open thread – August 5-6, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,018 comments… read them below }

  1. Abe Froman*

    Anybody out there in the sales enablement field? I’ve been applying to some things in it and getting interviews, but not getting offers. I have a background in sales and in training (not sales related) so I feel like I have the right mix, but just not breaking through. Would love some help and advice!

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      I have no advice, but I I misread this as “sales embalmment field” and originally had some questions of my own!

      1. Abe Froman*

        I mean, I’m open to new opportunities, so if you have any openings in sales embalmment, I’d be happy to talk more. XD

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          I suggested embalming once to the zombies in the cemetery near my work, but they acted like it was an affront to their very existence,* so I had to let the matter drop. XD I’ll let you know if I hear anything, though!

          *Well, mostly they just shuffled around and said “Grrrruuuuuhhhhhhhhh,” but it was very aggressive shuffling, I swear.

    2. RosaRacket*

      I’m in enablement! I started as internal sales but didn’t want to move into external sales so went the path of enablement. I think I have a decent resume, but I think there’s a decent amount of competition out there right now especially for remote roles. I’ve interviewed a decent amount, even gotten to final rounds and keep getting passed over. When I got my current job, I literally put in 1 application and landed it.

      Sales and training are crucial parts, so you have that going for you. Skills in the tech stack that backs up everything you do is also critical (Salesforce, Highspot, and so many more).

      1. RosaRacket*

        So apparently decent is the word of the day here. Oof. Good thing content writing isn’t on my docket today!

        1. Abe Froman*

          No worries, it was a decent comment. XD Thanks for your insight. I’ve felt like my materials seem to be okay, cuz I have gotten a couple interviews. I guess I have to keep plugging away.

            1. Abe Froman*

              If someone sees the name Abe Froman and doesn’t know I am the Sausage King of Chicago, I don’t want to work for them.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      I’m curious what skills the job listings are looking for. I handle sales enablement, but from the marketing side. My company just launched our new sales enablement platform this year (Highspot too!), and I was the project lead. I second RosaRacket’s comment about being familiar with the tech stack. I’m guessing that some project management experience would be helpful as well.

      1. Abe Froman*

        I’m mostly looking for things that have a high focus on training/presenting skills and strategy. I do have some project management experience, but not much. And I have a lot of experience with different CRMs, but not Salesforce.

  2. Melanie Cavill*

    Thank you to everyone who advised last week re: letting my team lead know about an internal application. I did end up telling her after the long weekend. She was very gracious, said she imagined the role would be a good fit for me, and said she would advocate for me if anyone on the hiring team approached her.

    Now I’m psyduck.jpg-ing over something else in this process. I was told I wouldn’t hear back until after the posting was closed – which likely would have meant this coming Monday at the earliest. Instead, they ended up arranging an interview for me midway through this week. Three people from Potential New Office are driving over a half hour/forty kilometres to Current Office (which is in the middle of nowhere) in order to meet me. I may just vibrate out of observable reality in anticipation because I cannot begin to decipher what that means. It’s a level of courtesy I’m unused to as an applicant! Fortunately, the unknowable trickster deity we call Imposter Syndrome is there to whisper in my ear all the worst possible potential interpretations of said courtesy.

    Also! Random question for hiring managers out there: what would your opinion be if someone came to an interview dressed appropriately, but wearing sparkly nail polish in bold colours?

    1. Vivian*

      To your last point, I would, perhaps unfairly, assume that they will be a Big Personality on the team. But I wouldn’t consider it a negative, much less a dealbreaker, for any level of the organization. It would be uncommon in a director role (fwiw, I hire for early career, not director levels) but I’d still only be concerned that they know their shit rather than their choice of nail polish.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Not a hiring manager, but if I was meeting a potential coworker dressed appropriately and they had bold fingernails my “inner light” buttons would be pushed and I’d be excited to find out whether the potential coworker was going to have lovely hidden surprises.

      Amazing that they’re coming to you! Good luck!

      1. Fran Fine*

        +1 to your first paragraph.

        I would think you were cool, Melanie. Good luck on your interview!

    3. DarthVelma*

      My agency’s mission involves very young children, so take my answer in that context. For us, even in the central office and in higher level roles, bright sparkly nail polish wouldn’t be a big deal. Just like with hair dyed in unusual colors, unless you’re in a very conservative industry, I don’t see that kind of individual expression mattering nearly as much as it did at the start of my career 25 years ago.

    4. Ama*

      Bold nail polish would not bother me, given that I am fond of a bold nail myself (mine are currently bright fuschia). I think these days as long as the polish is in good condition and not extremely noticeably chipped it doesn’t really matter what color it is.

      I would probably ask you what brand/color you were wearing, though.

    5. PollyQ*

      Tell your internal Imposter Trickster God that there are no bad implications of people being eager to interview you! In fact, it’s probably not about you at all, just that they want to get the show on the road and don’t see any reason to wait. Best of luck!

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        It’s less the sped up timeline and more that they’re driving a not inconsiderable distance to interview me, and knowing for a fact that I’m the only person in my office that has applied for the role. Maybe they’re going to the local waterpark after? That’s a thing people do, right?

        And thank you!

        1. Books and Cooks*

          Definitely don’t mean to pour cold water, but might it help your nerves if you think of it as, “They wanted to come put in some face time at this location anyway, and saw interviewing me as a chance to do it?” or “One of them just got a new car and is eager to do a mini road trip?”

          Again, don’t mean to be all “Get over yourself.” I think it’s exciting, too! But if it’s making you nervous or overexcited, and you want to try not to think of it as “they must be really interested in me!” terms, those are two reasons I can think of that have nothing to do with you.

          Best of luck to you!

          1. Melanie Cavill*

            That’s an excellent point! It definitely doesn’t help my nerves to try and find meaning in it. And thank you! :)

        2. PollyQ*

          I don’t think a half-hour drive is that all much, actually. It’d have to be at least an hour to get my attention. And you don’t know where they’re starting from. Perhaps they all live in between the two offices, so it’s only 15-20 minutes for them. And it is summer, so the waterpark is a definite possibility! ;-)

          1. Melanie Cavill*

            I’ll know the interview was a success (went swimmingly, if you will!) if they invite me to the waterpark with them.

          2. to varying degrees*

            Yeah, at least where I’m at a half hour doesn’t even register. The most I have driven for my day to day job was an hour, one-way and I drove 20-25 minutes, no traffic one-way at my last job.

            Best wishes and good vides wo you Melanie!! And wear the sparkly nail polish. If you start getting nervous/in-your-head too much, it’ll make you happy.

            1. Melanie Cavill*

              Fair! It’s just an interesting inversion of the typical power dynamic that interviewers (with only one of them actually being HR) are taking time out of their workday to come to me, rather than the other way around. That plus the distance is what surprised me.

              And thank you! That’s very sweet of you to say.

    6. Delta Delta*

      Re Nail Colors: I’ve long been a fan of bright/bold/dark/sparkly nail color, even before it was popular. I had nail polish in every color of the rainbow when I was a kid. I remember specifically being on the school bus one day in 5th grade and a mean 7th grader turned to me and said, “If you wear that nail polish to middle school you’re going to get teased like crazy.” I wore the nail polish and nobody, not even she, teased me a little, not even “like crazy.” This was in the early 1990s.

      Point being, there are some people who just really like bright nails and always have and can’t help it (mine are blue right now), and if you’re not offered a job because of your nail color, that’s not the job for you, anyway. If you’re really worried about it, maybe skirt the line with dark purple or red or magenta so it still looks like an expected nail color but isn’t every-other flamingo pink and pool blue (not that I’ve done that, or anything)

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        The point about not wanting a job that would deny me because of my nails is a salient one and I’m glad you said it!

        That said, I’m not worried so much as debating how to handle my regularly scheduled weekend nail painting. The sparkly multichrome make the happiest / feel most like myself, but for interviews I generally go more neutral… and make sure both hands are the same colour. On the other hand, how boring is that? etc. This may or may not be a fun distraction to keep me from stressing about the actual interview.

        1. Books and Cooks*

          I would definitely make sure both hands are the same color. I have a weird aversion to differently-colored hands or every-other-nail-is-different when it comes to adults; it definitely wouldn’t affect my decision on something like hiring, because that’s not fair, but I can’t guarantee it wouldn’t distract me during the interview at least a tiny bit. (And before anyone says anything, I would and do definitely take cultural context into consideration, as well.) (And also, I myself have had long nails for thirty years, and have painted them all kind of colors; I’m just oddly distracted by different colors on each hand or finger. I tried it once and had to redo it the next day because it drove me crazy. Again, wouldn’t hold it against anyone, especially not in hiring–to each their own–but I might find it a bit distracting.)

          Maybe try something that’s unique, but not as bold or obvious? Like a differently-colored French tip, or the “dull tip” thing (where the nail bed is shiny bit the tips are matte, or vice versa)? Or white/skin tone with glitter (or a glitter tip/fade into glitter), because you don’t always “see” the glitter depending on the angle/light? I would definitely find something like that really cool, and think of it as fun, as opposed to every-finger-a-different-bright-color.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a hiring manager: I PROBABLY wouldn’t even notice the sparkly bold nail polish, to be 100% honest. But if I did, I would assume that you would subsequently not be bothered by the fact that if my nails are polished at all, then at least three of them are a different color from the rest, and would otherwise be unlikely to be thrown off too badly by the potential of having a slightly eccentric manager. (Fairly high chance that I would also be wearing a Star Wars t-shirt with both a skull and a full skeleton visible behind me on camera. Luckily, I work in the medical field. Also luckily, my team thinks I’m amazing.)

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Nail polish…it wouldn’t be a negative in itself, but if the person was unprepared in any way I wouldn’t be able to resist thinking “you had time to paint your nails but not prepare for the interview” and what that says about their priorities…

      1. Emma2*

        Could I just suggest that this is quite unfair? Women tend to be judged and mocked for spending “too much” time on their appearance, and judged and mocked for being “insufficiently” well groomed.
        For all you know, the 30 minutes the candidate spent getting her nails done were the only 30 minutes she was able to spend unwinding/relaxing all week. Other candidates may have spent the same 30 minutes going for a run, watching trashy television shows, etc. Almost all of us take some small amount of time for ourselves, and I don’t think it is particularly helpful to judge candidates for that.
        I also think it’s helpful to remember that we rarely know everything that is going on with other people. I know women who always have their nails manicured because chemotherapy left their nails so damaged they don’t feel comfortable leaving them undone – should we judge them for daring to spend a small part of their week getting their nails done instead of spending every moment preparing for the interview?

      2. Lumos*

        I think this a really unfair interpretation you should challenge in yourself. Nail polish can possibly last a long time without chipping. If the person is wearing acrylics they can last even longer and you have no way to know whether they did it themselves or had a previously scheduled appointment they couldn’t really move or that was way before the interview. If they’re unprepared for the interview that has nothing to do with their nail polish habits and you can judge them solely on their unpreparedness without even in your own head bringing their nails into it.

      3. RetailEscapee*

        This is not an excellent take.
        If she shows up with a chipped nail someone will think she’s sloppy or not detail oriented. If she has no polish she’s dumpy or lazy or g-d forbid masculine. Now she gets regular manis or acrylics and that means she has less time to prepare for interviews? Do you wonder how an unprepared make candidate had time to shave? This is just misogyny with extra steps.

    9. Generic Name*

      re: random question. Do you want to work at a place that might judge you for wearing nail polish that you enjoy? Presumably you are not currently unemployed and enjoy the luxury of being able to choose, I would choose to wear the nail polish I wanted, and if someone rejected me for a job over it, it wouldn’t be a good fit anyhow.

      As to my opinion, I would think, “Ooh, fun!” and I might even compliment you. One of my best friends is into nail art and sparkly nail polish, and she’s just the best. :)

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        I was thinking of it more, like – I wouldn’t show up for a job interview wearing jeans, but if an office had a strict no-jeans policy, I’m not sure I would want to work there. I’m not bothered by having a more traditional neutral manicure for an interview, but I’d view it the same way I’d view a dress code: the sparkles come back as soon as the jeans do. For interviews, I really was just wondering how it looks from the other side of the table.

    10. Becky S.*

      Several years ago Philadelphia got its first ever female police commissioner. She showed up for her first day wearing black nail polish. someone pointed out to her that her polish color violated the rules. She promptly changed the rules.
      ;-)

    11. Merci Dee*

      I work in accounting (granted, in private industry), and have been wearing bold and sparkly nail colors for years. Just about every time I change my nail color on the weekends, a handful of people notice on Monday and tell me how much they love the new color — those handful of people know that my nail polish motto is, “there’s no color so awesome that it can’t be improved by a coordinating glitter polish”. One of the people who typically compliments me on my new polish colors is my direct supervisor.

      Interesting story, though. I graduated from college in May 2000. A couple of months before graduation, the school arranged for a group of women who worked in various accounting jobs around town to come and act as “mentors” for a day-long conference they were putting on for women who were graduating from my college’s school of business. The night before the conference, I had painted my nails with a basic silver glitter polish — the polish was clear, it just has silver glitter in it. You really had to look to see the glitter on my nails, the effect was that low-key. During the conference, the “mentor” sitting at my table was talking about grooming, looking neat and professional, etc. She gave me a kind of side-eye look and said, “you won’t be able to wear outrageous nail polishes like that when you go into accounting. You’ll have to stay with clear, pale pink, or nude. And maybe you can get away with a darker red the week before Christmas.” So, I went on to graduate in May, and got my first job in a small accounting firm about a month after I graduated. From the time that I walked into that small firm until now, no one had really given two flying flips about how I paint my nails. And I do some fun themed nails for the holidays, including a set that featured painted blood dripping from the tips during Halloween.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        My mother has a similar outlook that your mentor did. Back in university, I worked in an MP’s office, and she told me once that the MP would never take me seriously because my nails were, that week, a dark forest green. No sparkles, no art, just a creme. Despite finding the condemnation quite silly, I think that’s stuck with me a bit.

        1. Merci Dee*

          Here’s the picture that jumped into my head with the creme dark forest green polish . . . .

          The forest green as a background color. Then take a green that’s about 2 or 3 shades lighter, but still coordinates nicely, and a thin brush. On a couple of nails (thumb nails, and then one or two others), paint small clusters of line-art pine trees. Start from the cuticle of the nail, and paint the trees off-center, slightly more to one side of the nail or the other. Use the lighter green to draw two or three vertical lines of different lengths, but no longer than the middle of your nail. Then on each vertical line, do small angled lines on either side for the branches, shorter at the highest end of the vertical line, and then longer as it gets down toward the middle of the vertical line where the branches stop. The effect would be really subtle and easy to miss, but would be so cute when you noticed it.

      2. Lumos*

        As a fellow accountant who is currently rocking rainbow hair, I love this. I also got told I would never be able to have that in the accounting field and that is definitely wrong. I need to add amazing nails to my style rotation.

        1. Merci Dee*

          I’ve also got 11 earrings in my ears — 5 pairs, and then a lone stud at the top of my right ear that’s not matched on the left side. I have shoulder-length hair that’s spiral curly, and had usually worn it down before the pandemic, so my ears weren’t a big deal. But since the pandemic, I’ve been wearing my hair pulled back every day with cloth head bands to make it easier to get my mask on and off, so my ears have really been on display. I have a massive collection of really cool earrings that I wear as the mood strikes me (full disclosure — I only ever change the bottom holes, mostly because I’m kind of lazy in that regard, and the studs in my other 4 sets of piercings are all sort of neutral gems so they’ll go with anything), and I get lots of complementary comments on my earrings. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and the people in the area immediately around my desk make an excuse to stop by my cube every day during October so they can see which Halloween-themed earrings I’m wearing for the day. They range from small and cute little clear bottles holding purple glitter with a “potion” sticker on the bottle, to a set of dangly mermaid skeletons that brush my shoulders. One set is of adorable black cats that have fur pom poms for the body and tails that can swing back and forth. I’ve got several sets of jeweled spiders, a set of sugar skulls, a set that’s a regular skeleton, but dressed in a tulle skirt with a little rose crown on its head. It took me a few years, but I finally found 31 sets of Halloween earrings so that I could wear a different set on each day of Spooktober. :)

            1. Lumos*

              I agree with this assessment. Are the skueletons with the tutus from Betsey Johnson? I have a set of earrings that are similar from her so I’m wondering. I don’t have more than two ear piercings but I am also rocking snake bites. (I take them out for video calls though, just in case)

              1. Merci Dee*

                No, they’re not Betsey Johnson earrings — just some little things I picked up from Walmart a couple of years ago because they were so adorable.

                The best thing about my Halloween earrings is this . . . my daughter, who is 17, has been amused at my annual hunt for new earrings to add to my collection. I didn’t really have a place to keep all of my Spooktober earring collection together anymore, so for Christmas she found a cute wooden storage box and painted the top with a night sky theme. A blackish-blue sky with a nice bright moon, some twinkly stars about, and fine spatters of glow-in-the-dark white paint to look like galaxies and other far-away stars whirling through the night sky. It’s the perfect place to put my collection, and I’m just counting down the days until I can pull it out and really use it for the first time.

                We celebrate on September 30 for my daughter’s birthday (18 this year!!), and then we celebrate on October 1st for the start of Spooktober! Halloween is so fabulous that it can’t be contained in one day, it has to be celebrated for the whole month!

              2. Merci Dee*

                And, also, you mentioned your snake bites and rainbow hair, and now my funky nails and off-the-wall earrings and multiple piercings. I totally love the idea that maybe, must maybe, accountants are getting more and more metal as the years go by.

            2. Merci Dee*

              Aw, you’re so sweet, Melanie!

              Hope your interview goes well! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you!

    12. Observer*

      lso! Random question for hiring managers out there: what would your opinion be if someone came to an interview dressed appropriately, but wearing sparkly nail polish in bold colours?

      Are they reasonable people? Is this an unusually conservative industry?

      If the answers are Yes and No, I can’t imagine it making a difference.

    13. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I’m in a conservative profession in a conservative (dress-wise) area (DC), and wouldn’t think twice about it, unless they were talons, and then I might.

    14. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Congrats on the interview! Good luck.

      Seems like you already have the answers you need on nail polish but just to add a final thought: I would think about it in terms of office norms, the same way you would with other aspects of your appearance. The bold hair colors mentioned by other commentators come to mind. Do other people at your workplace have bold nails or hair? How conservatively (or boringly haha) do others dress? I could see your style of nails working in a ton of offices but maybe not at say, a conservative law firm or something.

      I loved the idea brought up above of getting a manicure that’s fun like a reverse French style while keeping it from being a distracting situation just out of an abundance of caution.

    15. Mannequin*

      My mother, who would be 93 if she were still living, wore pearly bright fuschia pink nail polish all her life, including when she had a professional job as an electronic engineer in a govt. associated facility aerospace industry in the 50s & 60s.

  3. Neosmom*

    Five months (to the day) after my employer’s acquisition, my boss tells me the acquiring company’s sales team is independent, I will no longer be needed as an executive assistant (mainly supporting sales), and I will need to “find something else” in the posted jobs. So, I do exactly that.

    Then I was working on a project with the general manager, who tells me he is the GM, this is his facility, and he and HR will be mapping my executive assistant position. I explained that my current boss told me to find something else and I have acted on my boss’s instructions.

    And today, after a couple of years of me being sorely underutilized, I am needed to shepherd the conversion of our Sharepoint and Dynamics records to the acquiring company’s systems.

    It’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride this week.

      1. Neosmom*

        Reviewing current responsibilities and shoehorning them into a position on the acquiring company’s list of valid job titles.

  4. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    I cannot stand the unstructured randomness of my job (front desk reception). I hate never knowing when the phone will ring, or some random person will walk in the door. I hate trying to do anything at all and getting interrupted 10+ times in 5 minutes (not an exaggeration) because of said phone and randos. I’ve always hated these types of jobs, and I think I’m pinning down why, aside from social anxiety making me a terrible fit because I just hate dealing with people in general ’cause they spike my anxiety.

    I never got to try out different jobs when I was younger, back when you’re “supposed” to experiment to find your niches, because there were so few jobs in the remote region where I lived. So only now in my 40s am I really learning about what all is out there that’s not regular office job work.

    So many raised eyebrows at the fact that at my age, I want to get out of this job I will never turn into a career, and just hop around until I find where I fit. But that’s what I need to do. I just have no idea where to start! I keep hearing about the Great Resignation, but I’m not really seeing it translate into more job opportunities for someone like me, who doesn’t have any specialized skills but has a lot of general life experience and wants to learn new things that don’t involve answering someone else’s phones and greeting their guests. Who else here is going through this soul-searching? How’s your journey going?

    1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      I hear you! I didn’t enjoy being a receptionist (and I’m slightly reception adjacent now, so I get it!) and part of it were the people and the constant interruption. I was fortunate to transition away from receptionist in the same company and gained a lot of office skills that way. If you like your company, see about asking for more non-receptionist related tasks (to bolster your skills) and to show you have an interest in moving away from that.

      If that’s not an option, look for lower level/entry type non-receptionist jobs that you can spin your skills to fit. You don’t have to fit 100% or even 1-1 for each type of skill- so long as you can demonstrate based on your skills and experience that what you do apply for you can handle, that should be good!

      Also, you don’t always have to be clear about what exactly you want to do next- open yourself up to different paths and be happy exploring those. I ended up doing three or four different office jobs before landing at this one, which is a sort of Gal Friday around a small office. And because it’s small, I can ask to take on different things which, if I would ever need or want to look around again for a different job, can parlay that into different roles.

      I’m a natural pessimist and I can’t tell you that job searching was ever easy, regardless of the market, but transitioning CAN be done! Good luck!

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        I’m definitely not a white-collar sort of person (my weekend part-time job I love, because I just walk alone for miles every day looking for safety hazards), but your advice can definitely be applied to breaking out of office work. Thank you!

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            I’m part of what’s called a “fire watch safety team.” Literally the entire job is patrolling a factory facility indoor and outdoor looking for anything on fire or in danger of catching fire. If I see a fire that can’t be put out with an extinguisher, I would have to report it to security and let them handle things from there. It’s an hourly patrol, but the patrol part only takes about 30 min at this place, so I get to spend the rest of the time in the nice air-conditioned break room doing whatever I want. :) I love it! The pay is actually much better than my stupid desk job, too. I’d quit and do the fire stuff full time, but the fire watch is a temporary gig since they’re shutting down the facility it’s for in the fall, so I’d need to find someplace else first. :/ I did a search engine lookup for “fire watch jobs” and had some results, so you might try looking it up! :D

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

          You sound like my exact opposite — I immediately get bored to tears with jobs where nothing new or unexpected happens, ever. And my social anxiety is actually cured by my “work mode” persona, because having a job/service to perform gives me an excuse to get past my usual shyness.
          That said, if you like some physical activity and not too much customer service stuff, I had a buddy who worked for the city water department going around marking up the sidewalk with a spray can (so that construction crews wouldn’t bust a water main), and he said it was a pretty great job. It sounds a little similar to the weekend job you like. Lotta movement but not, like, back-breaking labor, and he got to be pretty autonomous once he’d been given his assignments.
          If you live near any medical research hubs, lab tech jobs are also a possibility? They’re not prone to constant interruption and have (what I think of as) a nice balance of repetition and easily-anticipated breaks.

    2. ferrina*

      I went through this pre-pandemic. I was a hard worker, but having a tough time breaking into an office job. And I didn’t care what kind of job, as long as it had a desk and I could build a career in it.
      Since you don’t have a preference on field, I’d start with environment. Do you want a desk job or not a desk job? You already know that you don’t want something customer service (because you hate constant interruptions, which tend to come a lot with customer service). Then I’d narrow your job search to fields you have exposure to (like if you were a receptionist for a company that was in that field). It makes a difference if you have some familiarity with the field, and you can say “When I assisted my coworkers/heard about their job, I was fascinated by XYZ. That’s why I’m applying for this job.”
      Temping can help get a foot in the door (that’s how I got into my career), but it doesn’t come with a steady paycheck.
      Good luck!

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Do you want a desk job or not a desk job?

        I definitely fall under not a desk job type. :D (Which is weird, since when I’m at home, I faff about on the computer all day.) I guess I like to be active for my work. Sitting around work waiting for things to happen is a major source of stress to me. I want to either have steady work with necessary breaks all shift, or else do my day’s assignments and leave when I’m done rather than sit around waiting on the clock to run out.

        Thank you for your suggestions!

        1. bunniferous*

          Real estate scratches that itch for me-but I have a unicorn of a job-I sell foreclosures for the VA (my office has a contract to do so and I am the agent that handles it. ) Every day is different, no clock to watch. I could sell regular real estate if I wanted(since I have my license) but I prefer just talking to other agents, property preservation, and doing inspection tasks. Half the job is in the field, half in my home office, and in my case I have managed to keep my weekends free. The vast majority of the time our assignments are vacant houses (and since I have experienced a foreclosure in my past, the times someone IS still in a house knows that I have been where they are and can help them in the process. The majority of the time I can hand them a check to help with moving expenses (called Cash for Keys) so that helps emotionally.

          I’m thinking that maybe you could work as a real estate assistant for someone to see if the job interests you? You don’t necessarily need a license to start out-but getting one would be a plus at some point.

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            I’ve thought about that before, but it never sounded like something I could do without having some specialized training. This sounds more attainable. Thank you so much for mentioning it!

    3. DaniCalifornia*

      Ugggh I’ve been there! I REALLY REALLY feel you. I went from front desk, to receptionist, to office manager, to bookkeeper/admin, to admin asst. I’ve been in some sort of admin role for 16 years in health, education, finance, and now technology. I’m getting out by getting my degree in a field I love and *hopefully* a job offer this coming winter when I graduate.

      For now I would create a mantra for you everyday. This is what I did when I worked for a tax office and it was constant interruptions, phone, and people for most of the day on top of a toxic work environment. I had to get up in the morning and tell myself “I will get interrupted, I will have to answer the phone, and it will be ok. I will keep searching for something I love.” If you are decent with admin skills you might want to look into online certificates for bookkeeping or medical coding or data entry related fields that you could transition into which can require less front desk work and more quiet hours. I temped for a bit and because I could type well and quickly do data entry I got to try out some different work places. The tax office I worked for did payroll and bookkeeping and if you can balance a check register you can learn bookkeeping and QuickBooks. It wasn’t my favorite but it was constant and there was always work and less front desk time. Do you have temp agencies near you or recruiting firms that specialize in admin jobs? A lot of times depending on the admin job you could end up at an office where the field is interesting to you and you get to learn hands on and can transition into another role. My current company has offered for me to try out marketing and now that I have my degree (I’m currently an admin). I’ve had many roles that you ended up wearing a lot of hats so I have experience in managing social media, marketing, interviewing/talent acquisition, the list goes on. Here’s to hoping you can find something soon!

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        These are some great suggestions! I had a bad experience with the last temp agency I tried (flat-out lied to me about the job they were sending me to, then unsuccessfully tried to penalize me for not agreeing to take the assignment long-term when I figured out it was a bait-and-switch). But that place has gone out of business and it’s been years, so I could try again somewhere else. Thank you!

    4. MW*

      I feel this!

      I took a job in front line customer service 10 years ago because I needed a job, any job, thinking I’d be there for a year or two. Well, 10 years later I now manage the team but it’s still customer service which was never what I wanted to do and I’m enough of an introvert that it’s stressful anyway even without the increase in people being rude etc that we’ve seen over the past couple of years (and wow some people are SO challenging). But it has been so long now I don’t know how to get out or do anything different, at least not without taking a significant pay cut because I also acquired a whole bunch of bills and responsibilities in the last decade.

      I’m currently looking into possible sideways moves with more of an online service focus rather than in person, and really trying to highlight my other project experience etc in applications. Because I DO have transferable skills, it’s just difficult to make myself believe that after so long in this kind of job. I also think part of the problem is that I’ve been in the same place so long that I’ve, like, got my niche at this organisation? And going somewhere else might be a chance to carve out a slightly different niche, even if it still in a more service-y role than I’d like.

      At least that’s where my soul searching has got me so far! Good luck with everything! And if anyone has any tips or advice, they’d be very gratefully received.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        I think sliding sideways sounds like a good idea. I really hope you slide into something you love!

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I would hate your job and be anxious for all the reasons you mentioned.

      I agree there is more than regular office work (ie white collar jobs), but lots of regular office work is not like reception and doesn’t have that kind of unexpected human interactions that a recptionist has.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        By that first line I mean sympathy and commiseration. It’s not a fit for introverts or socially anxious people.

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          I appreciate the sympathy! :) And yeah, it’s definitely not good for anxiety. It doesn’t make me “get used to people and be less anxious” like non-anxious people keep insisting it will; it just pulls my anxiety triggers more every day.

    6. Rosengilmom*

      Especially if you have computer skills, it may help to sign on with a temporary services agency. Their assignments are usually for a fixed period of time before moving on to the next. You get to test-drive each job and potential employer.

    7. Generic Name*

      Yeah, that is very unstructured. If you love structure and predictability, working for the federal government may be right up your alley. Maybe in a file clerk type role? USAJobs is where all the fed jobs are posted.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        I’m really amused at this suggestion, because I used to be a rural substitute mail carrier and loved it. :) I wanted to make a career out of it, but had to leave because of then-undiagnosed health problems. (Now the USPS has been so thoroughly sabotaged and gutted that it’s not what it was twenty years ago. Plus, I have a lot of lingering damage from my health problems that would make doing the heavy physical labor part unsustainable.) I’ll look at other positions on that site, thank you!

    8. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I posted a similar question below. In my 40’s and really wanting to do something else but not really knowing what. I don’t understand why people over 20 aren’t expected to want to learn new things. I never thought of it being something you grow out of. Sorry, I obviously have no advise to give as I’m asking my own but you are not alone!

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Posted too soon. I wanted to add that learning is an important part of my existence! The idea that you learn everything you need to know in your childhood and twenties is one that I’ve never understood. No wonder so many people stay stuck in bad jobs, if they’re ones not even trying to learn anything that can help them! I tend to get fed up with jobs where I both learn everything I can AND have no room to grow. I’ve learned everything I can from reception, decades ago actually, but I’m too swamped and washed out from anxiety to learn anything new that I can take a new job. I’ve tried–my brain just won’t latch on to new information. This always happens when I reach a particular stage of burnout, and is only fixed by leaving the bad situation entirely. Taking a vacation won’t fix it. But yeah, I agree that it’s weird that people think it’s weird to want to learn and change yourself in your 30s or later!

    9. Jora Malli*

      I’m in this boat with you, and I think on some level, the Great Resignation is hurting rather than helping me. I’m trying to move into a new field (any field! just not customer service!), but with so many people switching jobs within their current fields, I feel like I’m at a disadvantage. When I look through the list of jobs I’ve applied for on Indeed, they all say that 500-1000 other people also applied, and if even half of those people have existing experience in the field while all of my experience is transferable from a different field, then of course I’m not getting called in for interviews. If I were hiring, I’d probably take the candidate with the in-field experience too.

      I’ve tried two temp agencies so far, even though as a 40 year old with bills to pay the idea of not having a guaranteed salary is terrifying, but all they’ve offered so far are call center jobs. I have to get out of my current field, but nothing I’ve done has gained me any results at all.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Yes, this has been my experience so far! Except that I haven’t tried temp agencies yet–I’m still trying to work out the logistics of that one since I really need something lined up before leaving current job, but I don’t have free time off to hit up a temp agency and do their placement stuff.

        Honestly, I’m thinking I may have to just carve my own path at this stage–I used to run a successful business that I only stopped due to health issues (which is why I’ve had to leave most work, sadly). Those issues are now resolved, and I feel I could make a place for myself doing that kind of self-employment again.

    10. Juneybug*

      I would suggest to look at all of the tasks/duties/responsibilities you do that are not your primary job.
      For example, I was admin/office support for 16 years. One of my many but small responsibilities was records management. Hey, I have 16 years of experience in the records management field!
      I then looked for records management positions, changed my resume to reflect my experience, training, accomplishments, etc. that only pertained to records management. Few months later, got a records management job with the state.
      Good luck! We all look forward to you being a good news submitter soon!

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        I like this idea! I have been trying to think of how best to rework my resume so I don’t look like a reception lifer, and this is a nice way to emphasize other roles within a job.

        And I really appreciate your optimism for that future good news Friday!

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Do you work where there are local government jobs, like in a county seat or state capitol? After I lost a job that I loved, but with no actual transferable skills (unless the same type of job opened up somewhere) and no degree, I was in a similar situation. There was a posting for a job at the county government center, and part of the process was taking a series of tests (keyboard, sorting skills, might have been a few others), and just one or two interviews. The job was in the assessor’s office, and our crew worked on property transfers – mostly making sure all the forms were correct, but also light research to make sure the properties were correctly identified, and occasional deeper research as needed. 90% of it was sitting in a cubicle and 10% was research in plat books. There wasn’t much human interaction except breaks and lunch, and if we had questions. I wasn’t there long because unlike you, I prefer less predictability, and my dream job that was similar to my old one reached out with an offer. But there are all kinds of behind-the-scenes government jobs. My husband has worked in the court system for decades, and most of the people there have no degrees and a variety of odd job experiences that were going nowhere. Good luck!

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t*

        This is really good advice that I hadn’t thought about until these comments. I’m gonna look into it along with the other suggestions, thank you!

  5. LinkedIn blocking*

    Any LI experts here? The internet is not helping me with this.

    Is there a way to block people on LinkedIn without removing them from your network? The only way I can see to do it removes the connection, and the person I have in mind is definitely keeping track of that sort of thing.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Go to a post they’ve made or liked or reposted or whatever and choose “Unfollow Gertrude Pennyworth” – you’ll stop seeing their posts/likes/etc in your feed.

      But I don’t think you can block them from seeing *your* stuff if you’re a connection.

      1. LinkedIn blocking*

        Yeah, I specifically want them to stop checking up on me. Not worried about seeing their stuff in my feed.

          1. LinkedIn blocking*

            It’s complicated, and explaining the whole thing would be doxxable.

            Nothing scandalous or fascinating, just small town nonsense that is making life harder than it needs to be.

            1. quill*

              Small town gossip nonsense is usually only stopped by cutting people off from the source of information. It’s probably actually less trouble to block so and so and then play it off as “technology, so complex!” than to try and find how to shadow block them.

        1. ThatGirl*

          You can do a lot with settings for the general public, but I don’t think you can stop a connection from seeing your profile/feed/etc. That’s the whole point of being a connection.

          Is there a reason you don’t want to just remove and block them and be done with it?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This sounds like asking Linked In to come up with a feature where people will think they are connected to you, but it won’t be true. It seems like LI would find that counterproductive, and it would set off a whole wave of “How can I check that my connections are connected connected?”

            I don’t want to rule out that there is a way to do this, because engineers are always trying to connect refrigerators to the internet so who knows what feature someone has added in.

            1. ThatGirl*

              yeah, basically – from a social POV I can understand asking, but I think you have to accept the consequences either way — either this person can see what you post, comment, etc (and you are always free to use LI less) or you accept the consequences of disconnecting from them.

    2. Generic Name*

      Can you block them and then have a friend keep tabs on them and let you know if they post anything concerning?

    3. RagingADHD*

      The problem with small town nonsense is that there is always a point at which it becomes impossible to dodge and weave anymore.

      Eventually you have to either lie down or stand up for yourself.

  6. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I’m looking for ergonomics suggestions. My new office and job are great! However, the office chair is not. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it’s hurting in my mid-back, like right around where my bra-line-back-fat is. The chair seat almost feels like it maybe tilts forward very slightly? Or doesn’t quite lower as much as I want it to?
    The furniture is new and everyone has the same chair.

    It’s also entirely possible it’s something else. I’ve never found a good office setup that doesn’t leave some part of my body sore, compounded by the fact that I cannot sit still and move and sit in all kinds of weird ways.

    1. Velomont*

      Have you thought of getting a foam, cylindrical back support? It may not be the cure-all you’re looking for but it will give you the ability to move it around and get a better idea of what works for you.

    2. Sundial*

      Search on Amaz-n for “Bangled Lumbar Support, Back Support with Wooden Beads Provide Massage Feature, Breathable Back Support Cushion for Car Home and Office Chair”. It doesn’t have to be that exact item, but that style of product has worked well for me.

    3. Annika Hansen*

      Can you find a manual for your chair? Sometimes you can change the tilt of your seat. Also, are you shorter or taller than the average man? You may need a different size chair. This can even hold true if you just have something like long/short legs or long/short torso but are of average height. I am only 5’5″, but my legs are of similar length to my 6’4″ husband. I have a chair designed for a taller person so the seat supports my legs better.

    4. Observer*

      Also, do your legs dangle?

      Look at the height of your monitor and the height of your keyboard an mouse.

    5. FalsePositive*

      Depending on the chair, the seat may tilt forward/back as well as slight forward back. There may be lumbar support you can adjust. You could ask check the “back stop” if it has one — this controls how far the back leans (or doesn’t). If you can figure out the brand/model, you look for directions on the options to adjust.

    6. Kacihall*

      I have tried many different chairs. Found a cushion and lumbar combo from Cushion Lab that were pricy (but way cheaper than a great chair!) but I don’t hurt every day, so it was totally worth it.

    7. morjin*

      I get pain in the EXACT same spot and it’s very painful when it flairs up. My bff is a AT and postural expert, and explained to me the culprit is when my head is not in line with my neck. For a lot of us, our heads are usually forward or down as we look at our screens all day – the weight of your head without the proper support of your spine holding it in place puts a lot of strain on those back muscles. Throughout the day, especially when I’m at my desk, I try to remember to bring my head back so I have a long spine (if you’re doing it correctly, you’ll have a nice double chin). A great place to do this is your car too because you have the headrest for support to push back on. There are a ton of exercises you can do throughout your day to stretch and strengthen those muscles.

      Other things I’ve found helpful:
      * Raising my monitors in line with my eye level so I’m not constantly looking down even a fraction
      * Locking my chair in place so it doesn’t rock back and forth – I would tend to lean far back in my chair and that would just exasperate the postural issues
      * If you are able to do so – try to get a chair with a head rest so it will remind you to keep your head in line with your spine. My husband and SIL both have desk jobs and have the Autonomous ErgoChair and rave about it

      I hope you find some relief – I quite literally feel your pain!

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

      Is there anyone at your new job that is ergonomics trained? At my previous job there was a training that people could take to become ergonomically certified (or something like that it was 5 years ago). This wasn’t something through the company itself but an outside contractor. It would teach how to set up the desk, computer, etc for an individual. I wish I could remember what the training was called, but I never took it but my manager had. Maybe ask your manager if they know of anything or anyone who could help make your desk better.

  7. My Useless 2 Cents*

    I am completely burnt out and dissatisfied at my current job. I seriously started looking for a new job in Feb of 2020 but then the pandemic happened and the search stalled out then got put aside. I’ve casually looked since but can’t seem to find the motivation to kick it into gear. I’ve thought about trying to change careers entirely as the thought of doing what I’ve been doing for 20 years isn’t appealing (which I think is part of my problem). However, I can’t really afford to make less than I am now. Anyone been thru something similar or have any advice?

    **To complicate this, I’ve been dealing with an on-going health issue that leaves me utterly exhausted. I literally spent 20 minutes staring at the wall the other day trying to find the energy to move from my couch to my bed. (I actually am getting better but sometimes it just hits me like a ton of bricks.) So just “buckling down” or trying to force myself to job search for X minutes a day is just not working.

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      I am going through this exact situation, complete with chronic fatigue that is making it actually impossible to do my job well in certain situations, and I can only say I have all the empathy for you. I hope we both find something new and better!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Sounds like there are a few roadblocks in your job search. Changing careers: you aren’t motivated to search for jobs like the one you have now. Do you have any ideas for jobs/careers you want to pivot to? Identifying something you’re excited about applying to will probably give you more motivation to work on resumes/cover letters/applications.

      If you don’t have anything in mind right now, I think the order of operations is roughly:
      ID jobs/field you’re interested in > evaluate what level you’ll likely start at with your experience/skills > how much does that job in that field at that level typically pay?

      For the health issue: if you have good days and bad day, maybe a weekly or monthly target for applications sent out would be better than “X minutes per day.” That way you can spend more time on your good days and rest on the bad days.

    3. Abbott*

      Feel your pain. I’m facing some extreme anxiety right now over a change in status at my job (filling in for someone who left) – and I was already dealing with a lot of dissatisfaction prior to this happenng. I don’t have words of wisdom. But, is it possible you could take some time off to re-align yourself? Give you a few free days to sit down and contemplate options. That might make you feel better.

      If a vacation isn’t possible, maybe take this weekend. Order in some dinner or binge watch a few episodes of your favorite show and then type in your dream job and scroll through your phone to review positions that could work or could inspire other opportunities.

      And if all else fails, be kind to yourself. (I wish I could be nice to me)

    4. ferrina*

      Hugs! This is really rough. I didn’t have a health problem, but I had other life things that made it really hard to job search. A few things that made it easier on me:
      1. Don’t hold yourself to a consistent standard. Trust yourself to do what you can when you can, and know that investing in your health is also investing in your job search. Navigating your health issue will impact your job search, so don’t compromise on that process.
      2. Is this a motivation issue or an energy issue? If you really want to and just don’t have the energy, talk to your doctor about that. I had a friend who was highly motivated but for a time just had no energy- her doctor diagnosed her with depression, and the meds have made all the difference. She didn’t have the sadness symptom, just the exhaustion. There’s a LOT of health conditions that cause fatigue, so def consult a doc.
      3. If this is a motivation issue, what will motivate you? I used to buy a lottery ticket for every application I filled out. I figured one way or another, I’d eventually get lucky.
      4. Don’t waste your time on jobs you’re not excited by. You’ve got limited energy, so spend it on what you love.
      5. Have everything pre-written. I have a long version of my resume and cover letter, which I then edit down for each job app. My resume has bullets for all of my accomplishments, then for an app I cut it down to the ones most relevant for that one. My long cover letter has paragraphs highlightling 6 different skills I have- for an app I choose 2-3 of those skills then make minor tweaks to the relevant paragraphs (rather than writing the whole letter from scratch).
      Good luck!

    5. CatCat*

      I totally hear you. Almost the exact same boat (minus the health issue, which is making it even harder and more exhausting for you than being in this kind of place already is). What has helped me is (1) working through a coaching program with a career coach to help me explore alternative careers, and (2) therapy to cope with burnout. I started the career coaching first, but only really made significant progress through that program after starting therapy. Looking back, I wish I’d started them together or started therapy first.

    6. Sister Spider*

      I am going through this as well. I switched from government to private industry work about 4 years ago and now my daily job isn’t something I ever thought I would end up doing. My career was also pretty severely impacted by Covid making me pivot to covering several responsibilities thanklessly and having a pandemic baby. Other options out there involve heavy travel, and I’m also trying to have another child and need to provide healthcare for my family and not lose my salary while recovering from childbirth. Hell of a system we have here.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ah, this is me too. I had been working since 2019 to figure out where I wanted to change to; health issues and pandemic and the like have kept me locked in at current job for the last three years and like you I need to leave but cant get up the energy to apply to anything in my current line – which I dont want to do anymore. However, in the last few months I’ve sort of gotten it together. Here is what I did:

      1) Before I went and got yet another career change coach (a friend had approached me starting her own thing) I sat back down and looked at everything I had done up to then. And there was one field in particular which has come up over and over and over again in the last ten years that I have been exploring more into what I want to do vs what I am doing. Yes, its been that long.

      2) I decided I didnt have anything to lose to commit to exploring this area further, though it quickly threw up the issue of training/background vs new salary etc

      3) Did some more digging, recognized where this would overlap with my current role and where it wouldn’t. Realized that there are a few roles in-between where I thought I wanted and where I am which would give me the best of both worlds and a natural bridge without hopefully losing too much salary at the start.

      4) Learned more about those roles, titles, looked at current title holders on LinkedIn, etc. Compared my skills with needed skills, especially at higher pay scales. Looked at job postings and noticed how I felt – I felt excited! That I wanted to apply! This was considerably different to doing any search in the past for my current title.

      5) Approached boss with desire for certain components of training in new area – a fast track course to try it out (I liked it! The people were my tribe!), then considering specific projects I wanted to run internally to get my current job done, but starting to trial new approaches in this new field. Ill be doing that this fall.

      6) Identifying people in my networks, at work and otherwise, who have some sort of connection in this new area. A junior who used to work for me just moved to a company with several areas doing this work. I could move within the sector I am in now but doing this new type of work. Im not keen on my sector but half and half may be enough to get started in the new field at the very least.

      So that is where I am at now and in three months have made quite a bit of progress. I also have been reading the “classic” books on the topic, learning some key software, and will be getting a resume writer on board to help me reposition and update my resume for the market and the field. I also started a side project at home to learn some more components as well.

      I have to say that once I committed to a potential path and kept taking the next step, the solutions seemed to come. But I had been afraid for a long time to make that commitment and it really locked me in. So my advice is to first figure out where you want to go (have a look at careershifters for some exercises) and then start exploring and finding ways to try things out in your day to day. I couldnt believe the shift in my energy and how all of a sudden I could see opportunity that I DID want to chase after – both in current role and new jobs. Its really helped my overall fatigue as well.

    8. MigraineMonth*

      I don’t know if this applies to your situation, but I had a chronic stress-related health issue and got burnt out at my last job. At first, I tried switching/taking a hiatus from my lucrative but stressful profession: I applied to be a dog walker/groomer and an Escape Room guide and looked into what it would take to become a park ranger.

      In the end, I found a personally meaningful and much less stressful job in my profession. The pay is much lower than my previous job (though better than dog walking), but it has been nice to be able to coast. (Particularly because that chronic condition turned out to be neither chronic nor stress-related and I had to take month off for surgery and recovery.)

      If you used to love your work, and you can take a salary cut for a year or two, you might try “down-shifting” like I did and see if that rekindles the joy.

    9. breadrolls*

      This sounds so difficult. I don’t know if these will work for you, since my fatigue is from mental rather than physical health issues, but my strategies for trying to do exhausting things when my baseline is Tired are:

      1. Decrease the physical and mental strength it takes to start and/or finish. For example, my vacuum being “put away” means it’s tucked into a corner, plugged into a wall outlet, ready to go the moment I feel even a little capable of cleaning. For digital tasks, this means relying heavily on bookmarks, saved logins, notes on my phone, and putting any apps I want to convince myself to use right where I will see them immediately and click on them out of habit when I’m bored. To write emails or resumes and cover letters, I rely on templates and stock phrases to make them easier and less stressful to put together and send.

      2. If motivation/energy strikes, follow it whenever you can. Even if the timing is kind of bad, if I have an idea I try to write it down. If I’m working on one task and suddenly I feel like a more important task I’m avoiding is doable, I’ll switch tasks. If a task I avoid can be bundled with something I *have* to do (or want to do), I try to do them together.

      3. Do the easy part, even if it seems pointless if you can’t also do the hard part. If I need to make a medical appointment and am avoiding it, I’ll look up my insurance info the moment that feels doable even if I know I won’t look for a doctor immediately. If I remember where to find the online portal that shows my in-network providers, I’ll bookmark the portal even if I’m not going to use it right now. If I find a doctor but don’t have the energy to call, I’ll write their name and number down so I can call the second it feels possible. There is no step too small to be worth doing if that’s the step that feels doable. So if you don’t usually have the strength to actively look for jobs, just finding a new job board, or subscribing to alerts for a board you like, or saving a job to come back to later all still *matter*.

      4. Take a guilt-free break to focus on your health and your joy. When I’m struggling to change something in my life that’s making me unhappy, sometimes the fact I’m struggling to change just becomes an additional source of unhappiness. Which, unsurprisngly, is not helpful! So once I notice that I’m trying to knock a wall down with my head rather than a sledgehammer, I turn my back to it to give myself time to recover and look at something else. All the time I “should” give to Trying To Change instead goes to finding more immediate sources of joy. Then I keep that up until noticing the original unhappiness once again feels galvinizing rather than doubly miserable.

    10. tennisfan*

      I find my brain is like a muscle. The more I think/worry/get caught up in my emotions, the more tired I get, even if physically I’m just sitting at my desk. And it’s super difficult to recover from, because we’re constantly using our brains.

      I’ve taken time off before where I forbid myself from thinking (easier said than done I know, but I find doing something distracting like watching tv/reading/taking a walk/drinking tea, what have you, to be helpful).

  8. OnTheRoadWithNotFriends*

    If you are traveling with a co-worker who you don’t normally travel with, do you give them a heads up that you don’t plan on going out to dinner (with a good, work related excuse) or do you wait until you’re on location and only mention it IF they ask?

    In a couple of weeks, I’m traveling with a co-work I don’t normally travel with. This isn’t a friend; we don’t work together often; and I have no indication that she wants or is planning on us doing anything for dinner. It’s just on my mind because there is also some history between us that adds a wrinkle to the situation.

    Unfortunately, I was involved in her possible boyfriend/for sure friend quitting (with a good, new job lined up!) before he was let go last year. It was 100% professional, he wasn’t working out for multiple departments and not just mine but he blamed me loudly to multiple people because he did the most work for mine that had the biggest, far reaching companywide consequences. The people who know the full story understand and most people who worked with him weren’t sorry to see him go, from a professional level. My impression is that she still blames me based on multiple comments over the spring and early summer.

    We’re professional together but I have no desire to hang out with her after the comments and accusations or be on guard the entire time. We’re also only on location two nights so this isn’t a weeklong trip and the hotel we’re staying at has a full restaurant and is within easy and safe walking distance of multiple restaurants (nice live/work/eat/stay complex) .

    Just trying to avoid stress while traveling!

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I wouldn’t mention it until after you guys are done with the work day. Just a breezy “Hey I plan on heading out to find some dinner and then wind down. Hope you have a great night and I’ll see you in the morning.”

      I think if you bring it up right from the get go you might be signaling that you’re already thinking about that you don’t want to spend time with them. If they mention something about dinner or after work activities while you are traveling or having business together, then I think you are safe to say “Oh I like to do my own thing after a long day.”

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Also, from what you’ve written here, I imagine she also isn’t too fond of spending out-of-work hours with you, anyway!

    2. KofSharp*

      I like when I know ahead of time so I can plan accordingly. I like to try obscure local places, personally, and at least one of my coworkers REALLY loves fast food, and another one likes to pick up snacks at the grocery store and only get lunch out.
      Knowing and coordinating makes it easier to figure out who needs the keys to the car when.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      I wouldn’t bring it up if they ask and if they do, just feign with a generic, “I really appreciate you asking, I’m just super wiped out from today so I’m just going to head back to my room.” Something along those lines always does the trick. The good thing is travel can be pretty draining because you need to be ‘on’ more so you may very well just be tuckered out regardless.

    4. Qwerty*

      I’d give her a heads up a week before the trip. The advice doesn’t change based on your personal history – you want to keep it casual and breezy so it doesn’t sound like you are rejecting *her*. Just say something about you’ll probably be using the evenings for some alone time to recharge and wanted to give her a heads up in case that impacted her plans. I use “probably” intentionally so it sounds more like a prediction of what you’ll be in the mood for rather than straight up saying you won’t have dinner with her.

      Who knows, she might actually be stressing about this on her end too!

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Just drop a couple of signals that you’re not treating this as a bonding exercise or networking event.

      “I’m looking forward to our work trip. There’s something so relaxing about getting takeout and hanging out by myself in my hotel room for a couple of days.”

      If you accidentally end up in the hotel restaurant reading a book when she goes, you’re still not on the hook.

    6. JustMyImagination*

      I wouldn’t bring it up before but if she mentions it on your trip you can always fudge an excuse “I saw some urgent things in my email I have to catch up on”, “Need to call home”, or, if you know she can’t stand some type of food “I am going to try the great sushi/brazilian steakhouse/vegan place that I heard about”

    7. Raboot*

      I think it would be making it weird to bring it up ahead of time. Maybe only a little, but I also don’t really see an upside for either one of you of bringing it up ahead of time. Just do your own thing and if she invites you to dinner, that’s when you can bring in the breezy “on no thanks I need to recharge in the evenings” or whatever.

    8. Mephyle*

      All the advice about hinting that you’re not up to socializing with her is starting from the premise that she might want to be social with you, and you want to deflect that. Given the history you recount, the opposite seems more likely. If you’re reading her right, she may be relieved to know that you don’t want to hang out. She would probably like to know that sooner than later.

    9. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I cannot tell if you don’t want to go out to dinner at all or just not with her.
      If you are going to go out on your own, the work excuses don’t make sense, you will eventually go out and she might see you and feel you oddly rejected her – which I think is your concern?

      If you plan to order into your room, you can wait till the end of the meeting and just say, “I’m going to go order room service and catch up on work/read/etc.”

      I can see, given your history, that she might like to be assured ahead of time that you are not interested in hanging out after work during the trip. My guess is, she is planning on avoiding you so you can just wait till the end of the workday and follow the line above.

      If you really want to give a head’s up so she is not wondering, I like what QWERTY said. At some point in the next few weeks, if anything about the trip comes up, you can say, “oh, in case it impacts your plans, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get dinner on my own both evenings.”

    10. Hillary*

      My teams usually go out together most nights when we’re traveling together – it’s often our only chance to spend casual time together all year. We let each other know in advance if we have other plans, even if those plans are to go be alone. I’d mention it casually, especially if you have a prep meeting for the trip.

    11. JustaTech*

      When I’ve done work travel in the past it was expected that we would eat dinner together (if only because only the boss had a travel credit card and Concur is The Worst), lunch would be on-site and breakfast would be at the hotel.

      I did have a close coworker warn me “hey, I’m not a morning person, so I’m going to eat by myself at the buffet; I’m just not up for people until after a lot of coffee.” I really appreciated that because I am more of a morning person and I realize my awake-ness can really grate on folks who aren’t all there yet.

      So if it would be *expected* that you would eat dinner with this person (and not with other work folks) then it might make sense to give a heads-up that you’re eating alone in your room (or seeing a friend in town), so they’re not expecting to eat with you. But if it’s not how your org usually does travel dinners then I’d wait until she brings it up.

      1. OnTheRoadWithNotFriends*

        Thanks everyone! I don’t *think* she’s overly interested in having dinner with me, either which makes bringing it up even more awkward. I bring it up and can see her saying/thinking “God no! I don’t want that either!” :-) I think I’ll just play it by ear and drop one of the casual hints above if she mentions dinner. Otherwise, I think at the end of the work day, just say cheerfully, “See you tomorrow!” Luckily, I have no problem doing delivery to the hotel.

        1. MagicUnicorn*

          What about just keeping it casual? “I plan to do my own thing for meals on the trip. Do you want to meet in the lobby at 8:30 to walk to the [conference venue/client’s office] together?”

        2. Cj*

          You’re getting conflicting opinions here, but I agree with doing what you just said. I think it would be slightly weird to bring it up to any co-worker I’m traveling with, let alone somebody I don’t exactly get along with.

          It might be different if you had to drive or walk to an unsafe area, and she might not be comfortable going alone. But from what you said about being able to eat at the hotel if she doesn’t want to risk even walking to a nearby restaurant in what appears to be a safe area, I definitely wouldn’t bring it up ahead of time.

          Like other posters have noted, she probably doesn’t want to hang out with you either. At least one person mentioned that she might be relieved to know ahead of time that you don’t want to socialize with her after the work event. If she’s that worried about it, there’s no reason she can’t tell you before the trip that she plans to have dinner alone.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I wouldn’t say anything until either the other person asks, “What are you doing for dinner?” Or you are physically about to go get your food.

  9. Flowers*

    Just curious to know what you would have done in this situation –

    I’ve been at my job for 3 weeks now so I’m still new. I was running late yesterday and halfway there noticed my shirt had stains. Not sure if that’s how it was or I got them while having breakfast

    Anyways the choice was – either go to the nearest store and buy a shirt that’d make me late 20-30 minutes OR show up with a dirty shirt.

    What would you have done?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I keep 2 sweaters in the office soley for things like this, my first boss he always had a vneck sweater to throw on if needed for more formal look unexpectedly and I picked up the habit from him. But if I didn’t, I’d just wear the dirty shirt. Everyone’s spilled coffee midmorning at some point. Just laugh it off if anyone comments. “Oh I thought I’d try the new breakfast patterned blouse – not sure I’m pulling it off to be honest!”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “I’m God’s little magnet for coffee” is a phrase I’ve seen for this sort of thing.

        1. Flowers*

          love that phrase!

          a few years ago, at a previous job, I had been putting on my makeup in the bathroom and OF COURSE it squirt alll over my new blouse. I walked around the entire day with that stain. At home I usually do makeup first THEN get dressed to avoid this exact thing happening but that was a day.

          Funny enough, for this current job same thing happened right before I had to leave for the interview. Thankfully I was able to take an extra 5-10 minutes to get it out but the stain was still light. Still got the job lol

      2. Jora Malli*

        This. I have neutral colored cardigans in my office and car, and an infinity scarf in my work bag. I mostly do it because my workplace tends to be cold, but it’s been an added bonus on days when I have a food mishap.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        I started keeping an extra shirt in my laptop bag, one that was work appropriate, neutral, soft material, and didn’t wrinkle or take up much space. I did it b/c I sometimes sweat through shirts in the morning rather than spilling on myself, but either way it was a good solution.

      4. Mannequin*

        I am very clumsy due to dyspraxia and have a tendency to wear my food, so I eat breakfast & drink coffee before I put on my clothes for the day.

    2. ThatGirl*

      To me it depends on how obvious the stain is, and if there’s any hope of getting it out at work. I carry a tide pen with me and have been known to work on small stains in the ladies’ room, but if it’s something big and obvious I’d probably text my manager that I was having a clothing emergency and get a new shirt as quickly as possible.

      (It also depends on the job somewhat, tbh, and how big of sticklers they are on punctuality.)

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        I love tide pens… until they turn and then I would have to make the choice, fix the stain or stink from putrid pen :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, these are my go-to. I keep one or two in my purse and smell them occasionally to make sure they haven’t morphed into the devil’s pee.

        2. Hatchet*

          Check out the Shout Wipes. I’ve been happily using them for years and have never noticed a bad smell with the older ones.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Agree, if small I would try and hide it and hope I could get to lunch without anyone noticing. I have a sweater I keep at work if cold that I could throw on.
        If bigger, I would probably have an “accident” with my morning soda. If possible, I would then run home to change. If not possible, a “Yeah, I had a little accident this morning.” is preferable to “I was running late this morning and didn’t notice.” (But that is just me.)

      3. Flowers*

        I can’t say tbh. They’ve always been very “oh we don’t care as long as you put in your hours” which I am SO not used to – my last job had a very firm start and end time. I did end up having an issue earlier this week so I came in 3-4 hours late but I had explained it to them – I just didn’t want it to be 2x in one week!

    3. Melanie Cavill*

      I always keep a cardigan on my chair for just such an occasion. Otherwise, wear the dirty shirt. People don’t look at our clothing as much as we imagine they do. It’s the professional equivalent of ‘no one is listening to your presentation anyway’.

    4. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      What kind of job is it? How important is your arrival time? Like, is it a retail job or other job where coverage is important, there’s someone else you’re relieving? Are you customer facing?

      1. Flowers*

        In office and no to all of that. But the dress code IS “business casual” or otherwise be neat and clean. Which, while I do have a good fashion sense, I struggle with being tidy. and ofc I’m a food/stains magnet.

        1. Cj*

          Since you’re a food/stain magnet, definitely do what other people here have advised and keep another shirt with you or at work, and always carry a tide pen.

          Several people mentioned keeping cardigans at work, but I know when I spill on myself it’s usually right down the front, and a cardigan wouldn’t hide it. That’s why it’s probably better to keep a whole separate shirt handy.

          If you were customer facing, I would have said to stop and get a new shirt. If the stain was really bad, I still probably would have done so if I wasn’t as new as you are, and had a little more leeway with being late without them thinking I would be chronically late.

          On the other hand, you don’t want them to think you are going to show up in stained clothing a lot either, so I’d try to work something into casual conversation about spilling on myself so they you know it wasn’t intentional and wouldn’t be happening again.

    5. I-Away 8*

      In my office, show up with stains. There are no customers pressent and there’s little chance my coworkers would notice or care. Even if someone did notice and say something, nothing bad would happen.

    6. OneTwoThree*

      I think that depends on what type of work you do.

      If you have an outside-facing roll, I would have called my manager and explained. “I’m on my way in and just spilled my morning coffee on my shirt. Since we have that big important customer meeting today, I’m going to stop off and get a new, fresh shirt. If you’d rather, I can come straight in and help prep for the meeting if that is more important.”

      If you have an inside-facing roll, I’d just roll with it. I’d try to casually bring it up in conversation. “Man, I spilled coffee on my shirt on my way in this morning. What a way to start the day!”

      Side note, I purposely chose my dry cleaner really close to my work location. I almost always have a spare shirt there for this very reason. I have a customer-facing role and love the idea fresh shirts are 5 min away, just in case.

    7. londonedit*

      When I’m in the office I work in central London, so fortunately there are plenty of shops around – I’d probably go straight to the office, dump my stuff and then nip out to buy a new top, because that would only take me 5-10 minutes at most. I do have a job that isn’t customer-facing and I do work in an environment/industry that’s on the casual side of business casual, though, so I could definitely get away with just wearing it and hoping no one noticed. I know I’d be really irritated by it personally, though, and wouldn’t be able to stop looking at the stain and being annoyed by it, so at the very least I’d probably nip out at lunchtime and buy something else to wear, and I’d make a note to bring a spare top/cardie to the office in case of future emergencies!

    8. Cocafonix*

      Show up in a dirty shirt and try to get the stain out when there, especially if punctuality is generally important. Looks recent if I can’t get it out. Story! Get another on a break, especially in advance of a meeting if it really bothers me. The spare cardigan is a good idea. I resolved a decade ago to keep only items at work I could clear off in 10 minutes and put my laptop bag before swanning out. No paper, shoes, plants, pictures, etc. Turns out my items have been a mug, tea, small hand lotion, a couple of useful job related supplies I preferred… and a lightweight cardi.

    9. Dont be a dork*

      I’d wear the dirty shirt because any new clothes I purchase I have to wash before wearing or I break out in hives and itch for the next three days. Accidents happen; they’re no big deal unless you make them so.

    10. Meghan*

      This literally happened to me this morning!

      The answer was dirty blouse. Though, I do have backup tshirts in my desk for this issue.

    11. Annony*

      It depends on the job really. For my job, I would just wear the stained shirt. But it isn’t customer facing and professional attire isn’t as important as getting stuff done.

      1. tennisfan*

        Second this! For me, I’d rather get to work as on time as possible, since that’s what people notice, and then leave to fix the shirt, when people might assume you’re at a meeting or doing work things. Then stay a little late to make up the time.

    12. Flowers*

      Lot of great responses!

      I ended up just getting to work. I was already 30 minutes late, and I had been late earlier this week. I made up my time but being late stresses me out. I’m buying a Tide Pen this weekend and packing a set of “emergency” clothes for my office & car.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Show up with the dirty shirt, “Oh I dunno what happened! omg. I did not want to be late for work. I am going to run and buy a new shirt on lunch break.”

      Not all bosses are foolish. Your boss might have said, “Go now and get something, so you feel better.”

      Fortunately, there are a couple consignment stores near my work, I’d probably go there. I have had bosses get someone to go with me to get my stalled car; another time it was windshield wipers and other things. My go-to is: express regret, state the problem, then ask for some type of help. In your case for asking for help, I’d say, “Is it okay if I run to the store on lunch? It might take a couple minutes so I would be willing to work later to make up the lost 15 minutes or so.”

      Key point: Set yourself up so you never have this problem again. People can be amazingly tolerant of odd situations that pop up, if they don’t keep seeing it over and over.

    14. RagingADHD*

      It would depend on how obvious the stains were and how visible I would be that day.

      If the job was flexible enough to allow for it, ideally I’d get there on time, check messages / email and triage anything super urgent, and then tell whoever I needed to tell, “can you believe it, already stained? Just need to run grab a replacement, back in 20 minutes.”

    15. allathian*

      Really depends on how close the nearest store was to the office, and on whether being late is an actual issue or not. Obviously, in a coverage-based job it is, but in many jobs it isn’t. It also depends on the visibility of the stain and its location. A visible stain on your chest is a problem, but a small stain on the hem of your shirt is less likely to be noticed.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I ironically also read that again this morning and looked for an update. I could’ve sworn OP sent an update at some point.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Looks like the OP commented on the post. Search for the username “Will (the letter writer)”

      1. Observer*

        What I would really like is an update as to what that OP did and how it all worked out.

        1. Dragon*

          +1. Especially since Jane’s former job had to be done by someone with very specific professional qualifications.

  10. Annie*

    I know we shouldn’t be surprised when employees quit, and that we should be prepared for anyone to quit at any time. What does this look like in practice? It’s hard for me to balance being ready for anything with also building long-term relationships with employees. I know you have to put forth your full effort with each and every employee, and some of the time they will leave anyway. How to build real relationships while also being ready to have someone walk out tomorrow? Struggling to wrap my mind around the best way to balance this.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      It looks like having good solid documentation. What tasks are done, how frequently, by whom, and what resources are needed for them. Jane quits? You should already have a list of Jane tasks and how to do them. You’d want that anyway, what if someone falls ill and you need to cover for them. It makes it easier to bring someone into that role, you already have the list of tasks, turn that into the skills for the job ad. Use the documentation for training. What things need to happen weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, – whose usually involved.

      In terms of people, I maintain relationships with former bosses, mentees, coworkers especially after I leave a workplace. Don’t think of it as effort wasted. It’s building connections with people. Who knows when you might run into them again someday. With people under you, you’re teaching skills they are going to carry with them in all their future jobs. Be the manager that they use as a standard when talking about good bosses. And connecting with people enriches your day to day life, regardless of how long or where that friendship ends up.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Building real relationships” in a work context is very different than it is for family, romance, friends, etc. So you might have misplaced expectations of what a relationship looks like. And you might want to find another word altogether so you don’t subconsciously get tripped up.

      Also, if you’re managing/mentoring them, sometimes the end goal of the relationship is the work equivalent of “if you love something, set it free”. It might not be the best thing for the business, but when you’ve nurtured an entry-level employee up to the point where they move on to a better position elsewhere, then you did your job vis-a-vis that relationship.

    3. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Instead of thinking about how your employees could quit at any time, think about how they could get hit by a bus at any time. I realize that sounds quite dark, but it sounds like you may be struggling building relationships because you are concerned they won’t mean anything once the person leaves. This isn’t true, and I think you can fix this with the bus scenario.

      So imagine an employee of yours gets into an accident. They’re in the hospital, they’re okay, but they’re not going to return to work anytime soon. Your first thought would be concern for their wellbeing, right? You want them to rest and do whatever they need to do, just like if they quit, you’d acknowledge that they are doing the best thing for themselves in that situation.

      Your next point of call would be to ensure their work gets taken care of. So hopefully you would have encouraged your employees to keep up-to-date notes on what they’re doing somewhere accessible. In the bus scenario, you wouldn’t be annoyed at them for not coming into work; you’d be glad they are taking care of themselves instead – the same sentiment as if they quit.

      Finally, you may eventually run into your employee again, either in professional circles or because your employee does resume their position with you. In the bus scenario, you’d be glad to see they are doing well and have grown professionally – exactly the same as if they had simply quit.

      Basically, treat an employee who is with you as a valuable member of your team (if they are, of course) and when they leave, remember that they are choosing the right option for them at that time.

      It may also be helpful to think of this from the employee’s side: they are giving 100% while they work for you and it would be unfair for you not to do the same.

      1. Happy Thurby*

        I say people are going to win the lottery and move to the Bahamas rather than get hit by a bus. It makes the same point but it’s a lot less dark.

        1. Less Bread More Taxes*

          Wow I can’t believe I didn’t think of that myself. That’s a much better scenario.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I say “what if I’m hit by a bus en route to redeeming a winning lottery ticket?” because that’s how my luck works.

            I also refer to “winning a no-expenses paid trip to the asylum.”

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I was pointing out to a coworker last week that we needed to do some knowledge transfer from the most experienced person, because what if he won the lottery next week?

          He joked that would be my problem, since he is also in the office lottery pool.

        3. thelettermegan*

          I used to ask my coworkers to think about what they would do if I fell down a well. That stopped when one of them said “Megan, I’d go get a ladder.”

          So now I tell everyone to think about me winning the lottery and moving to Fiji. It’ll take more than a ladder to get me back in that hypothetical.

      2. Canonical23*

        I’ve had a binder at every job of documentation of what I do and how I do it and I always called it the “bus binder” for this very reason!

    4. Susan Calvin*

      All of what DCT said, especially the second part – if I may say so, you sound like you’re preemtively(!) taking this very personally! Say it with me: Changing jobs is a normal part of working, and not a betrayal or indictment of your previous manager.

    5. Qwerty*

      Maybe frame in your head as being ready for some less extreme examples. How hard is it to have someone gone for a week? What about if they need to take a month off (illness, trip of a lifetime, etc). If you wanted to promote somone tomorrow, how would you transition them out of their old duties. If you have anyone who has knowledge that would make losing them a hardship, then work on cross training.

      Being prepared for people to leave also helps encourage them to stay. It means being proactive about issues, monitoring workload, making sure you have good procedures for onboarding/training new hires. Employees tend to be happier and more likely to stay at jobs where they are wanted rather than where they are needed.

      Also try flipping the script in your head – how would you react if someone wanted to know why they should work hard or show any loyalty to the company knowing that they could be fired tomorrow? If you are in the US, your employees are likely at-will, so that’s a possibility. I’m guessing you would reassure your team member if they were concerned about that – maybe have a bit of a mock conversation with yourself.

    6. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      I am not a relationships person but is there some reason you can’t build a relationship with someone just because sooner or later you will no longer work with them?

      I always thought the “shouldn’t be surprised when employees quit” was about not letting any person become a single point of failure. In software engineering we (morbidly) call it the “bus factor,” the number of employees being hit by a hypothetical bus (or winning the lottery or quitting or even just going on a long vacation) before your business collapses. You really want to avoid it being “1” (there is one or more people who are so essential, the business would go out of business if they quit).

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        And making sure you are properly staffed at “normal” times. If “normal” is everyone working at maximum, even if everything is documented and everyone cross-trained, the people left have no capacity to take on the additional work until someone else is hired and trained. And things are going to be missed and fall thru the cracks that appear.

        1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          That’s like a bus number of uber-1. Bus number = 1 means if you lose certain specific employees, you’re sunk. But if you can’t afford to lose any employees at all… well, you’re just asking for your business to fail (or to threaten and exploit whatever employees you have remaining.)

    7. Savvy*

      I think being prepared for people to quit is generally more about making sure you have processes documented and people are cross trained to handle important tasks if the usual designated person is not there. As far as building employee relationships, I think it’s fine to put forth the effort you normally like to do with people. The important thing is to develop the mindset that if they leave, it is not personal and it does not mean all that time building a relationship was a waste. You never know when you might reconnect with a former employee or coworker in another situation. I would say the main exception would be if your workplace has an insane amount of turnover, like people don’t even last a few weeks. Then I could understand if you don’t want to invest too much energy in bonding with others.

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

      In practice it means cross-training so that there isn’t a lapse in work because someone was the only one who knew the process etc. This also does help build business relationships — often if I know my coworkers what/how/when/why on their jobs, I might work better with them, or at least understand how it impacts my work or their challenges. The worst managers I’ve had do not understand what I do and how/when/why.

      When employees leave, they don’t evaporate; unless this is pretty entry-level or generic work, you might see or hear from or about them again, so try to keep in mind that they are now a part of a wider network.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Cross training so someone else can do the job while the employee is on vacation is also important for the employee’s morale. It allows then to take vacation and not have to work extra hard the week before or the week after to catch up on things that didn’t get done while they were on vacation.

        Some people’s boss’s tell them they can’t take days off or many days off because they’re too important, but that doesn’t make the employee happy. Others just know that no one else can pick up the slack so they “pay” for their vacation by having to catch up / work longer hours after.

    9. Angstrom*

      You are genuinely interested in helping them succeed and progress in their work. It’s good for them, it’s good for the company, it’s good for you.
      You are not invested in having them like like you. That’s nice if it happens but is not necessary.
      You work on trust, respect, and learning to work together. That is not the same as a personal relationship.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      There’s in your question that makes it sound more like personal relationships/friendships than a professional one. Like their leaving your team is something you take personally so you want to avoid getting too close so it will hurt less.

      These are professional relationships. I think you build them by being professional, compentent, and a generous and fair manager. They do their part by being professional, compentent, and hardworking.

      You shouldn’t be having perpetual turnover. If you are, you need to determine why there’s frequent turnover. You can expect people to leave, but you shouldn’t have to be prepared for employees to leave within their first year.

      But you build a professional relationship with people and when they leave (which they will) don’t take it personally. Before someone leaves they should write up information on the tasks they do (especially the tasks that they are the only person who does that task) and pass it on so it is easy for someone to take over for them. For someone working more projects that they have to handover, they should provide both a written status and verbal update in a meeting with whoever is taking over for them. That is what the two week notice is for. And if they handle the turnover profesionally, then you’re please that they ended the job on a good note.

    11. BellyButton*

      It depends on the type of roll. If it is task based then there should be documentation and cross training among task based employees on a team. For positions that are more leadership or management, there needs to be succession planning.
      Typically, you look at a team and evaluate each role to see if:
      1. is the position high, med, low impact.
      2. vacancy risk- high, med, low. This means is there a high risk that this person will leave- have they mentioned it, are they dissatisfied, is their job a highly sought after and marketable role, are they nearing retirement
      3. Identify critical knowledge, core competencies, identify institutional or customer knowledge and relationships
      4. Identify possible successors, someone who would be ready now in an emergency to step in, someone who would be ready in 1-2 years with development, and someone who would be ready in 3-5 years with development. Then identify the development they need and set a plan into place

      You can search for succession planning toolkits and free templates. Also, HRBPs, HR, and Talent Management within the company should help teams do this.

    12. snowyowl*

      Depending on the position, I’m a big fan of cross training. Obviously there are some positions where that’s not going to be possible.

      At my job we have a “busy” season and a “slow” season, near the end of the slow season I sit down with my four reports and write up a list of scenarios. What do we do if report 1 is out for a week, what about if report 2 is out for a month, what about if report 3 and 4 are both off for two weeks at the same time? And then we work through all our options so that at the end we have general guidance. Okay, if report 1 is out, then report 2 will take tasks a and b, we will put c and d off until they’re back, and report 3 and 4 will share e and f. This also helps me prioritize what can be cut in an emergency, what cannot be cut, and how to work around the things we need. The time frames help us also conceptualize how sustainable things are — one person taking on an extra task for a week is different then taking it on for a month. Also this helps identify gaps if there’s something where more training needs to take place before the busy season, and it helps them feel included and understand by thought process. It’s easier to do these things and less panic inducing if, in the middle of the busy time report 2 decides to quit when we already know what can be moved around, what can be dropped, and what needs to be prioritized — and the reports who are still there understand that help will be coming soon and why they’ve been assigned the tasks they have in the meantime.

      But yeah, anyone can quit at any time but sometimes it’s easier to think about “what if they were out with covid/sick/put into a coma and couldn’t help at all”. Make sure you know where their documentation is as well.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, the head of my department and I are the two full time learning support teachers in our school (lots of teachers have some learning support hours but we are the main staff of the department) so we’ve split a lot of the tasks between us and have very different interests and skills so they split fairly well, but we have a rule that we both have to have enough understanding of the other’s role to be able to fill in if the other is ill/leaves suddenly, etc. This is often a “I’ve sent you a copy of the instructions for x task just in case I’m ever out and you need to do it” or “the resources for y are in the top drawer of the cabinet if you ever need them” or “the deadline for z is such a date, so if I’m not here, will you ensure the forms get in the post by then?” sort of thing.

    13. thelettermegan*

      It might be helpful to think about job role documentation, cross-training, and onboarding as regular processes that should be visited whether or not it seems like someone is leaving. That kind of stuff is critical to basic office functioning and can really help in an emergency.

      + long term relationships with employees – you want to have the kind of relationship where you stay connected to the person in such a way that they feel more like an ‘alumni’ of the company rather than a breaker of hearts. They’re not going to quit AT you, but if they do, they should feel like they can return to the company if the right opportunity comes up.

    14. RagingADHD*

      Have you never had an authentic relationship with a neighbor who moved away? Or a classmate before you all graduate and go away to other schools or jobs?

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I think if you are used to building contingency plans this might be an in-road for you.

      I remember a boss having to figure out a plan of what to do if there was a gas leak in our work area. Same with fire. I could go on here, if you normalize the idea of building contingency plans this is just one more contingency plan.

      Oddly maybe briefly think about what you would do if you were leaving. What would be important for you to document? How would you delegate things until someone else took over. This would reinforce that you ALSO could leave and level the playing field a bit.

      Another source for answers you can consider is how do you handle this in your personal life? Good neighbors can move away. Favorite doc can retire. Small relatives become adults and go of to school, marry, buy houses on the opposite side of the country and so on. How do you handle these events?

      You can also review how you got each person you now have. How did you/the company find them? What worked, what did not work? Figure out what went right with each of these people so when you see it again as you hire someone, you will recognize it.

      My number one favorite solution is to just decide that their experience working for our company is going to be the best experience that I as a supervisor can muster up. My uncle supervised people for a department in a large and fairly well-known newspaper. He said that he felt people were with him for a time, then they would probably move on. Once he just accepted that as a fact of life, doors flew open in his mind. He got people training so they could do more tasks, he paid attention when they had personal concerns and needed PTO, he advocated for raises, etc. He also went as far as letting them know they were good workers and could find jobs else where.

      What happened next was amazing. They STAYED, in spite of knowing they could get more money elsewhere. People who feel trapped want to run away. People who feel supported are more apt to be careful about where they go next. It takes longer for them to find that new job, because they know they are giving up something.

      Here’s what jumped at me. We send people out into the world all the time and we just don’t think about it. Do we want to send them out there as happy and confident? Or do we want to send them out there as broken and destroyed? Our lives are filled with people who are just there for a while and then they move on- this goes for neighbors, repair people, docs, friends– the list is endless. When a person is in our lives for a while, personally or professionally, we have a chance to send out a ripple. What do we want that ripple to look like? We have a chance to impact their thoughts and experiences in positive ways. Then they can move on and do the same for others. This is actually a privilege. We can chose to live up to the responsibility that comes with that privilege.

      So I simply chose to be fair and do right by people for the time they are with the company. Some went on to get jobs at a higher level than what I had. I heard an old saying one time and it’s been helpful to me. If a teacher has done a good job, the student excels beyond what the teacher learned/knew. That is the ultimate achievement for a teacher.

      1. 10/10*

        You may not see my message at this point in the weekend, but I needed to say that your points here are so very true and were beautiful to see shared for us all to be reminded of. <3

  11. Elle*

    A few months ago we sent out an employee satisfaction survey. One of the questions had staff rank what perks they would like the company to provide. We listed tuition reimbursement, increased days off, more holidays, etc. Putting together the data we were shocked to see swag listed as one of the top things staff wanted. Out of all the things we could offer staff wanted crap with our logo on it? Is it because they think we can’t come through with the other perks? Any other ideas of why this is?

    1. Sloanicota*

      At least swag is kind of equitable – it’s hard to identify perks that work for everybody, particularly if you’re trying to pick just one (gym reimbursement OR student load repayment, pets in the office OR WFH flexibility).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yeah, but if you’re ranking what you would like, wouldn’t you focus on that? I assume the question was phrased clearly about that.

        1. Raboot*

          Yeah but if one person wants gym reimbursement and swag and one wants tuition reimbursement and swag and one wants care dot com membership and swag, then swag bubbles to the top as a lowest common denominator.

          The fact that it beats out time off is odder, but I suppose I guess it really depends on what it means for their overall PTO balances and pay stubs and, importantly, workload.

      2. Ama*

        Yes, I suspect the issue here is that maybe 80-90% of people put swag on their list and then split other things. So it isn’t that it is the MOST popular but it is the one almost everyone ranked.

        One thing I will note is that people that feel overworked might not select more PTO/holidays because they may already feel like they don’t have enough time to get work done/use their PTO as it is. So if you were expecting that to rank higher and it didn’t, you might want to make some different inquiries.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Is there anything particularly desirable about your logo? Otherwise, I’m mystified.

    3. Meep*

      Psychologically? There isn’t someone else getting more PTO or a raise than you. Everyone gets the same thing. It also makes you feel like they value your contribution to the company and that the company is literally giving you something with their logo on it. It says “This company wouldn’t be successful without you.” It has the same impact as stocking snacks at the office.

      From a managerial standpoint, it is oodles cheaper than a raise. You should give them a raise, but give them swag dang it.

      (I just purchased my staff Yeti mugs with our logo’s on it, fyi.)

      1. Elle*

        The thing is that we already stuff with our logo on it-I have t shirts and a water bottle. People want more stuff? And we can’t spend a lot of money on nice stuff. We don’t have that kind of budget.

        1. Ashley*

          Maybe people picked swag because they already realized budgets were tight and that might be the most likely to get something.
          Also, you don’t make employees wear swag everyday or for events do you? If you do that could be part of the response.

        2. Given Name*

          If you can’t pay for the swag, you can’t pay for the other options either. Swag is the cheapest and easiest, and you can’t make that work? I’d assume they know you wouldn’t be able to follow through on any of it so really didn’t care. Why did you ask if you couldn’t afford it anyway?

    4. Juror No. 7*

      People love free stuff. But also, sometimes having company branded merch can foster a sense of community.
      (Honestly, I’m occasionally a little jealous of my partner- His company sends out high quality merch (Patagonia backpacks, and the like) once a year or so, and t-shirts/seasonal items every six months or so. My company sent a welcome packet (cloth bag, nice note book, pen) and will occasionally send out other merch about every 1-2 years.)

      1. Be Gneiss*

        My first day at my new job, I showed up to a tote bag full of swag. Mugs and a Helly Hansen coat and backpack and water bottle and coffee cup and polo shirts…. I was kinda thrilled, tbh.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The temp job I worked recently had EXCELLENT swag; I know because I had to inventory it. They had some super nice duffel bags. I didn’t ask, but damn, I wanted one.

    5. Riot Grrrl*

      Not sure how your survey was structured, but is it possible that it was everyone’s second choice, but no one’s first choice, or something similar? Statistically weird things can happen if everyone feels strongly about Choice A or Choice B, but that ends up splitting the electorate, so everyone ends up with Choice C.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I prefer ranked choice voting, but no voting system with more than 2 choices always works.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      Swag may feel doable, while the others they want, but don’t think they’ll actually get.

    7. snoopythedog*

      How was the analysis of the data done? If you ranked things (1-10, for example), you should look at what % of each item fell in each rank. If swag was not in the top 3 but was consistently rated #5, meanwhile the other options were ranked either 1 or 10, reducing their cumulative score to that below swag….swag isn’t *really* your top option. Rather, your data are split and people want a few different things. Offering them swag when it was consistently rated moderately won’t make many people happy.

      But if swag was consistently ranked 2 or 3 for options…then yes, the people want swag. My work (small ass team) did some branded yeti thermos mugs and large coffee cups and all 6 employees were/are super pumped about it. For our little work from home team, it filled a need and looks pretty sweet in meetings with clients

    8. curly sue*

      Is there a lack of trust regarding the perks themselves? I can see people being worried about tuition reimbursement coming with a 5-year payback clause, or holiday scheduling coming with a catch about seniority, etc. But t-shirts and ball caps can’t be taken back or deliberately reinterpreted.

      The only other thing that comes to mind is that your company is in a collector-adjacent industry and folks think they can sell logo-ed merch on ebay?

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Wow! I’m shocked as well. I would be putting more holidays and more PTO at the top.

      OTOH I do value education, but I already have a masters degree so I wouldn’t be putting tuition reimbursement on there now. I did use tuition reimbursement 2 times in the past so that’s a perk that just isn’t relevent to me now. so some of the perks might just not be useful to everyone at this point in their lives/careers.

      I don’t understand how more holidays and more PTO didn’t beat out swag. There’s no way that’s less valuable to every employee than swag.

      1. Chris too*

        It depends on three things – the quality of the swag, how proud you are of where you work, and whether you already feel ok about the other possible things on the list.

        I work for a government thing – so work/life balance is good, the swag quality is good, and we’re really proud of what we do. Give us our swag!

    10. my 8th name*

      I’m not terribly surprised by this. Swag is probably the one thing they can guarantee they’ll actually use. Tuition reimbursement requires a commitment to go back for higher education, which not everyone is interested in. Even extra PTO days may not have a strong appeal for people who never run out of PTO days.

      1. JustaTech*

        There’s also the psychological factor of a thing you can touch. For many, many years my company/department didn’t do swag (I got nothing when I started), so when we did start with water bottles and lunch bags it felt like a*huge* deal.
        We even commented on it “why are we so excited about a water bottle?” but that’s how we reacted. (The funny thing is that hardly anyone uses their work swag *at* work because then we’d all have the same mug or water bottle or lunch bag and it’s confusing.)

        It’s also something that everyone can get (even if everyone won’t use it), unlike tuition reimbursement or a gym credit. And it does seem (to the non-budget folks) like it’s a lot more do-able than the big things like more holidays or more PTO. I think it’s kind of like providing better coffee or snacks, it can have a disproportionate impact on morale.

    11. Kez*

      I know that at a previous workplace, there was a lot of time being put into “brainstorming” and trying to get an idea of what retention perks staff would respond well to, and it tended to go in circles without any tangible benefit for the people doing the most stressful work. I wonder if this is something similar?

      Like, in that job, people had plenty of time off available as part of the standard employment package. BUT their positions were in childcare and the organization didn’t have enough adequately trained substitutes. So to take a day off, you had to accept that your students would be getting sub-par care and your direct co-workers would have a harder day trying to cover for you, sometimes missing lunch or staying long hours to ensure things got done. This led to lots of dysfunction because HR/management thought the issue of “time off” was resolved, while the staff on the ground felt that they’d been promised a perk that was then yanked out from under them when it came time to actually use it.

      I definitely think some of the points people made below, about swag being a generic enough item that it may have gotten more “middle of the pack” responses, artificially inflating its importance, are worth investigating. But if you’re having trouble with employee satisfaction and you were asking about perks, maybe consider if part of the issue is inadequate systems/staffing which would allow employees to feel free to actually use those perks.

    12. Observer*

      Do you have the choices ranked? Because if not, what people are saying about swag bubbling up because the other things are more divided is very much on target.

      I would look at what comes in below swag. But also, if you can, I would look at which things are the ONLY thing that someone chose and specifically what other things got chosen along with swag.

    13. Canonical23*

      A lot of people like swag if it’s nice and related to the job. I’m always jealous of a friend whose company gives all employees nice jackets and fancy backpacks and branded laptop docks. I would interpret the result as people wanting nice quality “fun” items from work that could be helpful *at* work. (i.e. people ranking “swag” high are not looking for cheap sunglasses and branded pencils.)

      Like I definitely get that it’s a confusing result because you would think most people would want higher pay or tuition reimbursement or extra vacation time. But I think there’s a way to implement “swag” in a way that employees actually get something out of it that isn’t cheap crap.

    14. Annie*

      I LOVE swag. Swag is a metaphor for status at the company. I worked for one company that gave people fleece jackets at one point and forever after, there was a component of seniority that was “whether you were there when they gave out jackets.” The employees who had them were very pleased and the employees who didn’t would talk about when they would next give out jackets. The next fleece jacket they gave out was a different design so it started a new layer of swag status. I loved it. I would vote for swag.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        OldExjob used to give out really nice burgundy jackets at five years of service. By the time I got to five years, they’d replaced those with horrible ugly cheap grey windbreakers. :(

        I ditched it when I moved. I’d intended to use it for working in the yard on brisk days, but every time I looked at it, it made me feel bad, so it was still in good shape. Into the donation pile it went.

    15. Be kind, rewind*

      Do you already have generous PTO and/or people don’t feel like they can use it?

    16. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Could you have come through on the other perks? Because… well, swag and tuition reimbursement or more days off are on VASTLY different levels of expenditure from the company. If I saw the two being offered on a “rank your choice” list, I would assume that swag was included because that was really the only thing the company honestly wanted to lay out the funds for, and that tuition reimbursement would never be available to anyone who didn’t have “executive” somewhere in their title (or at least family tree).

      So, yeah… if folks have reason to believe that you couldn’t have come through on the big offers, or that you would have only come through for a certain subset of employees… choosing swag makes a certain level of sense.

      Also… was the survey anonymous, and do your staff trust your management not to try and unmask certain responses? Because some places I’ve worked, the person who marked tuition reimbursement was considered out of their gourd, and management started trying to unmask them by the content of their comments, to see who “was a flight risk” (theory being they wanted to get educated and move on to better positions). Found that humorous, since they could have just pulled the survey response device data and known for sure who it was, instead of floundering around with “well, Jonny and Jane mentioned X, but only Spike was supposed to know about Y…” conversations.

    17. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh wow. I personally hate swag and never ever take it, but in most of my companies everyone just adores it!
      I’d rather have a gift card for the same $ amount or better, more holidays.

      1. Elle*

        To answer some questions- I was looking at the total number of people who answered swag one or two. It was a lot. We do have good pto and holidays. Probably the most I’ve ever had. Luckily management is working on the perks that didn’t rank as highly as swag.

        1. linger*

          If PTO and holidays are already well above industry standard, and employees believe those can’t realistically go higher, that might also help explain why “swag” is a popular choice for further improvements.
          The algorithm used for comparing popularity of ranked choices can materially affect the results. Counting the total number of 1st rankings (as you seem to have done) can be fairly robust, though incomplete (depending on how many items each individual ranked). Some kind of decreasing-weight algorithm (e.g. 1st-rankings = 1 point, 2nd-rankings = 1/2 point, 3rd-rankings = 1/3 point and so on, then add the points) can also work, but makes some arbitrary assumptions about strength of preference. Best of all would be not to require all respondents to rank every listed item — instead using e.g. a point-allocation task, wherein each respondent is given 10 points to assign as they see fit to express not only the rank order but also the strength of their preference; you’d then count the total points for each item.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Is it expected that everybody will take all their PTO or is it a ceiling kind of thing? If it’s the latter, people might question if they will actually get to use it. Would extra PTO mean everybody takes that number of extra days off each year or is it more a case that they’d have them to take in case they got ill, etc?

        3. linger*

          The exact wording of the question matters too. Given the company’s (known) budget constraints, you might get very different ranking answers depending on whether you’re asking about preferences for things being increased, or preferences for existing things not being reduced, and also depending on whether the existing levels of each thing are perceived as high or low. Still, you should be in a good position to interpret the ranking answers you got if you’ve already asked about employees’ satisfaction levels with the status quo for each of these items.

  12. Perceived Conflict of Interest?*

    What is a reasonable approach for a part time employee who also freelances to handle conflicts of interest or possible perception thereof? Is it the standard for the PT job to determine what is a “perceived” COI? I do not have a noncompete and would not continue long term at this PT job if I had to get their sign-off before accepting freelance contracts.

    1. Savvy*

      Many employers have policies about outside employment, so see if your employee handbook has a rule about it and spells out what has to be disclosed and approved. This would be handled differently depending on your industry. If your PT job is doing the same work as your freelance job, could you propose that your PT job be reclassified into an independent contractor role instead? Then you could still work for them, but they would not have any say on your other contracts.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, they would have exactly as much say, because a client can fire a freelancer for a perceived COI just as fast as a regular employer can.

    2. Riot Grrrl*

      I’m not a lawyer, but a few questions or thoughts:
      1. Are you doing work for the same clients? The employer has a vested interest in not creating confusion in the mind of the customer. At my job, we cannot do the same job for a client on a freelance basis that is substantially similar to the job we do for them on behalf of the business. Not only does this create competition, the business has no control of what you do as a freelancer, so anything you do–mistakes, overcharging, etc–can “rub off” onto the business.
      2. I would think that if you are supplying an unrelated service for an unrelated client, there should be no conflict. And indeed, I wouldn’t even think it would be necessary to disclose that.
      3. If your freelance work is substantially the same as your PT job, but for different clients, then I do think a discussion is warranted for everyone’s protection. Depending on the relative size of the business, size of the market, size of the jobs, etc. it may protect you from having the business horn in on your customers. At best, the business may be able to refer you to jobs that are too small for them to take on, etc. Again, it all depends on the details.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Find out what your employer thinks is a conflict of interest. Seriously. It does not matter what we think, it only matters what the employer thinks. They are the ones signing your paycheck.

      I am saying this because I have a job where WIERD, I mean REALLY WIERD stuff works into a COI. Check with your employer this is nothing you want to guess at and mess up.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You have no obligation to proactively request approval if nobody has told you otherwise.

      However, if your PT gig or your freelance client express that they perceive a COI, the standard is that the job/gig you need more sets the terms of what they consider a COI. It doesn’t have to be fair or reasonable, and you don’t have to agree with their assessment. Freelancing is not a protected class or activity, and your job can fire you for it anytime they want. Freelance clients have no obligation to hire you if they think your job is problematic.

      If you need them more than they need you, then you don’t really have any means of dictating terms. Your recourse is to quit if you don’t like their terms.

      That is the normal way that business works in an “at-will” environment.

  13. H*

    Thank you to my union! A few weeks ago there was a fire drill at my office during one of the days many of us have to be at the office (telework is allowed 4 days a week luckily). People who work on my same floor got COVID because masking is optional (I was masking because of having to share crowded stairs with people)…I was not made aware until a virtual meeting a week later that people got COVID and during this virtual meeting (last week) the county our office is in was at 11% COVID+/high COVID-19 Community level. I called the union last week as our building guidance still said community level was medium so masking was not required or optional. They said to give it a few days but call back if guidance did not change for the building and the rate was still high. As of yesterday, they still hadn’t changed it and a director even said on a virtual meeting that the building had no plans to change it. Called union again and today received a building wide email that community level for the building is considered high and masking is now REQUIRED again starting Monday. Why are higher ups trying to bypass the MOU with the collective bargaining unit and think they can get away with it and get us all infected? Anyway, appreciate the union who definitely escalated this matter.

  14. noturcatsitter*

    I’m looking for help wording my approach to a non-work situation with a coworker.

    Months ago, I asked my coworker to feed my cats during my upcoming vacation. I’ve fed his cats several times when he was away, and we live close together. He agreed, but then he backed out of two of the days with barely a week to go before the vacation over a scheduling conflict that he must’ve known about a while back. This is extremely frustrating to me (partly because he does stuff like this at work, too).

    Since I can’t rely on him to feed my cats, I’m no longer willing to feed his. Any help with phrasing would be appreciated. Or should I let it drop? The last two times he’s gone away (aka the two times he’s gone away since the first time I asked him to reciprocate the cat feeding), he’s had someone else cat sit. So maybe he’s figured out that he screwed up?

    A. Hey, our preferred methods of scheduling seem to be pretty incompatible. I want to make sure well in advance that my cats will be covered before I go on vacation. I also don’t enjoy being asked on short notice to feed someone else’s cats for a non-emergency. Since it seems to be a great hardship for you to plan things so far in advance, going forward, please don’t ask me to feed your cats.

    B. When I agreed to feed your cats, it was with the hope that you would feed mine when I needed it. However, you don’t seem to have much availability for that, so going forward I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to take me off your list of potential cat sitters.

    1. Sloanicota*

      if it were me, I’d just see if he ever asks again, and decline at that point. He may be fully aware he burned the bridge by bailing on you. Since it’s a favor I’m not sure it’s worth bringing up.

      1. noturcatsitter*

        This seems to be the consensus, so I’ll go with this and tell myself it’s not my circus the next time he asks me the day before his trip if I’ll feed his cats. Thanks!

        1. Triplestep*

          “No sorry, that won’t be possible”. It’s a useful phrase when you don’t want to give reasons. Just follow it with silence, and if he pushes back, the response is “It just won’t be possible.”

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This happened to me with a longtime friend whose dogs I took care of on occasion. She hardly ever called me unless she wanted me to pupsit and I felt like the relationship was too one-sided. So the next time she asked, I just told her I was busy that weekend. She didn’t ask me again.

            Oddly enough, when I left town for good, she was the ONLY person who wanted to meet up.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I wouldn’t say anything unless he asks you again, at which point you can say “sorry, it’s not going to work out for me anymore” – I don’t think you have to be too aggressive about it, even though I am sure it’s annoying.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      If he has been having someone else feed his cats the last two times you were away, he might have known he messed up by pulling out last minute (although those things happen!). I think because he is your coworker and you have to maintain a certain level of relationship with him, I wouldn’t confront him about it. If he asks again I would just say that it doesn’t work for you. He will probably get the hint.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Could you find a professional cat sitter (I have one and she drops by daily for about 30 minutes)? That way, you can say what you are doing (and if pleased and if they are accepting new clients) pass the info on.

      FYI, I’ve only met mine once in about 15 years. She has a key, and I just call when I need her.

      1. noturcatsitter*

        That’s what I’ve done in the past, but unfortunately I live in a very small town now. I don’t know of any pet sitting pros and they’d be hard to find if they exist. I’m asking for my sister’s pet sitter’s contact info (her husband’s coworker) to see if she’ll take money.

        1. Random Bystander*

          Have you tried the petsitter website? (dot com, but I don’t want the link to snag things up)

    5. LadyAmalthea*

      As a cat owner who used to rely on a friend for occasional cat sitting, I’d keep it simpler:

      “My fried recommended a great professional cat sitter and her cats love him. If I like him, I’ll give you his contact information.”

    6. PollyQ*

      It sounds like he’s looking elsewhere for cat sitting already, but if it does come up, I’d go with the least confrontational option, given that you have to work with him.

      C. “Sorry, I’m too busy right now, I won’t be able to cat sit for you.”

      You might have to use this excuse more than once, but I doubt you’ll have to use it more than 3 times.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and if he has any self-awareness at all, he’ll quickly realize that he burned the bridge when he bailed out of cat sitting at short notice.

    7. Asenath*

      I don’t think you need to do anything pre-emptively – wait to see if he asks you again. Then just say that you can’t manage it. If he wanta an explanation, say that the scheduling doesn’t work for you. Don’t get into any discussion or details – you probably won’t need to; most people will accept an excuse like scheduling issues.

    8. Cocafonix*

      A and B way too complicated. Drop it. If asked, “Sorry, I’m not available. Have a great vacation!”

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Option A sounds pretty extreme. Don’t say that to someone you still need to be pleasant and professional with! I’d just vaguely decline if he asks again (“sorry, I won’t be able to do it that day”) and don’t explain unless he specifically insists on knowing why (“I just don’t feel like this arrangement works for us anymore/it was frustrating when you bailed last time and I think it’s best we both find other options from now on”)

    10. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      As much as you want to tell them off with A or B, there is almost always more capital in being the less dramatic one.

    11. Velociraptor Attack*

      Both of these options feel really aggressive, especially toward a coworker. I agree with the other comments thus far, no need to bring it up, stop asking him, politely decline if he asks you again, and that will likely be the end of it.

    12. LilPinkSock*

      Neither. Those are both unnecessarily aggressive responses. If the coworker asks again, you could say something simple and polite like “I’m sorry, I can’t”. But it sounds like he’s already expanded his bench of cat-sitters, so it may never come up again—and that’s just fine.

    13. Hiring Mgr*

      I would let it drop. If he does ask you again, you can just decide at that point what you want to do (if it’s an emergency or something you might change your mind). No reason to bring it up now though..

    14. lost academic*

      This seems strangely transactional and oddly punitive. I agree that when two people who have cats who live quite close have a single petsitting event that the assumption for everyone is that the favor will be returned when possible, but it’s important to emphasize “when possible”. I also see a LOT of assumptions here, regardless of the work angle: he backed out with “barely a week” (I would argue that’s a reasonable amount of notice) over a scheduling conflict he “must have known about” – that’s not really for you to judge especially since it sounds like this is the first situation with this on his end.

      I’m not saying you should ask him to feed your cats again and it sounds like you won’t, but you also sound like you want to find a way to punish him or otherwise inflict some emotional backlash for what to an outside observer sounds like a fairly normal conflict that you got notice about. Your language in both options is a little over the top and seems intentionally so. If you don’t want to feed his cats for any reason, just say “Sorry, I can’t” if asked. Don’t go borrowing trouble or conflict ESPECIALLY because this is a coworker and there are likely unintended consequences to that.

      Just say you can’t feed his cats if asked and don’t ask him again. And don’t’ say any of the other stuff at all. Including to other coworkers, it’s going to get back to him.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I would not say anything until he asks specifically for you to sit his cats.

      Then I’d say something to the effect of “I was looking for someone who I could have an on-going trade agreement with. I would watch their cats and they would watch mine. I am looking at other options right now. So I can’t sit for your cats, as I have other commitments.”

      Or just simply say, “No, I can’t do it.”

      I think he will just faze out this part of your interactions with him. I think you can say nothing and build a different plan.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Nope, don’t say that. Just don’t agree to feed his cats.

      If he acts entitled or questions why not, that’s the time to tell him off for being a flake.

      Also, there is absolutely no need to go off to this extent. You’re just venting your spleen. If he acts like he doesn’t understand why, “Because you flaked out and put me in a bind, so I don’t want to trade favors anymore,” is plenty clear.

  15. Flowers*

    Second question haha –

    Unspoken rules for using an office kitchen?

    I know fish and microwave popcorn is a huge no no.

    Earlier this week I had brought in the ingredients to make myself a sandwich and store in the fridge (cold cuts, cheese, mayo). 2 people commented “wow that looks good!”. I felt like I had to mention that I was sick of paying $20 through doordash. But was that too much? It took maybe 5 minutes tops to assemble?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I mean, that’s just general lunch chit-chat, your answer was fine, no need to overthink it.

      The only things I would say are don’t store a month’s worth of food in the fridge (like, leaving just the mayo would probably be fine) and be sure to take stuff home at the end of the day or week.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      As long as you don’t take up more than your share of space, you’re fine.

      People often experience lunch envy. Nbd

    3. Murphy*

      Maybe they just felt like they needed to acknowledge you in the moment while you were making a sandwich and didn’t know what to say? I wouldn’t bat an eye at someone doing that. Makes a lot of sense to me!

      I also did this once for a week when I lost power at home but not at work and I didn’t want to buy lunch every day. I don’t remember getting any comments about it.

    4. londonedit*

      I think they were probably just trying to make conversation. Pre-made sandwiches are an extremely common sight in UK supermarkets and most people’s go-to lunch (most supermarkets do a ‘meal deal’ that includes a sandwich, drink and snack for say £3.50 so a lot of people go for those) so I can imagine people here would say ‘wow’ if they saw a colleague making their own sandwich from scratch rather than bringing it in/buying one from the local Tesco, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love this about UK supermarkets. It makes eating on the cheap in London so much easier. And the sandwiches are mostly pretty good.

        I agree with the conversation angle. It’s very common to open with a remark about lunch when you’re in the lunchroom.

        1. Westsidestory*

          “Egg and Cress” sustained me through many a conference in London. UK supermarkets are so much fun. Thanks for the memories!

        2. RagingADHD*

          Every US supermarket I’ve been to in like, 15 years has this. Do you live in an area without any large chains like Kroger or Publix?

          1. LK03*

            The difference (for me at least) is that the UK ones actually taste good. :)

            I would also get food from a Japanese 7-11 in a heartbeat. US ones, not so much…

          2. ScruffyInternHerder*

            FWIW, there is no way I’m eating anything that isn’t wrapped at another location prior to arriving at my local Kroger. Straight nasty. (If we’re tracking demographics here, I live in a suburb of some wealth, so I’m really baffled as to this store itself and don’t often shop there.)

            No Publix here. Meijer, can’t recall whether they do sandwiches like this or not….

        3. Middle School Teacher*

          Oh, I didn’t know you had so much experience in London! How fun. But this is also very common in Canada and the US too.

      2. Flowers*

        Oh yes – they were both very nice and friendly about it!

        This was purely my own nerves haha.

        I just started this job and have had a million “shoot I should ask here!” moments but the day rolls around and I just forget haha.

      3. Flowers*

        There’s a huge grocery store near me that does that as well, and they have a lot of heat-up meals. A little bit pricier than just grocery shopping and cooking at home, but not as pricey as what you’d get from a restaurant/deli during lunch time, so seems like a good deal I think? I shall try them one day. I’m really picky about sandwiches though so I either make my own or get takeout fresh but the latter gets super expensive :/

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      They’re just thinking you’re smart.

      As long as your fixings don’t take up unreasonable space in the shared fridge, this is a super smart way to deal with lunch. I’d just pack an ordinary lunch bag with my fixings for the week, keep a bag of bread on a shelf, and have at it.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, this. I know I should take my lunch to work more when I’m in office (the lunch places in that neighborhood are expensive), but I can never seem to get my act together except in the rare instances where we have leftovers that either don’t need warming or can be easily warmed in the work microwave. If I saw a colleague making their lunch and commented it would be because I admired their foresight in bringing in actual sandwich making materials.

    6. Delta Delta*

      I think that was a total throwaway comment and your answer could be similarly breezy. “Oh yeah, I love a good turkey sandwich!” or something. This sort of just feels like chitchat.

    7. Asenath*

      I wouldn’t give it a second thought. Both assembling a quick lunch and saying other people’s food looks good are lunchroom commonplaces.

    8. EMP*

      people are just making small talk. Several people in my office leave sandwich stuff in the lunch fridge and it’s a smart thing to do! Say “thanks” and enjoy your sandwich :)

    9. reheater*

      Don’t worry about it. I always have reheatable leftovers and get a lot of “that looks good” comments too. Because it does look good, and it is. Done this my entire career and never a bad effect from it. Sometimes it sparks a conversation “what is it?” – “X” – “oh I’ve never had any of that, what’s the recepy?” Etc.
      Note: I’m in western Europe

    10. lost academic*

      I do the math on the number of people in the office and the total space in the fridge and don’t take up more than my equal amount. That’s regardless of who is actually using it and how often because they might because I don’t want my usage to dissuade them from using a common resource and you never know when they’ll need it. My old office, so many people just stuck their insulated lunchboxes in there and that took up a lot of space but it was manageable even then. We did mention at a meeting at one point that it was getting to be a lot and people needed to consider unpacking if it got worse.

    11. Bernice Clifton*

      I think you’re fine as long as you’re not taking up too much fridge space or doing something like spreading all the ingredients on a small countertop in front of the microwave and then walking away to chat with someone for 10 minutes. :)

    12. Chris too*

      Consider whether you’re in an environment where everybody can take their lunch when it’s convenient, or whether some people *must* take their half hour lunch at a strict time for operational reasons. If it’s the latter and there are more than two or three people “stuck” like this, please don’t bring in frozen food that needs a long time in the microwave, and defrost it at the same time that the people with no time flexibility need the microwave. It’s really frustrating when you wind up with only 10 minutes to eat because of this.

      1. Flowers*

        That’s a good angle to consider – I didn’t think of that but it doesn’t really apply to me specifically I think. People seem to leave or eat at their desks whenever they want. I was doing this on a day when majority of staff was working remotely, so as not to take up too much space/time. I have noticed no one really sits at the tables in groups which is interesting to me (not bad, but just interesting!)

        But yea that is a really good point, thank you for sharing!

    13. dejaju*

      I’m with most posters on the bringing a week’s worth of lunch materials–it all depends on how much space you’re taking up. If what you’re leaving in the fridge is no larger than a normal lunch bag, I think it’s fine. However, it would be inconsiderate to take up an entire shelf for the week if space is at a premium.

      Other unspoken rules:
      1. Unless you’ve been explicitly told that something is communal, it probably isn’t. Don’t help yourself to someone else’s creamer, liquid stevia, gourmet hot sauce, or cream cheese.
      2. I’d probably not microwave other strongly-scented foods (for instance really garlicky things, cruciferous vegetables, and heavily-spiced foods).
      3. Related to the above: if you’re bringing something that has a strong smell, be sure that it’s packed in a container that is well-sealed. Ditto if you’re bringing something that is liquidy/saucy/juicy.
      4. Mentioned above but worth repeating: don’t monopolize appliances/counter spaces, particularly if they’re at a premium and/or needed by people who don’t have flexibility in their break times.
      5. Clean up after yourself. This includes not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, food that came off the dishes that you washed in the sink, or spills on the counter.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Man, I am transcribing 1-5 and attaching a sign in the kitchen on the refrigerator.

        Public declaration of “knock it off” to one specific person and we all know it.

        And I think number five needs a separate written sign over the sink…”Your Mom does not work here, clean up after yourself. Yes, this includes the dirty dishes you left in the sink, the food you didn’t wash down the disposal, the spills you left on the counter. Clean up after yourself or work from home.”

    14. RagingADHD*

      I guess I need some clarification on your question

      What did you think they meant, that would make you feel like you needed to justify your sandwich, or that there might be a rule about it?

      Did they do something weird with their face or voice? I’m just having trouble finding any significance at all to read into that kind of comment.

      What subtext did you take from it?

  16. Amber Rose*

    Two weeks ago I got Covid and took Thursday/Friday off and slept for four straight days.
    Last week I “worked from home” while eating mostly flu tablets and quietly wishing to crawl into a hole.
    This week I’m back in the office and I’m falling apart.

    I tested negative finally after 11 days, but I’m still symptomatic. Horrible cough, no appetite, can’t sleep, can’t think. I need to do things and forget about them three seconds later. In one brain cell and out my ears apparently, because I can’t hold onto a thought. I’ve been late most days because I’m so tired in the mornings I worry my legs won’t hold me up.

    People keep asking how I’m feeling or telling me to feel better and I just want to cry all day because I’m struggling so hard. My work is suffering like whoa. You wouldn’t believe how much I just haven’t done and feel increasingly bad about. But I sound like a whiner because everyone else who had it was sick for two or three days and then got better, and I’m like 16 days out and the best I can say is that my fever is gone and my sinuses don’t hurt.

    I don’t know what to do.

    1. DarthVelma*

      If you are so tired you worry your legs won’t hold you up you are probably not safe to drive. Is there some reason you can’t still be working from home?

      1. Amber Rose*

        My job is tricky to do effectively from home long term. It’s not the worst for a few days, but it requires my coworkers to step up and do some of the work I’d normally do myself, and it’s harder for me to follow up.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Can you take more time off? It sounds like you are not well enough to be back at work yet and need some more time at home. I realise this may or may not be feasible, depending on your sick leave, etc.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        And everybody’s situation is different. The fact that some other people only needed a couple of days off doesn’t mean you don’t need more. I have heard of people being off work for six months or more. I have also met people who were completely asymptomatic. Being more severely affected than other people doesn’t make you a “whiner.” It just means you were unlucky.

        1. quill*

          Yeah, imagine it this way: you and the other covid patients in your office all, say, fell off the same skateboard. Some people have bruises. Other people have scrapes. There might be a sprain in the mix, but you, Amber Rose, broke something. Of COURSE you’re going to need more recovery time, the injury is more severe! It’s just harder to conceptualize a disease as having different outcomes for different people than it is to think of an accident having different outcomes.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Oh my goodness, if you’re still sick, you’re still sick — you need to be resting, not trying to force yourself to work.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Amen to ThatGirl! Covid notoriously hits different people differently. I have many friends who’ve had it — two had weeks of fatigue and symptoms (like you), some were like a flu, some asymptomatic, and two had very serious cases (everyone is fine now). The main thing is that if you’re sick you’re sick. It isn’t a personal failing.

    4. PollyQ*

      First, I’m really sorry you’re still feeling so awful! Second, NOT everyone else who had it was sick for only 2-3 days. Many people, y’know, died, or were hospitalized, or had a case as bad as yours. COVID is a serious illness, and you are not a whiner because you still have symptoms! Third, even though my COVID was milder than yours, I went through a period in my 20’s where I’d get a cold or a flu, which would then turn into something bacterial, and I missed a bunch of work days in a row, multiple times, because of it. People get sick! It happens! And you definitely still sound like you’re sick enough to be taking time off, or at the very least “working” from home.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Sorry, that was poorly worded. I meant everyone I work with. Aside from me, none of my coworkers have had more than a mild case of it. So they keep talking about how they felt better in a few days and I’m here three weeks later feeling like crap and not sure what to say.

        1. PollyQ*

          You say, “Damn, I’m jealous of you all. I’m here 3 weeks later, and I still feel like crap!” If your colleagues are minimally reasonable people who’ve paid any attention at all over the past 2.5 years, they’ll know that not everyone has as mild a case as they did. And if they’re not reasonable and knowledgable, then **** ’em.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            Perfect response. If they’re implying you’re slacking or milking it, just say something like this.

            “Wow, you we’re lucky because it’s brought me to my knees for weeks.”

            Also stop working. Work only from home and a only a few hours a day IF you feel up to it. Make your coworkers do the inperson work while YOU ARE OUT FEELING VERY SICK.

            * see above thread about how crosstraining before someone quits is important and not for just when they quit.

    5. Asenath*

      See your doctor about getting more sick leave so that you can rest. I’m no doctor, but I know that resting is important in recovery. I suspect your situation isn’t that unusual. My case (thanks to vaccinations) wasn’t that severe; the worse symptoms were over in a few days and the lingering ones in a week – except for that nasty persistent cough that must have lasted a month. And I had all the time I wanted to rest after I was cleared to re-join the rest of the world.

    6. londonedit*

      Definitely take some more time off. Rest is the most important thing with Covid! I feel like I had a mild case and I count myself lucky because I didn’t have a cough/lung trouble with it, and I was in bed for two days, felt absolutely awful and exhausted for about another five days, and it took me probably four weeks after that to really get my energy levels back and get rid of the crushing fatigue. I happened to have a week’s holiday booked that ended up being the week after I tested negative, and I’m convinced a week of total rest and recuperation is what really helped me recover properly.

    7. Snark*

      Oh my goodness, this sounds awful! When I got Covid last winter, I had mild symptoms for a week (during which I kept testing negative), and then two weeks of sleeping 20 hours a day. I did some WFH in the 4 hours I was awake but I probably should’ve skipped it; months later I would go back and find emails I’d written during that time that I had *no memory of reading/writing.*

      I also don’t want to be an alarmist, but there’s some evidence that trying to push yourself while you have Covid increases your chances of Long Covid. It’s much, much better to take time off now rather than harming yourself in the long term.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      Sympathy! I believe the newer strains are more contagious and less impacted by the vaccine. COVID is hitting people harder. The “it was just like a mild cold” is not for the new strains.

      My story matches yours somewhat. I was sick for 11 days. Started on a Friday, but then I was sick for the weekend, took off of work all week, sick again through the weekend, and went back to work part time the second Monday. I had fever for 3-4 days. An absolutely miserable, terrible sore throat for one day. Lost my voice for 3-4 days. Terrible racking cough not slowed by cough medicine or cough drops for the final 5 days. And even as I moved through the symptoms, I did not get anything close to a full nights sleep for the 11 days after the first symptoms. At the end it’s just hard to sleep when you’re coughing so much.

      Take as many days off as you can. Stop trying to work through it if you can afford the days off. Consider half if possible as you’re getting better.

      I would respond to their kind wishes saying, “Thank you. COVID is awful, I still feel really sick, but I hope I’m better soon too.”

      1. Amber Rose*

        Coughing fits wake me up every 3-4 hours. It’s not helping the fatigue. I plan to sleep most of tomorrow if I can.

        My boss is off today but on Monday I’ll see about working half days, or if I can continue WFH and just come in when I have stuff to take care of.

        1. Oliverr*

          One thing that helped me was that the urgent care prescribed me a short term inhaler when I got my pcr test because she said my lungs sounded really tight when I was coughing. Is there any chance you can get one? I had never used one before but it helped immensely when I could not stop coughing.

          Also no other answers but solidarity, I was sick for two weeks and am now on week four of just feeling off. My boss had covid at the same time and she had just a cold. I hope you get as much rest as you need, it is truly the only thing that will help.

    9. my 8th name*

      Don’t feel bad. Every strain is different and effects people differently. People I know who had Covid over a year ago and again recently say the second time was way more severe.

    10. Parenthesis Dude*

      That’s definitely not the case for everybody. Some people suffer like you have. You’re not alone.

      I’d talk to your manager about going on short-term disability if you have it. If not, FMLA.

    11. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I know you say you have no appetite but if possible make a conscious effort to eat something every couple of hours at least. It may feel like you are just laying around, but your body is using up a lot of energy trying to fight off the virus. Water, water and more water. And last, if you can, try propping yourself up in more of a seated position to sleep; sometimes the more elevated position can open up your lungs allowing you to sleep better. (Not a doctor, but these are my go-to when sick that usually help me.)

      As for work, I agree, try talking to your manager about taking some more time off or working from home as much as possible. If there are any tasks that someone else can do for a week or so to get them off your plate, that may help relieve some stress and back-log until you feel better. Speaking of which, I really do hope you start feeling better soon!

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m trying to eat. It’s a bit better today, I seem to have most of my sense of taste back. When I couldn’t taste or smell anything I couldn’t choke down food to save my life, it was all so gross. I’ve been eating mostly bread. Those enormous packs of dinner rolls have been most of my groceries.

        I get full faster though. A sandwich leaves me feeling like I ate a 3 course meal.

    12. Girasol*

      If you’re sick, you’re sick. Stay home and get some rest (that is, don’t work!) if at all possible. When you’re exhausted you make mistakes that can set you back further than if you just took time off. It’s a foolish American workplace habit that we feel we have to drag ourselves in half dead because there’s always some boss or coworker who will say, “Well, I would have come to work if I was that sick!”

    13. JustaTech*

      That sounds awful, I’m so sorry!
      My coworker got COVID and she was down and out for several days (her comment “I was so exhausted I watched the baseball game because I couldn’t lift the remote”).
      Other folks have been basically a case of the sniffles.

      You’re not a whiner, you’re sick! And if you’re sick, you’re sick and the only thing to be done is to rest. Unless everyone you work with is a complete jerk they’re not going to think “Oh Amber Rose what a slacker, what a weenie.” They’re thinking “Oh my goodness, poor Amber Rose sounds so sick! Maybe she should go back to bed for a while.”

      And based on the responses about the throat-clearing coworker earlier this week, if you’re coughing that much I bet all your coworkers would be perfectly happy for you to go home and either stay in bed or WFH.

      I hope you recover soon!

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Oh Amber Rose, I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      Is there any way you could consolidate the tasks that require the most attention for a time in the day you’re feeling better and then leave early? Or talk to your boss and see if some things can be taken off your plate. And ask your doctor if they can recommend anything to help, up to and including more leave with a note.

      *hug* I hope you feel better soon. F*ck COVID!

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

      Hey, long-COVID sufferer here– got it back in March 2020 and despite being, like, the only person in my city still masking indoors (because it messed me up so bad the first time), I just tested positive for it again. You have my deep understanding and sympathy, and I’m definitely hoping you recover soon.

      You need rest. Your one and only body is more important than even the greatest job. Rally your most supportive coworkers and tell them how very, very ill you still are, and how much you appreciate their helping you through this difficult time. There will be ample chances for you to pay back the favor to them in the future when you are feeling better. Based on how conscientious you sound, I guarantee most people know you wouldn’t fake it and slack off and call out if you didn’t need to. Plus, most people who aren’t jerks are glad to be able to help support someone they care about through a difficult time, and pragmatically speaking, the more rest you get now, the higher your chances of getting better before their altruism runs out. Take the time you need now while you have some strength to heal, and don’t wait til your body forces you down at an even more inopportune time because you pushed it too hard.

      1. Onwards and Upwards*

        Agree. Fellow Long Covid sufferer here. Pushing yourself won’t help. Letting yourself off the hook will. Everything else simply has to wait. Even if that’s a challenge because of finances, caring responsibilities, etc. It’s not easy, but everything else simply has to wait.

    16. allathian*

      I’m so sorry you’re still feeling sick. I hope you can get the rest you need and can avoid long Covid. At the very least you should advocate for getting WFH, but preferably you should be on sick leave/temporary disability. You’re clearly not fit to work.

    17. NotARacoonKeeper*

      Seconding everyone who suggesting rest and being kind to yourself! My April ’22 COVID case was like yours (4 days in bed), but I had long(er) COVID impacts that meant I couldn’t stand for more than a minute for a full month. I ended up working closely with a post-COVID physio who characterized the brain effects I was having as equal to a moderate concussion (I’ve had baseline concussion testing done, so this was measurable). I was off for work for 5 weeks. Even after I started my ramped return to work, my brain still took time to catch up; 8 weeks after my infection, I had this hour where I entirely forgot the PIN to my phone, which I’ve used since 2012. 9 weeks after infection, while paddling west into a sunset, I argued vehemently to my friend that the sun sets in the east.

      I’m lucky – 3 months after my infection, I was finally physically feeling like pre-COVID me; just before then I realized my brain hadn’t been making huge gaffes anymore, and I was performing high level work again. This isn’t like other illnesses, and it’s wildly different between people!

      I highly recommend asking to work remotely for the next two weeks, at least. I saw that your colleagues will need to cover some of your tasks – that is entirely an okay ask to make of them! Not having to commute, get ready, walk as far to the bathroom, make small talk – these are all things that will help your recovery and lower your risk of prolonged impacts. If you’re feeling awkward about asking, just imagine your favourite coworker asking you to do these tasks so they could recovery from a serious illness – of course you would say yes if you can. Good luck! I hope you heal quickly.

  17. The Prettiest Curse*

    (This is about a Netflix documentary, but from a work perspective.)
    Are any other event planners out there watching the Woodstock ’99 documentary on Netflix like it’s a horror film? People who plan music festivals must have nerves of steel (I’d never want to be responsible for the safety of thousands of people), but the planning for this event was just a massive abdication of responsibilty, a failure on so many levels, and completely agonising to watch.

    The organisers were stuck in the mindset of the original event – they didn’t realise that the culture (hello, extremely toxic 90’s misogyny), the live music industry and (most importantly) the drugs that young people were taking had all changed.

    They made some of the worst errors that you can make in event management, namely:
    1. Managing the event that you imagined, instead of the one that’s actually happening.
    2.(Related to #1) Completely losing perspective on your event, and
    3. Half-arsing the planning process and just hoping for the best.
    (The planners of the Fyre Festival made exactly the same mistakes.)

    Anyone who wants to get into event planning should watch this documentary to find out which mistakes to avoid. The only good thing you can say about the planning of Woodstock ’99 was that at least the event management didn’t hire the Hell’s Angels to provide security. But they clearly didn’t consider attendee safety, and that’s the worst possible thing that can happen at an event of that size.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      If you really want to sweat, watch Class Action Park. It’s a hilarious documentary about the absolute worst way you can run an amusement park.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I left some skin on the Alpine Slide back in the early 80s. The documentary was spot on! How they stayed in business as long as they did is a complete mystery.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have that documentary on my DVR, just haven’t got around to watching it yet. But I’ve read about that place, and yikes!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It’s been awhile since I worked in event management but yes, my logistical instincts were screaming about how preventable some of those problems were.

      1. Ama*

        I spent a few years where I had to handle event logistics at work and after spending even a little time doing that it is amazing to me how many people think they can just make a contract with a venue and announce an event and the planning will all take care of itself. I watched a bit of one of those Fyre Fest documentaries and it was clear those people hadn’t even thought through things like “we’re going to have chairs in this area, so where are we getting chairs from and how are the chairs getting to the island” — it was like they just expected they’d draw chairs on their planning map and some mysterious elf would set them up.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yup. If you go to any kind of event that runs smoothly, it’s because an event planner spent months (possibly years) planning it. I plan an annual event that takes place at the end of June and we’ve just set our date for 2023. Events don’t plan and coordinate themselves!

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            True that. I remember being on a convention planning team for all of three weeks when I was in college. It was fairly well run, but the logistics of it were so far beyond what 19yo me had any idea of – thankfully, we had a bunch of experienced hands and professionals actually running the show, and I was just functioning as a support person.

        2. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Our cohort at work had a hard enough time organizing a big sandwich order for about 30 people, let along planning ANY kind of event. It very much makes me appreciate people who are good at planning and arranging things.

      1. I-Away 8*

        The ’69 concert was a disaster as well. A series of venues cancelled on them, and the one they secured at the last minute was prepared for only 50,000 attendees, despite 186,000 tickets having been sold. Then almost half a million people showed up and got in without paying. And two people died.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I don’t know as much about the planning for the original Woodstock, but it seems like it was just as half-arsed as the ’99 edition. It’s just that the whole thing didn’t go out live on TV.

          The fact that some of the people at the original really did believe in the peace and love stuff meant that it didn’t end in a riot, but there was significant amounts of sexual violence (and inadequate security) at both incarnations. So I think the main difference is that they got away with bad planning in the original festival, but not at the ’99 version.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Ha! The description here of ’99 sounds like 1969 all over again. Not seeing much difference.

              People I have talked to said 1969 was not that great at all and kind of a bust for a number of reasons.

    3. Pass the Just-For-Men*

      I’ve never had to plan an event that big, but I always hated planning any event, and outdoor events would really spike my anxiety because typically things have to be planned and booked months in advance and any number of things can ruin it that are totally outside of your control (rain, excessive heat, covid, etc.)

      1. anonagaintoday*

        Yeah it’s amazing how many people want to get into “events” without realizing how much of it is planning for rest rooms, portalets, trash crews, dumpsters, security, parking, and traffic.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Exactly, it’s all glamour till someone drops their phone in the port-a-potty…

    4. Riot Grrrl*

      I saw this too. One of the most poignant factors for me was how for the original Woodstock the average age of the planners was only 2 years older than the average age of the attendees. (I looked this up later.) For Woodstock ’99, the main planners were at least a generation and a half older.

      You’re spot on to note how they failed to realize how much the culture had changed. I mean, I’m not totally convinced that misogyny was worse in the 90s than it was in the 60s, so much as the form of that misogyny had changed (all of the toxicity of patriarchy but stripped of the protections afforded by earlier eras of paternalism).

      One of the moments that most crystalized the generation gap was the closing of the festival. A bunch of aggressive and (rightfully) exhausted kids who had been waiting all day for a “special treat” that they think is going to be a performance by Guns n Roses or Prince gets shown a video of… Jimi Hendrix. What an unbelievable miscalculation.

      1. Observer*

        I mean, I’m not totally convinced that misogyny was worse in the 90s than it was in the 60s, so much as the form of that misogyny had changed (all of the toxicity of patriarchy but stripped of the protections afforded by earlier eras of paternalism).

        This.

    5. RisRose*

      I previously worked in professional sports/stadium operations and made the mistake of watching the Fyre Festival documentary the weekend before opening day…..

    6. Observer*

      (The planners of the Fyre Festival made exactly the same mistakes.)

      I think you’re giving them too much credit. I honestly don’t believe that there was any good faith there, to start with.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Hmm, I think they come out about the same, in terms of failure. Both were vastly over-hyped. Fyre Festival was harder to leave, since it was on an island, but nobody died. Woodstock ’99 organisers at least attempted to organise a viable music festival and some people apparently had a good time. In both cases, attendees were under-fed and dehydrated on an unsanitary and unsuitable event site. (The scenery at Fyre Festival looked nice, though.)

        The guy who created Fyre Festival was definitely a scammer. I wouldn’t describe the Woodstock organisers that way, but they definitely had the same attitude towards the failure of the event that they planned – namely, that none of it was their fault.

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I haven’t, but I’ll add it to my watchlist!
      (Which makes me remember, I’m still waiting for a formal apology for the disastrous company event I had to attend two months ago, with not enough food and no seats for +200 employees)

    8. Language Lover*

      I also recommend the HBO episode of the Music Box series on the festival. It was done before the Netflix documentary and the organizers come off as even worse in that one. It also gives a more critical perspective as a lot of reporters are interviewed.

      I’d say some of the issues also relate to lack of diversity. The planners (or at least those that were interviewed) were all white men of a certain age. Had they had more diversity, someone might have pointed out the issues with the lineup and the kind of crowd it’d attract.

  18. DaniCalifornia*

    I am an admin for a big tech company. I am finishing my masters this fall in UX Design/Research and will be switching careers and do not have plans to stay at current company as they don’t actually have any UX roles. I support several high level people who are aware I’m in school for a completely different field but on the day to day don’t have the capacity to remember that. Our company is also hurting for admins right now, most admins are almost at retirement age while I’m in my 30s.

    I’m looking for advice for a major career change in general or if anyone else has been in a similar situation and how they handled it. What went well, what went bad, or if there was anything they’d wish they’d done differently?

    FWIW, I know I have every right to interview, stay quiet, and once I have a job offer give my 2 weeks notice (or as much notice as I can) My bosses knew my school plan since I interviewed with them in 2020 and our company culture is to encourage professional growth and education. They were aware that when I graduated I’d be looking for a new role either within the company or outside.

    1. Lifelong student*

      Years ago, I was a paralegal and part time college student majoring in accounting. I worked for a medium size law firm in a medium sized city where everyone knows everyone else. A few months before I graduated, I talked to the spouse of the attorney I worked for and expressed concern the the attorney would be upset with me when I started looking for accounting positions. We had known them for 20 some years but were not in the same social circle so the conversation was casual at an office picnic. When I graduated, the attorney came to me, let me know his spouse had reminded him I would probably be looking and offered any assistance in my search.

      So – maybe a back door approach will help soften things.

    2. Jellyfish*

      I also switched from admin work into a completely different field via a graduate degree and some off-hours resume building activities. At the time, I was very open with my employer about my long term plans and job search. In retrospect, that was a bad idea. I was trying not to leave them hanging, but I only ended up hurting myself. It worked out for me eventually, but my bosses 100% opted to protect their own interests at my expense, and I gave them the capacity to do that.

      Loyalty from a company to its employees is typically one way, even when they claim otherwise. Finish your degree, interview, stay quiet, and give your two weeks notice. That’s adequate professionalism on your part, and probably exactly what others in your company would do in your place. Congrats and good luck!

    3. Observer*

      A lot depends on the kind of people you are working with / for.

      If they are smart, decent and “get” the concept of enlightened self interest, it might work to your benefit to give them nice long notice. Because what you will be basically trading off is that you will help with a smooth transition where they can find your replacement and have you train in the new person and maybe even work alongside them for a while. And you can use them both for references on the transferable skills side. And maybe even a bit of networking.

      On the other hand, if these are the kinds of folks who are SHOCKED when someone wants to move in another direction, just keep it quiet and hand in your two weeks when you have your new job.

  19. Keywords*

    I’m looking for suggestions on keywords to use while using job search engines (as opposed to searching for specific job titles). I’m looking for a job where I’d mostly work with records or information and not deal with people much (so not customer service or receptionist type work). I’ve tried using these keywords:

    detail oriented
    organized
    data entry
    filing
    records
    clerk

    These haven’t been really helpful. It seems like the only jobs that come up in searches are either low paying jobs I’m overqualified for, or jobs that require specific degrees and years of experience that I’m underqualified for.

    (I have a list of keywords to use to try to find a job similar to what I do now, but I’ve only found four jobs to apply to since I started job hunting in early June, so I’m trying to broaden what I’m looking for.)

    1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

      Is there a particular role that you’re looking for? I work in marketing and communications so I stay vague when searching on Indeed/LinkedIn/Zip Recruiter by only searching on the most common denominator of the titles I’m looking at. Basically just searching under marketing and trolling through all the mud before I find the gold nuggets of jobs that I would want to work.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You can find jobs that are similar to each other by using myskillsmyfuture.org — put in the name of the job that’s more or less close, and it’ll give you related positions – with comparisons for skill sets/wages/education, etc.

      Then use the new job titles for searching.

      You might also want to think more about the companies/industries that are likely to have that sort of back office record keeping and build a list of target companies where you’ll check all of their postings every week. It might be that there’s a job posting out there that doesn’t score high on your search, but secretly is perfect for you.

    3. my 8th name*

      This isn’t a key word recommendation but I recommend looking at jobs at universities. They have tons of internal data administration roles. Pay will depend on school though.

    4. ope!*

      May I suggest “technician”? It’s technically a title, but I’d still recommend it as a keyword because it’s such a common job title it’s linked to many different fields and types of work, usually related to someone who does background support work to a team or professional. Depending on the employer and role, I see positions for technicians make 30 – 80k, so it’s certainly not “just” entry level roles.

    5. afj5*

      Manufacturing companies have Documentation Specialists and/or a Documentation Manager responsible for reviewing and formatting engineering documents and entry into a Product Data Management system. You still need to contact others when your review reveals missing information, but the majority of the work tends to be meticulous cross-referencing and data entry.

    6. Nesprin*

      Archivist, Data Management, Records Management, or Document Specialist would be the terms that I’d think of.

  20. Pass the Just-For-Men*

    Has it become common practice for HR and recruiters to say they are passing an interview onto the next round of interviews without any intention to actually do so? I feel like when I’ve looked before, I could tell where they stood and that they were typically pretty honest. For example, if they had no intention of passing me on to the next round, they just didn’t bring up the next round unless asked, nor would they say they were going to do so. That’s all I needed, hint taken, and I would forget about the experience and move on as quickly as possible.

    Now every phone screen I get, they all say they are going to move me, but I’ve only seen about a 40-50% response and schedule of the next round of interviews. A lot of the times, I’m indifferent but when it’s something I really want and I’ve already been on 2 rounds of interviews, I can’t help my hopes from getting elevated some. Plus, I’m a pretty prepared person, so if I think I’m getting that next interview, I do some more homework to further the conversation along to sell myself as the best candidate and this just wastes my time.

    Between that, the news of rescinded offers, and everything else, I don’t understand why employers have to take a relatively straight-forward thing and make it dodgy. When I’ve hired, I never mention what next rounds are for people that I knew I never wanted to talk to again.

    Not really sure there is much to discuss with this, but more of a general venting of frustration as I think something is going to happen that isn’t.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      This has happened to me before, including once when they said they would pass me on to the next round and I would hear by the following week, then went radio silent and when I followed up by email to check in a few weeks later I discovered that they had disabled the email address I’d been given as a contact so all my messages were bouncing back.

      Yesterday’s letter about getting ghosted at the offer stage was obviously a worse version of this, but I imagine that what’s happening is probably some combination of (1) finding an “ideal” candidate that they want to nab quickly and pursuing them to the detriment of other applicants, (2) interviewers saying they’ll pass you on to the next round but meaning something more like “*IF* we pass you on to the next round, you’ll hear by X date,” (3) having a much more competitive applicant pool than they were expecting, and (4) things getting lost in the shuffle.

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        OMG, the email address thing is wicked. I would want to go on indeed so quickly and mention that. It’s absolute BS. That sucks that happened to you, but that is clearly a bullet dodged.

        I’m getting low-key anxious about getting an offer rescinded. After never thinking in a million years that I would get laid off (after surviving many, many rounds at previous companies) to having it happen to me twice in succession now, I feel like I’m going to finally get an offer and have the rug pulled out from under me.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      That’s not the most inspiring answer, but it’s possible that the HR recruiter is indeed passing you on, and that’s the first time someone who actually understands the role they’re trying to fill gets their eyes on the candidates, and is making some additional eliminations. imho doing it that way around is wasting both the recruiters’ and the candidates’ time, but depending on how important and/or busy the hiring manager is, it might be sensible for the business – how messed up a process has to be for that to happen after 2 rounds, I can’t imagine though!

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, I hope this is not the case, but whenever someone reports that HR interviewed them and things went well but there was no follow up, I’m reminded of the time I was helping administer a hiring process for a senior role in my department (I was very junior but I was helping schedule the meeting rooms, printing resumes for the committee, etc.). HR was doing the phone screens and they kept passing on candidates that were just not suitable at all. Then we found out HR had marked all the desired criteria backwards — so they were sending us, for example, only candidates who had a specific degree when my boss had actually said he *didn’t* want candidates with that degree (the position we were hiring for was a niche specialization that was often mistaken for a different type of job that required that degree).

    3. irene adler*

      I think the practice with many HR departments is to never tell the candidate any kind of disappointing information. Always leave ’em with a positive feeling.

      Hence, every candidate is told they will be moved forward.
      Every candidate is still in the running when calling back a few weeks later to see where things stand.
      Every candidate is invited to “email if you have questions” by HR – and sometimes the hiring manager too.

      All this to avoid the “can you tell my why I was not moved forward/hired, please?” conversation.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      Unless it’s the hiring manager themselves saying you’re moving on to the next round, it might mean that the screening is moving to the next stage… which is review by the hiring manager.

      Which is probably a charitable interpretation, but I try to never assume malice when it could be someone making a mistake.

    5. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      I’ve been working with a lot of recruiters and how I understand it is that they’re sending your resume/candidacy to the hiring manager. From there it’s up to the hiring manager who they want to interview.

    6. Churpairs*

      This happened to me last fall with a recruiter who was uber excited about my candidacy. They ghosted me and I found out later through the grapevine that they decided to leave the position with the interim for another year. Kind of hope the recruiter reaches back out when they fill it again so I can tell them to eff off.

  21. Nicnac*

    Hey, bit of an odd one here. Looking to transition to a new career – I’m a personal chef, which can pay really well but I’m pretty burnt out on at this point in my life. I feel very done.
    I used to do freelance IT but it was over a decade ago and I don’t have a degree. I can’t say I miss the office, but I want stability and a good paycheck, and the ability to work remotely. That said, I’m in my late 30s with a few aborted attempts at going back to school. I’ve never coded and I’ve been away from tech even in my personal life for a long time. Is there something I can do/start working towards, with remote possibilities, that will get me to a six figure salary in the next 5-6 years?

    Is this an absolutely ridiculous question?
    I could go back to school as well but have managed to get to this point in my life without debt and kind of want to keep it that way. That said, I’d be happy to start a program that would cost something but open some doors, just not looking to go get a degree. Would a degree even help? Am I too old to be starting over like this?

    1. Savvy*

      I’m not an expert, but in similar discussions I have seen the position of Software Developer suggested It seems to have good long term career and earning potential and does not necessarily require a degree, as there are lots of independent courses and learning paths.

    2. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      This is not an advertisement, I swear. There’s are very affordable universities online and you can accelerate your program by simply doing the work faster. Off the top of my head, Western Governors University is one of them (they’re accredited and not-for-profit, both of which you want). It’s about $3700 per 6-month semester, and they ask you to take a minimum of 12 credits, but you can do more if you move faster through the courses, since they’re self-paced. They also accept a very high number of credits from other colleges/universities – if you have any.

      That’s if you wanted to go back to school and hone your IT chops (?).

    3. just passing through*

      This isn’t something I have personal experience with, but my SO, who’s in the programming field, has recommended code bootcamps. I think that would be much less (in debt and commitment) than getting a new degree, but would help you break back into the tech field–that’s what they’re specifically designed to do. Have you looked into that?

      Again, not something I have the personal knowledge to recommend, just a hint for something you might Google!

      1. Spearmint*

        I’m not in tech, but I know some people who are. Boot camps vary a lot in quality, so do your research and be skeptical. And, heads-up, but just because a bootcamp is affiliated with a major university does not necessarily mean it’s a high quality program.

        That said, some people have had good experiences with them, so definitely take a look.

    4. Parenthesis Dude*

      I’d recommend Cyber Security.

      It’s not a ridiculous question. There are people that can definitely do this even at your age. But it’s extremely hard to pull off and requires you to be very talented.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      Have you looked at working at IT support companies? By this I mean companies that provide hosting, hardware and hardware setup and service support to other companies. This is a big business and there are a lot of these companies around. If you are good and reliable at what you do (and I believe most of them train really well), you will move up quickly. They are all totally starved for good employees.
      I agree with everyone else that you probably don’t need a degree.
      Good luck!!

      1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        Yep! I work for one of these companies & I cosign everything @chauncey gardener said. So many opportunities for growth & development internally & not much in the way of hiring requirements.

    6. PX*

      There was a post a few months back on here (the main blog, not a friday post) by someone talking about data privacy/data security as a new and booming field. Because its quite new, it means you dont need loads of education background to get into it, and also that companies are willing to pay well because not many people know anything about it. Requires you to have the right mindset to deal with legalese/compliance type stuff, but if you do, could be one for you!

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        > don’t need loads of education background

        The OP on that one was a lawyer who went through a course that was discounted through their membership in their local bar association. They leveraged their law degree and legal experience plus the compliance training to get a job with one of the FAANG companies. Their experience shouldn’t be considered ordinary, in my view, but in any event a person would absolutely need specialized education and training for compliance jobs.

    7. dejaju*

      I changed careers from education to tech. I attended a data analysis boot camp; it was a great experience. It was a little bit terrifying at first (I also made the change in my late 30s), but it was a fantastic decision.

  22. Abbott*

    This is long… I’m not sure I expect people to read it, I think I just needed to put my thoughts down and see if anyone might have words of encouragement – many thanks to those who respond.

    I’m in an anxiety spiral. Recently my boss left and I’ve picked up some of her work. I can’t stress enough just how productive and well-respected she was. And while, I feel that the higher ups “believe” in me and have demonstrated support about the work I’ve done — I am regularly feeling overwhelmed and not capable of executing work at the level that she did. In other words, I feel like the words of praise I’ve received is superficial and could easily be overshadowed by any number of problems that could potentially happen with some big projects that are coming up.

    The truth is that my job is public-facing and surprises or issues are common. And for awhile I’ve been feeling that I need a less on-call position for a less public organization. I could manage my anxiety a bit with the support of my boss, but now that she’s gone – I feel like I’m constantly being put in the line of fire and I am exhausted, stressed out, and … done. I have a vacation scheduled at the end of the month, but I don’t think it’s going to ease the burden I feel. So much so, that I have dreams of breaking a leg or an arm – as the physical pain would be preferable to this anxiety.

    I want to leave, but I don’t want to just take a job that gets me out of the organization. It’s not the organization that’s the full problem. It’s the work that I do in general. I’ve also been looking for jobs away from the city, where competition and stress is high. But, it’s been slow going.

    Everyone is saying this is temporary – and it will be because they are going to hire a replacement (which is not me) – but there’s no indication how long that will take. I am the most senior person in my department and there’s no one to take the load of these projects. I’ve delegated as much as I can to others – but it’s not the workload that’s the problem. It’s the stress of the projects themselves, the importance of them, the extensive project management and managing expectations for others and myself, it’s the responsibility I put on myself for them to be flawless and successful.

    I need a break from my brain. From this work. From my life. (I’m in therapy – but my therapist is on vacation for the next two weeks…) Any other nervous nellies on here who can share stories of success or transformation following a period of stress? I need some positive reinforcement that is not based on how well I did, but how well I could do – if that makes sense.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A commenter on last Friday’s open thread posted a similar question (search for the username “Pilot’s Error”). It may help to read that comment and know you’re not alone feeling overwhelmed with an increase in responsibility after a boss leaves.

      Are you in a financial position where you can quit your job, take a week or two to decompress, and then start a job search? That sounds like it would be the healthiest course of action, but I know it may not be financially feasible.

      Good luck with your situation!

    2. SophieCroft*

      It sounds like the higher-ups have let you take on a lot of your former boss’s job duties both because they need someone to do those things and because they trust and like you. Have you considered going to them (or HR) and spelling out some of what you’ve shared here? While that can backfire spectacularly in unsupportive environments, you don’t describe your workplace as unsupportive. In a healthy workplace, sometimes the problem is just that someone is so good at seeming like they can handle the work that everyone assumes they’re thriving. But if that person comes forward and explains that they’re not okay, many supportive work environments will find ways to address it in order to retain a great employee (you!). Knowing what you’re really experiencing, perhaps they could spread some of those job duties to people a little less senior in your department, who might jump at the chance to do some of that work. Perhaps they could spread some of it among themselves. Perhaps they will increase the pressure on recruiters to find a replacement for your boss. You might be able to think of some things that would really help, like ‘if Julie could take on X…’ or ‘if I just didn’t have to Y…” and they might welcome those ideas.

      I’m in the senior management at my organization and there are countless stories of situations where we’ve been happy to intervene and move work around or change job duties or make other modifications once we know that someone isn’t okay. And, frankly, we’d much rather KNOW that someone isn’t sure that BigProject is going well and is losing sleep over it, than continue to assume that BigProject is going well because the people who took it over are saying all the right things and everything looks good. Once we know, we can put more or different people on it, step in and ask all the micro-managing type questions we might have been hesitant to ask before like whether you checked this or arranged that, and help make sure things are alright. Again, in a chaotic and back-stabbing work environment, opening up like this might have peril, but you don’t describe your company that way, so please consider opening up and letting them carry the burden instead of you.

  23. Spearmint*

    How do you deal with imposter syndrome when you have reason to think you might be correct to feel that way?

    I’ve been at my current job for three years, and I frequently receive high praise from my managers and senior colleagues. I’ve been called a superstar on multiple occasions, and received the maximum possible annual raise for my position two years in a row. My manager said I exceeded expectations in every category in my last performance review.

    The thing is, I’m not sure I agree that I’m a superstar. Most days I only put in 3-4 hours of work (and occasionally even less), even during busy periods. With maybe one or two minor exceptions, I pretty much never go above and beyond or take initiative to do something new. I get done everything I need to done, but I often put tasks off until the last minute when I could have completed them weeks earlier. I also feel I could have better attention to detail if I was more disciplined or motivated, and catch more mistakes, but I’m not particularly motivated to more than what I would consider B+ level work.

    I keep the gears turning, but that’s about it. I think I’m good at my job, but I don’t feel like a superstar, and often I feel like I receive so much praise because I work more independently and no one is closely monitoring my work. I’m not sure what to do with these feelings. It feels wrong to think of myself as a superstar, but on the other hand maybe I’m underestimating myself? Part of my motivation for thinking about this is I’m probably going to search for a new job soon, and I want to have an accurate understanding of my abilities to inform what kinds of jobs I apply for.

      1. Spearmint*

        I remember that letter, but I suppose where I feel different than that LW is that, unlike them, I’ve never had a period in my work life where I busted my butt gaining skills and working long hours. In fact, my current job is only my second professional job ever (and the first was a temporary position). But I suppose that maybe shouldn’t really matter?
        really matter

    1. There With You*

      No advice, but so much sympathy. I struggle with bigger things (which is a huge part of my job) due to CPTSD, which causes inattentive type ADHD symptoms. However, everyone says I’m amazing, no issues, etc. I’m always available when needed – it’s not like I just bail on work, but I struggle to be doing things when I’m not actively needed. I’ve specifically asked my manager to give me more negative (constructive) feedback if there is any, which she said she would do (and I believe it), but I still get very, very little. I’ve been the same person in past jobs and got similar feedback, so maybe me not at my best is still a superstar? Makes me wonder what I’d be like without my issues, lol!

    2. Qwerty*

      There was letter relatively recently that’s very similar to the situation you describe. AAM and the comment section were helpful there.

      Your manager and coworkers are looking at your output and your impact, not the time you spent on it. If they only need B level work and you are turning in B+ work, then you are exceeding expecatations. Unlike school, the real world often does not require perfection in every instance.

      Are you getting specific feedback from your manager or just general praise? I’ve noticed that people with imposter syndrome tend to just get “you’re doing great!” and it helps to hear *why* they think you are great. Maybe it isn’t the quality of your work that they love, but that you reliably turn it in on time or are good are mentoring new hires. Or it could be something that is stupid simple to you but not intuitive to someone else – sometimes when we are good and efficient at something we end up undervaluing it.

      Also, don’t discount how valuable it is to have a dependable employee on a team. Keeping the gears turning is important!

      1. Spearmint*

        This is helpful post, thank you! Yes I think working independently, and so only getting big picture feedback, may be part of the issue. I also work on projects that don’t really have quantitive metrics of success, which adds to the vagueness of feedback.

      2. Wheezyweasel*

        I agree, output and impact make far more of a difference. Society pays firefighters to respond to fires, accients and medical emergencies along with the associated training, community education and similar tasks. We don’t ask them to answer the phones in the public library when they aren’t doing firefighting tasks, or call out the ladder truck to replace streetlights. Yet office work culture in the US, at least, seems to have a holdover of the food service saying ‘if there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean’ and will load up low-impact tasks onto our fastest, most skilled workers. When a ‘fire’ comes through, they can’t respond in their normal manner without disrupting other work, or that work is difficult to offload and makes their response to the fire less effective. I’ve been in that position and have left jobs because of it, and when I found another place that let me *just* be the firefighter : skilled, accurate, fast and knowledgeable, I stay in that role for a lot longer. Yes, there are days where it’s boring, I’m only doing 70% of my capabilities or max capacity – but I stay fresh to fight those fires where experience counts!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      People are allowed to have opinions and we don’t have to agree. I am not sure why you feel you have to agree with them. Say “thanks” and move on.

      BUT.

      For me, I have to live with myself. If *I* know I am not doing my best then what others say becomes irrelevant.

      It sounds like you have mastered this job. Maybe you need to give yourself a good kick and make yourself stretch further and do more. This could be seeking a promotion, taking on more work or even changing jobs.

      Sometimes we can have a nagging little voice that says, “Do better”. And that little voice can pop up when others say we are doing great. There’s probably a legit reason for it. From the sounds of it you probably can achieve more. All you have to do is decide do you want more than what you have now?

  24. The Crowening*

    Hello! I found out this week that I get to go to a conference and meet coworkers I’ve never met in person! I’m very excited. But after 2.5 years working from home, I need work clothes. I wore jeans to work pre-pandemic but that was a different job. In short… I need clothes for a 5 day conference and I’m freaking out a little.

    My go-to used to be Loft, but during the pandemic they transitioned to much more casual clothing lines, and they never transitioned back. They are very “blazer and jeans” now, and I don’t want that for this event.

    I want outfits that look crisp and professional but not super formal. It doesn’t need to be tailored suits or anything. I am also going to be on my feet, potentially running around trying to help with logistics.

    All this to say…. with Loft no longer meeting these needs, where should I look for clothes that are nicer than “jeans and blazer” but not “pantsuit”?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve actually had good luck with Dressbarn & Nordstrom Rack. I am short & curvy, and their clothes tend to fit. Also, a lot of dresses from FB have pockets. Real ones!

    2. just a thought*

      I used to go to Nordstrom and ask for help from the sales people that are also stylists.
      If you liked Loft, you could also try Ann Taylor

    3. JustMyImagination*

      You could try their sister company Ann Taylor. I find their clothes skew a little more conservative than the Loft so might have what you’re looking for. White House Black Market also tends to have a lot of blazers so you can probably get some mix and match separates. J. Crew and Banana Republic will also have some good finds.

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

      Yes, Loft became the casual counterpoint to the flagship Ann Taylor brand. I’m not sure what your price point is, but for a 5-day conference, you probably don’t need a classic tailored suit that lasts 20 years. You could spend the money for nicer basic separates like a black or gray pencil skirt, black or gray trousers, and add a few colorful (cheaper) tops and cardigans from places like Target, H&M or Kohl’s. Macy’s would have a variety of styles for the pants and skirts.

    5. ErinB*

      My one-or-two-steps-up from the Loft go-to bottoms are Theory cropped pants. Although they’re a bit pricey, you can usually find some colors on sale, either at the Theory website or through Rue La La/TheOutnet.com. I find that they drape really nicely (even without tailoring) in a way that makes them look professional and put-together without screaming “pantsuit.” You can pair with a blouse, sweater, or dressy tee (depending on how formal you’re looking for) and flats (cropped = no worries about hemming with heels!).

    6. BellyButton*

      My go-to are wrap dresses. They can be casual or dressy, and look good with a blazer, cardigan, or on their own. They tend not to wrinkle if you are careful with which material you get. Daily Ritual, an Amazon brand, has some great ones for really reasonable prices and a wide range in sizes from XS to plus sizes. I wear them with anything from sneakers, flip flops, flats, and heels. Depending on accessories that can literally go anywhere.

    7. SophieCroft*

      You’ve gotten great advice already. A simple dark pair of pants can be worn multiple days with a different top. If a wrap dress is flattering on you, those can be very professional looking, either with or without a blazer over it. The last day of a conference is often when everyone is completely over dressing to impress, so dark jeans or khakis with a presentable top will probably blend in perfectly. Also consider whether your coworkers will be going out for dinner or doing evening events. My experience is that men don’t always change for dinner, but women usually do, so consider bringing some extra clothing (maybe more dresses or a “night out” jeans and top look) that you’d be comfortable wearing for dinner with coworkers, meeting them at the lobby bar, etc., if you anticipate those events. My first conference, I packed clothing for each day, and then very casual things for dinners on my own, and then was mortified when I got invited out to dinner with a group of people I wanted to impress and had to rewear conference outfits. Obviously not the end of the world, but it felt like it in the moment.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I just got a job and bought several pairs of Pixie pants from Old Navy. They’re more comfortable than most work pants I’ve had but look nicer than jeans

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        I love the Pixie but I will say I got two pairs at the beginning of this year and one of the colors (navy blue) faded incredibly quickly while the others still look great.

        1. Paris Geller*

          Yeah I have found that the quality control on Old Navy clothes varies so wildly! Most of my work pants + my jeans are from there and even if I have two in the same cut/style, some last so much longer than others. They’re always having sales & deals so I put up with the uncertainty for the price, but it is worth noting.

    9. Jora Malli*

      If you’ve got the time and patience, I’ve found some of my best Office Clothes at places like Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Burlington. These kinds of stores can be hit or miss and it can take more work to find the good stuff than it would be at a normal department store, but some of my favorite dress pants and blazers have come from Burlington.

    10. Ama*

      Banana Republic dress pants are my go to and they often have really good sales. For blouses and dresses I find I like Boden better in terms of my personal style although the drawback with Boden is that you can only order online (although their return policy is good and easy if something doesn’t fit). But I find Boden’s pants to be more “business casual” than “business” so I stick to BR for “nice work event” pants.

    11. bratschegirl*

      Seconding J Crew and Banana Republic; my law clerk kiddo wears a lot of stuff from them. If budget is no object, Eileen Fisher is polished without being pantsuit.

      1. Sheeplike but Not Sheepish*

        You can get brand new Eileen Fisher stuff for a fraction of retail on ebay. I’ve bought loads there.

    12. JustaTech*

      My go-to conference pants are from BetaBrand (online only I think). They’re styles like trousers (so not fitted through the leg), but they’re elastic waistband (but look like regular pants) and are made of a really heavy knit that reads like wool. Basically they’re yoga pants with pockets that look like dress pants. Very comfortable and warm (useful in freezing hotel conference rooms) and travel really well. I’ve got a basic black and a grey-and-white pinstripe.
      I’ve paired them with blouses and blazers from Nordstrom (the Caslon or Halogen lines that are less fancy) or Nordstrom Rack.

      For shoes I wear something flat and dressy, usually oxfords (because I need laces to hold my orthodics in). I find that it’s easier to rock flats with pants than with a dress, but that’s probably a personal thing.

      1. Perpetual Job Seeker*

        Came here to recommend Beta Brand as well! I have a heckuva time with finding pants that fit me… And these are great and really comfy.

    13. Hillary*

      You’ve got this. Folks already mentioned Nordstrom Rack, I’ve also found a lot of excellent professional clothes on ThredUp since everyone’s cleaning out their closets.

      I just got home from a conference – it was much more casual than the same event three years ago. It used to be button downs & khakis with some sport coats or suits. This year it was polo shirts & jeans with a few blazers. Lots of dressy sneakers, few dress shoes. There were a few suits on day one, day two no suits and some people wore shorts. I have a feeling a lot of events are going that way.

    14. Westsidestory*

      Talbots. The pieces fit together nicely and even the accessories color coordinate.

    15. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I spent literally hours looking for business professional clothes last week, and H&M of all places was the best by far. Some of their stuff is too trendy for my taste (I’m not a fan of oversized blazers that look straight out of the 80s) but they have some great classic looks for a really reasonable price.

      I also have a few pairs of slacks from White House Black Market that are fine, but kind of pricey for the quality.

  25. quill*

    I studied Environmental Science and am trying to get back into that field, but all currently open roles are looking for experience I don’t have / can’t get because there are no junior level positions open. Does anyone know of any industries I might be overlooking that deal with permitting, environmental monitoring, or water quality?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you looked at conservancy districts and similar quasi-governmental organizations?

      1. quill*

        Yeah, that’s unfortunately where I’m seeing the jobs that are directors / phd’s / 10 years experience only.

        1. lost academic*

          That’s not a great place to start- they need people with a lot of experience in paid positions because they are trying to work with a wide variety of stakeholders and decisionmakers. It’s the first thing so many environmental science folks think of, but to be effective with an NGO you should start somewhere else.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      Are you looking at jobs that have “regulatory” in the title? That might provide some leads, also companies that deal with hazardous wastes seem to always be looking for folks.

    3. CalAH*

      I don’t have an Environmental Science background, but some of my coworkers do. Could your skills be used in building permitting or plans review?
      A few of my department’s land use planners (think city planners but for a rural area) have Environmental Science degrees. They’re excellent at reviewing building permits for compliance with environmental regulations. They frequently conduct site visits to identify environmentally significant areas, which is generally more affordable for the customer than hiring an environmentalist consultant.
      These planners do also have experience in land use codes. Some agencies or departments may be willing to train you on that side of the work.
      A few Open Threads ago, I posted asking about hiring and retention in state and local governments. The response was that many non-federal governments and agencies are hiring.
      Best of luck!

    4. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      Hi quill,
      What you do is actually something that my company does. But here’s the rub: the two Ecologists we have are all we need, otherwise I’d tell you to check out our website post-haste. That said, it depends on where you are. My company is in Florida, and we do a LOT of permitting/monitoring/water quality for the local governments, private landowners, and we also have a mitigation fund and help others set up theirs.

      Okay, as for experience, our Ecologists took advantage of internships during their college years, and afterwards either came straight to us and we taught them the rest, or went to work for a state’s park service doing monitoring of animals or plants and THEN came to us. So check out government sites, state parks, AmeriCorps, and so on, places that don’t necessarily advertise on Indeed. You might have to take a very entry-level job just to start you out. I hate to say it, but people who are passionate about the environment are not in it for the money…

      That said, I once helped one of our Ecologists with tagging gopher tortoises (they’re licensed to do so, they just needed someone to hold the darn things). That was fun! Beats a day sitting at the computer, that’s for sure.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, part of my problem is that I’m not physically capable of doing a primarily fieldwork job, or I would have started there right after college.

        (I still try to do fieldwork but turns out holding specimens still for my brother’s thesis is significantly less rigorous than hauling soil or water samples! Tortoises and lizards are much easier to lift until you get into the realm of the ludicrously sized snapping turtle, who is probably being moved right along with a broom instead.)

        1. The Other Evil HR Lady*

          Would you like to send me your resume anyway? That’s if you’d like to live in Florida. My company is in Sarasota County, but closer to Punta Gorda. It’s a beautiful area!

          Anyway, if you’re interested, send it to career (at) earthbalance (dot) com and I’ll keep an eye out. Just make sure you tell me it’s quill from AAM! :-D

        2. lost academic*

          This is going to make finding an entry level job a lot harder unless you’ve got an engineering degree too (this is an amendment to my initial response). There’s a lot of assumption about what you can or should do based on your degree (I’d argue it’s silly but getting your foot in the door means you need to know what people assume) and that’s true in government and in the private sector. An environmental science degree doesn’t mean enough to hiring managers because it can mean a lot of different things depending on what you decided to study and where you got your degree (and when). The assumption is generally going to be that you didn’t take as many data science/statistics/math courses as an engineer and can’t necessarily be relied on for the calculation work that’s a big part of permitting. You can look for smaller firms if you can’t find the unicorn entry level job that doesn’t have a major field component, but you should expect to do a lot of Phase 1s and those are field oriented too (though not oil field). There are some field technician type jobs (like LDAR) you could consider if you can do a little additional work and find some openings that might be less physically strenuous, but still might be outside your abilities. On top of it, firms aren’t hiring junior staff for remote work – there’s an emphasis on having local senior resources because you need extensive training in the job, whatever it will be. And people are probably not going to look twice if you need to relocate.

          Amazon hires environmental techs – look there.

          Look at state government jobs but realize without an engineering degree you could either be limited in what’s available or in a much lower pay band because of it.

    5. MsnotMrs.*

      What about government work? Sounds like you might be able to find something at your state’s Game and Parks division.

    6. lost academic*

      Where are you? Because I can tell you that there isn’t a single major environmental consulting firm not dying for junior level support. Apply to all the entry level positions you can find but try to talk to staff at those companies to get connected to the teams doing the hiring because it’s enormously varied. There’s immense competition for staff right now too and it’s good for candidate salaries.

    7. Free Meerkats*

      Look for Pretreatment jobs, Environmental Science is one of the few degrees that relates to my profession. And we’re everywhere at all levels of government. This field really got rolling in the mid 80s/early 90s and there are a lot of use retiring soon or recently retired. Including me, I’m out of here in March…

      At the annual workshop this year, out of 180+ people attending, 140 of them were at their first workshop – everyone is hiring. In the last month on the group I run on groups.io (search Pretreatment Coordinators), there have been 11 jobs listed, about half were entry-level.

    8. Schrodinger's Cat*

      Some things or keywords you might try include state environment departments, city water/wastewater utilities, landfills, air quality, mining, consultants, OSHA, environmental compliance for school districts/colleges (hazardous waste disposal).

    9. Anon scientist*

      Not sure if this is too late, but a few things from someone who is literally hiring right now for environmental consulting entry level jobs:
      1. I am hiring for the long term and my preference is for someone who can get licensed/certified. Geologist, engineer, wetland scientist.
      2. There are a lot of non-science based “environmental science” degrees. I need someone who actually understands the basics of chemistry, reasonably advanced math, etc.
      3. I can use someone who doesn’t have the above if they can show that they’re willing to do fieldwork in adverse conditions. I can work with people who are otherwise career limited if they’re willing to be a field supervisor.
      4. Training takes a long, long time and this is a job that will need independence. Therefore, I’m looking for someone who will be either advancing or not advancing (see permanent field lead) for 3 years +.
      5. Disability is not a barrier but you need to have something else to offer besides “fieldwork all the time”. I know 2 people who had clear disabilities (walking only with canes or other assistance) and they did the fieldwork that worked for them, but they also had the science/engineering chops that meant that they were an asset. See #1 above. I myself have some episodic issues that have sometimes meant that I have gotten an unbudgeted Jr staffer to run around and collect measurements while I sat propped up against a support truck tire – not sustainable for the long term, but ok in a pinch.

      1. Anon scientist*

        Also, a piece of advice related to what I indicated above: if you have coursework in hard skills/science (GIS/CAD, intro to hydro, soils science, bio, etc), list them directly in your resume so that I can see your background. I’ve rejected probably 100 applicants with non relevant or unspecified coursework and have hired 2 environmental scientists over the same period who will have a tough time being certified because they had still had enough relevant coursework/semi related work experience.

    10. Hola Playa*

      Transportation consulting. NEPA evaluation and reporting for airport, roadway, highway, marine, and transit projects. There are huge multidisciplinary engineering firms as well as small, specialized boutique firms who do this work. And of course all the federal, state, local and regional regulatory agencies oversee this type of work. You can niche in a particular category or be a generalist.

  26. KofSharp*

    A coworker of mine has a mixture of a financially abusive ex-partner (can’t get out of his lease until it expires and is unwilling to have an eviction due to nonpayment) and an unwillingness to budget. I’m empathetic to the issues of money due to the current inflation situation.
    He had an unexpected expense come up, and has begun going around the office asking his coworkers for money. We’re peers, but I’m saving up for a house on my own and he knows it.
    How do I professionally keep saying no? I have no control over his salary and I’ve referred him to the budget help through the EAP.

    1. Asenath*

      That’s about all you can do – and if your EAP has good money management advisors on call (and they probably do), and he’s willing to work with them, that would be ideal. I’ve known such advisors to have excellent results.

      But for yourself, all you need to keep saying “Sorry, I can’t help.”

      1. KofSharp*

        They do have good money management advisors, it’s why I usually point him in that direction.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      A polite, repeated “sorry, I don’t have room in my budget” is the way to go. It doesn’t matter that you’re saving up for a house, or that he knows you are saving up for a house (and therefore have money in the bank) because it’s not his money, it’s yours.

    3. PollyQ*

      Well, the fact that he’s continuing to ask people who’ve already turned him down makes him look awfully unprofessional. But here are some scripts. I’d deliver them in as neutral a tone of voice as a possible–not mean, but also not one bit sympathetic, because he’s actually behaving pretty badly here. Financial abuse is serious shit, but begging co-workers for money is not his only option.

      “Sorry, I can’t help you.”
      “Sorry, I don’t ever lend money.”
      “Sorry, I don’t have money to lend.”

      If he keeps asking you, you can follow up with “Fergus, I’m not going to be able to lend you any money. Please stop asking.”

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      AAM has covered this a couple times, though it’s been a hot minute — look for letters titled

      “my coworker keeps asking everyone for loans”
      “my coworker constantly asks us to loan him money”
      “employee keeps asking coworkers for food and money”

      1. KofSharp*

        Thank you, I’ll search them out! It just feels like people don’t get the memo that asking coworkers who make around what you do for money is uncomfortable.

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

      Switch to giving him the resources and numbers for people who are in domestic abuse situations. They often can help someone get out of a bad financial situation that keeps them with their abuser — legal advice, housing referrals, an escape plan, etc. If you stick to the abuse referrals, he might get help, or he might start to avoid asking you for money.

      Just food for thought, I’ve rented my whole life and every lease I’ve had has an out clause if you work with the landlord. He could be required to pay a 1 month rent penalty (might not have the money I know) or if this is really domestic abuse, he could be out without any penalty. The choice is NOT stay until the end, or have an eviction on your record.

  27. UX/UI Dreams*

    Does anyone have resources/advice for looking into UX or UI design? My background is public health and nutrition counseling, but I am really thinking of switching careers into UX or UI. I’ve read that folks who work in there don’t always have a tech or graphic design background. But I’m also reading about these bootcamps and how they guarantee a job right after, and it feels like a scam… One TikToker I came across also said it’s hard to get a job that way. Anyone who switched into that field could speak on the path?

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I used to work in UX before it was its own field. UX and UI are pretty different job functions – this is often confused by companies who want a “UX/UI” person, but this is to save money by combining two positions and what they tend to want is a programmer who took a UX course once. You can usually tell these companies by their lousy websites/apps/products. If you’ve ever said “this interface is horrible, didn’t someone test this before releasing it?” you’ve found the companies that don’t appreciate what UX really does.

      UI designers are the ones who make the widgets work in software or for a website or other kind of user interface. You’d need to know some coding (java, HTML, etc.) for most of this type of work, and ideally you’re developing the interface in collaboration with a dedicated UX person.

      UX researchers are the people who determine, through usability studies and field research, whether the interface works the way it needs to for the user population, why that is, and how to use the data to improve the design. For this type of work you need analytical skills, experience with data gathering, and ideally an understanding of basic psychology, experimental design, and statistics. If you already have this kind of background, you probably don’t need special credentials if you’re able to show how the skills translate to a UX role.

      Bootcamps generally can’t provide the depth of training that make a really solid job candidate, especially if they try to combine both functions and you’re done in 4-6 weeks or whatever. Same with certificates – that’s a good way to see if you’re interested in the kind of work involved, but not considered real credentials by themselves. Even some university master’s programs don’t always provide the range of classes you need to develop a lot of the key skills (hint: if they don’t require psych or stats classes, the program is aimed at software developers, not UX).

      If you use LinkedIn there are a few UX advocates who post a LOT on how to get into UX (or UI), what the issues are with bootcamps, and what programs or approaches are good for getting into the field.

      1. UX/UI Dreams*

        Thank you!! This is so helpful. I do use LinkedIn, would you be open to sharing who those folks are?

      2. Fran Fine*

        You’d need to know some coding (java, HTML, etc.) for most of this type of work, and ideally you’re developing the interface in collaboration with a dedicated UX person.

        This (the part about needing to know code) isn’t true for UI designers. In fact, many UI designers use design tools like Figma, Adobe UX, Amina, and various online animation tools to design and then hand over their prototypes to coders to finish. I know many people working in the field as either UX designers or UI designers – none of them code. A couple are trained graphic designers. I also just finished a UX and UI design program a few months back, and none of the instructors or our guest lecturers – many of whom worked for companies like Microsoft, Disney, and Amazon – were coders or in heavy technical roles before taking their own UX design courses and then landing their positions.

        UX/UI Dreams, if you’re serious about switching to this field, take the Google UX certificate course first (for free) to make sure this is what you actually want to do. I too thought I wanted to make the switch, but discovered that I just like the UI (visual) design aspect and not so much the research or UX side of things. Thankfully, my company paid for my cert so I didn’t lose anything by doing it and the design principles I learned do come in handy in my day job (I’m a comms person).

        Good luck if you decide to proceed!

    2. Fiona*

      My partner did a pretty well-respected boot camp, had a mostly positive experience, graduated into the pandemic, proceeded to be unemployed for a LONG time, and now finally got a job that they love and are great at and are so happy they did the switch. It was tough but worth it for them – but I think everyone’s mileage varies. Like anything, it’s a vicious cycle of employers wanting someone with experience, but you need experience to get a job, etc etc. My partner was very frustrated by how many employers asked for test projects with no compensation – they did a lot of work for free because they were getting desperate. Again, it was worth it in the end but it was a bumpy road.

  28. BalanceofThemis*

    I’m considering a career change, I’ve been working in museum education and education consulting. My academic background is history and archeology, so a lot of research and data analysis. I’ve been told to look into UX Researcher and data analysis roles.

    People in those fields, especially who came into them from non-traditional backgrounds, any tips? I’m not great at resume writing to begin with, and mine will need a complete overhaul, so any advice there would be helpful as well.

    Thank you.

    1. my 8th name*

      Imo, for many data analysis roles you don’t need special certs. Can’t speak to UX. Basically you just need experience with data management, analysis and visualization software and languages. Varies somewhat depending on industry but I generally recommend SQL, PowerBI, Tableau, SPSS, Stata, R, Python. To be clear, I recommending a good mix of these, not all are necessary in one candidate!

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I just posted a response to UX/UI dreams just above your post that might be helpful to you. The short version is, if you already have solid experience with research and data gathering and analysis, those are key skills to emphasize for UXR roles. The challenge is to find a UXR role that is really UX and not primarily programming.

      Data science roles are a little heavier on programming as my 8th name says, and the statistical analysis part is really important. Understanding how to properly interpret data is how I would frame your skills if you want to go this direction.

  29. Hawk*

    Does anyone have any weird pets? Do you talk about them at work? I mean pets like reptiles, less popular birds, and rodents (especially the ones that people associate as “kid pets” like hamsters and gerbils). I’ve kept gerbils since I was 14 and they have been key to my mental health (I love my cats, but rodents seem to be better). I’m now 32, and lost my most recent gerbil in a horrible way (heat stroke). I had to call out of work to take him to the emergency vet over an hour away and still lost him that night. I want to adopt more gerbils, but I’ve always been warned by family to never talk about them at work, because people will judge me. I didn’t mention my last gerbil much at work because of that, but now that I’ve lost him, I also feel like I missed out on something. A couple coworkers know about my gerbil ownership but they have been folks who are used to the more uncommon small animal pets. How do you navigate this? (Added context: I’m neurodivergent, and this a social thing I just don’t understand (why is there a pet hierarchy? And pets “just for kids”?)

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Your family is weird. To paraphrase a tweet I saw the other day: By age 30, everyone should have an animal people associate with them, so if they’re trying to figure out a gift, they can just fall back on something cute with that animal on it(*). The more unusual the better I should think, for memorability purposes! Try to avoid infodumping about the finer points of rodent husbandry unless explicitly encouraged, but “oh, went to the vet because my gerbil swallowed a paperclip” is perfectly valid small talk when someone asks about your weekend!

      (*) I’m the Reptile Person – my last team gave me a very soft t-shirt with a bearded dragon print as a goodbye gift, and I cherish it

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Also now I’m horrified at myself for the flippant vet example because I managed to skip past the part about your last gerbil dying when I first read it. I’m sorry about the little guy.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I like bearded dragons too and actually had an amusing conversation at work where we were talking about unusual pets we’d like and I said a bearded dragon (I was mostly joking; I do like them, but they seem an awful lot of work and I’m not really an animal person, but…if they were less hassle and more suited to our climate, maybe) and a few minutes later, one of my colleagues was like “I’m still confused by the dragon.” I’m not sure if he thought I meant a fantasy dragon or what.

      3. Robin Ellacott*

        I love that idea! I like snails (not as pets, just in general) and people do indeed get me snail things. Once when a local store had snail-shaped salt (!!) and pepper shakers I ended up with four sets. Luckily snails are kind of rare on mugs and such. I also like owls but usually don’t mention that, because owls are EVERYWHERE.

        Personally it never occurred to me to rate people’s pets on some kind of scale. I guess if someone was very distressed their fish died I’d be mildly surprised, but not judgy. That’s a weird reaction.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          You’d be surprised at how personable fish are when they’re in a proper habitat and not sad, inbred goldfish trapped in unfiltered bowls. :p

    2. ThatGirl*

      Two of my coworkers have snakes, and they talk about them a moderate amount.

      I think hamsters/gerbils are seen as “kid pets” because they’re less work than a cat or dog and often a ‘gateway pet’ for people with kids. But I wouldn’t personally judge anyone who talked about their hamsters or gerbils or pet rats or whatever! As long as you’re not talking about them excessively*, you should be fine.

      *I only say this because you describe yourself as neurodivergent, and I know some ND folks tend to fixate on subjects. Mentioning them now and then is FINE.

    3. MsM*

      I think your family is showing their weirdness a lot more than they’re giving you any kind of advice you should listen to. Gerbils are cool. At worst, you’ll probably get some people who want to share stories of their misadventures with small rodents from when they were kids, but I really doubt you’re going to get anyone judging you for having them. And if you do, again, that’s their problem.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My household, collectively, includes two dogs, three cats, four snakes, a tegu and a pacman frog (and a box of dubia roaches but they’re officially food for reptiles).

      None of the non-mammals are technically mine, so if I’m gonna tell pet stories it’s most likely about my dogs or one of my husband’s cats, but I’ve told snake and lizard stories when they’re particularly entertaining, to people who don’t mind snake and lizard stories. (The frog isn’t very interesting.) I don’t share pictures of the sneks without verifying first whether people are okay with it. In my case, it mostly boils down to “our weirdos are reptiles and some people don’t like reptiles; I don’t want to hear about anyone’s pet tarantula so I get it.”

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The tegu lives in an enormous grow tent and likes hunting the bugs (of course that’s not all she eats but they’re a favorite snack) and digging in her substrate. She’s about 2 now I think?

          The snakes are a milk snake, a corn snake, a ball python and a boa constrictor of some sort (I think red tail but not positive). The python is about four feet, maybe a bit more, and the boa is a little over five feet last I heard and about as big around as my arm, he’s a brick. The other two are pretty small. They’re all girls except for the boa.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think there is a pet hierarchy, exactly. Sure, some pets are more common than others or better liked, but I don’t think there is any reason why you shouldn’t talk about your gerbils. I can’t imagine anybody judging you for that. I have NEVER heard of such a thing.

      I don’t think there’s anything to navigate here. Mention your gerbils or don’t, whatever suits you. Yeah, they are common pets for kids because they involve less “looking after” than a dog, say, but that doesn’t mean they are “just for kids” or adults can’t own them. Some people might associate them with kids because they might know more kids that have them, but even there…I don’t think that’s necessarally the case. At most, you’re likely to get a response along the lines of “oh cool. I had a gerbil when I was a kid” or maybe “oh? You’re the only adult I’ve met who has a gerbil,” but even that is unlikely.

      Personally, I think your family members might be off-base here. A gerbil is completely innocuous. MAYBE if you had a pet tarantula or like a house full of large snakes or something, some people might find it a bit weird, though even that wouldn’t be a big deal. But a gerbil. I doubt anybody is going to think anything of it.

    6. Paris Geller*

      Your family is the one being weird about it. I have had (and had) coworkers with various pets/animals. I’m not personally a reptile fan so I stay away from conversations about pet snakes/lizards/etc., but there are plenty of people who share that interest and should be able to mention your pets casually in chitchat.

    7. Anon for this*

      I have a bearded dragon, my coworkers have a variety of different pets. There’s nothing wrong with having a pet that isn’t a dog or a cat, and I really wish people would drop the notion of “children’s pet” because often those pets do not receive the care or environment that’s best for them. That’s a soapbox I don’t need to climb on right now but if you are willing to give an animal a proper home keep doing what you’re doing and tell anyone you feel like.

      At WORST you might be perceived as having a quirky pet it will not make you look juvenile or unprofessional. Your family has some weird hangups.

    8. lost academic*

      I have a horse. I limit the discussion because people make a LOT of assumptions about people who ride and own horses and none of them apply to me. If I find another horse person it’s different but I try not to go crazy.

      I think it’s unusual to be that attached to a gerbil and because people associate gerbils and hamsters with elementary school classroom pets that’s why it might read weirdly. For some reason I don’t think the same applies to rats – it’s weird, but the attachment reads more weird adult rather then just… weird. But it’s your pet, no one else’s, and it doesn’t matter how they feel. I will say I don’t think I’d discuss the loss of any of my pets (cats over the years) or someday my horse at work because I don’t think it belongs there. I might mention it if I needed PTO or was taking flex time to make arrangements. It’s just not a work topic.

    9. Ama*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I had a wonderful gerbil that was with me from 7th grade until my sophomore year of college so I do not think it is strange at all to be sad about it. Your family seems to be letting their own biases about pets color their advice to you. If you have an unusual pet people may ask more questions because they are curious — I’ve seen this with coworkers who have rats or snakes or a friend I had in grad school who had chinchillas — there are definitely some people who can’t quite wrap their head around the appeal of non dog/cat pets but most people I’ve observed think it is interesting.

    10. Jellyfish*

      It depends on the workplace culture, I think. Some places I’ve worked had zero empathy around animals / pets, and I didn’t offer any information about mine. My current workplace is full of pet people, including many with animals aside from dogs and cats. When a coworker’s uncommon pet recently passed, everyone was sympathetic and understanding.
      I’m so sorry about your gerbil, and I hope you get another if it brings you joy.

    11. BlueWolf*

      Yeah, I agree your family is being weird about it. One of my coworkers had a pet alligator for a while (which incidentally was totally not legal where they lived and it eventually was taken away by animal services). I think a gerbil is way less weird in comparison lol.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Even if it wasn’t illegal, alligators are kinda up there with green anacondas in that taking care of their needs and habitat is a full-time job and even then most people flat-out don’t have the knowledge and are unwilling to learn how to care for them. I understand the appeal, but I also think your coworker was an idiot.

    12. metadata minion*

      I have extremely weird pets, including tarantulas, and talk about them at work! I do check first to see if someone wants spider stories since they’re such a common phobia, but otherwise I’m perfectly happy to be the Weird Pet Person.

      Gerbils don’t even ping my radar as far as weird pets go. Yes, they’re somewhat seen as kid pets, because they’re relatively easy to care for and don’t take up much space, but I’ve never thought of them as something an adult would never have.

      And I’m so sorry about your gerbil!

    13. JustaTech*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.
      I, personally, wouldn’t find it weird for an adult to have gerbils, because they’re a small pet and people have small homes. If you mention one of your gerbils in passing at work and someone asks “why do you have gerbils” you could answer with something (one thing) that you love about gerbils specifically. If you act like they’re a totally normal pet like a cat then most people will just go along with that.

      (Why is there a pet hierarchy is a long and complex question, but “why are gerbils at the bottom” probably has to do with their comparatively short lifespan and small size. Bigger things are seen as more “adult” for whatever reason. Heck, for a long time cats were seen as “pets for women”, though that’s changing.)

      1. Houndmom*

        Animals of all sorts are conversation starters. I don’t think there is any animal that is too odd to be talked about. In recent calls, the conversations have been about pet tortoises, rabbits, snakes and other reptiles as well as cats and dogs.

        I am sorry for your loss — any loved pet that passes hurts.

    14. Student*

      I don’t currently have weird pets, but I’ve had insect pets in the past. I’ll happily talk about them at work if it comes up. I’ve raised “nice” bugs like butterflies, “scary” bugs like praying mantises, and a couple more run-of-the-mill bugs. I worked for a while with people who kept hobby farms with unusual pets like goats, too.

      I don’t go out of my way to bring it up, mainly because they are ex-pets. If I was raising a praying mantis right now, I’d definitely try to show it off to some of my co-workers, though.

      Part of talking about unusual pets is knowing your audience. Pets (even the “normal” ones, like cats and dogs) are actually very polarizing. Some people will want to hear all about your pet, while others will be bored, and a few people will just react very poorly and disproportionately. With gerbils, I’m sorry to say that you will always be at risk of getting the anti-rodent reaction. If you introduce your pets in a decent way, any anti-rodent reactions should be mild and should die off very quickly, so it’s some temporary discomfort to find your fellow rodent-lovers.

      I suggest you start with a cute anecdote about the gerbil, instead of jumping straight to sharing pictures and videos – maybe some especially cute or clever thing he did, or how happy you are that you found a toy he likes. Something that’s short and sweet. If the listener responds positively, then you know you can talk to them more about your gerbil on occasion, show pictures, etc. If the listener responds badly or doesn’t demonstrate positive interest through asking about the gerbil, then mark them in the “not-gerbil-friend” category and don’t press it further.

      As for why there is a pet hierarchy and “kid” pets: Some pets have a much more nuanced ability to interact with humans than others. Pets high in the hierarchy are pets that interact with us more often and on a deeper level – these are pets that are also friends. As most people get older, they stay enamored with pets that can interact on a simple friendship level with them. Pets like gerbils, reptiles, etc. can still be fun and interesting, but they don’t form the same level of bond with their human (which is separate from the bond a human may feel to the gerbil; I’m sure you love your departed gerbil very deeply) and they just don’t have the ability to understand us as well. They can’t interpret our human gestures, tones of voices, etc. the way that dogs or cats or similar pets can. Lots of people like that reciprocated level of understanding more as adults, and start to find pets that can’t do this to be less interesting. Kids are more likely to overlook a pet not finding them as interesting as they find the pet.

      As most people grow older, they also tend to grow greater appreciation for the “normal” pet’s greater independence. Cats and dogs still depend on us, but they can mostly avoid accidents around a house when unsupervised, can be left alone for decent lengths of time with only modest pet-sitting arrangements, can play with similarly-sized household pets. Gerbils, if let out of their cage in a normal human home, would be at risk of getting hurt in a lot of ways and would probably be quite unhappy. The lower level of constant care required frees you up for more adult responsibilities and social events. Kids can often shirk their pet responsibilities and count on a responsible parent step in to keep the pet happy.

      All of these guidelines seem to get thrown out the window, though, if the adult can signal “conspicuous consumption” by having a weird-but-very-expensive pet. Fancy aquariums, “exotic” pets, horses, etc. that cost a lot of money still get treated better than pets like your gerbils, precisely because they let their owners show off their money to others. Kids are mostly too busy having fun with pets to worry about what the pet signals to others about their social status, so they do this much less than adults do (thank goodness).

    15. RagingADHD*

      Your family is incorrect. People might have a reaction to a pet that a lot of people have phobias about, like snakes, spiders, or rats. But even that isn’t like judging so much as just a visceral reaction to the pet itself.

      Nobody is going to judge you for having gerbils.

    16. AnonyMouse*

      I think every pet is fine to talk about in moderation at work – and honestly same with any topic at work. We all have those coworkers who go on and on about something, whether it’s their horse or their car or their baby, but I can’t see why talking about your gerbil sometimes would be any different than mentioning a beloved dog or cat.

  30. Accounting Otaku*

    Back at the end of 2020 I caught covid just as the vaccines were rolling out in my area and two weeks into a new job. My employer handled it well. I “worked” through it. I basically logged in remotely and waited for little things to be assigned to me to do. Before this job and before I had covid, I was considered a high performing rockstar of an employee. I was praised for my attention to detail and thoroughness. Now, I’m struggling to catch details that I would have caught near instantly beforehand. Things that were previously easy for me feel like a struggle to do. Aspects of my job that I love to do are now a chore to initiate. I still love doing them, I’m just not able to jump on doing them like I did before. Where I used to be able to anticipate questions and have answers ready, I’m now drawing blanks when questions get raised and have to get back with answers. I feel like I’m constantly operating at 70-80% of what I used to be able to do. It’s very frustrating to look at my work and know I can and have done better.

    The kicker: My boss has very few issues with my work. This has only caused a problem with him twice in the almost two years I’ve been here. My predecessor was so horrible and knocked the bar so low that my impaired state still impresses my boss and coworkers. I’ve checked with my coworker who has her ear to everything and no one has had any complaints about my work. My performance review was at “Meets Expectations Upper” which is just under exceeding expectations. So, my question is how do you readjust your standards after a health issue has permanently impacted your work?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Wow that sounds rough I’m so sorry. I have a disability that’s gotten worse over the last few years and chronic pain has absolutely impacted my work. For what it’s worth, you sound way more self aware about how long covid (I assume? Have you had that diagnosed?) is impacting you than I ever was.

      First, if you haven’t already I’d speak with a doctor. This is something that we’re understanding more and more every day as more people are dealing with it and they might have some advice.

      Second, I’d stop comparing yourself to your old self and try to get a grasp on where you are now. It’s possible that you’ll shake this off and be back to your old abilities at some point, but that may not happen and you have to deal with what’s in front of you. So instead of 70% of what you used to be able to do, what does 100% for right now look like? Do you need more time to go over things? A few reads to catch details instead of expecting them to jump out of you? How does task initiation look for you now? Where are you getting held up? Do you need to keep better, more organized notes so that you can access information quickly when you need to instead of expecting yourself to recall off the top of your head?

      This sound super hard and I feel for you. Be kind to yourself. Stop comparing. Let go and deal with what’s real in the moment.

      1. Accounting Otaku*

        I tested positive for Covid. For the longest time, I thought these problems were depression related, but getting that under control and these problems still being around ruled that out.

    2. Sherm*

      Would it be possible to re-frame in your mind how you’re operating, from “I was at 100%, and now I am at 70-80%”, to “I was at 120%, and now I am at 100%”? Perhaps in the past you were doing a little too much, not that there’s anything wrong with hard work, but you get into diminishing returns, where the extra effort you expend doesn’t pay off too much.

  31. Sarah*

    Are adults…supposed to dislike their jobs? I recently started my first full-time, grown-up job, and I’ve tried really hard to like it, but I just dread it each day. It’s very detailed administrative work in higher ed–we had straight training for a month, but the unofficial training period seems last a few months after that. It feels like an overwhelming amount of work, and new admins are expected to get things wrong every day.

    This is also my first remote job, so that might be part of it. But I’ve never disliked any job I had before this one. Is full-time work just supposed to be draining?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Is full-time work just supposed to be draining?

      No, it’s not — at least, not all the time. BUT it’s possible that this is just an adjustment period – it can take 3-6 months to really feel comfortable in a new job. If it’s not totally unbearable, I would give it more time.

      That said, it could also be a signal that there is something about this job that isn’t a good fit for you long-term. Maybe you prefer the socialization of an office. Maybe their expectations are off. Maybe there’s something else about it. I would give it time but pay attention to what exactly you don’t like.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      No, this sounds rough. It’s possible that if you give it time it will be easier, but I’d think about a few things. Is remote work the right fit for you? When you’re dreading work, what are you dreading in particular? Is it making mistakes? Is it the task you have to do themselves? Is it not knowing what you’re doing?

      This sounds like it may just be a bad fit for you, but if you figure out why that might help you decide what to do about it and what your next steps look like.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      No, dreading your job every day is not usual. Not being in LUUUURRRVVVEE with your job is usual, but dreading it? No. It sounds like you might not be a good match for this particular job. Think about why that is — what is it you dread exactly? Then look for jobs that don’t have that.

    4. PollyQ*

      No, you shouldn’t absolutely dread it, but you do sort of need to build up “stamina” for a full-time job if you haven’t done it before, or haven’t done it for a while. Yes, even if it’s a desk job and not particularly physical. Also, the first 6 months of a job are often challenging intellectually and emotionally because of all the new information & tasks that are coming at you constantly.

      My recommendation is that you stick with it for about 6 months and then re-evaluate. It’s entirely possible that this isn’t the job for you, but it may just be typical new job learning curve.

    5. Asenath*

      You shouldn’t dislike it excessively. It’s not unusual to have some aspects of your job that you dislike, but if you dread the very thought of the job as a whole, it’s time to move on. I’d give it a good try, though – longer than a few months. Some admin jobs can take a long time to learn because the tasks are complex, and some of them don’t come up very often, so just when you think you know the job, you discover that you have some new task that had only been mentioned in passing. I’d look at ways to deal with feeling drained too – all the usual stuff, eating well, resting, exercising, doing things that interest you after work.

      After you’ve given it an honest try, maybe even a year, although a lot will depend on the specific situation, if you still hate it and dread it, move on. I once had a job I hated which I held on to desperately (because I needed the income) while floundering around trying to find something else, and I did it far too long. In retrospect, I knew after a year, two at the most, that I was never going to be even moderately contented in that job, and I hung on too long.

    6. TopHatCat*

      I remember when I got my first full-time, 40 hrs week job, I felt pretty overwhelmed for a few months. Physically I had to adjust to being in an office for 8 (really 9) hours a day, and having a commute. Previously I had worked a lot of part-time positions with very flexible hours, so it was a big adjustment to having a set 40 hrs a week schedule. I was super tired most of the time until I finally got used to it.

      Also, I’ve worked in higher ed my whole career, and it can definitely be exhausting even if you are used to full time work. We are always understaffed and have to wear many hats. I’m sure it will feel draining for a while, but eventually you will get used to it. If you have a good team and good bosses, that makes the difference. If you do not….then it will still probably feel draining after a year or more, and at that point, I would consider switching to another department on campus.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      No, adults are not supposed to dislike their jobs. I would say if anything, the opposite is true, that full-time career work should be LESS draining than part-time college work, because you are more likely to be doing something that you have chosen and are engaged with.

      That said, how long have you been at the job? If it’s just a few weeks or even a couple of months, it MAY be just that you are getting used to a new job, new place, etc. It’s HARD going in somewhere new and if you’ve just started and don’t have any friends there and you’re still learning how to do the work, it’s going to be more difficult than it will be once you’ve gotten used to it.

      But if it continues and doesn’t get any better, then it might be a sign this is not the right job for you and that you should start looking for something else. The first principal I worked under put it this way to me, that lots of teachers have difficulties when they are new to a school, but that if it continues, his advice is to get out of teaching because you don’t want to be 40 and still dreading going to work each day. I think it applies to all careers.

      Most people have tough days in their job and it’s a minority of people who actually look forward to going to work each day, but…I think you should be feeling at least neutral about it most of the time, possibly dreading a major deadline or a particular task but also looking forward to certain aspects. And I would say generally, you should be MORE positive about a long-term job than you were about the ones you had previously. Otherwise what was the point of working towards this, if you were happier in positions that required less?

    8. Ama*

      It’s definitely not normal to actively dread going to work every day. You don’t have to be super happy to go to work, but if it’s more than just “ugh I hate getting up in the morning” or “ugh I have to do that one task today and I hate that specific task” I second the commenters who are suggesting you think about what specifically is the issue.

      It could just be that the long training period is what’s draining, in which case things should get better as you move out of that period. It could be that there’s something very specific about the job or the work you don’t like, in which case it would be worth some thinking about whether that’s an inherent part of the job and you would be better suited for a different job that doesn’t involve that kind of work, or if it’s a small part of the job you can tolerate for the parts you like better.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      If you actively dislike your job, it’s probably not the right one for you. If you dread your job, it’s not the right one for you. However training (a month of training egads!) / remote training can be very draining. A new job is draining for the first few months. Transitioning to full time work – ie 9 hours a day at a desk – is very exhausting. You might just be at the perfect storm of exhausting change, and once you settle in and get used to the duties and the hours and working from home it will be okay.

      I’d actually recommend you give it enough time to be trained and settle into the role. Seriously settling into a job or new hours can take months. That will allow you to determine what if anything about it is a particularly bad fit. If it’s the 40 hour work week, well, that’ll be present in all FT jobs and you may have to tough it out. Start getting more sleep on week nights. But if it’s something else, WFH or role or job duties, you can start looking for something that doesn’t have that characteristic and owuld be a better fit.

      Basically, though, I am never excited about work. I would always prefer to be doing something different (that doesn’t pay any money). I picked my own hours, and it always starts too early because I don’t want to work later than I do. But I wouldn’t say I dread it. There are a fair number of days, though, where I’m too tired to do much besides have dinner and watch TV or read.

    10. allathian*

      No, full-time work isn’t supposed to be draining. But you’re still learning your new job, and for some jobs it can take a lot longer than a few months until you’re fully up to speed. Just transitioning from college/part time work to full-time work takes some time as well.

      If you’re an extrovert who finds spending time with other people energizing, remote work can be more draining than work at the office would be. Starting a new remote job can also be draining in and of itself, if you have to make a conscious effort to get to know your coworkers.

    11. NotARacoonKeeper*

      Learning on the job can be really draining, because doing stuff wrong feels a lot like failing (especially when we’re just finishing university and conditioned for 16+ years to our value (grades) being equal to how often we get stuff right). I also work in higher-ed, and the learning curve for my job was long and awful – I felt like an idiot for a full year.

      Full time work is also a huge adjustment from the flexibility of undergrad, and having 15-20 hours a week of scheduled time. I’m in my mid-30s and still resent the lack of flexibility, and my job is very flexible.

      This doesn’t mean the job isn’t a bad fit, but it might be worth toughing out for a while to figure out what the rub here is!

  32. Hope Me, Baby*

    I’m feeling so defeated. I was so excited, I finally was eligible for a GS-12 position at the government! And then I was told a few veterans applied so I was out of the running (which I totally get based off government roles.) And then I applied for a manager position that I thought I would be qualified for, and then got rejected as well. I interviewed for my old position (I was invited to do so) but then my old managers said (kindly) that this position might be too entry level for me now and I should keep looking. I feel stuck. It feels like nothing is working out and I’m at a dead end, even with the language going around that everyone is hiring. I’m not qualified enough for something higher and maybe too qualified now for those entry level positions (and for once, I feel ready for leadership roles.) I feel like my only option is to open my own business to change out of my current contractor role, but I don’t want to do that. How are others job searching going right now? Any hope is appreciated.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How many jobs have you applied for? You mention three in your question but it’s not clear to me if those are the only three you applied for, or if they’re just the three that seemed the most likely to pan out.

      When I was job searching, my goal was to apply to 2 jobs every week. I had a job at the time, so I could afford a search with less urgency, and I found setting my goal on something I was in direct control of (applications sent out per week) was sanity-saving. Setting a goal of “accept offer for new job,” would have demoralized my as each week came and went without a job offer.

    2. I'm Done*

      Keep applying. I left federal service and went to private industry for 12 years. When I decided to go back into federal service, I sent out over 400 applications before I finally got picked up. Not sure what your flexibility is in terms of location but obviously being able to relocate will offer more opportunities.

    3. Anono-me*

      If you want a management type US Fed government job; the USPS is very aggressively hiring for entry level supervisor positions. (I’ve had 3 requests.) The USPS jobs are apparently USA Fed. Gov. jobs but different.

  33. Temporary Blues*

    In 2017, my mediocre boss got a new job, and we got a “temporary” manager for my small department. She was our manager for almost three years, and we’ve now had another manager for almost two years. It has been five years as of last weekend since my regular manager left. Due to working for government, budgets, and the pandemic, the position wasn’t really opened for hiring until this past May. Would it be unreasonable for me to ask our new HR liason for a timeline? To add to the frustration, I’ve been in a “temporary assignment” for two years now due to the pandemic and have to navigate having my temporary manager and you guessed it, another temporary manager at the same time. I’m not happy in my current temporary assignment, and my current management situation is compounding it.

  34. HIPAA-Potamus*

    Just venting about the internal, political drama I have to deal with on a daily basis. Anyone in healthcare but non-clinical and therefore the last to be respected?

  35. Anon for this*

    Y’all I’m really struggling. I need to anonymize this as much as possible but I hope the points get through.

    One of the leaders of my company is very sick. The staff knows in broad strokes, but they’re going to find out how bad it is soon. I am in a leadership support position and am struggling.

    I can take on tasks I can do extra work I am more than happy to step up. But there are two problems. One, other people in leadership roles are not stepping up, and seem insulted by the insinuation they should, so a lot is falling on big boss and me and it’s not sustainable. Two, employee support is under my purview and I’m very good at it. But this situation feels over my head and I am having a lot of personal emotions that make me worried I am not going to be able to be the safe port in the storm if people need one. We’re small and this is a big upheaval, and the staff is close.

    This already feels too specific so I’m not going to add details unless they seem necessary I hope this is buried. Any advice for getting my head around how to handle all this?

    1. Cocafonix*

      Start by getting very clear on what you are capable of doing. Prioritize your core responsibilities and those immediately adjacent. It’s frustrating but you must ignore what other leadership will or will not step up for. It’s a lesson in futility if you have no power to influence it. Lay out your plan for your boss – “My plan is to focus on my job plus X and Y. I realize there is also Z, A and B, but unfortunately I don’t have bandwidth for those. Do you have a different view of my priorities?”Come prepared with a couple of options: Eg Employee support is essential but W part of job could be delegated or delayed by weeks, then I could pick up A if you prefer.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I’m not Lady_Lessa but I imagine she was responding to this part of your question:

          I am having a lot of personal emotions that make me worried I am not going to be able to be the safe port in the storm if people need one. We’re small and this is a big upheaval, and the staff is close.

          You need someone to talk to about your personal emotions. Someone who is not related to work, so perhaps a close friend or family member, a therapist, or a priest/pastor/other religious leader who could give support and guidance if you belong to a religion.

        2. Lady_Lessa*

          A priest in the confessional. I know that other pastors and others may also be expected to keep confidences and may be able to help.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Confession is a sacramental ritual tied to the absolution of sin. It’s not the same as counseling.

            However, if the OP is a parishioner, they can make an appointment to talk to their priest in private about a personal matter. Or their specific clergy, if they’re not Catholic.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Sounds like you may be supporting the sick leader, but even if you are not their direct support, take care of yourself. Echoing the suggestion to find someone to talk to about what you’re feeling about this situation although my recommendation is friends or therapist.

      Reject the extra tasks and work you cannot support. Don’t help until you’re burned out. Stopping before you’re burned out helps more and everyone in the end.

      Employee support doesn’t mean you serve as their therapist or conselor. If people are talking through their emotions / emotional reactions with you and you can’t handle it, you need to stop them. “I’m sorry. It’s too upsetting to me to talk about it with you.” “I understand you’re upset, but I am too and can’t be your sounding board.”

      1. Despachito*

        “Reject the extra tasks and work you cannot support. Don’t help until you’re burned out. Stopping before you’re burned out helps more and everyone in the end.” This is very wise advice.

        Please take care of yourself. There is only so much you can do, and it is absolutely not your obligation to be a “safe port in storm”. Please do a “reality check” with a therapist, or with a good friend. Don’t tackle this alone because from what you write you may be prone to fall for the fallacy that you alone must do everything. This is definitely not so, please don’t take more than you can handle – you would destroy yourself and help no one.

    3. Anonosaurus*

      I’m sorry this is happening.

      I think if I were you my priority would be to find someone trustworthy outside the company who can support you and be a sounding board etc. Ideally a therapist or similar professional but if not, someone with experience of mentoring and coaching. Your emotions are valid and you don’t need to deny or suppress them but it also sounds like you are aware that your emotional reaction is going to impact upon your ability to execute your role. This may be an unfounded fear but I think of you can get on top of this, that will give you headspace to figure out the rest of it.

    4. Observer*

      In addition to the good advice you are getting – get some help in. I mean work related help. There are probably things that someone else can do, so figure out what those things are and get someone to do them. Even if it means hiring someone for that purpose.

  36. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Advice requested on renegotiating contractor rates (as a contract worker).

    I’m teaching some corporate yoga classes via a subcontract (Companies contact with Aggregating Company, who then subcontracts to teachers). When I started, I gave them my rate for gym/studios, which I’m realizing is waaaay too low. My idea is to keep my notice to a minimum and say, “I’m revising my corporate rates, as I haven’t refreshed them in over two years. Here are my new rates.”

    The tricky thing is that my new rates are almost triple (based on what I’ve seen online as the low end of what corporate classes should cost). I don’t need these contracts, as I have a day job, but I am hoping to transition more fully into teaching, so this has been an important set of opportunities.

    Any advice or perspective?

    1. Riot Grrrl*

      As someone who works with a lot of freelancers, the important factors I look for are, in order:

      * reliability
      * reliability
      * reliability
      * professionalism
      * good communication
      * budget
      * quality production
      * personal agreeableness

      Notice how far down that list budget is. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone who hires freelancers, but I think you’d be surprised how much leeway you have if you are a reliable, professional service provider. Soooooo many flakes out there.

      My first thought was why stay at the low end if these contracts are not necessary? Why not shoot for mid-range or higher? You will lose some business, but anyone who remains will be paying you more. Rule of thumb: if you receive every job you bid for, your rates are too low.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Assuming you meet the things before budget on Riot Grrrl’s list, I agree to shoot for higher than low-end. Have you considered phasing the rate increase in? Like, this year, put in your rate increase to low-end, then each year raise it more than inflation so in about three years you’re at mid-range. People expect to see annual rate increases. When you see that you aren’t losing contracts you want, continue the increases toward the high end.

    2. Westsidestory*

      Raise your rates. If you get pushback, tell them you are open to discuss. But have in the back of your mind what your bottom figure would be, and don’t go below that. Tripling your rates immediately may come as a surprise to them. Make sure first your new rate is equal to the high end of a subcontractor. Your contractor will be adding their percentage to the client, so make sure your new rate will make sense to them.

  37. Other Alice*

    Greetings from (overly) sunny Europe, where people take loooong summer vacations. Most of my coworkers and clients are already gone, and I expect the next two weeks it will be even more of a desert. Due to personal reasons I can only take a week in September and I’ll have to use that to move house. Suggestions for staying on track and not losing my mind from boredom? A lot of my work is projects for clients and I’ve already done most of what I can do without feedback. I’ll probably use a couple of days to do an online training my boss recommended. What else?

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Some ideas off the top of my head:

      – Create training for a hypothetical intern
      – Identify new projects to take on
      – Contact other people in your company for informational 1:1s or job shadowing
      – Find out if you can get involved in any mentoring inside or outside your company
      – Find out if you can get involved in any clubs or groups at your company

    2. lost academic*

      Prep for whoever’s covering for you, and try and do as much moving prep as you can squeeze in since it’s slow. Set up your post move planning for what’s going to get done when.

    3. Jora Malli*

      How are your office software skills? Can you spend some of that time taking a work-at-your-own-pace style course on Excel or another software product that could come in handy at your job?

    4. allathian*

      Take whatever online training you can do on the job, and however much you can fit in your schedule without being overloaded.

      Do you have any important but not urgent tasks on your to-do list that always get pushed back when you’re so busy you don’t have time for anything but the most urgent things?

  38. ferrina*

    What’s your best tip for using Outlook and Teams?

    I’ve got a new employee who is using Outlook/Teams for the first time. I want to share with them some of the ways to make Outlook/Teams really useful. I’ve been using it for years, so while I’m trying, some things I’m doing instinctually and forgetting to teach them (we’re remote). I want to put together a list to help them. What do I need to include?

    1. Rebecca D.*

      I didn’t know about scheduling assistant when setting up meetings for AGES, helped me a ton.
      Position specific tips on how you like to organize/file your emails
      Screen sharing on teams, how to record trainings/meetings, how to set up ‘teams’ within teams for easy chats on projects/file sharing.
      Setting up signatures, scheduling to send emails..

      1. ferrina*

        Thanks! This is great. Totally agree on the scheduling assistant- I schedule a ton of meetings, and the scheduling assistant is critical

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Outlook ideas:
      How to move the calender (import/export) to google calendar and vice versa.
      Viewing shared calendars
      Sending/Accepting calendar invites
      Filters on incoming emails (“alerts and rules”)
      How to handle its search function being less than gmail (“From: Ruth & Subject: Form” outlook vs “Ruth Form” in gmail)
      Setting up RSS feeds in outlook
      Connecting zoom/teams etc to outlook, add ons
      Flags/Tasks
      Depending on their role, the mass email form letter options in outlook are kinda neat, can do the excel list of names becomes personalized mass emails “outlook forms”

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          So RSS feeds I use a lot are for articles, a subfolder in outlook updates anytime they push new articles out. Scientific journal articles. There are RSS feeds for webpages too, where you can get an email basically with whatever is the new content, who published it, and when. If you need to track business developments that can be useful too. Some people just use them for fun too, but hopefully not in their work emails! The orange icon at the top of this page for instance, would let you setup one for Askamanager.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      The most important for Outlook is the search function! For Teams, I think the top 3 are: search, pinning conversation threads, and creating/being part of a “team” in Teams.

    4. ZSD*

      How to attach files to a chat in Teams
      How to share different levels of information when you share an Outlook calendar (all the details vs. just “busy”)
      “Show As –> Free” for calendar items

      1. ferrina*

        YES for the show as Free. My company sends out PTO as a calendar invite, and when someone else’s PTO marks my calendar as busy it drives me nuts!

    5. Ruby314722*

      I’m assuming that if you have Teams and Outlook you also have OneNote. I really hate organizing my tasks in Outlook the way it seems so many other people seem to do, so I create OneNote “notebooks” and can send important emails directly from Outlook to the relevant notebook and it carries over the attachments as well as the email details. I get so many emails related to a single project that just aren’t relevant to what I’m actually working on or need to do that I just send the ones useful to me to the notebook and everything is grouped together for me.

    6. Chickaletta*

      All of these, plus creating “categroies” for emails and then sorting your inbox by category. Outlook automatically puts all the new emails and anything uncategorized at the top, so I can still see what’s new or what I haven’t categorized. Makes it really easy to see everything related to one type of project, types of “to do” tasks, or however it makes sense to group your emails for your job.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      Learning how both Outlook & Teams integrate with Microsoft To Do has been super helpful for me to manage my task list. I love being able mark an email as a To Do using a flag and also import a specific chat message directly into To Do.

    8. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      You can create a rule to filter incoming meeting invitations, and another to filter RSVPs to the invitations you sent.

    9. Tabby Baltimore*

      Show how to put emails received from specific persons or groups in a different color or font. For example, I make all my boss’s emails show up in red, so I know to read them first, and can find them later easily.
      Also, consider showing your employee how to add/subtract those named column tiles at the top of the inbox. They should know they can have more (or fewer) tiles than just From, Subject, Size, the paperclip icon, Received, the flag icon, etc.
      This leads to the last suggestion of learning how to alphabetize the inbox quickly by left-clicking on an email line (w/o opening it) and then immediately left-clicking on the From tile.

  39. Effed Up*

    How do people handle their own mistakes, take ownership, sincerely apologize and then … know when/how to let go of the personal shame? What’s healthy?

    When the thing is actually a big deal but not like a “get fired” or “go to jail” level. A disappointed myself and others thing.

    1. FalsePositive*

      When I start to spiral on it, I remind myself of “the facts” — yes, it went awry, but you apologized, etc. It’s fine. Make myself think on a new topic.

      Also remind myself, it gets annoying when someone beats themselves up too much over something. Sure, sometimes you can turn it into a joke or comfort someone else’s mistake (don’t worry Fergus, I did something similar last month!), but if it’s just bashing yourself, it makes other people uncomfortable.

      And if you made a mistake and handled it and the company handled it well, you’ve done a service for everything. Maybe there’s a new process/audit/check they need. Also, your other coworkers have a little more trust that if they goof up in a similar manner, it’s safe to come forward and there won’t be a disproportionate response.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      This can be hard for perfectionists, but it is very important to remind yourself that everybody makes mistakes. You may feel that you should be an exception to that rule and it can be hard to let go of that thought, but you have to try because otherwise mistakes can become immobilizing.

      It’s also okay to kick yourself over some of the big ones; there are 2 or 3 things in my career that I still feel bad about from time to time, or at least ones that stuck with me. The key is that it should be a handful of things rather than an itemized list of every mistake that you carry with you all the time. You have to let the small stuff go. And depending on the mistake’s severity, for so many jobs the most important thing is acknowledging the mistake and moving forward to fix it or avoid next time. The more upfront you are about that, the less the mistake itself is how people remember the day. Then people think of you as “Hey Effed Up fixed that really quickly” or “I’m so glad Effed Up spoke up before that situation got worse” instead of “I can’t believe they tried to sneak that by.”

      And let it be a reminder to be more careful with task next time, or whatever the thing is. Sometimes those big oh-shit moments that stay with you for years can be for a productive reason.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Taking ownership and apologizing are the simpler steps. Identify the affected people and say “I made [mistake] on the project, and as a result [the product launch will be delayed/I need you to change XYZ/etc]. I’m sorry about this and I’ll do my best not to let it happen again.”

      To let go of the personal shame: if it’s a big enough emotional deal to me, I’ll process my emotions outside of work. Depending on the situation, “emotional processing” could look like: vigorous exercise, a good cry, writing my mistake on a piece of paper and burning it. I find a ritual of some sort helps. Don’t just go on a run. Tell yourself “I am going on a run in order to process my feelings about the mistake I made at work today.” Then feel how you feel, and run as fast as you need to for the duration of the run. After the run, if you tend to ruminate on the mistake, remind yourself “I already went on a run. I can move on from this.”

      1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        I’ve never considered linking the “letting go” to a discrete task. What a gift, thank you!

        1. NotARacoonKeeper*

          If you want to learn more about this, there’s a book called Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. and Amelia Nagoski, D.M.A that goes into the science and practice of this process. They also have a great podcast if you prefer listening!

    4. Alice Quinn*

      This can be really tough, especially if you’re conscientious about your work. I would say a good action step to help overcome it is to look at the root cause of the issue and identify how and why it went wrong and come up with a solid plan to prevent it from happening again. I know as a manager, this is the approach I want to see my employees take, and it’s a much more productive way of dealing with mistakes than the blame and shame game. You’ll get through this!

    5. Chickaletta*

      You just own up to it and then move on (and hopefully figure out a way to prevent that kind of thing from happening again and follow through). Something to remember: owning up to one’s mistakes is a sign of intelligence and signals to other people that you have self-awareness. Also, we’re human! Everyone makes mistakes and other people will relate more than you think they will. If they’re a jerk and hold a grudge, don’t accept your apology, or make it into an even bigger deal, then that’s a reflection of them, not you, and there’s nothing you can do about that other than just let them be themselves.

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

      Sometimes for me the only thing that helps is to zoom way out and remind myself that no matter how big it feels now, in 500 years nobody will care. Bonus points if you can do this while looking at a starry sky and feeling blissfully insignificant.

  40. Alex*

    I may be quitting my job soon in order to pursue another opportunity. Because of some reasons I won’t go into here, I need to take time in between when I end this job and start the next. It just so happens that I have just about the same amount of vacation time saved up that I would need to take off.

    Would it be totally unreasonable for me to ask to ride out my remaining vacation time while on payroll instead of getting it paid out? That way I could keep my health insurance and not need to deal with COBRA, and the tax situation would be simpler (I assume I need to pay taxes on the vacay payout, but will be overtaxed on it because it would be paid out in a lump sum). I realize that this doesn’t really benefit them, only me, and it would be them doing me a favor as I am out the door, but I hope to be able to give at least three if not four weeks notice (when 2 weeks would be normal for my role). I could also come back after the “vacation” time if they wanted, for just 1-2 weeks, although I’m not sure how helpful that would be to them. I would also be happy to be on call for questions and such during the vacation period.

    Am I totally out of my mind for thinking about asking for this? I don’t want to be unreasonable, but it would just make things SO much easier for me.

    1. PollyQ*

      The more common way to handle this is to give the longer notice, but let your boss know you’re going to book your vacation time, then tack the 2 weeks notice on to the end of it. And actually, I think your employer would be perfectly happy with this. It effectively gives them more time to prep and see what holes will need to be filled after you’re gone, then provides them with a couple of week to pick your brain.

      1. Alex*

        With a normal amount of vacation time, I would do this, but this is an amount of vacation time that is beyond what is usually allowed at once (about two months).

        1. PollyQ*

          Hmmm, yeah that’s less likely to be workable. In that case, I’d say it’s worth asking if you can do a longer notice and then stay on payroll while you use up your vacation. If that doesn’t work, though, there is a cool little loophole with COBRA coverage, which is that you can sign up for it retroactively, at least for a couple of months, even after you’ve incurred a medical expense.

    2. BRR*

      I think it’s ok to ask but plan on them saying no. If it’s helpful information for your situation, remember that you have a window of time to enroll in cobra.

    3. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      I did this when I transitioned from OldJob to graduate school because it wasn’t clear when my old insurance would end and new one would start and I can’t afford to be without. Nor did I have the extra money for even a month of Cobra. I explained it to my boss when we did the monthly time sheet for PTO sick etc and it wasn’t a problem. Of course I had a month of vacation and only needed 2 weeks so I still had the higher taxes on the last check since it was a bigger check but it was taxed at regular pay rates rather than the rate of *bonuses* they gave us during the great recession in lieu of raises. So yes it can be done but in case I got a *we’ve never done this before so we can’t possibly do it ever* that org liked to do to avoid following their own policies and obligations from payroll I had my case for it written out.

    4. HahaLala*

      Not unreasonable to ask, but also not unreasonable for the company to decline. It really depends on company policies. I’m no tax expert, but I’d think the tax rate would be the same for your pay, whether it’s a lump sum or weekly. (Also, are you sure you’ll get your PTO paid out? Not every state requires it, and not every company will do it.)

      I just recently switched jobs, and I took about month off in between, mostly so I could start right after previously planned travel. My PTO was not paid out (not required in my state, and no company policy stating they would), so I made sure to take as much as I could before I resigned. My old health insurance ended on my last day at old job, and at my new job, my coverage started on my first day. There’s a decently long window to enact Cobra (30+ days?), so my plan was to enact COBRA retroactively if needed (and if itwould have been cheaper for paying out of pocket). Luckily I didn’t need to.

      Double check your current (and new) insurance policies– your current policy might cover you until the end of the calendar month of your last day, but your new plan might not start for 30 days after your first day…

      1. Alex*

        Yes, the tax rate is the same, but they would originally take a lot more out if they gave it to me in a lump sum, because of the way payroll works. It assumes that whatever you are getting paid that pay period is what you will *always* get paid. At least that has been my experience with bonuses, extra pay, etc. And given that I need that money to live on during my time without an income, I’d rather have more of it than less of it! I’m also 100% sure that I’d get my vacay paid out, both because company policy includes that and I live in a state where it is required. However, I also continue to accumulate vacation days while on vacation, so I would also have MORE vacation days coming to me if I stayed on payroll. I work for a very large company where these policies are all very clearly laid out.

        The time in between when I’d be ending my current employment and when I would start my new employment is at least 14 weeks, so way past any grace period from my current job or with COBRA.

  41. SunriseRuby*

    I’m a disgruntled employee in a call center for a leave of absence management company. For the love of bean sprouts, people, if you ever need to contact a call center for any reason, DON’T USE SPEAKERPHONE. Thank you.

    1. just passing through*

      Could you explain why? (This is not something I would have guessed was a no-no and probably something I’ve done–so I wish I’d known this!) Is it because the caller is difficult to hear, or because you get to hear unwanted other conversations, or what?

      1. SunriseRuby*

        Yes, speaker phone sort of thins out the audio, making it hard for the person on the other end to hear. The caller sounds fainter or further away (and probably because they’re moving around the room, thinking the speaker phone is doing an adequate job of picking up their voice. It’s not.) I figured that would have been evident from the plea, but I guess I was wrong, so thank you for asking for clarification!

        1. Paris Geller*

          Not the person who originally asked this question, but thanks for explaining! Do you have the same problem if someone’s on speakerphone if they’re not moving around? asking because unfortunately when I call a call center (or anyone, really) I almost always have to put the phone on speakerphone–I find it very difficult to hear the person on the other line otherwise. I speak into the phone normally, however, and don’t wander away.

          1. Observer*

            I also often wind up putting people on speakerphone because I often need to find information or need to take notes, and it’s hard to do that when I’m actually holding the phone. So, if staying put near the phone helps, I’d love to know that.

          2. Jora Malli*

            Are you able to use earbuds at all? I also struggle a lot to understand people on speaker, but by sibling has wireless earbuds with a microphone and I don’t have any of those speakerphone issues when I talk with them.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Probably because people in a call center are surrounded by other people on calls so unless your mic is awesome, which speakerphone is generally not, you’re making it really hard for the person to hear – even if the call center person is on a really good headset.

        1. pandq*

          I put it on speakerphone so much – so this is good info for me! I’ll take it off speakerphone as soon as I’m connected from now on. I’m not into making people’s jobs harder. :)

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

            Same here. Lately I’ve had upwards of 20 minutes on hold before actually talking to a human, so I have to put it on speakerphone just so I can get on with my life while I wait. Like the other commenter, I do then go speak directly to the phone while it’s still on speakerphone, but in the future I’ll definitely ask if they’d like me to switch over.

  42. I am the one who eats crackers*

    My team has recently got some new members. I feel like all the new people interrupt, are long winded, use the wrong words for things, and are trying to take over and change processes without taking even a few weeks to learn how and why they ended up that way (over the course of a few years). It’s posssible that last is a mandate from their own managers.
    I feel like my entire team is in BEC mode for me. That probably means I am just burnt out.

    1. Juneybug*

      It could be a mandate from their boss. In my situation, I was hired to “fix” a state governement reception front desk (establish or improve processes, change culture, etc). My new boss was super excited to have my skill sets on the front desk (it was mess – think post it notes for the few processes in place, ignoring customers, gossipying all day, etc.). However, she forgot to tell my co-worker who had this job for two decades. Who wanted her friend hired so was still salty about my hire. Who was 20 years older than me so she didn’t want to listen to a youngster (I was 40 yrs). Who had never been discplined for her bad behavior. It was a mess!!
      You might want to talk to their boss about their goals for the training. Good luck!!

      1. I am the one who eats crackers*

        I asked my own boss who at least explained the reasoning for the quick ramp up: multiple people going to be out on leave very soon, so the new hires need to jump right in even though they don’t know what’s going on yet.

  43. Mimmy*

    Zoom interviews – what to wear?

    Next Tuesday, I have not one but TWO job interviews over Zoom (*happy dance*). My question: Must I wear a suit (do people even wear suits anymore??) or am I okay with a work-appropriate top/blouse? Both positions are in universities and work directly with students and maybe faculty.

    1. Rebecca D.*

      I had a lot of zoom interviews last summer and for most of them I wore a usual blouse/blazer combo. For my most recent round (where I got the job!) I was just wearing regular work tops/blouses/a dress.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Congrats on the interviews!

      For University job interviews, I wore a suit. You want more distinction of looking non-student like. Some sweater/cardigans on blouses look super suit like though. Also that age old better to be overdressed than underdressed adage.

    3. Riot Grrrl*

      The standard advice used to be: dress one step up from the general dress code of the position you’re applying for. I think this still applies even in the Zoom age.

    4. ZSD*

      A blazer over a blouse or button-down should be fine, I’d think.
      But I realize you might be asking this because it’s 9000 degrees right now, and wearing layers sounds like torture. I think if you wear one of your nicest blouses, and maybe some jewelry to dress it up, that would also be acceptable.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      As someone who hires at a Uni, I would error on the side of formality. I wear a jacket and blouse when I interview on Zoom. I also would advise checking your lighting and your space to make sure it reads as professional. I also made a point of locking my cat out out of the room, so she couldn’t interrupt which she is prone to doing.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      Pants. Please wear pants that go with the outfit. The stories of something happening and interviewers seeing you’re not wearing pants aren’t apocryphal. I saw it – nice shirt and jacket, even a tie. something happened and he had to move back – pajama pants…

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I wear a nice shirt/blouse and a blazer over that. Bottom half is black leggings so if I have to get up for any reason, it will look to the camera like I’m wearing pants.

    8. Nesprin*

      For academic positions? Prob overkill. I’d up formality for east coast or senior level positions or law/medicine, and lower formality for engineers/scientists.

    9. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’m in higher ed and actively interviewing for staff positions. Definitely wear a blazer, it’s still very much expected. If it’s hot (I recently interviewed in the middle of a heat wave with no ac) wear shorts or a skirt with a fan blowing on your legs.

      Good luck!

    10. Anono-me*

      Whatever you decide; Please consider checking your outfit on camera before the interview.

      1. Dragon*

        Yes. I discovered that dark-colored tops which in person are perfectly professional-looking, can look like dark shapeless blobs on Zoom.

        1. Anono-me*

          I was thinking more of my friend who wore a blouse that was almost the same color as her skin to a zoom meeting. On zoom you couldn’t really tell the difference.

    11. Mimmy*

      Thank you all so much for the suggestions!

      Related question: I’ve been blurring my background when I’m on Zoom…is this okay for an interview? I do that mainly for privacy, not because I have anything inappropriate in view of the camera.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Blurring backgrounds isn’t unusual for an interview, but just be aware that the feature can cause unnecessary movement in the background (like moving around your head whenever you move) that can be distracting to people who aren’t used to seeing it. Maybe try it out with a friend first and see if they think it’s distracting before you do it.

  44. Alice*

    I work at a university in a role that is transitioning to more mandatory in-person work for “visibility” and “collaboration.”
    My department has a mandatory in-person meeting that has recently been held in a room with sufficient capacity and a mask requirement. But next week it’s going to be in a smaller room without a mask requirement. BTW our county is CDC high community level (ie, CDC recommends universal masking).
    Two of us asked the skip-level manager hosting the meeting to move to a larger room.
    He wrote back, you find a big enough place then.
    I was able to find bigger options, a slightly longer distance from the manager’s office and our desks.
    Is it unreasonable that I feel pissed off, and I will still feel pissed off even if the manager moves the location?
    This person knows that at least three of us on the team are really concerned abut ourselves and/or high-risk people in our households. He knows that the team is bigger than the org’s official capacity limit for the room. He’s been saying for years now “of course we want to be safe” but it is just lip service, it feels like.

    1. Anono-me*

      I am POed at the manager just reading your email, so I don’t think that you, who would have been placed unnecessarily in a higher risk situation, are unreasonable to feel POed.

      Your manager has a responsibility to manage and that means making sure the TPS reports are done on time, and that too many vacations aren’t taken at the same time; but it also means exerting himself in the current environment to make safer choices.

      Unfortunately many people are weird about the continued risks to people with underlying health concerns. So sadly, while I am POed, I am also glad that your manager was willing to ‘let’ you do the part of his job that involved scheduling a safer meeting.