Labor Day open thread

It’s Labor Day! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk 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.

{ 526 comments… read them below }

  1. Lightning McQueen*

    Not much of a question but a comment/whine. I am supposed to have Labor Day off. I am supposed to have all major holidays off but starting with New Years, something ‘major’ is always happening and I have worked not only that holiday but the weekend around it. It’s draining.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah, in this sort of situation I would start booking “long haul flights” or “huge family occasion” every public holiday.

        1. Just Me*

          Step 1. You have “discovered that you have a large family that lives in a lot of far away places.” Think type of discovery. To make up for lost time, they are eager to spend as much time as possible with you.

          Step 2. Then turn off (or ignore) any communication from work.

          Step 3. Enjoy a guilt-free time off work.

      2. Ana Gram*

        Yeah, I’m a huge fan of saying I’ll be out of town. And I live in a different town than I work in, so it’s true!

      3. The Person from the Resume*

        I’m betting at least some of these are major projects planned for holiday weekends to have least disruption to the users, but it sucks for the people who have to work the holidays.

        In either case Lightning should be getting makeup holidays, but it’s not the same when everyone else isn’t off.

    1. the cat's ass*

      it sucks that you have to plan for it, but i generally let my office know I’ll be camping someplace with no wifi/cell reception. Even when I’m not, because theyre famous for -“oh you could do this little thing online from home/wherever you are.” NOPE!

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I love going to my in-laws’ for vacations because their internet is hot garbage. One year we didn’t have internet any time it was windy due to it works via line of sight and a tree had grown too big.

        They’re moving to a place with normal internet but I’m sure as shit not telling anyone.

        1. Midwest is Best*

          My old house in the middle of nowhere was like that – too windy? No internet. Too rainy? No internet. Too sunny? No internet. Making working from home during the pandemic an absolute breeze….

    2. Coveredinivy*

      I totally get it. Unfortunately, some jobs are like that. My company will allow employees to take an alternate day off with pay if they must work on a day that is a designated holiday. Is that a possibility? If it is not a formal policy for everyone, can you ask you manager for that in your specific case? If it’s a routine problem, the manager needs to be made aware of this issue if they are not already. Taking an alternate day off I still means you miss any holiday celebrations with family and friends but at least you get the paid time off.

      1. SallyForth*

        When I have had to work on a holiday I have received either x 1.5 hours in lieu or x 2 hours in lieu depending on what kind of holiday it was.

  2. Janet Pinkerton*

    Please send tips for how to make it through work travel with big groups again. I used to be really adept at it and I do not do well with crowds anymore. I have a training with 100 people next week and I will have to be “on” the whole time. After hours socialization is also a part of it. This is a part of my work culture and I cannot fully opt out. So my question is, how can I best cope?

    1. Josephine*

      Oof, this sounds like my nightmare scenario. If you can, I’d suggest taking 5-10 minutes “breaks” from the group several times during the day, even if it means hiding the bathroom and doing deep breathing exercises. During the after-hours socialization, same thing – can you escape for 10-20 minutes at a time by taking a walk around the block outside the restaurant, heading to a quiet spot in the hotel away from everyone, and just taking some time to decompress? I’ve also faked a migraine to get out of a social evening. If you’ll be with them for several days faking a migraine one evening so that you can stay in your hotel and eat room service or takeout alone might help you recharge.

      1. Courtney*

        +1 for go hide in the bathroom and take time to yourself to be alone or look at your phone or whatever.

        1. TeaCoziesRUs*

          Just be careful not to play on the phone too long while on the toilet. Hemorrhoids are no friend when traveling! :)

    2. Meowsy*

      It’s possible everyone else will be in the same boat as you. In my personal experience, and from what I’ve heard from other Super Extroverts (as well as the normal populace), the reintroduction to conferences/group meetings has been very rough for everyone. Hiding in the bathroom and taking quick walks like Josephine suggested can help. I also noticed that after hours socializing ended much earlier than they previously had, so there’s some hope you’ll get back to your room with time to decompress.

    3. Moo*

      If you’re staying in the place of the training, then I recommend having little decompress breaks for yourself in your room. Even taking your bathroom breaks in your room’s bathroom rather than the general one can give you a little regular 5 minutes to yourself.

      I also recommend saying you have to “get ready” for evening events… for me that consists of taking off anything uncomfortable and lying on the bed for 30-60 minutes

    4. Foley*

      When you take a break, take off your lanyard/name badge. It will minimize the number of people who approach you while you’re trying to decompress. However, short decompression sessions in your room may be warranted if you’re an industry rock star.

    5. EdgarAllanCat*

      I’ve slipped away for lunch and eaten somewhere else to get a break from the group, hoping no one would really notice my absence. Also taken a boxed lunch outside to enjoy the fresh air. If the training is in the same venue as hotel, can you head to your room to change clothes between training & after hours socializing?

      1. BellyButton*

        Yes! That’s what I did at the last big training I had to go to pre-Covid. I just said “I need to make a few phone calls”, I took my plate, found a tucked away area at the hotel, and ate in blissful silence.

      1. UKDancer*

        This is what I usually do. I make sure I’m seen there early on, have a soft drink with people and socialise. Then after about 30 mins I plead needing to check my email and finish a few things off and use that to get back to my room and chill out.

        In my experience as long as you’re seen there early on, nobody notices if you head off.

    6. Dr. Doll*

      You may find it gets easier as the days go on. We had a conference in August where many of our participants were super, super anxious and they relaxed over time. The skills will likely come back quickly.

    7. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Small breaks and alone time to the extent possible, but what about creating moments with smaller groups? Part of my reentry issues have been about numbers–I was good for up to three people, meh up to about 10 and increasingly anxious after that. 100 sounds daunting. I bet others are also in the same boat, so maybe see if you can take a walk with just one or two or three other people? That way you’re participating, but not so ON.

    8. Anne Wentworth*

      When returning to crowded events, I’ve felt like any mental “callous” I built up to handle it is gone after the last few years. If you can, plan your schedule as if you have only 50-75% of the energy you used to, to allow yourself a buffer. You can certainly stay longer/add an event if you have more energy than you realized, but setting a schedule based on your current capacities (instead of just diving in hoping somehow you’ll survive the kind of schedule you used to have) might set you up better for success. If you can.

    9. starfox*

      Honestly, my only tip is to try to find times to sneak away to recharge. Try to find activities that aren’t absolutely mandatory and go take a walk or just sit in the quiet for a while. “Go to the bathroom” and take a long, meandering way to get there. Set firm boundaries about “bedtime” so you can make sure to get plenty of rest and sleep.

    10. Formerly Ella Vader*

      I wonder if it would help to be honest about it with a few people – you might find someone else in the same situation, or at least someone who is sympathetic. Like, “This is my first large-group training since 2019. I’ve been looking forward to it so much, but I think it might be a bit tiring at first because I’m so out of practice. Can we plan the first evening’s meetup for later so I can get in a bit of a walk/swim by myself first?” (even if you aren’t necessarily going to end up walking or swimming, taking off your work shoes and lying down with the TV remote is also restorative)

    11. just another bureaucrat*

      Practice. Get out and find opportunities to build up the skill again. It’s a skill that you can practice and doing it will build up your ability to do it. Find ways to do it. Even like go out and buy your own groceries if you’ve been doing delivery or pick up. Interact with more people. Find ways to have conversations appropriately. If you have access to going into an office do it a little more.

      Remind yourself that everyone is likely way more into how they are behaving than how you are as long as you aren’t doing anything outrageous.

      Good luck!

    12. Peonies*

      In addition to the excellent suggestions to create breaks for yourself, I find a bit of outdoor exercise makes me better to cope with stress in general. If possible, I’d be looking for a way to go for a walk or, if there is an outdoor pool handy, a swim at some point each day.

    13. Quinalla*

      I just did an offsite, I actually did really well for my first time back with a big group and socializing after, but some things that helped:

      -Taking a 45-60 minute refresh/change clothes time in your hotel between the day events and socializing. This is very normal and I didn’t even have to suggest it as others did.
      -Take full advantage of all breaks throughout the day, even if just to hide in the bathroom or a quick walk outside. For lunch, eat with folks for the first 20-30 and then say you are going on a walk outside or need to make some calls, etc.
      -Make sure you have a plan for recharge in the mornings and evenings, even if it is just watching mindless TV.
      -Have an medication you might need typically or for headaches, etc.
      -If you are a caffeine person, make it a point to get a cuppa in the morning by yourself prior to heading to training.
      -Try to eat things that nourish, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t eat as well as you like. Try to not eat ALL junk at least, you’ll feel much better.

    14. Miette*

      This sucks, I feel for you. I think it helps to strive for some “me time” in the mix if you can. Avoid whatever dinners or breakfasts you can so you can recharge. Also, give yourself permission to ignore emails while you are there–out of office messages are your friend!

  3. Nonbinary Pal*

    Happy Labor day! I’m working, but that’s the service industry for ya.

    Anyone have any experience doing accounting consulting type stuff for super small businesses? My dream job is helping small businesses get off the ground with their financial processes/payroll/designing reports in a consulting capacity and then basically troubleshooting/doing taxes after that for a fee. Is that a thing?

    Anyway, hope folks are either getting rest or getting paid today!

    1. Cheeruson*

      I have found, in a previous work-life in a small public accounting firm, that a frustration in doing just this is that many small business owners aren’t willing to pay for the value of this. Those that realize this work is needed think it should take about 1/10th of the time it does, or it should just “happen”, or their cousin who used to work in an office can help with this. Just beware.

    2. NoLogo*

      My partner does this- he’s a former small business owner and now primarily does bookkeeping, but specializes in small businesses. His niche is supporting small businesses when they start hiring employees- setting up payroll, tax remittances, insurance, etc. He’s good at warning businesses about impending changes as they grow (if you have more than X employees… if you earn more than X…).

      Some clients are challenging because they have messy processes that need fixing, especially if they are resistant to change and giving up control over everything. His fave clients are construction types- they usually are tradespeople first and business owners second and are happy to have someone manage the financial pieces for them so they can free their time to be on job sites.

    3. Hola Playa*

      This is definitely a thing and very much needed. Are you looking to work for an existing business or start your own? In my small biz circles, there are tons of firms doing this work remotely for small biz owners all over the US. There are some great agency models as well as soloprenuers.

      1. PassThePeasPlease*

        Are you able to share a name or two of the agencies (assuming they’re not hyper local) that are doing this? This sounds amazing and I’m interested in looking into it further!

        1. HoundMom*

          A place to start may be the smaller payroll companies. They often have a division or partner that does small company outsourcing.

          I am in a HR adjacent field. One of my colleagues mentioned that there is a way to publicly get a list of companies that are currently in professional employee organization (ADP, Insperity for instance). You may be able to reach out to potential clients that way. I have worked with a few PEO lift outs and always recommend that they outsourcing accounting, payroll, and benefit functions.

        2. Hola Playa*

          Moxie Bookkeeping
          Clara CFO
          Nel Tax and Financial (more of tax strategy)

          All work with small biz remotely – and all amazing folks!

    4. Koala dreams*

      Yes, it’s a thing. Often including bookkeeping. Some agencies do this work, or accountants having their own business. Many business owners are focused on their core business and want help with everything paper work related. A lot of hand holding. For people not used to office work, even the simplest forms can be daunting.

      For the people who want to do most things themselves, it can be a challenge if they don’t realize their limits. For example, if the bookkeeping isn’t in order it might be difficult for you to do the taxes correctly.

      There are also organizations specialized in helping people start a business, focused more on entrepreneurship rather than accounting/taxes/payroll if that’s what you’re interested in.

  4. Sumo Strike*

    I am in a receptionist type position. While I interact with clients and employees on a day you day basis, I’m working in a cubicle. So not really customer facing.

    The problem is in have very little work. I do all the tasks in my job description. I have asked about doing a couple tasks that take 5-10 minutes instead of one group of people doing it. I was told possibly in the future, but not now. I asked about anything else and they said I’m fine and don’t need to do anything else.

    I have maybe 2-3 hours of work in the day. The rest I spend trying to occupy my time, refreshing pages, reading help manuals, and staring into the abyss. I guess my questions are as follows:

    1. People in similar positions of little work, how do you keep busy?

    2. Can I study? (I’m currently changing career field.)

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I know of students that held on to such jobs throughout their study, and managed to get all their studying done while at work. It’s great if you can do that!

      1. Blue wall*

        I do this now. Key is that I work from home. Also I got permission to flex my work hours around class time, so I feel better about that (though I do a ton of studying and meetings during “working hours”).

    2. Generic Username (UK)*

      From my experience of being in similar positions for pretty much all my career now – I’ve completed two qualifications, learnt how to use more in depth excel formulas (witch I’ve sometimes used in my work), reformatted all our corporate guidelines and policies, and gone through every single folder on our shared drive to make sure all our docs are named correctly and saved in the right place.

    3. Bread Addict*

      I once edited a friends book, it was in word so looked like work to anyone passing by. Have also read .pdf formats of ebooks ar a past job that had a ton of downtime.

      You could also try doing online training courses, or studying so long as it looks tidy and work appropriate to an outside eye. As you never know who might paas by your cubicle at any time.

      The biggest thing is that your work gets done, anyone else sees what looks like work if they stop in/walk by. Mainly because it makes you look more professional but also if other staff are super busy with things they cant easily (or in some jobs legally) give to you, that might be demoralising to see you there watching tv. But so long as it looks ok and that you drop whatever you are doing when real work comes in. I would say yes. You could always ask your boss as well if they are okay with you doing training or other things during your downtime.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I recommend studying and other activities that look like work.

      Preferably no text books and IDK math homework or anything really obvious, but since you say changing fields I’m betting there’s a lot online.

    5. SoAlive*

      This has happened to me before, and while I often wish I was less busy than I am now, it is really draining to not have enough work. Is there a certification you can work towards that could be relevant-ish to your role? Our local university offered a free one in ethical leadership and I can see that being helpful in almost any role.

    6. Malarkey01*

      I had a job like this in grad school and wrote every single paper at work and did some homework (it was before textbooks were online so I didn’t actually read).

      I also started journaling in a word document and it set me up for a lifetime of writing and also provided a calm activity.
      The last thing I did was come up with a personal chore I could do each day (Monday bills, Tuesday meal planning and shopping list, Wednesday email grandparents, Etc).
      Audiobooks with headphones might also be nice.

      I know a lot of people find the idea of this kind of job great, but for me nothing was worse than having no work but needing to look like I was working or just pass time.

      1. Can Relate*

        When I was being marginalized in my previous job, i.e., having more and more responsibilities diverted from me, I started a year-long online course in a related field.

        Like Malarkey01, I, too, started doing all my assignments for this online course from work. It helped me pass the time, and it looked like I was working.

          1. Can Relate*

            Thank you; yes. It helped me maintain my sanity by giving me something to do, and my dignity, because I felt like I was working toward something better.

            This was a few years ago, when the job market wasn’t nearly as favorable toward applicants. I was 2.5 years into what eventually became a three-year job search when I enrolled in the online course.

            When I finally got my new/current job, I continued in the online course, even though in my new role, I had ZERO downtime, lol.

    7. just another queer reader*

      I’ve been hearing a lot about workplace surveillance recently so I’d just advise you not to use your work computer for anything you don’t want your employer to see.

      Homework should be fine! But personal writing, online shopping, etc might be something you’d rather keep private.

      1. Can Relate*

        Excellent point, and a follow-up to what I wrote above: I never stored anything on my work computer, and, in fact, I didn’t even use Word at work for my assignments.

        Rather, I opened my personal webmail in Incognito mode, and typed all my assignments in an e-mail to myself. I could save the draft and close the window almost instantly. Our company didn’t have the level of IT service where anyone could log into my computer and see what I was working on.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes,especially if you’re at a company with policy that anything created on their equipment belongs to them. A friend who is a published author was horrified that a coworker thought she had been working on the books at lunch time at the office because that could have put her ownership of her own fiction into dispute.

    8. Heather*

      I feel this so so hard. I was a student in a clinical rotation this semester and I just did NOT have enough to do.

      It’s good that you’ve asked, although you don’t say who you’ve asked. I think the only other thing I might do it say, “I’m finding that I have some times in the day when I don’t have anything to do. Would it be okay if I bring my textbook from class and study when I have the chance. Of course I only mean if I’ve asked if anyone needs help and there really is nothing to do!” If they say no, I’m afraid you’re just in for a very long dull day.

    9. Observer*

      2. Can I study? (I’m currently changing career field.)

      A lot depends on your workplace culture.

      I would say go ahead, but use your own device. And try to be unobtrusive. Like, if you need to listen to stuff, use earbuds – not headphones or even the truly wireless earbuds that tend to be quite noticeable.

      The reason I say this is that there are some employers who get huffy if you do anything but work *even when they know* that you are fulfilling all your tasks and are perfectly willing to do more work. Sometimes it’s not your line of management, but someone else who has an issue and kicks up a fuss, which makes life uncomfortable. Or there could be a change in management, and someone with a different attitude could come down on you instead of talking to you about the situation.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Read every piece of training material you can locate for any department. If it’s a big enough company they may have an online training too. Project management and QA control training will apply to most industries. Read online forums related to your office’s software — since you’re on reception, you can explore any Microsoft Office training program and call it work-related.
      Ask anyone who writes documents for customers if they want an extra proofreader.
      A side question, does your company offer tuition reimbursement and are you signed up for it?

    11. Anon-E-Mouse*

      Check out LinkedIn Learning for lots of online business-related courses, in everything from office software through management to creative fields. You can usually get a free 30-day trial (you’ll have to sign up with a credit card but then cancel before the trial ends). You can also often access LinkedIn Learning for free through your local library’s online portal.

      I really like LIL’s courses because they’re comprehensive (eg 3-16 hours) but also have detailed tables of contents so you can focus on specific skills if necessary. And they have course series that can lead to certificates. You can also turn on a written transcription option and mute the sound if it’s inappropriate to be watching a video with headphones on.

      You also might be able to get your employer to cover the cost, but before asking I would try to complete a course or two on your own and then select a specific class that’s relevant to the company’s business and your role and ask for them to pay for a month or two.

      1. Let's get a Blini*

        Free LinkedIn learning subscriptions are available in my town for those with a public library card.

    12. starfox*

      Ebooks! Also, yes, I think you can study.

      When I was in a similar position as a student, I had multiple “desktops” set up on my computer that I could easily switch through, so I could switch to “work tasks” when needed. I definitely did my homework during down time. It was frustrating because they wouldn’t give me more work, and yet still expected me to be working on something for them, lol. So I just started taking a ridiculously long time to complete the tasks they gave me and spent most of my time studying or reading ebooks.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Yes, study, write, read, anything that isn’t disruptive or obvious, and that you can immediately break off from if needed.

      You are being paid to be available, because having someone deal with irregular interruptions allows others to do focused work with fewer interruptions.

    14. Indubitably Delicious*

      I planned my wedding and edited a friend’s humor newspaper column in a similar situation, but it was at a higher ed facility where the internet wasn’t, to my knowledge, monitored.

    15. Wintermute*

      I’ve been there, done that. This is heavily dependent on your workplace though, some of them literally do want you staring off into the middle distance until something happens at which point you activate like a robot.

      Those places are miserable.

      The typical key is to keep good optics, anything that looks professional on a PC (e.g. it’s not obviously a shopping site or social media feed, doesn’t have big images like a news site, etc) is better than reading a book, even a textbook. if your boss asks “what you doing?” it should be something defensible as professional development, even if you have to squint a little bit to see the connection to your current job.

      If you’re looking to switch industries entirely be wary of learning on the job just because it can signal your intentions: if you work for a dentist’s office and you’re studying for your real estate license exam it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. If you’re taking an online course or watching tutorials on it’s Excel much less obvious. If it’s possible for you to get a job in your new field with the same employer then you can be a little more open without signaling that you’re looking for a new job in the mid-term future.

      1. Chickaletta*

        Second this – it’s all about optics. And like a previous commenter, I also planned my entire wedding from work, paid bills, and took care of all that little stuff (always stay professional though! and be prepared to stop what you’re doing at a moment’s notice if work duties call).

        That was 20 years ago though and being older and wiser, I don’t take those kinds of jobs anymore. I also think it’s ok to be open with your current boss about wanting something more challenging – I stayed too long in a job I was bored to tears with because I thought I HAD to appear interested and busy at it. I thought I would lose my job if I didn’t. Now, at 45, I don’t do that anymore. I am very open with my managers when I have extra bandwidth and need more work, whether it’s in my current role or looking ahead to something else. (Haven’t been fired for that yet!) Furthermore, I think a good manager will encourage that career growth.

    16. Wendy Darling*

      I had a job kind of like this, in that I was moderating research that people did very much independently, so I had like 10 minutes out of every hour during which I was occupied getting them set up and explaining how to do the task, like five minutes of making sure they were doing it right, and then 45 where I was just sitting there in case the equipment or the participant went nuts (equipment lost the plot like twice a week… participants more like twice a month).

      I was also taking night classes at the time and I did 100% of my homework in those quiet periods. I also read a lot of news and books and blogs, and got back into Nethack, and did a lot of other time-waste-y stuff, but there was definitely good homework time in there.

      There was one moderator who I realized brought her personal laptop in with her and was playing World of Warcraft during sessions, which…. too far.

    17. Foley*

      Fortunately?!? When I had a job like this, my boss came to me in the first few weeks and said I could do whatever I liked during the time when there were lulls. (I wrote my 2d book – sold to S&S four years later so not a wasted effort).

      Other people did their side business/hustle, etc. But it was a trade group that wasn’t particularly internet savvy (though ironically made and sold industry software), so except for social media bans (depending on your role), it was kind of open season on computer use. I backed up everything by sending myself gmails in an incognito browser or a thumb drive, depending.

      Think of them as a patron for your other endeavors that you might not do if you couldn’t get paid.

    18. Waving not Drowning*

      Back in the day, when my kids were little I worked as a Receptionist in a role that was very similar to that – and they explained at interview that there would be massive peaks and troughs in the workload.

      What I did to keep occupied – I used to send around emails to the Team, asking if they had any work to do. If that didn’t work, I’d checked with the Boss, and he was ok with me doing work for a volunteer group I belonged to, so long as I dropped it to do work/work when needed. We had an actual policy around volunteer work (it was strongly encouraged for staff to do, and it didn’t have to be related to a work field – and work provided paid time off through the year to support if needed).

      I don’t miss that job because I was bored out of my brain, and in some ways it was a relief to be made redundant from that role (with a significant payout, which was great!) but, I do miss it – because it was handy to do volunteer work during work hours rather than doing it in the evening.

  5. PT Quiet Worker*

    My workplace, which is closed today, is giving me a default amount of holiday hours that amount to 2/3 of my normal pay for the day (because I am part time) when compared to my regularly assigned Monday schedule. The amount of hours is an across-the-board holiday amount for all PT employees, regardless of our individually assigned Monday hours. I have to make up the other 1/3 time later in the week, adjusting transportation issues on a different day so that I don’t get a smaller paycheck for the week due to *Labor Day*.

    I know that many employers, if not most, do not give part time employees any paid holidays or benefits, period, so on one hand do I really have anything to complain about? On the other hand, it’s weird that Labor Day means a pay cut unless I find time to make up the hours. Bummer!

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      This is such an interesting question. I just started working half time (exempt and remote) and have been just assuming I get the same holidays as the full time staff. I also assumed the math would be like it is at your place, that today would count for 4 of my twenty hours per week.

      But your situation is a bit different and I’d be a little put out by having to make the arrangements necessary for more hours those weeks. If you’ve been there a while maybe you could talk to someone about this situation and see if there is anything you can do, like always work extra the Friday before or after so it balances out (& you don’t have to think about it each time). My guess is that they can’t pay you for all of your usual Monday hours since the Tuesday hours people, for example, would rarely be in the same boat.

      Another way more complicated choice is to move those additional hours permanently off Mondays. You’d have to redo all of your transportation arrangements but just once. It might be worth asking. I wouldn’t say it was due to the holiday policy though and just give some other reason.

    2. Peonies*

      This was more or less how my previous job was. I always ended up having to make up a few hours on a holiday week. I found it really frustrating, but also hard to complain because they did pay me for some holiday time.

    3. Green great dragon*

      Yeh, we do that but it seems the fairest way, otherwise you’d find people working Mon-Wed would get more holidays for the same pay than people working Tue-Thurs, at least in the UK where most holidays fall on Mon or Fri. I normally cover the shortfall with a few hours PTO – is that a possibility for you?

      So if I work 2/3 hours, I get 2/3 of the full time amount of PTO plus 2/3 holiday time for each of the holidays in the year, whether they are on my working days or not. If more than 2/3 of the holidays fall on my working days, I have to use PTO to make up the difference, or make up the hours elsewhere. If less than 2/3 of the holidays fall on my working days, I can add any extra to my PTO and take it when I want. So some part timers may have more or less flexibility than others, but the same total pay and the same total hours worked.

    4. E. Chauvelin*

      Our workplace also gives part time employees a pro-rated day’s worth of holiday hours for holidays, regardless of how many hours they normally work on that day, but I think the circumstances in which they’d wind up taking a pay cut would be if not impossible, extremely unlikely. Besides being able to make up the hours, they’d also have the option of taking PTO for the difference, which is what most of them do these days. When I was part time I’d usually make it up. It’s the flip side of the principal that allows the people who don’t normally work on Monday at all to still get holiday time later in the week, or that lets the full time staff get an alternate day off when a holiday falls on their regular day off. (I’m in libraries and if a holiday like Fourth of July that isn’t always on the same day of the week falls on a Saturday, that’s the only day the library closes for it.)

    5. AcademiaNut*

      It sounds very similar to the system that’s required in Canada. Full time employees get one day PTO for a stat holiday, part time employees get pro-rated holiday pay based on their average number of days, and anyone who works the holiday gets overtime pay.

  6. caregiver help, where?*

    I may repost this eventually on a Friday thread. My friend is looking to hire a part-time caregiving (not live-in) for her ageing mother. (in small-town Ontario). Where do you post a job ad for this? Not looking for a nurse, or nursing assistant. (no qualifications needed).

    1. PT Quiet Worker*

      A lot of families use for that sort of thing. I’m not sure if that is available where you are, but might be worth a look-see!

    2. Mockingjay*

      See if the town has a local Facebook or NextDoor page. (There might be several.) Ours allows posts to offer and request local services.

    3. Annie Edison*

      Try but would recommend doing an independent background check before hiring. They say they check everyone but when I was hiring someone for my mom, an independent check turned up some info on a few candidates that disqualified in my mind.

    4. Asenath*

      In a small town, it’s often best to use word of mouth. Major online sites don’t seem to serve small areas well. I’m in a small city, but I knew someone (sister of a friend) who worked as a caregiver, and who I respected a lot. I just said “I know you’re not looking for work right now (I knew she had a full-time job with a long-term patient), but do you know anyone who might be available for (specifics of time, level of care needed, etc)? It worked. Also, you might check out local government and other services – sometimes they provide help.

      1. Heather*

        This is so true! Do you have a social network (extended family, church friends, former coworkers) that you could ask? Sometimes you get lucky and you’ll hear “Oh, Doris took care of my aunt until my aunt passed away, and now she’s looking for a new position.”

    5. RosyGlasses*

      The state you live in will often have a board specific for this. If you are in Oregon, I believe I did some googling to find one for my dad (certified caregivers in state). These are ones that are vetted generally and will be covered under long term insurance plans because they have their certification. Happy to help answer – it took me a few tries to find help and the process was not always straightforward.

    6. Worked in IT forever*

      I’m in Ontario, too. Have you looked at the CHATS organization? My aunt used it, though it was many years ago and I can’t remember all the details. It seemed to work well. I will post a link in a comment below.

      1. Worked in IT forever*

        P.S. CHATS is a non profit that provides services for seniors.

        Also, I looked at their website, and they serve only the York and south Simcoe areas, which might not work for you. If it doesn’t, maybe there are similar organizations elsewhere in the province.

    7. the cat's ass*

      In the same position, i did word-of -mouth, but also dropped into the local community college that had a nursing program and asked if there were any student nurses looking for a PT job. My family ended up with a couple of lovely nursing students who took turns spelling the family. So i posted it on the department of nursing bulletin board.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I’d go through an agency. It costs a little more, but you don’t have to deal with taxes and other payroll concerns, and you have backup coverage if your main provider is out sick or has an emergency.

    9. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Is there a college nearby that would have nursing students looking for part time work?

      1. caregiver help, where?*

        Thanks, I’ll look into and whatever the equivalent to CHATS is for her region of Ont. For various (good) reasons, she doesn’t really want a student. Cheers, all.

    10. House of Fuzz*

      Registered Nurse in Ontario here. Have your friend figure out what home and health care area of Ontario they live in. They can do that via the Health Care at Home website (dot ca version).

      Once they know their area (there are 14 in total in Ontario), they can go to find health resources on their area “Healthline” website. E.g. if they live in area 12, North Simcoe Muskoka, they can go to the North Simcoe Muskoka Healthline website and access the section called Home and Community Support Services.

      There’s a whole section about home services including caregivers, friendly visiting, companionship, respite care, etc. These are all legit companies that have their info checked and posted by Home and Community Care Support Services. My area Healthline website is one of my go-to’s for resources in my job!

      Hope this is clear!

  7. Glyph*

    Mostly a lurker who’s commented a few time – Also not really a question, just personal good news I’m still giddy about. After a few months of searching post-degree, I got an offer for what is either my dream job or real close to it. A job I’ll enjoy every day instead of punching a clock, with a 50% salary increase and a very generous relocation expense package. And a lot of it is thanks to all of AoM’s excellent advice on resume writing and job searching – I complied my resume and cover letter by reading Allison’s recommendations on both.

      1. Glyph*

        I’m quite happy about it myself. I knew my pay would increase just from changing fields – from Teapot Manufacturing to Llama Enclosure Design – but the starting pay is still almost 20% above the entry-level wage average.

  8. Mimmy*

    Work environments for those with anxiety and sensory overload

    I’ve been posting for the last few weeks about my job search in postsecondary education. Issues in my current job has me really trying to be careful about the environment of my next job because I experience anxiety and sensory overload on top of mild sensory impairments. In light of this, I am beginning to question my career goals (at least the short-term ones) but it’s a long-held dream that I am not ready to give up. I want to believe that, with the right accommodations and supportive coworkers / supervisors, I could succeed and grow in a professional role.

    Current factors:
    -I think I would thrive in an environment that is collaborative but also gives me space to focus on my tasks or to decompress during a hectic day.

    -I used to think I’d enjoy a large office so that I’d have other specialists in my area to collaborate with, but now I’m not so sure.

    -Some of the anxiety relates to concerns that I follow all procedures correctly and that I come across coherently when working with a student, especially challenging ones.

    -Lastly, I think I just get overwhelmed easily.

    Others with similar disabilities, I’d love to hear what environments and accommodations have helped you. I am working with my therapist of some of this but would love to hear others’ experiences.

    1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      I worked in higher ed remotely for many years. Have you considered looking into a remote role? That way you can still work with students but control your environment.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m not sure I want to be 100% virtual but I am definitely not opposed to it if it’s the right opportunity. In fact, I recently applied to one school that has mostly virtual employees. Also, I’m finding that most schools want you in the office at least most of the time.

        Those who know me might think that I *would* prefer a fully WFH job, but 2+ years of the pandemic confirmed to me that I prefer at least some face time with students and coworkers, so hybrid is probably best as it would give me the mental space I need while still having that in-person time.

        1. Bess*

          For me a real key was the expectations around being interruptible. I worked in one area where I had my own office and it didn’t matter–the expectation is that anyone could come in at any time and ask me to answer ad-hoc questions, hop on the phone with a customer, and similar, when my own work was constantly getting derailed. I’ve worked in shared offices or in open spaces as well and I’d pick open space if it meant people respected my time/I could specify focus times where people would need to come back later, over going back to my own private office where I may as well not even have a door. Especially if the open space meant a real full cubicle with wraparound walls vs. a workstation.

          But this is going to depend on the work culture expectations. I think on the student side of things it’s more difficult to find a job where you’re not expected to be on demand for general help anytime you’re physically present at work, even when it’s not a part of your job description. But maybe that’s just my bad experience talking.

  9. Bread Addict*

    I once edited a friends book, it was in word so looked like work to anyone passing by. Have also read .pdf formats of ebooks ar a past job that had a ton of downtime.

    You could also try doing online training courses, or studying so long as it looks tidy and work appropriate to an outside eye. As you never know who might paas by your cubicle at any time.

    The biggest thing is that your work gets done, anyone else sees what looks like work if they stop in/walk by. Mainly because it makes you look more professional but also if other staff are super busy with things they cant easily (or in some jobs legally) give to you, that might be demoralising to see you there watching tv. But so long as it looks ok and that you drop whatever you are doing when real work comes in. I would say yes. You could always ask your boss as well if they are okay with you doing training or other things during your downtime.

  10. PleaseNo*

    I wanted to cast a wide and ask about reporting harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Does this actually end well for any of the people reporting? In my experience, I have reported it and nothing positive has come out of it. In some cases I just didn’t hear anything. In other cases I received impossible-to-prove retaliation. In all my instances, I had to leave the office or the job to completely resolve it to my satisfaction.

    Unfortunately I’ve heard from other co-workers and friends negative outcomes for their issues as well, like they were moved to a different office or the janitor was never left alone with anyone (instead of being fired) or they were passed over for projects or never invited out again etc.

    So is it still worth reporting to HR/IG/upper management as our annual training says to do? Or does reality not match the training videos?

    1. Wants Green Things*

      I’ve had it work out, but it was also the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Had a shift supervisor as a teen who was a couple few years older and often made inappropriate comments. I know 2 others reported his comments before me, and I know he also had an issue with tardiness when he had opening shift. When I reported him, he’d had his third tardy in 6 months and what was at least 3 behavior complaints, so out the door he went.

      But this was retail, and we were all teens or young 20s, so the managers and corporate didn’t care about turnover as much.

    2. Moo*

      Recently harvard produced a report reflecting on some decades long instances of harrassment. One of the things they noted was that sanction should be public or else people perceive there’s no point in reporting – in the case they’re talking about the person was (somewhat) sanction but discretely so it appeared like nothing was done, so people did not report subsequent incidents – from the management perspective they could at least claim the problem was resolved because there were no more complaints. It’s an interesting report

      I think more cases have come out since (unsurprisingly) but I found the report interesting

    3. Bart*

      I have seen the system work, but it certainly takes longer than it should. If more people brought complaints forward, I suspect individual offenders would have a harder time sticking around. And even if from the outside it appears that nothing happened, that is sometimes incorrect; we just can’t say what we did. I realize that this is just my experience, but I have seen positive changes as a result of complaints coming to HR so don’t give up!

    4. Generic Name*

      I reported a coworker. I actually had to do it twice, because my former boss didn’t forward by report to hr, as she legally was required to do. The coworker who was harassing me now works at another company (I don’t think he was fired, but I don’t really care), and the company now has training for supervisors, as well as company wide training for sexual harassment. I was not retaliated against, and I got a big promotion less than a year after coworker left.

    5. brain breaks*

      I just want to say that I’m so sorry that it sounds like you’ve had at least two – maybe four+? – instances of harassment happen to you at work at as many different jobs! That’s awful. : (

    6. Anon Today*

      I work in a field that’s very hostile to women and my experience has mostly been the same as yours. For me, it’s basically become a question of risk management. I still report harassment, I just go in knowing that it will likely result in at least the subtle retaliation of my bosses no longer trusting my judgment because I’m “oversensitive.” So I pick my battles.

      And I do still speak up, especially when something is egregious. I do feel it helps set the boundary so other more junior women have to deal with less harassment going forward – though it is at the cost of my reputation / career. However, I have a robust emergency savings fund, a skillset that is hard to find in the industry, and am planning on ultimately starting my own business in another industry in the next 5-10 years. So I have the privilege to do that / just don’t care about making it up the ladder.

      I think there are other ways to minimize the risk too, like banding together with coworkers to all report the behavior, providing as much evidence as possible, running it up the chain / looping in an executive you know cares about DEI. The one time I saw things work out relatively well was when the bad behavior was in a meeting witnessed by the whole team and half the team reported it, including management. These things take time and effort though. You have to play the long game and build relationships in your company and in your industry.

    7. Lora*

      In my field, the only time I’ve seen it work out was in the form of a class action lawsuit. There were too many people for senior management to single out people and isolate them, and the end result was that a few offenders were let go but mostly the women were awarded back pay for the damage to their careers/retaliation. Not enough back pay, but a decent chunk. In Novartis’s case women across the board got a decent pay increase because there was an accompanying “this company craps on women in ALL THE WAYS” general discrimination aspect of the case.

      That’s it. That’s 100% of the times I’ve seen reporting it work out in pharma. I’ve had bosses tell me to go ahead and punch a guy who tries anything because the HR structure and policies certainly aren’t going to help me. Very much an old boys club.

    8. Susan*

      Yes. An attorney friend sent a detailed letter to the CEO. My attorney said that he represented a client who did not wish to be named at this time. Company took the letter seriously and within 2 days the VP was on unplanned leave, company’s attorney was in contact with my attorney, and they found an astounding number of emails from the VP to women in the company, and VP was gone within 10 days. It was astounding. My identity was never discovered because the email search found a disturbing amount of women being harassed by him, including outside vendors and business partners. Although I was sorry to learn of the depth and breadth of his disgusting behavior, I admit I felt better that he hadn’t selected me as the weak antelope in the pack. It took me two years to ask my friend to help me. For two years I walked around feeling awful about myself.

      1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

        You are the most bad-ass ‘antelope’ I’ve ever heard of! What you did was heroic (sheroic?). Thank you on behalf of other women who’ve been harassed.

        1. Susan*

          I was SHOCKED how it turned out, esp when around day 4 my attorney asked if I’d be okay if they admonished him and told him to cut it out. I thought about it and said, no, that’s not good enough.

          I also snorted when one day in the kitchen I saw a door open (I had never even noticed there was a door) and inside were servers and other IT stuff. So the investigation was underway! In fact I bought a snickers bar because I couldn’t stop snickering.

          There are a million other examples in my life where I was too upset to report, or reported and was told I must have misheard, can’t I take a joke, he’s harmless, etc. THIS is the story I tell.

          Thanks for your support and kind words! I really like thinking of myself as the baddest antelope.

    9. Observer*

      So is it still worth reporting to HR/IG/upper management as our annual training says to do? Or does reality not match the training videos?

      It really depends on the company. There are places which handle this stuff well. And others…. As you have unfortunately experienced.

    10. RagingADHD*

      A nonprofit I worked with got a report of a volunteer making inappropriate “jokes” and comments toward staff and clients. Some of these were sexual in nature, and some were racially charged. I had also reported a concerning conversation where this person was “joking” with me about a client (outside of the client’s hearing, but still concerning).

      I was called in to speak with senior leadership and questioned about the person’s behavior and whether I could corroborate any of the other reports. I could not, but said I certainly found them highly credible based on my interactions with this person.

      I don’t know exactly what transpired. In my conversation with leadership, it sounded like they were leaning toward requiring the person to complete further training and be under closer supervision for a while.

      After that meeting, I saw the person arrive and head into the leader’s office instead of their normal assignment. They left visibly angry and AFAIK, never returned.

      The staff member who was the main target received a promotion the following year, so there didn’t appear to be any blowback.

      I’d call that a good outcome.

    11. Bumblebeee*

      My workplace had a director who was having an affair with a junior employee. He was also regularly sexually harassing another employee and at one point tried to grab her arm and drag her to a hotel.

      Was incredibly grateful for this information (though obviously horrified for the woman involved) because otherwise we would have continued hiring this creep. Who knows how many other women he would have continued to creep on if not stopped at the time.

      She decided to resign anyway because she wanted to completely move away from the workplace. We offered her support but she said no. That was totally understandable and I hope she found a great opportunity for herself.

    12. Anoneem*

      I’ve mentioned this recently: I told my boss that I ran into someone who has always been a bit creepy, and gave myself credit for avoiding his ‘friendly’ hands (the ‘casual’ hand on a woman’s back or arm). It was only meant as a Haha comment, but it pushed my boss over the edge and she reported it to his boss. In the end he won’t be disciplined for it, which I don’t mind at all, because it was just on the edge of appropriate and now that he knows that everyone knows he will stop.

      I work in tech and it is very male-dominated so often I don’t say anything. I have to admit that a recent trend of having a female boss has been really useful in these situations because she’s often experienced the problem from the same people.

    13. just another bureaucrat*

      I’ve heard that it does sometimes but most of the time it depends on so many factors. I certainly haven’t reported any of the times it’s happened to me and I’m at a place where in theory people would say that they cared and would say they were absolutely opposed to it. But I’ve never really seen it be successful. (Well once but that was a literal physical assault and that was someone who was paid for 2 years worth of leave before they were officially fired.) I’m in a position now where I can’t impact the HR side of it but I do my best to make it clear that in any place where I can have an impact I absolutely will and we had a vendor who was ….not good. And he’s no longer working with us. I struggle to help with the staff stuff other than make sure that people don’t have to deal with them and I take care of that myself. But with vendors I can fix things.

      I think your mileage may vary. I know that other parts of the same org overall have different things happening. If you have a lot of trust in someone’s ability to get things done and they tell you they will help then tell them. Otherwise it sucks but it’s kind of a roll of the dice.

    14. Advenella*

      Yes. I’ve reported twice. The first time, I was young and worked in foodservice. the offender was the boss’s brother and he was just relocated to another store. The second time was in college, and the offender was a security guard. He was investigated and I learned later there were other reports in other areas of the college, but since I reported to the Division Chair, she Made Things Happen and he was terminated. Still grateful for her.

    15. IT Manager*

      My company has asked several high profile people to leave after investigating harassment reports. I can’t say whether it was worth it for the reporter because of course, it’s an effort and a burden. But it was investigated and action was taken, and everything seems to have been kept very confidential … I know one reporter because she told me the story herself but otherwise no rumors.

      I’m sure not every company does this well, but I feel like mine has.

    16. PleaseNo*

      It is heartening to read about some stories that worked out, thank you!
      Yes, I guess I’ve had bad luck in that most of my old offices stunk when it came to harassment — a “we checked the box” thing more than sincerity. The most egregious (and the worst stories from coworkers) was with the government…

      I’ve recently started again at a new job and am kinda waiting for something bad to happen, it’s like anticipation of the worst kind. :/ I will keep in mind the power of the group, though as a woman in IT it’s hard to find ENOUGH women to make our voices louder.

    17. Anonny*

      I accidentally became a reporter when I gave a manger a heads up about something their staff said to me that was inappropriate. I felt it was handled on my end but things went up the chain and were officially reported. I was dreading the process but the investigator was extremely kind and patient with my reluctance. It was handled professionally and appropriately. It turned out this person had been harassing several women through his years in his job and I was the only one to ever speak up about it but it all came to light through the investigation. He quit before he could be terminated.

    18. Bess*

      No. I reported a really gross comment that a universally disliked temp employee said to me. A very straightforwardly inappropriate thing to say to any coworker, and very obviously meant to be demeaning in a sexual way. They made me sit down with him alone and “talk it out” and I don’t even think he had to apologize or acknowledge that he had intentionally been really inappropriate? I think I was also expected to “own up” that I had inappropriately been offended. That was the implication.

      Again, this is someone whose work and personality were both terrible, and who could have been let go at any time due to being temp. I was a very hard worker and his comment was very obviously disgusting and demeaning. But my bringing it up was immediately viewed with suspicion as if I were going to try to bring some kind of suit or something.

  11. I Wore Pants Today*

    Help! I’ve been ghosted by someone who made first contact with me via LinkedIn. Do I wait, or send a message?

    1. PassThePeasPlease*

      Depends on what they’re initial message to you was I think (mentioning a specific job or just a generic connection request) but it probably wouldn’t hurt to reach out if it’s been a few days! Most people appreciate the nudge.

  12. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

    Hello! I’ve been wondering if someone here could give me a short reality check on a situation I encountered.
    I am newly out of university, and shortly ago quit my first job on really bad terms with them (after just a few months, not really great, I know):
    About half a year ago I accepted a job (remote, could set my own schedule, at a government office, work sounded interesting and pay was fine, paid hourly). Looking back there were red flags from the beginning:
    -Interview was literally they read the job description to me and asked if I was fine with that, plus two or three sentences with other obvious things. Took about 5 minutes maximum, got the offer immediately after it.
    -application too was along the lines of “name, where do you live, did something like that before, which languages do you speak, anything else you’d want us to know?”
    -their E-Mails were somewhat unprofessional, examples from later communications (when explaining why the tablets were two months late: “Some of the tablets were not even completely charged – they were as low as 50% when we got them!!!!!”. For context, they said the actual setup takes 5 minutes per tablet, for 30 tablets. Or “Well, at least no one will get in trouble for starting early now” plus an image of some animals saying to enjoy the free time. Or “It’s really not our fault you didn’t get paid yet!! We sent the request to the paying office on time, and can’t do anything. They’re just really swamped with stuff, so I’m not going to waste their time requesting updates I know they don’t have!!!”).

    When the training finally took place (without the tablet, but way later than the start date), there wasn’t much to do as 2/3 of the training should have been how to use the tablets. The “how to work with private data” part was okay, just not enough to fill the time. Not great, but they had free cake and they’d pay people for the entire time. Never got the tablet training but I didn’t have many difficulties with that, the software was really straightforward to use.

    Took the training money until two weeks ago to arrive, they had all kinds of excuses: The money must be sent by someone else and they don’t answer, found a bug in the paying system and now it won’t let me pay you until it’s fixed, sorry I forgot/was in vacation, etc. So far I didn’t get anything for the actual work. They said they’d pay for the training in april, and the work two weeks after I sent them my hours (I could send it whenever I wanted, did so at the end of each week I did any work).

    In the meantime, did half of the job then quit with no direct notice about a month before the work was due (after several E-Mails saying I’d only continue once I’d be paid for at least the training, and them accepting it, and finally me saying I’d quit if I didn’t get any money or at least a good explanation by date a month before everything was due two weeks before that date).

    They were really unhappy with me, plus family is convinced it was the wrong decision (it’s government: they’re slow but they won’t not pay you, now you’ve burnt that bridge, now the others have even more work and you’ve lost any possibility to network etc there… I guess you get the idea). I think it’s unreasonable to ask me to work without getting any money, at least unless someone has a really good explanation. Who is right?
    (Also, if anyone has ideas how I could’ve handled it better, I’d appreciate it.)
    Also, thank you!

    1. Grits McGee*

      Yikes, what level of government was this? Yes, government tends to move slow, but it’s because there’s red tape and bureaucracy, not whatever kinds of shenanigans this place is trying to play. I think you did the right thing, and I bet other people have also had bad experiences with these folks and won’t hold this against you.

      1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

        Thanks for the answer! I’m not in the US, so I’m not entirely sure what would be the US equivalent, but it’s for a relatively local area (I think there’s about 140.000 people living in the area they’re responsible for, one level above the towns and same level as bigger cities).

    2. Jessica*

      Depending on where you are, they might be breaking the law by not paying on time and there might be another government agency you could report them to. (In the US, google your state law and think Department of Labor.)

      1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

        Thank you for your answer! I’m not in the US, and I haven’t really found out if there’s similar laws here, but it’s certainly something I should keep in mind.

    3. GlazedDonut*

      Sometimes government can be very slow. I think when I was new to a state gov’t job, I wasn’t paid until about a month after I started (each paycheck was for the two week period -before- that paycheck date, so if it was a payday on the 30th it was from the 1-15th).
      I do think there’s something to be said about staying in a position where you’ve decided that the management is not for you–with the tablet issue or the pay issue or whatever else. If this was your first job, it can likely be chalked up to ‘I didn’t know what else to do and needed a paycheck.’ I think in the future, being very clear and having a paper trail of specific questions and requests and a notice period would be a better bet than quitting with no notice.

      1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

        Thank you for the insight! I’m aware me giving notice only indirectly wasn’t optimal, especially the “I won’t do anything until you pay me” part was bad.

        1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

          Nah that’s not bad! You need to know what you’ll be paid, when, and how. If that’s all up in the air then you made a good decision.

        2. Observer*

          That part is actually the redeeming factor. NO ONE should ever expect you to work without getting paid!

          And in the US, what happened would have been 100% illegal, no excuses.

          1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

            Thanks! I’ll try to look into whether it’s illegal here, too, but laws are difficult. I’ve learnt what I could do is write a formal complaint to them which would be kind of escalating the issue, but I have my doubts that’d change much…

    4. PassThePeasPlease*

      I see nothing wrong with what you did, they weren’t paying you (that enough is grounds to stop work immediately) and on top of it the training sounds spotty at best and depending on the type of work, negligent at worst. As for burning the bridge, people tend to overinflate how much damage this actually does and after going through this whole process, is a bridge that would’ve been even worth keeping anyway?

      1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

        Thank you for the answer! I have to admit I don’t know how serious the burnt bridge is, but I guess it won’t make working in a similar job easier (as I’d have to disclose the job in the application and I don’t think they’d give me a good reference).
        For now I’m working part-time in another field (teaching, helping students who struggle with classes to catch up… sadly nowhere near something I could do as a career due to lacking certifications) and back at university for a specialisation that will probably take me on a different path than before, so that job should have less impact in the future.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          In the US at least, I would not disclose a 3-month job right out of college until the post-hire list where they want to see everywhere you worked, or on a security clearance list.
          You weren’t getting paid. That’s a 100% understandable reason for leaving that employer!

          1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

            Thank you, I’ll keep that in mind for future applications. I’ve been told you should avoid saying bad things about your previous employer during interviews, but I guess there’s no rule without exceptions.

            1. Dona Florinda*

              Not too long ago Alison mentioned that the no-bad-things-about-previous-employers rule was more about your impressions of the job (i.e. the boss sucks), not so much the concrete things, like your situation.

              I agree with Seeking Second Childhood that you shouldn’t disclose such a short time employment, but if you choose to do so, a reasonable employer will understand that not being paid it’s a good enough reason to quit with no notice. Just keep it professional and you should be fine.

    5. Wintermute*

      If it wasn’t the government I’d say that this sounds like a really shady startup and you probably never would have gotten paid at all.

      But given that context, and that it’s not in the US, I suspect none of us here can give you an answer more accurate than you already know, because we don’t know your culture and the norms there. If everyone around you thinks it was a bad move… they’re probably right, sadly. They know the working culture and expectations in your native country and we can only guess.

      If that’s the norm it’s messed up, but messed up norms are common all over

      1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

        Unfortunately there are a bunch of things about jobs where I know many people around me are wrong (example: girls can’t work in informatics… I can with 100% certainty say that’s wrong). But you’re right that I should keep in mind things might vary depending on region. Thanks for your answer!

        1. Wintermute*

          That is the trouble, it’s often hard to tell, especially with family, when their thinking is just plain wrong: either it’s outdated or maybe it was never that way and they just got a mistaken impression. Do you have any mentorship resources that might help? a trusted teacher or a senior co-worker or former co-worker?

          1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

            I’ll see if I can find someone, though I don’t know many experienced people yet. Thanks for bringing it up, though.

    6. tessa*

      Not getting paid on time, let alone their nonchalance and indifference to whether anyone gets paid on time, while hesitant to push the issue because payroll is swamped, is a screaming, swirling, massive, bloated red flag unto itself.

      1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

        Thank you! I guess I at least know which job (and probably also boss) I should avoid in the future.

  13. Free Meerkats*

    How much time are you co0mfortable taking off work? I’m a week into what is planned to be a 3 week vacation. I might make it home early, because after Wednesday I have no schedule and I’m driving. Even if I make it back home, I’m not sure I’ll go to work.

    I ask because I mentioned that to someone and they were shocked that I’d take 3 weeks away.

    1. the cat's ass*

      The max ive ever taken was 3 weeks (i’m in the US) and it was for a big exchange program my DD and I participated in. Y’all, there was drama. The max in my office (excepting maternity leave) is 2 weeks and even that’s discouraged. That said, if you took the 3 weeks, take the 3 weeks!

    2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I’ve taken 3.5 weeks and felt perfectly fine about it. Caveat I am in Germany and I know other countries have different norms around it – 3 weeks would not raise eyebrows at any company I’ve worked at.
      My standard in summer is 2 weeks. Personally, I think I would feel as if I was ‘wasting’ vacation days if I took more than 2 weeks and didn’t go anywhere, but that’s just a me thing (I took the 3.5 weeks for a long planned and highly anticipated trip to Canada).

    3. londonedit*

      I’ve definitely taken three weeks off before, even when I was pretty junior. In my experience it’s not hugely common for people to take more than two weeks in one go (in a lot of jobs I’ve had, anything over two weeks would need specific approval from a higher-up manager) but it definitely happens. Two weeks off in the summer or at Christmas is really, really common. I probably wouldn’t take three weeks off in my current job because I’m the only person who does what I do, and three weeks would be too long to leave everything without me having my eyes on it. But two weeks is absolutely fine and I routinely take two-week holidays. You just get as much done as possible before you go, and brief a colleague to move things along if needed. And then you do the same for your colleagues if they’re on holiday.

      1. UKDancer*

        My experience is the same. Taking more than 2 weeks is unusual and in most of the companies I’ve worked in you’ve needed to give plenty of notice or get special approval. People tend to keep it for honeymoons or significant holidays. I had a number of Australian / NZ staff in one job and a lot of them wanted to take 4 weeks at once so they could go home properly which was fine as long as we got plenty of advance warning.

        I probably wouldn’t take 3 weeks myself because I like having more smaller breaks so I spread things out a bit more. I tend to take 10 days in the summer and just over a week in January for some winter sun somewhere like Tenerife or Lanzarote. As you say you brief your colleagues and leave notes and then go and have fun.

    4. 653-CXK*

      A week is usually good for me, mainly to recharge my batteries. I make sure to put in my outgoing emails that I’ll be out and have no access to email or phone. (In fact, tomorrow I go back to work – Lord knows what’s in my inbox.)

      When I was at ExJob and had the ability to use as much ET as I liked, I was able to take two weeks at a time. Once I get more PTO from current job, I may try doing that.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Good news – nothing earth-shattering in my outlook box, but I did get a good annual performance review!

    5. Gyne*

      It depends on what you do and what you mean by “comfortable.” I think taking the full time you arranged is absolutely fine and I certainly would not come back early from a planned vacation. I actually try to schedule my own vacations with a day or two at home after I return to rest from travel, do laundry, restock the fridge, etc, so I can show up to work with all the routine life stuff taken care of, otherwise I end up feeling like I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.

    6. Waiting on the bus*

      Two of my coworkers just came back from three week vacations, one coworker is currently on a four week vacation and one coworker was on a five week vacation over the summer.

      All of it was fine in our office. If your request for time off was granted, enjoy it guilt free.

    7. Jessica*

      If you’re American, it might help to remember that you’re modeling saner workplace behavior, and that helps us all, including anyone who might criticize you.

    8. EvilQueenRegina*

      For me the longest was 2 weeks (I’m in the UK; this was also in a traditionally quiet period for my job) – the longest I can ever remember anyone taking at a time is probably my ex boss who took 4 weeks for a honeymoon in Vegas.

      I think it can also depend on the sector – I know my cousin’s husband, who’s in the financial sector, has been told in the past that he does have to take two weeks off at a time – I remember my cousin talking about how generous his new employer was, and my other cousin having to explain that it was for fraud detection purposes.

      I do agree with Gyne re not coming back early from a planned trip but allowing a couple of days or so after the actual trip.

    9. Valancy Snaith*

      My work offers 25 days vacation and a 3-week shutdown over Christmas, mostly not annual days. Most people take 3 weeks leave over the summer and the remainder week or so over March break, or long weekends here and there. 3 weeks is long but common, no one looks twice at it.

    10. The Person from the Resume*

      I’m my experience in the US, a week and a week and another day or 2 is common, 2 weeks is less common but not unusual for wedding/honeymoon or overseas trips especially an immigrant visiting family in the home country, and 3 weeks is unusually long and very rare.

      Not unheard of. My boss before he was my boss took a month on summer to travel by RV across country with family. He used up all his PTO to do it, but it was fine. He inspired someone else to do it too. But it’s extremely unusual. A rare and remarked upon thing. OTOH if you have the PTO and your supervisor approves, no need to rush back. They not jokingly declared email bankruptcy and just deleted all their unread emails and started from scratch once they returned.

      I once took two weeks for a trip to Hawaii. Wanted a long trip and a day to unpacked and recover before returning to work.

    11. No2WeeksAllowed*

      Not employed ATM, butI would take a three week vacation for a special trip if I had the PTO saved up! I’ve tried to take even just two weeks off before, but the longest I’ve ever gotten approval for is ten days at any of my jobs, where I went overseas for a tour of Italy.

      Instead, my partner and I typically took three or four-day weekends to go to nearby cities we always wanted to see. His work policy doesn’t allow him take more than two weeks either.

    12. starfox*

      Just this year, I’ve taken off 3 weeks, although not at the same time. I did 2 weeks for one trip, and 1 week for another. I only have 10 days of sick/vacation days, so some of it ended up being unpaid, but I do not feel guilty for taking time off at all! My boss even encourages it because he loves travel and loves to hear about my trips.

    13. Pam Adams*

      I’m currently off for 3-4 weeks, but it’s medical. I’ll want to buy my co-workers lunch when I return, but we are a close-knit team.

    14. I'm just here for the cats*

      followup question. what do you do with 3 weeks vacation? unless I’m going somewhere I can’t imagine what to do. I would be so bored. heck for a few years I had the summer off ( in paid) and I was so glad to be back to work.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        I took 4 days to drive from Seattleish to Chicago including a day with an old friend, got here last Tuesday. Then a week at World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. Tomorrow I’ll have lunch with another old friend in Indiana, then to St Louis area for the night and dinner with another friend. Wednesday, I’ll make the short drive to central MO and spend the day and night with family. After that, the schedule is wide open; but if I push, I could be home in 2 1/2 days, it’s only 2000 miles. I’m not going to push, though.

      2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        That’s partly what I meant with if it’s more than 2 weeks it’s gotta be for a trip somehow. Just sitting at home for weeks is not for me.
        I’m single though and live alone – most of my coworkers with kids take off 3 weeks during the summer (covers half our school holidays here) and don’t go anywhere, they just spend that time with their families. My dad used to do that too when I was a kid – he always had 3 weeks off in summer. We didn’t have the money for big holidays but we’d go on day trips or weekend trips.

      3. Rebeck*

        Enjoy not working. Sleep in. Get stuff done around the house. Catch up on TV. Between the Christmas shutdown and the fact that we had to keep leave balances at less than six weeks I took a full month off in December-Jan 2020-21. We did a couple of weekends away but we were still dealing with border closures for Covid so couldn’t go far, but I just enjoyed having time to myself. It was lovely.

      4. Former manager*

        When our kids were young enough to need child care, my husband and I each took 4 weeks in the summer to look after them. One of us took July and one took August ( more or less, depending on the dates). We sometimes took one week together if the kids could also be enrolled in a camp or something for a week or two and then we could take a family vacation somewhere.

        We were very lucky with our jobs’ pto policies, as we also had additional days off that allowed us to cover off professional development days for teachers and Christmas and Easter breaks.

        We live in Canada.

    15. ThatGirl*

      I only get 3 weeks of PTO (plus holidays) so a week or so at a time seems about right to me. I’ve extended that by a day or two at times, but probably wouldn’t take more than 7 consecutive work days off (not counting weekends).

    16. IT Manager*

      I take 3 weeks off every few years – I find in my job, 2 weeks just means “she can do it after she gets back” whereas 3 weeks means “we need to find her backup to get this done”.

      I used to go overseas somewhere – not allowed to take my laptop/cellphone/email! This year I’m still not ready to travel (Covid is still around and I’m the only one I know who hasn’t had it yet) but it’s been a few years now since I had a vacation so I might try “camping with bad cell coverage” this year.

      This is really normal at my company, I just had a peer who took a 3 week break to go meditate and fast in the desert at some retreat – the flip side is we’re all basically on-call all the time other than those 3 weeks …

    17. AcademiaNut*

      I recently came back from four weeks, and it was no problem.

      My employer has a number of international employees, so longer stretches to visit family abroad is quite normal. Given the cost and hassle of international travel, taking at least two weeks for a family visit is pretty normal – four is the longest I’ve taken, but we were combining multiple countries to minimize the number of times we have to quarantine when arriving back in the country.

      I do check with my supervisor when planning a trip, to see if there are any major work things during that time, as we do have irregularly spaced crunch periods and some required international travel for work. My work is project based, not task based, so I document where I am in the project, but coverage for my work is not really possible when I’m away. I also leave my supervisor with an emergency way to contact me, for things like “you’re flying to Europe a week after arriving back” or “this important paperwork needs to be done this week”.

    18. Storm in a teacup*

      I’ve taken 2-3 weeks off (3.5 is my longest) quite a few times over the years to go on long-haul holidays to Asia or Africa. Haven’t been on a holiday for this long since January 2020 and I’m really feeling the need for a long break.
      My current company closes down over Christmas period and a lot of people will take the week before or the week after off and no one bats an eyelid.

    19. Chirpy*

      Longest vacations I’ve taken off work were 2.5-3 weeks, which involved negotiating unpaid vacation time / a mini leave of absence, which was just super awkward as it involved managers not talking to each other or corporate about it. Honestly, I’d be perfectly happy taking a lot more time if I could afford it (or if my job had any decent amount of vacation time). My dad had 6 weeks vacation a year by the time he was getting close to retirement, and just randomly took long weekends to use it up as nobody else in the family had anywhere near as much time to go somewhere.

      Every European I know gets at least a month off every year, and I’m extremely jealous.

    20. Midwest is Best*

      At my last job in higher ed, I would take 3-4 weeks at a time in the summer – I had a ton of PTO and flex time saved up from working crazy hours during the semester. So I’d work for a week, take a few off, work for a week, take a few off. Or sometimes I’d work 1-2 days per week and take the rest of the week off for 8 or 9 weeks. I could work remotely so it didn’t matter where I was. I sadly gave that up for a new job this year (which I’m otherwise very happy with). I am struggling with shifting my mentality from NO TIME OFF DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR EVERRR to being ok with taking time off throughout the year. Definitely better for me in terms of avoiding burn out, but it is a mindset shift for sure.

  14. Maggie*

    I need help or advice on how to navigate my new boss. I’ve been with the company 2.5 years, last year we had a merger and most of the people in my legacy organization left between them and now. The CMO is…questionable and doesn’t understand the business. My new boss started 3.5 months ago. I feel like he’s getting really controlling but also doesn’t understand the business. I work in digital marketing in-house and we have 5 total brands we manage under our company. I manage Brands A and B.

    Some examples – (I can’t think of a teapot or llama equivalent. “Budget” is what the paid media activities cost and a “conversion” is if someone has bought our product)

    Our team has a budget document that gets updated daily and finance uses those numbers for the total budget. It’s eventually going to be automated but for now it’s manual. Yesterday he straight up told me he doesn’t even look at that document. I’m just like, what?? We have very strict budget goals so it’s a very important document because it shows the daily numbers. It’s also concerning because he’s getting more in the weeds on the brands I manage and I’m not even sure if he’s looking at the correct numbers because:

    Each brand has different conversions and looking at the wrong conversions skews the data and aren’t the correct numbers sent to finance. His first week I walked him through the correct conversions he should be using. However there have been multiple ongoing situations where he’s looking at the wrong conversions and I have to correct him. In one situation even after I corrected him and told him how finance uses those specific conversions, he blew it off and said how those conversions he was looking at were good to take into account. And then lo and behold, he reached out to finance and I was right. His response was “good call on looking at those conversions”. Another time he said the Teapot X and Teapot Y campaigns were too high spending and named what the cost per conversion was (a common metric) was, then I looked myself and had to tell him, “no those numbers aren’t correct, Z conversions are the ones we need to use”

    This week a brand Director (Adam) chatted me privately asking for a list of something for one of the campaigns, which is a very normal thing he would reach out to me for. I emailed him and cc’d my boss with the list, “hey Adam, attached is the list for the Teapot X campaign”. My boss immediately replied: “what is this for?”, then he replied to Adam, “please make sure I’m in the loop on all things Brand A. P.S. Maggie, thanks for looping me in”. Jeez lol. It left a bad taste in my mouth

    We use a tech platform to manage the campaigns, I told him that sometimes it can take at least a week to see the effects of something being implemented, to which he said, “well in Brand C, the change is impactful after only a few days”. Last month he made so many changes to the campaigns I’m worried we’re going to see a negative impact this month.

    He’s telling me what changes to make. Everyday I get an email from him telling me something to update on the tech platform. He’s making these decisions super fast, not taking into account any past performance or why things were set up the way they were, or even what I recommend. I’m supposed to be the one managing them! In the past we always took a methodical approach to testing and he’s just rushing through it and making so many changes. I’m not sure how he’s measuring the success of everything he’s doing. Last month I asked him how a current ad copy test he was running in another brand was going and if he had any learnings from that. He replied he didn’t yet. So he wasn’t monitoring that test, but is in a rush to implement the same things in the other brands? Again, usually not the norm with digital marketing testing.- He frequently confuses the brands. I manage Brands A and B, so I’ll be talking about something for Brand B, but in his response he’ll answer if I was talking about Brand A, so I have to redirect back to the brand I was referring to

    He was telling me how for one of the smaller brands who my coworker, Celeste, manages, it’s meeting one of the cost metric goals, but it’s behind on conversion and spend goals. He said how he should have pushed more on spend and conversions. And I’m thinking, “huh? That’s Celeste’s job!”. But he’s doing the same with my brands so I’m not sure he knows her and I have ownership for our brands and what we should be managing

    To make it more confusing, Celeste also manages a small campaign in one of my brands. Our boss has been told this but has reached out to me several times regarding that piece; everytime I have to say, “Celeste manages that”. Recently this happened again, and in an email chain with our boss and Celeste, I told our him how this new structure (ie. Celeste managing a small campaign in my brand) was too confusing and I thought we should go back to every brand managed only by 1 person (it changed about a month before he was hired) instead of overlap. Celeste agreed with me saying how it was less confusing day-to-day if we know what exactly we are responsible for, but he ignored us and said how he wants an overlapping approach

    He’s getting super into the weeds on the campaigns. This is very technical so I’ll do my best: each campaign is shown by search phrases in the search engine. It’s my job to monitor these queries and exclude or add in these search phrases. But he’s been going in, daily, into all the campaigns and doing this. He’s at the director level, it seems way too into the weeds for him to go into, and too frequently. He hasn’t asked me what I’ve done (or a best practice as a team) in the past, he’s just assuming he knows best. 3 months in!

    Obviously, I think there is something else going on here. I wonder what exactly was told to him when he was interviewing or when he got hired. But how should I act? Should I stop correcting him, step back and let him do what he wants without questioning it? I’m not sure how to keep my head down and do my job when he’s so involved in everything

    1. Moo*

      It might be just how he does things, or he might be in over his head and not used to the higher level position. Have you had a sit down conversation about whose job is what? that might help but he also might not change.

      Sounds so frustrating.

      1. Maggie*

        It is how he might do things, but he’s now managing 3 of us who have been at the company awhile. Our jobs didn’t change when he came on board. We also have processes in place that he isn’t following. The whole thing is just odd.

        When I’ve given him historical context on things or explained the processes, he blows it off, doesn’t ask for elaboration and just (a bit condescendingly) explains why his way is right (which it usually isn’t). Another teammates asked him about our performance goals which were put in place before he started, he said he would look into that with us, but hasn’t yet. I don’t see if going well if I try to talk to him about it. I want to try and keep my head down and look for a new job.

    2. The Real Fran Fine*

      This sounds frustrating as hell, and he sounds like a menace who just won’t quit. At this point, I would just document everything he’s doing, document your suggestions and how he’s blowing them off, and then fall all the way back and let him run these campaigns into the ground. When he has to start answering to the brand directors, as well as his own boss(es), about why things are now suddenly falling off a cliff when they were fine before, then maybe he’ll get the clue to back off and listen to the people actually managing these brands before he goes off and just does stuff without context. (And this is where your documentation will come in handy if your brand directors start pushing back on you and trying to nail you as the culprit.)

      Like you, though, I’m wondering how his position was explained to him in his interview. I’m also curious about his own background because it sounds to me like this guy has zero idea what the hell he’s doing, which is concerning (the conversion screw up should not still be happening at his level). Did he fail up into this role? Did he work somewhere for years where he was rewarded for just being the “idea guy” with no consideration for whether or not his ideas were actually good and got positive results? He sounds fundamentally unsuited to this job, so if your company functions well, I hope his constant mistakes will ultimately end with his separation from the business so he can be replaced with competent management.

      1. Maggie*

        How he got the role is a long story. About a year ago, the CMO got rid of the VP who oversaw my team and a few other teams. This VP had been with the company over 20 years, was beloved and knew what she was doing. The guy that replaced her didn’t know our product/business, made a several bad business decisions and didn’t listen to my boss at the time on anything, who was the director of marketing (all types) and had been with the company over 6 years. He really knew the brands and was great at recognizing trends. The new VP decided our team needed (we didn’t) a director focused only on the type of marketing I, along with Celeste and another person, do because it’s the largest chunk. My old director quit, and this new guy came on. Then the VP ended up quitting after 6 months!

        What’s also concerning, is that ALL the marketing budgets are being cut the rest of the year, which is not a good sign. He’s messing up the campaigns, but the CMO is so ignorant I don’t think she’ll put two and two together because we’re pulling back so much.

        Yes I’m job hunting lol.

        My new boss’s LinkedIn profile looks fine. His accomplishments and past positions look on par with what is needed for the role, on paper. But who knows what he was really like with those role. He also has 22 recommendations on LinkedIn. I’m not connected to him so I can only see 2, but those two are pretty empty recommendations that don’t really say anything. I’m thinking he’s someone who is good at selling himself.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          I’m thinking he’s someone who is good at selling himself.

          This was my read on him as well, but didn’t want to just jump to that conclusion if you had hard facts that could prove he’s actually accomplished the things he claims he has (and I’m skeptical of his LinkedIn claims), lol. Glad to hear you’re job searching because this sounds like a mess and your CMO really should be paying closer attention to what’s going on here, at least for the first six months of a new hire in this role to ensure there’s alignment with company goals and department KPIs.

        2. WestSideStory*

          Yes, start looking harder. There are too many musical chairs going on with your leadership and that’s always a bad sign.

          You yourself seem to have a good grasp of proper KPIs – it’s a marketable skill not matter what is the product or service.

  15. J.B.*

    Has anyone gone through an ADA process at work? My current diagnosis is anxiety with general neurodiversity thrown in, plus managing my kids brain needs and therapies. I am going through additional evaluations now. I’m really seeking a clear job description, 3 8 hour days + 2 4 hour days + no overtime (80 percent of my current pay is fine.)

    My hope is that I will get something close. I’d appreciate any feedback about how the process works and what criteria there are around using intermittent FMLA while going through evaluations.

    1. Wintermute*

      I have, in general it’s supposed to be a mutual negotiation, you say what you want, they either accept that or state why this part or that would be an undue burden or wouldn’t allow you to meet job requirements and make a counter-proposal until you hash out a solution that works for you.

      How that actually plays out in practice tends to vary wildly from employer to employer. You might be talking with HR who then tell your boss what they have to do, your boss might be the one you’re meeting with, or you might meet with both with your boss offering input and HR making sure the process follows the law and formalizing a plan.

      as to whether you’ll get what you’re asking for, it really depends on whether the reduced hours can meet the core job requirements. my prediction is the only part that might be genuinely hard is a clear and accurate job description. They might GIVE you one (it would be really hard for a company to claim telling you what your job actually is would be a burden on them!) but it may or may not bear any relation to reality and that may well be because no one really knows. the ADA process cannot magic institutional knowledge into existence.

      as to the FMLA part I haven’t had to use it myself so I can’t really offer any insight.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      I recently submitted an accommodations request. Despite the steps laid out by my employer (submit request, analyze job functions, collaborative negotiation) and stated policy to generally approve the employee’s preferred accommodation as long as it was supported by medical documentation and not more costly or burdensome than other options, the team reviewing my request required every justification to be included in a letter from my doctor, including why alternative accommodations would not be acceptable. There was no actual discussion with me about my job functions, whether what I was requesting would impact my work, what I preferred among the options they suggested, etc. (They suggested options that didn’t go as far as what my doctor initially recommended so, knowing the policy, I stated my preference was to do what my doctor recommended. Instead, they had me seek further documentation from my doctor that eliminated the lesser options they had proposed.)

      As an example applied to your situation, my employer required my doctor’s note to specify which days of the week would be the 4-hour days, why it had to be those days of the week that were shorter, why I needed a clearer job description, and why I couldn’t work overtime—all linked to the medical condition at hand.

    3. GoodLuck!*

      I’m on the other side of this, in administration in a big organization. unfortunately i get many complaints about the opacity of our equal employment opportunity office’s decision process in handling reasonable accommodation requests. Hopefully your workplace is better than this, but in case not, you definitely want to start with as much clear documentation as possible — like a really good doctor’s note spelling out exactly why the requested accommodation is necessary for your condition. Having a supervisor on your side to advocate and explain why this isn’t a hardship for the team is also helpful if that’s an option for you (at my org, the EEO office is often more conservative than the program). Wishing you the best of luck!

  16. Varthema*

    I need help! I’m an English language teacher and I want to give advice to my learners on how to gracefully dodge inappropriate and possibly discriminatory (though not illegal, thanks Alison!) questions in an interview. Alison gave some great examples on answering questions about family status, but I’m stuck on a couple (and would love feedback on a few that I’ve already written):

    Are you planning to get pregnant?
    Well, I am looking forward to a long-term commitment for the right role where I can contribute my skills and expertise.

    Do you have kids?
    I feel confident that I can take on all the requirements listed in the job description and meet deadlines in a timely fashion.

    When did you graduate from college?
    College was a great learning experience, but I feel that I really learned the most in my role as…

    Are you religious?
    ?? tough one, but maybe, “Oh, I don’t like to mix religion and work” [“…but I am able to work on Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays”, if scheduling seems to be what they’re getting at]

    Were you born in the United States?
    ??????? I really can’t think of a good dodge for this question that’s not a little aggressive in return. Of course, the person can choose to answer honestly, but the tricky part is wording a response that DOESN’T answer the question but also doesn’t get confrontational. Maybe, “I’m legally able to work here and will be happy to provide you with the documentation”? It answers the question, of course, but it also probably gets at the real reason.

    Would also love any other ideas!

    1. Jessica*

      I think your suggested response to the birthplace question is perfect.
      What you’re doing here is generally terrific, but your students should also plan what their next level of response will be if this doesn’t work. Hopefully these responses will address the interviewer’s underlying concern while probably also making them realize their question was inappropriate, but what if someone really doubles down? “That’s good to know, but what I asked is whether you have children, so do you?” At that point will you tell the truth, lie, do another evasion…?

      1. irene adler*

        Yes- the candidate needs to have multiple responses as the question will be repeated-maybe even rephrased as well.

        Another ‘re-direct’ strategy is to keep referring to the job description.

        “Can you show me where in the job description where there is a religion requirement, please?”

        “I think I missed where in the job description the role the college graduation year plays in performing this job. Can you show me please?

        “Is there a job requirement that one is born in the USA? I didn’t see that in the job description. Perhaps you might enlighten me as to your concerns. “

        1. Wintermute*

          I am fairly sure such a confrontational approach would get you rejected out of hand, just because all of those proposed responses come off as extremely adversarial and directly challenging. Sure, some interviewers may be cowed out of asking dodgy questions but more of them would just be ticked off.

          1. irene adler*

            What is adversarial about asking how each of their inquiries relates to the job one is interviewing for? Wow!

            1. felix*

              Sure in theory. In the actual society we live in it’s going to read aggressive. It’s the “Can you show me where” part. Just because you’re right in theory doesn’t mean the way you communicate doesn’t come across a certain way.

            2. Wintermute*

              First of all, it’s going to come off oddly, aggressively and uncooperative if you seem to be insisting that you will only answer questions that you unilaterally deem directly relevant to the job description– tons of companies ask all kinds of general culture fit and work life questions that aren’t directly relevant to the job description.

              Secondly, the wording of the proposed replies is so passive-aggressive it’s bordering on just plain aggressive. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase “enlighten me” used in a genuine non-sarcastic context. Even the others just come across very passive-aggressive because it’s pretty obvious what you’re trying to do. You’re asking them to show you where it is not because you want to know but because it’s not there and you’re trying to force them to admit that.

              So they admit that, now what? you’re not going to force them to have some kind of epiphany, they’re going to stammer a little, either feel angry or embarrassed depending on their personality, mark it down as “refused to answer” and move on.

      2. marvin*

        I think a good default response if they don’t accept the redirect is to pleasantly ask why they’re asking the question. It basically sends the message that the question isn’t appropriate without sounding confrontational. (In some cases it might be reasonable to be more confrontational but not everyone is up for that.)

    2. GlazedDonut*

      Honestly, with any of these, “Oh, is that a requirement/necessary information for this position?” possibly followed by “I didn’t see that mentioned with the job description.”
      I don’t see the need to try to entertain these questions in an interview. It should be a signal to the applicant that perhaps the org is not the best if they’re asking obviously irrelevant or potentially illegal questions.

      1. Varthema*

        So true, but newcomers to the US often won’t feel comfortable doing this, unfortunately, and might be more likely to get punished for it. :-\ And yes, agree that it’s probably not going to be a positive workplace. Though again, not all have the luxury of choice.

    3. the cat's ass*

      I really like your advice! In CA (at least) these are illegal questions. I was actually asked the “do you have kids” question by someone who should have known better, and i did say to her, “you know that it’s illegal to ask me that, right?” and she grudgingly dropped it.
      I guess it begs the question to wonder if folks actually want to work for an org that does this hinky stuff, tho.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I was asked once at an interview “Are you married? Have you got any kids?” and I didn’t think they were supposed to ask that (I’m in the UK), but I wasn’t certain enough of my facts at the time to challenge it, so in the moment I just answered it – they made a big point of writing “single” on my CV.

        (I did try to find out afterwards, but got so many different answers that 16 years on I’m still not entirely the wiser about whether they could ask it, although my then-recruiter was definitely wrong to say that yes it was a legal requirement, they had to ask and the next question would have been how would I handle childcare for sick kids. I’ve certainly never been asked that by anyone else at interview. I did come to see it as a blessing in disguise not getting that job because I did eventually get taken on permanently by the team I was temping with at the time.)

      2. the cat's ass*

        (though it was especially sweet, when 2 years in, I invoked FMLA and took 3 months maternity leave) and Hellbeast boss could do nothing except grind her teeth in chagrin!

    4. Bumblebeee*

      All your responses are great and I love that you’re teaching this. However I think the responses would make you seem like you’re deliberately dodging the question and raise a red flag for the interviewer. Of course that is unfair and ridiculous but that is the unfortunate reality in some cases.

      Since these questions are illegal I would just suggest lying lol. “Are you planning to get pregnant?” “No, I don’t want any [more] children.” Then if you fall pregnant later, what are they going to do – make you un-conceive the baby?

      1. Zephy*

        I mean, you’re being facetious, but a place that would ask that question so directly would probably not be above finding some pretext for firing a pregnant employee.

    5. Maggie*

      Are those common questions? I’ve been working 20 plus years and have never been asked a single one of those ever in an interview

      1. Varthema*

        I hope not! But a lot of these learners are coming from cultures where it’s A-OK to ask any of these questions (I’ve gotten a lot of pushback from my business English students from all kinds of countries, from Switzerland to Brazil to Korea, when I told them that you’re not supposed to ask if someone’s planning to get pregnant during an interview), so it’s important for them to know that these questions are not OK in the US. (for once, something we’re kinda doing right when it comes to workers’ rights!)

        Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts!

    6. Gnome*

      WOW! Do people really ask these?

      Ok, any question asked in a social-type way can get the reply, “why do you ask?” With genuine curiosity.

      For instance, asking about being born in the US could be something as simple as you remind me of my Aunt who still lives in Narnia, or it could be that the interviewer is an idiot and the position requires citizenship (a legit thing to ask in that case only). But if they are just trying to discriminate or bad at understanding how this works, they can then say “I’m able to work legally” or something like that.

      Asking about when they graduated is maybe a bit more relevant. In certain areas in CAN be highly relevant, but not always. Unless they were is a reason to dodge that one, I’d just answer… At least in the case where people are already dodging other questions. But that’s just me.

      Religion (and I’m a religious minority) can get the same thing. When they reply with anything other than “oh, I noticed your necklace resembles my mother’s rosary and made me nostalgic” then you can say the “oh, I don’t like to discuss religion at work.”

      The point is, if you say “why do you ask?” You put the onus on them to explain it’s relevance. If it’s scheduling, then they can say when they are available, for example.

      Another case is to answer for them, “oh, are you worried about scheduling? What days are you concerned about?” “Oh, are you worried I want to get paid under the table?! No, I’m legal,”

    7. GoodLuck!*

      Alison has good suggested language for these types of situations, key is a friendly tone and making it you’re on the same side; paraphrasing from here “There’s actually a law that doesn’t let us talk about things like that , but I’d be glad to talk more with you about why I think I’m a good fit for the role and answer any further questions you have about my experience!”

    8. Chirpy*

      “Why do you ask?” is probably a good response for any of these. That way, they have to explain, which may give better context as to whether or not this is inappropriate, or just badly worded.

      For example, my job (after I was hired) straight up asked whether or not I was single, when a more useful and less-potentially-questionable phrasing could have been “will you be adding anyone else to your insurance”. (because not everyone adds their spouse or kids to their policy, and therefore one’s relationship/family status isn’t in question.)

  17. Lookin' for some QAs*

    Any software QAs out there who’ve used LinkedIn Learning and found it useful? My employer just got us all subscriptions. I’m looking for recs on courses on there that you found useful.

    1. rr*

      When I had a free subscription, I took a couple of courses. I personally found them almost entirely unhelpful, except as something to put on my resume. But I am somebody who has to actually work in computer programs before I can really use them, so it probably depends on what type of learner you are.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      I can’t really speak to QA stuff in particular, but I’ve mostly found it useful for, I guess you could call it cross training – getting a peek into the fundamentals of roles I interact with (project management, devops, …) or a better understanding of the business of the customers who use our software.

  18. FrostedDonut*

    I got a promotion a few months ago to run a brand new program in my org. The program has expanded so quickly that in the next week I will have my first direct report, and a few weeks later, my direct report will have her own direct reports. The team will only keep expanding both in terms of my supervisory duties and those below them.
    I never intended to be a supervisor with my job–I just wanted to do good work I’m proud of. Throughout my career I’ve had some trainings re: management but am now feeling a little/lot nervous. Any tips for a first-time manager, other than “help your people succeed”? Anything you wish you had known? I’ve read a lot of AAM but would love to hear from others.

    1. Jessica*

      You’ll probably recall some AAM letters where somebody else at work complained about one of the LW’s direct reports, and the LW got caught up in how to make their employee change their behavior, and how to placate the complainer, and all this, without ever stopping to ask themselves : is this complaint reasonable? And it wasn’t.
      So my advice is, don’t let anyone else frame how you see a situation like that. Think about it yourself or get advice from someone you trust, but everything isn’t a problem because one person says so.
      Be prepared to stand up for your employees if they’re oppressed in any way by your boss or anyone else in your workplace.
      When something goes wrong, always lead by asking the person what’s happening, rather than by chewing them out about it. You might find out there’s more to the situation than you realize.

      1. Elle*

        This is amazing advise and something I wish someone had told me. It’s easy to get caught up in drama and want to please everyone. You can’t and you’re not their friend. Be as objective as possible and ask for support from your supervisor as often as you need it.

    2. irene adler*

      Know the policies regarding what is done for disciplining employees. And the policies for rewarding employees. Get clear with your immediate boss as to whether boss will have your back should you need to discipline someone or should you want to reward someone. Even if the policy says you can take a specific action (say place someone on a PIP), if your boss will not support this, then there’s little point trying. You’ll be overridden.

      And always investigate all sides of any issues/complaints yourself. Don’t just take someone’s word about something. And -very important!- as Jessica pointed out, ask yourself if the issue/complaint is really something that needs action. If so, make that action reasonable and impartial.

    3. MJ*

      Don’t feel you always have to reply / react instantly to a situation.

      If a problem is brought to you it is fine to admit that you haven’t been in or handled a situation like this before and need to either think about it or get advice. But then you DO need to take action or let them know that you won’t be – don’t just leave things hanging.

      I have a lot more respect for supervisors who took time to think through the right response rather than just flailed around for an immediate one (especially when it didn’t help the situation).

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        This, so much. Don’t be a rapid responder – that usually makes situations that much worse or complicated than they need to be. Seek out additional information, context, whatever FIRST and then act. This is something my own manager doesn’t seem to get, even after managing teams for nearly a decade or so, and it’s super irritating to always have to go behind her correcting her in front of other people because she wants to look like she’s on top of things when she’s mostly not (and to be fair, it’s stuff she shouldn’t need to be on top of because then there would be no reason for my or my teammates’ roles).

    4. TROI*

      Get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. Practice being straightforward and matter of fact. It’s not weird if you don’t make it wierd. Also know that you will be delivering news that you don’t agree with sometimes or feedback that you don’t think is necessary.

      Sometimes people are going to think you are the best boss they ever had, sometimes they will think you are the worst. That just means you are doing your job.

    5. Worker bee*

      I’m eager to read the responses, as I may be in a similar situation in the not to distant future.

      That said, I’ve been an unofficial manager for awhile and the biggest thing that has helped me is to find some mentors at my company. I’ve found it so helpful in my “unofficial manager” years to have someone I can talk to when there’s an issue that I’m not sure how to handle.

      Neither tell me what to do, but rather help me parse out the issue and maybe tell me what they would do. I’ve found it so helpful to be able to get my feelings out and ask questions about how best to approach situations in a diplomatic way, as well as to get feedback about when it might be appropriate to bring in someone higher up or at least make them aware of something.

      What I’ve learned from them, from both talking to them and watching how they manage, is that people want to be heard. Listen to what they have to say, ask questions if needed, and then come up with a response or strategy. And unless it’s an emergency situation, you don’t have to respond the minute something is brought to your attention. And as much as people like to think, almost NOTHING is an emergency.

      And honestly, training new staff about what is or isn’t an emergency is pretty important. (I work in a retail industry that does a lot of “prepayment for services”.) When I started at my company, I felt that anything “new to me” or something I messed up was an emergency. And to me, it was. To them, it wasn’t, but I had no idea and a couple of people mocked me for it. I felt like an idiot when I found out it wasn’t a big deal. Try to make sure you staff doesn’t feel like that.

  19. rr*

    If a point on your resume is no longer true, primarily because you’ve taken over other job duties, what should you do about that? I don’t want to substitute in the other job duties because they are at a lower level.

    1. J.B.*

      I have had jobs that changed over the years and have pulled the most key accomplishments from a mixed bag. Can you rephrase something about taking over the other responsibilities as how it met business needs?

    2. Lookin' for some QAs*

      If you list accomplishments instead of responsibilities, its contents won’t no longer be true. You’ll still have accomplished whatever you accomplished, even if you’re not still doing the task that led to said accomplishment. That’s a good approach to a resume in general, and has the added bonus of avoiding what you’re describing.

  20. Future Pro Nerd*

    Eek! I ‘ve only ever worked blue-collar jobs (retail and service industries) and I have my first ever office job interview coming up, in a totally different field I’m trying to switch to. I’m also old enough that people would assume I know this kind of stuff, but I don’t. Any advice for me? (Fwiw, it’s IT/IT-adjacent and I’m in Scandinavia.)

    1. Moo*

      Look at the job spec and think about what questions you would ask if you were on the other side of the table. Prepare some answers to core questions using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). That’ll help to keep you on track and not ramble. if you’re feeling brave ask someone you know with experience to do a mock interview.

      Oh and super important – practice some answers out loud… you can prepare an answer in your head and stumble over them the first time you speak them – its better for that to happen before the interview!!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just my experience but blue collar work seems to focus on the practical- handling work in a practical and efficient manner, setting things up in a practical/user friendly way, communicating in a manner that is succinct yet understood by most people.

      Think along practical lines. If you do, you will appear to be (and you will actually be) thinking about what they are saying and you will be able to logically deduce what comes next more often than not.

      Use your work persona, the persona that just gets along with everyone and goes with the flow.

      I think most people have interview questions that they actually fear. I know I do. Write out a few of those questions and practice your answers. Get used to the sound of your own voice handling these questions.

      Spend time looking at the company online. This will give you ideas how they dress along with many other useful tidbits.

  21. Aqua409*

    Any great tips for applying for federal positions? I didn’t realize that you had to do a completely different resume (thanks to my cousin who told my mom this) and a opportunity was brought to my attention from a friend. I took a buyout severance package from my work on Friday and it came up chatting with her. I’m coming from the private sector.

    1. GlazedDonut*

      I’ve found the ‘usajobs’ thread on Reddit to be extremely helpful. Like you, I had no clue the resume or hiring process was quite so different. A search on the Reddit sub may answer a lot of questions you have (or don’t even know you have), especially re: certain agencies. The general idea I’ve gleaned is that it’s really tough for most people to break into fed work, so apply away but don’t make one job THE job.

    2. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I’m pretty sure you have to use “USAJOBS.Gov” to apply for any federal position. Create an account and search for the opening listing. There should be specific instructions on how to apply for that job.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I applied for several different federal jobs, before getting my current federal job. What I ended up doing, that seemed to be effective, was I created a special resume just for federal jobs. Then I parroted back as much of the job description as I could, in both my customized resume and in the actual job application. (I actually cut-and-pasted whole paragraphs from my resume into the application.)

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Answer all the questions. Use exactly the words they do – if it says must be experienced in llama grooming, say “I am experienced in llama grooming as demonstrated by…” The first review of applications will be done by personnel experts, or if there are tons of applications it might be by computer. So tell them exactly what they want. And please upload your resume even if it is just the same info. HR needs the form, hiring manager wants the resume. Be sure to include everything they ask for. (Many postings will ask for a college degree or x years of experience. So provide college transcripts or evidence of the years of experience.) Good luck!

    5. Peonies*

      Read the posting carefully and make sure you submit all the required paperwork. Yes, if the position requires a bachelor’s degree, they really will reject you for not submitting your 20 year old college transcripts even when you did submit your three year old masters transcripts. Your application won’t get past the screeners.

      Set up a USAJobs email alert if you might be interested in other positions.

      The feds are really slow so just because you haven’t heard anything for four weeks, don’t assume that means anything at all.

      Pretty much the only negotiating room they have is what GS level(I’m assuming you would be on the GS scale, there are some other pay scales but they are less common) you are brought in at so be sure to submit any and all documentation you have for why you qualify for the highest GS level the position is advertised for.

    6. Newbie Fed*

      Echoing the comments here. There is some federal resume help on the usajobs site, including a resume builder feature (it’s hit or miss, like any app that tries to reformat your uploaded resume). For a federal resume, you might be better off writing up paragraphs rather than bullet points so that you can cut/paste as responses to the KPI/question part of the application. As part of your responses, absolutely parrot back exact phrases from the questions or from the job description. Repetition is not only fine, it’s necessary. They’re screening for the specific words used, not the quality of your writing.

      It will likely take you a lot longer to complete the application than for a typical private sector job so don’t wait til the deadline is only a day or two away. And yes, transcripts are required for a lot of jobs (it’ll state that outright). Fortunately getting electronic transcripts has gotten way easier and faster but it’s still a hoop to jump through.

      FWIW I applied for the same job twice – it opened in 2020 for the first time, I applied, never heard anything until it closed out months later. Another identical position opened in 2021, I applied using the same materials and got through. Now that I’m on the inside, I’ve been privy to all sorts of griping about HR and hiring. Managers are frustrated that the screening is not good, either putting through people unqualified for the role or missing the truly qualified ones. And of course it is a notoriously slow process: I applied in early March, didn’t get contacted until the very end of April, interviewed in May, had a verbal offer in June, tentative offer in August, and firm offer in Sept.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      Long time fed….all of the comments here are good. Also, there is another website, Federal Soup, that you may want to peruse. It’s like a federal job version of Reddit. At my agency, which is very large, I can tell you that HR is overwhelmed and understaffed. But even before we reached the point we are now, hiring was slow. Unless your skills are very niche and in high demand and the posting is listed as “direct hire authority”, you are looking at a hiring process that is likely at least several months long from application to accepting an offer/starting the position. As someone else mentioned, in terms of pay negotiation, if you only qualify to come in as a GS 11, there are 10 steps on the GS 11 pay band (this is all publicly available info online….be sure to use the GS pay scale chart for your geographic area), so while you won’t be able to negotiate for a GS 12, if you don’t meet the qualifications, you can negotiate within the GS 11 steps. Also, if your negotiation is predicated on not wanting to take a substantial pay cut, they may ask for proof of your salary at your last job in the form of multiple pay stubs….this is normal…provide the stubs. You still may end up having to take a pay cut, but maybe less of one.

      Beyond the application stuff, I can tell you that most areas of the govt move very slowly unless you are joining an agency that is involved in rapid changes due to legislation, major catastrophe, etc. The red tape is real. You have to reframe your mindset and understand that it’s not like private enterprise and never will be. Long term, you really can’t beat the benefits and job security, but there are definitely trade offs.

      Good luck with your search!

  22. Three Flowers*

    Fellow folks working on Labor Day while social media posts about weekend trips and labor unions go by: solidarity.

    1. londonedit*

      Where I live our bank holiday was last Monday so I’ve also been working today! What do people do on Labor Day? What’s the significance? For us the last Monday in August is just a bank holiday, there’s no specific event tied to it. Schools go back in the first days of September here in England so for people with kids it’s sort of a last hurrah of summer, and it’s the last public holiday before Christmas, so there’s a bit of a ‘let’s make the most of it with a day out’ vibe, but there aren’t any particular traditions.

      1. Three Flowers*

        Labor Day (in the US, anyway) is supposed to recognize organized labor and its impact on work. Workers (non-union, aka most of us) have pathetic rights here compared to most of Europe, but still better than it was in the 19th century. It’s a federal holiday, which means everyone *should* have it or a compensatory day off, but that’s often not the case.

        The usual way to mark this is burgers on the grill, a last summer beach/pool/camping party or trip, and enticements to spend money. Personally I’d rather have a general strike, but I don’t make the rules. :)

        1. Three Flowers*

          Clarification: employers don’t have to give federal holidays, but lots do. People who work in the service industry are generally screwed. I work in higher ed, so my institution’s calendar is just weird around the start of school.

          1. Clisby*

            Yes, as far as I know federal holidays only apply to federal employees. My son and I both attend the College of Charleston (SC). He’s a regular student and I audit classes. Labor Day is not a college holiday. I think this is to give them a buffer against possible days lost if a hurricane comes through, and there’s a state-ordered evacuation.

        2. Anonnnnoner*

          Ah that’s interesting, we have a bank holiday for similar reasons but that falls at the beginning of May.

      2. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

        Over here, Labor Day isn’t today, but on that day the entire village gets together and celebrates. There’s a bunch of traditions such as putting a post with all the professions that you can work as in the village in the center of the village, and there’s music, too. Putting the post takes hours, but they do make the process way longer than what would be necessary. And unless you’re working in a hospital or as a firefighter or something else where there always must be someone, you won’t have to work.

      3. Nancy*

        It’s to recognize the American Labor movement and has been a federal holiday since the late 1800s. People do whatever they want on their day off.

      4. JSPA*

        It’s a (somewhat watered down) version of what much of the rest of the world does on May 1.

        Lot of history there (verging on politics, so not diving in here); a useful phrase-style Google search could look like, [labor day why not may 1st red scare].

      5. Parakeet*

        For most people it’s definitely a last hurrah of summer. Labor organizers will often time their campaign efforts such that there’s some kind of event on Labor Day. I helped organize an event in support of the local Starbucks worker organizing (one of several similar events in the area yesterday).

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      In Ireland, we don’t have a holiday at this time. Given that our country was basically built on the unions – like without them, it is questionable if we’d have gotten independence in the way and at the time we did – maybe we should.

      Ireland HAS gotten a new public holiday though – start of February for St. Brigid’s day/start of spring. We’ll have that for the first time in 2023.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Don’t you also do May 1st? I was under the (possibly baseless) impression that most of Europe did labour day then

        1. londonedit*

          In the UK (or at least in England) we do the first Monday of May as the May Day bank holiday – I know in other parts of Europe that’s called Labour Day but here it’s called May Day.

          1. Susan Calvin*

            if we really want to be precise, most other parts of Europe don’t speak English, so it’s not actually called Labour Day either, but the idea is the same ;)

            (also good for you to define it as the first Monday; the actual first of May was a Sunday and we don’t do replacement bank holidays here)

            1. londonedit*

              In England at least, bank holidays that aren’t tied to specific events like Easter and Christmas are always Mondays (except for things like New Year’s Day and special holidays like the Thursday/Friday we had for the Platinum Jubilee this year – they moved the end of May bank holiday to the first Friday of June and added an extra holiday on the first Thursday of June). So you have the first Monday of May, the last Monday of May, the last Monday of August – they’re always bank holidays, it’s the Monday that’s important rather than the date. Which is probably why May Day is watered down here – it’s rarely May 1st, it’s just the first Monday in May. If Christmas Day and/or Boxing Day are weekends then the following Monday/Tuesday will be holidays.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, we do, but…it doesn’t really get advertised as anything more than a random bank holiday/start of summer, if anything. I think it is technically meant that way but we don’t tend to get the union or workers rights stuff.

          1. Roland*

            US labor day doesn’t actually have any discussions of labor and workers either tbh. It’s very much a “end of summer! Buy stuff! Bbq!” occasion more than anything else in actuality.

    3. Worker bee*

      I’m lucky enough to not be working today, but much love to my coworkers and everyone else working today. I’ve always tried to make a point to stay home on this day, though I sadly had to run out for gas today. I planned poorly and should have known better.

    4. linger*

      Japan also has a Labour Day holiday (Kinrou kansha-no-hi, Nov 23) … but since that’s during term time, and the Ministry of Education also insists on university courses lasting a full 15 weeks, my university almost always has it scheduled as a regular class day. (This year is a rare exception.)

    5. Chirpy*

      I did get today off, but had to work extra late yesterday. Did not even get a pizza party as discussed. Solidarity.

      On the plus side, I think their special after-hours sale may have gone so badly they won’t do it again.

  23. Hola Playa*

    I’m a small biz owner and need to advertise for two part-time, remote admin positions (in the US).

    Are there recommendations for websites to post the ads? Other than Indeed, of course – websites that are hopefully more aligned with this type of work. Thanks!

    1. BellyButton*

      virtualadminservices dot com there will be listings there to choose from as well as post a job. I think you are more likely find people who are experienced in being virtual admins there than posting on job sites.

      1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

        That site belongs to a woman named Becky who provides virtual assistant services. It is not a job site.

  24. Wendy*

    I work for *a well known grocery store chain*, and I need advice regarding the following…

    The assistant fuel center lead wants me to ask customers who speak a different language 1) what their issue is and 2) what solution they want when they come to the fuel center window to complain about an issue

    The fuel center assistant lead is bilingual

    I am not bilingual, yet he expects me to do that

    What is the best way to convey to him that I cannot do that due to the language barrier?

    What is the best way to handle these issues when I do not speak the customers language?

    1. The Real Fran Fine*

      Tell him exactly that. “I’m not bilingual, so I’m not going to understand someone asking questions in another language and they may not understand me if I ask them these things in English, either.” Maybe he assumes you’re also bilingual and should have no problem with this, but once you point it out, he’ll realize what a time consuming and frustrating experience this will be for your customers and will take it on himself.

      1. Wendy*

        I agree that it is time consuming and frustrating for the customer

        Which in turn is time consuming and frustrating for me

        I understand that part of his job is to coach the fuel center employees on how he wants issues handled, but the solution must be reasonable, practical and doable

    2. Retired (but not really)*

      Can you get the bilingual assistant to give you a check list of FAQ issues in the alternate language that the person can check off and you can then give that to the bilingual assistant? This should be easy to implement.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Yeah, no, I would strongly advise against that. The OP doesn’t speak Spanish, and the lead does. I smell a rat. OP is being set up for failure here.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Go to the lead and tell him “I don’t speak Spanish, and therefore cannot do what you’re asking of me. I’m not refusing to do it, I’m unABLE to do it.” If he balks, the OP has a case for a lawsuit.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            It’s a chain. It should have an HR.

            I’d go to HR and ask what is up. I was hired as a person who only speaks English. Now I have to ask people to explain their problem to me in THEIR language. I can’t do that. And the company knew I couldn’t do it when they hired me.

            I’d also point out that the customer may feel like they “have to” speak English in order to do business which might cause problems for the company.

        1. JSPA*

          I read it as, the customers who have less social capital are being not-at-all-subtly discouraged from complaining. OP is serving the same function as 40 minutes’ worth of hold music.

    3. starfox*

      I’m confused as to how he thinks that’s going to work…. Are you supposed to ask these questions in English, or is he giving you a script in the different language to use? Because it doesn’t matter if you can ask a question to them in their language if you can’t understand the answer!

      I can understand him wanting you to ask in English initially because you won’t automatically know by looking at someone whether or not they speak English, but once it becomes obvious that they don’t, the person who speaks their language needs to take over.

      1. Wendy*

        The assistant fuel center lead did not make any script for me to use

        He literally wants me to ask the customer what the issue is as well as what the customer wants done even when the customer does not speak my language, which is English, and it is obvious that the customer does not speak English

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Just curiosity and not snark- what does HE think will happen next?
          How does this help the customer?

          1. JSPA*

            I… don’t think that’s the goal.

            Mistaken assumption, that people who share a language are intrinsically mutually supportive. Or that people from all groups will be treated as equally-deserving of customer service.)

    4. RagingADHD*

      Having lived in a multilingual city and traveled to different countries before, I’d be very surprised if you were entirely unable to communicate about a practical matter like pumping gas or taking payments. I’ve managed to order food, get and give street directions, and navigate airport terminals or complex public transportation with language barriers. Most people who spend time in another language environment can.

      Of course it’s less efficient, but perhaps your lead wants you to make more of an effort to work with gesture, numbers, and simple phrases.

      I can understand if sometimes the problem is very complicated and you get stuck, but the fact that your lead had to instruct you to try to find out the problem in the first place, gives me pause. If you are shutting down completely the moment you hear the first word in a different language, that’s not very useful.

      1. Wendy*

        I do not shut down the moment the customer speaks

        The reason for my posting this is the following…

        According to the register inside the fuel center fuel pump 9 stopped working. The customer paid at the pump. The customer came to the window and told me 1) fill up and 2) pump stopped. So I asked the customer twice if they paid at the pump. No answer from the customer. That was when I asked assistant lead for help

        The customer spoke to the assistant lead in Spanish

        The assistant lead spoke to the customer in Spanish

        Then the assistant lead told me that I need to ask the customer 1) what the issue is and 2) what they want me to do even if I ado not speak their language

        1. RagingADHD*

          IDK, it sounds to me like the lead was giving you feedback on your demeanor or overall customer-service approach rather than the literal questions to ask. Perhaps you came across too assertively and they wanted you to dial it back and take it slower.

          But it’s hard to tell without seeing / hearing the interaction.

          Try doing it their way and see what happens, I guess.

          1. Wendy*


            If you are going to give me feedback on my demeanor or the overall customer service approach, then Tell me that in Those words

            I can only go by the words he told me

            I am not a mind reader

            1. RagingADHD*


              I don’t think “ask the customer what the problem is instead of making assumptions” requires mind reading.

              Perhaps there is an overarching issue with the communication skills required in this role, if a significant portion of your customer base are not getting served due to language barriers.

              1. Wendy*

                I was referring to the “coaching” the assistant lead was doing according to you

                If the assistant lead was referring to what you stated in your reply, then he Needs to Tell me that

                1. RagingADHD*

                  If you are struggling to understand feedback from your lead, can you ask for clarification? It seems like that would be more productive than getting aggravated at comment replies that don’t give you 100 percent validation for your feelings.

                  I know retail sucks. I’ve worked plenty of it. And lots of retail managers are bad at communicating instructions.

                  But if you need the job, and you’re getting correction from your lead, you can’t afford to just throw up your hands and say it’s impossible. You have to engage with the feedback in some way that at least make it appear that you’re trying.

                  I mean, if you can afford to quit, then quit. But if you can’t, you need to play along until you have another job lined up.

          2. tessa*

            If I can’t speak a language, I can’t speak a language.

            Meanwhile, the line gets longer as I try desperately to charade my way through navigating a conversation in which neither I nor the customer speaks the same language.

            OP needs a real boss.

            1. Wendy*

              And that is the issue that will happen

              The line at the fuel center kiosk continues to get longer as I try to solve the issue

        2. Nancy*

          Using gestures and simple words can go a long way when trying to convey information. Maybe learning a few simple words to add to what you are saying (assuming there is one primary language that the customers are speaking). Are you the only non-bilingual staff member? If not, what do other staff members do?

        3. Fikly*

          Well, the next step is to ask him how he wants you to do that. In English? In gestures? You need further directions.

          Yes, he’s being unreasonable, but the way to counter that and protect yourself is to be very literal right back at him and get all instructions as detailed as possible, and in writing.

          And don’t get cranky at us.

      2. Wendy*

        I did try to find out the problem in the first place, but the customer did not answer my questions

        My questions were met with silence

        How am I supposed to find out what the problem is when the customer does not answer my questions and my questions are met with silence?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This may not be a job for you.. or anyone for that matter.

          Did you go look at the pump with the customer?
          Did you check the register to see if it was paid?
          Do the pumps click off regularly for no legit reason?

          If the last sale on the pump was paid, then I would clear the pump and tell them to put their card in again. If they do not have to put a card in, I’d tell them to try again.

          If they did get some gas, maybe their tank is full.

          Other than ask the customer a question, what else did you do to try to figure out what might be wrong?

          Customer service involves a lot of mind reading- read the customer’s mind, read the boss’ mind etc.

          So your lead spoke with the folks and what did the problem turn out to be?

          1. Wendy*

            The assistant lead told the customer that it seemed that there was an issue with the pump, but other customers used that pump after the customer left, and there were no issues for them

            So, I do not know what happened to cause the issue for that customer

        2. Ampersand*

          If you’re comfortable doing so, I would ask the lead this exact question. If the lead isn’t able to provide an answer that is at least *somewhat* helpful, that gives you valuable information about what they’re wanting (you to fix the problem yourself) and how much assistance they’re likely to provide you (not much, based on everything you’ve said here).

      3. Wendy*

        I do not intend to throw up my hands and tell the assistant lead that what he wants me to do is impossible

        I do not intend to not “work” with the assistant lead on a solution

        But I have dealt with a past situation back in 2011 where I was expected to literally the impossible

        I was working as a contract Visitor parking attendant at The University of Houston Downtown campus

        My former employer had a contact with the university

        In 2011 the Visitor parking garage was being renovated, and the Director of Parking and Transportation services, the client manager, told me that visitor parking was being moved to the existing faculty/staff garage.

        She also told me that due to the Parking and Transportation office being too busy to handle calls from the call box at the entrance gate and the exit gate, I was to literally prevent anyone from pressing either call button

        I also had to sit inside the visitor parking booth and tell customers who drove up to the window how much the parking fee was and exactly where to park since there were designated visitor parking spots in the existing faculty/staff garage

        My direct manager who also worked for my former employer told me I had to do what she wanted me to do

        I wanted to throw up my hands and tell both of them that what they expected was impossible

        I wanted to walk off that job many times

        But I did not, and I cannot do that now

        Considering I have dealt with the impossible in the past, I am looking for answers regarding the current issue I am facing

        I realize what I am currently dealing with is not the same as what I dealt with in the past

        I just know how I felt back then, and I do not want to repeat that

        Part of my replies are my inner thoughts

        But that does not mean I intend to act on them

        1. Any Name At All*

          You keep talking about what’s “impossible” and what you won’t do, but you haven’t said what it is you will do.

  25. ItsJustMe*

    I am currently looking for a new job and have applied to several. I received the following text Saturday night. “ Please summarize how are your background and experience are a fit for this role:” and replied “ I’m sorry, this text is from an unknown number. Please identify yourself. ” if it turns out this was the job I really wanted have I ruined my chances? And who texts at 8:45 pm PST on Saturday?

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Classic case of “if that made them drop you, good riddance” because the most charitable scenario here is that they’re rolling out some new automated system and it’s not as well configured as it should be yet – worst case, they’re completely banana crackers.

    2. PassThePeasPlease*

      That sounds…odd… I’ve never had a job reach out via unsolicited text to ask a very vague question (that you can’t even answer without more info so you can tailor your response to the job!). If everything else seems above board I’d respond and ask if they can email you (you can include the email but it should also be on the app I’m guessing?) so you can communicate there rather than via text. I don’t think there was any issue in your response, anyone would ask that from an unknown number rather than just spouting their job experience to anyone.

      Also if that text is verbatim I’d look carefully at how the rest of their communication is, could’ve been a mistake but an excess of typos/grammar errors could point to it being a scam/not a legitimate job.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I’ve had recruiters call me and immediately launch into a tech screen without even identifying themselves, then get mad when I ask them who they are and what company they’re from. It gets ridiculous.

    3. Heather*

      Yeah it sounds like you wouldn’t have wanted to work with them anyway, honestly, so bullet dodged!

      But I think the phrase “please identify yourself” sounds a little odd. I got a text recently from an unknown number, and my response was more like, “I’m sorry, I don’t know who this is!” and maybe even a smiley face for good measure. If after that it turns out to be a scammer or something, just block them. But you don’t need to come out of the gate with quite so much vigor, I don’t think. If they read it as aggressive (I’m not saying that’s how you meant it, but text tone is hard to read) they may have been it as a red flag.

      1. ItsJustMe*

        It felt scammy to me so there may have been some hostility. Then I thought maybe another company is using a foreign recruiter in another time zone. That’s how it’s been with legitimate jobs I’ve applied to. But they send an email explaining that they will be texting screening questions and identify themselves in the text.

    4. ItsJustMe*

      I’m suspecting it’s a random scam. It came 1 day after I changed my LinkedIn status to show I was currently looking. I’m going to check to see if I made my phone number available on the site.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        It may very well be a scam, but it might not. Some recruiters are clueless and arrogant enough to try this.

    5. Pistachio*

      The vast majority of job texts like those are from scammers, so I wouldn’t worry. Even if it ended up being from an actual employer you applied to, you do not want to work for someone who sends you random interview questions at almost 9 pm on a Saturday.

    6. JSPA*

      Was the number blocked? If not, did you search both the web and your email for a) the whole number b) the area code and first 3 or 4 digits? That’s often edifying.

    7. Oui oui oui all the way home*

      As someone who has received numerous scam texts, I would assume there’s a 99.99% chance it’s from a scammer. Occasionally the scammers luck out and find someone who has just done the thing their scam message is about .

  26. Escanor*

    Question to the community: Allison often speaks about how job hopping isn’t very wise and it makes job recruiters think you’re a walking problem. Sounds good, I wouldn’t think much about someone who voluntarily changes jobs every 3 months.

    But what if you are not job hopping, but… job hopped? My resume is a mess to look at, my longest tenure in one place was 11 months out of 11 years of being in the workforce. It looks like I am indecisive or just plain crazy to change jobs so often, but in reality I just work in an industry known for treating workers like Kleenex. The practice of exchanging them for new ones once the exhaustion from being overworked kicks in and people start making mistakes is common. Fellow copywriters – I salute you from my mental sick leave after 9 months at a beauty company where I was supposed to produce 10k characters daily.

    So… what do you do to avoid looking like you are job hopping, when w/out verbal explanation it looks like you are?

      1. JSPA*

        If that’s not literally true, you could call it a “time-limited role” or a “short-term position” or say that you rotated through positions in a field where churning is the default (or equivalent language).

    1. The Real Fran Fine*

      I mean, if this is common in your industry and you’re going for industry jobs, I don’t think you need to explain this – other copywriters will understand the situation. If you’re trying to pivot into a related field where there’s less of that kind of churn and burn, then just explain to the people interviewing you that having this many roles is quite common, but that you’re looking for something with more stability where you can grow and that’s why you’re applying to their company. You can even address this desire in your cover letters.

    2. Wintermute*

      How bad job hopping is really is dependent on your industry. In mine if you’re NOT leaving every 2-3 years that’s actually a negative. If your industry is known for high worker mobility then people hiring probably know that. It sounds like your case is more extreme than most, because in a lot of roles you’re not even producing useful work until 4-6 months in, but if that’s not true of your industry because you come in without needing a ton of on the job training and acclimatization that’s something they’ll know too.

      I think you might want to find a mentor in your specific industry who can give you more information, because your case sounds very unusual to me (especially because being laid off or let go that frequently would be genuinely alarming in any industry I’ve experienced) and they might be able to talk to how they’ve handled the same situation with their resume.

    3. Zephy*

      If this is a common experience in your field and it’s known that the field is Like This, then your resume will not immediately jump out to a hiring manager as being potentially problematic – everyone else’s resume is similarly patchwork-y, for the same reasons. If it’s not, though, then you’ll need to really finesse that cover letter and/or maybe look inward at yourself, because at the end of the day the one thing all your past jobs have in common is you.

  27. Casper Lives*

    What field has short term, contract, part time jobs that can be done from home without set hours? No benefits needed

    Long explanation: I’ve got a good corporate job. But there’s no short-term disability. I need to have surgery for a chronic health condition. I can take FMLA but won’t be paid beyond the PTO I’ve saved so far. I’d like to work a second job from home for income during surgery recovery. I’ve got health insurance etc. benefits thru work.

    I’m a litigation lawyer. All second jobs in my field need to be approved by the company. Per the terms of my employment, I can’t take on conflicting jobs or other litigation cases. That’s fine because litigation is hard enough in this job!

    Skills: customer service on phone or thru email (thru retail and current dealing with clients); fast WPM; good at taking in large amounts of info and distilling into a memo; did data entry in college and don’t mind repetitive job

    1. The Real Fran Fine*

      Maybe apply to Amazon for one of their chat positions. Those are usually remote, and I think I’ve seen people say you can pick your hours, but I could be mistaken about that part.

    2. Heather*

      I worked grading standardized exams for a while. I graded the “smarter balanced” assessments from California, and separately, I graded English as a Second Language exams for adults. There was a paid training and exam, and then after that, I read and listened to exam reports and scored them at home. I enjoyed it. There are many different companies with different requirements (I had a degree in education but not all scoring jobs require it) and it’s worth googling when you have free time.

    3. Hola Playa*

      Two ideas: one – have you already looked into getting a stand-alone STD policy. Like aflac or similar? Two – could a small law firm, maybe not in litigation, use your legal brain on a project basis? Process streamlining, file org, develop training materials, research and admin? If so, look for FB groups and online groups or quietly ask your network.

    4. Stokes*

      Copy editing or proofreading is often done on a counteract basis, and from home. Law firms, law schools, academic journals, etc. You should have an easier time getting work and getting a higher rate with your legal background.

    5. WellRed*

      We hat about something like LL Bean? They are ramping up customer service phones for the holiday season and last I knew, remote was an option.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Someone above mentioned virtualadminservices dot com
      Maybe you could do something via them?
      Good luck!

  28. Erika22*

    When interviewing for new jobs, how do you answer “why are you leaving your current role” when your current role and the new role are practically the same, and you don’t want to downgrade anything you do in your current role to the detriment of your experience/expertise?

    Basically, I’m a project manager at a large company where we aren’t great at applying more stringent project management practices. My role is also limited in scope because usually once a project gets to a certain size we bring in freelancer project management resource to manage the day-to-day and I then act as a higher level escalation point. I’m currently applying to project management jobs and worry saying the above (that current company doesn’t stick to PM best practice, that my role becomes more high level for larger projects, etc) will work against me and suggest that I cannot apply PM practices/effect change to have these applied or that I cannot directly manage larger projects. Would this reason be interpreted against me?

    Another reason I want to move on is that I don’t feel supported in my development. I had an opportunity to work as a direct programme manager for a new team in my company and fully integrate with this team to help establish their regular project workflows on a six month secondment but was not approved to do so by my manager because our team doesn’t have enough resource to cover my other projects. I also had asked for a couple hours each week to dedicate to studying for a formal project management certification and was denied this too. I realise I don’t deserve to get every opportunity that presents itself, but coworkers have had comparable opportunities (both temporary secondments and company-sponsored certifications) so I’m frustrated I’ve not been afforded the same. Is “lack of support in development opportunities” another reason I could cite as to why I want to leave?

    1. Susan Calvin*

      “lack of support and development opportunities” is SUCH a normal and good reason, but if even that feels too much like speaking badly about your current employer, just “wanting a change of scenery” is the most inoffensive possible reason for a lateral move.

      If you can sprinkle in anything that interests you or you connect to about the company outside your own role (maybe their product, or the charity they fund, or the fact that your aunt used to work there in the 90s), that’s also nice, although it doesn’t stand well on its own.

    2. The Real Fran Fine*

      Lack of support in development opportunities is a great response for this. I’d also talk about what about the particular company you’re interviewing with excites you as a reason for wanting to take a lateral move.

    3. Seal*

      Focus on what you’d like to do at a new job instead of what your current company isn’t doing for you. You could say that you want to directly manage larger projects and further develop your project management skills, then tell them why you think the job you’re applying for would allow you to do that. Do your homework on the company and be prepared to tell them why you want to work there. What you don’t want to do is badmouth your current employer, even if you’re leaving because they don’t treat you well. Good luck!

    4. Wintermute*

      looking for growth and development opportunities is a perfect reason, and would be seen as a positive by most interviewers. Especially if that’s something the company values. “I get the sense that the role I’m in doesn’t have any potential for growing or taking on more responsibility, and I am looking for a chance to develop my skills in X and Y” (where X and Y are something the new role would benefit from) is a completely legitimate and very normal answer.

    5. Maggie*

      I usually say “I’m looking for a new challenge, and I am excited for this opportunity to utilize my skills in xyz.” I agree it’s best not to say anything negative about your current job, but if they ask why you’re not looking internally (which I’ve been asked), then that’s a great time to say “lack of support in development opportunities.”

  29. Naps in the Haunted Zone*

    Is it okay to apply for new jobs while visibly pregnant? I am eight months pregnant and would really like to apply for an open position that is right up my alley, but I feel like maybe it would be a waste of time. I know that discrimination against candidates on the basis of their being pregnant is illegal, but I also feel like it would be virtually impossible to either avoid or prove at the hiring stage.

    So much of the information on professional advice websites is really condescending – stuff like, “If you waltz into an interview with a visible bump, be prepared to be swiftly shown the exit.” That was written in 2020, not 1950!! I guess maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

    What do you think – should I not bother throwing my hat into the ring for this position? I feel like I would be great at it, so I am bummed to think that I would miss any chance of being considered just because of the timing of my pregnancy, but I am also a realist!

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Setting aside that I don’t know that I’d personally want to go through the hassle of interviewing in your condition, more power to you if you want to! I say go for it, the worst that can happen is that someone else shows their ass.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Well, you have a better chance by applying than not! It’s possible (likely?) that your pregnancy will affect their opinion of you/your candidacy but you could think of it as a good screening tool for whether the place is a good fit. If you do a virtual or phone interview they wouldn’t necessarily know, if you get an offer you could negotiate a later start date… depending on their timeline you might even have the baby before they reach the point where they’d see that you’re pregnant. That could make it tough to pursue the position as you’re recovering/parenting, but you don’t really have anything to lose by giving it a try.

      1. Naps in the Haunted Zone*

        Very true, might as well give it a go – it might not work out for any number of reasons, but at least then I can’t give myself a case of the “what ifs”!

    3. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

      I don’t have much experience, so I might miss something there, but: What harm would it cause to apply? I agree it would be hard to prove you were illegally discriminated against (IF they even do that, which you should keep in mind is not a given, and would tell you a lot about that workplace), but that doesn’t mean you have to assume they will and thus can’t apply. Best case outcome: You get a job you’ll enjoy. Is the worst case outcome worth missing the chance of that happening? I’d guess no, but of course it’s your call to make.

    4. Seal*

      The timing may actually work in your favor. Depending on your industry, it can take a month or two (or longer) to interview and hire candidates. You may even be able to negotiate a later start date. I say go for it (and congratulations on the new baby)!

    5. Lily Potter*

      If the job is one where you can see the employer holding the position vacant for four months, go for it! The may be true in the case of a newly created position in a stable company or in the case where the position has been vacant for a long time because the company has been holding out for just the right person.

      However, if the position is being created because there’s a crazy amount of work that needs to be done, I wouldn’t bother applying. Unless you are a “unicorn” with a very special skillset, the hiring manager is not going to want to hold the position open for you for months while you deliver and take parental leave.

      1. Naps in the Haunted Zone*

        This is a helpful framework, thank you! I don’t have a lot of experience applying for jobs as I’ve been in the same position for a decade, so I really appreciate this kind of context.

        1. Lily Potter*

          It might help to think like the hiring manager …… what do you think THEIR reaction would be to seeing your bump? It might not matter, or it may might take you out of the running the minute you walk in the door. Again, it really depends on why the position is vacant and on how badly they need your particular skill set.

    6. Observer*

      So much of the information on professional advice websites is really condescending – stuff like, “If you waltz into an interview with a visible bump, be prepared to be swiftly shown the exit.” That was written in 2020, not 1950!! I guess maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

      That is absolutely GROSS.

      A lot depends on your industry, the company and the job.

      If it’s not an industry that’s know for this kind of garbage, and it’s a company that seems to have a decent reputation, it’s worth trying. Of course there are no guarantees, but what’s the harm in trying?

      1. Naps in the Haunted Zone*

        I know, that was on a major professional advice website! So icky.

        It is a part-time role with a highly progressive community organization, which makes me hopeful that I’d at least enjoy learning more about the role. Getting hired is probably a long shot because of logistics, but I might come away knowing whether I’d like to apply for any future openings that arise.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      Of course it’s okay to apply. You definitely don’t have to disclose that you are pregnant (if interviewing on zoom), but you should be honest about when you would be available to start.

      There are jobs where they’ll be looking for someone to start ASAP, and it wouldn’t be discrimination to choose someone who is available to start sooner. However, some hiring processes can take months anyway, so you won’t lose anything by starting now.

      1. Naps in the Haunted Zone*

        Very true, I’d completely understand if they really couldn’t wait for me (IF it even got that far!).

    8. Jules the First*

      Apply away! In today’s market you could probably ask for a virtual interview if you wanted – I led a virtual design workshop
      on zoom at 37 weeks and with some thoughtful camera positioning, no one on the call knew I was pregnant until I was an idiot and walked in front of the camera when I went to refill my water…

      1. Naps in the Haunted Zone*

        Hahaha oh noooo! I would have been tempted to make a stupid joke, like that I’d just had a REALLY big breakfast/lunch.

    9. anonymous human person*

      No kids, but as someone who was recently interviewing, all my interviews were still virtual, even for non remote/hybrid jobs. If your field does that you might be able to avoid the issue if that’s your preference.

      I am plus size and wondered if not interviewing in person worked to my advantage this time, I look smaller on the top half.

  30. Deacon Blues*

    I could use some general guidance (and maybe somebody just kicking my butt). Back story-This is US government job and we get funding from the US Federal Government. I also do not mean to sound like I’m perfect because I know I’m not.

    I came from 2 very toxic organizations (and was treated badly as an executive). I landed a new job 2 years ago back in my primary industry which I love. The agency is toxic. Finally, after some awful public things, I think we are settling down. We have an interim CEO (internal). However, the culture of this agency is that nobody is held accountable but now it’s being talked about.

    I have been told I’m too “spicy”. I am the only person in this agency that has worked in other similar agencies (larger) and have the most experience. I’m happy in my role but I don’t have the tolerance to be super-nice when I’ve asked for things multiple times, over multiple days/weeks/months and nothing. The interim, whom I am on good terms with, has asked me what it will take for me to be less “spicy”. She knows I had toxic jobs and is thinking it’s that, but it’s not. It’s that people just won’t step up and do their jobs in a timely manner (and some of this is required by the Feds).

    I am on anti-anxiety meds, see a therapist, and am working hard to stay in my lane and be pleasant. Any other suggestions? (And yes, I have an exit strategy and up-to-date resume). I just secured some funding to do some very important work. There is nobody in the agency that could do my job.

    I love this site because you guys are kind but firm and grounded in reality.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      What does “spicy” mean here? Are you really sarcastic? Are you Assertive While Feminine? Do you snap at people or just calmly repeat what’s needed without softening it?

      You wrote a lot here about the toxic background that you don’t find relevant to the current issue, but nothing about the actual behavior/interactions leading to this perception so it’s hard to know what kind of suggestions would help.

    2. GlazedDonut*

      Agree with Dark Macadamia– it’s hard to say more without a little bit more information. It sounds like you ask others for work and they do not deliver on time.
      I wonder if the issue is how you request the work and then how you respond when it’s not complete. Are you getting to know the people who do the work so you can tailor your response to them (ie “Hi Sally! Hope you had a nice Labor Day and were able to relax with the kids. I have on my schedule that the X project was due this morning. Any update on where that is and when it may be done? Any issue you’re experiencing I can assist with?”). Sometimes the emotional intelligence connected with a request can go a long way to humanize both the asker and the deliverer.
      However, if it’s “woman who is seen as a Bossy B” that’s a slightly different route to take!
      A toxic environment makes me wonder if gossip is feeding some of this narrative, and how you may be able to use that to your advantage (gossip positive things about others rather than feed into negative storylines).
      Finally, as someone who considers herself assertive and intelligent but has also likely been referred to as a type of spicy, I think it’s worth acknowledging that in toxic environments, whether or not the story told about you is true is sometimes beyond your control. What is within your control is countering that narrative in a public way: publicly praising those who do good work (reward what you want to repeat–ex those who submit on time), showing others you care about them as people and as employees/being human (giving in to small talk to get to know others), and offering support if people are floundering (‘how can I help you meet this deadline? do you need a micro-deadline, a calendar reminder, a model/example of a similar, completed assignment?).

    3. Star Struck*

      The only time “too spicy” makes sense is if you’re a chef and someone is commenting on the quantity of hot peppers in a dish. How awful ! (And as Dark Macademia mentioned, sounds like gender and/or race is skewing their perceptions).

      Who gave you this feedback ? If it isnt anyone who has professional influence on you (reporting chain or other higher up), I would just ignore it. If its your managing chain, point out the exact issue, the consequences thereof, and put it on their lap “how would you prefer me to handle it” (bonus points if you can get them to document it by email).

      Alternately…. “If I’m too spicy, stop eating my head !”

    4. WellRed*

      WTF does too spicy mean in a business context? If the interim thinks you need legitimate coaching in some way, they should use their words to clearly communicate what they are seeing. I’m assuming you’re female as I can’t imagine a man being called spicy and I have some assumptions at other reasons they call you spicy.

    5. Erie*

      Your comment dances around your own behavior without mentioning exactly what it was, which makes me think it may be something you’re not super proud of, like snapping at a coworker or otherwise displaying your emotions inappropriately in the workplace. However, I’m also sensing some defensiveness here, like you’re not quite willing to acknowledge that your behavior was wrong because you feel it was justified by other people’s incompetence.

      I think Alison’s has a column about emotional regulation in the workplace that you might find helpful.

      In addition, I’d suggest remembering that when people “won’t step up and do their jobs”, it often is not plain incompetence. It can be red tape, a lack of process, too much process like the need for multiple approvals, or it could be that the person you’re waiting on has other stuff on their plate that is higher priority, or is feeling overwhelmed or is clinically depressed or struggling with grief. You just don’t always know the whole story, and nine times out of ten if you did know it you’d feel less inclined to express your frustration.

      Besides which, tantrums at work generally do not help things get done. If you’re at the point where your colleague is telling you to tone it down, you’re probably past the point where you need to examine and change your own behavior. Which means it’s great that you’re asking for advice. Good luck!

    6. RagingADHD*

      You said, “I don’t have the tolerance to be super-nice when I’ve asked for things multiple times, over multiple days/weeks/months and nothing. The interim, whom I am on good terms with, has asked me what it will take for me to be less “spicy”.”

      It sounds like you are at BEC stage with your coworkers, and are letting your exasperation show to the point that your boss is telling you that you are being rude and hostile, and you need to knock it off.

      Nobody here can possibly know whether that feedback is accurate or biased. It doesn’t really matter, because if you already have a reputation for being hostile, there really isn’t an effective way to push back without reinforcing the image of hostility.

      It sounds like it might help if you engaged quite literally with the “what would it take?” question.

      What would it take, systemically, for the work of chasing people for deliverables to not fall entirely on you?

      Do you need a better tracking system with automated reminders? Do you need more support from leadership so you can escalate a problem without escalating the tension interpersonally?

      Do you need the interim to get people to do their jobs?

      That’s the kind of thing you can have a constructive conversation about.

    7. BellyButton*

      Think about what exactly your triggers are. Once you identified exactly what they are you need to figure out an alternative way to handle it.

      For example, for me- people not being prepared for a meeting or not remembering what was done or decided in the last meeting, and not reading the agenda makes me insane and I tend to get short. I know this, I also know who the common offenders are, so I prepare myself that the first 15 minutes of every meeting is going to be reminding them what we did and decided in the last meeting and going over what needs to be accomplished in this meeting. When I accepted that this is the way it is going to be and adjusted my own behavior, because I am not going to change them, I was better able to cope and in turn built better relationships.

      I am a big believer in understanding how other people like to be communicated with and how they like to give and receive information and adjusting my style to them. By doing that I am more likely to get what I am asking.

      For example, my direct manager likes bullet points and a list of what I need her to take action on. My grand boss wants that but also wants the why, so when she is giving information to the executive team she is able to answer questions she may be asked. If I gave my boss all the information she would get lost in the information and not focus on what she needs to do. By learning this and doing what they prefer they are less frustrated and appreciate what I do and give them.

      If you are a more specific example of what you are dealing with I may be able to help you come up with an alternate behavior to deal with it.

    8. Deacon Blues*

      OP here…gosh, lots of good things to think about. Couple of clarifications:

      1. “Spicy” evidently means I get a bit frustrated and show it. I’m not sure if we are dealing with a cultural issue or a regional issue. It took me a minute to figure out what it meant (and this came from the person I report to. They weren’t rude). For example, in a staff meeting, another person asked about a capital budget that is my responsibility and that they needed it. I responded, and yes, a bit exasperated, that it was provided to you in the meeting of July XX. This is one topic that is absolutely making me crazy because our finance folks don’t understand the need for a capital budget (and I’m not a finance person).
      2. We do have a culture that it’s all nice-nice. Meaning, that you can’t really let people know (and I’m not talking about yelling and screaming), that you’re not happy with the lack of response/information, etc. There’s a lot of talk about accountability, but nothing more (which adds to my frustration).
      3. I came from a completely different world and I can’t figure out if it’s a regional thing or if it’s me. I do tend to be a bit short because the majority of my work has deadlines. For example, we have to submit documents to the Feds via a system that I do not have access to. When I ask the only person that has access to the system if a certain document is in the system, I get a no. If I ask after a week (and I’m very careful not to ask every 12 hours or so), if the same document has been submitted, and I get a no, it’s annoying to me. I try not to let the frustration get to me but it’s difficult because then it does impact my schedule.
      4. I will think about how I approach people. Fair enough.
      5. We’ve had some upheavals that have bled over the press. While my job isn’t involved with this, I recognize I have trust issues about people ambushing me (I have been fired illegally but chose not to pursue it-well, twice now).
      6. I don’t know if I’m assertive while feminine or am calmly repeating myself. I like to think I’m calmly repeating myself but, of course, I could be wrong.
      7. From what I’ve seen, there are quite a few people who have no sense of urgency (and I’ve had consultants tell me this, too) at the agency. I’m not used to people not asking questions and clarifying thing. Even my one direct report is frustrated and I don’t want him to follow in my footsteps. He’s super-smart and motivated and I want him to succeed.

      So, I will read and re-read the suggestions. And thanks, everybody. Even though some of the comments aren’t necessarily what I want to “hear”, I believe all are very valid and reasonable. I really really do appreciate everybody taking the time to offer their ideas and thoughts.

      1. BellyButton*

        A lot of this can be approached in a different way, and it is easy for me to coach on this because I am not the one smack in the middle of this frustrating dynamic. It sounds like things are disorganized and you are put in a position where you are managing things without any authority. I will give some advice- and I hope some of it helps.

        For example, in a staff meeting, another person asked about a capital budget that is my responsibility and that they needed it. I responded, and yes, a bit exasperated, that it was provided to you in the meeting of July XX.
        – “Oh, it’s been a while, I sent that to you in July, let me email it to you again so you have it at the top” By reframing this to the action you can take and the solution instead of “are you f-in kidding me! You have had it for months!” it may help you be less frustrated, or at least not show it.

        We have to submit documents to the Feds via a system that I do not have access to. When I ask the only person that has access to the system if a certain document is in the system,
        – I would speak directly to them. “I am having trouble getting these things entered into the system by the federal requirement date. Can we come up with a process and a set date per month that they will be done by. This way I won’t be bothering you or stressing about it!” Again, you are coming up with a solution that is beneficial to you both. I would also speak to whoever is in charge of giving access and ask for it! “I am relying on other people to enter this into the system because I don’t have access. It isn’t a priority for them, but it is a high priority for me. Can I get access?”

        Hope this helps some! Good luck!

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Yes to asking for access! I do this at my job all the time because I’m constantly relying on others to use certain tools for my team, and it’s just not high on their list of priorities. I’ve only gotten push back once, btw. Every other time I ask, I receive.

      2. just another bureaucrat*

        I tend a little more…”spicy” than is acceptable at my mayo is too spicy workplace. One of the things I’ve done that has been effective is finding some key folks and building relationships. Should I just be able to say “Here is a task that is your responsibility it should be done in the time” and not spend 45 minutes playing nice nice? YUP! But here in the real world when I want to get things done “Hey, I’m really having a hard time getting an answer from Stephanie, could you please follow up for me, I’d really appreciate it! You’re the best!” gets it done.

        Do you want to be right or do you want the work to get done?

        Turns out in the end I don’t care if I have to make nice with everyone, I will do that enough to get done the really important work I get to do.

        I’m still crabby about being told that instead of telling a different person to do their job a senior exec told me to be nice to them. But you know what? The exec is gone and I still have a relationship with the other person and still get them to do things. And the longer I have that relationship, as long as I feed and care for it sometimes, it’s easier to maintain.

        You have to do this outside of the one thing you need done. If you’ve got a half a dozen people or so who it would help to have a relationship with start with one and then just start buying yourself some political capital. Ask about what they do, try to understand their situation so you can help them when you can. Come prepared to a meeting but be willing to chat first if that’s what they want.

        And if you can find a shared enemy that helps too. If you can do a little, it’s us against whoever that will make the other person feel like you are in something together and more willing to help you.

        Good luck.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        Okay, so, being visibly frustrated is a problem. If you provided the info over a month ago it’s not ridiculous that they would want to follow up or double check, even if they should’ve known where to find the info on their own. It’s not unreasonable to expect you to say “Yes, the budget is X and if you’re ever unsure in the future you can find it in the Y file” instead of huffing and puffing about it.

        It sounds like there are bigger picture issues with how the organization is run that are NOT the fault of the people you’re getting annoyed with, so that makes it extra inappropriate to take out your frustration on them.

        1. Chickaletta*

          100% on that last point by Dark Macademia. It will also help to assume the best intentions from others. If they ask for an item you already provided two months ago, assume that they genuinely overlooked it, perhaps they were preoccupied with an emergency at work or in their personal life that caused them to miss it. (Even if this isn’t what really happened, it helps to have this perspective. I know people who are pessimistic and assume the other person is stupid, lazy, disorganized, or careless, and they are very unhappy with every situation they find themselves in, and many people find them difficult to be around). Even very smart and organized people will miss something on occasion. Allowing grace when other people mess up will go a long way in your work relationships.

    9. Anono-me*

      I read this and thought OP is firmly holding people accountable who don’t want that and is seen as Latina.

      If I am correct OP, I think you need to look at the overall culture and structure of the office. Is the office non toxic or just less toxic than your before environment? Is it just the interim CEO who is using racially charged language and asking you to back off on accountability or is a good chunk of people? Do you want to have this battle? If you want to address this; I would suggest a conversation with someone above the interim CEO and a higher level HR person to confirm your authority and to discuss the interim CEO describing you as “Spicy” (You shouldn’t have to, but it may may need to educate them re POC =/= food.) If they say and DO the right things; stay. If not, activate the exit plan.

      FYI Describing a human being as a food is very very often a way of othering &/or dehumanizing an immigrant &/or person of color and is inappropriate 99.999% of the time.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I don’t think spicy was professional word choice but I also wouldn’t put it in the same realm as, say, describing skin tone by what kind of coffee it resembles. Race definitely influences how people perceive attitude/tone but it feels like a reach to infer that OP is Latina just because someone used a word that also describes salsa…

        1. Anono-me*

          The ‘Spicy Latina’ trope (Think Gloria from Modern Family.) is often problematic for people seen as Latina. I hope that isn’t the case here, but it is a very real problem for many people.

          1. Edge Witch*

            True. My first thought when I read it was “Oh no, is she Latina?” Definitely not a good/professional word choice. But I have noticed that the word “spicy” has been percolating out into gamer culture through Twitch and TikTok streamers and in that crowd it’s unrelated to race (as far as I’ve seen). They’re using it as a descriptor for situations or moods instead of, y’know, people. Like, “I’m feeling spicy” when they’re feeling riled up, or “that was a spicy exchange” to describe a good back-and-forth in a competitive game. So I’m starting to mentally downgrade it from a red flag to an orange warning flag alerting me to pause and consider the context before making a judgment.

            1. Parakeet*

              I don’t think it’s just gamer culture either. In my circles – both my nerd/gamer ones and my activist ones, and the parts that overlap – people use “spicy” in this way, to mean “a little more escalated or activated than the context-typical baseline” all the time. This is such normal usage to me at this point that I had to read the comment that kicked off this subthread several times to understand what relevance the commenter thought the OP being Latina or not had. Now I get it, but this situation lacks a lot of the connotations associated with the Spicy Latina trope (around sexuality, attractiveness, etc), and we also don’t know whether the OP is Latina.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I agree that with the term spicy I assumed the LW was a Latina, Hispanic woman. That spicy as a personality descriptor is usually use for Hispanic women.

        But maybe not.

    10. Ginger Pet Lady*

      So everywhere you’ve worked is “toxic” including the current place, and you “don’t have the tolerance to be super-nice” and your boss has pointed it out to you.
      The common thread here is….you.
      I’d be taking a good hard look at what you could do better instead of trying to fix everyone else. Maybe some therapy as well, an external perspective not from the workplace might be really helpful to you.

      1. Ampersand*

        If OP’s former employers are federal, I completely believe those environments could be toxic–the federal agencies I work with are not great. I wouldn’t even classify individuals as toxic; it’s the culture. The longer I work with them the more I realize that 1. there’s a reason bureaucracies have the reputation they do, and 2. it’s genuinely impressive the US government ever gets anything done.

  31. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    I got a new job! It took me about a year but I finally made the career change I wanted! Thanks to everyone who responded to my posts here when I was discouraged

    I’m going to be going into an office 3 days a week. I’ve been remote since pre-pandemic so it’s been awhile. What are your tips? (I’ll be commuting by public transit so I won’t have to deal with traffic.)

    1. PassThePeasPlease*

      Congrats! Been awhile since I commuted regularly as well but I would do a “dry run” if you can as close to the time you’ll actually be commuting as possible to figure out the directions and work out any issues before you actually need to be there.

      Other than that I’d make sure you have something to do if it’s a longer trip (book, ebook, podcast, etc.) and any needed equipment like headphones. This would probably make more sense if you’re female but depending on the dress code of your office I’d wear commuting shoes like sneakers and then change around the corner from the office or duck into the restroom when you arrive to change into more work appropriate shoes.

    2. Peonies*

      I always feel better when I have a back up plan for getting to work. Whether that’s bus route instead of subway or drive and knowing where to park if the buses are late or something else.

      I pack my lunch so I plan out a weeks worth of lunches when I grocery shop. Even if I end up taking leftovers instead of cheese and crackers one day, I just feel better knowing I’ve got it covered.

      If you will have a desk or some drawer space of your own, figure out your must have at work items (I don’t keep a lot at work, but lip balm, feminine hygiene items, and eye drops are always in my desk drawer).

  32. PassThePeasPlease*

    Feeling frustrated with a job search and looking for additional input/commiseration. I started my job about a year and 5 months ago and while it’s pretty good in the day to day, I am feeling pretty stagnant/like I’ve learned all I can in this role. It’s a lot of repetition of tasks and while I feel like my manager would be supportive of me taking on more “stretch” projects, I honestly don’t know what I could ask for! There’s not a ton of work across the team so anything I take on is removed from other’s plates. Combined with the fact that the company is dragging their feet on raises for the team despite hiring more folks/a glowing performance review in APRIL of this year and I feel like my time here is pretty limited.

    So I’ve been looking for similar or adjacent roles in similar companies. I’m in a very high growth area of my specific field and while good for the number of opportunities, also comes with the instability of rapid growth/startups in most roles. I’ve always worked at large, well established companies so while startups seems exciting, I am aware I know very little about the day to day.

    So that gets me to where I am now, I’ve been interviewing and had some 2nd round interviews that didn’t pan out and one offer that came in ridiculously low from my stated range despite them saying they could accommodate it. Since I’m in an ok role and the new job isn’t something I’m thrilled about I’m ok with walking away from it if they really can’t go any higher (waiting on a reply from them tomorrow).

    I guess what I’m wondering is if I should keep looking externally and hope I find something that fits although it seems like for whatever reason I’m not the strongest candidate for the roles I’m applying to experience wise (I know I interview well) or if I should pause and see if there’s a way internally I can make my role more like I want it? Though, with how the team is set up this is unlikely without major internal change as well.

    1. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

      Hello PassThePeasPlease,
      Can you try looking at the jobs you applied for again, and see if there’s a big difference between what they seem to expect and what you’re currently being able to bring to a job? Maybe you also know someone who you could ask if what you’re looking for is reasonable? If it’s reasonable and you want to get out of your current situation, I’d say looking externally shouldn’t be causing you harm.

  33. Professor at the University of No*

    Our university procedures are a hell loop. A HELL LOOP. I have been trying for three months to get a critical service paid for and I cannot for the f’ing life of me figure out the paperwork path. You need this. Now you need this. But not signed by that person. Okay, now this. No, someone else. No, something else. Oh, now it’s been too long and you have to do accessibility and security review again. Not on that part of the service, this part of the service. Not that person. Someone outside the system altogether needs to do something. F**CK. And I have an administrative analyst who chases down all this stuff. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a regular faculty member without that support.

    When new people come here, they dazedly say about two months in, “I heard in my interview that the bureaucracy was bad, but man, I did not expect this level. I’ve never seen anything like it.” My husband grew up in India, the land that perfected the bureaucracy invented by the British, and even he stares in fascinated horror.

    When one of our top brass retired, the university president praised the guy for trying to find ways to say yes instead of no, because it’s so rare in our institution. We are the University of No. I love so many things about our university, but this one thing is the most enormous barrier to all the great good we’re trying to do, and EVERYONE KNOWS IT. I don’t know who in the institution has the power to cut through all the crap, if the university president can’t!

    1. WestSideStory*

      Try tipping off the student newspaper…anonymously, of course. If it is indeed a critical service that affects students in some way, it may be newsworthy enough to attract the attention of local media as well.

    2. Churpies*

      I work in a similar capacity to your admin analyst and there is a group of a few of us on campus with a brain trust group chat. Every time we successfully navigate a process, any process, we share with the other the magic words we used that got us to yes.

  34. In my shoes?*

    What would you do in my scenario? I’ve just moved into a new area and I’m also pregnant. Financially it would be ok if I don’t find work in the six months until the baby comes, but I also can feel myself going stir crazy and I don’t know anyone local. My background includes education and library work and I have strong written skills and customer service skills. Would you look for temp / seasonal jobs, volunteer, or what else? My priority is local connections but I also am unaccustomed to not pitching it financially and it’s a big adjustment to consider that.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I always suggest temping. It’s the speed – dating of jobs: low committment from either side, you get to meet a lot of different people, but it could possibly turn into something long-term if you happen to find a great fit.

    2. Chirpy*

      Volunteering is always a good way to get involved locally, and in some cases can lead to a job down the line, too.

  35. Adventurous Alpaca*

    Any creative solutions for covering extended leaves (such as maternity leave) for niche, in demand, skilled fields?

    I work in a specialized allied health field in Canada. At the hospital I’m at there are two of us in the position, so when one is off, the other has to cover. We have a couple per diem people as well who have full time jobs at other hospitals in the general area (but not super close…40-60 min away) who can come help out a day or half day here and there to help with vacation coverage, but this is limited. One person on vacation also means the other person ends up doing a bit of overtime most days as the work needs to get done.
    It’s also a pretty in demand field right now. There are several open full time positions around my province right now. There’s not enough trained professionals to fill all the jobs right now. We’re lucky to be fully staffed.
    But…my coworker is pregnant. And will be taking an 18 month mat leave.
    Other jobs we can usually find new grads to sign on for 12-18 month contracts but I’m not hopeful we’ll be able to do that here as new grads can easily find permanent jobs in my field and wouldn’t likely take a temporary one unless there was hope of it turning permanent which might be possible at a large hospital, but not likely at ours. There also aren’t temp agencies for my field. So most likely it will be up to me to be on my own. We might be able to add one more per diem but when they have full time jobs elsewhere and have to travel to get here, it still doesn’t add up to that much help. I’ve covered a few months on my own before when we were hiring my current coworker, and also for a longer sick leave, and it was exhausting. 18 months seems impossible.

    Anyone been in similar situation and have any ideas? Even if it was a shorter length of time?

    1. TechWorker*

      Maybe not workable, but can you consider taking a grad (or non-grad) without much experience/with a non traditional education background that might mean they found it harder to get one of those permanent jobs?
      In that situation you would expect that the first few months at least are still tough, but – hopefully – the burden would not last the full time. If there’s anything you can offer to ease their transition elsewhere (mock interviews, resume review etc) you might also be able to set that up to be quite attractive?

      Eg – view and structure it as a long term internship?

    2. Policy Wonk*

      We’re hired retirees to cover gaps like that. They have the experience and know the system. They usually want part-time or temporary gigs, so you may need more than one or two to cover the time period you are talking about.

    3. Anono-me*

      Could you get approval to add someone half time permanently? Maybe someone who wants to be a stay at home parent, but still keep their skills sharp or a retired person who wants a bit more income. That would take some pressure off of you now and also make it easier for you location to assist othe locations long term.

      In addition to normal hiring channels; If you have a professional association; could you ask them to send out a job search email to everyone in your district who has put their license in a temporarily inactive or retired status? Is there a retired professioal association for your skill that you could ask to send out a job search email?

  36. Susan Calvin*

    Dear project managers of AAM – what’s your take on PMP vs ITIL?

    I’m trying to plot a career trajectory in that direction, because I think the skillset would suit me. Coming from a software consultancy/professional services direction, but not necessarily with a highly technical background, or married to the idea of staying in software forever.

    I also gather you typically do these certifications after you’ve already got some professional experience under your belt, but is that any different if you *do* have experience, just slightly to the left?

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      PMP. I’m not PMP certified, but I’ve done PMP training. Useful in teaching PM basics and skills that I have applied to PM jobs.

      I’ve been in organizations that have adopted ITIL. I’ve done some ITIL training. From my impression, it’s just processes and processes best practice. I didn’t find that informative. Oh, hey, yes, this is how you should -run a help desk, for example- and it was fairly common sense. But IDK, maybe the certification is different. I don’t think it has a PM focus more IT operations.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Thank you, that fits with what I’d gathered! Would you consider it fair to say that ITIL has its comparative advantage in managing things that could potentially run indefinitely, rather than more typical, time-bounded projects?

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I don’t recall all the categories, but generally yes.

          If you’re interested in being a program/project manager definitely go for PMP.

    2. Wintermute*

      comparing ITIL to PMP are a bit apples to oranges, ITIL is an IT framework, it’s direct comparisons would be things like ISO 20000, FitSM, ASL and the like.

      Most decent organizations will use SOME kind of IT framework, ITIL is common in the US and UK because it was developed by the British government, but which one they use is really a matter of preference.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Honestly, that’s part of my confusion – I got there by essentially working backwards from job ads for likely sounding roles, and there these two (and less often a few others) tend to pop up next to each other in the “we’d prefer someone with one of these, but not picky which” context! It makes sense in so far that I’m definitely looking in the IT field, where I have the most transferable skills, but it looks a bit like this is the “(any) Bachelor’s degree required” of PMing

        1. Wintermute*

          In those cases HR is usually just working from boilerplates of what they use, you run into that a lot in IT– “experience with BGP, OSPF, MPLS preferred” can mean anything from “our vendor uses those letters a lot” to “you will be architecting, designing and implementing routing schema for a multinational corporation’s network” and until you get to the interview (or see the salary) you have little way of knowing where on that spectrum it lies.

          In your situation I’d focus on the hard requirements and certs because the certs are often a clue. to expand my example about routers if they ask for all those things plus a Cisco entry level (CCENT) certificate, then you’ll probably be a fairly low-level grunt that works inside routers frequently and basic knowledge is enough, if they want a Cisco Certified Solution Architect then you know you’re looking at a job that is going to be very high-level and you need to REALLY know those things inside and out and how to implement them from the ground up to conform to performance targets and best practices.

    3. Girasol*

      PMP if you’re aiming to be a project manager, ITIL if you’ll be designing IT procedures or managing an IT organization. Both are handy for an IT project manager. But if you’re thinking of leaving IT, PMP will have value in other fields while ITIL, not so much.

    4. IT Manager*

      These are not the same. PMP will help you learn the broadest industry terms and processes for project management. Then you can use it to run any type of project including an ITIL project.

      PMP will be more broadly useful unless you are specifically trying to learn technology operations.

  37. Onwards and upwards*

    Advice on applying for a job as a fact-finding exercise.

    I work in a large biotech hub, and the company next door is hiring for the position above mine. I meet most of the requirements. The major selling features are on-site daycare (I just had a baby) and opportunity to work on desirable projects. However, my current role suits my needs pretty well and they’ve given out some retention incentives. On the other hand, I was recently promoted but feel that the salary increase was pretty small, so I’m interested in the salary at the company next door as well as details about their on-site daycare.

    Any drawbacks to putting in an application at the new place? Given that it’s literally next door, I don’t want my current employer finding out that I’m poking around. I also don’t want to go through the hiring process only to decide to stay after evaluating my childcare situation (I can probably tag team with my husband and keep baby at home with my current role), and potentially burn a bridge with that company. Thanks!

    1. RagingADHD*

      I don’t see any downsides as long as you are clear about the fact that you are curious but not dissatisfied with your current situation. “Life is good, but it could be better” is a strong position to be in for an application, and reasonable people aren’t going to hold it against you as long as you don’t string them along.

      Find out what you need to know as early as possible, and as soon as you know it’s not the right move, withdraw from the process and tell them it’s not the right move for you at this time, thanks for the consideration.

    2. Venus*

      I think it’s reasonable to find out more about what we need to accomplish in our current job in order to be qualified for the next stage. There are a few jobs where I have copy-pasted the job description and application so that I can make decisions in my current job that can help me later. I would apply and ask them for info about salary and childcare early in the process, so that you aren’t wasting their time if you decide that it isn’t worthwhile and if it does end up being worth it then you can keep going in the process. I assume that I won’t succeed in the first few applications for a higher-level job, so I do those applications a bit before I’m ready so that I will be ready later.

  38. Seal*

    Over the past year, I’ve been mobbed by a group colleagues who successfully prevented me from being hired as director after serving very successfully interim for most of that time. The mob wasted no time in indoctrinating the new director – who they pushed hard for despite the fact their qualifications were questionable at best – and now they’re targeting me as well. Since they started, I’ve been excluded, shunned, manipulated, yelled at, publicly shamed, threatened, and gaslighted on a near-daily basis, to the obvious delight of the mob that wants me out. Our institution has an anti-bullying policy and while I plan to go to HR, nothing will change. Although I’ve been frantically job hunting, nothing has landed yet. If I do manage to land a job, I plan to negotiate a start date that gives me a few months off to clear my head and recover from this nightmare. If not, I’m at the point where I’m planning to quit without another job lined up; in fact, I’ve given myself a deadline a few months from now so I can get my finances in order. While the thought of taking an extended period of time off is very appealing, I’m a bit concerned about how I would explain the fact I quit a job at the height of my career in interviews. Any suggestions?

    1. BellyButton*

      What a nightmare for you! My answer we be “We had a big change in leadership and I found that it was no longer the right fit for me. I was very lucky to be in a position to take the time needed to find the right job and organization.”

      Good luck! Keep us posted.

    2. Tex*

      The usual platitudes – new challenges, was client facing (now want internal facing), want to specialize in X that the new company does, old company had a re-org that changed things drastically, after a challenging two years I did some thinking and want a firm/a career that does Y. Or just, I took a sabbatical after a very intense 2 years and came away with a new career trajectory.

      Also, in this day and age of Covid, nobody bats an eye at had to take time to recover for ‘health reasons’ that are now solved. The health reasons in your case could be mental (you don’t have to spell it out in the interview), but it’s not a lie.

    3. The Real Fran Fine*

      You could always go with the explanation that you left to take care of a medical issue that’s since been resolved, and now you’re looking for something else.

    4. RagingADHD*

      “It was clear that the new leadership and I had very different visions for the organization, and so I’m seeking a situation where I can find better alignment.”

    5. Seal*

      Thanks everyone – these are all great ideas. Framing this as a sabbatical to reconsider my career trajectory feels like a much more deliberate step at this point. And I do have some health issues, both mental and physical, that I need to address and would undoubtedly improve once I put this nightmare behind me.

      Going forward, I aspire to be one of Alison’s Friday Good News stories. Thank again, everyone – I’ll keep you posted!

  39. TechWorker*

    I have a report (I am her grandboss, in AAM terminology :p) who shares arguably ‘too much’ healthcare info with me.

    On the one hand I feel like I should perhaps encourage her to share less, because she could end up with a manager who views it as unprofessional (I have explicitly told her that if she’s ill and needs time off she can say that without sharing the reason).

    On the other hand
    – we’re in a male dominated industry & I’m really glad that she feels comfortable talking to me (I know she wouldn’t be as open with a male boss)
    – she is one of very few women of colour at my org; I don’t want to call her out on something not important (she’s a great employee and if anything under confident)
    – I generally try to be feminist and in a perfect world her telling me about her endometriosis would be no more or less controversial than a colleague talking about their back pain or calf injury.

    So… I can leave this alone without being a terrible mgr, right..?

    1. Susan Calvin*

      I mean… I wouldn’t bring the word “terrible” in, but if a) you get the impression that she feels she needs to justify herself (rather than just sharing something that’s on her mind, as she would with any other acquaintance she’s comfortable with) and b) she is generally coachable (not typically defensive about feedback etc), I think it’d be a kindness to be a bit firmer on this.

      If you feel she has that potential, you might even frame it as adopting behaviour she’d be expected to model in a leadership role – taking enough time off, staying home when sick, keeping good boundaries and so on.

    2. Observer*

      Talk to her. It’s all good and fine to want to destigmatize stuff. But she’s the one who is likely to bear the burden, so she should be aware of the downside. If she knows how her direct boss views this and doesn’t care, that’s fine, but she needs to be the one making the choice, not you.

      Having said that, what’s with your direct report dinging someone for this kind of “unprofessional” behavior? If they think that being ill that’s a problem that you need to address. It they think that specifically female medical issues are “unprofessional”, that’s an even bigger problem that you REALLY need to squash.

      PS. I would not rate endometriosis as the same as a back injury. I’d consider it closer to something like digestive issues.

      1. TechWorker*

        To be clear, I meant ‘she could end up with a manager in the future who sees it as unprofessional’ (here or elsewhere), not that her current manager is like that (!!).

        1. Observer*

          I’m glad to hear that. And I’m sorry I misread.

          I still think it’s worth talking to her. Again, she is NOT doing something wrong, but I think it’s useful for her to know what the possible impact could be.

    3. RagingADHD*

      You already said that you know she wouldn’t be this open with a male boss. So you believe she has discernment about who she shared with.

      If you are uncomfortable with hearing it, and she has made a mistake in assuming you are fine with it, be honest. But I don’t think you need to educate her on choosing her audience when you already see her being selective.

  40. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m supposed to do a day of in-person client meetings– my first for this company– on Wednesday. I’m excited about this. My new boss is driving in, as is a colleague of mine.

    Aaaand… my partner has COVID. He tested positive on Friday and is still positive. I’m testing negative. We’re staying as separate as is possible in a not-huge apartment (I’m sleeping on an air mattress in my office) but I have to cancel these meetings and I am bummed. If these were internal meetings I would mask up and sit far away, but these are supposed to be “getting to know you” sessions at my clients’ offices. GAH.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Could you go the route of “full disclosure and let them choose,” or is it policy that you have to cancel?

      The official guidance is mask, test, and watch for symptoms rather than automatically isolating after exposure.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I texted my boss to see what he wants to do… I’m hesitant just because it’s a very close exposure and I’m not too keen on presenting while masked. My boss is also really COVID-conscious and traveling several hours by car to do these meetings.

        It’s honestly tough to truly know what to do in this case. I have an activity tomorrow where we’ll all be masked, so I’ll go to that. But when it’s clients I’ve yet to meet in person? I’m just picturing checking in with them a few days later and hearing they all have COVID (I realize that’s catastrophizing!) and the guilt would be A LOT.

        I’m pretty confident that one client would ask us to come anyway, one wouldn’t care, one would cancel. Not a problem for me but for my colleagues– my drive is an hour, theirs is much longer.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          PS I should clarify that if we end up doing the meetings, I’ll of course be masked the whole time. I don’t look forward to it, but I would do it, no question.

        2. Pocket Mouse*

          From your original post, it sounds like you know the right or required thing to do is cancel. If you do go, though, you MUST keep a high-quality mask on, no matter how keen you are on presenting and/or interacting without one. In addition to this being the current CDC guidelines (which already receive criticism for being too lax), you know your boss is COVID-conscious and that one of three clients would cancel. Your comfort while presenting comes nowhere near the importance of safeguarding other people’s health, especially in the absence of knowledge about their health status and any vulnerabilities they or their loved ones may have.

        3. RagingADHD*

          There’s also the consideration that if you did pop positive or symptomatic on the day, you’d have to cancel last-minute, which is a much bigger inconvenience.

          That’s probably the best way to present it – rescheduling out of abundance of caution, for a date that would be outside the monitoring window, so you don’t have to scramble.

          I’m sorry, I know it stinks!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Very, very true. And thanks! This does suck. I also had to reschedule a bunch of plans with girlfriends this weekend and I’m just bummed in general. I mean yeah, he’s the sick one, but he feels mostly ok and I had to skip brunch! :-) We’re very lucky– I haven’t tested positive, ever, though that doesn’t mean I’ve never had COVID– and I’m grateful he’s only got mild symptoms, it’s just a drag right now.

            1. RagingADHD*

              At my house, 3 out of 4 of us currently have symptoms. None of us are testing positive on the rapids, but we were able to get a PCR for one of the kids that came back positive.

              It’s getting tricky around here to get a PCR for adults without a lot of calling around or sitting in an urgent care for Lord knows how long. And we’ve been too poorly to deal with it. So we’re just assuming we have it and counting each person’s 5 days of isolation from their onset of symptoms.

              A friend of mine who works at the research hospital said this current variant is notorious for poor detection on the rapid test.

  41. Avery*

    Not looking for advice but giving it this time! I wanted to note that for those with administrative-type experience and skills, it may be worth looking into the paralegal field, as it’s one of those that seems to have more jobs open than applicants these days.
    For context: I live in the suburbs of a fairly major US city, I have a paralegal certificate and did well in the program for it, but I haven’t taken the test to become a certified paralegal (yes, that’s different from certificated, despite the similar names) and my only paralegal experience was a two-month internship as part of the certificate program. On the other hand, I have a few years’ experience in a variety of administrative positions, including my current job.
    When I first started my job search, I focused on AA/EA positions, since I figured those were most similar to my current position, but didn’t get much of a response from employers. Once I started to apply for paralegal positions, though, I got tons of interviews and ended up juggling multiple job offers.
    I imagine my certificate program has something to do with it, though it might be worth trying even if you don’t have that background–a lot of paralegal work is just more specialized administrative work, after all (drafting correspondence, calendaring, filing, etc.). And if you do go for the program, it’s not as much of a hurdle as some professional training can be–the program I did was about a year and a half, cost a few thousand dollars, and was completed at my local community college, with several classes being online even pre-Covid.
    I think the need within the field may well increase over time, as well. One thing I noticed in my certificate program was that, while in my mid-20s, I was one of the youngest in the program–it’s more common for people to go into it after trying another career and then going back to school, or even pursuing it in retirement, than to do it right after college. Which means that as more paralegals retire in the coming years, there will likely be a need for fresh blood in the field.
    Admittedly, I’m biased–I like admin work, organizing, and generally getting the mundane set-up stuff done in the background while others get the spotlight for their part. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth exploring if you share some of those same strengths and interests!

    1. The Real Fran Fine*

      I was a paralegal many years ago, and I was trained on the job (so no certificate or certification here) for the reasons you pointed out: I had excellent admin experience and I was quick and efficient. I was also a year or two out of college when I first began in this field, so the firm I worked for was willing to give me a chance even though I had no prior legal experience because they figured I was hungry and would work for pennies (it was in 2011 and the economy was still in the toilet thanks to The Great Recession, and they were right). Ultimately though, I ended up burned out and drastically underpaid, so I left for a better paying job with a higher/better title and haven’t looked back since. It is a good place to start for new grads who can’t quite figure out what they want to do yet, though.

    2. Annie Edison*

      Ooh thanks for this- paralegal is something I’ve been considering as a potential career shift. Do you have a sense of what the work-life balance is like?
      If I do change fields, finding something where I can mostly leave work at work is important to me

      1. Avery*

        I think it varies. It is the legal field, and there are definitely law firms where overtime is the standard, for paralegals and lawyers alike. But some are more the type you’re referring to, more 9-5 jobs where you do the job and then just go home. Granted, I don’t have a ton of actual experience in the field, so hearing from other paralegals would be useful here.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          I had the experience of working mandatory overtime for nearly the entire three years I was in the industry (I maybe had four months, not in succession, where OT was suspended by my firm due to budget concerns). I was in the foreclosure industry and everyone in our mid-sized firm was required to work OT (I regularly did 60 hours a week while many of our attorneys did up to 80). I’ve never known a paralegal that worked a normal 9-5, but maybe that’s just my location (I think we have too many firms and not enough support staff in my city).

  42. Star Struck*

    Another question for those who are professional project managers. How did you get into the role ? I know it’s been mentioned several times here that managing projects is often a precursor to managing humans. How is that different from what a “project manager” would do ?

    I have taken various projects of different scales from concept to completion in my previous and current roles, but not sure how to leverage that to a new job. Tips would be appreciated

    1. just another bureaucrat*

      Project and people management are similar but different. You can be a PM without managing people ever and have a fairly high level job doing that. You can be a people manager/supervisor without doing much project management work.

      If you’re trying to get into actual project management definitely look into some classes so you can get the language down around it. There’s certifications (SO MANY certs!) for project managers and the many new flavors of them. PMP requires a fair amount of following the book and knowing all the words (the best pm I know failed the test twice because she was like, yeah but in the real world way too much). Agile can be a place to do something like project management without being fully a project manager. Scrum Master certs are a bit easier and cheaper than pmp. There are a dozen or more other certifications. The PMP is the top one you’ll see in job postings.

      The other thing about doing some reading on it would be how to phrase the things you did so that they fit into a project management job description.

      Project managers also follow into lots of different sorts of buckets. But one of the things I think is the biggest part of being a PM is you’re the one responsible for checking in with everyone to see where they are at, what’s done, what’s not, reporting on it, updating documents, keeping things orderly. (I hate when I have to put on my PM hat because I’m way more interested in the hands on pieces, I’m kind of dodging doing the very boring updates I’m supposed to be doing today by posting things here :)) But a great PM is AMAZING and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few in my time and there’s nothing that will make work more manageable than an excellent PM. Even if I yeah yeah yeah away that I’m supposed to be doing some deliverable updates.

    2. Girasol*

      PMP training touches on most of the things a people manager would do. A project manager may direct people, and he won’t hire, fire, offer raises, or evaluate for promotion, a PM may end up selecting team members, giving them feedback, and addressing performance with their people-managers, and so he needs the same skills. But how different a PM is than a manager depends on what your organization thinks a PM is. In some companies it’s the very responsible position that PMI describes in PMP training: managing a huge budget, contracting for services, doing procurement, communicating, managing risks, scheduling, and directing a big team of people for a long time. In other companies a PM is the secretary who publishes the team’s meeting minutes and reserves conference rooms. If you’re moving to a new company for an opportunity, you’ll want to know what “project management” means to them.

      1. Feline outerwear catalog*

        I became one by accident. I started managing smaller projects as part of my job, then got slightly bigger projects, still part of my job, then got a full time job managing still slightly bigger projects and now I just started a new job managing projects almost full time. I’ve taken some workshops, trainings and free online courses over the years.

  43. Bumblebeee*

    I had to work with a toxic colleague for years and it has messed up my thinking. She got offended over imaginary slights. As one example (and there are MANY) we were brainstorming what xmas gifts we could distribute to our teams. I found an interesting article that talked about gift ideas for employees and sent it to her. She raged at me because she thought I was insulting her ideas since the article didn’t mention anything she suggested. Another time I emailed her to ask for information and added politely if she could reply by x date as it was for a time sensitive project. She emailed the entire senior management team telling me I was rude to imply she responds too slowly, and sent me bullet point examples on all the times she sent information in a timely manner.

    I’m not working with her any more, btw. But I frequently find myself second guessing what I said or did and wondering if it offended someone. I had to constantly walk on eggshells with this coworker to try and predict what she might be insulted by and avoid aggravating her, but frequently she would be angry over something totally innocuous that I didn’t even consider as a potentially insulting. I find myself super anxious in my communications with other people as well, wondering if I accidentally offended someone but they were too polite to tell me I said something rude.

    Any advice on overcoming this level of anxiety would be much appreciated. I know realistically this woman was an outlier but it’s hard to get out of the habit of eggshell walks.

    1. tessa*

      Time and distance will help. I had a graduate school advisor who was wildly abusive (from an extremely image-conscious country) and it really messed with my head. I constantly doubted myself and fell into a deep depression.

      But it’s now 15 years later and I haven’t seen in in almost as many, and in that time I was able to be my old self again, with new respect for myself.

      I wish I’d sought therapy. Virtual hug.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      She thinks adding new items to a list is an insult to the items already on the list (does she just want you to find a list of the suggestions she already made?) and that making a list of past timeliness is better proof of timeliness than just doing the job on time. You’re fine lol

    3. Anon for this*

      What helped me was researching anxiety on my own and then later, therapy. With someone who specializes in anxiety. Are you familiar with different cognitive distortions that come with anxiety? Like thought-action fusion and applying facts out of context (this happened in another situation, so it will happen again in this situation)? Learning about those helped me at first. Then later, I actually did ERP because I was at a point where my anxiety was becoming debilitating.

      Otherwise, as others have said, probably time + space is your best bet. Be busy with other goals and hobbies and fill the space in your head with thoughts of other people. If people do say nice things to you or compliment you on your work, keep a record of it to refer to when you doubt yourself. Check in with how far along you are working on tasks, projects, quarterly goals, etc, to have an objective-ish view of your performance. Try to take a minute before meetings to focus on looking forward to the opportunity to build a good working relationship rather than dreading what might go wrong. Get to know new coworkers as individuals and see that they’re different from the toxic coworker.

      Anyway, that’s what I did. Hope it gets better!

  44. Does it fit?*

    Where do people take video calls on a day they need to go to the office? It could be a doctor’s appointment, an interview, etc. I work in an open floor plan and you can hear everything that is said in the conference rooms so that’s not an option. I’ve resorted to parks but in New York City even those aren’t quite/private. Do co-working places rent by the hour? Have others found a good place to do this?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s a tough one. When I lived in NYC, I found plenty of places to take phone calls but went home for video calls. Honestly, I would ask if you could do audio only, even if it’s in a video format. Then you have a bunch of options depending on where you are in the city (I took advantage of some of those little Midtown park spaces more than a few times).

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Cars, stairwells (check about cell service), coffee shops (which has the same problem as an open floor plan office except the people near you are not colleagues.

    3. E. Chauvelin*

      Library with a tutor/small meeting room? I’ll reserve the rooms available to the public at the one where I work if I need a space to myself, since there aren’t rooms just for staff and most of us don’t have offices.

    4. Generic Name*

      I have a video therapy session tomorrow AM, and I also need to be in the office. I plan to do my therapy at home (no way am I doing it at work, even in a secluded conference room), and then coming in to work later.

  45. Invisible fish*

    I’m a teacher. I have formally mentored at least 10 people over the past 20 years. You get asked to do it, and you can turn it down. (Informal mentoring is it’s own thing- I’m talking about “you will do xyz with new teacher, document it, and get paid a pittance for your time and effort” formal mentoring through a school district program.)

    Every year, I’ve loved it. It’s been great.

    This year, I’ve been handed someone who wants me to hold his hand through every tiny step and show him how to do every tiny thing – none of this is possible.

    So much learned helplessness!!!

    How do I calmly and clearly say “I’m obviously not the type of mentor who can best support you- let’s notify admin to find you someone who can really be in your corner!” to this snowflake (this is a term I don’t normally approve of – I’ve *never* actually used it before ever except about this person!!!) while telling admin “Find another sucker. I’m out”?

    I haven’t quite reached the point I need those words just yet, but it’s close, and I want to be ready.

    1. Observer*

      How do I calmly and clearly say “I’m obviously not the type of mentor who can best support you- let’s notify admin to find you someone who can really be in your corner!”

      I’m not sure that this is actually the best thing you could say to him. Instead start clearly explaining to him WHY you won’t do this stuff for him. That *HE* needs to learn how to do this stuff himself. And document this stuff.

      Because if he can’t / won’t hear what you are saying, I think that what you say to him is “This is not working, I’m handing this off to Admin.” And to Admin you explain that this guy seems to have a terminal case of learned helplessness and refuses to do the basics of learning on his own, which means that you are not going to continue mentoring him. Then give them the documentation. Because this is highly likely to be an issue in other areas of the job, so the more information they have the better off everyone will be.

      Additionally. Are you a woman or a POC? Because if you are, another thing that Admin really needs to be looking at is whether this guy is “just” a “helpless” guy or a bigot who thinks that if you are x ethnicity or female, it’s YOUR job to do all of this work for him.

      1. tessa*

        The last part of your post is an odd leap, particularly in an online environment that constantly expresses support and sympathy for the possibility of learning disabilities, cognitive issues, etc. for people who don’t respond to things in ways we’re used to.

        Where mentorship is concerned, some mentees require more work than others. It’s that straightforward.

        1. Observer*

          Nothing the poster says that this is a legitimate learning difference that anyone needs to accommodate. If it is, then it’s on the mentee to mention that and work with his mentor to figure out what might work.

          The last part of your post is an odd leap,

          Not a leap at all. I can’t say that this *is* the problem. But it comes up SO often that to not even look at the possibility is willful blindness.

          Where mentorship is concerned, some mentees require more work than others.

          That is not what the OP is describing. Is it possible that they are over-reacting or not pushing back clearly and hard enough? Yes, which is why I (and others) recommend clearly spelling things out. But if the OP is not over-reacting, then it’s an issue.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      What is the role you’re mentoring? If they’re student teachers, I don’t think a certain level of hand-holding in SEPTEMBER is necessarily a problem, even if he needs more support than past participants. I needed a lot of support when I first started teaching! If it’s more like a district mentorship for new hires who have experience or at least finished their teaching program it makes sense to clarify what your role does and doesn’t help with.

      1. Invisible fish*

        Oh, yeah, shoulda mentioned- this is a SECOND YEAR teacher. The formal mentoring program was extended for a year for … uh … reasons (like learned helplessness).

        1. just a random teacher*

          Oof. Sounds like this guy is a Known Issue, then. I definitely recommend the same strategies you’d use with a student pulling this, where you make getting help with things mostly an exercise in being taught how to help yourself next time and more work for him than just doing the thing without asking for help. Either he’ll shape up when getting step-by-step help becomes more work than just doing the thing, or it’ll become clear that he’s just not able to work independently enough to keep this job and it’s beyond what a mentor can fix.

    3. BellyButton*

      As a mentor it is time to push back. “It is time you took a more active role in your decisions and direction and then I offer feedback, once you have it at that point.” That is the role of a mentor. It isn’t to teach them the job, it is to coach them and offer feedback.

    4. just a random teacher*

      If you can stand the thought of continuing to mentor this teacher with better boundaries in place, I’d start by firmly setting those boundaries and then sticking to them. “I’m not able to offer you step-by-step help with all of your day-to-day tasks – you’re expected to be able to manage that on your own now that you’re a teacher rather than still in student teaching – but I’d be glad to [check in with you every week to discuss what you find most challenging and give you some suggestions | observe your classes x times this month and give you feedback about classroom management | help you plan lessons for a few upcoming topics that you think will be particularly challenging | whatever kinds of supports your mentoring program typically offers and you have space for this year]. If you think you’ll need more in-depth support than that, we should go to admin and let them know so they can start finding those supports for you.”

      You can also try the same strategies you would with students, but he might find that condescending if he’s self-aware enough. “Oh, you’re feeling stuck about [job task]? Ok, what are some things you’ve tried so far? What are some ideas you have about what you should try next, maybe I can help you sort out the pros and cons of each?” [attentive silence from you while you outwait his pause and he gets uncomfortable enough to answer] and such.

      I assume you’re already cutting him some extra slack since he probably didn’t get to observe or participate in a “normal” back-to-school season last fall in student teaching and will need a little more help in some of those areas as a result, but you can certainly tell him where the limits are and make it clear he’ll need to ask admin for extra/different supports beyond those limits.

      1. Observer*

        You can also try the same strategies you would with students, but he might find that condescending if he’s self-aware enough.

        These are excellent strategies. And if he’s self aware enough to find them condescending, then he also has the capacity to understand that he needs to do more of the work himself. So this might turn out to be a good way to get the message across.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Find another sucker. I’m out”?

      Out loud voice: At this level you should be able to do x, y and z on your own. If you do not know how to do those things then you will have to look it up. When you have x, y and z done, come back and see me [set up your next appt, whatever].” He won’t be back, I’d bet my last chocolate donut.

      As soon as people find out that we are not going to do it for them, they vanish.

    6. Rara Avis*

      If you just want to be done, can you tell both your mentee and boss that you have unexpected demands on your time this year and can’t continue with the mentorship?

    7. Invisible fish*

      I hate my response is so late, but I just had to say thanks to everyone – I feel a smidge better prepared to walk in with a smile and a “help me help you attitude.” I want to do right by everyone I work with, students and colleagues, and since someone in our department has *literally* said she will no longer help this 2nd year newbie because of the learned helplessness, I hope to be a person who makes things better rather than worse. (Even if I’m irritated!!)

  46. Car Pool Newbie*

    Looking at setting up a carpool with one other coworker with a third person participating occasionally. We all work the same schedule and live within a few blocks of each other.

    I loathe the commute and have an older vehicle, so I would happily pay gas+ money, but my friend feels the same. So we are going to split the driving . But how do we set it up? What about when someone is running late or sick? How do we add a third person in on an intermittent basis? I feel like we should figure this out before things go sideways and stress our relationships. Any suggestions about what worked or didn’t would be much appreciated.

    1. RagingADHD*

      What worked for me with carpools was to have a regular rotation that was easy to remember and gave everyone a fairly equal number of days. For 2 people, that would probably be a biweekly rotation of MWFTH, so each person has a 3-day week and a 2-day week.

      For changes or “wildcards” like adding another person, just text the day before or (in case of an emergency) as soon as you know.

  47. Forafriend*

    Asking for a friend… or rather, my partner.

    They were in the running for a promotion, and it seemed like it was in the bag until they were asked to dinner one night by their direct supervisors and told they were no longer the first choice due to running their site too militantly.

    They are former military, and so was the supervisor who trained them, so this tracks to some degree. They’re trying to take the criticism to heart and work on themselves, but part of the reason they’ve felt they’ve had to be so strict is because the people assigned to the site aren’t always very reliable. Think constant call offs, coming in late, not showing up to work in uniform, etc. They have little say in the hiring process, so it really is luck of the draw of who gets placed with them.

    It’s causing issues because not only is it hard to stay fully staffed, when someone calls off last second or causes issues, everyone else is asked to cover shifts, which is causing burnout.

    I suggested they reach out to their supervisors, who are aware of all these problems, to ask for more specifics on what to work on while balancing manning issues, but they’re worried they will look incompetent or unfit. Also, there may be a chance the higher ups are still considering them for the promotion. I’m aware they may have completely changed their minds. My partner is too. But it’s hard to tell, since there are some big expansions coming up, and their bosses were grooming them specifically for the position before all this.

    Any advice on what they should do, or insights in general? They’re feeling very disheartened and demoralized, and I have never been in a situation like this before.

    1. Fikly*

      I strongly support your advice on asking for feedback – concrete feedback – on what “too militantly” means, exactly.

      My suspicion is that it’s that they’ve had to be strict in response to people being unreliable, not following policy, etc. My suspicion is that it’s how they are responding, ie, are they yelling, what kind of language are they using, etc? Because what is acceptable, even normal in the military is generally not in many civilian workplaces.

      This isn’t to say that your partner should just be ignoring all the problems. But they likely need to recalibrate their responses to be appropriate to the environment they are in now, rather than before. I’m unclear if the person currently supervising them/making the decision on the promotion is the same one who trained them who is also former military, but if possible, ask for feedback on how to manage employees from both types of people, those who haven’t been in the military, and those who successfully made the transition from ordering people in the military to the civilian work world, because they will come at it from different perspectives.

      It sounds like a really frustrating situation for your partner, but if they were being groomed for a promotion before, and they show them that they are willing to be open to feedback and work really hard on changing, and listening, that kind of thing will impress the right leadership, and turn a no into a later.

      1. Forafriend*

        The supervisor who was considering the promotion is different than the supervisor who trained them. She left because she was antivax, and the site eventually required the vaccine to work there (another reason why it’s been tricky finding workers. Not everyone who applies is vaccinated, or willing to be).

        She was kind of… strange, so my partner doesn’t really want to reach out BUT you just gave me an idea. They are close to their aunt, who recently retired from the military and now works as a civilian, so she may be able to give some advise… if I can convince them to reach out, but that’s another thing entirely.

        Asking for more clarification from the direct supervisors is key here as well. Frankly, either the promotion is not happening, and they’d need to deal with the manning issues regardless, or it could still happen, and asking for guidance could also give them focus and a goal while they try to keep the site afloat.

        1. Observer*

          Oh boy. I’m betting that what Fikly says is a large part of this. Also, your partner probably needs to seriously figure out what of their original training to keep and what to chuck. Former manager probably gave them some inappropriate advice, so that’s another potential set of issues.

          Your partner IS right about not reaching out to former boss. But, the aunt and current management are very good people to reach out to – especially the manger(s) who have already told them that they are being dinged for their management.

          Point out that at this point reaching out for help CANNOT make them look more incompetent than they already do. But it CAN make management believe that they are taking this feedback seriously, which means that they are capable of learning, growing and becoming an effective leader.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Why would asking for help make them look bad when they’ve already been told directly that they need help?

  48. anonanonanon*

    Is there anything you can do to help a coworker that is really not enjoying their work anymore? I’ve really noticed that one of my coworkers is struggling to find anything good about coming into work. She primarily assists in one area of our workplace; however, the person who led that area has now been replaced and I think she’s really missing them (she still has a photo of them behind the desk). Each day she’s negative about every. single. thing. — whether that’s the new department head that she assists, her office buddy, or just general interactions with anyone. I can’t really work out how to help her so coming to work is at least a little bit more enjoyable. I’m coming off the back of burnout myself, so I know this is a pretty demanding industry, but I just don’t want her to end up like me (bedridden for weeks on end). Any advice?

    (To add, I’m not her manager or anything, just worried about her — I have had clinical depression and I suppose this has set off my spidey senses!)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “You don’t sound like yourself lately. I am not sure what is wrong and really it’s none of my business. But if there is something I can do to help, please be sure to let me know.”

      Sometimes this alone is enough to jar people back to reality. Sometimes this totally tanks and things get worse. Probably what will happen next is some were in that wide middle area between those two extremes.

    2. 2cents*

      You can’t solve this for her – she needs to do the work herself. A mature adult takes the initiative to find meaning in the work that they do – and you can find meaning in anything if you try hard enough – and finds a way to maintain a positive outlook even when the circumstances are not positive. If they’re not able to do that, they should leave the organization because bringing negativity into any setting negatively impacts everyone around such as yourself. Wouldn’t you rather work with someone super positive?? This person needs to understand a few things: (1) Your #1 job in life is to take responsibility for yourself and your actions. This includes taking responsibility for your own happiness and fulfillment and making sure you are not putting any negativity out into the world. (2) Service – all work worth doing is about being in service to something greater than yourself. Someone that is negative all. the. time. is living entirely within the ego and is making the circumstance entirely about themselves while blaming everything else around them for their misery. That is not taking personal responsibility. That is not living a service mindset. What is she in service to? (3) Gratitude – what is this person grateful for? Ask her to write it down. Ask her to write one thing down every day. Gratitude extinguishes negativity. If she’s spending her whole day grousing about how miserable she is, she is not spending any time being grateful for the fortune that she does have, and that’s a real shame. Someone that can be this miserable over such trivial things in the scheme of life surely has quite a bit to be grateful for.

      And here’s something else – burnout and just plain negativity are not necessarily the same thing.

  49. Fikly*

    Been job searching for the last year and a half, with all the delights contained therein.

    I recently realized that one of the things I find really challenging about it is not the multi-tasking, but that I am constantly having to start a new task on it without knowing how a previous one will resolve.

    For example, this weekend I sent an email to a temp/staffing agency I’m working with about 7 postings they had up. I don’t know how any of those will pan out, and I don’t know when I’ll hear back. Instead of being able to wait and have that resolve, I need to do all my other regular job searching stuff in case those postings don’t turn into work.

    I find this very frustrating, and I’m not entirely sure why. More importantly, does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I see people here talking about making a chart to organize the info. I have my own version of this.

      Alison’s pearl of wisdom here is to apply for the job then forget it. We don’t have a job until we actually get the job.

      Personally, I take breaks, do some applications, rest for a period of time, then do some more. Under this method, my application becomes on a par with a workday. What do you do at the end of a workday or workweek? Rest. And rest can be anything that recharges you.

      Think of it this way, if we rake up a yard full of leaves we don’t tend to think about it if more leaves fall. We just go out on a different day and pick those up also. A similar mentality can be applied to job applications. “I did x number of apps this week. I will rest and run at it again [next week/ in a while/ whatever is necessary].”

      I wish you the best of luck.

      1. Fikly*

        …Except I do. I struggle with all tasks that are unending. I hate having to eat repeatedly (and not for enjoyment. I eat from a medical perspective, which forces me to eat frequently, extremely carefully or risk dying, and have severe sensory issues that makes eating tolerable at best).

        I hate that I have to drink which then leads to bathroom which then leads to drinking again. I hate that I do laundry and then wear clothes and then that means I do laundry again. I hate that none of this is by choice. And yes, I have a therapist, she’s excellent, and this is actually progress.

        I don’t think I gave clear examples above. It’s not that I’m doing things that are all in the same category, exactly. It’s more like, I’m got things that may turn into a job that require a certain amount of low energy I can manage. There is a next tier of things I can work on that require a much higher level of energy to launch, and then a moderate level of energy to maintain. And what I want is to know if I need to invest that higher level of energy, when I’ve been dealing with long covid for 2 1/2 years, when of course I can’t.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I empathize because I hate this as well!
      The way I deal with it is to make an excel spreadsheet where I track every opportunity to which I have applied (with company, date, role, etc). And I use additional columns to track any phone screens, interviews, followup emails I sent. I guess this keeps me focused on having as many balls in the air as possible, not on the outcome of just one of them.
      So for your temp agency, I might make 7 lines on my spreadsheet, call them all the name of the temp agency, but with different role titles.
      I hope this helps. Good luck!

  50. Green Goose*

    I’m going on maternity leave soon but was just offered a very PT paid writing job (2-4 hours a month) and the opportunity will not be available if I can’t do it for six months. I’m going on maternity leave from my FT job with company A and this would be 2-4 hours a month for company B. They can’t pay under the table. I have to submit invoices.

    Is this legal? If no, is there a work around where I can ask them to not pay me until my mat leave is over? I definitely don’t want to break the law or lose my FT job but I’ve been wanting to be a paid writer for over 20 years. TIA!

    1. Fikly*

      Unless you live in a country where maternity leave is mandatory (there are some where this is the case, and you cannot work, period, during x weeks before your due date or after giving birth), it’s entirely legal.

      It may be against your company’s policy to have another source of income while on maternity leave, but that’s an issue with your company, not the law.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m interested in this question too! Something relevant for me that may also be relevant for you: there will be different phases (i.e. disability/medical recovery, FMLA for bonding, additional time off as allowed by my employer’s policies) — the answer for each of these phases may be different. I’m sure I’d be able to do what you’re looking to do in the ‘additional time off’ phase as long as other policies don’t forbid that type of work, but am not sure about medical recovery/FMLA.

    3. Macaroni Penguin*

      In Canada, this wouldn’t be illegal.* During my parental leave, I worked 10 hours a month. I just reported to EI that I was working causally, and logged my hours. My benefits were only slightly affected.
      * Now, this wasn’t during my maternity portion. I didn’t feel well enough to work then. Plus ya know, Canada probably isn’t where you call home. Check with your local laws and submit everything is my advice.

    4. Anono-me*

      No idea about the legalities, but your work place may have ‘rules and feelings’.
      Can you start the pt writing job before you go on maternity leave? Then you could frame it as a side gig that you can’t take mat leave from . :( Where as if you start the pt writing job while on mat leave some people may see it as some sort of attempt to game the system. I don’t think that, but I do think that other people are very petty about things like this. (Please see prior maternity here and remember that this is well moderated site that screws kind.)

      Congrats on the new gosling and good luck with the regular job and the writing gig.

  51. Prospect*

    I usually don’t shop Amazon, but is the website really this bad? I am not doing a rant where I virtue signal against big business, I just legitimately can’t deal with how bad it is. First off the search results flood you with stuff that literally won’t work. I am trying to replace a particular part and it’s recommending every thing but that part. Then it won’t let me change my shipping address. It looks like there is a new feature where it “streamlines” the order and I barely touched the cart and suddenly the order went through with an old work address and the website glitches when I tried to update it, so I have to just cancel it and hope they don’t charge me.

    If I didn’t know Amazon was a big company, I’d think it was some wannabe start up.

    1. Advenella*

      I haven’t had these issues, but if the product is being shipped from Amazon directly and not another company selling through them, it won’t charge until it ships. So canceling before shipping is usually fine.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Oh dear, you probably stumbled on “one click” ordering by accident. If you cancel it right away it shouldn’t be a problem.

    3. Koala dreams*

      I’m so happy to see someone else with this experience. People always tell me it’s so easy to just order online, but I find Amazon (and many other big online stores) super hard to navigate. There’s always something unexpected.

      1. Observer*

        With Amazon, it’s extremely easy to order it you know exactly what you want. But doing product research? That can be crazy making.

    4. Observer*

      I really don’t like Amazon’s site – to me it’s shockingly bad. And the search results? OMG, it’s so bad that it almost funny if it weren’t annoying on occasion.

      But I’ve never had the issue of not being able to edit the shipping address.

      1. Four of ten*

        I’ve had very good experience with Amazon customer service. I accidentally double ordered a dehumidifier for our basement -somehow I’d stumbled into the one click thing. I’ve found Amazon very helpful when I want a particular item – an item that I might otherwise have to (maybe) find by shipping everywhere in town. Try customer service to help with the problem-get to a person!

    5. cabbage butterfly*

      When I do research, I don’t log myself in, so I can’t accidentally buy something; I also browse in private/incognito mode. I haven’t had to change/add a shipping address in a few years so I can’t speak to that. I have had a nightmare story about amazon sending the wrong book, and trying to return/get credit for it. That was a months-long saga.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Years ago they sent me the wrong DVD – I contacted customer services, sent the wrong one back and got the right one, so far so good – then for some reason best known to themselves they asked me for the correct one back, claiming I’d reported it as faulty and then not returned it (no idea where they got that from as it wasn’t faulty at all) and then tried to charge me twice for a second one I also neither ordered nor received. Although to be fair they did refund that pretty quickly when I contacted them again.

    6. HBJ*

      Yea, I had something similar happen. It was not one-click ordering because I did go through part of the checkout steps and was able to set the address. But then it went though without asking for my CC info. So it charged (presumably) the last card used, which wasn’t the card I wanted to use. We have a business, and it was a business purchase, so I couldn’t just “oh well,” and go ahead and use the personal card it had charged. I was able to cancel right away.

    7. M.*

      I haven’t had this direct experience, but yes, the Amazon website is awful. I would add the Target website to that, as well.

  52. Hesitant queer teacher*

    My principal has approached me about reviving our school’s long-dormant GSA/LGBTQIA+ club now that we’re “back to normal after the pandemic.” (hah! “normal”! “after the pandemic”! that’s another rant, though.)

    Our GSA was originally run by an openly gay teacher who also was a licensed mental health professional with related advanced degrees (he’s since moved on to a position that uses those advanced degrees). He did an amazing job running it as almost a counseling group, which was absolutely something he was trained and licensed to do, and he was already extremely Out At Work by choice so it really didn’t put more of a target on his back. After he left, it was run by an “ally” teacher with less training but who volunteered to take it on and ran it somewhat similarly but more casually. He has also since left. I tended to attend meetings when either of these teachers ran things, partially just so there’d be a second adult since student attendance could be pretty low and I wanted to make sure that no one was ever in the position of running a meeting with one student and one adult for optics reasons, and partially to flag to the students that I was a supportive adult that it was ok to be out to if they so chose.

    I think(?) my principal asked me to run the club just since I used to go to the meetings, and I’ve run other clubs in the past but don’t have one on my plate this year. I’m not actually sure if my principal knows I’m queer or not – I’m long-term single, have never mentioned a past same-sex partner at work, and decided to use the gendered pronouns and titles people decided to stick to me rather than spending time and energy trying to make different ones stick, but I dress in a mixture of clothing for different genders and do a poor job of performing stereotypical femininity, plus whenever I’m not at work I wear rainbow stuff all over town, so perhaps she has figured it out. (If I were a person who enjoyed categories and discussing these things in detail, I’d probably identify as pansexual agender, but I mostly identify as a tired old queer who doesn’t really care what gender or sexuality you think I am as long as you leave me alone about it and aren’t rude.)

    I’ve also been in public education long enough to remember no teachers being out at work, and the whole idea stresses me the hell out.

    On the other hand, looking at the rest of our current staff, I have no idea who else would be able to run such a club, and our students could really use it. I’ve been here long enough to have full union job protections, in a state and district where you cannot officially be fired for being queer and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon, so I want to support the kids, but I also know that I am bad at feelings and the talking about them, and have no business running a touchy-feely talk about things support group. I could certainly run a traditional “the advisor is there to supervise the room and help the kids fill out forms when they want to run some kind of activity, and otherwise gets their grading done at their desk in the corner during meetings” club, but in my experience students at my particular specialty program need a lot more support than that from whoever is advising the club.

    I just feel like this is something that I’d be bad at doing and that would put a target on my back in some parts of the local community, but that I also think is important for someone to be doing? And I don’t see another logical choice for who that person should be on our current staff? Argh.

    1. GlazedDonut*

      Former MS & HS teacher here. It sounds like you have a strong understanding of what this club means to your school community, and it’s nice to hear that the state/school/admin would be supportive of it (not true where I live).
      I think there’s definitely a middle ground in between grading in the corner and playing counselor with the club. Have you thought about bringing in another teacher to shoulder the duties with you? Maybe a newer teacher or someone else who doesn’t have club responsibilities? Someone who’d counter your style/personality?
      If I were in your shoes, I’d probably offer to be the club sponsor/mentor and then at the first meeting, have the kids come up with a list of topics. How much owenership they’d have can vary depending on age (high school kids would probably love to be in control more than middle school kids who may need examples from what other schools have done ie likely an internet search to gain ideas). I’d use those to drive a schedule–and then see what kids might want to lead (planning for an org fair or a community pride event involvement) and where adult help may be more needed (like inviting the current counselor in to chat about a topic, especially if you feel it’s out of your zone). While there’s definitely benefit to the kids to see an out teacher leading it, I think there’s still a huge benefit to see someone who isn’t visibly out leading it–knowing they have allies in school.

    2. Rara Avis*

      Even at the middle school where I teach, many clubs are student-driven, including the GSA. But I think the sponsors leave the counseling -type discussions to the counselors. I am also not great about the touchy-feely conversations, which are a big part of our advisory curriculum, so I sometimes pair up with another advisor who is better at that kind of thing. (I’m better at logistics so it’s a good match.)

    3. Since you asked*

      Sorry to be the downer here but being a teacher I can speak from my own experience.
      “I just feel like this is something that I’d be bad at doing and that would put a target on my back in some parts of the local community, but that I also think is important for someone to be doing?”
      This. The very supportive administration should hire someone qualified to mentor this club.
      Look around- even if the administration is supportive today, this is not the way of the world right now.
      Having had a very public outcry about “how I was allowed to do my job” and calls for public apologies and for my resignation, I am not exaggerating when I ask, do you really need this in your life?
      I hear what your saying- do you need this stress in your life?
      Take a break. Support in other ways- Is there a school library? Support a diversity of materials. Mentor a book club for a short and finite amount of time.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m a teacher and a big believer that we need to not be martyrs no matter how much pressure (from our bosses, community, or selves) we feel to do more. You don’t feel suited to this role and there is a potential safety concern with outing yourself. It would be nice if someone did it, but someone doesn’t have to be you (even if that means no one ends up doing it at all).

  53. Lizy*

    Not sure if this counts, but I was making lunch and my husband asked me to bring him some rolls.

    Y’all. He got the cheap ass rolls. Is this grounds for divorce?

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I was just trying to explain to my husband (who does not work in a typical corporate office) the greatness of the cheap ass rolls post and all the follow on. He didn’t get it and I was so disappointed.
      Is this grounds for divorce?

  54. Csw*

    Does anyone have tips about managing your new manager? I have a new boss who came in, and it feels like management told him one story about the team, which is not what is needed on the ground – it feels like he thinks he only needs to do one part and pass it on, when in reality he needs to be extremely hands-on and working with the team to see the end-to-end process through. I don’t know how to phrase the fact that he needs to step up though.

    I’m trying to remind myself that he wouldn’t have known this without institutional/legacy information, but at the same time we have severe labour crunches so this is super annoying. Any advice would be super welcome.

  55. WestSideStory*

    I received an email late Friday from an in-house recruiter from a large Corp I have often wished to work for – and applied repeatedly to over the past four years, at one point getting to the hours-long, on-site multi-interview with hiring manager and their grandboss, then ghosted after.

    I am now running a business that directly competes with one of their service offerings.

    She said she found my resume on file and invited me to apply again. While I am convinced this is an exercise in futility, or a blatant attempt to pick my brain — on advice from my other half I gritted my teeth, applied at the link, and will be sending her a very sweet note tomorrow when business resumes after the Labor Day holiday.
    Not asking for advice, just a lot of mixed emotions about making a move now when I really could have used it, say, two years ago.

    A small vent to end the Labor Day Weekend (may all who rested be rested, and may all who toiled get at least time and a half).

  56. yoda*

    My manager asked me to be a “mentor” to someone in my same role. Coworker who is supposed to be my mentee has been in the role longer than me, but they are part-time whereas I am full-time. I replied that the manager seems to be in a better position to be the mentor, but they replied they don’t have time. I feel this puts me in a weird position…anyone have advice?

  57. Filled with dread…*

    Trying to figure this one out….I have spent the past 25 years of my career avoiding public speaking. I actually left a job when it started to involve doing sales pitches because I would actually have panic symptoms, heart pounds, mind goes blank, voice shakes. Very obvious to the audience, this isn’t a “you could never tell you were nervous” situation. Anyway, I have done quite well career-wise even with this phobia. But boss has given me notice that I need to be own a project where I will need to give a talk on a few weeks to 50 people. I tried to explain that I haven’t done anything like this before and have a bit of a stage fright issue, and was told ‘get over it’. Obviously this is super embarrassing and I’d love to just get over it. I don’t have a choice, any tips? I will only have to kick things off, introduce a bunch of people, will only have to talk for 10 minutes max. I will start rehearsing but what if I have a panic attack while presenting??? CEO will be in audience, it would really be terrible for my career to publicly fail. If you have made it this far, I would appreciate any words of wisdom.

    1. Road warrior*

      If you had more time going to Toastmasters or another public speaking group might help but you are down to the wire.

      I was NOT fond of public speaking earlier in my career but do it now when required. I still get nervous but there are some things you can remind yourself of to help with the butterflies:
      1. You were asked to make this presentation by management, not someone else.
      2. The audience wants to be there and wants to hear you talk.
      3. Nobody is hoping you fail and will heckle you when you do.
      4. The audience only knows what you said, not what you planned.

      Practice, practice, practice some more, and then practice again. If you need a moment to calm down, take it and press on.

      Good luck and (as the stage world says) Break a Leg!

    2. Not A Manager*

      Talk to a doctor. There are medications that can alleviate the physical symptoms you’re describing. They are not anti-anxiety meds, they address the “fight or flight” physical response.

      1. Don't Panic*

        Exactly. I have the exact level of fright and one of my coworkers told me she takes a pill about 20 minutes beforehand. My doctor prescribed one (in my case, a tiny beta blocker, but there are other types and I am not suggesting it for you, everyone is different) and it worked very very well.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Yes, I didn’t want to skirt the medical advice rule, but the medication I’ve heard of is a beta blocker.

    3. Jen (any pronouns are okay)*

      New to the work world so not sure if my advice is helpful or not. But if I had to give a talk at university or school, I’d usually get myself some small sheets of paper (about as big as my hand) and then write down a bullet list of the most important things on them. For really short stuff or very difficult aspects, all I’d have to say (but not word for word, more like “nervousness at talk->
      practice (so you know what you do)
      backup sheet (can’t forget stuff)
      you have the knowledge (no one notices mistakes)”).
      (Adapt as needed. Note how these are not complete sentences. This is more so you know you have, not to actually read from it! Though if you do get stuck, you can always check it to see what’s still needed.)
      Then practice, practice, practice, and give the talk to a mirror/family/pets/whatever other audience you have as often as possible before the real one.
      Another thing, try to make sure you behave as if you’re 100% certain the talk will be well in the time leading up to it – try to smile, stand/walk confidently (try to be tall, no need to hide!), etc.

    4. Maggie*

      I also recommend practice. Start by giving your speech to one person, then two people, then three people, then four and so on. If you have the time to go to Toastmasters a few times that can be really helpful since it’s designed to help people like you struggling with public speaking. Good luck!

    5. ShinyPenny*

      So many excellent suggestions here!
      I would add that, for me, it’s really essential to practice delivering the talk *while standing up* (assuming you’ll be standing up in the front of the room for the actual event).
      Standing up in front of people is not a thing I like, even without talking, so I need to have the spatial/propriocentric feelings be a part of my practice, as well as remembering the words. Also, I go to different places (living room, basement, friend’s house, etc) because my brain needs to practice being able to recall the speech in different locations. Each time, I strongly envision being in the room, in the spot where the speech will actually be given. This really helps me not be thrown by the unfamiliar feeling of *being* in the actual spot, on the actual day.
      I love Tips’ long reply that didn’t nest correctly– their #1 and #2 are solid, universal starting points. But #3 is so true also! And #4 is both beautiful and incredibly powerful, and I’ll definitely be keeping that idea…
      Good luck! You can do this :)

  58. Tips*

    My tips:

    1. Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice – you need to run through what you are going to say at least 7 times. I did more like 20 for a recent speech I had to give.
    2. But don’t memorize what you’re going to say because if you mess up even one word that you’ve memorized, it’ll throw you.
    3. Your ideas and voice deserve to be heard. In order for that to happen, you have find a way to be comfortable presenting them. I’ve found that when I reframe public speaking to sharing information in service to help others in whatever way it will help people, this calms me a lot.
    4. When you stand up in front of everyone you do not stand alone. You stand with every one of your ancestors that has sacrificed to allow you to be in that moment, and everyone that has helped you along the way that would be rooting for you to succeed.
    5. Take a few deep breaths. It will help to calm your body.
    6. Touch your thumb to your ring finger. Helps to bring you into the present moment.
    7. Honestly, I have been the person you’re describing and I have watched other people deal with this, too. You’re not the only one that finds this challenging. I never thought I’d be able to get past total anxiety mode with public speaking but I have and you can, too. When I watch other people deal with this, I am silently rooting for them to find their voice and stand fully in their power so know that the audience wants you to succeed and is on your side!
    8. I think you should take this challenge on. Practice is exactly what you need. Even if you totally bomb, getting through it this time will mean it is easier next time. Just don’t be hard on yourself. Accept that it’s a learning process and accept where you are in that process and give yourself some grace. It’s okay to be terrible at something. You have to start somewhere. Public speaking is like anything else – you can improve over time with practice. I don’t think this will be terrible for your career if this is the first time you’re having to do this. A good CEO knows that public speaking is a skill that you can learn and that everyone has to start somewhere. Do your best, reflect on how it goes and pick one thing you want to improve on next time then try to incorporate that the next time, then move on and don’t fixate on how good or not good it went. Ultimately, on your death bed, you are not going to be thinking at all about that one time at work that you had to give a speech.
    9. If you do have a panic attack, that is a legit medical issue and I am sure everyone would be compassionate. Focus on doing your best. It’s all anyone can expect of any of us.

    1. ShinyPenny*

      This is a really comprehensive, useful list. Just had to say thank you especially for #4. Such a beautiful idea, and applicable to a wide range of challenges. I’ll be remembering that one!

  59. Anonny*

    Has anyone taught themselves to code? And from there found employment from the skill, even if part time? I originally went to school for software engineering and have an itch to relearn coding… even thought its been a decade or so…

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