workplace (public library) started adjusting pay a few months ago to match market rate/in response to the Great Resignation. As a result, I got a small bump – which is great, more money! However, my new salary is the new minimum starting salary, while I was hired on in the middle of the starting salary band. (Without disclosing actual amounts, if original band was X to X+5K, I was hired at X+2.5K; the new band is X+5K to X+10K, and I am now making X+5K.)

    On the one hand, I feel like I have a clear argument for asking for at least X+7.5K – if the experience I had at hire was enough for a mid-band salary, then that same experience plus a year in the current position should still be mid-band, if not more. On the other hand, these salary adjustments are not a one-and-done process – the bump I got was a first pass, and they are supposedly doing a further evaluation in November.

    I’m pretty sure there’d be no downside to asking (we have a very supportive admin, so I don’t think I’d be risking any political capital), but it would take a lot of mental energy that I’m having trouble summoning if a further raise might just happen anyway. So… thoughts? Motivation help?

    1. August Twelfth*

      I am here to motivate you to ask! You can do it! You are worth it! They could see your request and think “oh duh, of course, Trina is awesome and we need to keep her!” (They could also think “we have no money, but now that I know Trina is interested in a raise, I will keep that in mind for November.”)

      Good luck :)

    2. academic library*

      We are currently in the middle of the same thing at my library! It is so frustrating, because I’m in the same position as you are. No advice, but definite commiseration; due to other factors, I’m taking the “wait it out” approach, but I’m not happy about it. Plus, it doesn’t account for the fact that I’ve gotten a lot of excellent reviews over the years, and thus gotten merit raises….but am still sitting at the bottom of the pay range due to them dragging their heels. And because we’re such a large institution, the “dragging their heels” part of all this has been going on for 2 years. That’s two years where I could/should have been earning up to $10,000 more per year than I actually did, if they’d been able to adjust us all to the proper levels when they originally did adjustments.

      Ok this turned kind of ranty and angry. All of that being said, further evaluation in November isn’t that far away!

    3. yala*

      There’s no reason not to ask now! The raise may happen anyway, but better to do what you can to make sure you’re on the radar as someone whose previous status should entitle them to a higher pay rate.

      The worst they can say is “We’ll review that in November.”

      Good luck, and congrats! Public library raises are hard to come by!

    4. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      Do we work for the same organization?

      I’m kidding. But based on my experience with my municipal employer doing the exact same thing on the same timeline, it will not hurt to ask but also the likelihood of something changing for you on a different timeline than the whole org which is likely filled with people in the same position is very, very low. The budget was passed with X amount they can use to address compression so there has to be a process of deciding how to use that equitably.

      But it’s a good idea to get your manager to document your request and your justification now. It might make you one of the first people to have your compression addressed when that happens!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Ask! We just did a band adjustment and everyone in the roles that got adjusted got whatever raise it took to keep them at the same percentage of the band they were at before as part of the process. (So I just got to tell my whole team this week that they get a raise as of Sunday, which was nice :) They were all pretty stoked.)

    6. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I don’t know if this is actual advice, because I often do things that are a bit odd within mainstream corporate culture, but what I have done in the past (also working for a public library) is emailed my manager with my concerns not just for myself but for my coworkers. I was in a stable financial situation and the particular way the library was screwing up our paychecks wasn’t going to hurt me, but I knew that at the time many of my coworkers had kids to support, medical bills to pay, etc. If you feel undermotivated to advocate for yourself but feel a little bit activist-y when it comes to thinking about your coworkers who are in your same position but might have more financial struggles and feel less empowered to speak up, then use that as your motivation to say something. If it were me, I would say something like, “Is bumping people down to the lower band the new policy? Because a lot of people are still struggling financially what with inflation and rising rents, and that doesn’t seem like it’s consistent with the way we as an organization should be treating our workers.” Maybe more diplomatic or more formal (or less formal if I have a good rapport with my manager and want it to come off as “I’m just curious” and not “I’m making this A Thing”).

      Again, this may sound completely bonkers to most people, but my formative job-years were spent in a collectively managed food co-op and those instincts die hard. And I’ve never been fired for speaking up like this in other jobs, and in some cases it seemed like it did actually spur management towards more equitable treatment of folks. So– take this non-advice with many grains if salt, but also– sometimes it feels good to stand up for something.

  28. MigraineMonth*

    Has anyone else been attached to a never-ending project or have tips on project-managing-up? Almost two years ago I was assigned implementing a pretty simple project that should have taken 2 months. It’s been in design-by-committee purgatory; the project lead wants all 7 stakeholder organizations to sign off on any design change, despite the fact that only one of the stakeholders will be a user.

    I’ve been mining the situation for as much humor as I can, and I’ve explained the situation to my supervisor so they know it’s not me dragging my feet. What frustrates me the most is that every 2-3 months, the project lead suddenly decides that the project is urgent and we need to be all-hands-on-deck in order to… schedule another meeting. Whenever I say something like “I’m out for surgery for a few weeks” or “I’m busy with work for [other department], but I can do that next week”, the project lead gets frustrated and snippy with the delay, but when I return I discover they still haven’t given me the information I need to complete the task.

    Any suggestions on how to handle this ridiculousness, other than developing a stand up comedy routine?

    1. August Twelfth*

      Does the Project Lead’s boss know why the project isn’t done? If yes, comedy routine. If no, maybe it’s time to make them aware (kindly, of course).

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Yes, this is another time when direct communication is completely reasonable as long as it’s not rude. There is absolutely nothing unreasonable about a “we’ve done this three times and it ended up being a false alarm, what has changed?” or a general “we’ve been changing the front page for a year, can we finally agree on a finalized version so we can sign off on items and move along?”

      And if they keep pretending things are an emergency, just don’t react. Again, it can be passive aggressive when you’re wrong about the situation, but on a project like this, they probably won’t even ask why you’re not reacting like it’s an emergency. If they do, just gently remind them that the project is basically stalled despite the “emergencies” and then be quiet and let them answer

      There are times when these things can be passive aggressive and people write things online they’d never say IRL, but in this case, I’ve seen shy reserved people say these things and it’s not been a deal at all

      1. MigraineMonth*

        The first few months I put together some design documents, follow up on things that I needed but hadn’t been delivered, and reached out to the users. The project lead was Not Amused and made very clear That Isn’t How We Do Things Here; we would set up a meeting including every stakeholder or not at all. She even told my then-supervisor off for letting me go behind her back (while also CC’ing her on all my communications).

        You’re right about how to respond to the sudden bouts of urgency; I really need to just be a Gray Rock. Curse my melodramatic tendencies!

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          I feel for you. I am trying to launch some new products at my current job and it’s dragging on becuase some parties don’t do their part, but it’s considered “rude” to call it out directly.

          I think the main thing is to just not care that much. Make my boss follow up on it and ask me why nothing is happening. It’s totally not my personality, but sometimes you are indeed not in charge of a project but that also means not in charge of it not moving

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            also I have to add, if someone causes a bunch of delays, and you point it out, and get pushback, it doesn’t mean you are wrong. It just means they don’t like hearing it which may or may not be useful information

          2. MigraineMonth*

            I’ve been trying to flip it in my mind from “this project is taking 8 times as long as it should” to “I’m able to keep this entire department happy by just going to a meeting every couple of months, which gives me lots of time to work on actually urgent projects.” I don’t know if that would work in your situation; it is contingent on no one actually caring if the project gets done.

    3. Ranon*

      You can say things like “I’m happy to attend if x,y, and z information is available, I’m available on these dates. If that information is not available I’d advise postponing the meeting as we are unlikely to be able to progress without it. Can you give me an ETA on that information?”

      Comedy routines also help, you can keep people pretty entertained with the long saga of a project never effing making progress if you’re funny about it.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Good call, I should be trying to solicit deadlines. The project itself seems to have no timeline (despite my assertion that I could implement it in less than 3 months), but that doesn’t mean the parts can’t have deadlines.

        I’ve been refining my comedy routine as this has developed; I think I can get it down to a tight 5 minutes with a bit more practice.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Ask your supervisor if they can do something. Two years is a lot of wasted payroll. And I would say that out loud.

      1. The Eternal Project*

        2 years would be great. We’ve been working on a project for 8 years now and the timeline just got extended another year, mininum.

        For a project originally planned to take 18 months. Ever-shifting requirements and changing vendors (the original vendor’s product did not actually do what they claimed it could) keep lengthening the time it takes to complete the project.

  29. ABCDEF*

    After a slow job search that I haven’t been prioritizing but was constantly hanging over my head, I have an offer I’m excited about! It’s a good offer, but I’m too nervous to negotiate, and I’m so over my current role that I need to accept. It will be great for my career, but I am having a bunch of imposter syndrome going into it.

    I have gotten a lot of praise at my current job, but I can’t tell if either 1) there’s no room for me to grow, which is why I am still stuck with really basic tasks (except when there’s a crunch and my grandboss dumps a bunch of work outside of my role in my lap), or 2) they have doubts about my work and performance, which is why I’m shut out of higher level work. I just want to do well at this new role, and I’m nervous I won’t be good enough.

    1. August Twelfth*

      Nice work! Congrats on the job offer, and super congrats that it’s one that you’re excited about.

      I know imposter syndrome can be had to shake. So, have you considered 3) your current job knows exactly how awesome you are and want to keep you where you are so they can use you for the basic tasks they know you’ll do correctly and efficiently on a deadline?

      That’s what it sounds like to me. :) Good luck at the new job!

      1. ABCDEF*

        Thank you! Ha, yes, I have also considered your third option. That one really bugs me. I suppose I move on and see if I sink or swim!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      They sound like users to me.

      They don’t want to hire/train someone for your position so you can just stay put. But since you are not that busy, you can do this extra stuff. How handy is that.

      Users. Say bye-bye and don’t give it another thought.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Or 3).you’re so good at what you do that they don’t want to think about you moving on. That backfire is on them, if you truly want to have the chance to move up.
      I know someone who when she resigned said please call me when you promote [OtherPerson] because that’s what I want to be doing in a few years. (Unfortunately for her dream of that role, the group was restructured and the job went away. Fortunately for her reality, she had already left so she wasn’t caught in a layoff.)

  30. Anony*

    Looking for tips for business trips of about 3-5 days when you have a baby under age one who breastfeeds! I have managed to avoid travel so far, but baby is now six months old and my field requires it. I am literally kept up with anxiety at night over this.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you have extra supply you can pump and freeze. (Then whoever is home can thaw and feed the lad). Supplementing with formula is an option (or exclusively!). Just test out formula etc in advance, sometimes there’s allergies. You may also want to “pump and dump” while traveling, just to keep supply rates. Mommy blogs and such will likely have better/more specific advice than a work blog here.

    2. RagingADHD*

      You don’t have to dump! Breastmilk can be shipped, and your employer may reimburse all or part of the cost as a necessary travel expense.

      MilkStork is just one service that specializes in shipping for work travel.

    3. Pop*

      You can definitely do it!! I was anxious in advance of my trip, which was only 3 days. Some things that helped:
      – The book “Work, Pump, Repeat.” it’s definitely a bit overkill BUT it was super helpful in thinking through some things. For me, how to fly with my frozen milk was the thing that gave me a lot of anxiety in particular. The book helped me reframe success as “keeping my supply up so I can breastfeed when I’m home” and so I felt better about the possibility of needing to dump or lose some of my milk.
      – Is there anything that you think might help, in any aspect? Extra pump parts, extra care for your kiddo if you have a partner who will be solo parenting, etc? Spend money on that thing, even if you usually wouldn’t.
      – Depending on your freezer stash, consider supplementing with formula if you don’t already, even if it’s just a little a day so you have some breastmilk for when you’re away. I instead tried to squeeze in an extra pumping session by staying up late every night for months. It was too much but I was pretty stubborn. Getting back from my trip made me let go of this pumping session and I felt SO much better.
      – If you can, do a test run – stay a night in a hotel or with a friend a few weeks in advance. I felt much less anxious about pumping around coworkers, etc because I had just done it a bit before on a trip with friends.

      1. Anony*

        Thanks for all this advice and support! I think I’m going to start supplementing the day after he turns 6 months in a few days. I’m proud of the six months we’ve done so far and think you’re right that I can make peace with dumping milk because my end goal is to keep supply up.

    4. An Admin*

      The company I work for provides Milk Stork as a benefit to traveling mothers and I have heard nothing but good things from the colleagues I have traveled with who have used it!

    5. Ann Perkins*

      I’ve travelled while breastfeeding and pumping – it’s doable but takes a lot of planning! If I didn’t have a direct flight I had to make sure my layover was long enough to get to a pumping room, though some people just go ahead and pump on a plane to save time. Hotels will usually store your milk for you but ask ahead of time. When I was heading back and had milk to bring back, I kept it frozen as it’s easier to get through TSA that way. You can also bring extra ziplocs to get more ice on the other side of security if needed. Also you may want to bring a manual pump if you typically nurse. I had a hard time getting the pump to get out as much as my baby typically does but a manual pump can be more easily used in the shower to relieve a clog.

  31. Anon for this one*

    I was in this thread last week asking about the publishing industry and received some excellent recs for self-publishing advice blogs (thank you!).

    Folks who self-pub or hybrid publish, do you have any career stories you’d like to share? Successes, failures, things you wish you’d known when you first started out, things that have surprised you even as veteran writers? Things you wish people in the industry would talk about more?

    1. Sloanicotosa*

      I am dipping my toes into hybrid. Basically, self publishing in theory (if you use that blog advice and take it all seriously, particularly the ads/marketing) can pay you faster and more regularly, while traditional publishing typically gives you more up front, at least if you’re lucky. My main issues with hybrid are 1) agency/editor contracts that try to preclude what else I can do – tricky to navigate as I was not pursuing hybrid when I first signed with my agent and 2) I don’t want my self-pub numbers to be used against me, particularly if we end up signing a trad off from an Amazon imprint (which seems increasingly common in my set these days, especially Thomas and Mercer), so I want to be more anonymous in my self-pub, which is difficult-to-impossible.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Oof, great point about the agency/editor contracts. I’m looking at pursuing hybrid myself but also want to maintain as much anonymity as possible when it comes to self-pub. I’ve long accepted that I won’t be able to support myself through writing alone, and I have a FT job that I love, so the tiniest part of me is tempted to write my novels, vanity publish them, and leave a handful of copies around town like a weird cryptid.

        1. Sloanicotosa*

          It seems like for folks who start with hybrid in mind, they just make it a point to negotiate in their agency contacts up front, and then ensure the agent keeps that clause in a trad pub contract – usually by sticking to a separate genre / penname and then limiting the options clause around that. Unfortunately I started as trad-only so this would becoming a negotiating point to reopen the agency contract now.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      You asked me last week if I interact/overlap with a lot of trad or hybrid authors and I did not see it until just now, sorry, and comments on that thread are closed.

      I’m not sure what you wanted to know, but I do know several trad pub authors—mostly horror/fantasy—whom I met as a fan at cons and some indie ones as well. I’ve also met people through online workshops and connected with them on Twitter. Gabino Iglesias does a Friday Reads thread every week where he’ll retweet you. Joe Lansdale (I nearly died when he followed me, he’s a biggie), John Hornor Jacobs, and Kealan Patrick Burke, to name a few. John is repped by an agency I would kill to get into. NYT bestseller Jonathan Maberry does writer workshops that cost very little and all the money goes to charity. I took two: The Writers Life (business) and Writing Fight and Action Scenes (self-explanatory; it helped me with a big scene in Confluence).

      I did NOT want to go indie; I only did it to get Tunerville out there because I was tired of people asking where they could buy it. However, I’m learning skills I can use at a day job like Photoshop (with freeware but same concepts), video editing, etc. And I like knowing that if something I feel is good doesn’t land with an agent or small publisher, I can put it out on my own. I still want to publish traditionally at some point.

      The beauty of this community is that successful creators are happy give up-and-comers helpful advice, like with Jonathan’s workshops—I took one on marketing with Gabino as well. I also went to a creator convention in OldCity this June with a robust writer’s section and came away with enough to feel like I can have a table of my own soon. Well worth spending my temp job money. Plus cons are fun. Nerds are my people! :) They’re also great places to network.

      I wrote a blog post about it at aelizabethwest dot com if you are interested. There’s another post called “What I’ve Learned (So Far) from Self-Publishing My Book.” I wish I’d known more of the stuff I learned at the con when I started. But I published right before the pandemic and right after I moved, and this particular con did not even exist at the time.

  32. DarwinDog*

    A general plea to job seekers. Please, please, please don’t lie/fudge/hedge on your application about your immigration status in hopes that if you get into the room for an interview the interviewer will be so wowed by you that they will be able to completely overturn their company’s policy on sponsorship. There are places that I have some wiggle room (amount of experience, education level, etc), but this is not one of them, especially when hiring for an entry level position.

    I had an interview this week with someone who travelled multiple hours to get to me, and hadn’t accurately communicated their visa status for the questions during the application submittal or during the prescreen phone call. When the interview was almost complete they brought up their immigration status, and mentioned that they would require sponsorship, which is something my company is not currently able to do. It was a waste of my time, my colleagues’ time, and the interviewee’s time.

  33. EngGirl*

    Kind of frustrated today. I had a phone interview last week that went really well and they said they wanted to bring me in for an in person interview and I’d here back by this Monday. I never heard anything and left a message Tuesday. Still nothing. Not sure if we’re too far off on salary or what, but I feel like this one is essentially gone at this point

    1. Mimmy*

      Alison is always emphasizing that sometimes the process takes longer than expected. It’s possible the individual was unexpectedly out this week or decisions are getting tied up in red tape. Believe me, I get the frustration and I wish employers would be more responsive when delays occur. I would try–hard as it is–to mentally move on and be pleasantly surprised if they do get back to you.

      1. EngGirl*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m going with. It just sucks. I’m very much aware of it when I’m hiring so it bothers me a lot lol

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Personally, I always add a week on to whatever hiring managers say about next steps. “You’ll hear from us by Monday, August 8” I translate to “by Monday, August 15.” Sometimes (often?) it takes longer than even one extra week, but I find that expecting (at least) one extra week lessens my frustration with delayed responses.

  34. Enormous Frog*

    My boss is making an absolute mess of our department budget numbers and I’m worried he’s going to do lasting damage at this point. As one example (of several) he’s taken our total transactions over the past twelve months with one supplier and presented that as if it was the cost for only a part of their work – essentially in his numbers he has tripled the cost for that particular item. As a result of the inflated numbers he’s been told to reduce costs and is now looking at alternative suppliers, potentially ending a decade long relationship with one of our most reliable (and relatively affordable) suppliers because he doesnt seem to understand what they actually do (I have literally explained to him what they do repeatedly and he always forgets and asks again a few months later).

    The problem is that I only know about these issues because I’ve seen it on stuff left on the printer, and over his shoulder while standing at his desk having a conversation , and through our extremely thin meeting room walls. Can I approach him with information that I’m not actually supposed to have? Should I be going to our budgeting manager separately to course correct? Do I wait until it comes to me as a more official instruction before pushing back?

    1. OhKay*

      Eesh, as a finance/budget person I would absolutely want to know. Is the budget manager reviewing this material in any way?

      1. Enormous Frog*

        Sorry for the delayed response. We’re a small company so the manager on the finance end is our brand new finance director (we’ve never had budgets before), who has a huge amount on her plate and isn’t yet very familiar with everything we do, so I don’t expect her to have the time or the knowledge to dig too deeply – I think it’s going to have to be me.

    2. Olivia*

      Ooooof.

      If this information is going to make YOUR life hell, or if you think this kind of intervention falls into your job description (PA, editor, etc), then it’s be worth bringing up – “I ran across this on the copier/overheard your comment to Barb. I didn’t mean to be nosy but just wanted to remind you how our account with Supplier X works. I think it might actually change your math!” And escalate as needed in the same ‘of COURSE this was just a casual error, I’m just looking out for the company’ tone.

      If it’s not going to make YOUR life hell, you might consider what the fallout would be of just… letting him step in it and lose the supplier. Sounds like you’re doing extra work to shore up his failures, and it might be healthy for him and his manager to handle the resulting issues themselves.

      1. Enormous Frog*

        Sorry for the delayed reply, I just wanted to say thanks for this! It’s definitely going to be a mess for me if it goes wrong – I’m overwhelmingly the one involved in getting this work done so if we were to change supplier I’d be the one bringing a new supplier up to speed on our requirements and then dealing with our own customers’ issues if/when there is fallout from them not having the experience and knowledge. One of those “not my business, not my failure, definitely my stress” situations.

        As it happens my manager is out of the office today, so I’m thinking of adapting your language with a “finance mentioned some budget information about our account with Supplier X but the numbers sounded off, here’s what I do with them and the numbers I’ve got in case it changes things!”.

  35. Anon Today*

    I am going through a divorce and planning to go back to my maiden name, after 20 years of my married name. I’ve been at my company for 25 years so almost my entire professional career has been under my married name. Any advice on how to navigate this change with my coworkers and overall network? What about LinkedIn?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Anon Today (Formerly Anon Yesterday) on your resume and in your email signature etc. LinkedIn I’d see if you can add it in parenthesis or not, might need to add it like a 3rd name Anon Yesterday Today for awhile then drop to Anon Today. Name changes happen a decent amount, work just announce it (you can announce the divorce or not at the same time). Talk to HR/IT too, paperwork changes and how your name appears in the system, you could start with your manager, “hey im changing my name, should I reach out to HR/IT or does that go through you?”

      Sorry about the divorce!

    2. Bethie*

      Just to commiserate – divorcing after 18 years! I decided to keep my married name – I have a child still in middle school. I see alot of teachers at my sons school who have recently gotten married so their emails are their maiden names still, but they go by their married name. Not sure if that would cause more confusion for you though.

    3. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      Changing your name should be the same process no matter the reason and frankly the reason should never come up. There’s a lot of good resources on the internet targeting toward trans folk that would apply to protecting your privacy while making this change.

      When I changed my name (I did it because it was funny, not any other reason) my manager gave me the option of having them address it privately with my coworkers and the department leadership, having them make a public announcement, giving me the space to make a public announcement, or straight up just never mentioning it. I went for the public announcement but my trans friends have had a lot of success with having their manager address it privately with others. It saves them the pain of someone asking insensitive questions, like you might receive.

      As for LinkedIn and elsewhere, I’d recommend just changing it and sending quick emails/DMs to the people who are closer connections like “Just letting you know, you can now reach me at ____@____.___ and you’ll see that my name is now ____ ________. I didn’t want you to think you were getting communications from a stranger!” and just act scandalized if they ask inappropriate questions about why you changed it.

      Sorry about your divorce and I hope this was helpful.

    4. Generic Name*

      I got a new email in my original last name (I refuse to use the term “maiden”) the instant my divorce was final (I work for a small company, so I just called our IT guy). I had my old email forward to my new address and put a note under my signature that said, “please note that my email has changed”. That kindof was it? I have a first name that is on the more unusual end, and the last names sound similar, so frankly not many people even noticed. I had one person congratulate me (assuming I got married).

    5. I take tea*

      I just want to say that I have several colleagues who have changed their name (or names) for different reasons, and you don’t really have to go into detail. In our organisation (A couple of hundred persons) it’s usually done by sending out a general e-mail that states:

      “Hi, my name will henceforward be Warbelina Maidenname, not Warbelina Exname. My new email is Warbelina.Maidenname at organisation com. Thank you.”

      If you want to fend off misguided congratulations, you can of course say “I have gone back to my maidenname”, but if someone is really curious, officer gosssip will probably take care of it. Mostly we stumble for some weeks at the most, and then we forget what the name used to be. Or I do, at least.

      If it is a smaller org, or a tight team, this is nice to do at the end of some general information meeting.

      I think that the main point is to just treat it matter of factly, people take cues from you.

      Sending good vibes in these trying times.

    6. Anon Around*

      I also had a 20+ year career and all social media in my married last name and then changed it. Happened to not be to my original name, but the similarities stand. I found that using the term “legal name change” worked great at heading off questions, along with a breezy tone like Alison often recommends. “I’ve had a legal name change and you’ll see me as Anon Around on your LinkedIn feed” – make sure you have a profile pic that is clearly you and this will probably be a non-issue. “I’ve had a legal name change and my email will now be blahblah” – along with the forwarding suggestion in other responses, just start responding from the new email and this will take care of itself. A few people asked nosy questions, and I could explain more or stick with “no big drama, just a legal name change” and a subject change, depending on who was asking and how much I wanted to go into it.

      This and all the other paperwork was SO worth it to feel like my name reflected my present and future, not my past.

  36. The waiting is the hardest part*

    How long does it normally take to go from decision to hire someone to making an offer?

    I had a final interview last Friday and they asked for references Monday morning. Monday late afternoon they confirmed they had completed all my references. Radio silence since then and I’m getting antsy!

    Is it normal for it to take a week+ to get from reference check to offer or should I assume I’m not getting the job? This is in local government for a fairly senior position if that makes any difference.

    1. Minimal Pear*

      It can take much longer than you’d expect–at a previous job, someone’s official offer letter (they’d already gotten the verbal offer, so it was JUST the letter) was held up for a week because of a disagreement about the paperwork.

    2. Pass the Just-For-Men*

      Oof, that stinks. I feel for you. It’s probably fine. It’s summer vacation now and people take long weekends starting as early as Wednesday.

      I’d follow up Monday/Tuesday if you haven’t heard anything. Good luck!!!

    3. SansaStark*

      This just happened to us on the hiring end and I felt so badly for the candidate after I heard about it. Our HR person was working on this during their vacation so communication was a little spotty. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening to you, but it is very probably NOT a reflection on how excited the hiring manager is to bring you onboard!

      1. Esmeralda*

        Yeah, this can happen at every step. We got stuck at one point — our HR person said, I can see the request in the system, it’s waiting for High-Mucky-Muck to ok it, but it’s Friday in the summer.

        Sigh. Pushed everything back a week.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      In government it often seems to take forever. (With the caveat I am federal, so a much larger bureaucracy.) I wouldn’t assume anything – the hiring manager makes a selection and turns it over to the HR team. They take it from there – how long it takes may depend on how many actions are piled up before yours. But until you have an offer in hand, keep looking because it also takes them a very long time to send rejection letters.

      Fingers crossed for you…

    5. Nesprin*

      At my slow, government adjacent institution? About 2-4 weeks. One week for the offer paperwork to ferment, and then another week for a key signatory to be out, bickering about title/payscale, filling in missing bits of the reference review forms, then a week for all the people who have to sign to sign.

  37. Freelance Blues*

    I need to get better at my hour estimates as a freelancer. In my field, bids are typically an hourly rate and the number of hours we expect a job to take (“not to exceed”). I tend to be an optimist and have worked on increasing my #hours, although of course I worry it will get me rejected for jobs I really want – I’m still gaining experience and not in a position where I have many many offers and can be turning everybody away. But what I need to capture is contingencies and I can’t figure out how. Here’s a recent example: a client approached me asking to prepare a summary report from some data on a tight turnaround. I looked over the data summary and the report template and thought I could do it in maybe 5 hours, so I doubled that amount due to optimism. 10 hours seemed almost too much for a simple task, but that was my bid and they accepted. Well, once I was transferring the data into my crunching, I realized their information was screwed up, not summarized correctly in the tables they had sent me due to summing errors in the formula, and I had to redo all the summary steps. It took me a long time just to figure out where the error was and why my numbers weren’t matching – probably close to five hours just to straighten that out and be back to where I thought I was starting at. So as it turns out, I should have bid 15 hours, or 20 to be absolutely safe. But, if there hadn’t been flaws in the data, 10 hours would have been about right amount. This seems to be the rule more often than the exception. I worry clients would be very turned off be bids that say, “work, 10 hours, contingency, 10 extra hours.” Can I ask how are other people handling this?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Consider charging a preliminary fee for an assessment of the job. In one area of my law practice, the work is very highly regulated, the applications to the administrative agency in question are complicated, and there can be multiple ways of approaching the client’s goals. There can be a huge “don’t know what we don’t know” factor in the client’s materials and background. So we have an initial intake meeting, then we take all their stuff and spend 5-10 hours, on a flat fee, figuring out what ways we might handle their application. We present the result of the assessment to the client. Then the client tells us what they want us to do, and we give them an estimate for the application that we will make to the administrative agency. The application itself costs 5 or 8 times the amount of the assessment, depending on the type of application, and based on our experience of how much time that application usually takes.

    2. Riot Grrrl*

      There are a couple of different issues happening here. I’ll start with the narrow case. In the example you describe, it seems to me the first thing to do is stop as soon as you realize the data is corrupted/incorrect and contact the client and let them know there’s a problem with what they gave you. If it’s not already in your standard contract, you might consider including a clause that specifies the client’s responsibilities. Among these would be that their materials are sound, complete, up-to-date, in good working order, and so forth. If they fail on their end, then you now have a different job from the one you agreed to, which requires a reassessment of the hours.

      The broader issue, however, is estimating time for the unknown. After a few jobs, you probably already have some sense of the typical amount of overage. If you haven’t already calculated that number, keep an eye on the issue and calculate that number. It will fall to within a fairly predictable percentage range. For example, 20%-40%. Then I’d simply add, say, 30% to every job estimate. Some will come slightly under and some will come slightly over. But if you’ve been honest with yourself about the overage rate, those should more-or-less balance out.

      1. Imprudence*

        The other thing is to charge a higher rate. So 10 hours x higher rate is what you get, which equates to 15 hours at an acceptable lower rate, so you don’t mind so much when the job overruns.

    3. Grey Panther*

      Been there, Freelance Blues, and I can commiserate. Here’s my usual response to that kind of situation:

      – As soon as I start seeing the problem, I skim through the rest of the project to see if the difficulties are more than a one-shot thing (say, one mess-up right at the beginning of the project).

      – If the problem occurs only once in the project, then I just deal with it and eat any extra time myself.

      – If the problem is recurrent, I’m immediately in contact with the client to let them know what I’m finding (with specifics), and that fixing the problems will affect the deadline.

      Usually, my clients’ response has been, “Oops, yeah, sorry, take the time that’s needed to do it right and don’t worry about the estimate.” Sometimes, they ‘d say, “Okay, we can authorize X more hours,” and I’d make my work fit that requirement.

      On very, very rare occasions the client would say, “No, you estimated X, we’re only paying for X.” In that case, my process was to do a surface-level first pass to fix anything egregious, and use any remaining hours for a deeper second-level pass. (And I always re-advised the client of that when I returned the completed project.)

      From your example it sounds like you’re already doing a good job of estimating, considering that you hadn’t yet examined the project in-depth. Also, the more projects you do, the better your estimating becomes (e.g., you’ll give a conditional estimate, or no estimate at all until you’ve had a chance to see the project). I always found my clients to be more interested in having me do a thorough job than arguing with me about estimates, and I think one thing that’s key is keeping the client apprised of what’s happening.

      Hope any of this helps, and I wish you well.

    4. Ranon*

      You can also write proposals with exclusions/ additional services/ assumptions, so eg.: Proposal assumes data is received in format (ready for analysis, whatever). If data cleanup is required client will be notified. Rate for (your company) to perform data cleanup is $$/hr.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This.

        If you hire a plumber for a leaking kitchen faucet and he finds that the sink is falling down because the counter around it is rotted, then he stops work to discuss it with you, the customer. “Look I can fix your leak. But I cannot promise you that the sink won’t fall down and rip out the faucet anyway. So the counter needs to be replaced in the area of the sink. Once that is done I can take care of the faucet. Meanwhile, I have shut off the water to the faucet to stop the problems.”

        Nothing wrong with speaking up and saying that things were not straightforward as you expected them to be.

  38. Chirpy*

    How do I find professional jobs to apply for? My major was pretty broad (think camelid management when most jobs want llama habitat) and the largest employer in the state basically only hires summer jobs or upper management, my minor (think teapot curator) I do have job xperience in but it’s a very limited field, most of my connections on LinkedIn are friends who are teachers so not a field I can network with (plus LinkedIn doesn’t seem to understand my qualifications and sends me medical jobs??), and so I’ve been working retail forever so I don’t have a great resume. Or useful references. I just don’t even know where to look for good jobs to apply for.

    1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

      Are you open to moving to where roles in your major are more plentiful? Otherwise, I would look for association sites for your field and see if they have a job posting board. Even just getting member info so you can visit the career section of their sites would give you a place to start.

      Good luck!

    2. Sloanicotosa*

      I think a common suggestion for this type of situation is to try a temp agency, so you can gain exposure to different office-type (which I think is what you mean by “professional”?) roles, gain experience for the resume / practice at the norms, and see if any certain type of work speaks to you? There was also a good thread this week about fields with a lot of jobs right now, and what’s required to get into them.

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        I could see that, but it depends if they are trying to get in their field which is how I read the question. Temping can be iffy, as it will really depend on how well they test on the office stuff (filing, typing, math, and computer applications). If those scores are not great, the assignments they get won’t be what most college grads would consider “professional”. I’ve temped in college, and shortly after graduation, and while I tested very well on all the tests (I watched MS office training VHS tapes as a teen), most of the good assignments that could lead to something permanent required doing well on all the tests.

        1. Chirpy*

          Yeah, “temping” in this field is likely only going to be summer temporary jobs for minimum pay. I did work in an office right out of college so I’m good at most office stuff but I don’t see a way to an actual better job from that.

      2. Chirpy*

        Yeah, I mean “profesional” as in “pays reasonably well and maybe actually uses the degree I have,” I don’t really care if it’s specifically an office job because some of the things I am vaguely qualified for are more field work. The problem has always been that nothing that will actually pay me has ever really spoken to me (hence the vague degree). I don’t think I can handle the instability of a temp job, I can barely pay rent (and can’t go to a doctor ever) as is.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      If you know what specific titles jobs want (llama habitat, alpaca groomer, camel herder), can you search for and apply to those? Yes, your major was broad, but hopefully you learned general camelid skills that can be applied to more specific populations.

      Can you apply for some of the summer jobs at the largest employer? That will get some experience on your resume and maybe your foot in the door. You can quit your current retail gig and find another after the summer job is over.

        1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

          Do you work full-time in retail? If not, a part time office job in a larger company (ex. Receptionist or data entry) can really give you an in because you get to know people at the company and roles before they open.

          Way back when, I did data entry at a large 500+ person office and I became pretty good work acquaintences to someone who was a manager and when he had another entry-level role open up, he basically offered it to me. It paid a little more but gave me an in with something more specialized. I didn’t go that route (tax law), but it could have been the start of something.

    4. Kelly Kapoor*

      You mentioned a degree – does your college or university offer career resources for alumni? Some have job boards and provide networking resources.

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        That’s a good idea. My college career resources were kind of crap, but I also got my last degree 2 months into the great recession so that may have had an effect :-/

  39. Pass the Just-For-Men*

    Hi all. Are any of you who are currently interviewing getting this scenario:

    You have the phone screen with recruiter or HR. They know nothing about the role beyond the pretty generic description. But you must impress them enough as you get moved to a zoom with the hiring manager. Once hiring manager goes into the role past the generic posting description, they start to discuss their sticking points and then want to know what YOU will do. But they provide NO context to what they have done, or what they have to work with.

    I do the best I can, but in my mind, I can’t help but think, “If YOU can’t solve this problem, what do you expect from me within 30 seconds of getting a 5 minute run-down of what the job actually is?!?!” I hate suggesting something they may have already tried and failed at. But I don’t know any of that so I have to phrase it all as “Have you tried this, or that?” Or “I would try this.” Afterwards, I try to research the problem and incorporate that new knowledge in my thank you email. But it still may be processes they’ve tried or don’t have the resources for. I just don’t know.

    These have been meetings with solid, large, and nationwide companies, so I don’t know what to make of it except that
    I rarely make it to further rounds after coming across this and I don’t know what to do to rectify. If I had the info to prepare, I would of course do that.

    Any tips from people who’ve been there.? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      They’re trying to get you to solve, in a phone screen, a problem they can’t solve? Maybe something like “I don’t typically like to implement solutions to complex problems based on a few minutes of thinking about it. Could I explain what approach I would take to researching the solution and trying different things over the course of months?”

    2. ThatGirl*

      I would probably say something like “well, I’d start by asking around and see what’s been tried already and what worked or didn’t work about that, and then formulate a plan from there.” Because yeah, it feels kind of like a trap.

    3. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      From the hiring manager side, I’d be asking these questions to get a sense of how you approach solving problems — not because I’m looking for you to actually solve the problem. Of course you can’t do that as an interviewee!

      I’d also be a lot clearer that that’s what I’m doing…but here are some things I’d be looking for:
      – Do you ask good questions? (Like, “Can you tell me more about who else is involved/what they’re like to work with,” or “is there a budget and what would be my role in decision-making over how it gets spent,” etc.)
      – An answer like “I’m not sure, but here’s how I’d figure it out” is always great, because it gives me super-clear insight into how you puzzle through it.

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        Ugh, try as I might, I can’t seem to stay on top of the interview puzzles. I have my tough question answers already prepped, I’ve rehearsed the top STAR questions and am good there, I’ve put the job posting in word and have highlights of successful examples of stuff I’ve worked on by relevant parts in the posting, and just when I think I might fully be prepped, I get thrown these kinds of curveballs. :)

        Thank you for the tip, I’m going to keep this in my notes for next time.

    4. Sloanicotosa*

      Yes, I just went through this on an interview; they asked how I would approach making their program more inclusive, but I was stymied by not knowing a lot about what they are already doing, although I had thought I had done some decent background research before the interview. I tried to answer it more broadly by talking about my general appoach to inclusive programmanging and starting by saying, “of course, you’re probably already doing a lot of these things but here’s some thoughts I have …” I still felt like an idiot though, because I had no idea if the interviewer was rolling her eyes internally and thinking OBVIOUSLY, we know THAT.

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        Exactly. I’ve had to hire before and I didn’t do any of that. Just had in-depth conversations about their work history and listened thoughfully like how I would want interviews to go if I was in the other placed. If someone said something that raised an eyebrow, I immediately asked about it. Their reaction told me everything I needed to know. Hired for 3 roles and maybe it was dumb luck, but everyone I picked was amazing and colleagues told me that every week.

      2. Esmeralda*

        For a question like this, I’d do as Cat Lady suggests: Outline your process overall, including what context/background/knowledge you’d need to approach a solution, ask questions to get the info/context you’d need to answer the question well. You can refer to whatever you’ve learned from poking around their website, but don’t presume that’s everything. Always be ready to ask about stakeholders — have some idea who they’d be but ask about others. Always be ready to talk about collaborations, or who you could go to for resources/help/advice — connect to your own experience, ask what resources they have etc.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It would be so tempting to answer with “eh, I’d probably set up some interviews with people in the field and ask them for some consultancy on how to solve it” but these days I’ve got better at zipping it…

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        I absolutely love this :). I wouldn’t put it past some companies to do that. I feel it’s been a scarily recurring thread that people have had to do work as part of the interview to discover that the company actually used the work and didn’t hire the person. This feels like very similar.

    6. OyHiOh*

      When I recently interviewed for NewJob, I got a version of this (and was certain I’d bombed it on my way out the door, btw). Thy gave me a short, printed out scenario, gave me some time to look it over, and asked how I’d handle a cascading series of “everything goes sideways at the last moment” events. The scenario was presented as their last question of the interview, before I asked my own questions, which helped considerably because 20 minutes into a 30 minute block, I had a decent sense of who they were and how my role fits into the broader organization.

      I asked if I could ask questions (yes) and asked some of those “what resources are available” type questions before I responded. I still thought I gave it too general of a gloss.

      However, a few weeks ago I had a mini version of that scenario pop up in my day to day work, and felt empowered to handle it more or less as I’d described my actions during the interview scenario and everyone involved was very happy

    7. Pass the Just-For-Men*

      Just an update; I got an email this evening asking for my availability to schedule the 3rd (and hopefully final) interview!

  40. NYCRedhead*

    Does anyone have any strategies for getting people to call versus setting up an appointment?

    Part of my lower-priority work is being responsive to the public. I provide written information that heads off 90% of the reason for a call but sometimes folks want to set up an appointment to speak by phone.

    I know from experience that these calls are about only 5-10 more minutes long and I encourage them to call at their convenience.

    Often though, they want to set up a time in advance. Coordinating schedules and sharing conference call numbers takes as long as the call and 30 minutes of my schedule is then blocked from other higher-priority work.

    Any suggestions for language to use in responding to: can we set up a time to speak? Other than, no, REALLY, call me at your convenience?

    Also if folks can share why they think this might be happening, that would be helpful.

    1. quill*

      Probably it’s because having an appointment on their end is more convenient for them, and they don’t necessarily understand that it will only be 5-10 minutes. Even if you tell them so, because they lack the experience to not see their problem as large and complicated… because to them, it is!

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’d say something like “I am unable to set up an appointment for this” (perhaps adding “it’s against policy” or “I’m not allowed to” even though it’s not strictly true), and “I know it sounds weird, but seriously, just call me at your convenience and I’ll take your call then.”

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Why don’t you set up some small windows for those calls? Monday 1-3, Wednesday 9-11, Thursday 3-5. Then that’s only 6 hours of the week when you’re subject to interruption, and there’s no need to coordinate schedules.

      If I had to guess, the people who are calling you who want to schedule a time probably think their problem is unique or especially difficult, and they are treating that call as they would an appointment with their doctor or their accountant.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      Why not set up a calendar link with 10 min time slots? That would automate much of back and forth.

    5. kiki*

      I think it might be happening because the people calling want some certainty that you’ll actually be available and they won’t be put on a long hold or something like that. I’ve definitely been frustrated before when somebody said “call me whenever!” and then found out they were unavailable for large swaths of the day. Even if you’re not doing that, they. may have experience with other folks in similar roles doing that. Some people also like scheduling, especially if they’re at work. I can surreptitiously fire off emails during work hours much more easily than I can make a phone call..

      1. J*

        Every time I’ve gotten someone assuring me they’ll be free, they are either 1) not free when I call, 2) free when I call but not at a computer, 3) I play phone tag for days, 4) literally the busiest person I have ever seen, or 5) literally taking someone else’s call on the same topic at the exact moment I reach out.

        I generally approach it with an office hours approach, tell them to check my calendar/slack status, or just literally set up a meeting booker with 15 minute intervals. I’m a person who loves to lock in my calendar for the day early and have minimal interruptions outside of that so I tend to assume others are like me and want to lock in a time.

    6. Ginger Pet Lady*

      IME, when people say “call me whenever it works for you” it inevitably turns into a game of phone tag.
      So I am one of those people who wants a set time to talk so that I know it will happen.

    7. August Twelfth*

      Since they don’t know how your workday is, to me it sounds like they’re trying to be courteous. Could you ask they set up the calls for only 15 minutes so your schedule remains more free? Also, since they are the ones requesting a call, can you give them one time slot and send the conference numbers as kind of a “take it or leave it” to save yourself the time of coordinating schedules?

    8. Gnome*

      I concur with the others on why it’s happening. You can probably head off some of it with something like: I am at my desk between 10 and 12 on workdays (basically cut out times you regularly are NOT available) but if you call and I happen to have stepped away, I should be able to get back to you within 30 minutes.

      The idea is to let people know that you Are There, and if you happen to be not there, you’ll get back to them promptly. That let’s them plan their day.

    9. mreasy*

      I always set up times for calls, because I don’t have time to keep calling back if the person is busy at that moment. And because I live & die by my calendar.

    10. allathian*

      Why do you need to set up conference call numbers for a 1:1 call?

      Other than that, I think that most people are just trying to be considerate. I would guess that many people, unless their primary job is to answer the phone (incoming calls at a call center, receptionist, etc.) find incoming unscheduled calls to be disruptive, and don’t want to cause that sort of inconvenience to anyone else.

      But my guess is that if these people are calling during their own working day, they need to schedule time for it, and have played phone tag with people often enough that they want to avoid it by scheduling it in advance, if at all possible.

  41. Mimmy*

    Subject: Second-round interviews

    Thank you all for your help in the last few weeks as I actively search for a new job in my desired field (postsecondary disability services). I had two Zoom interviews on Tuesday (never again…my memory of both kept blending together when writing my follow-ups!). If I am moved forward with either, I would be invited for an in-person interview.

    And, thus, is my question. I haven’t had a “second interview” in many years–most jobs I’d gotten were after just one interview. Both interviews this past Tuesday consisted of behavioral questions and some questions asking about my approach to certain things. One interview was with the department director, the other was with a small panel.

    If I’m invited to an in-person interview, what can I expect? How might the questions differ from the first-round interviews? I imagine it varies depending on the institution (one is mid-sized private university, the other is a very large public university).

    1. hi hello*

      Hi! I don’t know if this is your situation, but earlier this year, I went through the academic hiring process, which means that after I had a short Zoom interview, I was called back for an in-person, all-day interview. In my experience, second/in-person interviews whether at universities or elsewhere have two main purposes: 1. to dig into specifics of how you work to ensure you can do the job, and 2. to see if you will be a good fit. The benefit of in-person interviews is that at least part of the time will likely be a tour/a chance to talk to the people who will be your coworkers. That’s the opportunity for the employer–and you–to feel out whether your coworkers seem like people you’ll get along with, whether you like the “vibe” of the office (is it casual? formal? friendly?), etc. So hopefully part of the time will be socializing!

      As for the questions you might expect, in my experience the questions are pretty similar to the questions from the first round, but will address qualities in a level of depth that weren’t addressed the first time. For example, at the interviews I did last spring, almost all of the questions were “tell us about a time that you…” questions. In the Zoom interview, the questions were more general (“tell us about a time you had to prioritize projects”/”tell us about a time you had to work with a group”). In person, the questions delved into the specific aspects of the job I had applied for. Since my job includes supervision of student workers, I was asked about a time I worked as a supervisor and about a time I had to reprimand someone. Since my job includes teaching, I was asked about my specific experiences teaching.

      Basically, look at the job description from the job posting, and that should give you a pretty good outline as to what sorts of things the employer will want to talk about! I actually really like second interviews, because the dynamic is slightly more even (in my opinion)–the employer has sunk time into you, as a candidate, so the second interview is as much your chance to evaluate them as they evaluate you.

      Good luck!

  42. Newbie*

    I feel under appreciated at work and I’m not sure what to do about it. During my bi-annual review in may my boss made it clear that I was a stellar employee but day to day I really don’t feel that. My boss provides pretty clear / concrete critical feedback that I feel like I can take action on but has admitted to not being as good at providing positive feedback. When the two of us were interviewing a candidate for a new position recently she referred to me as her “lifeline” but the most I ever get day to day is a quick “ty!” Over slack. I think this is compounded by the fact that our two main clients right now are notoriously difficult / happy to please so I’m not getting much scarification there either (tho the work I’m producing is adequate or above) and I’m honestly considering looking elsewhere bc I feel so unenthusiastic about work. Should I just stop complaining or is there anything I can about this?

    1. August Twelfth*

      Tell your boss! Since she thinks you’re her lifeline, I bet she’ll want to keep you happy. :)

    2. rage criers unite*

      TALK TO YOUR BOSS.
      Tell them that you need more feedback and what you’re feeling.

    3. Just a thought*

      Talk to your boss. Here’s the thing – in any relationship we don’t know what you need unless you tell us. I’m not a Hallmark holiday person, don’t celebrate my birthday much (now that I’m over 40), etc. BUT, I know that not everyone is like that, so I ask employees – is it important to you to have your birthday recognized, etc.

      So, tell your boss what would make you feel more appreciated. A quick TY over slack or email is generally all I need, but if that doesn’t work for you, let them know.

    4. Anon attorney*

      If I was your boss I would absolutely want to know that this is how you feel. I would definitely prefer to have that conversation now rather than at your exit interview. Sometimes bosses are not good at focusing on the kind of recognition that subordinates need or assume that they will respond in the same way as the boss does. A course correction here doesn’t have to be a drama.

  43. Parcae*

    I had two interviews this past week where I was asked to “tell us about your communication style.” Now, I can answer “tell us about a time you…” questions like a pro, but this stumped me. I got the sense they wanted something deeper than whether I prefer phone or email, but what? I think I’m pretty good at communicating. Just not at communicating about my communication style, apparently.

    The rest of the interviews were pretty standard and I don’t think my fumbling over this one question killed my chances. I’d just like to be prepared next time. Anyone have any thoughts about how they’d approach the question?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      “I prefer having stuff written down, so usually I take notes in meetings for myself. Important conversations I tend to follow up with email summary to have it and to make sure we both have the same takeways”

      Or “I do better with in person communication, so with the pandemic I’ve made most my meetings zoom video on if possible. I also like quick calls over asynchronous instant messaging but I’m flexible about that”

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Think about what they are trying to find out. If this is me, I’m trying to gauge whether the person can be forward and firm when needed but not be too pushy when it’s not warranted. Do they know how to get things done, generally? Do they send 10 emails to someone who prefers phone? Do they follow up too soon, created unnecessary drama? To they get passive aggressive when other people don’t do exactly what they want? Can they handle the discussion when another department drops the ball (in this case, many people end up being too soft and brushing it under the rug).

    3. AnonAnon*

      Maybe something like “I believe open, direct, and respectful communication with my colleagues is extremely important. In my own experience at ABC Corporation, my open and respectful communication style helped me to build a high degree of trust and collaboration between me and my team. An specific example that I can think of is…….”

    4. J*

      Examples as a staffer: I tend to use email to have a paper trail given the line of work but I also try to take down a summary of every call to refer back to. I tend to be online during core business hours but I work in blocks so I might be delayed responding to a slack message until my 30 minute block ends. I tend to avoid Slack messages during a team meeting.

      Examples as a manager: I try to connect with my team early in the day to say hi and give people a chance to ask questions. I typically am used to weekly 1-on-1s and weekly team briefings but I’m curious what the current team policy is and if that’s working. I generally check my email twice a night in the evening and will respond to emergencies after hours as needed. I’m not available by Slack after hours so an emergency text is usually better given my situation.

      Or whatever may apply for you. I generally address preferred methods, responsiveness, frequency, and asynchronous communications, or I throw part of the question back to them to ask what they currently do and how that’s working.

    5. Parcae*

      Great ideas here already, thank you! If I run into this again, I think I’ll start with a brief description of my preferences and then roll into some examples of how I’ve handled difficult communications in the past.

      I don’t want to get lost in the weeds of “I start with email and then follow up by phone if I haven’t gotten a response in two days. I apologize when needed, but not excessively. I always use precisely one exclamation mark in my emails. If there’s one thing I think I could improve on, it’s my habit of using the word ‘just’ in every other sentence.”

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’d say something like, “I think clear, simple communication is the foundation of good working relationships and a positive office culture. I have found over the years that anything can be communicated clearly and kindly if you stop to think before you speak.

      I do not appreciate feeling like I am being given a pep talk or a convoluted explanation when I need a straight answer. I can function well with minimal feedback or backpats, but I need to know my manager’s expectations and be able to trust that I am meeting them unless I’m told otherwise.

      I believe that my coworkers and I are all on the same team with the same goal. In that spirit, I like to be told briefly and directly when I have made a mistake and also when I have done something well. I try to treat others the same way.”

  44. Anonymous Educator*

    Does anyone else have a culture in Slack where co-workers will just be like “Hi, [Your First Name].” And then… nothing else? And then if you answer, they may explain some problem they want you to address?

    I find this odd.

    If you have something you want to ask me, just ask it. Doesn’t seem to be just one person, though. Definitely a culture at my workplace, and I wasn’t sure if this was unique to where I work, or if lots of other people are seeing this as well in their workplaces.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      lol one of my coworkers does this ! “Hi Disney” 3 min pause while he types the rest out. Drives me batty. I think it’s trying to simulate in person communication where you’d greet someone before diving into your issue. In your case it’s also trying to give you a chance to ignore the hi message if you’re too busy I guess.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yep, your last sentence is how I handle this. If it’s really urgent or needs me and only me, they’ll figure out they have to write more. Even “Hi, do you have a minute for a question?” is more helpful than a “Hi” with no context.

        At my old job, the group of people who did this corresponded almost exactly to the group of people who knew where to find the answers to all their questions, but couldn’t be bothered to look them up. Not replying forced them to figure it out themselves, and, surprise, they hardly ever came back to chase me.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I. Hate. This.

      We even had Slack “training” that specified that we should not do this. And I never do. “Hey Laura! Do you have a minute to talk about Vandelay Industries?” This is not hard! But “Hi AvonLady” followed by nothing until I respond with “Hello” drives me batshit. I have a colleague who continues to do this. I need to maintain a very friendly relationship with her so I let it go, but man.

      1. J*

        I need my company to do this. I cannot with waiting 3 minutes for a request after they say my name. I know you aren’t reaching out because we’re BFFs.

    3. kiki*

      Yes! I hate it and always send the greeting and full content of message in one jump, or at very least send a quick summary of the issue and asking if they have time to help.

      This has come up before in the comment section at Ask a Manager and it was interesting to hear from people who do this because they see Slack like having an in-person conversation, where it’d be rude to launch into explaining a problem before waiting for acknowledgment of the “hi.” So there is some chance people find *us* rude for jumping into the meat of the conversation before waiting.

    4. Camellia*

      This is standard in our company, mostly because folks are often sharing their screens for presentations and demos, or are engaged and don’t want to be distracted at that particular moment. We treat it like knocking on an office door and waiting for the “Come in”, instead of just opening the door and barging right in. We’ll send a “Hi” and then, if we get an acknowledgement (mine is “Hey, what’s up?”), we proceed with our question or whatever. If we do not get a response, we assume that person is not available at that moment and try again later/find someone else to answer our question/put it in an email, or whatever is appropriate. And no one thinks poorly of folks who don’t respond right away; we understand because we are all in the same boat.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        But you can just turn on no notifications or silent mode on the computer during the presentation. Or turn on slacks pause notifications, you can set a time they’ll auto turn back on.

    5. Other Alice*

      A few people do this. I no longer reply to “Hello Alice” messages, I wait until there’s some actual substance to the conversation. We’ve all had slack training so there is no excuse.

      (I sometimes have the opposite problem, sometimes I just start full speed with “There is an error in report XYZ can you please check” and then “Oops sorry I forgot to even say hello, how are you today?”)

    6. Golden*

      I’ve been on maternity leave for a while and this post still made my shoulders fly up to my ears. I HATE this! I never know how to reply; saying “Hi [name]” wastes time and something like “can I help you?” sounds passive aggressive. I’ve tried to train my coworkers by not responding until they send a message with some content, with mixed results.

    7. J*

      The only acceptable way for the hey messages is a daily “I’ve arrived” style check in. (Which we just do with an emoji of the day to show we’re alive given that we’re all remote and have seen too many Dateline specials) Otherwise please say “Hey J, I have some follow up questions regarding Teapot Entity, do you have a second to check in?”

    8. Raboot*

      I am annoyed by those also and just ignore them until they send the “real” message. Anecdotally there was one person I worked with who always used to send the “hi raboot” message but stopped after a while – idk if they picked up that I never responded to it so stopped sending it to me specifically, or they saw that other people weren’t doing it and adapted to the style at large, or what, but it worked out for me.

      There have been threads on this before here and some people view this as a politeness thing, so I try not to hold it against them. Success can vary over time :)

    9. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience it’s rarely a Whole Office Culture of doing this. It’s a some people feel it’s inappropriate to launch in and wait for you to respond first. They treat it like they’re showing up at your door, waiting to be acknowledged. And other people (most, in my experience) feel as you do: it’s written communication. Type the thing.
      It seems to me, people very used to working remotely (or very used to working a lot via Slack) tend to be the latter. People who tend to have significantly more in-person conversations, I think, tend to treat it as more analogous to an in-person interaction than is strictly-speaking necessary. No hard and fast rules, but if I had to try to identify a pattern/tendency, that’s what I think it is.

    10. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Yes, and there’s an initiative at my company called “NoHello” I.e. just ask the questions or whatever needs to be said. Of course fine to still say hello :), but more don’t want for the person to respond to the hello, and just say it

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Verbatim conversation this morning (with someone who to be fair is not the person who I have been asking repeatedly to put the whole question in one message):
      Hi Seeking.
      (I do not answer.)
      Good morning Seeking.
      (I do not answer.)
      Do you have time to talk?
      (I give in and ask what this is about.)

  45. MomQuestAnon*

    Teleworking while spouse is in last couple of weeks of parental leave before we put baby in daycare (baby at home is not an option bc both of us work, and one grandparent is emotionally not there, other grandparents work but help out weekends). Parents of babies in daycare: how do you avoid coming down with colds, stomach bugs? I ordered elderberry immune zinc and Vitamin C gummies, plan to get as much sleep as I can (laughable with a 5 month old)…I heard Lysol wipes, sanitizer? And changing clothes as soon as you arrive home to avoid tracking in germs?

    1. Diatryma*

      Wash your hands at pretty much all transitions, including at work: when you come in, before and after eating, after bathroom/fluids, as needed. Wear a mask and do your best not to touch your face. Buy cold medicine, fever reducers, and a good thermometer now so you don’t have to when you get sick, because you will or your kid will, and that’s just how it is.

      We don’t change clothes coming home, but we do wash hands a lot. Stomach bugs haven’t been an issue at this point but our kiddo had a few colds such early on (not covid, just unpleasant.) Newer babies don’t have as much exposure to other kids– it’s not like they play together or anything– so you may not have a sudden plague-week or anything.

      1. Diatryma*

        Oh, and whenever you can, advocate for the employees of the daycare to have more paid sick leave. When the people caring for your kid are healthy and happy, you have better odds of the same.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Vitamins, hand washing, all your best stay-healthy practices, are important, but you are still going to get sick. The baby will bring the germs home, be sick for one or two days, you will have it for a week. And it doesn’t stop until they child has been in school for a few years.

      If at all possible, see if you can arrange reliable back-up care for the days the baby is sick and can’t go to daycare, and you have to go to work – that is also a common scenario.

      Sorry about this, but it is a fact of being a parent. Congrats and good luck with the little one!

      1. Pop*

        Absolutely on the figuring out back up childcare! For us it wasn’t the being sick thing (we just started daycare), it was the normal-care-being-out-of-town that really tripped us up. Figure out back up options: what will you do if you know kiddo is sick the night before? If it’s the morning of, how will you work out what happens? If it’s midday and they need to get picked up, what are the considerations like with your spouse? Will be much less stressful in the moment if you have a plan in advance.

    3. Double A*

      Yes to lots of hand washing but also just know that it’s gonna happen, and that it will be a lot sometimes. The first year will probably be the worst but then all of you will build immunity to the cycle of bugs for the year. We were sick no joke every like 2-3 weeks this year, then we got really sick in May, and now we have somehow gone all summer without being sick? Also we have somehow not gotten Covid.

      In the long run you’ll have great immunity. My first couple years teaching I got sick a LOT, then I didn’t get sick hardly ever! Like many things in parenting….it’s a long game, ha.

    4. Accounting Gal*

      Aw… I’m sorry but you will not be able to avoid it most likely. We were all three sick for basically the entire first 9-10 months of daycare. You can try, for sure! Wash your hands a lot, don’t touch your face, etc. But there will be many bugs and then your baby will be vomiting all over you and try as you might, I think mentally it may be better to accept you’ll be sick more than usual and just have a plan for when that happens.
      The upshot is when other kids start school who didn’t go to daycare, they will be sick way more then but your kid will have gotten it out of the way earlier!

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      DO NOT eat food off their plate. My sister figured it out first. The food might not have been in their mouth but their fingers have been in their food and in their mouth and if you’re not lucky in their nose.
      And for kicks and giggles if you have an elder in the family, make sure they know not to share their food with the child…at least not to “pre-chew”. (That makes sense only if you are in the wilderness with tough meat with the child cannot digest. In my life it was a great way for the kid to catch grandma’s cold sores.)

  46. JumpAround*

    Advice for trying to hire people when you’re trying to leave a job yourself? I have to act like I won’t find anything and plan for that so I need to keep interviewing for my group, but I kind of feel like I’m selling cigarettes. I also don’t want to hire someone and then peace out right when they start.

    1. kiki*

      I had a short-lived boss/hiring manager who left right after I started (like, one day after, lol). I don’t hold it against him because that’s just the way jobs work sometimes, but also he was *very* honest with me about the shortcomings of the company and department, so I didn’t feel at all misled.

  47. Sloanicotosa*

    Did anyone else find the “industries that are hiring” post this week kind of … depressing? As someone who is mid-career (so, not open to working unpaid / needing a reasonable salary to make a switch) who thinks they have developed a lot of transferable skills, I feel like a lot of the discussion was on fields that are hiring mostly because they treat their current workers very poorly. I hope the original OP was a college student who can structure their career from the beginning, but as someone it’s too late for, it was hard to find fields that were hiring, but not because they treat their workers so badly that nobody wants the job and more, and also had achievable on-ramps. I’m not asking folks to revisit field recommendations, I’m looking more for meta-responses to that discussion. One comment that I thought was very interesting was that most of the fields could fix their hiring problems at any time by just doing better by their current workers. Was this just my takeaway?

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      A bit. I think some of the great resignation articles give the impression that loads of jobs are just waiting for you. I’ve also seen many posts and comments online from people who say they make six figures not doing much work, from home (being a hypocrite here as I waste time on a blog). In reality, jobs still have sometimes ridiculous or onerous requirements and there are no quick fixes, and many jobs are hiring because of turnover, not becuase they are fun places to work

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I saw four main reasons for “hiring booms” on yesterday’s post:

      – industry treats workers poorly

      – industry pays workers poorly

      – industry requires a fair amount of training/experience to break into

      – demand for the product/service has recently exploded

      I think most of the recommended fields are driven by a combination of some of these reasons, not just one.

      Personally, I was glad people were discussing qualifications because it is true that switching fields mid-career often means more training and/or a pay cut. Better to be realistic than to downplay the barriers that will stand in people’s way if they pursue a new career in [field].

      1. Sloanicotosa*

        The on-ramp-ness is so field dependent too, so for outsiders like me it’s just a different dynamic than I’m used to. I’ve worked various office jobs all my life in the project management arena so there’s no specific certification or training required beyond my general education, but other fields are of course very oriented towards specific requirements and licensing. I’m just not used to it.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I think I was only surprised because, based on the nature of the question, I was sort of only expecting answers that fir your fourth annd third reasons. Not that I don’t understand that the first two exist, but somehow in my head I categorized that as not really “counting” because I consider it less of a “boom” and more a “natural consequence”.

        1. RagingADHD*

          There are some strong narratives out there pushing the idea that jobs in category 1 and 2 are “boom” fields, because there are a lot of people with vested interests in abusing and underpaying workers.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Number 3 was the most disheartening for me. I’ve seen a lot of jobs I could do but they require a whole-ass degree IN that field, even when most of the work is run-of-the-mill administrative I could easily do.

        And FWIW, I started at Exjob with no experience in tech services or banking whatsoever and still nailed the job (until they changed it).

    3. Skippy*

      Some of the fields that were listed could also solve some of their hiring problems if they would make it easier to apply, and if they would actually consider people with transferable skills from other fields.

      1. kiki*

        So many fields are allergic to training new employees! Every job posting I see, even entry-level ones, wants somebody who has had that exact job before or an exact degree in the specific thing they do. Sometimes it is necessary (nurses need nursing degrees, lawyers need to have gone to law school) but a lot of fields that are “desperate for qualified talent” could take capable people and train them to do the work.

    4. kiki*

      Yeah, I was thinking about that with some of the posts, especially the ones mentioning healthcare and teaching. I think it’s true that a lot of fields could resolve their hiring problems by fixing known, relatively straight-forward issues like increasing pay, reducing hours, or providing adequate benefits. The last few decades have really warped where money and resources go in a business or organization and companies have gotten away with cutting operating costs in unsustainable ways, like decreasing staffing or keeping pay low despite rising COL.

      This may be too meta a response to your original prompt, but I kind of feel a little jaded by the great resignation, and I even took part. I’m happy so many people felt empowered to leave bad situations. Workers have always deserved to have more of the power on their side. But are we all just kind of playing musical chairs and finding out that very, very few jobs are really good? This might be informed by my personal situation, where I left my last job because I was underpaid, but now I’ve found new my work’s culture is atrocious. Is anyone stepping up to fix any of the bad workplaces? Or will we all just keep jumping from raft to raft as the water rises around us?

      I know some industries are unionizing, and that’s promising, but I kind of feel like we need a country-wide intervention in our framework of employment. Workers everywhere should be able to take a full two weeks at home when they’re sick with covid before coming back in the workplace. We know people are still contagious after 5 days or whatever the CDC is saying. Essential fields like healthcare should have required redundancies to account for workers who get sick or can’t work on any given day. Our current system of just overloading nurses and expecting them to come in to work when *they* should be receiving medical care is just atrocious.

      I am somebody who did the whole “if the field you obtained a degree inis unstable, just learn to code!” thing. It’s been a smart move for me overall, but, like, I could be so much more useful to society in another field. I am doing a mediocre job making silly widgets that are desired by wealthy, white venture capital dudes. I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing the same thing I did, if it will make their life more stable. But if that’s the prevailing advice, won’t we have a society with a lot of really cool apps and no teachers?

      1. Houndmom*

        A couple of thoughts ran through my head during that discussion:
        1. It is hard to change careers mid working life and make the same, or close to it, money
        2. A lot of jobs use the same critical thinking skills but knowing the jargon and players counts
        3. All things in life require trade offs — there is no perfect job

        I was inspired by the stories of people taking welding or building or coding classes to learn a new skill. It seems as though these are reasonable investments in a career change.

    5. WellRed*

      I found it depressing because about three quarters of it (unofficial guess) was just more variations of STEM. If I was interested in it had an aptitude for STEM I’d be doing it, not scraping along as a writer with an English degree. Plus I’m 50. A major career change and new degree ain’t happening. I do genuinely hope many other readers were inspired!

      1. OyHiOh*

        I didn’t jump into the thread yesterday, because my sector isn’t handing out hiring bonuses and such, but followed along and noticed the same thing about STEM fields. Annoying to another post 40 year old English major who has zero interest in STEM fields!

        Community and economic development tend to have a relatively low barrier to entry (“a degree” generally) and have good industry-specific training available. The joke is that nobody goes to school “for” economic development – you fall into it more or less accidentally. Many for profit businesses hire econ dev people (sometimes called econ dev, other times business dev), and there are good non profit econ dev roles as well (and bad low pay every non-profit stereotype roles too). There’s quite a bit of movement in the sector right now, in part because the US federal government has thrown so much money into resiliency initiatives over the past couple of years. Subset of this, grantwriting for city/county governments, planning orgs, and econ dev orgs is absolutely booming, for the same reason (“resiliency”, infrastructure, broadband initiatives, housing initiatives). If you can demonstrate technical writing ability, and can learn the language and needs relatively quickly, that’s an area of interest. IEDC (International Economic Development Council) is a good place to start learning more if this sounds interesting.

      2. Generic Name*

        My field (yes STEM) is looking for grant writers, which I would think an English Degreed person would be ideal for. There seems to be grant money out there, but us scientists and engineers have a hard time accessing it because we have no clue how to get it. That’s where English Degrees come in. :)

  48. Undervalued*

    Trying to get a reality check on my organization’s busy season. I just finished our season which is about 10 weeks long; I typically work between 70 & 80 hours a week plus I’m on call overnight three nights a week. I get a 5-day “comp week” after the season that does not count against my PTO.

    When it is not our busy season I typically work 40-50 hours a week and I’m on call two to three weekends a month. I’ve been in this industry year round for about six years and I was a seasonal worker in the same industry for about six years before that. This kind of busy season is definitely typical.

    My package includes housing; but even with that included it totals around $50,000. I am feeling burnt out and undervalued. I love the mission of this org and I think I’m doing impactful work, but I don’t think I’ll be here for many more years. I think I’m wondering what kind of compensation would make this schedule livable for you? How does it compare to other industries with similar busy seasons?

    1. I’m not sure about this, but*

      I can’t answer your question about the salary. But you say that even in your not busy season you’re on call 2-3 weekends a month-that’s ridiculous. You hardly ever get real time off when you can plan something. I don’t think any amount of money would make this ok, but $50K, no thanks.

    2. Double A*

      Honestly I would require double that compensation to consider that schedule and I would never consider it now because I have kids. But in my 20s… I’d want at least 80k.

    3. Xaraja*

      Nothing would make me consider that; I’m chronically ill and can manage my 40 hour office job only. But my total compensation with typical profit sharing and bonus works out to about $80k and the only work I do outside of my 40 hours is once every six weeks I am logged on for an hour on Sunday morning to do a system reboot.

      If I was really healthy and could manage that kind of schedule physically…I might do it for a few years for maybe $200k+.

    4. mreasy*

      I make over $150k (in a high COL city) and I would not consider a schedule like that unless we were talking like…life changing salary. And even then I would only do it for a couple years. This is so much work!

      1. NancyDrew*

        Yeah, I make $200k and would not work that kind of schedule for the pay I have now. I’d have to make, like $300k to consider it, and even then I’d only do it for a year or two!

    5. Velociraptor Attack*

      You mention the package WITH housing is around 50k. What is the pay without housing included, what do you actually take home a portion of after taxes?

    6. 1098, 1099, Whatever*

      Is this the way your organization pays, or your industry? How does this compare to other employers’ standard pay in your industry?

      I have a seasonal job that has similar insane hours, but we drop off to almost nothing the rest of the year, which is what makes it worth while to me. I’m able to make enough during the season to afford the other 2/3 of the year off, so I consider the trade off worth it. I wouldn’t do it if it was like what you describe, even though I love my job. 5 days off to recover just wouldn’t cut it. I’d need at least 2 weeks, preferably more honestly.

      When you’re working hours like that you don’t have time to live. A normal full time job is 2,080 hours/year _if_ you don’t take any vacation or sick days, 2,000 hours with 2 weeks vacation. How many hours are you really working each year though? Looking at your numbers, at least 2400/year, which is roughly $21/hour – except with housing included, that’s not all cash. So, you’re short on cash, and your ability to have a life outside of work seems really limited. Speaking personally, I would find something else. Even if it paid double that I’d probably only put up with it because it was getting me to another goal. I’d never tolerate it as a long term, no out-plan, this is my life, situation.

    7. calvin blick*

      There isn’t enough money to make that schedule worth it to me. If I somehow didn’t have kids…I guess maybe 300k to even start to consider it? But probably not.

    8. Rara+Avis*

      As a teacher at a boarding school in the 90’s — evening duty 3 nights a week and on duty 2 out of every 3 weekends — I was making more than that plus room and board.

      1. Rara+Avis*

        Oh, and I gave up that kind of work when I got married because I wanted a life outside work.

    9. Maggie*

      Ummm…. Honestly like 300-400k. On call 3 weekends a month?? 80 hours a week with no reduction in work during “regular” season. I don’t know if I would ever take that, maybe for a million dollars and stop after one year. Is housing included in that 50k or it’s housing plus 50k? Is this in the USA?

    10. fhqwhgads*

      I used to periodically work that much, once for a solid month. I was not provided housing, nor did I get any comp time, and in my case it wasn’t a “busy season” so much as it was “executives promised a short turnaround without realizing we were already fully booked for two months”. So I basically had to do 4 months of work in 2. I was extremely miserable and by the end of it my sleep was super screwed up. It messed with my health. If I’d known what I was getting into instead of being thrown into it, I would’ve wanted golden time for every day of it, but I was exempt. I don’t think I’d willingly do it again ever. It really messed me up. But for 4x the usual pay during that “busy season”, I’d be very tempted.
      You are not being paid enough. Not even close.

    11. Wordybird*

      Kudos to you, Undervalued. I definitely couldn’t handle your work schedule in either season. I currently work 35 hours a week with no on-call or weekend work for around 55K.

      For me to work 50 hours a week + weekends, I would need to make near six-figures as that would take away most of my time with my kids. There’s no salary they could pay me for working 70-80 hours a week; I’d never see my kids or partner or family.

    12. Undervalued*

      Thank y’all for your answers; it is an insane schedule and it’s affirming to get these answers. This is how the industry pays (all nonprofit orgs). The 50k includes housing so taking home maybe half. I do get two days off a week when I have to work weekends during the “regular” season. I have coworkers who have been doing it for more than 10 years, but most people in our industry move on after about 3 years (which is a whole other thing about “why can’t we keep people or women in this industry” and it’s like, well…). I’ve worked in this industry my whole working life and I get nervous about finding something else, but it will be worth it to work normal hours!

    13. M.*

      I think you’re getting the point from the comments that this is unacceptable, but I would add that there’s no salary that would make me consider this. A busy season is one thing, but to have that and be on-call for most of the month (on top of “normal” hours that are already creeping into what I would consider too long territory) is way too much. Your salary does not at all come close to what you should be earning for hours/expectations like that. I’m not at all surprised that you’re burned out, and I hope you find a way out of it fast.

  49. Qwerty*

    Open to serious and fun answers!

    I’m trying to find a way to describe myself as being an extension of a full stack developer – a fuller stack? Full stack dev normally refers to someone who can do frontend + backend + database, like a website + server + database. However, I keep being told that I’m so much more than that – an exec recently described my experience as being a 1-woman-company because I’m used to driving and executing the full process – UX, project management, product development, QA, DBA, etc. Which means that projects I’m on don’t receive official help from those departments (“we don’t need to assign someone, Qwerty can cover it”). I’m not counting the normal extra stuff that’s normal for team members to do like manage team, mentor coworkers, run company groups / side projects, etc but things that normally would involve another person not on the dev team.

    I’m one of those people where if I can do something, I think its standard, so while I think simply doing the work of all the departments and skillset (except DevOps – those people are wizards!) is totally normal, I keep being told by those I work with that I’m unique. My nickname at multiple companies has been “unicorn”. This feels…braggy? I’m about to start job hunting and suck at promoting myself. I figure the creativity of the comment section would give me a good laugh and make this less stressful! But if you have real options that I could use that’s also appreciated

    1. a non*

      On a resume, I’d just have a large “skills” section. When talking to someone, tell them all the things you did on a project you worked on.

    2. Brownie*

      One employer called me a Staff Scientist to get around all that job description stuff since that’s the contractual rate he’d bill clients for my time. And I can see “unicorn” being an accurate descriptor, having the experience to handle all those usually separate things is very rare indeed. Definitely bring up the whole list of skills and talk about how it’s made you better at spotting future problems, patterns, being proactive, responding to clients, and so on, because those are very valuable skills to have. The ability to look at a whole process with knowledge of all the parts is not something to ever downplay! So many people in IT have to pigeonhole themselves to keep up with their chosen tech that being able to see outside that hole, let alone do what you do, is fantastic for roles like IT project architects. Which, actually, might be a good alt title for yourself? IT Architect and Implementation Specialist? Full Stack Architect?

    3. OhKay*

      I actually think you should include what you’ve said here in a cover letter! You can back up the subjective statements (“unicorn,” “one-woman company”) with achievements that demonstrate how you earned those accolades. When hiring I’ve always rolled my eyes at things like “I’m the best candidate (but i won’t tell you why)” but someone telling me they were dubbed a one-woman company because they successfully executed all these different aspects of a project would be really impressive!

    4. Raboot*

      If you are applying to larger companies, just make sure not to sound like you aren’t willing to work with UX, PMs, QA, etc. Might be appreciated in a “wears many hats” startup env but in places I’ve worked, I would look askance at someone saying “don’t receive official help” from UX and QA at all. Not saying this is you, but the wrong phrasing could make it sound like you have your way of doing things and won’t play with others. So at a larger company I’d sell it as having the experience for more effective collaboration with those other roles (and being able to self-serve on smaller issues).

      1. Qwerty*

        I definitely want help from those teams! Especially QA, please don’t trust me not to write bugs…

    5. kiki*

      Are you looking to stay primarily a full stack developer? Would you be interested in pursuing a job that leans more heavily into any of those described fields? Are you looking for more of a leadership role? Do you want to work somewhere where you continue to wear many hats?

      I ask, just because the way you frame yourself may make you more appealing to some hiring committees and less interesting to others. If a company has very distinct departments, sometimes they may look askance at a developer who expresses a tremendous interested in design, for example. They may ask things like:  Will they get into conflict with our actual designers? Will they get so distracted by design that they don’t do their non-dev work?” But if you’re looking at smaller companies or startups, they’ll probably love somebody who is happy to wear all the hats.

    6. kina lillet*

      Sounds like bullet points on a resume and cover-letter stuff to me, along with a more senior title prefix like lead, principle, etc. (If that’s available in your org.)

      I’d also have your action verbs be things like “architected”, “directed”, “designed”, and “product managed” rather than “developed”, “supported”, and “fixed.” If you’re interested in continuing to grow the technical part and not the people part, heavy emphasis on “architected.”

      In addition, especially if you’re applying to larger companies, I’d emphasize that you’re also collaborative and not just cowboying your way through these extra roles. Reading your comment, it’s apparent that you’re not, but I might have that concern if I were reading your resume cold.

      But in your cover letter, I think you can basically slam this comment in there. Minus the bit about dev ops—they are wizards but self deprecation does you no favors.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Just list all those experiences/skill and people will come to the conclusion. You don’t need to name it, and if you try to, it’ll seem sus.
      I’d also say, as someone who has had many roles before in which I did All The Things, really well run companies don’t want someone to do all the things. It might be a bonus that you CAN. You’d have internal mobility. But good management won’t want a single point of failure for all that.
      If anything it’s great because you can apply to the different sorts of roles (QA, dba, UX, PM) and tailor your materials toward whichever. You have options here. Come at it from that angle, rather than presenting yourself to potential new jobs as the unicorn. If you are, they’ll be able to tell.

  50. nerd*

    For folks who work in companies or countries where there are strong parental leave policies in place (i.e., new parents regularly take 3+ months off after the birth or placement of a child), what do you do to keep the workflow going? Do you regularly hire temps to fill in for parents on leave? If so, how do you go about this – where do you find the temps, and how do you train them up? Is there overlap with the parent going on leave (given that it can sometimes be hard to know exactly when the parent will be going on leave)?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      In Canada I have frequently seen that the mother (usually) will decide at about 6 months how much time she wants to take, whether it’s 6 months, 12, 18, or whatever, and notify work accordingly, at which point the company will post a job ad for a Mat Leave Contract position for however many months. The goal is to have the position filled before the mother leaves so there can be some training period of a couple weeks, although that doesn’t always work, I did a mat leave cover where I spent a single day with the mom, who gave birth the next day. Usually the people who work in close contact will step in to assist with bringing the temp up to speed as much as possible. For parents who aren’t taking as much time usually there is no coverage involved (2 months or less), and the rest of the team will pick up as much as possible or just let stuff hang out if possible.

      Temps are found the same way regular full-time jobs are found. It is very common to see job listings as “1-year Contract” or “10-month Contract” or just described as a mata/pata coverage contract.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      I am in Canada, and when I had my kids (12 years ago now!), our parental leave was 17 weeks for the birthing parent only, then 35 weeks that could be split up however you want between parents. My company hired someone for a year-long coverage contract. I ended up coming back to work after 6 months and my husband took the other 6 months. I felt bad for the contractor, but they ended up having to let another team member go just before I decided to go back, so they were able to offer her a full-time position.

    3. anon for This*

      I’ve brought on people who had previously retired from my office. They don’t need training and often appreciate the income – one was saving for a trip, another was paying for a daughter’s wedding.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      In a lot of companies they hire for a fixed term contract of 1 year (or whatever the expected duration is) typically with a few weeks of overlap with the person who will be on leave.

      One example I saw of this not being handled well was a woman due to go on 1 year of maternity and they carved up the responsibilities of her (management) job to be covered by about 3-4 different people. Over the course of the year pretty much anything that could come up was encountered, and the various parts of what had been her role were basically integrated with their normal work at that point and hadn’t really caused much additional work if any! It highlighted that her role didn’t really need to exist, although she couldn’t be made redundant due to the maternity. So she came back to her old job but didn’t get most of the responsibilities back so ended up with a senior management salary for doing almost nothing!

    5. Bagpuss*

      I’m in the UK, and it’s pretty common to recruit specifically for maternity cover – you don’t generally know in advance how long someone is going to be out for.
      The last couple of times we hired someone we were looking to expand anyway so we hired to cover the maternity leave but stay on permanently afterwards

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I’m a teacher, so obviously we hire subs. To be honest, most qualified teachers will have to do at least a few years of subbing in Ireland and getting a maternity leave cover, ESPECIALLY one where the teacher takes extended leave and you get the full year out of it, is brilliant experience. It means you have a full year to put on your CV. Obviously, as they are qualified teachers, they are already trained so no, we don’t have overlap.

      Some teachers will keep in contact with the sub – I once covered for a teacher who texted me THE DAY HER CHILD WAS BORN to ask how things were going/how the students were preparing for exams. Others leave it completely up to the sub.

      And yup, as in Canada, you get subs the same way you get full time teachers. Mostly, the jobs are advertised on a website called educationposts.ie and given that a principal once told me he got nearly 100 applications for a six-week sick leave cover, I’d imagine there’s no shortage of competition for jobs lasting from 6 months to a year. To be honest, you are very rarely guaranteed more than a year when applying for teaching jobs in Ireland ANYWAY; even for “permanent” jobs, you usually have to reinterview after your first year and you don’t get a permanent contract until the end of the second and maternity leaves can and DO lead to permanent jobs. A job comes up in the school – “hey, x did a really good job when covering that maternity leave. They’d be a great asset long term.”

    7. DistantAudacit*

      I’m in Norway. In my type of work, which is fairly project-based, it is mostly just planned around.

      These are all planned absences, even if the acutal start date can shift a bit close to the term. Even for the non-birthing parent going on birth leave, it is generally known the «X will be out for 2 weeks sometime around there», and X makes sure to keeps their work such that they can just drop everything when needed.

      For the longer parental leave, they will simply not be staffed to a particular upcoming project (because they aren’t available at that time, just like anyone else), and will get a new role when they get back; or a switch in resources is managed for their time away on an existing project etc.

      This is part of the regular planning and management – people can be away for many reasons (parental leave, vacations, whatever), and these longer absences are typically scheduled 3-6 months in advance.

      Other type work, it is like mentioned above: a temporay contract/position is opened which is explicitly maternity coverage.

      People are out 9, or 12 months (or 3 months for non-birthing parental leave), and it is decided in advance and not changed because of pay structures are managed by the National Social Security system and not the employer etc (you get 9 months with 100% pay or 12 months at 80%, I think).

      So, similar to Canada!

      1. allathian*

        It’s similar in Finland as well, although the rules just changed at the beginning of this month so that a larger proportion of parental leave can be split between the parents.

        For maternity leave, there are fixed-term contracts, usually extendable if the parent wants to continue their leave for longer than originally planned, as I did. Sometimes employers do have to scramble if the baby is born prematurely, but we are required by law to start maternity leave 30 days before the due date, so it happens less often than it might. My son was nearly 2 weeks overdue, so I had 6 weeks maternity leave before he was born.

        Temporary maternity leave contracts are a great way of getting a foot in the door. My current coworker was hired to cover my then-coworker’s maternity leave. At the time, parents (moms in the vast majority of cases) could stay on leave until their youngest child’s 3rd birthday, and the employer was required by law to take the employee back. When my then-coworker announced that she wasn’t returning because by that time she’d been on maternity leave for longer than she’d worked for us, her sub got the job. (You have to work for an employer for at least a year to be eligible for full maternity leave benefits.) In my case, my employer paid my salary for the first 3 months of my maternity leave, after that it was paid by social security. At this point I can’t even remember if we had to interview other candidates (government), but even if we did, he was the strongest candidate by far because he’d been doing the work for 3 years by then.

    8. Peter*

      I’m in the UK and commented earlier on this.
      We generally recruit someone on a fixed term contract – generally a year, but in my next case it will be longer because it will cover two years’ busy season.
      We’re a large enough organisation that I try and recruit internally (my teams’ roles generally require experience and qualifications) and we backfill on a FTC. There’s usually enough churn that the temp gets taken on permanently into a different role if/when the mother returns to work.

  51. BossWrangler*

    Tips for being patient with a boss who is technical, but in a completely different area, and keeps asking extremely rudimentary questions, even though he’s been here for nearly a year? (He’s got a lot of experience in assembly, C, and C++, but we’re working with python and javascript libraries, if you’re someone who knows what that means.)

    I try my hardest to be patient with people, but I’ve found myself getting short when he asks for technical explanations for things that he could figure out himself if he spent 3 minutes reading the docs, and because he’s my boss I don’t feel like I can say “please just go read the docs” like I can do for the students/interns/peers that I’ve worked with. We’ve recently had a lot of churn, so until we hire more people it’ll just be me and him, which means it’s important he understands what’s going on, but also I have a hard time respectfully explaining up.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Why don’t you block a solid hour and give him a “Python for C++ people” class?

      Python uses a package manager, C++ uses .h files
      Python has dicts, C++ has arrays
      Naming conventions, data types, common gotchas, etc.

      Give him enough of a conceptual framework that he’ll be comfortable reading the docs.

    2. Gracely*

      Maybe try mentally telling yourself that this is just the way your boss wants the info? Like, some people learn better from hearing an explanation than reading an explanation. It’s maybe a bit similar to how some bosses prefer phone calls to email.

      However, if he’s asking the same questions repeatedly, maybe write a quick FAQ sheet that he can reference. Sometimes when people are learning/using software that’s new to them (that they know someone else is an expert in), they don’t trust themselves, and it feels safer/easier to ask the person they consider the expert. If they’ve got a paper in hand from the “expert”, that can stave off some of the questions, or at least cut down on the repetitive ones.

    3. Cat*

      I know there’s a lot of videos on youtube about python and some of them are pretty engaging, so you might be able to find a good “Python v. C” one to send to your boss. Presenting it as “hey I found this great video and wanted to share it with you” might be less awkward that just pointing him at the docs.

      Possibly more thorough code reviews of each others code would also help him to pick things up faster, if that’s applicable to your situation.

    4. Raboot*

      No advice, just solidarity. If it’s a role where he actually needs to regularly be reading code and understand all of it, then I find it absolutely wild that he hasn’t learned enough js and python to do that after almost a year. It’s really not that hard to read an “into to python” or whatever, especially for someone who doesn’t need the basics explained, only language-specific things. I completely understand why you are getting short – it might not be productive, but this sounds really frustrating.

    5. kiki*

      When he’s asking for explanations, is he doing so in meetings? Or is he just encountering things on his own that prompt these questions then turning to you?

      If it’s in meetings, I would give a high-level overview that’s necessary to understand the conversation then move on. It can be frustrating, but unfortunately that’s part of the job of being a technical person in meetings sometimes.

      If he’s just coming to you whenever a question pops up, I would tell him the highest level overview possible, then say, “I have a resource to share that will give better explanation.” Or “I found that the docs explained it really well, let me send the link to you”

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      My feeling is perhaps he has ‘experience’ with C etc but doesn’t truly understand them at an internalised level (lots of copy and paste etc I suspect), so the fundamentals don’t really translate… has he read the docs but doesn’t understand what he’s reading? I wonder.

      Does he need to know python etc in order to actually carry out tasks himself or is it more for awareness of what you are working on?

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When you are talking about docs, do you mean software language documentation? Or internal documentation that your developers and technical writers are creating? If it’s the latter, consider bringing him into the documentation review. If his questions are the kind of questions that a customer would have, that’s useful for your tech writers. Think of it as him beta testing the manual.

  52. yogurt*

    Seeking game industry advice, or simply field transition pointers. My partner is on the hunt. He’s been stuck in a low-level (in title and pay) graphics/videography/marketing role at our local university for four years. He has tremendous amounts of experience, his title and pay don’t reflect his actual responsibilies or accomplishments.

    He’s struggling right now trying to even find a job that appeals to him. He’s mission-oriented, and one thing he’s interested in is transitioning into the gaming industry (video games). Just looking for advice if anyone happens to be in the industry. He has strong boundaries and knows how toxic/overworked the industry can be. But I want to encourage this interest because he’s really not in a good spot and it is a dream of his to work in this industry.

    I went to a liberal arts school so I literally know no one who entered that industry lol. Any help or directions to another online community I could consult would be lovely!!

    1. Twisted Lion*

      Not in the industry but I did see Bioware post some jobs recently! I hope he can find something that works for him

      1. yogurt*

        Thank you for the tip! My LinkedIn job search is slooooowly steering into industries he’s interested in because I am helping him look for jobs. I will have to take a look at their listings.

    2. Raboot*

      You say he has boundaries and knows about the toxicity, but you also mention one of his current problem is being under-paid. The gaming industry is also notorious for under-paying. They know that people want to work in the industry so the market rate is lower. Something to keep in mind if money is a drive for the job hunt.

      1. yogurt*

        That is a really good point, thank you! I already have a few AAM posts on negotiation bookmarked for when we get to that bridge, but that would be a good thing for us to talk about when it comes up again.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’d second the “pay attention to the industry culture of over-worked/underpaid” message.

      Also, I’d have him start by following the businesses on the appropriate social media sites, and searching for employees of said businesses and following them as well. Listen to the chatter. Join in where appropriate. Build a network, first as bystander, then as acquaintance, then as someone who has learned enough to ask some good questions. Just dive in and paddle around for a bit. There might be some smaller gigs that he can hear about that would build up some experience and connections.

    4. Purrscilla*

      I work in games. I’ve personally been pretty successful in keeping a reasonable work/life balance and avoiding severe toxicity.

      My advice is to look for local meetup groups (IGDA is one such) and go to the meetups. Don’t try to sell yourself too hard at these, but talk to people and get a sense of what companies people like working for and which ones they complain about. Also do some searches for your local games companies and apply for jobs directly on their websites. Following people and/or joining groups on LinkedIn can be helpful to get a sense of who is hiring, but I never apply through LinkedIn.

      Oh, and some useful websites: gamedeveloper.com and gamesindustry.biz.

    5. MulderSheWrote*

      Oh! I can finally help. 10 years in and as a woman, too! Boundaries are essential, so if he has those from the get-go, he will be fine emotionally, but will likely not be the right fit for many companies. That is not a bad thing! Games always need marketers, but for video/art roles, he should have a portfolio. Personal projects can be here, too!

      As for who to follow, IGDA is a great resource, as are the following:

      WorkWithIndies (indies are notorious for tough schedules and crunch, but some are better than others, vetting experiences will be essential)
      GrackleHQ (can sort by location/role)
      RemoteGameJobs (can be found on LinkedIn as well)

      I also just want to say….it’s one thing to love games. I do, truly. The industry is tough. It’s a blend of extremely passionate people who truly love what they do and are working on, and people who just want to make money (as is any industry, but I think it hits harder in entertainment). Luckily, a lot of the toxicity mentioned has been aired very publically in recent years, and the winds are shifting. I would also recommend following a lot of devs on Twitter, maybe not you know, Big Boss of BIGCOMPANYCORP, but find people he likes and resonates with and he can learn a lot, too. Best of luck to him!

    6. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I worked for Xbox about five years ago, so this may be a little dated. A few ideas off the top of my head:
      1) One way to get experience in the gaming industry is to do game testing. Large companies like Microsoft have user experience test labs people get paid for, but there are also 3rd party testing companies that test software (games) and hardware for companies like Microsoft, Sony, etc.
      2) There are MANY game developers and publishers out there. Some are independent, and some are all under the same umbrella. Your partner can apply across the board
      3) Are they involved with any online gaming communities?

      Good luck on their search.

  53. BalanceofThemis*

    So I posted a couple Fridays ago about not being able to take a vacation. I was able to eek out a couple days off and am combining it with a weekend to take a short trip.

    More and more, I am realizing that it’s going to be impossible to ever take even a week off let alone the 2 I’m entitled to. I’m pretty fried right now, but I’m going to start job hunting soon.

    Wish me luck, and if anyone works for a good company that is hiring remote workers (I can’t relocate), let me know.